I want to explore the world outside my comfort zone

zoneHaving a comfort zone in life, professional or personal, would be like sailing smoothly on a calm ocean, where you hardly come across a hindrance to block the easiness that you continue to enjoy. On a professional front, I am surrounded on the four sides by the mount of unobstructed and comparatively less stressful milieu, but off-late, a strange feeling of boredom and exasperation has started growing deep down my heart, for reasons that I am yet to excavate. But I believe that the reason behind this indefinable aloofness is my constant fear of getting outdated and unnoticed, especially when the entire world around me is fast-paced, increasingly competitive, and optimistically cautions, accelerating towards more and more professional triumphs each day.

Hence, differing from the conventional choice of gluing myself on to the comfort zone, I’ve started longing for a shift, a change to uproot me from my comfy work zone, and put me in to an unaccustomed ambiance with unfamiliar people around, for me to grow further. After having a long yet not-so-bumpy ride that helped me carve a niche for myself as a copywriter, I’ve lived both the highest of the highs and lowest of the lows in professional life. The alternate ebb and flow of workplace juggles have unveiled several morale-boosting as well as shattering revelations, along with pouring several knowledgeable, happier, and harrowing moments intermittently.

This revelation was intensely reinforced off-late, when I began suffering some discomforting workplace difficulties that fine-tuned my mind to broaden the perimeter of my courage zone, and look for worth taking risks that can fuel my ride to engaging in more accomplishments and achieving more accolades in life. Throughout the past 6 years I’ve worked all my way up in an uneasy male-dominated workplace that honed my mind to shed down the flagellations of naivety, and to rise up to the challenges that were thrown before me, thus pushing my boundaries wider. In the beginning, I was always bound by the fear of impending risks that I should tackle on exposing myself to newer situations. But I have managed to step beyond my then comfort zone; expanding my confidence, trying out newer things, speaking up for what I felt was right acting confidently and courageously, and taking up the needed risks. I’ve managed to strive even through the most difficult times, triumphing unquestionably.

With no armor to protect me from possible setbacks and criticisms, I had to encounter numerous moments of fearful disagreements, backlashes, and humiliations that constantly aroused my fear of losing the battle I had willingly chosen to fight. After several years of relentless struggle, I managed to overcome my agonies and succeeded in setting for myself a comfortable zone surrounded by easiness on all the four sides.

But while I carry the strong urge to keep pace with the fat-paced world around, and move ahead in my work-life, I have to confess that deep down I also have a fair share of fears that prevent me from getting out of my comfort zone. With a whole bunch of responsibilities that keep holding me back, the bitterness of indecision and insecurity keep thwarting my plans to rise-up and embrace some of those ‘must-needed’ risks that are essential to move-on. I am not new to the discomforts of new ambiances, but what scares me is the profoundness of a looming uncertainty that awaits me in a new setting.

I fear I no more carry that intense zeal and vigor, the reason why I am finding it hard to open the doors once again and readily let me face the riskiness of experimenting a prospective platform that promises yet another journey of professional adventure. Or am I letting the fear of losing resurrect once again, to tighten its firm grip on my mind and soul? I am well aware that a corporate career offers little security for playing safe. I keep reminding me of the words of John. F. Kennedy, who once said: “Nothing worthwhile has ever been accomplished with a guarantee of success.” But my fear of failure has increased manifolds, the reason why I keep driving myself away from newer challenges in professional life. Or perhaps I’ve started looking at me and my capability through the mistakes setbacks that I’ve encountered in the past. However, what I need now is the willingness to give up on the familiarity of the comfy zone, so as to tightly hold on to the discomfort from outside your comfort zone, which can be increasingly crucial to a must needed change in my professional life. Given a prospective chance, I want to give up on this security of the known and the comfortable, to take up bigger and challengeable professional roles, and win over my fears.

When the bully is at home

Healthy self-esteem is something that has to come from within, the reason why I keep mocking at the tailored confidence boosting courses that are being held in the city lately. The unwavering promise to induce undying confidence in someone would be the height of exaggeration that one can hear, especially when the person in need is diffidence personified. Diffidence and timidity are mostly the outcomes of real-life experiences that leave cold fears of unconfidence and shyness. Being a living example of one such daunting experience, I am well aware of the lasting impacts of embarrassments that such incidents leave in our minds. Back in the village where I stayed during my childhood, with a whole bunch of immediate and extended family members, I had this snooty aunt of mine, who had a bunch of humiliating adjectives to define me. The exasperating teases and distressing comments on my dusky skin, my broad forehead, my belly, and my legs were not only mortifying, but brought me down to tears several times. I was told that my forehead protruded like a Cro-Magnon man, my teeth protruded like fangs, and my legs were skinny and bony like a starved Somalian. I was told that I was terribly ugly, and this filled in and settled down in to psychic space indefinitely. Though her comments where often shrugged off by everyone as casual jokes, but they were not as benign as how others thought about them. ugly

For child of less than ten years, the demeaning and hurting teases were like thorns that stuck and pierced through her little soul and left it bleeding every day. Flawed by the kiddish naivety of mine, I never had anything to say in return to my aunt’s scorns and mocks, and always ended up teary eyed, cursing myself for having born ‘ugly’ looking. The day-today ridicules slowly started working their ways to batter, bruise, and cripple my personality, and I was forced to watch how I groomed myself to a shy, introvert, and diffident woman who leaved no stones unturned to save herself from the visibility of the world, especially in public places. I hated being photographed, desperately found excuses to skip family functions, and freakishly looked for everything that can lessen the melanin under my skin. Well, as the saying goes, “The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.”, and I was no different until lately.

Though I left the village and moved to the nearest town within a few years, my defaced second-self was glued to me, and forced me to remained aloof from everyone for years together as I had this strong notion etched in my soul that I was not good looking. Being bullied by a family member can be more than devastating, even when the bullying stops. Although several years had passed, the lasting effects of my aunt’s bully and torment left severe self-esteem issues in me. While some of them were so blatant and direct, the others were quite subtle, leaving severe long-term damages. I turned away bright dresses and glossy accessories, as I feared they would accentuate my ugliness. Instead, I draped myself in dull colours and little adornments, and believed they wold help me disappear in the crowd, so that no one like my aunt would take notice and pass more comments. School and college days flew by and I remained hidden in the drape of loneliness and dullness, sacrificing all the fun for saving myself from the vicinity of the world. Though I regret that decision now, while looking back, that alter-ego of mine, whom I forcefully bid good bye to, always raised my fears and insecurities that left me with the lowest self-esteem.

Being constantly belittled about something leads to a very harming self-doubt, and it gets worst when one is belittled for things that she can’t possibly change, like skin color and physical attribute. I was always made to believe that I was less of a person due to my appearance, and those hurting thoughts keep resurrecting intermittently many times even now, particularly when I get to see rejections on the matrimony page that my parents have put-up for me. My aunt wrecked a terrible havoc on my entire self, and left me with a crippled self-esteem. Although I worked for long rebuilt my spirit, I still believe that I have long way to go, yet can confidently say this now – Unlike the my aunt’s comments, I am beautiful in my own way!

A delectable day

Getting a ‘tantalizing’ surprise on a glum day is unexplainably amazing, and I was blessed by one such sweet gesture from one of my colleagues today. Unlike a normal working day, I was in no mood to wake up to the refreshing sunshine in the morning, but had to drag me out of the bed and kick-start the day as I was bound by several commitments that I was obliged to. At times commitments and obligations are too strong to rule our thoughts and emotions that we almost feel desperately tongue-tied and deprived of the liberty to squeeze ourselves out of that ‘must-carry’ encumbrance. When it comes to dealing with workplace worries, the otherwise ostensibly optimistic me always sink in to deeper and darker gloom, and today was no different.

Though half-hearted about the idea of heading towards the workplace, I was quick to get ready and reached the mess hall for the regular breakfast, or we call it so, and believe it to be most scrumptious feast so no matter whatever we’re severed, cooked or half cooked. The dishes often taste so weird and bland that none of us are now deprived of healthy taste buds that clearly differentiate the tastes of what we are served. But as we’re never free to be vocal about the unsavouriness of the food, in spite of paying a whooping rent each month, hostellers like us are mostly deprived of tasty food, forcing us to lookout for affordable foodstuffs available outside, only to end up getting infected with stomach problems most of the times. As I finished my breakfast and left the hostel, I had ample time to reach the office, but chose to turn up a bit early, so that I can save myself from the chocking rush during the peak traffic hours.

Like any other day, the office awaited me with empty seats and dark rooms, where my co-workers were yet to reach. Thankfully I had a copy of ‘Deception Point’ by Dan Brown to help me spend my time until I had to jumpstart the day’s work. As I was complete immersed in story of ‘Rachel Sexton’ and her impending ‘adventures’, I heard her calling me from behind. She, a junior colleague of mine, came to me with a bright smile and handed a beautiful container with mouth-watering paneer butter masala, the most delicious and aromatic dish that I always keep drooling over.

As I grabbed the container from her, I smiled from ear to ear, as if I was handed a piece of heaven. Being well aware of my love for paneer cuisines, she just smiled and went to her seat, while I carefully kept the priceless possession of mine, the container with the mouth-watering paneer cuisine, on my table, positioning it right in front of my eyes. Trust me on this, paneer butter masala is a true mood booster, and I always love savoring the tantalizing chunks of soft paneer, edibly cooked in cream and tomato sauce, and garnished luxuriously with unadulterated butter. It simply cheers me up, just like a happy kid! Serve me a teardrop sheet of oil-laced or ghee-glistening chapatti, porotta or naan to mop up the entire bowl of paneer butter masala, and let me confess shamelessly that I would literally be in seventh heaven.I was always free to indulge myself with ample paneer varieties, until I was forced to keep a check on my skyrocketing weight, which forcefully made me cut down the satiating paneer dishes from my diet.

As I continued my work, my heart was pounding and racing for the moment to savour the delectable delight – the most appetizing and luscious paneer dish that sat in front of me in the beautiful plastic container. The most majestic of all the cuisines I know, paneer butter masala is the right compliment of fragrant flavorsome Indian spices that suffuses our sense, along with wedges of pure butter that make it absolutely scrumptious and salivating.

It came lunch time and I was getting uncontrollably hungry. Unlike other days when I continually ranted about being forced to have tasteless hostel food, my colleagues were quite surprised to see me gravitating to the terrace happily, hugging my lunch bag close to my chest, as if I feared someone would grab it soon and disappear. An enjoyable mealtime soon followed, and I relaxingly sat alone and polished-off the entire paneer butter masala satisfyingly, with utmost delight, enjoying every bit of succulent pieces of paneer. It was more than gratifying that I literally fell short of words to thank my colleague who made my day with such a kind gesture. As I went back to my seat, I was happy, completely free of the glum that surrounded me as I arrived. Sometimes savoring a favorite dish is all that it takes to emerge out of your sadness, solitude and desperation. Today it worked wonders for me, and tomorrow it can do the same for you as well.

Thanks dear friend! You made my day!

Is marriage an end to women’s career?

As I happened to watch an interview with Sheryl Sandberg the other day, I heard her mention this advertisement of matrimony.com, where a husband is seen standing up for his spouse, unconditionally backing her decision to work after marriage. I was quick to search the ad on YouTube and here is what I saw:

Having seen numerous men who are dynamically opposite to the one in the ad, I found the entire concept of the commercial too idealistic and unreal; yet prefer to hope that such men also exist at some corners of this ruthlessly patriarchal world. As I have disclosed in several posts before, I am not used to seeing men who are vocal about the rights of their partners, but on the contrary have bumped in to several big-headed and hard-nosed morons who want their wives to be as submissive and obedient as a slave. So I would say that the ad was quite refreshing like a breath of fresh air, making me more enthusiastic to go on with my spousal search, on a well-known matrimony site. But here is this thought that I cannot help but ponder over.

Although the ad is supposedly showcasing the post-modern mind-set of a present day Indian spouse, I find it really hard to believe that our men have outgrown and mellowed themselves way ahead to this very ideal level, shedding their conventional mind-set totally, to broadmindedly accept a working woman who stays out of the house until the dinner time of the day. As I mentioned before, while I would be more than happier such men in today’s world, I can undoubtedly say that most of menfolk out there would find it quite uneasy to gulp down the fact that their spouses work until late in the night and conveniently skip their ‘customary’ spousal duties. This is because, having a culture that proclaims men to be the undisputed leaders of the society, women are often forced to fight against this macho mind-set, in order to gain a place for themselves, be it at home or in the society. While the world continues to proclaim that gone are the days when it undeniably latched and rode on the stereotypes of the husband being the breadwinner and the wives getting confined to homely chores, when it comes to women working as late as six or seven in the evening, she gets to see many frowned faces and nosey questions that rip her of her self-integrity.

As it has been rightly put in the ad, it’s high time that men start amassing the courage to stand by their and make the world aware that when it comes to commenting on someone’s life, there is a boundary line where the world has to stop. But the number of such forward-thinking men in today’s society would be much diminutive when compared to the obstinate majority who cannot stand the sight of watching a woman earning for her own and climbing up the professional ladder with ease. A financially successful woman is always portrayed as a threat to her husband and the family, the reason why the world around leaves no stones unturned to make a hullaballoo of her professional dreams, forcing her to give up on her ambitions, thereby turning the statement “The sky is the limit!” into “The home is the limit!” Such forced decisions can sometimes have adverse effects on their self-esteem, and even force them to plunge into deep depression, as they helplessly watch their career dreams going down the drain.

It’s not chance or compromise that binds two individuals in a blissful matrimony, but genuine understanding, respect, and care for each other. Having the mind-set to wholeheartedly understand and accept the likes and dislikes of partners will work wonders and make marriages work without any strain. To make this effectual, all that our men have to is to shed their flagellation of ego, chauvinism, and patriarchal mind-set. But have our men risen to elevate themselves from their traditional outlook? I really doubt if they have! Rather than forcing women to put their careers on the backburner, men should rise-up and take pains to support her on her professional expedition thus stopping educated and ambitious women from throwing her career dreams out of the window.

Being in a happy marriage is no more about the clichéd romantic thoughts, but goes deeper in to making a choice based on the level of understanding and commitment. It’s about embracing an individual as a whole, along with paying attention not to trample the likes and dislikes of each other. But this often becomes one-sided in many relations, mostly due to those self-centered men out there, the reason why I believe there is more to change in the outlook of men, in order to accept and understand a working woman, instead of forcing her to opt for an indefinite career break post marriage, thus squashing her aspirations mercilessly.

In an age where the ratio of failing relations, increasing divorces and growing number of domestic violences, there is much more to a happy marriage than the cliché that we’ve been carrying throughout the past decades. It should no more be the story of submissive wives and their narcissistic and bossy partners but more about empathizing each others’ passions and beliefs. I hope the ad would turn a reality for many women out there, who are in need of a strong, aspirational and compelling reason to enter into wedlock.

Sorry, I’m Not Sorry

After having watched this advertisement of Pantene which unveiled a shocking truth to the world that women apologize more than men, mostly for no reason whatsoever, I cannot help but ponder over the reason liberal use of the s-word by most of the women out there.
It really got me to thinking about the number of times I apologize a day and the reasons why I do that. The result shocked me further, as no matter whether I am in office or at home, I apologized all the time, much more than what I thought, mostly for trivial , dumbest things; and unknowingly continue to do all the time. Although I am not sure about how I am perceived for having uttered those higher number of apologies throughout my life, the advertisement empowered me to keep a check on my emotional and sensitive self, so that I don’t utter more apologies for insignificant things in life. I am not sure if all women have this strong urge to apologize for everything, but the advertisement strongly vocalized the need to delete the unwanted urge to apologize for unimportant things in life.

With its constant use anywhere and everywhere, ‘I am sorry’, has now become almost flippant, and insincerity personified. With an advertisement that clearly articulated about the need for women to stop their frequent apologies, I feel women are responsible more for the recession and flippancy of the word sorry. I don’t know how it turned out habitual in my life, because I’ve always been on the keener side, and hardly landed in troubles that forced me apologize. The apologies that I’ve articulated by far might have come from my mistaken notion that the apologies would give me a way out from the bad situations. But after watching the advertisement, I feel that it hasn’t done anything worth.

Personally, I believe that apologising too much is a result of the incorrect notion that it makes one more polite and likable. Most women do it in the hope that the other person shouldn’t feel bad. In certain settings it may do good, whereas in certain others, it can be the worst move that one can make, and the advertisement echoes this idea that saying too many apologies is a bad idea. Analyze people around closely and one can soon find that blame and shame trickle down a woman’s mind sooner, when compared to men, and most of the times they are absolutely irrational and insensible. We believe that an instant apology is the best way to mitigate every heated situation in our life, no matter whether we trigger them or not. The advertisement exposes this false reasoning and spreads the message of empowerment. While I sulk around the corner to get in to my senior’s cabin, I unknowingly tend to ask, “Very sorry to disturb you. Can I ask you a doubt?” Even if she says “Sure come in. No need to apologize.”, my replied would be immediate, “O.K. I am sorry.”

The advertisement , I believe, is a like a mirror that reflects our own self, and leave a strong message to stand up for ourselves and stop apologizing for trivial stuffs. As the ad ended, I felt I heard a yell and looked around. There was no one behind me, but I soon understood that the yell came out from the revived and empowered soul of mine. It said, “Stop saying ‘sorry’ all the time! Stop being apologetic unnecessarily. You don’t need to do that unless you really did do something wrong, O.K.? Or else the entire world would find that as a reason to prick you for lack of confidence.”

It is time high time to get over with this frailty, and I want to save all my ‘sorries’ to be said for reasons that are rational enough for an actual apology. I want to them all to be said to people who needs sympathy in actuality, as I’ve had this realization, although off late, that ‘sorries’ lose their value when they are overused. Perhaps I should find a more creative way of saying it when I feel that a sorry is detrimental to my own self.

Bottom-line- While some people may start respecting you less for being constantly sorry, some big-headed ones may feel that you are much more conceited than them for not being apologetic.