December 1, 2016

Musings: Open Letter to My Best Friend


Image Courtesy: www.pexels.com
Dear Best Friend, 

I’ve been thinking and over-thinking a lot lately. But how much we have grown since the time we came into one another’s lives. We have always been pretty accepting about who we wished to be. Believe me that will never change. Even if you decide to dye your hair a violent shade of pink tomorrow, I’d still love you just as much as I love you right now.

But let’s not just dwell on appearances. I am your best friend as you are mine, and remember that our friendship is a safe place where you are allowed to be whoever you want to be. I’ve always told you that you should feel whatever you want to feel, without caring much about what the world might think of you. (Believe me, as someone who has cared too much about what the world thinks, it’s not worth your time. And it’s not worth ruining your mental health over.)

I am here for you: every second of every day that you might need me. I’ll tell you funny stories whenever you might need a laugh. I’ll sit with you in silence if you just want to cry and not talk about what has gone wrong in your life. And I promise not to give up on you, even when you’ve given up on yourself.

Now that we’ve got our promises out of the way, let me tell why I decided to write this open letter to you.

The bravest thing you’ll ever do is let someone love you again.

We all have stories, we all have scars. And we all believe that the heartbreaks we’ve suffered cannot be recovered from. That the world has hurt us in unimaginable ways. That there is no road from here that will let us find ourselves again! Let me tell you right now, that’s the biggest lie you can tell yourself.

You are not your past. You are not your mistakes. And you most definitely are not undeserving of love!

Our lives are hard. And we struggle everyday to make each day matter to us in some way or another. If there’s someone who wants to share in your struggle, who wants to know what makes you happy and what makes you annoyed and who wants to just be there (besides me of course), please let that person in?

Just because it did not work the last time doesn’t mean it won’t work out this time. Just because someone didn’t know how to love you, broke your heart doesn’t mean that it will happen this time.

I know you’re tired of risking it all, over and over again. But without risks, there is nothing else left in our mundane lives. I know, because I’ve always toed the line and look where it got me. I’m just as hurt and broken and scared to love as you are!

In this life, no one can guarantee that they won’t break your heart. I am sure I’ve broken yours quite a few times. But you still love me, and you’re still there for me. I’m sure we have fallen apart too but we’ve always found our way back to each other. We have undying faith in our friendship...why can’t we have the same when we learn to love again?

I cannot promise you that you won’t get hurt. That you will not end up crying at 2 am in the morning. That everyday will be full of sunshine and daisies. There will be dark clouds and grey skies, and there will rainfall. But I can promise you that I’ll be standing right next to you, stopping you from falling down. That when you want to cry your heart out at 2 am, I’ll be on the other end of the line, listening to you as you blame me for telling you to let your guard down. I’ll gift you roses on the days the sun shines a little less bright, and we can dance together in the rain (even though I’m terrible at it) until the storms pass, and the sun shines again.

This life is beautiful. Our friendship make everything in the world ten times nicer. We have each other’s backs. We will always be there for one another, even when we forget to be there for ourselves.

Why are you so scared? I’m right next to you.
Jump! Jump! I’ll jump with you, holding tightly onto your hand –
And I’ll never let go of you.

Image Courtesy: www.pexels.com

Love,
Your Best Friend

This piece has also been published on Thought Catalog

November 18, 2016

Musings: Letter to a Sixteen Year Old



Dear Sixteen Year Old,

I have been struggling to write this letter since the morning. I have been trying to find the right words, because I know somewhere in this world, a scared, terrified sixteen year old needs to read these words.

Listen to me.

Right now everything that is happening to you will feel too much. There will be people in your life who are going to make you feel like you’re nothing. But you’re going to put those years behind you. You’re going to shine so bright. You’re going to become happiness personified. To the outside world that is.

Inside – the battle will always rage on. You’re going to run into the shadows from your past and it will affect you pretty badly. It will mess up your mind and you will go back to feeling insignificant and sixteen, and want to curl up on your bedroom floor that night.

Here’s the part that I want you to read more carefully now.

Do not fight that feeling immediately. You deserve to feel however way you want to feel. But once the thoughts begin to scurry away from your head, you will begin to realise what an idiotic thing this whole ordeal was. If you make it through a night, when the voices in your head have been screaming at you to give up, my dear, that’s the bravest thing you’ve done in a long, long time.

Remember if no one else in this world is willing to help you up, you’re going to have to do it for yourself. Because even though I want to believe that every single person who has crossed my path has something good in them, I cannot deny that we live an inherently selfish world. Every one of us is too busy trying to save ourselves.

As a sixteen year old, I remember feeling so diffident. I remember feeling not pretty enough, not smart enough. I remember never having a line of beaus while most of my friends started going out with people. Had someone to hold onto when their worlds went dark. I remember being hopelessly in love with someone who perhaps didn’t even know who I was. I remember my heart breaking, and sleepless nights. I remember the poetry that came from the anguish of never being loved in return. And here’s the saddest thing I remember: being happy when someone gave me a scrap of attention.
My darling – you are so much more than that! You deserve to be at the top of their priorities. You shouldn’t be an afterthought.

Right now, you’re sixteen and you’re scared and you’re shattered. You’ll learn an important lesson as you grow up. Don’t take yourself too seriously. No one else does. And stop trying to save every lost soul that wanders your way. You’re too good for half of them anyway.

I can tell you that as you grow up, life gets better. I am not saying it’ll be easy. But it will definitely be better. You’ll perhaps still be over trusting and naive. And maybe you’ll never really grow out of being who you are right now. But please remember that you’re a good human being. Maybe you’ll become good at hiding who you are. Or maybe you’ll emerge, stronger than anyone else thought possible.

But right now at sixteen – enjoy your life. Enjoy school. Be wary of the company you keep. You won’t realise it now but you’re only sixteen once and the time will go by rather quickly. And there’s just only so much you can do when you’re sixteen. J

Love,
Twenty Seven Year Old

P.S. – You’re going to remember the bad days some times. Try not to dwell too much on those memories. Because, like all good things, even the bad things end! 

October 2, 2016

Day 10: Weddings (#100DaysofBlogging)


For most part, the word wedding makes me feel tired. Absolutely tired. I remember my sister’s wedding like it was yesterday and how much I resented not being able to sleep for almost a week! I remember my brother’s wedding because it happened in the beginning of this year and even then, I felt so tired. People see the pomp and flair of weddings. No one sees the hard work that goes into making a successful wedding. Making sure the menu is on point, the guests are attended to, that they remembered to invite everyone. That the venue is good for both the bride and the groom. It’s nothing short of a beautiful celebration for those few days. But you know what people forget? It’s a wedding. Once the music dies down, the guests depart and there’s just silence…that’s when the marriage begins. That’s the moment when it all starts. 

October 1, 2016

Day 9: First Impressions (#100DaysofBlogging)


I had a friend who once told me that first impression is the last impression. Too bad I wasn’t too impressed by him. But well, he did have a point. Sometimes are instincts scream at us: warn us, about a person, a place, an incident. Do we always listen to that? I know I don’t. I know that sometimes people make us see what they want us to see. You have to put in the effort, make them comfortable to be around you. First impressions can also be misleading. It has happened. Book covers, for instance, often mislead most of its readers. The point is, sometimes we need to look past the exterior and see what’s inside. Isn’t it?

September 30, 2016

Day 8: Coffee (100DaysofBlogging)



I am pretty much addicted to tea. In fact, there’s no chance of me ever saying no to a cup of tea. It could be the middle of the afternoon and I’d still be interested in a cuppa! But I also am in the habit of ordering coffee when I visit cafes, when I meet people in coffee shops. I can never bring myself to order tea. At the most, iced teas. But I stick to cups of coffee when I am in these cafes. I really don’t know why. I guess it’s a quirk I developed a long time ago and I’ve never consciously tried to change it. So, if I am sitting alone, reading a book in café, there’s no doubt what drink I’d probably have in my hand! 

September 29, 2016

Day 7: Favourite Song (#100DaysofBlogging)



You know what I love most about songs? The lyrics. There’s a saying which says that, “With the right kind of music you either forget everything or you remember everything.” But the kinds of songs that I like, they vary. Anyone who goes through the playlist on my phone is bound to think I’m crazy. Because I listen to all kinds of songs. And it completely depends on the mood that I’m in as to what would be my favourite song.

I create playlists for the stories that I write. There are certain songs kept on loop to help me get into the heads of my characters. There are songs that remind of things I want to forget; of people I have no interest in remembering ever again. There are songs which give me a lot of hope and help me look forward to tomorrow.

Currently, my favourite song is Better Place by Rachel Platten. If you’ve not heard the song, check it out. It has a lot of positivity and happiness.

September 28, 2016

Musings: Day 6 - Happiness (#100DaysofBlogging)


You know why people cannot seem to find happiness? Because they don't realize that happiness is not a destination. You cannot keep telling yourself, if this happens or that, then I'll be happy. The Universe is always providing you with reasons to be happy but you're stubborn. So you don't want to take the chance and just be happy! 

If you talk about on very personal terms, I have a list of things that can always make me happy no matter what I might be currently going through in life, (and in no particular order as such):

1. My mother 
2. All my cats 
3. Books 
4. Stories 
5. Conversations 
6. Soul Mates 
7. Friends 
8. Traveling 
9. Singing 
10. Rainfall 

If you're feeling sad, just make a list of all the good things in your life. No, you don't get to be pessimist and tell me that there's nothing good in your life. You will have to learn to dig deeper and tell me what makes your life so uniquely yours.

September 27, 2016

Musings: Day 5 - Soul Mates (#100DaysofBlogging)


“What is a friend?”
“It is a single soul dwelling in two bodies.”
- Aristotle



We live in a world where everyone is obsessed with trying to find their happily ever after. We are part of a world where it’s so easy to find someone when you’re lonely but equally difficult to find someone when you’re ready. We don’t want to feel alone and the lengths that we go to in order to make sure we’re never lonely, is sometimes pretty appalling.

In the world that has no time to stop, that has no time to really work towards building a relationship, it is almost a laughable matter to be in search of soul mates. But my dear, this is exactly where most of us go wrong.

Soul mates don’t always have to be people you’re in love with or who you might want to potentially build a relationship with. Sometimes the most perfectly matched soul mates are your best friends.

True no one wants to label one particular friend as their best friend because let’s face it we share different and comfortable equations with all our friends. But the soul mates that I have, well I think we’ve literally watched ourselves go through hell and come back. Our friendship has run so deep that we are aware when one of us is upset or unhappy. I’m no longer surprised when I wake up in the middle of the night, feeling restless and horrible, because I know one of them is upset. I am not surprised, when I cry myself to sleep and get a text asking me, “What’s wrong? Why are you so sad?” Followed by a series of jokes that would force anyone out of a bad mood!

So you see you’re being an absolute jackass if you think you’re going to find your perfect soul mate in a romantic relationship. You’ve already found your soul mate in your friends. You’re just too stubborn to realize it.
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Topic selected by: Me :)

September 26, 2016

Musings: Day 4 - Story (#100DaysofBlogging)


“Sometimes it’s not about the happy ending. Sometimes it’s about the story.”



This was the prompt that made me write the book which actually helped my writing career, When Our Worlds Collide. I was honestly very intrigued by the story of two people who come together but do not necessarily end up together. I began asking people around me what they cherish the most about their lives. They always told me it was the stories that have stayed with them forever.

Stories have saved countless lives. Because sometimes the only thing that keeps you from giving up is the fact you read the words that would become your saviour at the right time. Stories don’t always have to come to you in the form of books. It could be a little incident someone told you about. A little story that you came across in the pages of a long forgotten magazine.

You have no idea how powerful one little story can be. They shape lives. They build us up, they help us realize even the most broken amongst us can rise again. Therefore, I love stories. I no longer chase happy ever afters, now I just see where the story might take me! 

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Topic by: Leo Da

September 25, 2016

Musings: Day 3: Childhood Memories (#100DaysofBlogging)

Childhood Memories.



Do you remember everything about your childhood?
In crystal clear details or is your memory like one?
Broken, fragmented.
Some blacked out hurriedly with a felt pen.
Or memories shining bright,
Even though you’ve tried so many times to make it go dim.
Ah, childhood. You were so filled with memories.
The stuffed teddy bear that once comforted me,
And the little pillow that has become long forgotten!
The room I once shared with a sister,
Is still filled with scattered pieces of when she once lived here with me.
A part of the room, left untouched
Because moving things around would feel –
Well, too final.
No one likes being an adult. No one wants to let go off being a child.
So you find an in between, you fill up your room
With all your childhood memories. 

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Topic selected by: Me! 

September 24, 2016

Musings: Day 2: Bookstore (#100DaysofBlogging)


“I love walking into a bookstore. It's like all my friends are sitting on shelves, waving their pages at me.” 

― Tahereh Mafi



Nothing has ever made me feel quite at home as much as a Bookstore has. Whenever people want to meet up with me in my city, I suggest coming down to Oxford Bookstore. Or Story. Or Starmark, South City. The bottom line is: I ask them to meet me at a place where I would be surrounded by books.

My sister was an avid reader and I think I picked up the habit of reading books from her. I don’t know when a hobby turned slightly into an obsession and I ended up with a cupboard full of books. And more books overflowing. I have stopped keeping a count on how many books I own. Because I am pretty sure the number is irrelevant.

When I went to Bangalore this month, I had to meet a lot of my friends. And all of them like me, love reading books. In fact I think our friendship is based on the fact that we love reading books. It was of no surprise then that all of us decided to meet up in Blossoms.
Anyone who has ever lived in Bangalore will tell about this one magical place where an entire house is dedicated to books. And they house books for everyone under the Sun! I’m not very surprised that I bought 5 books from there in my first visit! Three of them are Neil Gaiman books. So I have no regrets.

Some of my best memories have been in bookstores. Be it fighting about why Young Adult novels are awesome, or why I refuse to read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child or simply gazing at books! I find bookstores amazingly comfortable places for first meetings. Because the books around you serve as such amazing ice breakers!

You can keep the conversation going in a bookstore no matter what happens because you will never run out of things to talk about. So the next time you’re unsure about meeting up with some. Just suggest that they meet you in a bookstore. If they refuse, there’s your red flag right there. And if they do turn up and turn out to be bores – well, at least you will enjoy yourself in the company of books! 

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Topic selected by: Leo Da 

September 23, 2016

Musings: Day 1 - Hope (#100DaysofBlogging)

The bee was drawn by Souradeep Ghosh. And I designed the blog title on Canva.

From today, there are exactly 100 days left for 2016 to end. So we decided (a writing/blogging group called Bibliobibulis) that we are going to challenge ourselves to blog everyday, for the next 100 days as we bring in the New Year! 

Further, while everyone chose themes for themselves, Leo da and I decided to do this project in collaboration. So everyday we pick topics for the next. I picked the topic for Day 1 which happens to be Hope. Now, on with the actual blog post: 

The direction defines hope as 'a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen.' But according to me our very existences thrive on the fact that we can hope. I was rather tiny when I had my first brush with death and realized that not one of us would get to live forever. So I remember asking my mother, "But if I am going to die anyway, what's the point of trying to hard to survive?" And she told me, "To live a good life. And hope that everything will turn out to be exactly how you wish. Never let go of hope. Because the day you stop hoping, that will be the end.'. 

So I learned to hope. I even learned to hope against hope. I have had the rug taken rudely off my feet. I have fallen flat on my back and seriously debated whether the effort I'd have to put in to get back up again was going to be worth it or not. The tiny voice inside my head whispered, But you shouldn't give up hope. It all ends the minute you. 

Merely hoping has indeed helped me come this far. And it is what keeps me from simply settling for whatever life decides to give me. You have just one life. So you definitely should not settle for anything other than what you really, really want out it. Hope that it all gets better. Hope that all your dreams will come true. But most of all, just know that even holding on to hope will see you through some of the darkest days you might believe will never end. 

I am not saying it's an easy road to take. When you decide to take hope by the hand and walk along with it. But when you realize that life is meant to be lived, not meant for you to wait with baited breath to arrive somewhere - you will realize how important hope really is in our lives. Because once you choose hope, anything is possible. 

(Also the minute you feel like this enough and you want to quit, please tell yourself this: I did not come this far to only get this far. And all should be right in your world again.)




September 20, 2016

Musings: Manhattan from the Sky



"You're My Manhattan from the Sky" 
That song has been on loop for quite some time now. And as I listen 
Rather carefully to the words being sung 
I realize, that the sixteen year old girl would have smiled at me 
And thanked me. 
For finally letting you know that to her, 
You were the Manhattan from the sky. 
She loved you more than you'd ever know. Or I believe I'm capable of ever loving someone ever again. 
She held on to that love, even though it was never returned, and she drew happiness and joy from it, 
And a strength that knew no bounds 
That her future self learned to love again. 
The thing is: you never forget your first love. You can put out the flames but the fire somehow remains. 
So every once in a while, I do think about you. 
And I wonder if I've ever crossed your mind. I guess not. 
It's not your fault either. You didn't know. 
How could you any way? Because she was in love with a boy she'd never said a word to. 
When you're sixteen conversations don't really matter I suppose. 
You're still her Manhattan from the sky. Because you look so neat and tidy when she's soaring up high. 
I wonder now at times if I'll ever meet a boy who'll make me feel that way again. 
That the mere sight of him will set my heart racing, that my cheeks will get all hot and flushed. That they'll be butterflies in my tummy and I'd be a little dazed if he even said "hello" to me. 
That feeling is amazing. When love can knock you off your feet. 
But you're nothing but her Manhattan from the sky. 
And she needs someone who would be okay with wandering the mess of grey skyscrapers with her. 
You can go on looking perfect when she's watching you from way up high. 
Because the closer she gets, that sixteen year old girl, who held a torch for you for so, so long... 
I'll break her heart. Not you. 
She's been through enough. 
So please just be
Her 
Manhattan from the Sky.


This piece was inspired by - 


July 31, 2016

Harry Potter and the Girl He Saved



Every year on this day I write a Facebook post in honor of Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling and I talk about how this book series saved me during my rather turbulent teenage years. I was introduced to the world of Harry Potter when I was 12 and even though I’m 26 now, I am yet to find a book series which makes me as happy as the Harry Potter world had. A few no doubt have come close. But there was something about being a rather naïve twelve-year-old, believing that life couldn’t be going to a rather boring school and coming back home and keeping up with the apparently rest of the brilliant students in my class. I would actually daydream that Harry Potter might come bursting through the doors of our Assembly Hall and whisk me away on an adventure. Tell my school there had been a mistake, and that I rightfully belonged to Hogwarts. The love for the series grew so intense that I owned Harry Potter merchandise (thanks to relatives who live abroad and love me a lot), and I was the cause for envy for a lot of kids. But still, I wasn’t the brightest button when it came to studies. So…how did it matter that I owned Harry Potter merchandise?

One of the other things that I owned was a diary with a lock, and it was a Harry Potter merchandise. The cover was of Harry Potter and Ron Wealsey, on their way to Hogwarts on the train. Of Harry offering Ron some of his food, and trying to be his friend. When I was younger, I didn’t realize who was my friend and who wasn’t. And it took me twenty-six years to cast of people who were quite toxic from my life. Because something that Harry Potter did teach me, a friend never makes you feel bad about yourself.



Well, I moved on and through all the wrong decisions I made through life, I came across amazing people who shared my love for Harry Potter and who helped me understand that everyone goes through bad things. But you cannot let one bad thing define who you are. Sometimes, I think the only reason I pulled through school was my immense love for Harry Potter. The stories and the movies always had me looking forward to something in life. No one understood it then (least of all me) but through most of my teen life I was depressed.

Depression would be a pretty obvious thing of course when you’re reduced to feeling like you’re not good enough and nothing good would ever happen to you. Maybe it’s because of this that all the characters that I write always like keeping to themselves, that they all seem to suffer and sometimes doesn’t know what is it that has hit them. When you’re depressed, there’s always something you need to hold onto so that you don’t sink. So for me Harry Potter was that anchor. I’m sure J.K. Rowling knows that she’s saved countless lives by bringing the boy wizard into our lives.



But from my part, I would have turned out to be quite different had I not had Harry Potter as a ray of hope in my life.

Happy Birthday, J. K. Rowling and Harry Potter, from the girl you saved. 


July 10, 2016

Musings: 12 Things You Learn When You ‘Adult’



I am twenty six years old and quite often, I forget that. Because a) nearly everyone tells me I don't look my age and b) being the youngest member of the family, I have never actually felt like an adult. Even though I was excited about turning eighteen, it didn't feel any different than being thirteen years old. I also realized a horrifying truth over the last few years: no one can teach you how to adult. You've to figure that out for yourself. And here are twelve things I have learned the hard way about being an adult. 

1.Grocery shopping is important. The fridge won't magically fill itself. Eating out every day isn't healthy either.
No matter how much you might hate going out to shop for food, it’s necessary. Eating out all the time is a rather poor life choice. If you never learned how to cook now is the best time to start. Especially if live alone. Thanks to YouTube it is pretty easy to learn how to make quick and healthy meals. And once you begin cooking, you’ll realise that you need to go grocery shopping. At least twice a month if you are buying all the food group products that you need to consume!

2.Waking up early in the morning is better than pulling all nighters.
It might seem like a lot of fun to pull all nighters to get work done or to finish the book you recently picked up. My advice is: don’t do it. You’ll just feel tired and groggy the next day, and wake up a little too late and hate your life. Instead go to bed at a reasonable hour and wake up early. Getting up early actually stretches out the morning and you can get more work done. Because after a good night’s sleep, you will feel equipped to handle just about any amount of work that needs to be completed. And you can even get some reading done.

3.Staying inside on some of the weekends  is far better than going out to party every single time.
It may be tempting to go out and socialize on every single weekend, but the adult in you would tell you not to do it. Sometimes you don’t even realise how much ‘me’ time you have been secretly craving until you unplug the computer, put your phone on silent and just lie down. Partying all weekend would mean going back to work on Monday, drained out and tired. So why not just give yourself a break and take the time out to recharge your batteries?

4.Saving for the future as soon you land your first job is a wise decision.
It could be the very first real job for you or it could be the third thing you’re trying but it is very important to begin saving the minute to begin earning. All the talk of saving when your earning is a little more steady will actually get you nowhere. It doesn’t have to be a large amount either. Just make sure you have enough money saved up in case there suddenly is an emergency. Since we live in a crazy world where anything could happen, why not be prepared for it?

5.Beginning to understand a caring friend is a thousand times better than a careless lover.
The adult in you is tired of playing mind games and interpreting mixed signals from guys. You crave meaningful relationships now. It has become more important to sit back and talk about the day with a few close friends, than to talk to some guy who is busy playing hard to get. The only relationships you’re interested in right now are the ones that are good and healthy for you.

6.Using a planner and making to do lists saves a lot of time.
We all have jobs to keep and a thousand and one household work to do as well. It helps to make to do lists the night before for the next day. There’s an odd sense of satisfaction checking off the items from the list once those are completed. You could even try making to do lists for the week or even a month.

7.Once in awhile, it’s okay to indulge yourself.
You work hard and you deserve a break every once in awhile. So buy that cute dress, or the nice pair of shoes. Go out to dinner to that expensive place that you’ve been avoiding like plague. It really is okay to indulge yourself once in awhile. And don’t feel guilty about it. That wouldn’t be very adult of you.

8.Panicking about which direction life is headed and calming down once you realise you're on your way there.
It’s perfectly normal to have panic attacks when you’re thinking about your journey in life. Try not to get too wrapped up in those thoughts. Because sometimes it’s like going down a rabbit hole. Relax, breathe. Always remind yourself you have come a long way from where you were. As adults, we can actually make ourselves stop worrying because we’ve learned to reason with ourselves.

9.Spending more time with people than on apps and the virtual world.
While social media plays a rather large role in our lives, it would help to keep that part of your life separate from the real one. No matter how many likes you might get on your latest Insta post or how many retweets you might get from total strangers on twitter, make an effort to be in touch with the real people in your lives. Because in a few years when life begins to slow down, you’ll need them just as much as they’ll need you. Don’t cut off people who will be with you forever for the sake of things that offer instant gratification. The adult in us would always tell us that.

10.Taking risks. Because life cannot be a list of regrets.
When we were children we could be anything and we could do anything. What was it that you really, really wanted as a child? Do you still want to do that? Then get on our way of doing it. Part of being an adult is also making sure your dreams don’t die. Life should be a series of adventures not a list of regrets. No matter what it is that you always wanted to do, you should do it. After all, we only live once.

11.Health Checkups are necessary.
Going to the doctor only after you fall sick is something you did in school and college. As adults, schedule health checkups with your doctor. These are necessary, and whilst you’re at it, maybe investing in a health insurance is a really good idea. In fact, the adult in you is probably nodding their head reading this and making a mental note to get a health insurance as soon as possible. Believe me, it is important.

12.No one truly grows up. They just learn to behave in public.
And here’s the deepest secret no one knows. There are times when we panic and look around for an adult. Of course we know we are an adult but we just want someone who has been an adult longer than we have. The truth is, no one us every truly grow up. We just master the art of getting by and behaving in public.


There you go. In my experience of being an adult for the last eight years, these are the twelve things I came to know. Did I miss anything out? What did you learn when you began to navigate through the turbulent waters of being an adult? 


June 2, 2016

Musings: A Letter To My Younger Self



"Be who you needed when you were younger." 

I remember seeing these words on a post on social media. 
On a lazy Saturday morning. I remember having to read the words twice.
Then when I realized what it meant, I nodded my head in delight.

Little me needed a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on.
Someone to tell her the facts but not make up her mind for her.
She needed someone to guide her. Not tell her how to live. 

Young adult me was perpetually lost, confused.
Avoided mirrors like the plague. 
Couldn't wait to grow up. Couldn't wait to be done with school.
Just couldn't wait at all.

Then overnight she turned into an adult. 
Everything was overwhelming. Because no one can ever teach you
how to "adult". And despite all the jokes we crack about it,
we're all a little too hopelessly lost. 
Treading waters carefully. When we should have taken life by the horns and 
been dancing like there's no tomorrow. 

"Be who you needed when you were younger."

The words are so much more than merely words. They have a hidden meaning. 
At least for me. 

Because if I could tell one thing to the little me, 
I would take her hand and say, "Be brave, dear one.
Even if you don't feel it. Pretend to be. It's true what they say.
No one can tell the difference." 

If I could have only five minutes with the 
stubborn, young adult me. I'd force her to see her face in the 
mirror. 
Heroes often stay in the shadows. But it is those who are in the light, 
who know fighting back is braver than giving up, are the ones who are 
remembered. And they're remembered by name. 
Don't be afraid of your own reflection. 
You control it. Not the other way around.

And if I could tell my newly adult self just one thing, 
it would be this: laugh. Relax. Breathe.
You're not supposed to know all the answers. 
You're supposed to fall down. But you cannot stay there forever.
No one is going to help you back up. 
You have to pull yourself up. You need to push yourself.
No one will do it for you.
You have to be your own best friend.
You have to be your cheerleader.
And you need to play your own drums. 

"Be who you needed when you were younger."

One last thing I would tell my younger self,
Thank you. 
Thank you for making your mistakes.
Thank you for putting your trust in the wrong hands.
Thank you for falling down and losing faith.
Thank you for getting into fights, for being immature.
Thank you for learning to build up walls, when someone broke 
down your doors. 
Thank you for understanding pain, and realizing Hell cannot be 
much worse than this.
But a much bigger thank you for never giving up.
Thank you for simply having been you,
Because if you had not done those things,
I would have never turned into who I am today.

A good human being. A strong person. 
A crazy cat lady. A writer. An optimist. 
With bittersweet memories and an unbridled happiness, 
that is enough to last me a lifetime. 

May 31, 2016

Musings: 5 YA Books That Talked About Mental Health



For most of my childhood, I was depressed and anxious. I didn’t know why or how. I was depressed due to a variety of personal reasons and though my mother tried to make me tell her what was bothering me, I never could. Not because I didn’t want to tell her but because I had no idea what to tell her. As I was growing up the term ‘depression’ was very casually used. It wasn’t supposed to be a big deal. People felt sad sometimes and the next day, they were magically better.

Sleep. You’ll feel better in the morning.  
That’s like saying, have you tried switching it off and restarting it again?

And it’s horrifying. How can you equate human emotions with that of a stupid mobile phone or TV? How can you simply ‘snap out of it’ if you’re suffering from depression and anxiety and you’re too young to know what these are in the first place!

Previously, Privy Trifles wrote a post about her own battle with depression as a child. Reading her article made me realize that with all the talk that goes around about mental health the children get utterly ignored. It’s always the stories of someone who suffered a heartbreak, who failed in something they’d set their heart on, someone who is on the other side of eighteen who gets even the smallest attention we are offering. That really got me thinking.



And I remembered. I remembered that I read books that had been primarily targeted at a younger audience, and where the authors tried their best to talk about mental health. I had never felt so thankful towards my love for YA books.

Here’s a list of the books that I had read and would personally recommend, that spoke about mental health.

The Princess Diaries Book 9

Right after Michael Moscovitz leaves for Japan, Mia Thermopolis spirals into depression and until her parents force her to go see a therapist she pretty much sinks to an all-time low. Mia already had issues. She had an overbearing best friend in the form of Lilly Moscovitz, who didn’t like it when Mia opposed any of her plans. What I liked about the book was how well Meg Cabot handled the scenes with the therapist. There is nothing wrong in seeking help when you most need it. And Mia needed all the help she could get. She had to be forced to go see the therapist...but in the end, it was all to help her cope with her life.
Will Grayson, Will Grayson

An excerpt from this novel will give readers an idea about what David Levithan and John Green were driving at with their novel:

“i think the idea of a "mental health day" is something completely invented by people who have no clue what it's like to have bad mental health. the idea that your mind can be aired out in twenty-four hours is kind of like saying heart disease can be cured if you eat the right breakfast cereal. mental health days only exist for people who have the luxury of saying "i don't want to deal with things today" and then can take the whole day off, while the rest of us are stuck fighting the fights we always fight, with no one really caring one way or another, unless we choose to bring a gun to school or ruin the morning announcements with a suicide.”

The Perks of being a Wallflower

When we talk about YA novels that have dealt with mental health, it would be a gross injustice to not talk about this novel. ‘Charlie’ had been the victim of abuse from someone he loved and because of his conflicting realities, he suffered from depression. We do not understand because reading his letters, he sounds just like any other teenager going through the traumatizing experience of high school. But the novel serves as an eye opener to everyone who does not take mental health of young adults seriously.  
Love Letters to the Dead

The story of Laurel and her sister, May, had most certainly done a number on me. Because the story is narrated via the letters that Laurel writes to people who are dead...you do not realize the underlying issues of mental health until you’re well into the novel. This is a very good reflection of what mental health issues are like in real life. It doesn’t just knock on your door and says, “Surprise!” But slowly creeps in and one thing just leads to another. What particularly loved about this novel was the fact that it was guilt that had disturbed the mental peace of our young protagonist...but she decides to seek help. No one in her life treats her issues as trivial. In order to understand more about mental health awareness, I would suggest that everyone read this book.

All the Bright Places

More recently, I read the book that everyone’s been talking about: All the Bright Places. It was the tagline that will stay with me forever:

This is the story of a girl who learns to live from a boy who wants to die.

Initially, Finch seems like nothing short of an asshole and you don’t want to spend a minute with him. But as he opens up about himself, you’re slowly drawn into his world. You’re going crazy trying to figure him out. You’re lining up post it notes against the walls, trying to figure out his cryptic messages. And you’re filled with this irrational desire of wanting to save him. Yes, he’s fictional. So you begin to think about all the Finches that you might know. The Finches you didn’t take the time out of your busy lives to save...and you begin to notice young adults in a whole new light. Mental health is not just about adults who’ve hit rock bottom, but also for young adults who are doing their best trying to find their ground in a world determined to knock them off their feet! This book introduced me to a certain kind of depression and I am so thankful for it. 

YA novels are not just about vampires and werewolves and magic and supernatural. They talk about real issues. They start conversations that young adults should be having with their parents. So we bring our series of Mental Health Awareness to end, but giving you the list of YA novels you could check out if you would like to know more about mental health. Whoever said YA novels are not for adults, never read any of the books on our list!

_____________________________

With this blog post, we come to the end of our series for Mental Health Awareness Month. I would like to thank Namrata, Dhivya and Preethi for being a part of this journey and writing posts for the issue, even when they were busy with their lives. I am truly grateful to you three. To all the readers, thank you for reading and sharing the posts. We hope you consider joining us next year in May as we do a similar project. I sincerely hope our posts have found their way to those who really needed help. If you happen to be struggling with your demons, please remember that you're not alone. And you're loved.


May 27, 2016

Guest Post: Becoming My Own Saviour by Preethi Venugopala



I was born in a quaint, remote little village in North Kerala where myths, superstitions, and folklores colored the thoughts of its inhabitants. Luckily, I was born as the daughter of a man of science, a homeopathic doctor and a hypnotherapist, who worshiped the human mind.

I grew up hearing tales of the demons that lived on the giant Pala trees (Indian Devil Tree) and about the dangerous spirits that lurked in the darkness to pounce upon unsuspecting wanderers on certain full moon Fridays. But, at home, we were taught about the miracles the human mind was capable of performing and even the science behind certain common beliefs.

Homeopathy heals by stimulating the healing power or the vital force that exists in every living being, it studies in detail the intricate connections that exist between the mind and the body. A hypnotherapist learns to control the human mind. My father combined both these systems to heal his patients. More than that, he taught us that every single thought was powerful. The wall between sanity and insanity, he said, was very feeble and was entirely balanced by thoughts. To drill this into our consciousness, he told us case histories of his patients. Some had lost their sanity due to a sudden trauma, some others after years of ill-treatment or self-abuse. He told us how hypnotic suggestions (instructions/affirmations to the brain to think in a certain way) brought about dramatic changes.
My brother and sister both followed his footsteps and became Homeopathic doctors. Whenever their friends came home, there would be healthy debates about the healing powers of a single drop of medicine or a single hypnotherapy session. All in all, I grew up venerating the human mind.




My father left us in 2011, after being bedridden for eight long months. All of us were in denial for the longest time. My sister was the worst affected and would burst into tears every other moment. My mother left our family home to live with my brother in Delhi saying she couldn’t bear to live in the house which had lost its pillar of strength. I bottled all my sadness in and acted bravely in front of others. Relatives taunted me that even though I had been the most pampered by him I seemed happy that he was gone. They didn’t know that I was withering internally. I had to remain strong externally; I had a two-year-old to look after. But I loathed myself, I criticized myself constantly for being fake. Slowly but steadily the sadness I had trapped inside began to surface as random outbursts of anger or tears. Sometimes, all I wanted was to escape from the numbing sadness, find a window to jump out of, and end everything. My health suffered, I was always lethargic and exhausted. Insomnia plagued me. I tried many things to distract myself; painting, crochet, and endless hours of television. Nothing worked.

I turned then to my sister for help. She prescribed medicines. But recurring thoughts would again lead me into the same pit of depression. It was during that time that my sister found healing for herself through Reiki. She encouraged me as well to take it up. Reiki again instilled in me the confidence that we human beings are capable of healing ourselves. The power to heal was through thoughts, intentions and meditations thereby harnessing the cosmic energy to heal. I did the self-healing Reiki sessions religiously and all the symptoms of depression began to disappear.

At the Reiki class, I met Saileela who was then a techie working at IBM. We became close friends as we shared many common interests. Her life ambition was to master past life regression, which she learned eventually. She was kind enough to let me experience the magic of past life regression during mid-2013. The experience taught me many things. The most important one was that we incarnate many times. Our soul is immortal. The experiences we undergo in this life are already chosen by the soul even before we incarnate. Everything is a lesson our soul wants to learn. And our thoughts create our reality.

The period of 2011-2013 was the dark period in my life where I was reeling in mild depression, a common mental disorder. When I look back at those hours now, I understand how they made me stronger. I also understand why bottling up emotions is harmful.

In the current world, nearly half the world population is depressed. Having experienced the debilitating numbness this mental disorder brings into one’s life, I know it is a tough and lonely fight. But it can be won. I wish to share here the pointers I use to keep myself centered and happy.

1)    A Happiness shield:
I believe that being happy and content is our most natural state of being. Everyone deserves happiness and love. Whenever a situation arises where I find myself haunted by recurring sad thoughts, I deliberately start thinking about happy things. Remember the spell ‘Expecto Patronum’ Harry Potter uses to drive away the Dementors who makes him think dreadful thoughts? I create my own Patronus, my protective shield using happy vibes. These can be happy memories, music or dancing. Happiness comes in little packages and inundates our being if we care to collect them.
I take care to read happy light reads, watch comedies and weed out negativity from my social media feed when I am in such a phase. Also, I eliminate toxic people from my life who are responsible for giving me those negative thoughts or vibes.

2)    Exercise:
Whenever sadness becomes unbearable I make myself move. I go out for a long walk in the park, spend an hour at the gym, do yoga or dance away to the music.

3)    Gratitude:
I maintain a gratitude journal. I write in it every day. It is a very powerful spiritual practice. Once we begin to notice the things that we are blessed with. If you are reading this using a laptop, have an internet connection and is wealthy enough to buy the food or clothes of your choice, you are blessed than the majority of the world population. Whenever I feel down I take out a paper and start to list things which I am grateful for at the moment. When we become aware of our blessings, despair goes away.

4)    Self Love:
I practice self-love to build self-esteem. I take care not to chide myself repeatedly if I commit a mistake. I mentally hug myself and tell it is okay to err. After all, I am human. I use the mirror method prescribed by Louise L Hay to say affirmations of self-love. Check this article by Louise L Hay where she talks about ways to help build self-esteem. In fact, Louise L Hay says we can heal any ailment using self-love and affirmations.

5)    Meditate:
I meditate whenever I feel overwhelmed by day-to-day life. If you search on Youtube, there are many guided meditations including by many masters like Louise L Hay which bring perceptible change into our mental makeup and thoughts if practiced regularly.

6)    Talk to a friend or relative:
A face to face talk with a loved one is more effective than a hundred counseling sessions. I talk to my sister or my husband. Both know me better than I know myself these days.

7)    Prayer:
I chant my favorite Devi mantra till a negative thought leaves me. I visit the nearby temple when some event occurs that agitates me. I like to unburden myself by giving it all to God. I make it a point to ask for healing whenever I visit a temple. Ask, believe and you will receive.

8)    Live in the moment:
I firmly believe in this quote by Lao Tzu.
“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”

9)    Write to vent:
Writing in longhand on paper about the things that trouble you is an effective way to vent. Free writing to make your brain vomit all those random thoughts floating around inside your mind helps to purge half the anxieties and fears. Putting them down on paper make half of them sound ridiculous.

10)    Seek medical help:
Depression is a serious mental illness which can be cured. If nothing you do is returning you to your natural state of happiness, seek medical help. Find a counselor.
I can assure you that all these methods work. I used various permutations and combinations of all these methods when a bout of depression hit me again this year in February about which I have written on my blog. I became my own savior this time. 


Preethi Venugopala is a bibliophile in love with words. Her debut novel is ''Without You'' published by Write India Publishers. She loves to dabble in fiction, poetry and arts on her blog www.preethivenugopala.com

Contact:
Twitter: @preethivenu || Instagram: @preethivenu || Facebook: www.facebook.com/authorpreethi