The Dark Side Of Being Nice

Harry eases into his couch with a bag of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans after a long day of Quidditch practice. He opens his diary and starts to scribble to himself.

What does it mean to be nice and likable? Have you really thought about where these concepts of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ came from? “We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on” Sirius Black, told Harry once. But what does that mean really… Umbridge never thought he was any good. The Dursleys never thought he was any good. Cho probably didn’t think too much about him either. He was always too skinny, too peaky, too demanding. It can be very limiting to belong to these labels and be expected to live up to them every now time. It can make people feel very caged inside. Dykstra_20160228_5514-2

Has anybody ever thought about the dark side of being nice though? Cause nice people also lie. They tell you things about you that aren’t true because they don’t want to hurt your feelings.  They don’t say things to you that they should because they don’t want to rock the boat. Many of their actions are guided by their self-interest.  By that, I mean that their niceness has more to do with what others think about them – primarily their concern that other people like them. Not very nice though, is it? I myself have been guilty on many occasions of being nice to avoid conflict.

Let’s think long and hard here for a little while… Would you really want to be nice and miss out on the chance to have a more fulfilling experience of life? Would you really want the course of your life to be defined by other people because you were too sweet to say no to them? Would you really want to experience resentment in your relationships because you’re exhausted people-pleasing and now you have no energy left for yourself? Would you really want to forfeit your own uniqueness because you want to conform to set images, and in the process feel like you’re losing yourself?

If that’s the case then hell yes, I’m not nice! No way.

Very recently, I’ve felt my good girl mask slowly chip away. I’ve found myself saying no to people more often, setting boundaries for myself, and being a lot more respectful of my own time and energy. I was nice, but I want to be good. I want to be strong. I want to be kind and empathetic. I want to work towards my relationships and see myself grow. I want to handle fights, pain, and uncertainty instead of avoiding them. 2465f7bbde456ed134e1e5dc244aa0abI want to feel like an equal in the relationship and have my emotional needs met. And I’m starting too. It’s like tasting a flavor of ice cream you never knew existed. Like standing in your balcony, during the drizzling rain. There’s so much relief in being seen, heard, understood and loved. “It’s okay to feel sad. It’s okay to not want to listen to other people talking about themselves. It’s okay to not be there for someone if you can’t”. The first time I heard my therapist say things like that to me, I was quite spellbound. “But… nobody told me it was okay to cry or look sad… Mom and Dad would get sadder if I was sad. And then I felt like I shouldn’t be sad… So I’d just hop around and play instead” I whispered. She inhaled sharply and we both looked at each other with this fondness we’ve had.

“Good is hard,” Clark Kent said. That’s because being good means facing the harsh reality of things. It means standing up for yourself. It means sitting through difficult conversations and working towards forging stronger relationships. Being good takes strength and courage. Good people don’t say nice things for the sake of it- they mean it. They appreciate the positives in people but do not hesitate to point out the negatives. They work towards building a successful like for themselves. They assert boundaries for themselves and choose to be in healthier and more equal relationships. This involves being honest with their peers and dealing with problems head-on.

Loving yourself. Caring for yourself. Understanding yourself. These are the most underrated teachings that we’ve all had in life. People with deeper relationships have known what they need from their loved ones and have not shied away from asking for it. But the rest of us who are learning as we grow, do need to consistently invest in ourselves. It can be immensely fulfilling to be in strong, healthy relationships. People love to make others feel deeply loved. They love to make others feel cared for. They love to understand each other and support each other. As a community, that’s how we exist. And promoting healthier relationships is our moral prerogative.

Which is why, it’s OKAY to not be nice, and choose to be good instead.
It’s okay to be strong.
It’s okay to let yourself feel those uncomfortable feelings.
It’s okay to be vulnerable.
It’s okay to desire love and care.
You’re feelings don’t make you weaker.
They make you stronger instead.

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When Slippy, The Toilet, Fell Ill 😓

This story about Slippy, our favourite member in the house and our toilet, who recently fell very ill. In leu of his unstable health, we pray that our dearest feels better soon as without him we’d feel emotionally and physically impaired.

Recently, in our quaint lovely home, we had a toilet fiasco. For the sake of not scaring ourselves, let’s call our toilet slippy and imagine as a person. It had been a few days that Slippy was not feeling well. His stomach would growl. He’d feel pukish as if he ate something that didn’t suit him well. He’d cough and spew and choke up every now and then. At first, the choking happened only once a month, and we’d have to call his friend- Sam, the plunger, to help him out. But then, the choking started happening every other day. It was a menace! And soon, Sam wasn’t of much help.

As I reminisce the good old Slippy-functional days, I begin to understand that living in a house with four women, took a toll on him. He was, of course, kept quite busy with our whims and cries throughout the day. He was our favorite person to hang out with. Some of us would sing to him in the shower, while others would use him to help with the Instagram scrolling- if you know what I mean. But soon Slippy started acting out as if retaliating to these multiple relationships. He was a loner all these years, was much over thirty, and would act real temperamental when it came to new people and company.

To help Slippy, we called our landlord, Walter, who is quite a hysteric chap. Walter has the rambles of an old man that’s part deaf and agitated. He’d repeat the same thing a hundred times and ask us over our conversation sick dead bodies if we were still listening. I’ve developed partial hearing because of him. Despite all the bickering, he’s still our main man tho. Upon our repeated summons, Walter would drop by with his ‘mega plunger’ as he called it, to fix poor slippy’s mess. “I take care of youz guys!” he’d say and we nod along in grumpy agreement. We just really wanted him to help us deal with Slippy’s mess. It’s not slippy’s FAULT that he keeps unwell. But just like his owner, slippy is old, fragile and hot-headed. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

“You’re clogging Slippy up!!”, Walter said. “You’z girls probably don’t take care of him! Y’all must be overloading him, not washing him properly and not maintainin’ him! That’s what the problemz is!” he bellows. “That’s not true Walter” we try to retaliate “we take care of him”. “It’s NOT us!!” Shouts one of my roomies, as she goes rogue and tries to handle things her way. “Maybe there’s something wrong with the pipes!! This house is old and dingy and doesn’t work properly anyway!!” she yells and tries to throw blame.  Walter breathes slowly and says: “You know you’re supposed to maintain him. Keep him clean. And not overload him, or he’d break down.” We cringed at the thought of a mass meltdown in the house. “You know we take care of him Walter… he’s just old now. The taking care doesn’t help. He’s choking up irrespective! And honestly, I’m a lot more worried that he might just vomit🤮” I told him, assuring him that IF slippy vomited, It was certain that I would either jump outta the window or faint.

Walter leans against the door looking slightly defeated.

“You know what I’m gonna do for you, Suze?” He says animatedly flinging Sam. She sprayed water on the floor and we yelped disgustedly (He calls me Suze cause he can’t pronounce my name). “You know what I’m gonna do for you?” He chimes in again. “I’m gonna put a brand new toilet in there for you. Just for you! Cause I don’t want you inconvenienced. You see? I take care of youz girls!” He says.  I smile sheepishly and say: “No ones’ ever done that for me, Walter! :’)” He bursts out laughing. “You’re smart girl Suzie!” He pats me on the back and gets ready to leave. “I told ya! Call me if there’s any problem, no problem. I take care of youz girls, you’ll see!”.

We all nod in agreement at the thought of a new Slippy.

We’ll miss him, but it’s for the greater good that he gets replaced.

R.I.P

He was a good man and a faithful friend. It’s time he moved on to the nether realm.

*To emotional health and better toilet management*

 

 

What Does It Mean To Be A Wannabe?

I don’t know how many of you really remember what it was like to be in high school, but I’m sure most of you can relate to this: Remember the times in school when kids used to want to be a part of the popular group? I bet the popular kids themselves had their own insecurities to deal with. Now that I sit back and think of it, I’m realizing how influenced we were by our self-image and the labels that were attributed to us. I remember being different labels at different points in time. I believe I transitioned between the loner, the nerd, the sweet kid, the popular one, the distant one, the friendly/charming, all at different times. And I’m comfortable with all of them; Because, of course, I felt like that at different points in time. There were kids that were popular- kids that I liked very much because, irrespective of the status quo, they were nice people! I remember not caring as much about wanting to be a part of the label- I had issues of my own. Depression and anxiety are exhausting to deal with! But I remember struggles around the same issues of self-esteem while I yearned for a sense of acceptance and belonging as well.

Adolescence is the time children need the most amount of validation in their life. They are most vulnerable, everything’s changing, that their need for acceptance is the highest at this point. I remember destructive labels such as ‘desperate’, ‘wannabe’, ‘lame’, ‘easy’, ‘slutty’, ‘bitchy’, ‘creepy’, ‘needy’ being used to describe people. tenor.0I kinda feel bad for being a part of it 😬 Anyhow! Those days are long gone behind us! We are all mature adults now. Right? Or, are we? 😅  As I and my roommate got into a spirited discussion about what being a wannabe means, we uncovered a very amusing trail of thoughts! Her point of view was: “But everybody is a wanna be right?”
“Wut?!” I blinked confused. This woman clearly had no concept of what a wannabe was or what it meant to be called one.
“Dude! A WANNABE is Someone who wants to be something they are not. Like they try to act famous when they’re not or they try to be cool when they’re not.”
Then she says:
“But nobody’s famous until they are. And how do you know they are not cool? In their minds they are! So how can you be the judge of that?!”
I blinked some more. This was getting ridiculous.
“Dude… You’re not getting it!! A wannabe is someone who does something because it is trendy. They are only into it because it is popular. They don’t know anything or know very little, about what the trend is. At the same time, they will talk a big game and make it sound like they know what they are talking about. That’s lame right?”

She casts me an annoyed look as if wondering why I’m this shallow while I frantically rammed my brains to understand what I was getting wrong. Then she slowly says “Dude. Everybody’s a wannabe, right? You may think that that person has no fashion sense, but in their mind, they’re doing their best to learn about makeup and explore their own style, and there’s no rule against that. Is there? And that kid who’s trying to be a social media influencer- maybe at this point he doesn’t seem to be gaining publicity, but he has his own ideas and innovation. How can you propagate individualism and creativity when you cannot accept that fact that there are going to be people better than you or worse than you at the task that you are trying to achieve. And till the time that you don’t achieve it – that title, position, career break, whatever – you will be a wannabe, right? A wannabe athlete, a wannabe model, a wannabe film star, a wannabe artist. You’re also a wannabe writer, aren’t you?”

I stared at her open-mouthed as words refused to escape my wannabe face.

So I slowly clapped at her instead!

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Embarrassing Short Tell Tales

*And, oops, my heart went oops
It went into a spin of loop-di-loops
You must’ve thought me kin to nincompoops
The silly way I acted*Oops! by Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong

Cute, but annoying friend at school:
“Dudeeee… Your fly is open!”
I look down, panic, and get up to run to the bathroom
“Dude! You don’t have a fly, man! :’)”
Me: *rolls eyes*

I’m sitting and  daydreaming absentmindedly in the back seat of my Uber.
New passenger crosses the road and opens the door next to me to get into the car
Me: “hey can you please sit in the…”
New Passenger: “Holy mother of god, oooo shit!”
*slams door on my open-jawed face and rushes to the front seat next to the driver*
Me: “Dude! You just yelled ooo shit at my face! Am I THAT scary to look at?”
New Passenger refuses to acknowledge my presence and does not reply.
I continue to to throw dirty looks at him through out the ride.
A girl’s gotta maintain her reputation!

Cute, but annoying friend at school:
*Taps my ponytail to toss it and annoy me*
“Stop it!” I say.
*Taps it again*
“Stoooop”
*Again*
“DID I NOT JUST TELL YOU TO…”
“You’re looking really pretty today!”
Me: *blush. slowly melts inside*

Writing retreat ends. All paticipants make their way to their respective transports.
Our group of young bloggers comes together to exchange hugs and bid goodbye.
“Stay awesome” always quirky and ecstatic participant says.
“Stay corny,” I reply as I hug him. I turn to find everyone looking at me horrified.
“Stay horny?!” another participant whispers to me amused.
“Corny! I said CORNY!!!! @*$&”
Everyone bursts out laughing as I stomp off embarrassed.

Flash back to 8th grade when Avril Lavign was all the rage.
“Hey hey you you, I want to be your girlfriend! No way no way I know its not a secret! lalallalalala…” I strum along under my breath.
“Hey hey you you I want to be your boyfriend :p” guy friend next to me whispers.
*wink* *wink* *smile* *smile*

Got my hair colored in college and went to my uncles place.
“I don’t know what to say” he mutters.
“You can say it looks good!” I chime in.
*Shakes head and walk away slowly, leaving me confused*
*burn* :/

Writers retreat happening. Everyone is chilling around and socialising.
“You know! She’s just like my wife!” he talks about me to a participant chirpingly. “The way she giggles over the silly stuff and starts dancing around awkwardly! And she’s bubbly and sweet and…” trails off as the participant looks awkwardly at me and him.
“He’s my uncle” I explain. “He’s just very doting, is all.” I peck him on the cheek ❤

“I’m so nervous! I feel like I might spill my coffee”.
Date laughs cutely as if challenging my ability.
Mid way through the date, I knock the coffee over as I animatedly try to explain something. Date looks at me startled.
“I promised. And I delivered” I smile.

Walking to the watercooler during my break in school.
Strong wind blows and and tries to lift my skirt up so that I flash people.
I dive to contain it, freaked out and cross my legs while trying to keep my skirt down. I end up having a Marilyn Monroe moment, only mine was more awkward and less cute!
Guy friend crossing by says: “Ooooh my!!” *wink* *wink*
I shy away and slowly die inside.

One of my closest friends from college is from Kenya.
As we sit in her room to study, I roll around on her floor comfortably.
“Shruti! Look out!” She yells.
I freak out and look all around me.
There’s a slimy slithery bug crawling on a dozen feet towards me.
I stand up and scream:
“Ewwwwww! Purityyyy! Look! It’s BLACK and it’s creeeeepyyyyy”
Stone cold silence follows my exclamation.
“Shruti!” she whispers. I look at her horrified realising what I’d said.
She burtsts out laughing at my horror and walks around telling everyone the racist story we now call ‘black n creepy’ B-)

Realisation dawns on my dads face as we’re sitting across each other talking.
“Your hair is red!” he exclaims.
“I know. I got it streaked in college” I calmly explain.
He looks confused and awkward, then smiles slowly and says:
“You should’ve gotten blue! You know how much I like blue. Lookin’ good though ;)”
*Pecks me on my cheek as I blush slowly and melt inside*

I rush to my collegemate’s room to get help with my wardrobe.
I decided to change in her room as someone else was using mine.
Me: *changing awkwardly*
Friend: “Hey Shruti, I had to ask you something!”
“Yeah?!” I ask spinning around innocently.
*click* she takes a pic and yells “Ooooo so hawt!!!”
I jump on top of her and punch the crap out of her till she deletes the pic.
She’s insane but I love her ;”)

Crazy Plant Lady!☘️

Yes- I know the title doesn’t make sense.

No- I’m not going to make it any easier for you to understand :’)

An important thing that you should know about me is that I love decorating my room. I feel like it’s a representation of my personality and I love going creative with my space. I get attached to quirky things people give me and have a hard time throwing them away. That is why almost every decorative in my room has a story behind it. That’s for another time though.

As for the Crazy Plant Lady fiasco, It all started when I was in Little Five Points, Atlanta, walking around with friends. I was going from store to store to find cute decors for my room. In one of the stores, which was cute and creative, I saw a corner filled with small plants in tiny pots. There were all shapes and sizes of containers. Ranging from ones that looked like an elephant, a bucket, a rhino, a dolphin. My eyes fell on this rad looking flower pot. It was shaped like a black cat with piercing yellow eyes and was holding a tiny yellow plant. This cat looked so sassy- it was smirking at me as if it knew something about me that I didn’t. Having always had a thing for odd objects, I immediately made a dash for it and bought it without further ado.

Now, the next question was- How the hell do I carry this plant back to Jersey?! I shrugged and thought I’ll figure it out when I’m leaving for the airport.

*Two Days Later*

“UGHH! NAMINIIIII. I CAN’T FIT THIS STUPID PLANT ANYWHERE”.
“Areee, carry it. Big deal!” NJ rolls her eyes and says.
“Fine!” I frown. As I carry the plant through my cab ride to the airport and security, I notice random amused eyes glance at me. “Cool Plant!” A random person said. I smiled. “Why are you carrying this plant?”, another intrusive stranger asked. “I liked it, so I bought it and now I have to carry it back” I muttered. “Miss! you forgot your plant!” the Dunkin Doughnuts chick yelled. I scrambled back to pick up what felt like an extension of my arm by this point.

plant plant plant plant PLANT!! Ugh!

I kept trying to convince my self that my plant was pretty cool. I still couldn’t help turning an amusing color of crimson red every time someone asked me about it. To make matters worse, the security check took time and I reached the gate a little late. I showed my boarding ticket and the staff rushed me through the gate. I stumbled into my flight only to find it full. “Great!” I thought. Embarrassed I excuse-me-pleased my way to my seat. More amused eyes burned me with their constant staring. I swear, one chick lifted herself up from her seat to get a better look at me. If it weren’t for my plant, I’d feel flattered but I threw her an annoyed look instead.

As I frowned and sat down on my seat, this chill looking co-passenger smirked at me and said: “what’s the deal with your plant dude?!”. I let out an exhausted cry and said: “I liked it, so I bought it and now people won’t stop asking me about it!”. She sniggered and said “yup. you do look kinda odd carrying that around. The flight attendants have already thrown looks at you twice hahah”. I shake my head and say “I bet they all think I’m the crazy plant lady”. “I bet they do!”, she smiled. We laughed and started discussing ideas about how I could deflect people when they ask me about my plant. The uncle in front of me said: “Don’t you think it’s a bit odd that you’re carrying around a plant?!”. I looked to the girl, smiled and said “No Sir, I am a person with high anxiety and have a hard time managing myself on flights. I suffer from panic attacks and need constant support to keep my self calm. This flower pot is my support plant. It makes me feel like everything’s alright. Without it, I’m just an anxious and wailing 5-year-old in the body of a 25-year-old :)”. That’s it. From that moment till the time I reached home, I owned up to my new identity and became the crazy plant lady!

Twas fun 😀

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Pretty As A Picture

Do you know what it’s like to paint?

For most people it’s purely meditative.

I’d never had that experience before. I used to draw when I was a little kid- like most of us did. But after crossing middle school, it wasn’t something I took seriously. I wonder why.

My sister is a fabulous artist! That kid has an eye for the most intricate details. It amazes me how perceptive even a child can be. I think it shows that we absorb more than we think we do… She starting sketching with her Eiffel tower piece below. Me? I’m “different”.
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Have you ever had that feeling that you’re terribly bad at something? Like, significantly worse at it than others? Yeah, Me too.

I’m terrible at sketching. TERRIBLE.

My circles are ovals, my ovals are circular, I do not understand angles and my shading and sense of proportions is bizarre. It’s kind of funny Related image

I literally get nervous when I paint because I’m so convinced of how bad it’s going to be. Below are a few more samples that I really like from my sister’s collection.

 

Just like me,

Millions of adults around the world would break into a cold sweat if asked to draw a picture in front of a group of people. They’d deny any artistic talent, make excuses, and do whatever it took to avoid being on the spot with a pencil in their hand.

But ask a couple of five-year-olds to do the same thing, and within seconds they‘ll be drawing, explaining, and creating artistic masterpieces for all to see.

After a terrifying past with my attempts with art, I slowly mustered the courage to try to stop being silly and try art again. It took a lot of convincing from Namini, my college roommate, who kept egging me on to give it a try. WhatsApp Image 2019-03-16 at 1.01.34 AMShe has gotten into more ‘simplistic art’ recently where she uses watercolors to paint what she finds fascinating. And even though she keeps insisting that they’re nothing great, I think they’re quite deep and hence fantastic. This is a sample from her art collection on the right. She has an array of artwork but I really like this one best because I connect with it on a personal level. This piece symbolizes to me how the dolphin is appreciating the lonely starry night in its peace and calm. I find myself remembering times when I’ve been in the middle of nature during travels and have felt so deeply in love with myself and everything around me. It simmers on me a sense of calm and peace which is almost sedating in a way. Not that I’m trying to say I’m a dolphin, but you get the point.

So what happened between the age of 5 and 15 that makes me terrified to draw? What makes YOU afraid?

For many people, it’s when they first realize that their drawings look nothing like reality. They can SEE the obvious mistakes, but have no idea how to fix them; feeling that if they can’t draw something perfectly, then they shouldn’t draw it at all. I know I’ve felt that way.

Perhaps it came as a surprise when one of my classmates at school laughed at my art homework and said your “family portrait” looked like two giraffes and an alien.

That’s a tough critique for anybody to take, let alone a kid, but it doesn’t mean I’m not an artist.

Most people think artists have some kind of gift, and I suppose that some artists are born with a talent for art. But, if we looked at the childhood drawings of 100 professional artists, I’d bet you’d find that 99 of them made the same type of scribbles and stick figures that all of us did as a kid.stick-figure-blue-shoes

The difference is that they never quit making scribbles, and at some point, they LEARNED to draw, whether from books, videos, teachers, or just on their own with lots of practice.

So why would it be any different for us? In fact, in order to not fall into a few of the potholes, we could be a little more diligent by making sure that we pick a reference before we draw or paint something. This is because drawing or painting something from memory can be pretty hard. Our memories get blurred and obstructed over time and when we draw based on something we vaguely remember, it often turns out to look horrible on paper. This is why many beginner artists get discouraged as well because they set a high expectation of drawing something very close to their imagination. Another reason is that people often have an expectation of picking up quicker and not realizing that it takes time and constant effort to improve this skill like any other. We immediately jump to wanting to draw a caricature of George Bush or a tropical sketch of the mountains forgetting that good art doesn’t happen with the snap of a finger.

The thing is, there’s no need to keep thinking that you have to be born with some amazing talent to be an artist. All it really takes is for somebody to teach you, plus some time and effort on your part. And I think this applies to all form of creativity and skill, not just art.

So while we try to enhance our skillsets and upgrade ourselves or just nurture our talents and learn new perspectives, maybe we should also learn to go easy on ourselves.

Slowly and steadily, we’ll all get there someday 😊❤️

Let’s Talk About Me

mee

Who am I?
Having lived in five different countries, I’m a cultural mix. Spice of the east, a toss of the west wishing to be a part of the European. I can read and write four different languages. I have been an avid reader and travel enthusiast my entire life. I am an empath who often feels lost and confused about where I belong. I’m on my way of figuring out what that means and will let you know once I find out. I did my schooling partly in the middle east and partly in India. I went to India to pursue my Engineering degree while my family moved to Indonesia and then Singapore. I am currently in New York, pursuing my Graduate degree in Business and Analytics. I belong to a family of Engineers, Writers, Teachers, Linguists, Therapists, and Philanthropists. I’ve had the privilege of living with people who belong to different disciples of education and that has influenced my world view of work, travel, and education. Right now, I am at a point in my life where I want to give my self the opportunity to grow and explore my talent as a writer, photographer, cook, and a travel enthusiast. That’s my picture on the top 🙂
Why does writing mean to me?
Well- writing to me is very meditative. It’s an easy way to put my thoughts down into words and express what myself within the comfort of my solitude. When I write, I also do not feel pressured or watched, which gives me the space to be myself. Thus, it’s a very powerful platform for me to share my experiences and talk about things that matter to me.
What do I want to achieve with this blog?
I’ve realized that I’ve used humor my whole life to cope with absurd situations. Reading piles and piles of Harry Potters and P. G. Woodhouse has empowered me with a combination of imagination and tongue-in-cheek humor that I use to express myself.
I have dabbled with writing and journaling dozens of times before, but have never committed to it. Hopefully, this time will be different.
Said the same two lines in a whole different light, didn’t I?? 😉