Quit it alreadyThu, 24th Apr '08, 9:30 pm::
I like breakups. I encourage resignations. I highly recommend divorces. I love it when a miserable situation comes to an end. If things are not going well, despite everything you try, there is no shame in saying goodbye amicably and moving on. Almost everyone I know hates all of the above and dreads the uncomfortable feeling of the final, awkward farewell. Be it your job, relationship, or academic career, if you are absolutely certain that things will not change for the better, I will always be the first person to tell you to quit. I will also tell you repeatedly not to burn bridges on your way out.
Quitting is not for losers. Quitting is for those who are pragmatic enough to realize that it is ridiculous to be in a situation where you have no control and have no way to improve your conditions. It is a show of strength to terminate successfully, not a sign of weakness. Quitting amicably is a sign of wisdom and prudence. Hurting the other person should not be the ultimate goal when culminating a sombre saga. Walking away unscathed so you can move on to bigger, better, happier things is what quitting is all about.
Nobody says give up at the first, second, or even the nineteenth hurdle you stumble upon. Everything worth doing takes a lot of work from all the persons involved. However, at some point, you will know that you have reached your limit. Staying in the situation any longer just means you are losing your chance to try something else. The opportunity cost of being stuck in a rut is incomprehensible until you realize that you consciously chose not to take some simple actions like picking up the phone or writing a short letter, and instead left yourself be subjected to continued stress, turmoil, and the gradual demise of hope.
Certainly, major changes in life take time, effort, and planning. Not everyone can deal with abrupt changes or easily let go of people and places they once loved dearly. But you have to get the ball rolling. I genuinely admire a person who gives her or his very best to make things work but is not afraid to walk away if the situation is verily hopeless. There are some things you can change with persistence and diligence, there are some you cannot. Staying in an abusive marriage is worse than the worst divorce. Working for a manager who contemptuously derides you despite your best efforts is worse than the worst resignations. "I Quit" is the most powerful two-word phrase you can utter when someone is ruthlessly abusing your selflessness.
What I am really saying is that all my friends should quit their jobs, break up with their significant others, sell their domiciles, and move to St. Petersburg, Florida so I have more people to kayak with on weekends :)
I have a new favorite wine, Moscato D'Asti Beviamo. So long Verdi Spumante. It's past 11pm, I have no chores, I'm sipping on sweet bubbly wine, listening to wonderful music on Hype Machine, and reading interesting articles. Life is alright.
Maturity is for kidsMon, 21st Apr '08, 11:50 pm::
I often like to think that inside me beats the heart of an adventurous young boy, fascinated by the world around him. I don't even realize how much my way of thinking has changed till I cross paths with someone who still sees the world the way I did ten years ago. That's when it hits me that I am not a kid anymore. And fortunately, that's a wonderful feeling. Growing up, I had noticed that most adults were cynical, jaded, and bitter. I never wanted to end up as one of them. So I tried to hold on to my childishness for as long as I could, always careful of not becoming too mature for my own good. Thankfully, over time I have let my fear of maturity go and have gradually changed my point of view to see the world as it is, instead of how I want it to be.
Insecurity was probably my biggest personality flaw for most of my life. I was confident in my abilities but not my personality. I wasn't sure if people really liked me for who I was and so being loved by all was one of my primary concerns at all times. When you're trying to impress every person who walks by you, you rarely get a chance to be yourself. I even dreaded the phrase "be yourself" because I still don't know who myself really is. The difference today is that I am not afraid of trying to be myself, regardless of what people think of me. I don't know when it happened but I simply stopped caring what strangers and infrequent acquaintances thought of me. At the same time, I started noticing people as they were instead of as I wanted them to be.
All of this came about only when I acquired the ability to detach myself from tense situations I would be involved in and analyze the issue as a neutral third-party. Learning not to take anything personally is one of the most difficult things to grasp but once you do, life becomes much easier. If a friend or coworker said something hurtful to me, I would take it to my heart and mull over it for days till I made up my own theory on exactly why the incident took place, unmindful of what the actual cause was. I used to deal with breakups, personal loss, and failure in a similar way - drastically. Now, I just brush it off with nary a frown. I always hoped that someday I would grow up to be stable and staunch in my principles but I never knew how that would actually happen. Turns out, it was really quite simple.
I just had to figure out who I truly wanted to be. Did I want to be the guy who knew all the movers and shakers? Or the guy with six-pack abs? Or the guy who lit up the dinner table with witty remarks? Or the guy who walked into a room and took every girl's breath away? Or the guy who knew the temperature at which Molybdenum boils? I know now that I didn't ever want to be any of these guys but that didn't stop me from trying for all of these roles for well over a decade. I was trying to live someone else's dream. The day I decided to make my own dreams and goals, the image of the person I wanted to be became much clearer. The person I want to be doesn't worry about bad hair days because proper follicle care is pretty low on the priority list. The person I want to be doesn't think life is over because some girl reacted unexpectedly. The person I want to be doesn't worry that someone else is making more money, getting more attention, or receiving more accolades while doing less work. If the person I want to be doesn't care about petty, superficial trivialities, then why should I waste my time on those?
There is a fine but nontrivial distinction between not taking things personally and not giving a damn about what others think of you. I still care about how my actions impact others and try not to be loose with my words. As long as I am honest to the best of my abilities, I have a firm ground to stand on when others judge me. In turn, what this form of disassociation from my own self gives me, is a certain kind of power you only see in martial arts movies from the 1970's, when the old master would stand calmly and just move slightly from side to side while four angry youths jumped all around him, trying their very best but failing to even land a single punch. That's pretty much how I feel around angry, frustrated, stressed out, and disrespectful people now. I no longer have to say anything in retaliation or attempt to prove my righteousness. I simply just move along and leave them to their own dramatic selves.
I feel like I am a work in progress and will be for the rest of my life. It's pretty gratifying to think that despite all my flaws and failures today, as long as I learn something from it, I will be a better person tomorrow. That's the wonderful thing about maturity - you can't lose it. So now when someone tells me that they are worried about their physical appearance in public or how a coworker doesn't act respectfully towards them or how selfish their cousin is, I ask them to think carefully if any of that really, truly matters in the big picture of their lives; is the loss of sleep fretting over minor nuisances really worth the fleeting sense of righteousness? I don't expect anyone to see things the way I do, after all I was caught up in the blame-games myself not too long ago. Yet I hope that they take a little part of what I say and let it soak in. Maturity has a way of slowly creeping up on you unannounced, not unlike dandruff and termites. Alas, there is no remedy for maturity though spreading it around does bring some transient relief.
I have an awesome idea in my head right now and not one person I can bounce it off of to ascertain if it worthwhile or not. I feel so frustrated. Why do these ideas get into my head only when nobody's around? Maybe I'll just do it on my own without telling anyone about it.
Things have been pretty good lately. On Sunday, I finally got to hold my godson Jackson when I visited Jessica & Andrew in Gainesville. I spent most of the day with Tay and Kaela and played with Jackson in the evening. He's under four-months old but already over 18lbs! Nothing much going on these days but I'm keeping myself busy with lots of little interesting things. I'll write about them as I make good progress.
I had a pretty good day yesterday in Orlando and then later Gainesville. After a yummy dinner and a great conversation at Sweet Tomatoes (my favorite place ever) with Spring, I drove north a few miles to hang out with Sandra and her three kitties. Around midnight, I drove up to Gainesville and had some Cuban rice and veggies with Taylor. Later a bunch of Taylor's friends came over and we sat out on the picnic table till 3am, wine-glasses in hand. Today, I hope to go see my friend Jessica and her 3 month old baby, Jackson.
In other news, my crazy dreams have returned. And by crazy I mean fusion-powered submarines invented by a mad Russian scientist who wants to steal my sister's necklace and use it for the core of his torpedo guidance system. Umm, yeah. You have a dream like that for three hours, remember every bit of it, and THEN try to have a normal day of interaction with people around you. It's not easy. I'm still weirded out.
I don't know what it was but I started to feel a bit nostalgic tonight and put on some of my favorite Hindi music. Contrary to the cliched songs involving trees, mountains, and fancy clothes, most of the Indian music I cherish is sombre, soothing, and has beautiful lyrics. I couldn't listen to more than five songs without feeling extremely homesick so I decided to get on reddit and read a funny story or two. As luck would have it, the top story was "At a Loss" by columnist Dan Savage. Instead of his regular hilarious columns on relationships, this one had him say "My mother died on Monday." Forget getting a chuckle or two, I ended up with a stream of tears. And things only got worse when I foolishly clicked on a similar article mentioned by a fellow redditor: Dave Barry's column about his final good-bye with his father.
I could use a hug right about now.
I'm in Gainesville at Taylor's place, listening to Kaela and him talk about her work advertisement project.
The worst part about being a grownup is that when you're alone in a room with a box full of donuts, you are supposed to control yourself and take only one or two. Screw being a grownup! Donuts for dinner at work :)