Off the Pedestal

For the longest time, I held unwavering perceptions of people. They were bound within the confines of the labels anointed – Mom, Dad, Teacher, Elder Sister, or just plain “Adult”. In my head, the parents could do no wrong; they were secure and unblemished on their pedestal where I had placed them. Similar expectations were laid on the other adults in my life. The formula was simple: Adults have the answers. Adults are the solutions.

The term human never really applied to them, until it applied to me. Until there was a world beyond black and white. Until there was a tricky middle ground of subjectivity at the edge of which I was precariously balanced. That is when I started to extend the liberty of making mistakes to myself and my peers. After all, it is probably the most natural thing in the world.

And finally, came a day when I extended the same courtesy to my parents (and the other adults, but obviously the key are my parents). I took them off the pedestal and gave them the freedom to be, and in the process took a weight off my shoulders of trying to view the world as per the lenses I believed I was expected to see.

In that moment, I looked at the person beyond the label and tried to catch a glimpse of their journey and their pains, of their unfulfilled dreams and their doubts. It taught me to forgive, for all the times I felt they should have done something different with me. It also taught me the meaning of unconditional love, of taking in the load of good along with the pinch of “bad”.

The view up from the ground was assuring to say the least, but now at eye level where I have allowed blemishes to touch them, the perspective is now pure and beautiful and familiar.

Ambition?

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I hope this isn’t always true …

The appraisal cycle at work is almost at the end and has given rise to rumors that range from optimistic to ludicrous to jump-off-the-building depressing. Raises, progressions and ratings… Whew. We play the cat and mouse game till the outcome trots along taking its own sweet time.

I am not exactly Ms. Ambitious. Never have I aimed to top exams or fast track the corporate ladder to be the next CXO. Yes, I have certain plans to follow and standards to achieve – but by no means have I been governed by them.

But the last year has been different. The yardstick of my personal success criteria is becoming taller and broader. I have not planted stick in the ground and climbing to meet it. I am balancing it on my head which means … it keeps becoming taller and I’ll never be able to meet it.

I am setting myself up for disappointment here, am I not?

Expectations from self had been easy to dismiss while expectations from others always come with the extra pressure to deliver. Tables are turning and now I am not sure of what is becoming of me. I am becoming fiercely guarded about my work … I am almost crossing the line of assertiveness and stepping into the unknown territory of aggression.

I have never really LEAD people before and now that is happening, I am a little stumped. I want to set a good example and I fear I am trying to do too much. On the other hand, I don’t really want to slack off. It is a cumbersome process of striking a balance – you know being the perfect mix of fun and friendly yet firm.

I am over-thinking it because it has never mattered to me before and now all of a sudden, I have really strategic visions about myself. And now I care about it.

I am sure this feeling is common. I just want it to feel common for me too. Ironically, there is a strong part of me that just wants to quit and travel!

Go figure …

Do Your Bit – At least for Yourself!

What happens when things don’t go the way you planned? What happens when life takes a U-turn from its planned course? What happens when your blissful joyride has an irreversible breakdown? How many times can you deal with the heartbreak?

Once? Twice? A lifetime?

We all have expectations – from ourselves and others. From the housemaid to your employer, from parents and family to significant others – hell even from your dog who must give you a cuddle when you down. Realistically speaking, it is impossible that all our expectations be met. Circumstances, often natural or out of our control, have a tendency to say hello and crash our hopes.

My question is, how long is too long when you keep tolerating it? This is especially true, when we rely on other people and come to depend on them. There is a time when you take those expectations almost for granted! Yeah, I earn! But I still live in the comfort that if something really horrible happens, I do have my parents’ support. Or I have the assurance that I can call my bestest friend in the world when I want to sob, irrespective of her location and time zone. Sure, disappointments are part and parcel of the game. But what happens when they become a rule? Given your track record, you realise that if the going is too good be prepared for a major screw up.

I simply stop expecting – easier right not to get hurt when things don’t go your way? Don’t expect. Don’t get hurt.

BUT! When we stop expecting and you brace yourself for the worst every single time, isn’t that the failure of the relationship? Doesn’t it make it fickle? Co-dependency is the beauty of mankind! Yet over here, we are giving up on that fundamental element because we are too wary of being let down and be disappointed all over again.

But, the show must go on. We pick ourselves, dust off, maybe do some wailing and then move on.

So, after a lot of thinking I kind of took a call and hope to stick to it. Whatever happens, my true day of failure is when I fall below my own expectations. I am determined to do my bit and give it all – at least for the sake of living up to my own hopes and not tumble from grace in my own eyes. There is a certain standard we all set for ourselves and we owe it to our self-respect that we adhere to it if not cross.

Time to make peace with being let down and simply focus on what needs to be done – irrespective of the end!

Quoting from Bhagavad Gita (Holy Book of Hindus) – To Karma (action) alone hast thou a right and never at all to its fruits; let not the fruits of action be thy motive; neither let there be in thee any attachment to inaction.

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The prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “bat, bet, bit, bot, but.” Clearly not a light take on it, but hey! It is SOCS for a reason…