Notes to Self #2

I have clearly forgotten all the really helpful notes to self I had written for myself sometime last year. Because I am back to square one: brooding about asinine but practically insignificant comments people made, unacceptable friendship behavior (to me), analyzing why people do what they do and trying to give them the benefit of doubt, thinking too much about a royal ignore a colleague who actually I don’t care about one bit gave. I am falling into the unfruitful, dangerous tunnel of thinking in the same loop over and over again about the same insufferable people. Which is why a second dose of some pep-talk and some sound knocking sense into self becomes inevitable. No. Mandatory.

So I am not good at dealing with petty behavior. All you really need to do in such cases is give it the exact amount of importance it deserves: petty. But no, I have to go down the memory lane trying to replay events in my head to evaluate. So the first note to self is STOP and then focus on the following.

Can’t make everyone happy all the time

and shouldn’t even try. Because if it hasn’t worked thus far, chances are at no point in my life will every single person I interact with even briefly will be happy with me. Also, realize that I don’t really want to make people happy as a goal in itself, but it’s what I think will serve my ultimate goal of personal peace and happiness. But trying to please other people is the wrong method for that. Learning to ignore people is more likely to help me succeed in my ultimate goal.

Don’t overshare

Had included this in some form or the other in previous notes as well, but it’s really important to someone like me. Contain over enthusiasm, at least in the first few weeks/months of knowing a person. Don’t act like a hungry dog when you think you finally found someone you can get along with. Wait it out till the honeymoon period is over and the other person has had ample opportunity to show their true colors. Sometimes, this comes really really late. So it’s perhaps best to wait till you experience at least one alarming incident and then take a call on whether you’re going to be fine with it.

Be comfortable with the uncomfortable

I have realized my phobia about being in uncomfortable situations, mostly at work really. It’s probably from here that I don’t make my positions of things clear, and try not to tell much about my real thoughts. However, people are generally not shy of expressing shamefully regressive and downright ridiculous thoughts just about anywhere. And they probably assume that I must feel the same because most people around them do, they just make horrifyingly narrow-minded blanket statements on things that are too nuanced for that. So I should start to at least voice my discontent if not get into an argument. And once I do, I need to be fine with the idea that people’s opinion of me might change. Because frankly, people with such opinions and principles that are so opposed to mine would anyway never be my friends. I am very open to points of view other than my own, but I expect them to be well balanced and logical at the very least. I can never be fine with people saying things like women should stay at home, and I’ll never accept or respect this as another point of view.

So go sum it up, it’s okay if people don’t smile back or don’t do small talk. Actually, even better. Because I hate small talk.

Don’t let people get too comfortable with you

This is specifically for workplaces. I believe that the best way to be at a workplace is polite and cordial, but non committal. People don’t need to know anything about your personal life, choices, how good/bad your marriage is, how close you are to your family. But I don’t mean that you altogether kill the idea of ever finding a friend at work. Just that tread lightly. Observe, try to make sense of the dynamic. Basically, be patient before dolling out huge friendly smiles to everyone.

This is very important, else people are generally more than happy to give free advice. So if you have been slightly aloof, nobody can really say that your reaction for unsolicited advice was uncalled for.

Don’t try to change yourself too much

I think we all keep readjusting our personalities to our surroundings. We don’t really really make fundamental changes to our sense of being, but little things, or new habits really that help us belong to a new place. But I have realized that I actually need to be a little more inflexible in this area. I tend to be too accommodating at times, and end up feeling bad if that is not reciprocated.┬áThis also makes me have a low opinion of myself. Not anymore. I have decided to be more upfront about what I really want. It’s okay to say no. And I need to start doing this more often. I tend to say no easily to people I really care about, like my family. And for some odd reason reserve the Yes Man attitude for people I don’t even care about. Immediate need for reversal of that.

I think that’s it for now. I don’t want to overburden myself with too many things to watch out for.

You gotta do what you gotta do

I’m writing this to counsel myself and rationalise, convince, explain, inspire…do whatever it takes really to bring myself out of the ditch of irritation and depression I feel with the thought of my job. Feel free to completely ignore this post. It’s basically pep-talk for myself.

I am fast reaching a point in my job where I have no idea what I’m doing and why. I start feeling depressed and nervous towards 9:00 pm everyday with the thought of going to work in the morning. I feel apathy towards a host of e-mails that come my way. I wish I felt anger at least! Earlier, I used to get angry if I was left out of an important discussion or if I wasn’t approached for something that I had been taking care of since the beginning. But now I don’t care, I don’t want to care. In fact, when I was left out, I rationalized and trained myself to not care. The superficiality and inhuman aspirations of the corporate world is making me morose. There are different set of expectations for you and your foreign counterparts. Of course, that’s not because it’s how they want it. It’s a cultural thing. In India, long hours is one of the yardsticks of performance; it’s often masked as flexibility. It’s weird really. I have changed so much in the past 3-4 months. Earlier, I would willingly put in 12 hours and come out feeling powerful and refreshed. I’d feel I was indispensable and oh-so-important. Finally, the bubble is burst…only for good. Nothing and NO ONE is indispensable. How do you think you got this job in the first place?

I am a misfit in most places. Being a non-conformist is cool. But being a misfit is just your loss. I feel terrible that I feel this way at such a young age when I am still so inexperienced professionally. But I know for a fact now that I don’t want to be a person whose work is their life. I only want to work to be able to live my life. I’m not ready to trade living for working. I sometimes really envy people for whom their work is their life. It must feel so sorted, but who knows!

But the real point is that none of this really matters. The more I think about this, the more difficult it is going to be to deal with this non-issue. Yes, work related crisis is a non-issue, it’s just a matter of perspective. You know you HAVE to work, you know you NEED money…there’s nothing else really. Thinking about how others talk, walk, bitch, strategise, compete, play dirty doesn’t help in anyway. You need to be totally zen about it. When you know you can’t change it, or are so apathetic that don’t want to put another precious minute of yours in changing others, why not just slightly alter yourself and be more positive. Why not just work like crazy when you’re at work and just live life like crazy when you’re out of there. I know how hard it is to separate the two, but there’s no other option. It’s all about balance really…not just at work, but everywhere. The right balance between sweet and sour in food makes the dish par excellence. Wouldn’t it make life so much richer if I learnt to just deal with it?

It’s about harmony. It’s about keeping the two separate. It’s about not taking things personally and it’s about realising that even though it seems for ever, it’s still temporary in the larger scheme of things. Ultimately, the power is in your hands. Besides, if none of this works, what else can you do?? You gotta do what you gotta do!