Tag Archives: faith

Navigating the Crossroads

It's not always a straight road

It’s not always a straight road

Just like it’s easier reading books, blogs and appreciating art that some one else has created; it’s easier leaving life up to fate, destiny, a higher power or even friends and family to direct and just living a life others think is best for us.

The difficult bit is writing the story, crafting the blog post and making life yours to live. The life people say we only live once – it doesn’t take long for us to figure out that saying is true.

I’m not saying that we should curtail YouTube, delete all the blogs we are following, never read another book or ignore our friends and families and stubbornly stick to what we think is right; because if you’re reading and comprehending this (i.e. not a bot), then you most likely are human and sticking to what you think is right all the time doesn’t make it right.

It’s not even about creating the big things; though I’m not dissuading you from designing and building a new skyscraper if you are so inclined. It’s simply navigating the crossroads, which as vague as it sounds, happens more often than you think. Too often I see people asking others for advice and in the end making a decision that is the “popular” one. Others just leave the decision and their goals to the future and live in the comfort of the moment. Have you heard the saying “Not making a decision is a decision in itself”?

Decision making skills are naively construed as a straightforward skill we gain throughout our life. I think it is much more than that. As a child, decisions are made for us, everyday, and we try to break those decisions and rules every chance we get by throwing a tantrum or asking “but why?”. Our parents take us places, teach us things, tell us what we can and cannot have, who they think is a bad influence, what they think we should study or potential careers they think would be interesting, citing experience and wisdom to support their advice or directives.

When we move into our teens, as much as we try to assert our independence and rebel, most of the time we just want to live in the moment and enjoy hanging out with friends, living in the comfort of the routine modern society provides. We search for what’s important – the latest trends, being popular, having friends, school results and throughout this time, our interactions and responses start forming a basis for our values.

In our 20s is when things get exciting. Hindsight and aging forces us to face the international truth that somehow wisdom does convert to slightly better decisions and even if our elders are not always right, it is helpful to get their point of view. The smaller decisions we make in our 20s about which friends we want to keep, how many parties we want to attend, whether we will take the first graduate job we get helps us become more self aware. We start to examine the labels we use on ourselves and reinvent or reinforce what we know of ourselves. What does all this have to do with making decisions? More than you think.

To navigate the crossroads we need to be confident in ourselves. Confident, not arrogant; realistic not idealistic and self aware not selfless. We can’t make decisions based on what is best for others, we can’t choose based on what most people think we would or should do, we can’t wait for fate and destiny to do what they will because then at the end of the day, we lose ourselves and the idea of our own ‘free will’. If we stayed as we were as teenagers, choosing something because it’s the opposite of what our parents say or because it’s what your friends would do then we would never know what life would be like if we took charge of it.

The higher powers not within our control will do what they will, people will think what they want of you (some may be truer than others), some will project their lost dreams and hopes onto your situation – kind advice may not be so kind because it prevents you from looking within and around yourself and picking the road you want to tread.

So examine the facts, speak to people you trust to gain insights and recommendations, to bounce ideas off, to ensure you’ve considered the situation well and not to judge; understand who you are and what you want, listen to your intuition or your gut. You are where all these things intersect. You are at the crossroads. Get the best perspective you can, make the best decision you can make and then make the most of that decision and live life brilliantly.

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Glass half full

I was reading a book the other day, “Brain Rules”, you might have heard of it. It’s a great read by John Medina and while I highly recommend it, it’s not what I want to write about today.

There was a short introduction on the concept of “learned helplessness”, where the subject is conditioned to stay in an inescapable situation and have no hope or control over the situation. The subject then resigns itself to its “fate” in a sense, and even though an escape is made available, does not go in search of it. Reading it made me quite upset and made me think of various things – depression, religion, hope, faith, fate, destiny and life in general.

I realized this could relate to many situations in our lives when we feel a lack of control, an inability to change things and a depressing realization that things will never change. I know of people close to me who stay in their jobs even though they hated it because they feel they have no other alternative; of people who consistently found it hard to do well at school and believe that they are less well-endowed intellectually while the issue may just be the methods they have been employing to study or the teaching methods used in the current system.

In those situations, I’m less confident in the effectiveness of an external encouragement compared to the power of internal motivation and awareness. In those situations, the person has to come to their own realization to snap out of that learned helplessness yet it is somewhat a chicken and egg relationship. Yet, like most addictions, I believe it can be overcome.

  1. Awareness is the first step we can take to bring ourselves out of that low
  2. Making a choice – do we want to stay in it or get out of it? Sometimes not making a decision is a decision in itself, which doesn’t make things better. If we want to stay in it, make the most of it and ensure we’re not being miserable staying in it.
  3. Knowing which are the areas we have control over – the world, no; my room, yes; other people’s opinions, no; my own thoughts and behavior, yes
  4. Taking small steps to make changes in those areas we have control over
  5. Optimism and a glass half full psyche – this is where I think faith and hope crosses paths just because while some people garner hope from things around them, others look towards religion and faith and somehow perhaps realizing that someone out there, whoever it is, is looking over us, adds a little booster to the hope meter.
  6. Recognizing the changes and its impact, however small – this is where external encouragement starts to make a difference.

So, hopefully if I ever find myself in a state of “learned helplessness”, I am able to recognize it and take action. Otherwise, maybe a little nudge from the Universe to perhaps allow me to stumble upon my own post or a similar post would point me in the right direction.

Thanks Universe, in advance.

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I am here

I’ve always traveled for specific duration, be it a holiday, a study experience, or work; there was always a set timeline, approximate or definite, of when I would return home.

I realize now that when that return trip is not in the plans, it becomes a little disorientating. Perhaps kinda like if life didn’t have an end, we might just roam around the Earth like headless chickens. Which isn’t good.

I had just taken a step in my life, which on hindsight, is probably a HUGE step, but I had never been one to cower away from change or new places/people. So I simply embraced it and the things I needed to do. I quit my old job and headed for an unknown future, which apart from being the tipping point of starting this blog, also triggered quite a few thoughts.

Thoughts about:

  • My family – While I was excited, saying goodbye at the airport was a teary and emotional affair, just like always. The time I spent with my family really brought me closer to them. While I felt that I’d been “filling up” on family experiences that I would miss while apart from them, I ended up cherishing the “now” of the experience more than the memory of it, and the pictures would always serve as a beautiful reminder. I wished I could stay in that phase forever, but I knew where I was heading and the financial stress of being unemployed was restricting us from fully enjoying our time together, I had to think about my career plans.
  • My ambitions – did I have any that I really wanted to stick to? I studied Marketing and Communications but have experiences in Finance, which has made me realize that I want to leave that industry and do something more tangible; and I wanted to write! Then I thought, maybe I’m just one of those who didn’t need a crazy career, because honestly, I was really sick of the political corporate scene. I’d be happy if I could just run my own little shop somewhere (a little more about this in another post), but my savings were depleting and a job would be just the thing I need right now.
  • My employability – the job search started off exciting but has become a little more urgent with the daily depletion of my savings. Reviewing my resume and comparing what experiences I have with the jobs that are out there is making me question my own capabilities and I’m worried that the longer I stay unemployed, the less employable I will be. Which is probably true and makes me realize how hard it must be for mothers coming back to work from maternity leave and realize the importance of labor laws in this area.
  • My time and life in general – it’s an odd feeling. Not having a certain routine, having financial concerns that needed to be actively worked out, yet at the same time, standing at the precipice of change and feeling that my next move might make or break things? I need to decide what I want to do with my life, will one decision close any doors, what if I get stuck in a dead end job, what if I become a jobless bum roaming the streets?!

But life isn’t made or broken so easily is it? Just as I found that being with my family gave me so much more than memories, it is a culmination of decisions that make our lives the way it is.

So despite the constant news of high unemployment rates, I will, just as I did when I graduated, keep my optimism and faith, keep exploring the things I am interested in. At least this time, I have a blog, something that gives me a semblance of a purpose, to create, to “work” and to explore.

Though let’s not digress, I can get any job I want, right?

p/s: also had an idea for a little story, will post that up soon!

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