Category Archives: Relationships

On Tattoos and Hijabs

Whenever I imagine calling all my close friends for a party and putting all my friends under the same roof, in the same room, my mind goes into overdrive. Plagued with an overactive imagination, my life plays out like an elaborate broadway show or a high budget Karan Johar movie, and this one scenario seems like the plausible climax beyond which I’m not really sure how the movie will go.

Some friends would be indifferent, some shy. Some overbearing, some withdrawn. Some would be the life of the party and some would prefer to go home to a book or a drink. Together all my friends would make for a very interesting, albeit emotionally charged party.

I’m not one to hang out in big, gregarious crowds. I prefer small, intimate groups. I’m picky about my friends and pickier still about my close friends. From becoming dancers to scientists, to supporting Trump, my friends have been there, done that. I don’t know how I know so many different kinds of people,  but I know why – because, without them, I would be stuck in my tiny version of reality.

Our reality is limited. We extend our reality only to what we think we know and can understand. It’s a catch 22 really. What we don’t understand we don’t know and what we don’t know, we don’t understand. So where do we begin to break out of our tiny realities?

I hear a lot of discussions regarding “learning moments” and every time I hear the phrase I cringe. The notion that we have to seek out learning moments is as absurd as that of women being a weaker sex.

Learning moments isn’t a physics classroom wherein you only learn physics. Learning moments happen when you open your eyes and mind to two notions –

  1. I don’t know everything
  2. I can always learn something new

Both of these realities have been shunned in our MBA driven society where one has to know everything. While many people may know a lot of things, many of them don’t comprehend or analyze or understand these things.

To truly learn, one simply needs to make more friends, to make different friends, to make yourself uncomfortable and vulnerable, to be wrong, to be correct, to feel safe, and to feel challenged. A learning moment can come from a YouTube video or an Albert Camus book. A learning moment can come in the kitchen or at an IPL game.

Often, a learning moment comes when you least expect it, from someone you least expect. Make friends who are different from you, physically and emotionally. Meet more than one person of a ‘type’ and you’ll see that there is no such thing as a ‘type’. Tattoos, hijabs, miniskirts. They don’t make the difference, you make the difference in your head. Meet at least three people of a ‘type’. Then four, then five. You may like only one, but you may not like the first one.

Don’t let an earring or a tattoo or a hijab stop you. Move beyond them.

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On Second Chances

When you meet an old friend, you know what to expect. It’s comfortable, it’s known. When you meet someone new, you know what to expect. It’ll be strange and can go any way. But when you meet an acquaintance, you don’t know what to expect. You don’t know what memories they have of you or what conversations make them tick. Today was a beautiful reminder that even though life moves along, we have to move with it. If we get caught in and obsessed with our past, we lose ourselves. We lose our today and we lose our tomorrow. But if we move with it, if we push ourselves, if we keep at it, we evolve. We get closer to being who we want to be.

I met an old acquaintance of mine today. Last I’d seen him almost 8 years ago.  We are facebook friends but we had rarely spoken. When I saw he was in the same city as me, I did what I usually would – reach out and meet up.

I reached out, we chatted for a bit and then met up. Simple. He was polite, funny, chivalrous, intelligent, and unapologetic about who he was.

The day started off slowly. I had realized long ago that, one, we can’t live our lives by other’s expectations of us and two, to be disliked is better than to despise. So between the usual mindless chatter of the weather and the city, we took a while to warm up, reconnect (or try to, at least), and then pick up where we left off. From food to dessert to coffee, we etched our way through the market lining it with our stories and silences.

Throughout the conversation, how he seemed to see himself and how I saw him painted very different pictures. From the stories he told and the memories we brought up, I realized who I was before isn’t who I am today. Between the difference in how we saw ourselves and how we saw each other,  I smiled at how ridiculous we humans can be.  We can walk on the moon, video chat across the world, give meaning where none exists, and yet sometimes be so silly! I realized that within a few hours of conversing with someone I sort of knew, by moving out of my comfort zone, and meeting someone for the first time after high school, I had taken another chance on me.

We talk about taking chances on others. We talk about forgiving or reconnecting with others, but we rarely do it to ourselves. We get caught up in the daily routines we set for ourselves and don’t stop to see how far we’ve come.

High school was vicious and to me frankly, it was really scary. It was mean, it was uncertain, and it was something I never want to go back to. Today, however, by going there, and not completely freaking out ( I did get embarrassed a little bit), and being comfortable in who I am today made me really happy.  It gave me a true sense of accomplishment more than even my TEDx Talk.  ISN’T THAT AMAZING?!

I think it is and I would have never known if I hadn’t visited my past with someone I hardly knew. I don’t know what, and if, it had any impact on my friend (or acquaintance (?)) but for me, I’m good.

In fact, I’m very good.

You find yourself when you stop running from a past – any past. Good or bad. So, go out of your comfort zone, revisit your high school fiascos, meet up with people you thought you disliked (unless they harmed you in any way), and take a chance on yourself. Be okay being disliked and stick to who you are. Who knows, maybe you’ll see that you’re already the person you once dreamed and hoped you’d be.

 

 

How to Make Friends as an Adult

So, you’ve made it to that point in your life. Half the people you know are married, the other half are in their jammies. You’re stuck in the middle. And it’s clearly time to make new friends, but unlike childhood, where everyone was extremely receptive and excited about making new friends, adulthood, or ‘Adulting’ can be quiet different. People have their voices now and their vices. They have certain preferences and certain needs.

While making friends was easy as children, it becomes considerably harder as we grow older. Children, on one hand, are nonjudgmental, they are straightforward. They seek out new experiences, they are tolerant of other people and are more open to making mistakes. They ask questions all the time and move into new groups constantly.

Adults, on the other hand, are less tolerant of others, and more insecure of their being. We are more guarded of ourselves. We have had enough experience to be wary of some people and to instantly love others. The fear of judgment is a constant thought and novelty in situations is rare. We’ve been there, done that, seen it all. By adulthood, we’ve covered almost all emotional situations, have felt all kinds of feelings and the situations begin to repeat. We know who we get along with, who we don’t. We can rationalize our preferences and often we stick to them.

And now, in our time and age, mid-20s are a time of confusion. Before 21–22 usually, one is still following a set pattern. Twelve years of school and three or four years of college. After 30 usually, most people are either married or have steady partners, or their lives have settled down in known patterns again. Work and home, work and home. But that eight years in-between college and set patterns of life, are years of uncertainty, of mistakes, of making new patterns, growing, and learning.

So, for most of us, we are in that middle phase — often single, not ready to marry, in our first or second jobs, working hard every day, constantly tired, yet not willing to while away our life in bed – category, where every day is a new challenge. We face unprecedented social and virtual pressures. Between doing what we have to and being who we want to, we also have to help ourselves grow and prepare for tomorrow.

We know that we have plenty Facebook friends, so we can always plan something out. But realistically, that doesn’t happen. We get busy, they get busy. We get lazy, they get lazy. While it’s always good to catch up with old friends, it becomes extremely important to meet new people outside of your circle so you can grow a person. Even Facebook now-a-days puts people in a sort of “bubble’ where you only interact with people and events and information that you agree with and will respond to.

Hence, in order to be aware and well informed of everything that is out there, it is important to find the information yourself. That means you have to challenge yourself, be uncomfortable, and get out of your comfort zone. Mark Twain, anyone?

And the best way to do that, is to make new friends. While there are many ways to make friends, and here are 5 simple ways to make friends as an adult-

Join a Meetup — Meetup, if you don’t know of it, is a social networking site for people who like to do stuff. Every kind of event is organized and planned by various people and all you have to do is sign up and sign in. Ever been interested in Archery? Join a meetup. From book clubs to bar hopping, Meetup has everything with no strings attached!

Go to Floor 3 — Unless you work on floor 3, then you go to floor 4. The idea is, if you’re working in a corporate building, you get stuck to our floors. You get so caught up being on our floor and the floor politics that unless you absolutely have to, you don’t budge. You get lost in how little your floor is and sometimes mistake that for the world. Your floor is not the world, it’s a tiny -tiny section of a tiny part of a big world. Go to the third floor. Meet new people, broaden your reach and your space in the world.

Take Numbers — Once you’ve met people, take people’s numbers and message them. Don’t add them on Facebook, don’t tweet at them. Message them, get used to the awkwardness of ‘Hey, wassup?’, ‘Hey, nothing much’ because in between those two messages a lot of good can be unveiled. Instead of ‘nothing much’ ask them their hobbies or if they’d like to go for lunch. Fix a time to meet up with them and then actually meet them.

Meet Your Neighbors- Say hi. Literally, that’s all it takes! You don’t even have to do more than that for the first few times. Then one day, when they return from your favorite store, that’s when you talk with them and strike a conversation with them! Okay, maybe they don’t go to your favorite store, but given enough time you are bound to find a conversation starter.

BePatient — Adult relationships take time, patience and effort. Unlike being children where politics and sex don’t matter, as we grow older, they do. Everything begins to matter, from political inclinations to a sense of humor. We become choosy (which is a good thing) and become more aware of who we want to be with and who we don’t want to be with. So, while no one is going to be a tailor made fit, there are going to be people who are close enough.

Making friends is a considerable investment. As Jim Rohn, a motivational speaker and self-help guru, says, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” It is obvious then, that finding the right kind of people becomes even more important.

If you resonated with my thoughts, please go over to my personal blog, sanahrizvi.com, to subscribe to my blog via email. No spam and nothing boring. Seriously.

The Art Of Complimenting

At least once a day, I see and hear compliments that, though feel nice, seem superficial. They feel half-hearted and incomplete. In fact, there are only about a handful of times that I’ve received a compliment I liked and that genuinely resonated with me.

The more I looked around, the more I saw people feeling the same way. And then I realized that complimenting someone is an art form. To really compliment someone, is an art that takes time, effort and energy. Complimenting someone is a form of communication, and like most types of communication, compliments too, are a dialogue that can have a lasting impact on someone.

The beauty of compliments is that when done right, they bring out the best in people and remind them of all that is wonderful about them. Compliments remind people of their best selves and become a way for them to see what they are putting out in the world.

While many time people give compliments for the sake of it or to flatter someone, a genuine compliment is one that can really strengthen a bond, create a bridge and deepen connections.

For that reason, I urge you to stay away from fake compliments and to try and embrace genuine compliments.

Most people we know, have something good about them. Find it.Take your time and really search a person. See what makes them, them. Find their strengths. Try to see people for what all they put out in the world and all the good that they do. If you have to, take a little longer and search a little harder and when you’re ready follow these simple guidelines –

 

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How To be A Better Listener

As promised last week, today we talk about how we can become better listeners.Listening isn’t an act of hearing and discarding. Listening requires an active intake of information and an intentional attempt to understand that information. Good listening doesn’t end with a passive ‘okay’. It carries forward new ideas, better understanding, clearer perceptions and a better grasp on what one is saying and what one means by what they say. But listening isn’t an inherent quality, it’s a practised skill. One can learn to be a better listener. Becoming a better listner enables you to be a better communicator and a better thinker. So how does one become a better listener? Well, one must be present, be willing to hear rather than talk, must embrace the silences, be patient, be empathetic and be open.

  1. Be Present  – Listening to someone requires you to attend to them and to maintain your focus on them. Be present in the conversation, don’t get distracted, don’t get on your phone, don’t message. Instead, take some time out of your day and just focus your attention on the person in front. Be present in the conversation.
  2. Hear More – Whenever we are in a conversation, many times, we are tempted to tell our own stories. We rarely wait for the person to finish their story before we jump in and tell our tale. But to be an effective listener, you must hear what the other person is saying without preparing an answer. If your mind is too busy preparing an answer then you aren’t truly listening. So, discard all thoughts and focus only on listening, not telling.
  3. Embrace the Silences – A lot of us are uncomfortable with silences. We regard them as a sign of a faltering conversation or as an awkward disruption. When in reality, silences can really help strengthen a relationship and give people time to gather their thoughts. Silence can deepen the conversation just by virtue of its being. So embrace the silence in a conversation.
  4. Be Patient – Listening isn’t about just hearing someone throw words at you. Listening is about giving another person time to reflect their thoughts and emotions and then convey them to you.  Patience is a virtue that transcends cultures and conveys the fact that you are willing to wait for the person to take their time. SO be patient.
  5. Be Empathetic – Listening without emotion is futile. But listening with judgement is harmful. When listening to someone open up their heart to you, try to feel how they feel. Obviously, you won’t be able to feel exactly as the person in front feels, however, at least, try to feel what the person might be feeling.  You need not agree with the person’s actions or their views but try to understand their emotions.
  6. Be Open – No matter how well you know a person, they may have secrets or thoughts that you know nothing of. Whenever you listen to someone be open to new thoughts, new perspectives and new ideas. Remember – no matter how long or how deeply we know someone, we may never truly know who they are and how they feel. So be open to whatever they may have to say.

Listening may seem daunting, but as we spoke earlier, The Art of Listening is as necessary as a breath of air.

I’ll see you next Wednesday, till then let’s connect on Facebook  and Twitter?

The Importance of Listening

When you listen, you open yourself to new ideas, new experiences and new feelings. We don’t truly listen often as we tend to surround ourselves with people who are familiar to us and share similar opinions and views.  It’s no surprise then that very little is learned in a relationship with someone whose views are so similar to yours. What that does is that we then only listen to one perspective on life and though that isn’t wrong, it can be stifling  for our personal growth because society is ever changing but we aren’t.  If we don’t listen to people around us, we may get left behind. But more importantly, if we don’t listen then we can’t give our own input into the change. Actively listening to the person in front is not only vital for yourself but for society as a whole. But why is listening so important?

Listening is important for two reasons. One – it promotes change. Two – it encourages discussion. I emphasize on listening because very often we tend to pay more attention to our thoughts and our reflections when someone else is talking rather than what the person in front is saying. By actively listening to other people – on TV, in our lives or in the media, we allow ourselves to hear new thoughts and attitudes. We need not agree with the attitude but on hearing it fully, we are in a better position to make a judgment call on that attitude.

Listening is not a passive process it can be a very emotional process too. To listen, comprehend, assume and reflect all while actively paying attention is a lot of work and many times if one does not listen actively it can lead to an emotional response rather than a rational one. We can react to something we thought was being said instead of what was actually being said. In families, relationships, work places, listening and rationalizing before speaking not only avoids miscommunication but also promotes open communication. Keep in mind though that  listening to someone and listening well doesn’t mean you endorse someone’s view or opinions, but it definitely opens your mind to the vast amount of opinion that are prevalent around you. It gives you an idea of how society is changing and how people within it are evolving.

The importance of listening is many fold.Next week, I’ll talk about how we can become better listeners.

Till then, let’s be friends on Facebook and Twitter?