A gift!

It is 7:24am. I have been awake since 4am. I have a midterm at 1pm and I have another one at 4.

It’s gonna be a long day ahead.

I often find myself in situations where I’m maybe 15% through a long day’s work and already wondering how I’m going to get anything done. So what do I do? I roll around in bed wondering why my life is so hard life. I picture all my friends doing their third revisions as I learn concepts for the first time. And finally, I blog about it.

As efficient and well-thought-out as this process sounds, it’s really not. But today, half-way through my early morning introspection session, I wondered why I’m wasn’t scared of the two midterms I have today. Theoretically speaking, I should. They count as a part of my grade and I’m more than a little behind on my work. But I don’t feel anxious or scared to write them.

I find this feeling to be a gift.

I am lying in bed, relaxed, comfortable and typing this blog when I should be studying because I refuse to let this long day get the best of me. Don’t get me wrong, I am not avoiding my studies. Nor am I criticizing those who are already well-prepared. I am simply fine with my current state of being.

Now, this comes at a price, of course. I will need to study very diligently for the next 4.5 hours. Probably, I might not do as well as I could have. But, I am blessed with the ability to stay calm on before a long hard day knowing I will make it. I see my colleagues study all the time. They ask me questions about concepts I haven’t gotten to. And as I fail to answer them, they feel scared for me. And then go back to preparing for battle.

I could do the same. Actually, I can’t. I do not have the physical or mental capacity to push myself over the edge for an exam. Maybe because grades are not my idea of achieving something. Therefore, I am unburdened by the pressure to constantly fuss over every percentage and free to learn at my own pace. By the grace of a higher power, I am blessed with a family that understands this feeling.

Now, this blog isn’t an excuse for poor grades. I usually end up doing okay and quite well, sometimes. But I am gifted. Gifted with the ability to stay calm in the face of a storm. And so far, I’ve always come up on the other side safe, sound and proud of myself.


When no one is looking

There was once a young man who was going through a bit of a financial crisis. He would spend the little money he earned, living an extravagant life he couldn’t afford. One fine day he turned up at his long-estranged parents’ house.

The mother took him in gladly, but the father took caution and wished to test the man his son had turned out to be after leaving his home for “better prospects” almost a decade ago. Not long after, the son approached his father with a business proposal. He asked his father to fund his venture and see his money triple in a year. The father agrees and takes the son into his study, where he unlocks the family safe with the son watching. The son is amazed at finding a huge amount of money in there and gladly takes the amount he needs.

But that night, as the son lied awake in bed, he could not help but think about the safe. About how he could always use some extra cash and how his old parents had no need of all of that money. He sneaks into his father’s study and finds the safe to be open. “The old man is getting too old”, he mused. He took as much as he could carry and once again, left the house he was born in, for “better prospects”.

The next day, the mother was horrified at what her son had done. But the father calmed her down and said, “That money went towards a good cause. I now know what kind of a man my son has grown to be. A man without integrity.”

How do you define integrity? Have you ever defined it? Let me help you.

Integrity is what you do when no one is looking.

In its purest form, it is a test of your actions when the world is not there to watch, judge or criticize. I don’t know about you, but my childhood was one of discipline as I waded my way through six years at a boarding school. It was made sure by someone that I took complete care of myself right from making my bed all the way to managing my studies efficiently. There was approval upon success and a scolding for every stumble. In short, I had someone making sure I grew up to be a responsible person. They tried their best.

But now as I live away from home in a city almost half a world away, I find myself to be free of constant supervision. My parents can not tell how I live my life now. Some of my friends envy this. I find it to be a burden. A heavy, yet a necessary one.

As I write this blog at 6:11am right now, I have no need to wake up early or go to school or do anything, to be honest. But because it is what I am supposed to do, because it is what my family entrusts me to do, it is what I must do. No matter how many alarms it takes.

When you find yourself in a situation where the only person aware of a decision is you, believe me, that is the toughest place to be. At that moment, “you” are the only one you can disappoint. But make the right choice and you will find a deep satisfaction like no other.

And here’s how. Most people that believe in you, be they family or friends usually hold you in a high place in their minds. They believe that you are a good person and that you will always do the right thing without bothering to find out whether you actually will. All you need to do is to become the person they already think you are.

If you take anything from this, take this.

A person with a whole lot of nothing to show for, but his integrity intact, has done quite well for himself.

Do your “thing”

Whenever I’m in a space full of people I try and understand some things about human behaviour. After about 16 hours in two planes and an hour on a bus back to my place in Guelph, there’s something I noticed.

So there’s all kinds of people I see whenever I take public transport. Loud people. Well-dressed people. Serious-faced people. Lost-in-the-floor people. The list goes on. So let’s say they all have a thing. And based on today’s world, some of these “things” are more socially acceptable than the other. I won’t go on to point them out but it’s the way it is.

My “thing” is music. I always have earphones on as I travel. I have some incredible self-made Spotify playlists which could, in my opinion, quite possibly blow the roof of any public transport vehicle. So I listen to music. On some days it’s Drake. On others, its Arijit. I switch here and there. Today, as I was on the bus, I was totally in my zone. I was listening to this incredible song called Suffocation Blues. I was tapping my legs. I can’t always guess the lyrics but I do try.

And as I’m listening, I look around the bus and see someone who was looking at me with this quizzical look. Now I chose to give the person the benefit of the doubt and went back to my song. A couple songs later I notice the person again, looking at me with an expression that clearly said, “What is wrong with him?”

So back to my original point. Here is what I noticed. Some people generally reserve themselves from doing anything that they consider to be “a couple centimetres south of normal”. They sit there looking into their phones waiting for their Snapchat conversations to progress further down the path of pointlessness. And that’s okay. That’s their thing and I’m proud they do it no matter what. But why is it that when someone has a “thing” a bit on the unusual side, people around them immediately disapprove? They crinkle, point it out to their friends and enjoy their silent derision.

Now I don’t know if you’ve ever found yourself on that foot-tapping, song-singing side of that scenario but if you have, then you’d know that it can get pretty awkward. And it did for me. But later that day a thought passed my mind.

Only one who is uneasy in his own skin will laugh at those that are living their lives to the fullest.

Do two people dancing with crazy moves ever look at each other and disapprove? No. They just silently congratulate each other on not holding anything back and continue to boogie. 

Now if you’ve never been on the crazy dancing side of life, maybe that’s just who you are. Nothing wrong with that. But maybe, you’re letting the best in life pass by. So either join the stage or enjoy the party from that bar stool. And if you’re on that dance floor going nuts, and you see someone looking at you like you’re crazy, feel sorry for them. And then go back and do your “thing.”