The Adult Playground!

“I am not going to be your friend because you are not nice to me” my 4-year-old promptly announced to his friend as they both continued to pout and play. Everyone there very well knew that indeed, they were going to be each other’s friends.

They will be friends as long as they are in the same class or until one of the parent, most likely non-verbally, communicates to the parent that “I am not going to be your friend because you are not nice to me” I mostly joke about the parental tiff, but you get the point.

We have ALL been there and sometimes we have handled conflicts with grace and courtesy, and sometimes we have learned what to do next time!

Friendships are Friendships – Childhood or Adulthood. Fundamentally, we choose and careful curate a set of people that we proudly call friends.

Then, enter Hierarchy:

My Acquaintances.

My (work, activity, group, parent – insert anything you wish) Friends. 

My BEST Friend. 

Sometime in early childhood the idea of a single friend who is above all forms. It is beside the point that this best friend is a moving target because … well, it is accepted, assumed and expected that we evolve through childhood. 

We want companionship.

We want to belong.

We want to converse about our interests.

We want to do activities together.

We want to plan vacations together ( Side Note: Do these plans every materialize? Asking for a friend)

We want to be wanted and we want to be with others.

We want reciprocation and respect.

We want knowledge.

We want laughs.

We want help and to help.

We want to get along.

We want to agree to disagree, gracefully.

We want joy from our friends and we want to give them joy. 

Often, we want all of this from one friend or we want all of our friends to have all of this.

Read that again … doesn’t it sound like a lot for one person?

I love friendships and it is what I crave the most after my family. I am insanely grateful to have such friendships, so many of them. The power of surrounding yourself with uplifting, fun and a supportive crowd is phenomenal. 

As a South Asian transplant who has spent 16yrs in India and 23yrs and counting in the USA …. I have not only experienced friendships but also ‘immigrant friendship’ which I can best describe as a friendship which is initiated, created, crowded and eventually either fiercely loved, ruthless judged but maintained, strongly disliked or casually enjoyed. As an immigrant, you leave home to make another place home. It makes one want to hold on dearly to anything that has a familiarity or reminder of home, including people. It becomes a friendship solely based on familiarity and not focused on a personality match, sometimes. Sometimes it is magic and sometimes a gimmick!

Until then here are my five learnings from this adult playground. These learnings come from my mistakes/my observations and not in any particular order:

Friendships are built on an open heart & open mind

The possibilities for friendship are endless but our ingrained bias limits us. While preferences are normal the ingrained bias could be worked on. Those invisible checkboxes that we need to check, limit us.

Let go of the checklist and the world opens up. Only you know your checkbox(es) but the most common ones, in my observation, are around race & age. Get over them and see how beautifully you get rewarded with varying perspectives that add to your life.

Friendships need respect, reciprocation, and room. 

A large part of friendship is planning: To Meet up, To Converse and To do things together. It’s the small things: If you agree to attend, then participate. If you are invited or asked, respond in a timely manner. If you want to be respected, respect back. Friendship is not a free pass to be disrespectful and the moment you treat your friend as an option until ‘a better plan/person comes along’ – you are disrespecting the friendship.

Be there, if you can. If you cannot, make it clear.

Also, someone’s lack of participation is not about you. Not everything is about you! Friendship needs room to accept and decline participation in a friend’s life without judgment. In the end, it is for each individual to decide which friendships to nurture and which one to let live organically.

Friendships need more than gossip

I could have worded this to read – Friendships need substance but it will dilute what I want to articulate.

I am not beyond a respectful chuckle or two about someone with someone else. The gossip I refer to here is the kind that is used as a basis to form a relationship. That kind that defines your friendship and that is the only type of conversation material that friendship thrives on.

Also, if someone is talking to you about someone in their absence. They are talking about you in your absence to someone.

Friendship needs substance – it could be funny memes, politics, pop culture and anything …… just not negative judgment, all the time.

Friendships are not created equal

It is natural to connect with people based on our current phase of life. It is also OK to connect with people for a specific reason. Rather than lament what the friendship doesn’t give, just accept it for what joyous purpose it serve and nurture it just for that.

Not everyone has to be your everything – with some I enjoy conversations over wine and with some, I want to take a cooking class! Enjoy what your friend brings to your life and make peace with that much, it’s enough and it’s lovely.

Friendships have phases

EVERY.RELATIONSHIP.HAS.PHASES

Allow your friends the time to be in their phase and expect the same from them.

Sure, I would love an uninterrupted adult conversion but my 4 year old has a differing view. So, unless I get him a a playmate the chances for my conversation are slim!

We tend to gravitate towards friends in a similar phase of life and we miss the other ones. One day both of us will find a way back. Just give it time. If we don’t find a way back then let’s just cherish what we had!

A whole lot of fun & love sprinkled with some practicality builds some solid friendships — these are ones I have and I am so very proud of my friends! Thank you for being my friend!

Friendships: The Possibilities, if we allow it.

“A friend is one of the nicest things you can have and one of the best things you can be.” – Winnie the Pooh.

Peddler’s Purpose

My mother turns to a drug the moment something unpleasant happens or an unpleasant thought has been vocalized to her. This drug has sustained her through challenges, and there have been some lofty challenges! Mostly emerging triumphant, wiser and stronger and sometimes just high of life is my mother, the user and the peddler.

Her drug is Positivity and she peddles this drug like her life depends on it & and as if it’s coconut oil and the time is 2015’ish.

If you think it, it happens! – My Mother’s 90% thought process.

From politics to potting plants – her ask/solve is to think positive.

I tried that with my succulents. And reported back to her that it doesn’t work out as such. Ofcourse, I knew that! This was was my way of fighting that positivity peddling.

That constant peddling of positivity was infuriating and confusing to me. Confusing because what she peddled was brilliant, true and I am more percent optimist than anything else. Infuriating because .. I had no clue and that made it worse.

The thing is that I spent my 20’s ignoring or let’s say slathering coconut oil on my life and waiting for a miracle. It was not until I turned 29, I self-helped – more of that in a post of its own, at a later time. Today we focus on my annoyance towards my mother’s positivity!

So, I did what I have done all my life – FFO. Figure the F**K Out. (Yes, my posts will have encrypted language once in a while, or all the time or to taste – I am not sure)

Why did my mother’s positivity peddling annoy me when I knew that has value and it made sense? I had to know and I did what I do best, over-analyze, only this time I did it with some method to the madness and it became clear: Positivity without a plan and Positivity without inclusivity are like ‘Thoughts & Prayers’ – sure, it feels good but you are no where close to a solution. And, for most of my issues, I was just whining. I did not have a plan or willingness to actually DO something about it. What I wanted to do was whine and for someone to dole out sympathy. Lucky for me my mother peddle-ed positivity!

I had self-helped myself for big things in life but for the medium and small parts, I whined. I whined when I should be acting.

For example: I whine about these extra 30lbs … 35lbs if I am being honest. I am surrounded by incredible examples of friends & family who are fitness and physical health inspiration. And, the ball is n my court.

So, if you ever find yourself dismissive or infuriated with positivity then I urge you to explore the below before you dismiss the peddler:

  1. Check in with your cynicism. Maybe it’s the hurdle to giving life. people and situations a chance.
  2. Explore opportunities for self-growth and plan in tiny parts. Physical fitness is my goal and mental fitness comes organically to me. I need to apply the same approach to physical fitness as I did to my mental routine – start small until it becomes lifestyle. I need to begin with water intake & 10mins of movement.
  3. No one has a perfect life. Sometimes done is better than perfect, unless you are cooking! But really, just pause, surround yourself with positive inspirations and if you find yourself unhappy, DO something.
My Mom!

When a positive message makes you smile – You are somewhat peaceful. You get it! You may not dwell on it, but you get it. It doesn’t annoy you. You are my inspiration 🙂

This post for my mom – my forever & always positivity peddler. And it has happened.. sometimes I open my mouth and my mother comes out. I love you, Mom!

❤️

Not ‘Keeping up with the everyones’

You know that frenzy of clean up when someone is coming home. And the ritual of exclaiming how the home is a mess, upon their arrival.

That 50 seconds filler conversation that, we all know, is mostly scripted.

I have that frenzy daily for surfaces that meet the eye.

I am a Virgo like that – my counters are clean but my drawers are a war zone that spare no one. I clean two ways:

One method is directly related to how-upset-I-am-with-my-spouse/situation — this one typically results in those war-zone drawers or trashing of everything! Nothing sparks joy at that time but my work quality, at surface level, is award-worthy.

The second method is called ‘crap! Now I have to clean up’ because I spent my alone time in my home with an intention of organizing, and 30 mins later I am styling clothes I have not worn in ages and have two different makeup applications on my face. It’s fairly obvious that makes up is not my strength and I must invest in skincare! My hair could be in trial extensions, that I once bought at Sally’s on a whim, or an up-do or a DYI mask of something ridiculously drippy.

The alone time at home cleaning method is rare since turns out that people you live with are always there!! (Read this again .. yes, Always There!)

By the time they come home, I am freshly showered, hair blow-dried and in a clean set of PJ’s – I only own pajama’s or going out clothes. Don’t we all?

Ofcourse, I don’t have to clean up and get presentable but I do. Regardless of our ethnicity, gender or circumstance we have all been told to groom, to be presentable, to behave well, to not chew with mouth open, to clean up the mess because someone is coming home .. the list goes on. Maintaining reputation is so ingrained that we ONLY notice if someone makes an effort above and beyond to maintain/enhance reputation – otherwise, on some level all of us do it. And it’s not surprising that we do this – turns out humans, at a surprisingly early age control their behavior based what is viewed as likable, essentially caring for reputation.

Then, I wonder …

If we find ourselves, not 100% ourselves even with the people we live with then what made us assume that the life someone lives on social media is ALL of the life that they live? And, then the audacity to criticize them for only showcasing their best to the world.

Our 4yrs old clicked this weekend morning picture of us.
A professional, in Spain, took this picture of us. Which one do you think makes a great profile pic? 🙄 don’t bother answering.

Let me own up – I too have been guilty of this. And hearing myself speak of that judgment, I understood it’s more of my reflection than theirs.

It is also true we must consume a mental diet with some self-sanity and commonsense. It’s easy to think that the grass is not only green but perpetually lush on the other side.

But do we need judgment for everything?

Display of affection, however overt, doesn’t indicate a problem in a relationship. Absence of that display also doesn’t indicate a problem.

Display of achievements doesn’t mean that the person is a fake or show-off. Absence of that display also doesn’t mean failure or stagnation.

Sharing incredibly well-shot pictures doesn’t mean that their life is constantly staged and fake. Sharing selfies doesn’t make one shallow.

Sharing nothing doesn’t make one exclusive. We all behave keeping reputation in mind and when we display our life, our audience size varies – that’s all.

The endless list of biases, complains and judgments.

No one should be the judge of anyone’s relationships, achievements, failures, lifestyle or choices just based on what is on display. Virtual life is a part of a whole life, and the significance of it varies from person to person. Some only consume, some create/share and consume, some only create/share. It’s time to take responsibility for what we choose consume and not judge for what is being presented.

Consume if you want otherwise, scroll on | Unfollow | Interact minimal – do something, don’t just whine or worst, troll!!! on social media or outside of it.

Mirror Mirror on the wall: Dear Men … & Women. Especially Men.

Once upon a time, I found myself in a room with the evaluation paper in front of me. Seemingly, I was doing A-OK but could do better – tell me more! I thought as I rolled my eyes also in my thoughts. Once the fluff/filler conversation was done I was asked to sign the eval paper. I took the pen and drew a line across my name and corrected the spelling of my name. Stared back as I slid the eval back.

I thought to myself- I really do not like someone judging my work when they cannot get the basics right.

Fast forward a few years and I found myself in the seat of the one evaluating. Guess what the paper misspelled – their NAME!! I will spare you the details of my flustered, embarrassed and humbled self.

Define Karma a short story by Shivani Kulkarni

Professional Performance Evaluation: The one where you evaluate yourself so that someone else can evaluate you and your work. Ranging from a corporate employee to an entrepreneur! Ranging from kill me now to tell how I can get better. Ranging from I know I am a superstar to let’s get this over with. Emotions, oh so many damn emotions.

This circle of feedback/learning/evaluation/reflecting can be positive, negative or non-consequential but it is accepted by all as a professional process. End of the day, the reward for the evaluation can often be tied to tangible growth or learning that ultimately lead to tangible growth.

Within 12hrs of an online purchase, an email is sent asking for feedback.

We all look for that nod and approving smiles in a big meeting.

Consumer feedback management is a business in itself.

We are incentives to give opinions on products and services.

We look forward to the validation that we are doing great and that growth awaits us.

More today than ever, one will agree, that there is a need to evaluate feedback, iterate and evolve!

We tirelessly self-assess to outperform ourselves: we reflect on the victories, the losses, the conflicts, the break room chatter, the public reviews and more. We are gender, race, and religion united when it comes to professional growth even if it means trekking that hard path of feedback, reflection and re-building.

Self Assessment = Self Reflection = meditation or serious thought about one’s character, actions, and motives.

The same process is applied and welcomed for physical well being. Proactive measures of physical health assessment because …well – life! & the daunting cost of healthcare for a cure, in case of sickness.

We accept and encourage self-reflection in professional life as it risks tangible loss.

We accept & encourage self-reflection for physical health as it risks the quality of life, tangible discomfort, monetary loss & more.

Then, what makes us fight, mock, ignore, dismiss the tools of self-reflection for our mental health?

What if we gave our personal life the same luxury of personal evaluation?

Pro-active career-enhancing actions & physical-health enhancing measures surely do not imply that either one of those is broken. Then why are the measures for pro-active mental health enhancement viewed as frivolous and unnecessary – Especially, from men.

I am well aware of the gender generalization here and while I know some incredibly self aware men, there is a shortage. Stay with me till the end, if you can.

See, I have skin in this game. I care deeply to know why:

Self-Love | Self-Reflection | Mindfulness | Meditation | Journaling | Therapy | Counseling

Media, Merchandise, Services, Coaches & Publications are serving us reminders daily to enhance quality of life.

Maybe its daunting to start or maybe it needs to be normalized in your head. Know that you are the only one who can start and the only one who can normalize it.

Dear Men .. & Women, especially Men,

Maybe the society said Men don’t cry or the humor seems to suggest that only girly women talk about their feelings or that masculinity needs to be void of feelings and emotions, and thereby there is leniency with your behaviors or that mediation will make into a purple unicorn or that writing your feelings may make basic!

I know that one day my little boy will be part of your tribe. And, while I do my best to normalize self-reflection to him, he will look up to you too for what is normal.

Dear Women .. & Men, especially Women,

Maybe we allow for this normalization to thrive without judgement. Maybe we demand for better behavior. Maybe we self-reflect ourselves so that we are an example of mental growth.

Self-Reflection is your responsibility & it is not a one day gig. It’s my responsibility to myself. Its till our last breath, so that our regrets are slim and hopefully the smiles are wide.