Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Big Day

I have my ups and downs. But today was a big day for me. I got my pay raise. I had a very successful presentation for our biggest client, which I had to put together on a short notice, since they “forgot to notify me of the upcoming meeting”. People walked over to me afterward in order to express their gratitude. That meant a world to me not only as acknowledgment of my professional growth, but also as a reward for fighting big personal battles day after day. I feel down a lot but I try to look and act happy because happiness and love are the ultimate goals in this life. And you don’t stand a chance to be happy if you let your emotional weakness and depression drag you down. I cannot afford to lose respect for myself, my dignity, because then I will never summon the strength to get out of bed each morning. So nervous or not, I get out there and talk. Because I’d rather be defeated than become a coward in my own eyes. Because I am ambitious and stubborn. Because to me lack of progress is regress, staying in one spot is the same as moving backward. Because at the end of the day I know that I was born a fighter.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

In The World Of Fantasy

Sometimes I lose touch with the reality. I feel like way too often my imagination lifts me up and carries me to distant non-existent places, showing me things that could only happen in my dreams. But at the same time I believe that imagination is the biggest part of our survival kit: it gives us a temporary escape from reality when we can no longer deal with it. Some bright made-up images keep me awake at night filling me up with aspiration and hope, but that’s another story.

What I find puzzling is how there aren’t always distinct boundaries between the real and imaginary worlds. A couple of things observed in real life find a way to almost instantly tie into a beautiful fairy tale. Life is less dull and monotonous if you fill it with fantasies based on the real things. You may get carried away by the whole process, but when it’s time to come back to earth, you shake all the things you imagined off your mind and go about your daily routine with focus and seriousness that are naturally expected of you. And then to your biggest surprise you discover that some things you attributed to your imagination are actually very real. This makes you question other of your numerous fantasies and anecdotic conclusions: what if there’s some truth in them as well? This will overwhelm you to the extent that you will want to stop this confusing process of day-dreaming. You try to stay real, take people for what they are, interpret events solely based on the facts. You are too afraid to miss the realness of your life just because at some point you decided that staying in the imaginary world is more fun.

But a dreamy mind can only stay sober that long. And yet again based on just a few signs I made such a lovely story of which I am the main character. Every morning I tell myself it’s not real, but every night I wake up to relive the details of my fable. If only I knew if I want to ever know the truth or not-knowing makes me safe and reasonably happy, because I can always adjust the story line in my mind just to my liking. I think between the real and the imaginary, the truth has to be somewhere in the middle. Not everything that we see is what it really is, and not everything that we dream of is fake.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

One Simple Discovery

Last night I was reading to my son his favorite encyclopedia about planets. When we came across the explanation of “shooting stars”, I decided to expand on the topic and told him about the make-a-wish belief. I said that unfortunately it happens so quickly, there’s barely enough time to think of a wish, so you’d better have it ready. I was about to turn the page, when my son told me that his wish would be that his favorite classmate lived close to us and they could play on the weekends together. I smiled at the innocence of the wish and how quickly he came up with it, but then…

Then I had this moment… I thought – at least he has a wish, what would mine be? And I clearly knew the answer right that second: I don’t have one. It’s not that I have absolutely no dreams, or desires. There isn’t a wish that I’d want to waste a shooting star for. I already have all the things I ever wished for. Big things. Important things. Things that make me happy. Any other good things that will happen to me in this life will be a lovely addition to the already present happiness. Because if I cannot admit that I am happy with everything that I have, then no things in the world can ever make me happy.

Next time I see a shooting star, I will only smile and let someone else “use” its wish-granting power. I am all set. Is there a more simple definition of happiness?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Spring is Here

Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.
Sir Winston Churchill

It’s one of those moments when you take a step forward and find yourself in unfamiliar surroundings. You are not sure yet what to make of it, you are excited and slightly petrified about the unknown, but you know that you are no longer the same person. We change every day. We make discoveries that open our eyes and there is no turning back to the old way of thinking. It’s a never stopping evolution of mind.

You made it to the new phase of your life and it will take some time before it becomes customary reality. You don’t know how you will proceed from here or where you will go next. Ideas will come along, signs will become visible and more obvious as you step on this new path. It’s progress if it feels good. It’s not your path if you feel insecure and uncomfortable, and all the people around will speak some unfamiliar language when you recognize the words, but struggle to grasp their meaning. But if you are on right track, you will meet amazing people. You will become a part of someone’s life. You will change lives, change people. Many unexpected and puzzling things will happen to you. In this amazing journey called life you are destined to be surprised, entertained, educated and loved every mile you pass.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Hiding From Stress, Hiding From Life

I have absolutely low stress tolerance. Things other people would barely notice freak me out for days. It mostly affects my sleeping pattern since I get too emotional to relax and let my brain plunge into the dreams world. But it also affects my focus – which is the most annoying part: it comes to the point when I ask myself how long I can keep thinking over and over about the same thing??? Yet it doesn’t stop there and all sorts of fake distractions I come up with work only shortly.

I’ve acknowledged my inability to deal with stress long ago. In fact I keep adjusting my life to downplay the dominance of this particular weakness. I remain on good terms with most people I deal with one way or another; I avoid any sort of confrontation and the word “enemy” has no chance to ever be in my lexicon. I am very organized and plan everything in advance; I hate to be late – and try not to; I take risks only if I am absolutely positive the outcome won’t emotionally destroy me.

This stress avoidance technique has been a necessity dictated by my extremely fragile emotional nature: living in harmony with the world was the only way to guarantee my inner calm, my happiness. But suddenly I began to realize that what I’ve considered stress avoidance at times turns into life avoidance: it slows me down,it makes me forsake some opportunities that life presents. I tell myself: I won’t do as well as others, but as long as I am happy it doesn’t matter. I won’t pursue things that interest me because my boyfriend is against them and fighting with him is so exhausting. I won’t tell people they are hurting my feelings to avoid any possible tension as an outcome. I won’t meet new people because I might not like them but I will feel forced to maintain conversation with them, which will stress me out. I won’t ask for a raise at work because… because … IT’S JUST SUCH A BIG DEAL! It will make me feel nervous and I don’t like that! It’s easier to leave things the way they are: keep taking on the ever expanding responsibilities and doing work for others without being paid accordingly. Or maybe it’s easier to stay home all day and watch TV: because no matter what crazy things are happening on the screen, they don’t bother you because they don’t concern you.

I don’t want to be the ostrich who hides his head in the sand – no seeing, no feeling. It’s time to change the pattern. I am asking for a raise today. And that’s just a start. Good luck to me!

Monday, March 1, 2010

On Loneliness and Letting People In

Letting people into your life has been a curious subject for me for quite some time. I guess that’s what living in New York does to you, when you learn to trust no one and maintain your distance. So you get your carefully guarded space where you can breathe and think safely just to find yourself longing to fill it with people all over again. You think: I will be highly selective this time. But you end up setting such high impossible to meet standards – no one seems good enough to earn your trust and loyalty.

But then fate has some mercy on you and sends you someone who you naturally connect with immediately. You breathe in and out the same way, think similar thoughts and have a lot in common. So without further hesitation you let them in, which makes you really happy for a while… But good things can only last that long. Not that much time will pass before they get close enough to start hurting you.

I have two kinds of scenario how it happens. My newly made female friends switch rather quickly from discussing topics of mutual interests which were the foundation of our friendship in the first place to focusing on their personal problems. I know I am a good listener and people trust me with their most intimate stories. I have genuine interest and compassion for others’ lives; I will throw myself into the solution finding process and give the best possible advice I can find. But where does it leave me? Once the shift in the relationship happens, it’s very hard to turn things around. So I get to play the role of a listener and whenever I make an attempt to bring up a “piece” of my life, it get’s ignored in such a bold way that it almost shocks me. So I find myself in those one-sided relationships which begin to burden me in a way, that I start avoiding those suddenly–too-selfish friends for the sake of keeping my own sanity. It’s like they are discarding all the junk from their lives – and I am such a convenient dump place for them.

With my male friends things are usually much easier … unless they suddenly develop a crush on me. And it once again sparks the popular debate if friendship is possible between men and women. The development takes a very dramatic turn: because they know me so well, they sort of believe they own a piece of me. I try to remain on friendly terms – it is a disaster. I end the relationship and limit communication to occasional polite “how are you?” – another disaster when so much hostility is suddenly aimed at me.

I am friendly and outspoken, I used to make friends easily. Why do I suddenly have to alienate myself now to avoid the hurt? What do I need to do differently to avoid shutting people out shortly after letting them in? Can the curse be broken so that the emptiness goes away? Where does the meaning of true friendship lie?
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