Don’t compare yourself to strangers

We often fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others as we scroll through various different social media. We also make judgements about how we don’t/can’t measure up against them. Unfortunately, social media is a place that triggers that unpleasant self-disdain, and this, as I’ve seen is so very unhealthy. In our modern world, social media exists as a tool to highlight the best parts of us and our lives, meaning comparisons have become stronger, but also more unfair.

Sonja Lyubormirsky, a psychologist at the University of California, said that “people who are happy use themselves for internal evaluation.” While in many cases comparisons help us learn from each other, other times, they rob us from gratitude and fulfilment in our own lives. When I find myself thinking that someone is better than me on social media, what I really find myself doing is trying to meet unrealistic expectations. So, in the long run, we should compare ourselves to nobody but ourself.

The truth is, the people we compare ourselves to on social media are almost always enduring struggles that we aren’t aware of. And yet, we typically tend to compare the worst we know about ourselves to the best we presume about them. However, when we do come to know about the fact that even their lives are far from perfect, this just goes to show that everyone, even society-adored ‘perfect’ people aren’t perfect. No amount of physical beautification can mask the fact that we’ll never be content with ourselves. The best we can do then is love ourselves unconditionally and realize that there’s more to life than the internet. It might feel like everything to someone living in this decade, but there are oodles of other things in life to encounter. We can do ourselves a favour and take some time off our screens to think about what we want to make out of our lives, because it is the one thing we solely have and can control.

– SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️

Why do we need planning?

All of us have dreams and ambitions. Having reached this crucial stage of my life of thinking about my future, it occurred to me how important it is to plan and set goals! Steve Maraboli, an American writer, interestingly said: “If you don’t know exactly where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?”

Planning gives us a sense of direction, and it orients us in the clear direction we are to follow. None of us want to attempt a humongous task directly – that is absolutely daunting (been there!). However, we can plan the huge task in such a way that it will look like tiny doable bits of tasks. You may also agree with me that once the big task is broken down, we feel like it looks much more achievable, and it does in fact become more achievable.

I am personally using the power of planning for this blog, to get fitter, to lose weight, to get good grades, to become happier, and to get into a good university, amongst other things. If I don’t plan to accomplish these things, I doubt that I will accomplish any of them. I know this because whenever I have failed to carefully identify and plan a goal, I have generally failed to achieve it. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “failing to plan is planning to fail”. Planning does this for us. It breaks down our giant goal into tiny objectives so that each small bit can be achieved one after the other until our final goal is achieved.

A plan is almost equivalent to having a road map that helps us reach our desired destination. Unless we have already been to the place we want to go to and already know the way to get there, we are going to need a good one! In my experience, a good plan consists of a general target (the big picture), a list of things needed to be done in order to attain this target, and then the daily, weekly and monthly actions and activities to be done that would help attain these goals, along with time durations and time management. That being said, there are indeed some great things in all of our lives that just happen unpredictably without the need for any plan, so I am perhaps only referring to the “big rocks” that do need careful brainstorming.

Planning for me even acts as a motivator. I don’t have to wake up every day wondering where to start and what to do, and knowing that I am doing my best in ticking off each task boosts my confidence too. Simply knowing that I am taking steps to create the life I want gives me a beautiful sense of peace.

– SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️

My First Published Book!

Happy Monday Everyone!

I am so delighted to inform you that I am releasing my very own book today on my birthday! It is titled Teenage Chronicles, and is published by EuropeBooks.

A little about my book…

Teenage Chronicles is an honest reflection of my personal teenage journey. It captures the emotions, anxieties, and the euphoria of an average teenager. I am hoping that, vicariously, it may help other teenagers better cope through these intriguing years – as fascinating as they are difficult!

I am a typical teenager who has experienced and endured ubiquitous teenage emotions. When these emotions started getting rather overwhelming, I tried to introspect deeply. I would spend many nights thinking about what was really happening inside me. I also talked to a lot of friends to try and get collective wisdom. Was I alone in feeling this way? If not, how were others coping? Themes that appeared repeatedly were Insecurity (a constant feeling of not being able to measure up), Jealousy (our nascent individuality also drives comparisons), Happiness (the quintessential fruits of all our labour), Friendship (with ego, good friends become hard to find and maintain), Anger, Failure, Ambition, Fears, Curiosity, and Love.

This blog is a place where I would write about everything I felt related to these emotions. Then I wondered how these emotions, if brought together holistically as a book, could have a wider appeal.

Hence this book happened: a memoir, self-help, parenting, and personal well-being for young adults all rolled into one! Ten chapters for these ten enigmatic emotions… written by a teenager for a teenager.

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Teenage-Chronicle-Journey-Discovery-UNIVERSES/dp/B091DYRDWW

India: https://www.amazon.in/TEENAGE-CHRONICLES-JOURNEY-DISCOVERY-UNIVERSES/dp/B091DYRDWW/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Teenage+chronicles&qid=1627408719&sr=8-1

UAE: https://www.amazon.ae/TEENAGE-CHRONICLES-JOURNEY-SELF-DISCOVERY/dp/B091DYRDWW/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1FLFVRL60ONMB&dchild=1&keywords=teenage+chronicles&qid=1626874266&sprefix=Teenage+%2Caps%2C285&sr=8-1

If you do wish to purchase a copy anywhere else in the world, please drop a DM at teenage_chronicles (Instagram), or send me an email!

– SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️

It’s okay to take a break

Quite often, we get deeply embroiled in our hectic lifestyles with deadlines to meet and a continual pressure on our shoulders to “be productive”. But as I have realised, it is so important that we give ourselves a break when we need one. Giving our bodies, minds, and hearts a chance to relax and recharge is as vital as hitting our most important deadlines.

A lot of us feel guilty when we aren’t productive. As a high-school student, every time I look at my laptop, I see ten assignments I need to complete, deadlines I need to meet, essays I need to write, and tasks I need to get on with. I feel constantly overwhelmed and it seems like there isn’t any end to it. I even feel like I’m going and going, almost drowning. There are times when I feel like I’m not able to spend time with my family, with the people I love, and investing my time doing the things I love. I feel disconnected from them, from things I’m passionate about, and from myself! Something I have come to realize is that self-care and looking after our well-being isn’t unproductive. In fact, any work I create with a negative state of mind is never my best one, and this brings me further down in the hole of feeling miserable about being productive.

That being said, it doesn’t matter how we choose to do it. The important thing is that we owe ourselves the gift of a deep breath (or the view of a long sunset!) after all the hard work we put into our day-to-day lives. Taking some time off to focus on ourselves and our mental health, specially during these exceedingly stressful times, is as important as getting any work done. So even with “so much to do in so little time”, after a busy day, we all deserve to relax and unwind.

⁃ SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️

True Happiness is Internal

The other day when I was texting a friend, I noticed how impatient and grumpy I felt when she didn’t reply and get back to me. There were similar instances with other people wherein I felt irked the same way. However, it made me wonder why my happiness is dependent on external factors. And, ultimately, just how wrong this is!

We haven’t actually ever been taught to look inside of ourselves. Our worlds are not exactly set up to help us discover our personal boundaries in pursuit of growth, and we are therefore encouraged to cling onto external events in the hopes that we will be happy after, and with the hopes that they will calm our troubled hearts and minds. But quite fortunately enough, true happiness can be found within us.

Internal happiness is when our happiness is influenced by our own realizations, mindsets or thought processes. The weight of other people’s thoughts and opinions can easily become a burden for us, but once we learn to let go, it feels like taking a nice deep breath for the first time. We see the world as different. We feel happiness from within ourselves.

I also realized that people don’t care as much as we think they do! We all have a life of our own to worry about, and all the problems that come with living it. Even though it may seem like we are constantly being scrutinized, it is unlikely that someone is spending much of their time thinking about us at all. We will lose our minds trying to make sure that everyone responds to us the way we want them to, so ultimately, people’s opinions and actions don’t matter. Thankfully, happiness is a skill that can be cultivated, and it is entirely within our reach.

The hard truth is that we can’t please everyone, nor can we control the things that happen to us (all the time). It is impossible to live up to everyone’s expectations and it is impossible to achieve everything we desire exactly when and how we want. So there is no point in burning ourselves out in trying to do so since perfectionism is a destination wherein we will hardly ever arrive. The important thing, however, is that we make sure that one of the people we do please is ourselves!

– SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️

Skydiving at 16!

This weekend (on Easter Sunday), I jumped off a plane at an altitude of 13,000 feet!

My heart was beating and my body was shaking as I stepped into the plane. In those ten minutes, I could feel nothing but the chills of fear of jumping, despite my amazing instructor Benji trying his best to calm me down.

And then the moment came!

The plane door opened, and I watched the first two people fall into the sky, one of them being my twin sister. Then it was my turn. Benji and I crouched at the door of the plane, I looked out into the sky all around me, and I took the biggest jump of my life.

What Skydiving Taught Me About Fear:

In life, there are always some things that scare each of us. When I was very little, I had a fear of almost everything. The wind would scare me (Ancraophobia). Loud noises would scare me (Phonophobia). Fast things would terrify me (Tachophobia). I would barely ever swing on playground swings because of how it made my stomach have that dropping sensation! Due to fears, we can often doubt ourselves a lot, and hence we refrain from doing anything we find too scary. We end up limiting ourselves. Skydiving forced me to “Just Do It” and stop being controlled by my fears. Many of us live in a safe box of limited habits, but by throwing ourselves out there, we push our own boundaries and see the real us, the US we never knew existed.

Another lesson I learned is about perspectives. A lot of naysayers assume that skydiving or bungee jumping is insanely risky. But statistically speaking, you are more likely to die being struck by lightning or stung by a bee than from sky diving! (National Safety Council, 2018). Sometimes, we make things big and scary in our heads because we are afraid to break out of the boxes we have trapped ourselves in. Stepping out of our comfort zones might sound scary in theory but in reality, it is where the big magic begins.

If we never leave our comfort zones, we will never be able to experience the exciting things about life. Over analyzing everything and at every time doesn’t help us in too many ways. If I would have thought too much beforehand, I probably would have talked myself right out of even trying. Sometimes, we just have to let go of all our fears, trust the journey, and enjoy the ride.

The last thing I learnt is that I can do anything I set my mind to. Skydiving gives us this huge boost of unique inner power. Impossible is a word I threw out of my dictionary. There will be so many things out there in the world that will scare me. But I will never know the things I can do until I go for it. If I can muster up the courage to jump out a plane, I have the ability to conquer any other fear that crawls into my life!

(Me on your left, my twin sister on your right):

Here is a short video of me falling down the sky:

– SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️

World Poetry Day 2021

The Underwater World

As I gently shut my eyes
I recall the day
The summery tropical afternoon
I spent snorkeling by the bay

The fresh turquoise water
Touches my face
And right underneath me
Unravels a captivating place

Shoals of vibrant fish
Swimming all around
In every possible color
Yellow, red, or brown

An underwater paradise
Formed by exotic coral reefs
Large living and breathing structures
Home to a plethora of beings

A world of unknown
I gaze to the ocean floor
An aesthetic scenery
A mystical world to explore

⁃ SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️

What makes a friend?

The people we choose to let into our lives leave one of the greatest impacts on our hearts. Kenzoku “眷族” is a Japanese word that loosely translates to ‘family’. However, it suggests a deeper meaning: the deepest connection of friendship. It is camaraderie, the family we choose for ourselves. The other day I was marveling over the kinds of people who have stumbled across my life. Then I came to wonder, what makes a true friend?

💜 A true friend is someone who accepts you for who you are. When you are around them, you never have to pretend to be someone you are not. They accept your flaws and love you just the way you are.

💜  A true friend is never envious. They understand that you may have to do your thing, so they do their thing, and you celebrate one another without jealousy or animosity.

💜 Around a true friend, you feel safe, comfortable, and loved.

💜 A true friend is not superficial. They are willing to get deep with you. I was talking to my dad one day about how I have always only let people in so far. How I have always put on a facade because I never wanted people to get to know the real me. I have done a lot of growing ever since, and realized that true friends let you see the good, the bad, and the ugly.

💜 A true friend shows up. I cannot count the number of times people cancel plans on the very last minute. A true friend makes friendship the priority. We all have seasons in our lives when we get extremely busy, but if someone matters to you, you find a way to make it work. You find a way to be there.

💜 True friends don’t leave you when things get difficult. I agree with the old saying “actions speak louder than words”. Many people tell you that they will be there for you when you need them, but during tough times, true friends are the ones who choose to stay. They stick around no matter the circumstances, and never walk away when you are scared, overwhelmed, or dealing with a hard time.

💜 You do not hurt the ones you love. You do not humiliate the ones you love. You do not lie to the ones you love. True friendship is about love, and loving someone unconditionally.

As I write this post, I picture three people in my life I consider kenzoku. How about you? Let me know in the comments!

– SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️

What Defines You?

As we go through our lives, we get to discover ourselves. Sometimes, however, we see people around us who “seem” better than us, and we start to question our very selves. We see someone who is smart and think we aren’t smart enough. We see someone who is pretty and feel we aren’t beautiful enough. I have often been around a group of people where sometimes, I would feel like I’m not as gorgeous as them. Or sometimes, I would think “oh my word I’m so dumb!”. But then I asked myself, what really defines us?

As I see it, embracing our individuality is the bravest thing we can ever do. To gather every ounce of courage to accept ourselves for who we are when we live in a society that is burdened with labels and opinions. Lizzie Velasquez, a motivational speaker, was 17 when she stumbled upon a video about herself on YouTube titled “The World’s Ugliest Woman.” My heart breaks for her, and I cannot fathom how she felt after reading it. But in one of her TED talks, this graceful women during her speech said, “You are the one who decides what defines you”.

Nobody is ugly. We just happen to live in a very judgmental society. But the moment you accept your true self, you will have a lesser amount of stress from trying to be someone you’re not. You will also have a lesser amount of stress from trying to find things outside of yourself to make you happy. You will even find your own set of features to define who you are. When we start to seek this within ourselves, we will no longer need that approval from external places, people, and things. We will no longer need to hide within because we feel we should change. At the end of the day, we can choose to let our weaknesses define us, or we can choose to let our strengths do the same. When we do so, we are given the room to enjoy and love life. So choose the latter. You will win.

You Have Power Over Your Mind - Mind Wonders

– SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️