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 🧚🏻‍♀️

I Am Complete, Just The Way I Am

A lovely friend of mine educated me about an intriguing phenomenon called the Imposter Syndrome. Having gone through it herself, she says it makes one ‘feel like a fraud’. It is a psychological pattern in which one doubts their skills, talents, and accomplishments, and has a persistent internal fear of being exposed as a fraud. And despite a clear external evidence of their competence, they still feel persistent feelings of inadequacy and wrongly attribute their success to luck. Even though this topic in particular might seem extreme, it brings about some ideas that may be relevant to all of us from time to time.

I have often felt like there is some perfect “script” for conversations, and that I cannot say the wrong thing. I have also, therefore, had trouble asking for help from people due to my own high standards. To move past these feelings, I had to learn to become comfortable confronting some of those deeply ingrained beliefs I held about myself. And this is the tricky bit, since we often do not even realize that we hold them.

What helped me is letting my guard down, and letting others see the real me. The good news is that being a perfectionist means that we care deeply about the quality of our work. But the key is to continue to strive for excellence when it matters most, and forgive ourselves when inevitable mistakes occur. We are often burdened by misguided rules such as, “I should always know the answer,” or “I should never ask for help”. But all of us have just as much right as the next person to be wrong, make mistakes, or ask for assistance, and at the end of the day there is really no such thing as perfect.

Another important lesson is to stop comparing. Every time I compare myself to others in a social situation, I end up finding some or the other ‘flaw’ or ‘fault’ within me that fuels the feeling of not being good enough to belong. We must focus on ourselves, invest time in the things we love doing, and we will realize that there is a boundless amount of things that make us who we are.

The most relevant example in my life currently would certainly be school. And I’ve come to terms with the fact that we are so much more than our grades. I have often asked myself, “when is good enough ever good enough? While striving for perfection is certainly noble, it can usually be unrealistic. What’s more important is turning these feelings into ones of gratitude – looking at what we have accomplished in our lives and being grateful for every success. And I am lucky enough to have a support system around me who sees it that way.

Please don't let them find out I am just an imposter! | by Ayush Mangal |  Quarantine Blogs | Medium

– SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️

Merry Christmas!

Despite this year being a gravely miserable and pitiful one, Christmas is a holiday that reinforces our beliefs to feel happy, transform, and become a part of a society with the same common spirit that connects us all.

However, there are people out there who don’t get that magical, cozy, wintery Christmas of twinkling lights and mandarin oranges that all of us run after. There are some people who are carrying silent burdens throughout these weeks. Some who are cold, alone, sad, unwell, or struggling – and they are all around us. So for any of us who are feeling the Christmas spirit, we can spread love this season and acknowledge the fact that we are blessed. This time of the year is all about giving gifts and celebrating, and we can spread gifts of kindness in a world where it is needed the most.

Christmas even teaches us to let go of enmity and embrace one another to create a bond of love and an environment full of cultural harmony, and it isn’t all about presents as much as it is about spending time with the people we love. This year for me, it’s not even about the presents. My grandparents are here with me, and I couldn’t have been happier!

Christmas is a time wherein we celebrate love, warmth, cheer, kindness, and selflessness. It has never died out for all these years due to its magic of spreading heaps of love and joy. Why should this year be any different?

Fun Fact: it is a tradition in Japan to eat KFC for Christmas. In fact, orders must be placed two months in advance!

⁃ SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️

Happy Birthday Dad

Here is a poem I wrote for my dad for always being my biggest support system and for always making sure I have the best that life could offer. To my dad, my number one hero!

You are a man
Like nobody else
Out of everyone I know
You know me the best

You shine with pride
In the moments I succeed
And are there for me
Whenever I need

When I get lost
And I feel stuck
You are the one
Who lifts me up

The times I’ve fallen
The times I’ve cried
You have been there
Right by my side

When you’re busy with work
And seem anything but free
I never have to worry
You’ll always make time for me

You’ve helped me see
The person I can become
You’ve always had faith in me
Even when I had none

You shelter and protect me
You always showed you care
Today I want to thank you
For always being there

You may not be a hero
Who’s known by the world
But a hero you are
To your little girl

father daughter clipart - Clip Art Library

⁃ SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️

Why do we really do random acts of kindness?

We often hear the phrase “random acts of kindness”, it is a relatively well-known concept. When you think about the times you’ve practiced random acts of kindness, what are some past practices that come to mind?

I found myself thinking about this question as I wrote this post because it’s an interesting one to ask, “When did I give something without expecting anything in return?

A little too often, I find it difficult to spread light and positivity when I don’t get the same in return. I go on sprinkling my love and my kindness, and I even end up feeling silly when I don’t get treated the same. But one lovely summer afternoon, my very wise teacher told me – we should operate from happiness, and not for happiness, and treat people with no expectations of being treated the same. Spread love. Don’t always do it for them – do it because that’s who you are!

I took his advice to heart, and I now see what he meant. I remember spending a day in a school with underprivileged kids, simply teaching, playing, and making Nutella and peanut butter jelly sandwiches with them. I didn’t quite get anything in return, but my reason to feel happy was right in front of me. Their precious little faces beaming with pleasure and smiles. That was my lesson learnt that day, and I now believe in it with all my heart.

The beautiful thing about random acts of kindness is that there are not only benefits to the receiver, but also to the giver. Reflecting upon that, there are heaps of little things we can do. Picking up litter on the beach. Serving at a homeless shelter. Volunteering at an animal shelter. Planting a tree. Sending someone a heartfelt letter instead of a text. I would love to hear some of your ideas for tiny acts of kindness: what do you think? Pop them in the comments below :).

⁃ SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️

My Dazzling Life

I look through my travel journal
And flick through each page
I treasure the memories
Of some merry-filled days
 
The time I viewed the sunset
In Maldives’ warm skies
How the golden aureate sun light
Glittered right before my eyes
 
The day I munched on churros
In Mexico’s bustling street
The sticky luscious caramel
Delectably ambrosial and sweet
 
The frosty nights in Finland
Where I gazed upon the star
Following some constellations
With the twinkling embers so far
 
How I indulged the moment
Sitting by the beach
In Seychelles’ summery air
That I never wished to leave
 
I restore these memories
With the delight that they give
As I fervently await
The hundreds more to live

– SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️

The Approval Addiction

A lot of us wish for our talents, our intelligence, or our strengths to be recognised, appreciated, and known by others. But we very soon start to rely on these approvals and try to ‘alter’ our lives to fit in within these expectations. Unfortunately, right from here starts a very vicious cycle.

Ever since I was younger, I had an insane obsession with ‘making sure people knew’ I was this or I was that. My mood, my emotions, and my feelings were a dangerously direct reflection of what others thought of me. It got to the point where I got excessively dependent on ‘approval’. If people praised me, I would feel empowered. If people criticised me, I would feel anxious. And if people insulted me, I would start to look down on myself.

A common example I often look back at are the times wherein I felt the immense pleasure when my teachers would praise me, when my friends would praise me, and how I’d feel so superior when I beat someone’s highest score in class. Conversely, how I would grow wild with angst when others performed better than me. Not only because I didn’t do well, but because others now saw that. But I now think to myself, why did the opinions of others matter to me so greatly? At the end of the day, we live to push our limits, and reach our goals. And none of that should have to change based on the views of the people around us. I was reading the book Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy by David Burns, and it made me realise how I had made it a habit to evaluate myself through the eyes of others. I now see that I can be so much more than that.

It can be enjoyable to have someone approve of us, but I don’t think we need this approval to be able to love and respect ourselves. Likewise, disapproval can be uncomfortable and it can make our life feel sour and rotten. But it doesn’t make us any less of a person. When we give our power over to others, we lose out on who we really are, and the only reality we then see is how we believe others see us.

⁃ SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️

Ever lost a friend?

This is a poem I wrote while thinking about some of the friendships I made in my life, which as years went by, simply faded away. Perhaps something went wrong, or we simply grew our own separate ways…

When we were little
We would play
Never felt troubled
About what people had to say
 
When I wasn’t well
You would benevolently stay
And check every hour
To make sure I was okay
 
When I wanted to talk
You’d always be there
Happiness or despair
We would unabashedly share
 
I revere those times
More than you’ll ever know
I continually question
What made you go
 
Our treasured memories
Will forever be in my heart
And I’ll always wonder
Why life tore us apart

 -SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️