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.
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!
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
⁃ SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻♀️
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 :).
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.
I recently heard about some tragic losses a few of my acquaintances faced lately, and I came to realise how precious and delicate our lives are.
There are no convenient truths. No guarantees. No orders or set amounts of time our loved ones will be there for us. No promises that how we feel now will be how we feel tomorrow. No promise that the health and relative wealth we enjoy today will be with us the next morning. There is a haunting touch of fragility in every single one of our lives, and facing up to it can be terrifying.
Whether the loss of a loved one is personal or public, it serves as an intense reminder for each of us to stop, reflect, and take inventory of our priorities in life. I didn’t know the people who died in a plane crash a couple of months ago. Or the people currently dying from Covid all around the world. But my heart breaks for them. For all of them, and for everyone who knew and loved them.
However, these thoughts have left me with a conviction to make the most of my days. Every time I travel and visit new countries with my family, I take a moment to pause and reflect on how lucky I am to experience this adventure. To be able to enjoy my life that I get to live with my family. To have them by my side. To share my experiences with the three people I love the most in the world.
Facing up to the fact that we all have a temporary place in this world should be a reason good enough to start living our lives. Making time for the people we love. Making time for ourselves. Making time for our dreams and our goals. Never taking anything or anyone for granted.
I shudder to think about loosing someone I love. It reminds me of the immense vulnerability that life is made up of. But bearing in mind how unpredictable and short it is, let’s do everything we can to make it a fulfilling one – by believing in love, forgiveness, and gratitude for the people and things that matter.