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Do you have fun, seriously?

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You don’t need to be a psychologist to realize that I have a serious look on my face. I’ve been told by many of my close friends that at the first day we met their impression was something like “how can I ever make friend with this girl, she doesn’t even look at me!” And I haven’t still discovered where does this serious look comes from in me. I know that with my close and best friends there is no difficulty to share happy time and have fun, just by telling good memories and speaking about different things. However, even in such cases I can’t be a kind of take-it-easy guy, I don’t even try to pretend to!
I remember this conversation with someone who was trying to discover me; one of the few times that I visited a psychologist by then.

“Do you tell joke in public? In a family party, when someone does something silly, do you laugh? ”
I stare at Soheila’s mouth as she continues to ask.

“If someone speak loudly at street, doesn’t wait her turn in the queue, or doesn’t respect the elderly, what that means to you? Does that change your mind about them?”

“No, I didn’t mean that I expect everyone to behave in the way that I believe they should..”

“But you think that they need help, and should be educated!” she said, taking me by surprise.

In another time, she asked me: “Why just you don’t write your own story? Why don’t you work on something which is specific to you, like how to tell polite jokes? How not to insult someone or something but still be witty? And funny?”

That’s all about our impact. And I am going to give this idea more thought. Yes, there is something serious in me. But it can’t be anything, it shouldn’t be like a boring lesson, or separated from ordinary life. It should be applicable to all layers of our society, and can’t exclude anyone by telling that they are wrong, or different, or silly, or proud. Gives me good food for thought! 🙂

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That color

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There in the shadows it’s something which I can’t see.

Sometimes it looks like a huge monster,

or a dragon,

or aliens from an unknown planet with strange looks and big eyes!

and sometimes so deep that there’s no end to its darkness.

Just like a small kid,

it scares me away.

 

It’s scaring, like a blackout.

And I float, since my feet don’t know where they are landing!

 

Crash! And I fell down.

Right on the ground, my hands touching the surroundings.

Splash! And I fell down,

into water; wet and cold,

but into water.

 

It’s good to be in, so welcome!

I can say that color, without looking,

by my heart.

 

Whether be it black or not,

bring a different pair of eyes

to see how beautiful that thing can be.

A lifelong battle..

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Whenever I doubt that I have been honest to myself I realize that I had forgotten my whole purpose of living. Then I ask “God, what was my purpose of life?” and remember just the day before or a couple of hours ago when my mind was in the right direction, thinking of good things, coming up with good ideas, and looked beautifully at things! “What a short border between feeling good and being miserable!” I think.

Although I knew that honesty means not to hide the truth or facts about something, I think I have just understood it! To me, being honest about myself means:

1)      know the truth about my inner self,

2)      then show it to others or play it in the situations that come up my way

Note that if I only know the truth but hide it, that can’t be honesty. I am pretending to be something else. On the other hand, if I just show some characteristics without thinking appropriately about it, how can I be sure that they are parts of my true feelings?

Example: Most of the time I think of stronger colleagues and get disappointed at myself, because I know that they have more knowledge or experience, and as a result perform better than me. My reaction has been lack of confidence, being numb by the fear of starting to work, and feeling hopeless. At the more extreme cases, I have doubted that I have spent my whole life in the wrong direction. If only I had acknowledged my weak points and worked on them, I wouldn’t stay as bad as I thought. Therefore, it is important to know what’s going on inside us. If instead I had risked to be vulnerable and shown that I needed more help because I didn’t know many things, the benefits were huge.

I believe this is the same thing as Andrew Solomon interprets as forging the meaning and building identities. Forge meaning means to know what are our true feelings, however awkward or challenging or different they might be. And then prove to ourselves that we are following them, and trying to improve and finally win the battle inside us. A battle for being braver, more practical, more responsible, and whatever that we feel we need to become. The summit point of such a process is when someone thinks of us to be really brave, practical, responsible, or anything else. That’s where we have made an identity, something new that didn’t exist in the world before we started. Something always ordinary that is down there, at the bottom of our hearts, waiting for us to find and help it grow.

If I can be honest to myself, I won’t forget what is the purpose of my life. I won’t be worried about how much weaker, or less competent I am compared to my friends. And I will stop comparing my own life to others from time to time. And, perhaps, I shouldn’t be easily fallen into the state of feeling lost in dreams or in the past. Amen!

Wind blows the clouds!

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No fear is worse than being alone and feeling to be different from the group. I remember a recent conference where I had put on my usual interested-only-in-technical-stuff mask and felt unwanted in the group of my new friends (I know them for about three months). At the lunch time, most of people headed to restaurants around the Holiday Inn hotel (a nice broad view of Lake Ontario can be seen from 6th floor. Kingston is a small beautiful historic city). I didn’t even waited to know about their intentions; I wasn’t receiving good feelings (and possibly that was a false one) so I quickly separated and went aimlessly out. Feeling miserable, I wandered down one of the streets. It’s a beautiful sunny day. I hear something like applause, as if being a gathering or a street play. Someone’s saying thank you to the crowed. The program is over and by the time I get there people are spreading out. Moving around, my ears look for the source of a tune: “drums,” I think and go forward. I am now at the lake bank. I jump to one of the big stones and cautiously stand on the edge, stretch myself to the farthest point and “click,” I have a photo of this now lovely day.

Behind me in a distance of 20 meters, a man with cowboy hat has leaned against an old tree holding a drum between his knees. My eyes follow the circle of other men and women each having either a drum or some percussion instrument. For almost one and half hour I walk, look, listen, and enjoy the beautiful scene. They play harmoniously with a natural rhythmic wave. In my way back to the hotel, there is a young man at the other side of street playing a wind instrument. At this side the Sunday market has made people busy. What a beautiful day, I think with a sense of gratitude. No matter how I was upset of myself and my social short-comings, I feel genuinely elated now.

People sometimes recognize traits and characteristics in us that may not seem very familiar to ourselves. And that’s beautiful to know about. Sometimes they are encouraging, or inspiring, and sometimes just an indication of how should we change if we don’t mean to be seen like that. It’s a diversity of shades and colors that altogether makes the life so rich.

Despite the appreciation that I recently gained for being open to more connections, I am still trapped inside. Somehow, it is part of my personality that doesn’t want to seek much variety and mostly prefer to go deep with just a few meaningful things. But as I started to lose my interest in current life (including my job, field of study, level of knowledge, range of experiences, social positions, etc.) I realized that there are so many different things in this world, and that sort of made me depressed. How can I have come so short-achieved in life? I asked myself over and over.

That’s really horrifying, of course if it’s really the truth. In fact, a healthy mind should give such a feeling only a short period of manifestation, something like a warning. Otherwise, it becomes an ordinary feeling to the extent that little by little such a potential delusion becomes reality. Connecting with events, nature, books, and more importantly people works for me. Catching myself doing well (even in little everyday activities) makes me calm. Secretly, I am learning how to look for reasons to get myself going despite feeling terrible. And as such, I deserve being at a joyful drum and percussion group performance in a sunny day!

 

P.S.:

1) This week I watched (and listened over and over) Andrew Solomon depression talk on TED. I enjoy the eloquent language he uses, his acting, and his very clear ideas.

2) I managed to work and concentrate very well on my thesis in at least 4 days of the week by writing “Don’t escape” with a green pen on my notebook whenever I feel tempted to go on social media or check my email, or leave my desk for any reason. That was so simple that I couldn’t help doing  🙂

Love and responsbility, love and motherhood

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From the large floor-to-ceiling windows of third floor of department building, I watched the small group of kids in their bright color suits standing on the sidewalk. My dream! “Can I ever be a mother?” I thought, and paused for a couple of minutes. “They are just getting ready for something like camping or another outdoor activity. Look, those two women are their teachers, perhaps are giving them last warnings about staying with the group,” whispered a voice in my head, and continued “that’s such an ordinary thing, move on!” and I did. I had to get prepared for the afternoon presentation.

About 10 days before, when Nella asked me to help her with the garden, I knew I can’t refuse. “That’s not part of my schedule. No doubt you have more serious stuff to do girl!” I thought. Since the time that I had moved to her house we had shared many ideas and I had talked about how much I loved to learn gardening. Indeed, she is alone with her partner which is at work most of the time. “I help you, dear,” I told with myself and accepted willingly.

A quarter later, I was feeling like a total stranger in Nella’s fancy sun hat and her flowery half-torn gloves. Squatting down and taking weeds out of the soil seemed too hard for me who have always been sitting at my desk staring to laptop screen. Something tells me “You deserved it! Life’s alive here,” and I look at Nella’s determined face. She puts much effort and passion into making the garden that makes me incredibly jealous! Soon, we are into short chats “I can’t believe how much it’s easier to work when you have some company! I hope I haven’t made you behind your studies,” she says. “Oh, you don’t need to worry. That’s fine. I like it. You know, I am such an inexperienced girl that hasn’t done anything except sitting and reading and thinking! (That’s so meaningful to some of us, what’s wrong with that? I should ask myself.) This is now really fun!” I told her. “That’s not late. Don’t rush to anything. You’ll be good,” she said and pushed the shovel into ground with her foot. Don’t rush! A good advice from a really practical person. Someone immersed so much in life that never bothered to worry about loose ideas and fake unrealistic responsibilities from the poverty to child abuse to addiction, dishonesty, etc. etc. “The complete opposite to me,” I thought.

That afternoon I had the last discussion session (I presented a summary of some research and added my own insights and then we discussed some candidate ideas with the professor) which was quite stimulating for me. I felt that I have been given an exciting mission, and felt both stressed and strong. I told myself that it could be my last chance to get out of this chronic disappointment in my life. So I decided to take small different steps each day which could alter both my mindset and performance. I desperately wanted to rethink how I can avoid failing myself this last time.

Things are just exciting while they’re in the mind. Reality can be very difficult to bear. With a mixture of confusion and confidence, I indulged myself in some TED videos after some hours of work the next night. I came through Andrew Solomon love no matter what talk, and was impressed. He beautifully told stories of the interviews he had with parents who decided to understand their (impaired) child and make a better life for him/her and how they paved the hard way by investing their unconditional love in a lifetime. I know that this might be different, but for me it just seems like the most meaningful interpretation of my current status, i.e. disappointment. I see myself disappointed to accomplish what I loved to do once, years ago. I don’t care about the changing stuff that psychologists say (and it is true) that because our values change over time so we live different characters and update our goals. I am looking for consistency; I need a broader meaning to connect my parted life together- just like glue. And I know I still want to do it, however disappointed I am. So here’s my challenge: I get disappointed with my life (for reasons that I don’t care about now but used to go through and discover each of them) and then wished to be someone else, somewhere else, doing something else. That’s like wanting to not exist, and to not accept that we need to deal with our personal problems. That’s why love matters. It helps us to forget about all reasons or preparations that throw us into this challenging and hopeless cycle. It helps us to unconditionally think of doing something as opposed to being crippled by enormous list of excuses and give-up strategies. I know there are many beauties in this world that I haven’t seen, many new experiences that I haven’t gained and many feelings that haven’t yet touched my heart. I just think that love makes up for all of this, at some point, by giving a broader outlook to life and therefore I shouldn’t rush. Love brings understanding and meaning with itself, and that’s what I want to have.

To love anything is a choice. That’s not easy, because we are not born to love everything: no hardship, no pain, and no uncertainty. But to get better at it we have to try and practice. We have to stick to our responsibilities and to reality that we’re facing. Perhaps it’s better to let our future be nurtured with love, instead of desires and dreams.

Thinking that I am late for a marriage and starting a family makes me depressed and disappointed. Observing how I stuck for over 10 years to an activity and yet have no output of it is terrifying. But, I need to stop wrestling inside and go instead to love school. That’s how a valuable and quiet enough life is going to be!

A crack in the dark

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Deep in a dark mysterious piece of ground, once was a seed that had nothing to do. She leaned against the soil wall and felt the humid fluffy pieces on her skin. Disappointed, she turned to see if there is any sign of other living creatures around. Nothing. The cool blow of wind was now penetrating down. She thought “That’s stupid! What am I doing here? I don’t even know which direction to go!” and listened carefully hoping to hear a sound from somewhere. Nothing again, and she fell asleep.

Now in a happy sunny day the world is all glistening, clouds are jumping and running with each other, trees singing with birds and flowers dancing joyfully. But deep in the soil, the little seed saw nothing, heard nothing. Though, she had to take off her jacket because it was much warmer than the last night. Upset and bored she thought “I can’t stay here like that. I will die.”

But days passed, and she survived. Despite the dark monotonous life down there, the seed didn’t feel the same all the time. It was as if she knew that there must be something much better waiting for her. “How?” she asked herself. “How do I know that there IS better than this? How can I end this tough life?” she thought. By the time I knew about her, she was sure that she needed a change. She didn’t want to continue those dark and humid days and nights, alone, without even the weakest sound.

I saw her upset, but determined to find a way,

while neither of us knew how to make a change.

There was a crack, the only sound within the weeks! So she curiously pulled her head out, asking “Oh, what was that?!”

And I watched her stretching herself higher and higher.

“I know I heard something, what was that?” she thought and struggled to make some room in soil.

Deep in the dark mysterious ground, we were fighting for…

“Wait! What if it was only in my mind?” she asked herself.

“I’m happier if I assume it was real, though!” and pulled herself higher.

What was that? I ask myself. Because a question

gives light to darkness. She won’t know that,

perhaps until her head pops out the soil

and say hello to her wonderful world!

But I saw how a tiny crack, revealed the little embryo of my tiny seed

that needed to grow in happy shadow of a doubtful sound

in the darkness.

Yes, you are supposed to be here!

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Before starting this sequence of notes about how reserved I’ve been and the need for getting involved with the outside world, I often felt that I am out of the system. By that I mean most often I had this feeling that I shouldn’t be where I am, like I am, not at this time, and not being supposed to be who I am known to be! Now, I have still a lot of mistakes and shortcomings in staying committed to my daily routine. Not responding to distractions like emails, social media, and internet in general is one big obstacle for me. However, I have learned something for sure: I do belong to here, and supposed to have my current role and life. That’s what the whole life is about.

At the very young ages, I had a strong desire for theater and actually my dream career was either being an actress or a play writer. Now I am only a good listener and spectator! Even later, when I was fairly in the middle of my professional life as an engineering student, I wrote in one of my writing exams: “Actors can do anything, because they know how to play a role, feel it, and live with a new character for a while. They are most prosperous and never regret being someone else because they simply can act it…,” well, today I don’t know how much this statement is true based on the statistics and history. But, this philosophy is echoed again in my life.

Here is the new plan that I will follow from now on. Whenever I find myself disengaged (especially with my thesis that’s my current business) I remind myself of the two possible outcomes that is likely to happen:

–          I will switch to some distracting activity like checking emails, browsing aimlessly, or spending time on social media. Then I feel guilty, I try to reconnect with my work, and this on and off approach continues until the day ends (negative reaction)

–          I know that I have a role, and need to play it well. I think about how I could do it better, and what I should do to get better at playing it. I know that I failed (right at that time), but if I am truly engaged in my life I should try to fix it. This helps me to be more mindful. (positive reaction)

There are other necessary elements that keep me alert about the present state of life. I notice that for at least 10 years I have been regretting about being someone else: I am not to be an engineer, I could be a writer, a graphic designer, a cartoonist, a poet, and just about many other career that you think of that! This has made me sick: “Why on earth everything looks so good to me except me?!” and if someone told me that “try to live in now and don’t regret about the past,” I wouldn’t understand what they really meant. Things look different now, because:

–          I have learned that I am free to do anything that I want (I have been, but I didn’t realize it until a while ago)

–          I understand that life is not predictable and that we are learners all through our life. So simply our ideas and viewpoints changes as we get wiser (you shouldn’t try to predict the whole life when you’re 25, for example)

–          I have seen this pattern a lot: people start from some point in time, and their activity continues in future. Trivial, yeah? For a long time I thought OK they are different from me, they know more mathematics, they have a stronger background, etc. in their field. Now, I see their point. They wanted to make a change. It needs time for everything to get changed. So, even if you are not satisfied for what you have now, the answer doesn’t depend on your past which is gone. You can’t even rely on future (which hasn’t come). You only have this: now.

 

This is all about my engagement scheme in life! When writing this note, I had the Sarah Kay performance “Point B” and Kathryn Schulz talk “On being wrong,” in my mind. They both impressed me with the sense that life is about uncertainty, and guess what, I knew that. I just didn’t know how to live an uncertain life: enjoy the wonderful now!

P.S. I was also reminded of my life-theater attitude by Amy Cuddy in her beautiful talk. Thank you Amy!