Self Esteem.

Self-Esteem

“People are like stained glass windows: they sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light within.”
~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

And that light is Self Esteem.

Conditioning plays such an important part in one’s life that self esteem to develop where the conditions are unfavourable can be a daunting task and unless there is a cheer leader / motivator who can keep one going even during the most depressing stages, it rarely does. Till a major turning point came in my own life, I went through life with low self esteem because, society and some relatives kept pointing out that I was a school dropout – good-for-nothing, capable only of getting into trouble and having a good time otherwise. It was in retrospect that I realised that having that good time was my way of coping with the low self esteem.

My light did not shine till circumstances forced me to go to Business School. To go there however, I had to first get my undergraduate degree for which a great deal of prodding needed to be undertaken by a remarkable lady who was my mother. I have written about it elsewhere and do not want to bore my readers with that old tale.

Going to Business School, graduating from there and securing a prestigious position through campus recruitment changed my personality somewhat and my marriage about a year after graduation, to an amazing lady gave me such emotional stability that there was no looking back as far as self esteem was concerned. It was exactly the moment when she agreed to marry me that I changed and it was like the proverbial bulb switching on.

So, what did that big turn around give me that I did not have before? The knowledge that a very intelligent and mature lady would consider me worthy of spending the rest of her life with me. That never left me since then. Even during some of my most trying times, fortunately she was around those days, I never felt that there was something wrong with me. I had bad things happening around me, but I was not a bad person. And I had proof!

“Any life, no matter how long and complex it may be, is made up of a single moment — the moment in which a man finds out, once and for all, who he is.”

~ Jorge Luis Borges

And apart from being grateful for getting my self esteem, there was another development much later in my life that made me grateful for not taking the self esteem to its illogical conclusion of narcissism when I saw that acting out through another person. Had it not been for my own self esteem, those few years of living with that person would have destroyed me. That it did not and I am here writing this post is proof enough that a healthy self esteem does wonders for one.

I hope that you enjoyed reading my take on this subject which was chosen by me for the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where five of us write on the same topic. The four other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order,  AshokgaelikaaMaxi, and Shackman. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, do give some allowance for that too!

What Did You Want To Be When You Grew Up?

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This post has been at the back of my mind for a long time and every now and then something triggers off the thought. The LBC topic and What I Do/Did For A Living, got one of my readers to talk to me on the phone and that conversation again revived the idea and here goes.

During my corporate avatar when interviewing candidates for employment with us, I would not miss asking this question to try and find quite what kind of changes had taken place in the candidate and also to get some understanding about her power of imagination.

Naturally, I have asked myself the same question to get an insight into my own progress in life and today, I will share that answer and try and explain my current attitude towards, success and ambition about which I have written other posts.

My friends however had clear ideas like wanting to become doctors, engineers, soldiers, government officials etc. They worked towards achieving those goals with single minded devotion and would be puzzled by my own indifference to those laudable goals. They did not have access to my inner thoughts. I could not have articulated those thoughts then even if I had wanted to. I was just that different.

No, I did not want to become a fireman or a cop or a bus driver. What I wanted to do when I grew up most was to get out of my father’s control. To enable that, I was willing to do anything to earn some money to keep body and soul together and in the process have some fun too. I did that by wheeling and dealing and enjoyed those days with like minded kindred souls.

My father had other ideas however and despite getting out of his home, tried to tie me down to employment where he could indirectly control me. That I eventually was able to get free from under that situation and become a reasonably stable and productive citizen was due entirely to circumstances over which I had little control. I call that grace. That is why I have consistently maintained that in my life, I was just in the right place at the right time and events kept overtaking me.

Now, just imagine some interviewer asking me the same question that I used to ask. What could I have answered? Had I been honest, would I have been selected?

Pravin, how does that sound to you?

What I Do (Did) For A Living

I hope that you enjoy reading this post on the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where eleven of us write on the same topic. Today’s topic has been chosen by Conrad The Old Fossil. The ten other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order, Delirious, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Maxi, Maria SF, Padmum, Paul, Rohit,Shackman, The Old Fossil and Will. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, do give some allowance for that too!

living

When strangers meet me for the first time, as I am sure that all my readers experience, I am inevitably asked “What do you do?” Depending on the mood I am in and the importance/receptivity of the enquirer, I answer with one of the following;

A bugger all.

I am a retired hippie.

I sponge off on my son.

I am squandering my inherited fortune.

I vegetate.

Another question that was never asked when I was younger but which now seems to be quite common, is “How are you doing?” I inevitably answer that I stopped doing a long time ago.

You can therefore understand how difficult I find it to write on this very intriguing topic chosen uncharacteristically by our venerable Old Fossil.

Without sounding facetious, I do not believe that I ever did anything for a living. I have blogged about how events kept overtaking me and I just flowed along. I suspect that I just lived a life and the making a living happened as a by product.

Just to give you an idea about the veracity of that paragraph, I take you to my earlier posts:

Success.

Ambition.

Skepticism Vs Disbelief.

The post on Ambition unfortunately does not show the image which I had put in which was this Michael Speller’s sculpture.
ambition

Having said all that, I continue to live my life.  Taking everything as it comes and by and large enjoy myself doing exactly that.  The making a living still happens but that is incidental to my just being alive.

Success.

“Formula for success: rise early, work hard, strike oil.”
~ J. Paul Getty

By all accounts, I should be called a success. I have lived a good life. I have acquired all the trappings of a successful middle class person in India. I am as healthy as reasonably can be expected of a man with my background and age. I have taken care of all my liabilities and survived to a stage where I am relatively free to do what I want with my life. I had a great marriage which lasted forty plus years filled with all the good and bad things that all marriages go through, but on balance was a successful one.

Yet, when I look back on my life I find that the most important aspect of my success was striking oil. I most certainly rose early and continue to do so even now; worked hard and loved every moment of it, but the success as perceived by the world was by and large a matter of providence and being in the right place at the right time.

Very few people however are willing to give me credit for repeatedly striking oil. Just last night, my mentee and adopted nephew Pravin spoke to me on the phone and kept asking me for advise on how to be successful and was quite frustrated when I kept telling him that he should give some time and success will fall on his lap.

I dedicate this post to him and refer him to two of my earlier posts, both written on LBC topics on which a group of bloggers write every Friday on the same pre-chosen topic. The first one is on Ambition and the next is on Skepticism Vs Disbelief.

Coincidentally, a very interesting TED talk came my way this morning and while not being quite as inconsequential as my take on the subject, is riveting for the speaker’s enthusiasm for it.

Desire.

“When all the desires that surge in the heart are renounced,
The mortal becomes immortal.
When all the knots that strangle the heart are loosened,
The mortal becomes immortal.”

“You are what your deep, driving desire is.
As your desire is, so is your will.
As your will is, so is your deed.
As your deed is, so is your DESTINY.”

– Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.

I am not exaggerating when I say that I have never had great desires. No, I am not subnormal, more like practical. I grew up with very sound conditioning that taught me and my siblings to accept our lot and do the best that we could under whatever circumstances that came our way. It is to my complete satisfaction that by and large we have lived like that and many material things have come our way. I think that my three siblings will agree with me that, the things that have come our way have come without great desiring for them or striving towards obtaining them.

If I could replace the word ‘Desire’ with ‘ambition’ my thoughts would still be the same. My regular readers would remember the post ‘Ambition’ which more or less reflects the contents of this post too.

From about the end of the year 2001, however I developed a great desire and prayed for it with all my heart and soul. That was that I outlive my wife to provide her the best possible care that she could get. My prayers were answered and as I write this, I have outlived her by over a year.

I now have a desire. It is not a burning, all consuming desire, but one I hope comes true, and if it does not, so be it. It will not make me unhappy if it does not come true. That desire is to travel again to the UK, the USA, Australia and New Zealand to meet up with relatives and some old friends and to meet face to face, some new ones made via the blogworld.

Not much to desire for is it?