Staying true to yourself always

In life we go though many changes and we make many, different choices. These choices define the paths we take and right now my path has led to Japan. I have been living in Japan for five months now and I still can’t believe it, that I am actually here. I am so very lucky and I know it, but I am very grateful to God, to my family and to the universe. I don’t know how long my luck will last since nothing in this life is continuous and we are always in a state of flux as Heraclitus says. He presents an epigram of a flowing river. “We both step and do not step in the same rivers. We are and are not.” (B49a). “You cannot step twice into the same rivers.” Because you will not be the same the second time you step into the river. Without knowing it, you have changed. Plato quotes in Cratylus, 402a  “Everything changes and nothing stands still.” This is so very true and this theme is central to the point I am making today.

I am enjoying my experience in Japan, however I have come across some interesting people in the same situation as myself and part of the same programme. Some are selfish, naive, narcissistic people and others are friendly and open. Don’t you find it so very hard finding true friends? People who will respect and like you for yourself? I do. Especially in another country where English is rarely spoken except among others in the same situation as yourself. I find myself running from them, eager to escape their dull and unpleasant company. I have been taken advantage of, used, hurt and talked at. I have laughed to cover the hurt and I have ignored the truth, but I cannot continue to live my life like this anymore. If I can’t stand up to small injustices, then how could I ever stand up to other big injustices in the world? If I can’t be true to myself, how can I ever be true to others? Why must I hide behind a happy mask when I am filled with hated for those who have wronged me, but I have not let it be known that they’ve hurt me. It is weakness to degrade myself and acede to the requests of others. It is weakness to cower away and ignore the situation instead remaining silent.

So now this is my truth.

The special few people in my life have given me strength, my family, my best friend and my close circle in England – a total of 6 people including the 3 in my family. I don’t have many true friends but the ones I do have inspire me to stay true to myself. Out here away from them, I can’t ignore things anymore. The distance is the reason why I am lost and conflicted because I am alone and I have no-one to fight for me except myself. I must face these battles alone which is the way it should be. I don’t know how to deal with people who I hate and whom I am stuck with but this hatred is consuming me and occupying too many of my thoughts. Honestly I hate them so much, but I don’t want to hate because it is a waste of energy. So how do I proceed? All I know is that I can’t continue to hate. I can’t otherwise it will control me and fill me with bitterness and hatred for myself and others. So do I tell them and hurt them in the process of being true to myself or do I leave it and distance myself, but still be kind and in a way fake and pretentious? The type of person I hate myself.

I have to be diplomatic, so I won’t mention it unless it is brought up, but I won’t go out of my way to hang out with them or speak to them. It seems harsh and it probably is, but it’s the only way I can think of in this particular situation. If they cross me and try to take advantage I will tell them there and then when they are being rude or out of order. I will not allow anyone to push me again. Instead of laughing it off to disguise the hurt and shock, I will say: “Don’t push me, who do you think you are? It is not okay to push me. I don’t care if it was even in a friendly way, I was talking to someone and that was rude. If you want my attention tap my shoulder.” – “What are you doing? Don’t touch me. That is wrong. I never said it was okay to touch me like that.” – “Don’t you ever think about anyone else? What you are worried about is inconsequential to what is going on in the world. Your problems are nothing to those who have nothing. So before you complain, think about all those people who are suffering, who are jobless and abandoned. I’m not trying to lecture you, but I just want you for one second to think about those who have nothing before you say your life and your situation here is shit. You are lucky and you don’t even see it. But I don’t care about your problems and I can’t help you if you wish to remain blind. There far more important things to worry about.”

One day I will have the courage and the voice and although many people will try to take that away from me, I must never ever be silenced. I must not hide behind my mask anymore. Next time, I must stand up for myself, because no-one deserves to be disrespected or glossed over. I am growing and I am learning. I am trying to find my voice and my courage so that next time I will speak up.

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The grass is always greener on the other side

So as you know from my last post, I recently left my old job and after the consequences finally sunk in and I was devastated and fell into a kind of deep regretfulness. When I spoke to my best friend, she said something which didn’t strike me until now.

The grass is always greener on the other side but it doesn’t actually mean that it is necessarily better.

She’s right. It’s like admiring something from a shop window and wishing you had the money to buy it, day by day you watch it entranced, the want becoming more like a need. The tension builds up for months on end until one day you have the means to buy it for yourself. Now that you’ve got it, you realise that it wasn’t actually that important; you no longer want it after a while because we always forget and move on. Because in the end you will forget, you misplace something and you forget and move on. You might be reminded of it sometimes, you might visit the item again, but ultimately it doesn’t matter so much in the grand scheme of things. This is exactly the same feeling, day by day I feel the control and hurt lessen. It’s been more than a month since I left and I can honestly say I don’t regret my decision anymore, not for one second. Why? My life has changed, my eyes have been opened. I’ve met so many different people – if I didn’t leave I wouldn’t have met some lovely and genuinely nice people. I wouldn’t have challenged myself – I would have been stuck in a rut constantly unhappy and constantly moaning to the ones I love. If I hadn’t left I wouldn’t have been challenged socially – I would have stayed insecure and scared. But part of my job requires the confidence to know what you are doing since you are in control and if you screw up, you’re directly responsible and you have a lot of people to answer to.

The company has opened so many doors for me and already within the month I’ve experienced a lot. I’ve learnt so much and I genuinely do believe I am working for a fantastic company and I’m actually very lucky I was hired. The interview was a complete fluke and they must have been desperate since I was supposed to go for a second interview, but they just offered the job immediately after I hesitated. Wow the power is always in your hands whether you realise it or not and I didn’t realise it at the time. We make our own decisions. I met up with my friend from the old company and he was telling me about how they were being sent to Venice for a conference for 2 days, they were having parties thrown, 2 bonuses etc. he went on about all the amazing new things happening and it sounded wonderful – I’m not that high up on my horse that I couldn’t see it and disregard it all. But at the same time, I felt nothing and that was when I realised that I was over it. When I went to meet him at the company I felt nothing. In fact my first thought was “Oh gosh it’s tiny compared to my new office.” It felt small and slightly suffocating and that was when I just knew I am okay – I am over it. I was so unhappy in my last job, I had forgotten how miserable I was, how unchallenged and bored I was. All those feelings went out the window when I lost it all, when I felt ‘cheated’ and now I remember all the bad times as well as the good. The grass looks greener, but in fact it’s not. I just built it up in my mind and refused to move on. But I have now and I feel free.

I feel happier in all aspects and now it’s just time to wait. I don’t know what the future holds, but I won’t give up and I will try not to lose sight. I am questioning whether I actually want to work in Marketing anymore. The thing is I get bored easily and I don’t know, I just feel like it’s not really for me. I don’t know what exactly is for me but working in this job makes you realise things you like and things you don’t like. You might have a lot of regrets, you might wish you took a chance, but never fear because another different chance will always appear. In life, I think about all the chances I let go, but there are also all the chances I grabbed. If you want something grab it, if you don’t know, don’t worry because there are so many opportunities its overwhelming. All I know right now is that I like helping people. I would like to do some volunteering work one day, I would like to travel, I would like to try my hand at different jobs. This corporate role right now is just a means to an end to achieve those goals and I will try not to get stuck in it. I don’t think it will happen. You never know though, but this I am sure about. My self-esteem is not great, my confidence and belief in myself is also weak, but day by day I am learning to accept myself. I am learning more of what I like, what I’m comfortable with – I like gossip I am human, but I don’t like when it turns vulgar and becomes cruel. I am learning what I should do and how I should act in the future – don’t let people push you into things, don’t let people bully you – sometimes it’s good to be pushed because I was quite literally pushed into this job by my agency which I resented them for and still begrudgingly still do, but don’t let people push you unless they force your hand, just remember it is always your choice and you have to live with the consequences, not them – YOU.

Everything has a way of circling on itself and working out for the best. Funny enough I met a colleague in my department who applied for a job at my previous company and turns out it was the same job I had applied for one and a half years ago. I got it and she didn’t. I got the chance and she got another opportunity at a different company before joining this current company 6 months ago. It’s funny how life works!

A dream is not always better than reality. The other side might look perfect after you’ve left, but take off those rose-tinted glasses and you’ll see the truth. Reality hits hard. Not everything is as great as is perceived. Perception can be deceptive just as my Philosophy lectures taught me 3 years ago.

When will I get it right?

For someone who enjoys learning, it’s easy to think someone naturally smart when the truth is it just requires hard work and practice. Firstly it involves understanding the principle/concept and then putting it into practice is the difficult part trying to work on that concept. I have always enjoyed learning whatever the subject may be but I have also equally found it very difficult to grasp certain subjects while others came naturally. Science, French, languages and maths based subjects I struggled because it took me time to understand and time requires patience in teaching which most people don’t have time for. Other subjects such as art, history, cooking, Design and Technology all flowed so easily to me. I remember my year 7 end of year results where I got Ds and Es in Maths, Science etc. and the only consolation was my As and Bs in Art, History and DT. I was put in the lowest class in year 8. That was the year I decided I didn’t want to be stuck with the rest of the ‘idiots’ in my class who thought 32% in Biology was “bloody marvellous” while I looked on in scorn at the low mark I received which happened to be the highest mark in the class. It took a lot of time, hard work and late nights to rectify these marks and try harder to achieve better. I don’t think I’ve always handled pressure and stress very well, but I managed it. In the end I came out shining with As and Bs and no Ds or Es in sight.

Now two years ago I put my mind to learning to drive and I really enjoyed it to begin with, but a year later after my failed first test I decided to try again and work hard to pass but the cookie crumbed and I came out of the second test utterly defeated and devastated. My confidence fell to the floor and I realised how utterly useless I was at the practical, even though I managed to soar and do very well in the theoretical. Driving for some people comes very easily, while it takes less than 20 lessons it takes someone else more than 80. I started off confident, happy and optimistic and I am slowly burning out after 2 years of learning and 2 failed tests later. My hearts not in it anymore, my resolve is slowly dying and I get angry at the gears by trying to jam them into their rightful place. Slow down, calm down, be relaxed, enjoy it are some of the phrases thrown at me, but you can’t understand me and what I’m feeling when I drive now. I am nervous, I am tired and I am close to giving up, but simultaneously so desperate not to give up because of the amount of time, money and effort spent on trying to become a better driver. My theory runs out in January and I set my target to take my test by early December, but as time goes by, day by day I start to lose hope that I can actually achieve that target because I am so bloody scared. I am so scared of failing again and messing it all up and not being able to do it anymore. I am so scared of the actions of others and what may happen on the road. I am so scared driving in London because it is so tough. I am so scared I’ll never be able to do this. With so many people urging me on I am tempted to forgo this and repeat my theory and do the practical next year when I am ready. I mean let’s be honest you can’t take a test unless you are ready right? Unless you are forced to and time constraints leave you no choice, but at that point you either pass or you fail. I just haven’t felt that feeling of being ready and I am scared I will never feel ready, never get that feeling. Maybe I am relying too much on feeling here and not enough on reason and fact but sometimes its important to feel ready and right before acting upon reason, before going further. Maybe I am getting caught up by everyone else’ standards and demands and not facing up to what I really want and maybe need to do.

I wish time was on my side, but its never on my side really and its never really on anyone’s side. My driving instructor said its all about priorities. What are my priorities? Why am I always racing in life? What am I in a rush for? I think I just need some space from my life but how funny I don’t think it’s even possible to get space from yourself and your life? Don’t think you can run far enough because those problems will still be there at the back of your mind to haunt you. The mind will never let you forget and you will always have to go back to face them in the end. It’s a bit like an elastic band when you stretch it to such a point and finally it needs to recoil back to its original form. Life is a constant struggle and I keep wondering with my head in a book when it will all be over? The book being my escape but after a while knowing that I can’t hide forever and I can’t keep escaping because the story always ends. A book cannot solve my problems, simply help me avoid them for a while. When will the struggle be over? But this is all a 1st world struggle. Despite that it’s still a struggle. A struggle to be heard in a loud crowd, the struggle to be seen and noticed in work, the struggle to overcome your fears, the struggle to fight your depressive thoughts and the struggle against succumbing to the easier path. Nothing in life is ever easy. The struggle not to become like others but be your own person independent of all constraints, others and solely reliant on the self. The self is fragmented though and I thoroughly enjoyed learning about this and seeing my reflection in the mirror when I was studying philosophy. Nothing is indestructible but I do not renounce all hope. It just hurts no that’s not the right word, its just pure frustration with the self and not being able to get it right. When will I get it right consistently? When will I be ready to face life properly?

Religious believers vs Atheists : why does there have to be a war?

I was forced to come back to my blog because I was angered by such a cruel comment and article that was posted by a friend on Facebook. For someone who did Philosophy, she really was a heartless person for being so judgemental herself. I am religious, I have feelings, I follow my religion and I believe in God. I am not afraid of saying this, about expressing what I believe. Yes I believe in God, deal with it. Yes I don’t tell the whole world but that’s my choice. Religion has become so controversial and such a touchy subject in our society that the mood darkens when it is mentioned. Don’t try to belittle me and my religion just because you don’t believe. Don’t you dare try to reduce it and make me feel like my religion is nothing but a comfort blanket. You haven’t got a fudging clue about my life, what people go through so how dare people just judge and condemn your religion like they know exactly what they are talking about. NO ONE knows anything about God. I freely admit it- no one in this massive world has a clue so how can you make a statement about people being crazy for believing in God or religion. Just because you don’t know anything about something does not make you irrational. There is a lot about this world that we do not know about but that doesn’t mean I walk down the road shouting “You are wrong because you know nothing!” Aliens could very well exist- how do you know? Scientists are trying to discover if  they do. Where did this idea of God come from? Its been around for thousands of years, but whatever happened to respecting one’s beliefs?

Oh it’s religion let’s skirt around the issue because it becomes an awkward topic of conversation. We are grown adults and people feel the need to hide behind the curtains and not wish to discuss what they think is close minded traditional old garbage. Well hang on a sec if you think that is so, then how is it that you still follow these old traditional teachings? You don’t realise it but religion is in everything whether you like it or not. It’s been around for thousands of years- you can’t just get rid of it. Even Nietzsche recognised this and stated that it would leave a vast void which would be difficult to fill.  How can you refute the claim that religion is useless when it still exists in everything you do- it is ingrained so deeply that you hardly recognise it. I studied philosophy too and at university I encountered not so much trouble at school but still enough that I was ridiculed for being a religious believer. I would always be told “its ok because you’re a nice religious believer but the others are nuts.” What am I to say? Oh thanks you think I am normal. Do you know the shameful part? I was happy with those statements and I agreed. Looking back I should have been angry because I was being compared and judged. Why do I get categorised as normal and others categorised as crazy. I just feel like I made the cut as if I just passed a test. That’s not how it should be. It shouldn’t matter what kind of religious person I am. It shouldn’t matter that I practice and keep religion to myself. It shouldn’t matter if that makes me normal or crazy because I am me and I am religious. I’m not ashamed of that and why should I be?

I digress, so this girl posted this cartoon on her Facebook: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/religion and emphasised how much she agreed with this. Some of it is not so bad, but it vexed me because of the assumptions that were made. It masquerades as humour and condemning those with crazy views, but whatever happened to the right to express our own opinions and views? Who says all religious people believe that stem cell research is evil and fruitless? I am Catholic and although I don’t agree with certain aspects of my religion doesn’t mean I am in the same group. I can’t win because I believe that homosexuality is fine. I understand it is tough and seriously how can you force others to hide who they are and pretend to be heterosexual? It’s just not fair asking someone to be who they are not. I believe Jesus loves everyone. I don’t recall God saying it was wrong because no one heard God say that.  In the eyes of religion I am a heretic and not a true Catholic but hey that’s what I believe. I still associate myself with being religious. It’s just a lot more complicated and all religion is complicated.

Don’t think my problem is solely with Atheists- I admit I don’t like it when some religious people parade religion in my face and try to show that they are better and far superior than me because they do more things in the Church. What is this a contest? Oh wow you’re more religious? Guess what I don’t care. Why should I? Religion is personal and for me is about God not some man made principles. I respect the Christian teachings but its about loving God for me. Helping others- supporting others going the extra mile. True you don’t need to be religious to do all those things but sometimes it helps to understand people and compassion a little more during times of struggle when you’re too stubborn to see the good and help those who’ve hurt you. It’s nice to sit with the Priest and discuss where God has gone and why you’re losing your faith. I’m lucky I have a lovely Priest to turn to who does not judge me but listens to me. He doesn’t give me easy answers and doesn’t even pander to the things he knows I would want to hear. He is honest and truthful that it is tough finding God in this world. I respect that.

Anyway this same girl said to me once when I was leaving after a climbing session when I said that I have to go home, she asked “why?” I said “oh because I need to go to Church for Ash Wednesday” and do you know what she said? She said “See how religion ruins your life?” and then she laughed and said goodbye. I stood there so shocked. I wish I said something but I was in too much of a state of shock. I could not believe what I just heard because do we not get choices anymore? Since when did religion ruin my life? because last I checked I made the choice to leave the session- not my religion. I am in control of my choices- if I want to leave and go to Church that’s my business. I am still to this day annoyed I didn’t speak up – who says you can forget so easily? No one says its easy to forget. I am so fed up with people telling me how to live my life and judging me just because I believe in God. It’s MY life, MY choices. Who says you get a say in my life choices? I will do what I want- if I want to go to Church I’ll damn well go. If I want to go out clubbing I will go, if I want to pray I’ll pray. I don’t force you so why are you forcing me to live the way you want. I get it that people get angered by some religious believers who force religion down their throats but people have to understand it is not all religious believers who do that. Why are you disrespecting and getting angry at religion as a whole? Just because you have issues with religion doesn’t mean you should have issues with everyone associated with that religion. Whenever I am in a group and the subject turns to religion, a silence and hush goes round the group when they discover I am Catholic. The sayings “Oh wow we would never have guessed.” or “Oh well you’re one of the normal ones then” get thrown around the group. Am i meant to be impressed and happy with those thoughts? Just because I don’t boast about my religion, preach about it and parade it in other people’s faces, it apparently makes me sane.  You don’t realise you’ve just judged me because I am religious but I bet you’d never have guessed that I like metal. I wear pretty dresses and like to smile and try to be optimistic but I still like metal. I have other sides to my personality, other interests so why do people feel the need to put me in a box? “Oh she looks happy so she must like happy music or pop music.” or “Oh she looks normal so she must not believe in religion because that is irrational.” I don’t get why it surprises people that I have different facets to my life. I dislike people who claim to be Atheist and argue that religion is judgemental while simultaneously managing to become a hypocrite by saying that they don’t judge people or the world. Then please explain to me how you claim not to judge others when you’ve clearly just judged religious believers. I don’t care what you hate and I don’t understand why it even matters?  Some people feel the need to attack the views of others just because they simply do not like it. “I don’t like religion so lets attack this shit”. But that’s not fair. I guess life is not fair but really next time be a little more sensitive. It doesn’t hurt. If you don’t like someone’s view explain that to them and if its not getting through move on. Why waste time trying to argue points just so you feel validated.

Well you’ll be happy to know my rant is over. I respect other people’s beliefs but there comes a point where it crosses the line and that’s where I lose respect. I am a religious believer. Deal with it.

Sometimes you come to a crossroads in life….

So I am back again to try and understand my life more. Writing helps me think more clearly and set things out. People say that life is complicated and indeed it is, though sometimes it is very simple. Sometimes it is boring and dull. But it goes through periods! Today I met with a crossroads and an expected an important decision must be made. But I cannot as usual seem to make one that I am completely satisfied with. In life you try to make the best and right decision that you think is right at the time. But I don’t want to risk my chances, likewise no one wants to! Everyone wants to make the right decisions. A doctor has to work under pressure and decide all the time. A submarine officer also has to make a decision based on little evidence in a limited amount of time. How do they do it? Well they do it to the best of their abilities. People could very easily make decisions quickly by putting them under high pressure and forcing them to choose, but most people do not like it since it gives them a limited time to rationalise.

Right now though I have come to a crossroads where I too have to make a decision, but luckily I have more time to decide. Some people say that one must follow their gut or heart but my heart doesn’t like to speak much but my gut I normally ignore and end up kicking myself later for ignoring it! I have absolutely no idea where I am going in life and so this makes looking for a job ten times harder than someone who knows what they want! Okay so if you know what you want to be you’re lucky since the hard bit is achieving it, but if you want it you can definitely do it without giving up. But for those who are not as lucky its a tough search to find the right job. I wouldn’t consider myself less lucky because I don’t believe completely in luck! I believe everything happens for a reason and I also believe that you create your own luck. If you don’t try you won’t get. If you don’t work hard it won’t pay.

Today I went for a second stage interview for a sales job and they offered me the job. Problem is? I’ve never done sales but that is not necessarily a bad thing since it is interesting to try it and learn. What is bad you ask? Not getting paid a base salary but working on commission alone! Okay so I get training which is great but its not enough after a week! Its high time I got a proper stable job. Whats more is on my way home from the interview I was also offered the voluntary position I applied for of which charity expenses are paid for. Its not great but its something at least. I need the experience and I need a foot in the door somewhere! At least it is flexible so I can work part time or find another job!

I want to try this Sales day and I want to see how it goes because frankly I’m intrigued! But I don’t want to sign into a contract that is unsuitable for me. So far opinion has been divided! My best friend says sales, my priest says sales and another friend says sales. On the other hand, my mother, brother and family friend say voluntary job for now. Opinion is clearly divided not just among my family but also in my head. Coming away from the interview I was not as ecstatic as one would be! I need a chance but I don’t know what in!

My brother once said to me long time ago which stuck with me: You can’t live your life walking around waiting for something to hit you in the face! You need to go out there. My brother is an engineer so very scientific and into planning whereas I am the philosopher, vague- abstract- uncertain with no plan to follow! We are both very different people! But he is right I cannot walk around and expect something to hit me in the face hoping that it will be the thing I love!

One lesson I have learnt so well after graduating is that I have learnt literally nothing about the real world! That is why so many people are lost after uni! god knows I was! I am not entirely found either but I have found some footing and I am more aware of things! You can learn so much from the world! Life is not as easy as it looks from uni where you pretty much live in a bubble! Many people told me I should enjoy university while it lasted because I will miss it! But truth is I do not miss it at all. Yes it was stable and it was great but that is a chapter of my life which is over and I do not need to go back or feel the need to stay because I want something new. Working may be difficult but I want to try it. There comes a time where you have to move on and this is the time for me. Maybe I won’t say that in a job but I know now and that is one thing I am certain about! I need new experiences! I need to face the world and I need to try. There is so much to see and do and so much more to life than a bubble! I guess I am a true philosopher in the sense that I cannot stand living in ignorance and instead love discovering and questioning. I cannot be contained but must continually search for truth. University is living in ignorance! It is bliss but once the bubble bursts reality sets in. It is hard but it is the path towards truth. The most important thing is to be positive but to be true to yourself. To keep trying and never give up on your dreams. If you want something go for it and if you don’t have a clue what you want (like me) try and find it rather than crawl in a hole and continue meaningless studying! The only way to discover is to throw yourself in the deep end and swim! I know I can do it! I will do it! I just have to make a decision and it doesn’t matter if it is the right one or not!

Life has different paths and no point thinking of the what ifs! 2013 is about no regrets! Maybe I will gain some enlightenment! I sure hope so!