Posted in bloggers, Careers, Self-Discovery

Learning how to ride a bike and other metaphors for life

I remember the very first time I ever got on a bicycle.

I was probably about seven years old and we lived in a village where all the kids used to come out and play in the afternoon and we’d all ride our bikes together, training wheels and all.

I have always been cautious by nature. I think I came out of the womb with a heightened sense of self-preservation. Even as a child, I was never one to take any risks. I was also quite conscious from an early stage of the things that were within my capabilities and those that weren’t.

Needless to say, basketball and other contact sports were not a big part of my formative years. Or anything that involved hand-eye coordination and stamina (I was a fat kid. Lol)

But I was quite happy with riding a bike. The training wheels were like my very own safety net. They ensured that I’d always find my balance, that I would never fall over and hurt myself. I was as happy and as carefree as it was possible to be, pushing pedal to the metal and going around the village without a care in the world.

Of course, the training wheels had to come off at some point. 

I was petrified the first time I ever got on a “real” bike. My uncle had one hand on my seat as he instructed me to take my time and to take it slow. He promised he wouldn’t let go unless he was sure I could do it on my own, and that he’d never let go before I was ready.

I didn’t think I’d ever get to a point where I could convince myself I was ready. I went around the block a couple of times with my uncle supporting me the whole time. He must have been exhausted, but bless him, he believed me when I said I wasn’t ready for him to let go just yet.

Inevitably though, we reached that moment where I had to be pushed, where I had to break through the barriers of fear and just do it. It was a real sink or swim moment. My uncle let go, and I either had to find my balance and pedal or I fall and hurt myself.

Those first few solo rides were shaky, and I fell and scraped my knees too many times to count. But I got back on that bike and tried again until I was cycling around the village without a training wheel in sight.

I needed that final push. 

Would I have been content to carry on riding a kid bike? Maybe. But it would only have taken me so far, and I would have missed out on the experience of being able to do something that I was initially fearful of.

Any new experience comes with fears and doubts, but that shouldn’t be a reason for missing out on them. I think continuously pushing and challenging yourself to do something you never thought you were capable of, especially if its something that scares the shit out of you, will only help you to grow as a person.

I have always been afraid of change. And these past couple of years I’ve attempted to make a big career change twice, and both times I backed out at the point of actually dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s.

I suppose part of that was because I always knew that it wasn’t the right time or the right move. But now the right opportunity has come, and it would be remiss of me not to take the chance just because I’m afraid or because I insist on clinging to the comfort of what’s familiar.

I never expected to have to feel this twice in one lifetime; they say once you learn how to ride a bike you’ll never forget how to do it. But at this moment, that is exactly how I feel. I feel like I’m about to learn how to ride a bike for the first time all over again.

The training wheels have come off. I’m as ready as I will ever be. I suppose the only thing left to do is hang tight and pedal.

Posted in bloggers, Careers, Self-Discovery, Writing

A girl, a pen and a hula hoop

I’ve been a little remiss about blogging these past two weeks because I’ve been occupied with something I’ve always wanted to do but never had the nerve to do before.

For as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to be a writer; its why I started blogging in the first place. I love the idea of painting pictures in someone’s head just by using my words (because god knows I’m not good at any other methods lol).

Unfortunately I’ve always been wary of trying things when I’m not sure I’ll be good at it. I don’t know why that is; call it an inherent fear of failure. I’ve somehow convinced myself I don’t have enough of an imagination to write fiction, so I shelved that dream all these years.

But recently I asked myself, what kind of an attitude is that to have as you go through life? If you never try anything because you’re afraid of how its going to challenge you then that means you go through life always playing it safe. You’ll never know the extent of what you’re capable of if you don’t push.

Almost as if it was divine providence, one of my blog connections sent me a link for a short story writing contest almost a month ago. I debated for ages over entering. I know there are stories in my head that I want to tell but I don’t know if I’m a good enough writer to tell them. Also, I like winning. I don’t like joining contests and not winning. Lol

Seriously though, I finally decided to just go for it, to write as if no one was going to be judging it but just for the pleasure of it. Its the same principle as for when I started this blog. There was never any design that it would reach even one person, I did it for me and for the release it gives me when I’m feeling stressed about life. The fact that I now I get random messages from people I didn’t expect telling me they actually follow it quite regularly – that’s just icing on the cake.

Therefore, I’ve come to the conclusion that the essence of doing something is not in the outcome but rather in the doing. I loved the process of creating something; I got a real joy out of crafting a story, of coming up with a clever turn of phrase. And that is a prize in and of itself.

To conclude this blog, I now realise that every time I hesitate to do something because I’m not sure I can be good at it, I’ll remember my experience with the hula hoop. Bear with me, I have a point I promise.

As a kid I’ve always been envious of other kids who can do the hula hoop because I’ve never been able to get the damn thing to spin around my hips. I think an integral part of my psyche was damaged because I was never able to do the hula hoop as a child.

So last year I got this worm of an idea that I couldn’t get out of my head and I decided, screw it, I’m going to buy a hula hoop on amazon and practice until I either succeed or break something.

I remember getting bruises on my abdomen for days because I practiced so incessantly. After a month of anguish I was finally able to do it. And even if I had ended up failing at it, I had nothing to lose from trying.

You never lose if you try. You miss out on so much when you don’t.

So watch this space for updates and fingers crossed that this is the start of the realization of a dream that’s 30 years in the making. Who knows, I may leave nursing for a career in writing. Crazier things have happened.

Cheers.

Posted in Careers, london, Self-Discovery

Adulting 101

Let me just state for the record that there are times when I absolutely hate being an adult. Sometimes I find myself longing for the days when all my problems can be solved by a pint of ice cream and reassurance from mum and dad that everything will be alright.

You get a real appreciation for and understanding of your parents as you grow up I think. You begin to see that a lot of the time, adulting is simply about winging it. You fake it and hope to God you make it. As much as you try to use logic and as much as you try to weigh your options before making a decision, a lot of the time you make decisions on a leap of faith. All you can do is pray that you make the right one.

I suck at making decisions. Partly that comes from my desire to have everything. I find it hard to accept that in order to go for something I want, I have to give up something in return. I’m also really afraid of change. I’m the kind of person that gets attached to people, places and things. I’m incredibly sentimental. I remember when I was young (and stupid), my crush gave me a box of chocolate crinkles all wrapped up with a ribbon on top. I think I kept the box and ribbon for about 2 years and cried over it when, as puppy love tends to do, things didn’t work out.

This isn’t a post about puppy love, forgive me for digressing. 

The point is that I get incredibly attached. But sometimes attached is just another word for stagnant. Or stuck. And there comes a time when you have to think about what you really want out of life, and where you see your future going. I’m now in a position where I can think about settling in London and making a life for myself in this city. Its challenging, especially in terms of having a career and managing your finances. Its important to love your job but what I’ve learned is that its also important to keep moving forward. There are a lot of opportunities out there if you have the courage to go for it. And practically speaking, you also need a job that pays the bills.

(If it were up to me, I would be a bookseller at Waterstones, to be honest. But sadly that career path is not in the cards for me.)

This isn’t a very coherent post and its very much a reflection of my mental state of mind. I haven’t been able to blog much because I’ve been confused about the direction that I’m going to take my career (and life) in. I’ve had to weigh whether what I gain is worth giving up something (or someone lol) that I really love. I’ve also found myself questioning whether I have what it takes for me to take that leap, whether I’m ready for such a big step and this is when I usually find myself listening to Miley sing The Climb.

If I think about it from a sensible and logical point of view, I think I already know what decision I’m going to make; at this point, its all a matter of taking the steps to get my heart to accept what my brain already knows. I really really hope that I’m doing the right thing not just for me, but also for my family (and my future family!). As soon as I make the decision and take that irrevocable step, I can resume blogging and doing my book reviews, hopefully soon.

Until then, wish me luck guys. 

Posted in LGBT, Lifestyle, relationships

The Things You Find Yourself Doing When You’re Under The Weather

Dear Readers,

I apologise for being a little remiss on my blogging this past week as I have been battling the flu since last weekend. There were times when I was literally up all night coughing away and trying to find a comfortable position that best accommodates breathing. It sucked not being able to go out to enjoy the last remaining days of good weather but I somehow found ways to distract myself while I was stuck at home. I indulged my inner homebody and somehow managed to have a good time even while I was sick. That’s me, finding the silver lining in even the dreariest of situations.

So, what have I been up to this past week apart from applying liberal amounts of Vicks Vaporub. I’m glad you asked because I’m in the mood to tell you. This won’t be the most coherent of blogs. I’m going to have an existential ramble about things that have been weighing on my mind so be warned.

Netflix

Ah, good old Netflix. Where would we be without this streaming behemoth? For the discounted value of 9.99 a month, you’ll have hundreds of movies and tv series at the tip of your fingers. I’ve been looking for a good series to watch now that Game of Thrones has dropped the bomb that it won’t be showing the 8th season until 2019 (argh). Failing that, I’d settle for some good reruns.

So what to watch on Netflix? My sister was watching The Defenders one night and I tried that but only lasted an episode. I’ve never really been a fan of superheroes apart from the ones from the Marvel Universe. So I somehow found myself watching a show called Shadow Hunters and I got hooked.

This series is based on The Mortal Instruments book series by Cassandra Clare, the first three books of which I read a year ago. Its not groundbreakingly original and a few of my Goodreads friends have slammed the author for being a hack and capitalising on current YA trends to make cash and even plagiarising a few storylines. I guess I can see where they’re coming from but, come on, I don’t think she should be singled out when most of these YA fantasy novels feature the irritating commonalities of a love triangle or the perfect heroine whom everyone around her feels the need to protect, or the hero on a journey to self-discovery who somehow finds himself having special powers that make him different even among people who are different. These formulaic plot lines can be found in The Twilight Series, The Hunger Games Trilogy, The Divergent Series. If Cassandra Clare was able to make a name for herself by using the same formula, guys, just live and let live. No one’s forcing you to read the books.

Anyway, I quite liked the books and I liked the series even more. I like that an LGBT couple is one of the main focus of the storylines, its further proof of how far we’ve come as a society. The so-called ‘Malec’ tandem is one my favourite parts of the show and it didn’t even occur to me be weirded out by the fact that this was a romance between a guy and another guy. That wedding scene gave me the feels. Harry Shum Jr. and Matthew Daddario do such a great job handling these characters. It doesn’t hurt that Matt is outrageously good-looking. Its hard to appreciate the scene below without context  and without knowing the backstory but I think its still one of the best scenes of the series.

Also? Props on the background song. I’ve been playing ‘War of Hearts’ by Ruelle on repeat this past week because of this.

Another show that’s awesome but has sadly been cancelled is Sense8. Its about 8 people who are telepathically linked to each other and can read each other’s thoughts and feel each other’s emotions and share in each other’s experiences. I read somewhere that this series is really groundbreaking because of its message of equality. I feel like this is a recurring theme right now in most movies and tv series, the message that love is  love regardless of gender, sexuality, age, race or background. I really really like this show, especially during light-hearted moments like the one below:

I’ve forgotten how good this song is, and surprisingly relevant. Its also an awesome song to sing along to when you’re feeling frustrated with life, and I have to say I found myself singing this song a lot this past week.

Figuring Out The Future

I’m a creature of habit and I struggle with change. Paradoxically though, I also hate being stuck. I have to feel like I’m driving towards something in order to feel satisfied. I know this is a cliche but the journey really is the destination in my case. I like having a goal in sight and I enjoy working towards that goal. Lately it seems like I’m not setting any goals for myself and I’m just coasting along, letting life happen to me instead of taking the bull by its horns and making things happen.

It doesn’t help that people close to me who I really care about have been moving on to new things and I can’t help but feel like I’m being left behind. I’m really happy for them but I hate being the person who stays. I think I would rather be the person who leaves. I feel like I’ve lost an entire support system that I didn’t even know I need. I know they’ll always be my friends and we’ll still see each other and catch up. I believe in the kind of friendship that I have with these people and its the kind that will withstand distances and busy schedules. Still, I will miss being able to have that shared experience and having them get exactly what I’m going through. I guess it all boils down to the fact that there have been far too many goodbyes in my life this year.

I think about moving on sometimes, so I made a list of the good things I’ve got going for me to find reasons to stay. There’s not a lot but the few that made it to the list are major ones. I still enjoy what I do, and I like my team. I feel appreciated by most of the people I work with and I no longer give a damn about the people who don’t appreciate me. I still feel like I’m making a difference, and that’s really important to me. Professionally speaking, its never been just about the money for me. I’ve turned down high-paying jobs before because I feel like I wouldn’t make a difference in that organisation. I need to know that what I do matters. I don’t want to be just another nameless employee. I guess that more than ever is why I stay where I am. I feel valued, and my contribution to the department and the organisation has always been acknowledged by the people who matter. I guess I should remember that the next time I feel the urge to look for greener pastures. I’m really really lucky to be where I am and to do what I do.

Personal Woes

My personal life has ben stagnant for the last year or so. I’m one of those people who are just really unlucky when it comes to dating. Its a combination of not being able to meet the right people and my lack of belief in the whole online dating system. I know a lot of people have had success with it and I have now taken to banning myself from Facebook because every time I look at relationship photos of people who I know met their partners on online dating, I think to myself, why the hell can’t I just do what they do?

It just feels so wrong. And believe me, I’ve had ample time to think about this this past week while I was coughing away in bed. I do not want my relationship narrative to include swiping right on Tinder. Its just really frustrating to think about the fact that London has the highest number of single people in the world and I struggle to meet even one. And the ones I do meet are just not my type.

I’ve been accused of being picky before. I prefer to think of it as having standards. I would really like to have a stable relationship. At this point, I am so sick of the dating game. The endless miscommunication, the not-knowing, the uncertainty, the construing of signals and analysing little things down to the minute details – its fun for a while but sometimes you just really want to start building a life with someone.

I found the answer in church of all places. Now my faith in religion is not at its strongest, I think I’ve lost my way a little bit there. But I go to church partly out of obligation to my mother but also because I can’t force myself to relinquish my belief in a higher power. So I was sitting in church last Sunday and the priest was talking about love. He said that love isn’t what the movies make it out to be, but rather its a decision. That really stuck with me. Maybe its time to make the decision that I want to settle down with someone and all my actions should align with that decision. Its really given me something to think about.

I’m sorry this blog has been a bit of a ramble. I usually post to entertain but this one is really more like a catharsis for me. My next posts will be back to their normal length, I promise.

Its good to be back.

Posted in Careers, Lifestyle, Stress Relief

10 Ways to Avoid Work-related Stress

Ordinarily, after a long and tiring day at work I would go home, feel frustrated and maybe post some deliberately vague status on Facebook about not letting the world get me down or shaking it off or something equally cliche. Now, I want to channel all that into a positive mental activity by making a list about how I can avoid work-related stress. I’ll post it on my blog so that I can remind myself of it the next time I have days like these and maybe help others out when they too have need of such a list. So, here’s some of the things that I compiled in my head as I was walking (tired and hungry, I might add) home from work:

 

 

A place for everything and everything in it’s place

I tend to dwell on things that have frustrated me throughout the day.  I have to learn to JUST. BLOODY. LET. GO. Yes, I can air out my frustrations, but I shouldn’t really be bringing  them home with me. Leave work at work. Furthermore, I need to remember that every day is a chance for a brand new start, a chance to change things if I really feel like there’s something that needs to be improved. I shouldn’t go on and on and on about something that happened last week; that way lies madness, and its very unproductive. Like I always say, if people were more proactive and less reactive, we would have more doers than whiners.

Have some perspective

I always thought that if we walked a mile in one another’s shoes we would be rushing to go back to our own. It’s easy to be caught up in another person’s weakness, or complain about someone not doing his or her job, or maybe complain that someone on the top of the food chain has forgotten what it’s like to be on the bottom. HOWEVER. I am of the opinion that we all could be a little more understanding of one another. Colleagues especially should learn that just because someone isn’t doing something the way you would do doesn’t mean they’re not trying their best. We should also remember that other people are facing pressures that we know nothing about. Managers don’t always know what its like to be on the shop floor working your ass off, whereas people on the shop floor don’t always know the sometimes near-desperate measures that managers have to resort to to keep things afloat. So have some perspective and put yourself in the other person’s place before you react.

Do not speak up when you’re angry

This is something my boss taught me. If the situation has escalated to a point where you are too involved and too emotional, chances are you will say things you might later regret. So if you’re feeling particularly upset (and the situation isn’t an emergency or something) walk away and come back when you’re calmer. You’ll find that you’ve gained just a little bit more clarity and perspective in the 5 minutes that you took to cool off. If you speak everything that’s on your mind in the heat of the moment, you’ll probably get instant satisfaction, but at the expense of your relationship with the other people involved in the scenario, and that will just lead to more stress. However, if you do speak up…

Stand your ground

I can be something of a pushover. I really should learn to say no, or to stop being such a people-pleaser. If there’s something I believe in, or something I see that I know isn’t right, I should speak up. If I’ve stated my opinion or position about something, I should learn not to waiver at the first sign of dissent, especially if I know I’m right.

Do not take on the problems of the world

Take responsibility only for the things that you are responsible for. I have this tendency to want to solve all the problems at work, and while that’s a noble aspiration its also a naive one. The problems of your workplace are bigger than you, you can only do so much to contribute a solution. At the end of the day, its enough that you’ve done your best. My boss tells me that when things aren’t going right, my default thinking shouldn’t be “what did I do wrong?” or “what did I fail to do?”. Instead, I should make a mental checklist of the things that I DID do, and yeah, maybe other things might have been missed but the important thing is that you tried.

Trust, develop and work with other people

I really dislike working with people who have a superhero complex. It’s like they think they’re the only ones who can save the day. Sometimes they make others look bad just so they can swoop in with a solution and make themselves look good. I think that’s wrong, and I don’t think that reflects very good teamwork. I think that if everyone on the team does well, it reflects on the whole team. tumblr_n08tzinXa41qei2wfo1_500-6907

I also think that if you constantly put yourself in the position of knowing all the answers, you put so much pressure on yourself. Whereas if you take the time to teach and develop other people, not only will you have helped someone else out, you’ve also helped yourself because the next time there’s a problem, there’s someone else you can rely on.

Eat Well

I have to put this on the list simply because I know for a fact that I am not a nice person when I’m hungry, have skipped a meal or have not eaten way past 8pm for dinner. I know people in general tend to not be at their best when their blood sugar is running low, but man, I have had moments when I was really stressed and hungry that I am ashamed of. I have been known to bite my friends’ heads off; I become impatient and maybe just a little unreasonable. So this is really a priority for me.  Having said that, next on this list is…

Find a better way to relieve stress that has nothing to do with food

I am a stress-eater. I am not proud of it, but I am. When I’ve had a particularly stressful day, I order Chinese food and just binge-eat dumplings while watching Netflix. I wanted to cry when my workplace took out KitKat bars from our vending machines because they went on a health kick, because sometimes those KitKat bars are the only standing between me and the loony bin. Anyway, I need to rewire my brain and somehow not connect food with comfort. I am now on a mission to STOP turning to food when I’m stressed.

Music soothes the angry beast

There is no problem at work that can’t be made just a little bit more bearable by Taylor Swift. Or any music really. When I got home today, while waiting for my Japanese takeaway, I logged on to Netflix and watched Pitch Perfect 2 and just sang along to the songs. Go to Spotify and you’ll find plenty of playlist to boost your mood. I myself have a few guilty pleasures playlist that I listen to when I need a quick pick-me-up, it may or may not include MmmBop. :p

Find that work-life balance

This is probably the most important. I went through a phase where I was spending probably 50 hours a week at work and at the end of two such weeks, I felt like I barely knew myself. I had the sudden realisation last week that I’ve let a lot of my hobbies and passions go because I was too caught up with work; I’d stopped trying new things and pushing myself to do something I’ve always been afraid of because I was too busy training the next big thing in orthopaedics (insert eyeroll here). I made a promise to myself long ago to never become the kind of person who is defined only by her work. So that’s why I’ve decided to go back to blogging, to running, to working out and finding other things to be interested in. I am more than a nurse, more than an educator, I am a well-rounded (sometimes literally well-rounded) person with lots of other interests.

What are your suggestions for relieving stress? I’m sure there’s a lot of other ways out there that work for other people and I would love to hear your thoughts. Cheers, blabbaholics!