Personal observations on life

Andrew’s smile

Andrew is a student of mine. he is one of those students who have fallen by the wayside on his journey towards academic success. He does not do well in studies; cannot write more than a few sentences. He is a very, very slow learner.

Andrew is one of those children whom our education system has failed.

His life revolves around his grandmother, who is his guard against bullies. His father does not know what to do with him, and he does not talk about his mother.

Recently, I saw Andrew dancing on his own in the empty hall as students were leaving after assembly. It was an incredible sight. He was dancing with abandon to the music that was being played. His steps were fast and rhythmic. He was not the slow learner I knew.

I went up to him, extended my hand and said, ‘You are dancing very well.”

Andrew’s face broke into a glorious smile, I saw such joy that it brought tears to my eyes. It struck me that this might have been the only compliment that Andrew had received in a long, very long time.

Andrew’s smile filled me too with joy. I knew I had touched some soft spot of his soul.

Personal observations on life

The helplessness of a mother

A woman becomes a mother with a whole lot of hopes and rosy dreams. Most of those dreams revolve around the tiny bundle of joy you will be holding and feeding and playing with.

Most new mothers are ill-prepared for the time when the tiny bundle of joy grows up, becomes a teen ager, and start having an identity of her own, opinions of her own, which are the polar opposite of yours. Still worse, they do not seem to think that your opinion matters, and that what you think is not applicable to their world. The worst part of all this is that there is absolutely nothing a mother can do, and it drives you nuts.

Personal observations on life

And life is better…

At age 46, did I think life will get better?

Yet, it does.

It does get better.

Two qualitative improvements in my life have happened in since the beginning of this week. One is a one hour workout on the treadmill and the other is meditation.

Both have helped me, along with my reading of Learnt Optimism, a wonderful book by Martin Seligman, the guru of Positive Psychology.

I am thankful, very thankful, for this change. May this positivity stay on in my life.

Personal observations on life

How can introverts be more sociable?

Social situations and conversing with other people can be an arduous task for some people, especially introverts, who prefer their own company to that of others. However, some situations call for a certain degree of competence in social relations, for example, in one’s job environment or socializing with one’s extended family.  There are guidelines that an introvert can follow, so that there is no need to hide when there are visitors in the house!

1. Start slow.

To people who aren’t naturally good at conversation, taking huge steps such as attending major functions, going to parties and get-togethers and hanging out with groups of people, may feel claustrophobic, causing one to withdraw into his own shell. This is why baby steps are important. Start off with talking to people you meet every day, but never have talked to. You could begin by just smiling at them, and asking ‘how do you do’. For many people, this is enough as a conversation starter.

2. Find a hobby and join clubs.

Nowadays, there are clubs or groups for nearly everything. From book-clubs to gardening get-togethers, there is a variety of options to choose from. If you already have a hobby that you wish to experience with others, try to find people with similar interests on Facebook or other social media platforms. You could also learn a new hobby by going to lessons for it. For example, picking up learning the guitar or cultivating an interest in art and literature or learning to paint can introduce you to a lot of new people and if you get serious about it, even open new doors for you.

3. Voice out your questions and suggestions.

If you work in a corporate business and attend meetings often, chances are that you’ve stumbled upon quite a few moments when you thought up of something you thought could be beneficial to the company but kept quiet. Such instances are causes of frustration, as well as negative reinforcements to such behaviour. They push you back into your shell. This also may happen to students who know how to answer their teachers but are far too afraid to. One thing to realize is that it’s okay to slip up sometimes. Sometimes it’s ok to say something that sounds dumb or cringe-worthy.  Along with that, people often forget easily, as they have their own lives and own troubles. So the next time you have something to say, just remember that whatever you say, nobody is going to judge you too harshly for it.

4. Compliment others!

Sometimes you’re stuck in a situation where you want to talk to someone but aren’t sure on how to initiate the conversation. Going up to them and complimenting them on their features or what they are wearing is a very pleasant way to strike up a conversation with them. Just make sure that what you say is genuinely felt. Artificiality is something people do not forgive.

5. Seek help.

Most socially awkward people can manage their lives in some way, but some fall prey to extreme nervousness and anxiety in any social situation. Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia disrupts everyday life the individual because of the significant anxiety, embarrassment and self-consciousness caused by a fear of being scrutinized or judged by others. This leads to avoidance behaviour. If lack of social skills is a result of social anxiety disorder or any other psychological block that completely inhibits your ability to socialize whatsoever, it might be time to seek a doctor’s advice.

6. Visualize managing difficult situations

A powerful way to manage difficult situations is to imagine managing them beforehand. For example, if you have a desire to talk to a particular person in a particular setting, visualize the setting and the person. Visualize how you will approach the person and how you will start the conversation. Rehearse the whole scenario many times if needed before you actually do it. This is a very effective way of managing socially awkward situations.

7.  Be kind to yourself

One thing to remember is that being shy or introverted is not a problem. Also, no one expects anyone to talk a lot. In fact rambling on and on is not a good strategy to adopt if one wants to fit in in any social situation. All you have to do is to be interested in what is happening, what other people are saying, and listening to them. Listening is more important than talking, and it is a blessing that comes easily to introverts.

Social awkwardness is nothing to be ashamed of. You are good to go with these seven golden strategies.