Sunday, January 2, 2011

"I am awesome!"

Before you jump to any conclusion about my newly found path of narcissism, hold your horses. J

This past week, my husband was off from work. Since we weren’t traveling anywhere, to give him company, I decided to indulge in “staycation.” Still loathe the word, but I now understand the concept. For me, this was the first week of rest in 2010. So, I decided to take a break from technology. Literally. No emails, Facebook, phones etc. aside from a few urgent or imperative ones. Sorry to those whose calls and messages I haven’t replied to. Now you know why. But you will be hearing from me shortly.

These last few days, my husband coordinated our local meal, movie, and party meet-ups with friends. He handled a handful of calls to the immediate family and ignored most other phone calls, emails, and texts.:-) He was actually annoyed with the multiple phones ringing. By the third day, he said to me, “How do you do it? Staying in touch with the family and friends along with everything else. And the phone rings a lot!” I smiled and said, “Well, I have never had that choice of evaluation.”

Boy, I can’t even tell you how refreshing and healing the whole experience of walking away from communication was. To be able to hear your inner voice and desires as opposed to the cacophony of humanity. Don’t get me wrong; I LOVE my family and friends. But sometimes, an open path of communication cannot ensure that you get to interact only with people you like or get along with. And there are no guarantees that you will always like what you hear. Overall, that is fine with me; good comes with bad. But sometimes, we all reach our breaking point with multiple thoughts and ideas convoluting our precious mind and heart. And that’s when a break is required.

During this week, I worked very closely with the editor of my upcoming fiction novel. I felt I was able to see the book from a very different angle. Key points that I otherwise hadn’t noticed. I was more pragmatically involved and less emotionally attached to the feedback. And it did wonders for the entire team. Maybe because my mind was not flooded with fifty other compartments of “things-to-do.” I guess, I was able to live like a man - focus on myself with minimal multi-tasking.

When a friend asked over a scrumptious meal, “How does it feel to not be connected?” I said to her, “I am more connected than ever now. I can actually hear my breath. And there is nothing more calming than that sound.”

My brain, all of a sudden, had all this good, empty space and felt very positive. I spent the week, aside from catching up with friends in NYC, reading. You’d assume that as a writer, I get to read all the time. Well, yes and no. For work, I don’t always get to read what I really want to.

Because of the holidays, there was always a social plan every day. I didn’t cook all the meals at home. I did yoga, meditation, and went to the gym. And I pursued few other therapeutic, Asian healing techniques.

Last but not the least, I watched many clips on the educational website, TED. My husband and I swear by TED. But with everything else going on in my 24 hours, I don’t always get to visit it as often as I would like.

One of my absolute favorite ones was the talk, “Why we have too few women leaders,” by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook. I highly recommend it. Two things she said that I would always remember:

  • Women leave before they leave: In our quest of planning our future, we ruin our present. Even before women have children, they start thinking about scaling back on their career. Meanwhile, they pass up promotions and good projects because they think they would need to stay at home to care for their children. Sheryl said that when the time comes, take whatever decision suits you best. But in anticipation of one day that time will come, don’t ruin your today.

I know I look at writing residencies that aren’t longer than two weeks. I think like a typical woman. I store up food for my husband before I travel and get the house all organized. He isn’t a stereotypical Indian guy, so there aren’t any expectations. But I am wired to “take care.” And everyone has an opinion on how I should accommodate my career in my husband’s life. But it's acceptable for the man to be ambitious.

Sheryl shared statistics of the level of involvement at home: men versus women. The numbers are appalling. And irrespective of color and race, most women face similar challenges. Men do their thing when they need to without wondering about any of the above-mentioned emotional battles: family, friends, or food. But women tend to add their needs to the bottom of the totem pole.

The world is so quick to add gender stereotype to emotions and outbursts. Sure, as women, we might be more effusive in how we react or behave. But look at our platter. Truth is, we juggle home while we manage family and friends and focus on our career. When you do a lot, you stress out, and breakdowns will happen. I am not asking for sympathy. But look around you; women who don’t necessarily express themselves on emotional scales are often the uninvolved types. They are the center of their own universe. Well, almost like a man, right?

  • Sheryl raised another important point, which hit home with me. She said that when you ask a successful woman the reason behind her success, she always gives credit to her partner, family, and friends. But when you ask a man the reason behind his success, he says, “I am awesome!”

With my three book releases this past summer, I have been doing a lot of interviews lately. And I so understood what Sheryl was talking about. I am one of those women. Whenever an interviewer asks me the reason for my success, I attribute it to the people in my universe. Okay, I find humility attractive and find it nauseating when people can’t stop singing their own praises. BUT, there is something to be said about affirmations. If you keep giving everybody else credit for what you do well, somewhere, deep down, you begin to believe that. And likewise, if you think you rock your own world, somewhere you believe that you are the best thing that happened to planet earth.

The other morning, my dentist and I joked about how we were going to call each other “awesome.” But I asked her, “How many times have people told you that you are lucky to have such a supportive husband?” And how many times have the same people said that your husband is lucky to have you as his wife because you are so supportive?”

In this New Year, amongst my many other resolutions, I have decided to make place for myself in my own life. Even if a little. Because if I do not, no one will. And sometimes, to be able to listen to my true voice, I might have to disconnect myself from the outer noise. But more importantly, as women, we need to tell each other that we are “awesome!” And sure, we are lucky to have good people in our lives who support us. But if the talent didn’t exist, you couldn’t support thin air!

Happy New Year to everyone! May 2011 bring you good health, happiness, and awesomeness!

More until next time,


Copyright © 01.02.2011

“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” ~ Ayn Rand


Sahar Mansoor said...

Very well written & I totally had an epiphany here! Thanks for sharing the words of wisdom.

Anonymous said...

HUMPH! I was one of the calls that was disconnected by your hubby :)!


Anonymous said...

enjoyed reading this Sweta!