Wednesday, 8 August 2018

3 Months in Hong Kong

5 weeks ago, I was standing waiting to board a plane to embark on a new journey; working for an Asian magazine company 9,616km away from home. Feeling elated and fuelled by a combination of thrill and slight apprehension, naïve to how hard the adjustment would be, I took off with not much thought with what to expect. 
Having now been living in Hong Kong for a little over a month, it seemed only natural for me to write about such a large proportion of my current life; after all I spend my days writing for a living. On the other hand, writing a stereotypical blogger style article in which I share aesthetic photos of all the food I’ve been eating lies far from my interests. But rather, I wanted to take it from an alternative, slightly abstract angle, by applying this to the metaphors of the infamous Rubix cube; an object so easily able to cause an existential crisis yet remains annoyingly tantalising. The challenges faced by the attempts to complete a Rubix cube I’ve realised lie almost perfectly parallel to the challenges that I have faced in the process of settling in Hong Kong. The more I think of it, the more I’m amazed at how an object so small can be compounded with an abundance of metaphors. 

Resilience; possibly the most prominent metaphor of the Rubix cube. It’s safe to say that amongst the jet lag, adjusting to the lack of vegetarian food, humidity and sheer busyness of Hong Kong, my first week here wasn’t full of uttermost positivity. Questioning how I was going to survive 10 weeks of this new life style whilst being packed into the MTR like a sardine was a thought frequently circling my mind. 
Ever held a Rubix cube and challenged yourself to complete it within 10 minutes, before screaming in anger when this turns out to be a bigger challenge than you initially presumed? I’ve found this scenario relatable to the challenges we set ourselves in life. When something doesn’t pan out the way we intended it to or for the first time we find excuses and call it quits. Similarly, when I didn’t find myself instantly magnetised to life in Hong Kong I was prepared to hand in my notice to work and convince myself that I just wasn’t cut out for it no matter how long I waited for things to improve. 
This is where resilience makes its mark. Resilience is intertwined with courage. If you do not keep yourself grounded on your own two feet when life throws you a challenge, how do you know what outcome will be produced? It may have taken me 3 weeks to become fully situated with the culture of Hong Kong, but the moral is if i'd fought off the resilience and given up after that first week I wouldn’t be here, having experiences I could only have dreamt of.  

This leads to the second metaphor; mastery. Becoming the master takes continuous practice, strength, courage and of course, resilience. The master title is not achieved over night, it is only achieved via the sheer dedication and work you put into something. There have been days at work that I have felt frustrated and undermined, but through the power of reminding myself that I made it this far as well as the encouragement of Family and Friends, I’ve realised that you must continuously remind yourself that you are strong enough to power through a turmoil. 

The third metaphor: Failure, is perhaps the inhibiting factor to achieving mastery. Although personified by negative connotations, failure is considerably our biggest weapon. Having everything handed to you on a plate without the chance of failure is unfathomable to me. Failing leads to discouragement which can be the ultimate ignition to improving. As difficult as it can be to pick yourself back up when you feel like a failure, reassessing and finding new solutions is perhaps a more wholesome way to achieving mastery. Without bumping into some difficulties in Hong Kong, I do not think I would have learnt as much or gained as many insights into the culture as I have. 

My inspiration for this post came from recently watching the “pursuit of happiness” in which Will Smith hit me hard with the line “if you want something, go get it period”. It reinforced the idea that although there will always be knockbacks, people saying you can’t do something, with the power of resilience, determination and a lack of fear of failure, you will become the master of your own craft. As someone close to me has recently said- “tough love is the best way”, this highlighted the importance of the resilience within you to get the most out of a situation rather than dwelling on the negatives and feeling sorry for yourself. 

And so, 5 weeks on, and I’m having one of the best experiences of my life and met some incredible people. Sometimes life throws you a difficult puzzle that takes a little longer to solve, but the ability to overcome it lies within yourself. 

Thank you so much for reading ♡


Sunday, 25 March 2018

Opening Pandora's box

Every choice has a consequence and the potential to be the source of new complications. Ultimately, it is considered that opening the Pandora’s box means there is no going back. I have recently found myself being captivated by Greek Methodology, and in particular, the metaphor of Pandora’s box is one I feel remains wholly relevant to our time. In summary, this story is focused on Pandora, who although instructed otherwise by Zeus, allows her curiosity to overpower her, thus opening the box, and exposing all evil.
To me, this tale is not simply a story of despair and the illustration of what callow behavior may lead to, but signifies that although “every evil to which human flesh is heir came out of the box”, this action is not always a negative.
Morally, defying the instructions in this case is seen to have harsh and dangerous consequences, but i’d oppose this and suggest that curiosity is perhaps the paramount of importance to progressing. With this teaches you the consequences of your actions in a proactive way, from which you can then make a decision. Recently, I feel like I have been put in positions where I have opened my own “Pandora’s box”, which exposed a side of me that I know is a complete contrast to my normal character due to a building influx of feelings. I have learnt that people can sometimes manipulate you to behave in a certain way, but rather than continuing to think about my actions in a negative way, I decided that I could use this as a lesson, and it has highlighted the importance to never feel belittled or inferior to people who are purposely trying to make you feel inadequate. 

My second interpretation of this tale is the juxtaposition between the positive and negative value of hope. It is thought that whilst all evil escaped the box, hope, described as something “wonderful” remained within the box. On one hand, hope brought a sense of optimism and faith after the release of life’s greatest miseries, and it is often perceived that anything is achievable if we remain to hold onto hope. However, hope could also be depicted to be the greatest tormentor, and perhaps the reason why it did not “fly out of the box” was because it was too empowering and wicked. I am a firm believer that hope is the key to progression, but I also think that people are too reliant on it. It is a man-made phenomenon, there is no certainty that if you have hope you will be successful, and sometimes I feel like it is so easy to say, “oh I hope this will happen”, but why is there a need to say “I hope?” why not say “this will happen”. Hope may be our greatest motivator but also our greatest inhibiter. Hope is characterised by comfort; it can be a way of convincing yourself that despite not being entirely proactive, you will achieve your end goal. However, I also perceive hope to be a trap which allows you to embrace your lazy side, therefore, it may not always be the best thing to turn to. 
These mythologies cause a conflict of thoughts in my mind and that is why I am enjoying reading about them so much, the morals are not a black or white argument and their application to today’s society is open to interpretation.

So, in conclusion, although opening the “Pandora’s box” may lead to the exposure of negative feelings and consequences, sometimes this may be beneficial to your self-belief and is a vital teacher for future scenarios. Of course, hope is a comforting motivator, but maybe do not be so reliant on it, because after all it is just a word, and the power within you is so much more empowering and driving.

Thank you so much for reading ♡

Sunday, 11 March 2018

I am.

“You may shoot me with your words, you may cut me with your eyes, you may kill me with your hatefulness, but still, like air, I’ll rise”- Maya Angelou

Labels; ascribed to almost everything in society, provide a sense of definition and determination. Although, more often than not, these labels belong to the definers not the defined, they are inevitably intertwined with the creation of stereotypes and a thirst for self-validation. Having studied a whole module this term on "becoming yourself", I could quite frankly write about interpellations and the influence of neoliberal subjectivities on the self for pages, and it truly fascinates me how our perceptions of ourselves are passively, and even actively built around the behaviour of others. 

I face the mirror and could pick out a list of things I could change, or that I feel define me. But, why is it that when we talk about accepting things about ourselves, the conversation usually gravitates towards our physical appearance and accepting things that society would drive us to hold as an insecurity? Why not talk about acceptance in terms of our character, rather than stopping at our exterior shell? Your physical appearance and the perception of what others may hold of you does not determine who you are. It is worrying how easily the comments of others can lead us to fall into a trap of psychological and social dysphoria by labelling and defining ourselves based on the beliefs of others, in which we fully adopt this as a reflection of ourselves.
Consider the idea of the puppet master. Society, in this sense is the puppeteer, pulling the strings, instructing the puppet to move according to their decision, interpellating individuals to behave in a specific manner. Whereas, the puppet, a passive object, is molded to follow the ideas of the manipulator. The puppet does not determine its fate, but rather the puppet master. Despite the puppet holding the aesthetic shine of the show, it is the puppet master that determines their portrayal. Similarly, we try to convince ourselves that we are the puppet masters, and the own narrator of our show, but in reality, our portrayal is often determined by the societal labels we have been given thus driving us to become puppets.

Why do we become so engrossed with definitions laid out by other people? Yes, I am female, I am Indian and I am short, these are things I cannot and would not want to change, they are a part of me. Part, being the key term, because I am so much more than just these things. I am strong, I am driven and I am courageous, things, that, I may not be automatically be defined as by others because they are not physical traits. But that does not mean that this is not a part of who I am. Why should we only choose to accept what other people draw from our characters, rather than self-proclaiming our own best qualities? “Does my sassiness upset you? Why are you beset with gloom? Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells pumping in my living room”. This is one of my all-time favorite quotes by Maya Angelou, truly emphasising the notion that people are often unhappy if you choose to ignore the labels they attach to you. If someone labels you as being ugly or boring just remember that again, it is the label linked to the definer not the defined. You are not solely a reflection of these labels; these stigmatisations are not the key to determining who you are.

Sometimes, defying the puppet master may cause tension, holding a sense of self belief is often considered to be arrogant, but I believe only we, ourselves can be a true source of validation rather than allowing other’s people’s opinions and behaviours to control our puppet strings.
This may be arduous in a world which is based upon quantitative validation via social media. As much as we would refute this idea, individuals seek social approval vis-à-vis online likes, comments and followers as an essential way of attaining validation. Why else would we post things for others to see? If anything, this encourages narcissism by trying to be at the top of the social ladder. I recently read an interesting story based on greek mythology titled the "Tale of Icarus and Daedalus" in which Icarus, exhilarated with his new found power of flight took this too far, became arrogant and consequently flew too high and as a result fell. I feel the moral of this story is so relevant to aspects of every day life, we should remain humble, rather than allowing power, such as that obtained from these sources of validation to over boost our egos in a superficial way as this does not lead to success. 

So, defining who you are is taking a hold of the puppet strings and aiming to produce definitions which go beyond your aesthetic image. It is a challenge, but try to give yourself a constant reminder that “I am". 

Sunday, 31 December 2017

New Shoes

As the first page of a new chapter begins to loom, we aim to think with a fresh and open mind. Leaving the story from the last book behind in order to delve into the new plot with no baggage in order to fully become engrossed in what is yet to come. New characters, new settings, and new themes, it is a space of endless possibilities. Sometimes, the book isn’t what you expected, maybe the rise of a plot twist alters the ending you were longing for. But, the ending, even if sometimes substandard, fits with the book. Rather than wishing for a different story, just accept it, in order to move onto the next.

The key is change. You cannot go into reading a new book thinking about the protagonist of the previous. This will impact your engagement. What happened in chapter 5 of the previous book will not affect the present, and similarly, say for example, what happened this year in July, shouldn’t be allowed to have an impact on the potentials of this coming year. With change comes losses. Forcefully hanging onto something, may be holding onto something that shouldn’t be there. Picture an old pair of shoes; comfortable, dependable and get you from A to B. At some point, they become worn out and don’t provide you with the support you need, and at this stage, it may be time to invest in something new. Maybe these new shoes are a little less comfortable or don’t make you feel as good, it might be tempting to reach for the old pair as you know what to expect. However, if you don’t wear the new pair in, they will never adapt to you. At one time your old shoes were new, but the more you wore them the more comfortable they became. Change can be daunting at first, but preserving through the blisters although can sometimes be painful is vital. In the end, we all have to make sacrifices, and lose things that we were once attached to, but it is with this that comes the beginning of a new lifestyle.

To me, the cliché saying of “New Year New Me” is like listening to nails on a chalk board. Of course, the start of a new book is the perfect place to make new interpretations, but, I feel as though people place too much dependency on the new year as if it owes them something and is automatically the golden ticket to becoming this idealized person that can only be produced on January 1st. Why strive to become a whole new you? At one point in your life you were dreaming to be in the position you are now, why not be content with the person you are and rather make changes to improve yourself based on the knock backs from the previous chapter?

So, to end, don’t keep going over the last page of the last book. Be open to the new events that are yet to come. Letting go is key to gaining. Put the old shoes back in the cupboard and work on the present, their potential and where they may take you is yet to be discovered. Improve on yourself, but don’t wish and compare yourself to others in hope that you can become someone that you aren’t. A revised edition is always good, but what sometimes may not be is a complete re branding.  

Thank you so much for reading and I wish you all a very happy New Year!

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