Lessons In Failing

At times, I’m gripped by this crippling fear of failure.

I have always refrained myself from talking about failures. There hasn’t been any ‘what if‘ or ‘plan B‘ in my conversations ever. It’s about winning all the times because that’s what you are supposed to show, right? No one will talk to a failure. No one will ask and there won’t be anyone to seek advice, not even your close ones. You are basically a social outcast. But deep down I’ve known how I have always been running away from this fear. It’s by spending this energy on masquerading my failure instead of working on my preparedness that I basically prepared for its inevitability. Who was I kidding with this happy facade around myself? I’m vulnerable.

I can recall specific moments from my life when I have felt this. It’s always those liminal spaces, the valley between two peaks, the pit before the leap, when efforts failed to materialize and I was running out of options (remember? there weren’t many, to begin with). Confidence dwindled, self-reliance took a massive hit. Under uncertainty, every prospect seemed blurry. Things have certainly gone better afterward but this fear somehow finds its way again. I call it ‘crippling’ because it forces to ooze out every drop of my pride.

So, why am I writing this? Well, now that I have this big pile of rejections sitting by my side, I can finally come out and talk about my perfect imperfection in open. I have failed so many times that I have lost the count by now. I once started maintaining a folder in my laptop for rejections of the tangible kind (sadly, your personal goals & ‘game of hearts‘ doesn’t end up with such notice). It had screenshots, each containing a polite apology on the lines –

We appreciate your interest in this position but we found a more suitable candidate for the job. We will consider your application if any new opening comes up.

Ummm…Thank you?!

This is a system generated mail. Please do not reply to this message. 

Few failures in life are necessary. They teach us invaluable lessons which we wouldn’t have learned otherwise. They show us a weakness in our methodology/preparation/approach, giving us opportunities to self-reflect, mend and improve. But failing too many times shatters you to the core. It’s even worse when you don’t get feedback on your mistakes. I feel there is actually a threshold age after which you are supposed to figure out everything on your own.

I have been at both the extremes. There have been days when I was at the zenith of confidence while some days I found myself doubting my capabilities. Was there any meaning to my endeavor? I questioned. I have come to realize that the line in between is much thinner than I used to think. All it takes is one core component to go wrong which you were betting too much on. It’s a delicate balance driven by circumstances. My ingenuity suddenly starts to feel like a grand play of ‘imposter syndrome‘.

Anxiety never really leaves us, even more so nowadays when we are surrounded by continuous waves of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt) inducing information. We grow restless. Restless makes its way for stress, anxiety, and depression. Often, while scrolling my twitter feed (or internet surfing in general), I come across memes like this –

meme

 

As much I would chuckle over its silliness, I would marvel at its astuteness as well. I don’t support making fun of mental health like this but I certainly had those days when I just didn’t want to wake up and face the day. Lying on my bed with my face buried in the pillow, shielding myself from the outside world through my quilt, I could feel the time passing by. Day turned its phases but each inch of my body would shriek ‘not today‘. Does deliberate sleeping solve the problem? I don’t know.

I don’t mean to give any pessimistic vibe. Optimism is my biggest tool. Hope has been my most effective weapon to fight adversity. I have sorely passed through difficult times having faith even though luck hasn’t been a laudable companion so far. Also, it’s by failing and rising up numerous times that I have managed to reach subsequent pedestals in life. But hope isn’t a tangible thing, is it? Can hope be attributed to certain things? How do we realize hope? What gives us strength at nonchalant times?

It’s quite subjective to each individual. Though I’m no expert (as you must have come to know), there are certain things which have given me solace in difficult times and I wish to write them here. Maybe it would help someone else or maybe one day in my happy times, I would come back to this post and know what state was I once in and how I made it through.

Less screen time – If there is one indicating factor which can quantify our modern lifestyle, it would be the ubiquitous presence of screen around us. As much as I embrace tech, I always had this love-hate relationship with screens. The Internet can be an overwhelming place and when the situation is to contemplate over big questions concerning myself, I better maintain a distance. I have had intermittent periods of complete boycott, quite too frequently in recent time. Here’s my friend’s excellent post on the same topic – One Week of Algo-free Lifestyle.

Stop Overthinking – Have you ever noticed how voices in your head get stronger when you let it to? “Would you please stop thinking for a second?” –  I say to myself. Often this thinking majorly constitutes of comparison than actual strategizing. The more we grow, the more expectations we hold on our back. The cut-throat competition apparently put us in the league of geniuses where failing is never seen as an option. But are we really running the race for the sake of it or the end goal is the one we should focus on?

Reading – This is the umpteenth mention of ‘reading’ on this blog but I still feel it hasn’t been stressed enough for the profound impact it had on me. Somehow, in the obscure literature of my recent finding, I have discovered solutions to my lingering questions as if it were my deliberated search for an answer in the very same piece. Read because you can. Read because you never know. Brainpickings & Zen Pencils are two of my favorite go-to destinations.

Crafts & Novelty –  You need not always look at everything you do from the prospect of a profession, no matter how good you are at it. Pursue it because you love it, not because you want something from it. Remember those childhood doodling habits you have cherished over the years? Maybe you like to sing, swim, make music, craft stories, solve puzzles, cook delicacies, take photographs, stitching/knitting – it could be anything, as long as you enjoy it. Cultivate a hobby & find novelty in it. They have tremendous potential, far beyond our realization. These are the things that enliven us. Remember, when things get dim, those little lights illuminate our way. Find something which when you see or listen to, you can say – ‘this gives me joy‘.

Music – I think most of the people either understand very little and don’t understand the realm of art at all. They try to contain the uncontainable because they haven’t experienced it the way you have. Making them understand is futile because you can’t put wording to it. It’s abstract. This has been the case with me. Also, ‘Music’ here is really a placeholder for anything that has a mysterious power of healing for you. For me, it has been music, especially that of Illenium. For my friend and brother, it’s gaming where they find their mental piece in. My fascination with music is not inconspicuous on this blog but again, the amount & variety of music that exists in this world simply blows my mind.

Travel – Things that we imagine may seem alien at times but they are not pulled out of thin air. All our crazy ideas must draw inspiration from realization – subtle or profound. Curiosity is built on the foundation of experience and grows through our inherent nature of exploration. Travel brings both these elements together. Being in the same place for a prolonged period can gradually fill up the contours of our open mind.

This has really taken a toll on me. Though I have been to a few places in the past year, it has either been for work or similar purposes. I desperately miss those trips with my friends where we lived in the moment soaking the scenery that lied in front. There were no exams, no assignments, no internships, no jobs, no question of ‘what’s next?‘ – none of the worrying elements and we just existed for the sake of it. In desolate moments, it’s important to take a step back and ponder over the bigger picture.

Communicate – Better part of my life has been spent in isolation. I don’t usually admit it (because no one asked) but I’m not afraid to write about it here. Different phases can be attributed to different reasons but this continuous period of being alone instilled a fear of loneliness in me which somehow I’m still forced to dwell in.

Image result for before assuming try this crazy method called asking

Credit – Pinterest

Sharing subsides the pain. It will all go away if I could just talk. It always has. Feedbacks are critical. Getting a fresh look over your approach may give you a chance of analyzing it from an unexpected perspective. Or even just narrating your problem to someone can make you realize a different aspect of it. Keeping it within us only let the feeling grow. It starts feeding on our conscience. It erodes us of the positive energy like a dark ball of discontentment growing bigger, it’s weight bogging us down. If I wish of anything outside my personal domain, it’s meaningful companionship.

Writing is communicating too.

Working Harder – This tops all the other points written above. While they certainly help to rejuvenate, nothing but our own effort would propel us further. Accept that you screwed up but not all is gone. Put that feeling aside and get back at work. Here’s what I have realized – It’s easy to be mediocre at something if you overcome the inertia of just pursuing it, but it takes an incredible amount of effort in order to be really good at something. Every profession is noble. They all have their elements of risk and complexity and there is no one-day wonder.

first man

We need to fail. We need to fail down here, so we don’t fail up there” – First Man

While my previous achievements may seem like I landed on the moon, only I know that I actually shot for the star and failed. No problem. I’ll come back, work on it and try once again. I’ll Keep trying until I reach there. Only I can realize my goal and no one else. For now, it must remain in me to stay afloat and not succumb to this hostility. I must fight for my dreams. These are just minor setbacks I ought to overcome so when I finally reach there, it wouldn’t be called a fluke. I will be a deserving winner.

Edit – It’s amazing how just a click can land you somewhere so relevant. So my usual Internet surfing brought me to my Pocket feed where I found this really personal article  – Earning My Smile.

I think everyone should have the privilege to read it. This article (actually a memoir) perfectly embodies the essence I wrote this post with. To be honest, it actually made me tear up. There are a lot of other things that bring dust to my eyes (ah! another secret I had upheld) but more on it later.


Note – It has been really hard for me to come forward and write about something I never talked about. I’m a private person who keeps things to myself. My introvertism would rather let it haunt me inside than to proclaim it in open, especially when it’s an insecurity I hide.

Also, I write ‘failing’ not ‘failure’ because failing is a process while failure is a consequence and I wanted to talk about it as the former. It’s been quite a while that I wrote a post this long, so hopefully, it would be of some use like few other blogs have been for me in difficult times. I’m forever grateful to them. Peace ✌

 

 

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Flat & Realism : On Quarter-Life Crisis

I visit the bookmarks in my browser one day, as I normally do, scrolling through the numerous gateways to my explored treasures of the Internet. Scrolling down and scrolling back up and there at the top, something catches my attention. It’s one of my first bookmarks, a link to a website titled – ‘Flat design vs. realism‘. By mere glance, all these snapshots flashes before me.

It was a battle. Back in 2013, when the Internet junta fought over the fate of it. Will flat design finally overshadow realistic 3-D rendition or will the later continue to dominate? It was the time when the websites finally bow down to the king of interfaces.

Don’t worry! I’m not going to give a lecture on ‘Effective UI building – the history & the future’. Nope.

Anyway, I must tell that the website was fun to scroll through. I couldn’t find the live site URL, so here is something from the archive.

There was an actual fight – you pick the side, you want to fight for.

Flat VS Realism screenshot 3

But here’s the thing that I want to emphasize through this whole build up – both of these sides were equally powerful on their own to dominate the Internet UI space. Both of them had their own pros & cons (one having more than other) and each of them had their following (once again, one having more than other). But at the end, only one has to stay.

Few days ago, I was confronted with a similar choice. But unlike previous time, it was my personal career at stake. Before graduating from college, I was working in this newly inaugurated incubator space called ‘Center for Healthcare Entrepreneurship’ as a technical assistant to the fellows. I started out as an intern (pioneer batch technically) and stuck to it throughout my final year.

The Turn It Takes

To move is to be alive. Motion in itself, is a characteristic of liveliness. As much it is true in the literal sense, its figurative implications dominate without exception. Contrary to those who dread change, I for one, welcome them. Not that I’m not skeptical what it brings with it but I get bored with the mere concept of settling in.

How can someone be contempt when there is so much to explore out there? You haven’t even tried all these sorts of thing. How could you be adamant on this being your style.

Reading, writing, watching, talking, reacting, experimenting – all these are aspects of exploration – an exposure to the vastness of the world outside and the world within. It irks me when I feel myself slipping into comfort zone. I get uncomfortable instead.

jumps back to being vulnerable again

I despise mundanity and to counter the mold that I was kind of settling into, regarding my video making process, I decided to bring some change this time. It took me a while to finally upload it because the footage used were gathered over a vast spectrum of events. Finding a coherent story that ran through these random footage was a fun part to explore. I wanted to showcase more intimate part of my personality which was somewhat disguised in my earlier videos.

With that being said, dear readers, here I present you – The New Kind.

Cafe Ecstasy

Tomorrow, I would be packing up my stuffs and head to Bangalore for a 3 day trip. Though it is for work, I’m going to meet two of my best friends living nearby. After college, we moved to different cities, working in different jobs, living different lives but what kept us connected is this undeterred bond we developed over 4 years. Here’s what I want to say to them –

Hey bros! I have missed you. I have missed your presence around me. I have missed taking those late night walks with you.

I have missed those pointless arguments. I have missed those logical discussions.

I have missed scolding you for classes. I have missed you scolding me for going to one without you.

I have missed your awkwardness. I have missed your ingeniousness. 

Though I know that we have left our place of rendezvous and living different lives, I’m gonna revive all those days when I see you. 

Edit – Well! I finally have something to show you guys. It took me more than 2 months of on & off editing to bring it into this form. It wasn’t hard because it was difficult to put these footage together, rather the emotion was hard to contain. You know that ecstatic feeling of meeting a part of you –

Looking For The Silver Lining

Months came and months went by. Here I am, in front of my laptop, on the last day of another ending month hoping to utter out the reasons for the silence I’ve been holding within. Each rising day, I would wish to write about so many things I want to talk to you about but at the end of it when I’m finally in my room, my plans are pushed on the next day’s court.

In the end of this seemingly perpetual fight to drag myself through another uneventful day, I would be left to stare at the blank canvas that would scream to be written on. And once again I would ignore its plea for not the sufficient energy has left within me to replay the story in my head I want to write about, to recall my observations and my learning that I want to share, to unveil the parts of my heart that I want to showcase.

I feel like being comfortably numb. Few days ago I was informed of the training that I have to attend at a faraway place that would have given me my much needed break yet my inner self felt on a disagreement. Here’s a diary entry of mine that I think captures the essence –

The reason I don’t want to go some other place is because of this streak of mundanity that has set in my life. I’m bored. Not frustrated but bored. I have seen busier times. I’ve encountered my horrifically hasty self who didn’t even had the time to catch his breath.

Now I see myself being impervious to this daily ordeal. This buzzing entropy doesn’t seem to disturb my stability. I may act out of necessity but there is no wholesome involvement. And I feel I could channelize this boredom into something beautiful. A strength of creation forming within, which I lay unaware of.

If I disturb this equilibrium, I might loose my edge. A little nudge would set my momentum into a different direction. At this point, I just feel the propensity of this forming fire.

I’m sure it is just a phase and this too shall pass. I promise you it won’t be long before I gather the strength of my senses. I miss not being active on this community. I miss the wonderful dwellers of this blogosphere which I have grown along, over the years.

Till I come up with some consolidated contents to update this post with, here’s something I made a while back for you to enjoy –

 

Popsicle On The Ground Floor

It’s just few hours away that I pack my stuffs and leave the college. I’ve completed all my official procedures but there is this one thing left to do. Writing this bid-adieu blog post – my last post from college.

This blog has been one of the best things I did in college. Whenever I needed something to tell and didn’t want it to be limited to the audience I had physical interaction with, this blog presented itself as a sophisticated medium to vent out. Even after 3 years, it feels like beginning. I have a long way to go.

There are few major things on the top of my head to write in this blog post. Firstly about this abstract title I had put – ‘Popsicle On The Ground Floor‘. It’s hard to deduce any correlation of this childish rhetoric with anything I’m associated with. To be honest, it just popped in my head one day during my usual walk around the hostel area. As I tried to fit in to what I was going to write about, it gradually started making sense.

My (or better I put ours) whole college life was journey for a popsicle, a symbolism for reward in return for the efforts – popsicle of knowledge. We were made to believe that in order to get that reward, we would have to climb up, trudge and in fierce situations even crush others in order to be at the top. The trail of wisdom was transformed into a track for the rat race and it irked me often.

I was here to learn engineering, realize the importance of innovation and learn the art of real-life problem solving but this would have been nearly impossible had I confined myself within academic domains. All that most people worried about was marks and it infused a genuine hatred in me for the same.

Although I did find myself in the company of enthusiastic peers who were sincere towards their work. I learnt a lot from them. With time, I realized it was all within us throughout. Whatever we want to do in life, the itinerary for entire journey lie with us. But with the traditional path, the importance of a paper (degree) takes over the weight of our aspiration. Although I do comprehend the intangible value of our college education and I would be ever grateful to this place for providing me a compelling ambiance but the real reward was already there with us right from where we started and it will always be.

When I started my college, I told myself that the day I go out from here, I should be a person with no regrets. My entire endeavor here was channelized towards that one goal. But let me tell you this truth where the inconsistency lies – there will always be something small or big, major or minor, that will bother you till the last day or after. We as a naive being, venture into the pursuit of perfection but forget that ‘to err is human‘. It’s a good thing in a way that it shows you were not stagnant. It shows that you were striving to move forward and not remaining still.

One such thing that would always pinch me was to not put forward my entrepreneurial venture – Nightmeals. Yes this has been a secretive ordeal till date but I’m going to write about it openly today. Several times on this blog I have emphasized on the importance to publishing your work. When you attempt to do something revolutionary, you either succeed or you gain experience. But it can’t be called a success or failure if was never put it to test in the first place.

In our junior year, me and one of my friends decided to solve the huge cafeteria problem (food related problems in general) we had in hostels. We identified the pain points and devised a solution adorned with tons of features like opening/closing time, automatizing orders, collection & payment, etc. It was all there to reduce the unnecessary waiting time while your order was prepared or to cut down the hassle of coming all the way to the cafeteria only to find it closed. We felt the genuine requirement for it and Nightmeals was the perfect solution to assist students in this segment.

We were naive in terms of skills but the idea was well validated. Eventually we started working and things started coming together. We began to see our goal clearly and worked well beyond our usual academics & other occupations in order to achieve the traction. But what should have been otherwise extensive (and it would have if the entire thing lied under my control), the work kept on delaying.

The biggest mistake was to wait till it was all suited to launch. Just when we were ready, we screwed up with the code/database management and then our end semester examination approached. Afterwards we were churned up into vicious fight for placements. Things went downhill and the momentum lost was never regained. I’m planning to write about the tech specs of this fiasco on my tech-blog and the things I learnt from that, so keep eye on that.

The bottom line is that the idea that I cherished dearly for so long could never come to life. None one would know what shape it took, how it worked or even worse that it ever existed if not from the mere words written here. We lost it because we weren’t serious about it throughout. We eyed the end result but didn’t think about the journey thoroughly as like numerous wonderful ideas that die everyday somewhere. Takeaway – Discipline is the key.

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My regular readers would be well aware of my fascination with film-making in the last semester. I have embedded lots of my videos in my previous blog posts. If you haven’t checked out my YouTube channel, I would highly suggest you to (this blog is the only platform where I indulge in self promotion 😛 ). Here’s my latest video –

Making videos kept me really occupied during the last semester. Also it was a great way to escape from the eventual boredom that kicked in as the ending approached. Most of the times, I was thinking ideas for my next video, shooting, watching a lot of editing tutorials and later editing the footage. Initially most of the efforts were put in persuading my friends to be the subject of my videos but later, funny as it may sound, I started getting so many requests from my friends for casting them as my videos gained viewers’ attention.

Being in the college during a running semester meant that I would be spending most of the time within the campus (my room to be specific). This confinement of space gave me an opportunity to explore it from different perspectives. As is evident from my videos, all of them were shot in IITH except Vizag Diaries episodes.

Thing is, I seriously got into film-making and storytelling after shifting to my new dorm in permanent campus. I was in ODF earlier where our temporary campus was located, for 3 years. Now I wonder what all stuffs could I have done if I had started making movies right from my freshmen year. I did start learning cinematography there though (later borrowing DSLR camera from the seniors and photography club to learn) but again it’s about finishing and publishing. That happened only after shifting. So that’s that.

Few days back I went back there to get the no-dues signature from the workshop and I was able to picturize those familiar places as the lost canvas. I could have used them a little more. Although for my last visit this time, I didn’t forget to capture few footage as memorabilia – hostel area, old insti, the workshop and of course the foresty way to the workshop – and what better way for it for a film-maker than to make a film out of it. I’m currently working on the ODF montage but here’s the glimpse that I made using Google Photos –

https://goo.gl/photos/8hfig1cxg4DvVfBa7

As I sit in my room for the last time and write this post, I feel a bit nostalgic about leaving this place. This has been my home away from home for the past one year. All my creations, my critical decisions, my transformed self have come out of this – I have formed an everlasting memory. Leaving it does feel strange even though I’m very well aware of eternal legacy. This has been good, but it’s time to say good bye for even better tomorrow 🙂

Stay tuned. Peace! ✌

Done Is Better Than Perfect

Read it, write it, print it like those famous quotes hanging on your walls or just memorize it for the time eternity but keep this in mind – “No matter how much of deep shit you’re stuck in, there is always a way out.

You can solve majority of your problems (or you wouldn’t get into them in the first place) if you’re true to yourself. Honesty is not telling yourself (the infamous) “All is well” but rather to introspect what lead to mortifying circumstances. It may seem like a strong word to use but consequence of you fooling yourself could be disastrous.

So why am I telling you this all of a sudden?

It’s the sudden urge of circumstances. Things happen like they always do. They teach us things like they’re supposed to. I learn them and sometimes write here like I should do.

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This post is not yet finished but I had to put this out because ‘done is better than perfect.‘ I could wait till I have tweaked, refined and polished every word I’ve written. I could keep on reforming every sentence until it exactly represents what’s there in my mind.

But then may be in the due course I would forget to do all this. This post would be lost in oblivion. It would just sit in the drafts like many others of the past. It would be like my videos which I worked on, in bits and pieces, over the past few days but still didn’t release them. Why? Because I couldn’t materialize them to the point of my satisfaction.

Here’s my own little version –

It’s the end of this month – the last month of college. I needed to write a lot of things in this space. It’s said that the beginning is always the hardest but in the retrospect of perfection, I think finishing and putting it out in open is the toughest part. So I thought to be vulnerable this time. I thought of leaving it incomplete. See here it is, my insecurities, my struggles, the so called ‘behind the scenes‘ of Divine_Lifez.