Getting Un-Broken

After you shatter your life to billions of tiny pieces, the only thing left is to start putting it back together.  One piece at a time.  Put one foot in front of the other and try not to fall.  If you don’t fall, it’s a good day.  Sometimes you have to re-learn how to walk.  Because turns out, you weren’t really walking very well the first time around.  More like limping kind of, but you didn’t know you were even doing it.  It’s like when you’re little and you’re so excited to learn how to crawl, and you’re so proud of yourself for learning how to crawl, but then you learn about this thing called walking and you’re like wait a minute.  WTF HAVE I BEEN DOING ALL MY LIFE?! And then even if you fall when you’re walking it’s still way better than crawling? (Not that I remember what it felt like to be 2, but having observed some small children over the past few years I’m just annotating what I think is going through their heads.  Also there is no way to confirm or deny this so I’m going with the analogy).

You don’t know what you don’t know until you know it, right?

It’s really hard not to get really mad at yourself though.  HOW IS THIS NOT FIGURED OUT YET? Oh yeah.  Because I broke this.  On purpose.  And on accident.  A purposeful accident.  Accident because you didn’t know what the end result would be.  But on purpose because what you had before just wasn’t cutting it and you were willing to take that leap of faith to say that the next thing has to be better than what I have now.  Kind of like the (almost) first blog post. Coming full circle.  I guess that’s what gives me faith to do it again.  I did this once before.  Almost 6 years ago.  And it worked out ok.  In fact, it worked out better than I could have imagined.  Not perfect, obviously, but what’s really perfect anyway? (Except George Clooney- I think he is the exception that proves the rule, I’m just saying).

I think I just need to give myself that last push off the ledge to go for it.  6 years ago was easier because guess what.  I didn’t have anything to lose (or if I did I wasn’t really thinking about it).  Being young and dumb has its perks.  I’m still dumb and young but not dumb enough to know nothing about what I’m doing this time around and exactly what I’m giving up.  There are pros and cons to this.  I think that means it’s harder to do it this time around, but I think chances of success are also significantly higher. Mostly because if there was a mistake, I’ve probably already made it.  At least the easy ones.  I’ve made a significant number of those.

Isn’t it weird to think of your life as a bunch of mistakes that you just feel less shitty about over time? That’s slightly depressing.  I feel like there’s a more poetic and less depressing way to say this, but I can’t think of it right now.  I’m definitely not at the point where I’m looking back at this time in life and saying oh, how cute.  That was definitely needed to do X, Y, and Z and I’m so glad I did it.  I’m still at the…oh lord please don’t let all hell break loose and yes I’m really really grateful for this second chance and all but please help me fuck up less this time or at least if I do please make it feel less like I’m going to DIE and more like…a paper-cut (still painful because I’m a baby and have no pain tolerance, but you know, if I have to be in SOME kind of pain, this is preferable- can you make a note of this please, should I send it to your secretary? Maybe email? Has Google reached you yet??).  K Thanks.

Love Anu.

 

Sometimes Things Get Better

Like if you hold your breath long enough sometimes things start falling into place.  Let me rephrase that.  If you work your ass off WHILE holding your breath long enough things start falling into place.

Rewind about 2.5 weeks ago.  I realized that I just wasn’t giving work my all.  I wasn’t.  I mean, on a to do list it looked ok but if I really asked myself if I was giving life my 100%, the answer was no.  Nobody else would have been able to say that.  Only me.  Because I know myself and I know what I am capable of doing. I knew I could do more.

And I also vowed this year to just stop lying to myself about shit.  I’m tired of it.  There’s no point.  In fact, that’s probably the thing that got me in the hot mess shit hole in the first place.  I mean, if I was honest with myself and just took stock of life a few years ago (hell, lets go ALL the way back to some 3-4 years ago) things could have been different. But until time travel is invented (which I’m SO down for), all that KIND of doesn’t matter.  So new beginnings, no more self lying.  And I’ve also decided that there’s nothing wrong with saying hey Anu. Guess what.  You know you can do better than this.  Sometimes you can’t.  And I’ve been there too. But that’s not where I was 2.5 weeks ago.  And I’ve been around the block enough now to know the difference.

So that’s when I found another gear and dialed into it.  Put it in motion. And you know what? Things started moving.  People who I was trying to connect with for MONTHS randomly contacted me back.  I was figuring out how to reach out to the World Bank and guess what.  They reached out to me.

I really believe that when you, deep down, figure that you can do better, and you actually dig deep to move- the world tries to help you back.  I’m a big believer in that.  Also, it kind of doesn’t matter what the end result of all this stuff is.  Maybe nothing will work out with any of the leads we are getting.  But at the end of the day, I just FEEL better.  I FEEL like I’m living up to my potential as a human being on this planet.  I FEEL like I’m moving in the right direction.

And I’ve realized that when your life is usually a chaotic hot mess, that feeling of creative fulfillment, is sometimes enough.

Notes On Very Public MeltDowns

So I was talking to my friend and she was like oh man Anu.  I was reading your blogs.  I loved the way you publicly melted down.  That was epic.  I hadn’t actually thought if it like that until now but I was like…yeah.  That happened.  It’s mainly because I tried to see a therapist and she was like…uh…blah blah blah…I think we’re done here, you don’t have to come any more.  And then I’m like…BUT I”M SITTING HERE STILL CRYING IN YOUR SEAT USING YOUR ENTIRE BOX OF TISSUES WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM WOMAN.  Except I didn’t actually say that, I just said ok and stopped going.  And then I tried to find a better one, but I think all the real ones actually charge shit tons of money and have years of waitlists I don’t really have shit tons of money and I’m impatient AF so I was like…THE INTERNET IS MY THERAPIST.

Also, I really really enjoyed reading other people’s ish around when shit was hitting the fan so I was like…lets contribute to this body of literature.  Public melt-down-ing. That’s a genre now.

Things are somewhat chaotic but I think things will always be chaotic. I’ve decided my life is always going to be chaotic.  For the near to distant near future at least.  I am going to call it…un boring.  Sometimes in the morning I struggle to get out of bed, this is true.  Mostly because I’m dreading what’s going to happen that day. Also, sometimes, my biggest accomplishment is taking a shower.  Or so it feels.  I didn’t just stay in my pajamas all day.  I took a shower and got dressed.  YES.  And other days are really great.  I”m up before my alarm and I’m on top of my ish.  Sometimes I avoid the world for a few weeks, and sometimes I’m all about trying to meet people.  It’s a grab bag really.

Anyway, that’s what the world of Anu looks like right about now. Chaotic AF and who knows what the day will hold.

Life Thoughts: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Do you ever feel like the pieces of happiness are right there, right in front of you, you’re just not putting them together the right way? That’s how I feel right now.  It’s so infuriating because I feel like I’m so close and yet, somehow, it’s just evading my reach.

One big thing I’ve realized is that what got me here won’t get me to where I want to be.  What does that mean? It means that I have to chuck every strategy and method I’ve used over the past 29 years and get new ones to get me to where I want to go in my 30’s.

The main difference, at least in my head, is really about feeling. I’m one of those people that avoids feelings like the plague.  I like to compartmentalize, avoid, work over/through and pretend that feelings are some alien concept to me until the cows come home (or populate the streets of Bangalore).  I think it’s because I’m terrified of what I feel. Half the time I don’t even know what I’m feeling, and the other half I pretend like they don’t exist.  I’m terrified of the work that it takes to actually face them head on.  Does this mean that I’ll never be successful? Will I turn into a bag of mush and never be able to leave my house through the sheer lack of will due to the terrible nature of this thing we call the human existence?  (Do I need to redefine my definition of success??)

These are the questions that terrify me and make me want to keep avoiding feelings for all of eternity.  Except…I know deep down that this is a terrible idea.  I know that avoiding my feelings got me this far, but I also know that if I want to be the best version of myself, I need to tap into this part of me that’s been dormant for 29 years.

What worries me? The fact that I already cry like a baby at movies like A Cinderella Story (yes, with HILLARY DUFF THAT ONE JUDGEY MC JUDGERSON). That’s with me TRYING to suppress these feelings.  My greatest fear is that I will be one hot mess that can’t even find the will to get up in the morning.

What do I have going for me? Well, I’ve already been a hot mess, and I figure I can get out of that so even if I do turn into a big bag of mush, I’ve been there.  I mean the hot mess bit.   And I’m sort of on the other side (at least to me it feels that way), so really this won’t be new.

I still think the potential upside far outweighs the downside.  Hot mess vs…a more fulfilled life? Yeah, I’ll take that.

What does this look like? I still don’t know.  But I’m starting from ground 0 again.  And if I’ve done it in a big way before, I’m probably going to avoid it.  Try something new.

What is this new stuff? I guess that will be the content of future blog posts.

To be continued.

I Don’t Know What My Perfect Life Looks Like

I know you’re not really supposed to say that, especially since I’m almost turning 30, but I’m kind of tired of stressing myself out with planning things. I do think there’s some benefit to some life plan, I mean it logically makes sense.  But I also know that I made a plan and nothing (literally, I mean nothing) went according to the plan.  And I love my life. Like seriously, I’m so lucky.  I could have never planned this.  And I spent so much energy beating myself up over having failed plans (or at least my subconscious did) when I could spend my time I don’t know…enjoying my life and being happy as a clam.

Maybe there’s a middle ground. The controlling side of me hates the idea of not planning anything.  And I do think that planning is somewhat useful.  But maybe it’s around the types of things we plan.

Or maybe there’s a different approach.  Maybe I know what I’m optimizing for.  Maybe I know that I’m trying to grow the most as a person, all the time.  Learn about the world and other humans and live a life of wonder and awe.  Maybe it’s around not knowing, but just making sure that there are ups and downs to everything, and you accept whatever consequences life gives you.  I just know one thing. I don’t want to live a life with regrets.

As women (hell, maybe men too) we think about time bound potential regrets:

  • I want to get married (is this one time bound anymore? Probably not?)
  • I want to have a kid

Ok wow. I have ONE. Having a child.  So this is what it’s all about.  I’m also starting to question this idea.  Do I want a kid of my own? Do I want a child? I have no idea.  I think at this point I could go either way.  And maybe that’s enough for now.

I used to think life is like a game of chess.  But seriously, do you really need to be planning the end game when you make the first move? I mean who are you playing against- God? Your higher self? Life is more like…Blackjack.  I think we’re all kind of swimming along and we take it as we comes. Sometimes you nail it, you beat the house.  And sometimes, it just all goes to shit. But at the end of the day, you have to enjoy playing.  Whether you win or lose.

But it kind of sucks if you’re trying to play Chess when really you need to be gearing up for Blackjack.  I feel like the mindspace is totally different for both.  Maybe that’s been my problem.

Who knows. Maybe I’ll have more information in a few years.

Sometimes The World Breaks You Down

It’s really funny because now that I’m reviewing all the things that I want to change (because you know what they say, if you keep doing the same thing expecting different results, that’s literally defined as insanity), I’m realizing that most of the things I want to change have me going back to the way I used to be.  And by used to be, I mean how I was growing up.  How I was back in high school.  How I was in college (at least the first two years).

I think the biggest difference is that I didn’t know what the real world felt like back then.  I didn’t have anyone telling me that I couldn’t do it, or my own experiences telling me how difficult things would be and how I’m just not measuring up (yet).  And I thought the way to cope with the world was to…assimilate. Believe the constructs people told me to believe.  Being nice doesn’t pay off.  Hard work isn’t enough.  You need to be doing the right thing.  You need to work your ass off to make it.  Oh yeah, you’re probably not going to make it.  You’re not going to make the money you think you’re going to make.  Life doesn’t work out the way you think.

And to be honest, a lot of that is true.  Except here’s the thing- the solution isn’t changing the ways I thought I needed to be changing.  In fact, the way to deal with it, turns out, is to be the way I used to be.  That’s the only way to really solve these problems.

I used to work so hard.  Now I know what I need to actually be working hard on the right things (because I have done most of the wrong things already).  I need to be optimistic.  But at the same time, I need to live in reality and accept that I’m wrong most of the time.  But guess what-so are you.  The only way to win is to accept it as fast as possible and change.  Oh yeah, you know what keeps people sane? Turns out, it’s actually gratitude. Life is just a bunch of data points, I prefer to string them together to form a narrative that brings me the most joy. Also, money is super important.  Really really important.  It may not be the only thing that makes you happy, but let me tell you, if you don’t have enough to pay your bills and live the life you want, it’s a bitch.  But you know what? If I work hard enough and I keep my eyes open to reality, the money will come.  It will.  I know it.  I don’t know how- oh wait. I do.  Because that’s the way I used to live before I stopped believing it could be that easy.  Let me redefine easy.  Facing the hard things, and putting in the work to get the things done that needs to get done.  Also, no is not really a word I was familiar with.  (Stubborn much?)   It just means you don’t see the win-win I am seeing.  So clearly, I’m just not articulate enough.  Solvable problem.  Everything is a solvable problem.  I’m also not made up of my emotions.  Emotions tell me something is off, but it doesn’t guide my decision making.  I make decisions from a state of joy.  Not fear.  Like when you go to the grocery store when you’re hungry.  Terrible idea.  Best example of fear based decision making though, turns out.  Learned my life lesson.

Finally, thanks Derek Sivers.  I’m really really really trying not to be a donkey.

This is what my jet lag is telling me.  I think it could be decently right though.

Happy Holidays

My 2016

I thought it was pretty crappy until I watched this video by Marie Forleo.  I liked the 3 questions she asked, and when I started viewing my 2016 that way, it actually wasn’t so bad.

  1. What did I do, create, or experience that I’m really proud of:
    1. Personal Finance: My personal finances were an absolute mess.  They were a shit show and a half.  I am so proud of the strides I have made there (which probably now brings me up to “potentially-maybe- functioning”, but I will take it). And I have two of my cousins to thank for that- Aarthi and Bharath.  They were kind of like…dude.  Ok we have a lot of work to do. Lets pull it together.  And they showed me how.  I appreciated it so much, because I feel so much more empowered now.  It was really embarrassing at first asking for help because then I had to admit that I was really really terrible at this stuff (which I figured most people know already and somehow I missed the boat), and they could have made me feel really bad about it, but they never did.  They helped me so much and were so non judgemental about it, I hope I can pass the favor on one day.  I have a long way to go but I sincerely appreciate all the help they’ve been, and their inspiration.
    2. My relationship with my boyfriend: Yeah that was really tough.  It was a tough year for both of us.  But I’m proud of us for sticking it through and working through the tough times.  I usually cut and run (which I can’t say I didn’t try to do, or consider doing), but this time I stuck with it, and I’m so happy I did.  That was real work, but I think the best relationships are.  Because through that work, I feel like I’m a better, less judgemental, more understanding person (or at least I hope I am!)
  2. What mistakes did I make that taught me something:
    1. Pivoting the business sooner: I knew deep down something was wrong way before I acknowledged it logically and did something about it.  Now, I know that if it doesn’t feel right, it’s not right.  Period.  Look into it, and figure out why.  Then change as fast as possible, or you will see massive explosive failures which light up the sky like fireworks.  Of your own pain and embarrassment.   Better sooner, and smaller fireworks, than later and large public displays for everyone to see. Yay.
    2. Don’t put out crappy work: You know how they say it’s better to put out something than nothing? That’s not always true.  I didn’t realize there was an important caveat: the caveat is that it has to achieve a certain level of excellence.  It doesn’t have to be perfect (i.e. better than nothing), but it also can’t be crappy- because then nothing really is better than something.  I’m guilty of totally putting out crappy work. And it’s really shameful and awful and I’ve been trying to turn it around the latter parts of this year.  But a good lesson.
    3. My word should be my word: I’m so guilty of being flakey, it’s kind of insane.  I have good intentions, but a lot of times I don’t exactly monitor what comes out of my mouth and suddenly I hear myself making these promises and I”m like..wait what? Can I actually do that? Yeah.  That bites me in the butt.  So I’m working on not saying things which I can’t actually do.  At least to the best of my knowledge.
  3. What am I willing to let go of: My limiting beliefs.
    1. “If I work too hard, my friends and family won’t love me”- I didn’t even realize I was thinking that until recently.  But that is such shit. Of course they will love me.  I think they’d rather I not be broke.
    2. “If I create a successful company, I won’t have time to spend time with people I care about”- uhhh…how about we create a successful company first and see what happens, huh? Also, I’m free to let go of anything I don’t want to do.  So at any point, if I don’t like something, guess what.  I don’t have to do it. How about I get myself in a position to actually make this choice, instead of pre-deciding these things?! Sheesh.

That was my year in review.  What does yours look like?

This Video Is Blowing My Mind

Ok exaggeration, but I feel like I resonate with so many things in this video that I do- I didn’t even realize it was a terrible phenomenon!

My friend sent me this video by Simon Sinek about millenials in the workplace.  I think I’m right on the border but it seems like nobody can agree on what the cutoff is.  The Atlantic says it’s people born between between 1982 and 2004 and I have no reason to disagree with the Atlantic so lets go with that.  Anyway, I think I fit because a lot of the things they talk about hold true for me.

I definitely have this idealized version of what I want to do in the world.  Sometimes I think it’s pretty entitled, but I’m not sure where to draw the line between entitled and I Have  A Dream, Martin Luther King style.

I think it has to do with what needs to happen to make your dream happen.  I think it’s basically…are you living in reality? I think the things I have a hard time with, and the thing a lot of people have a hard time with (and by a lot, the data points I have gathered include two friends I spoke to yesterday in San Francisco, so yes now they are representative of ” a lot of people”) but it has to do with the fact some good things in life take time.  We were discussing that yesterday.  Somehow, though it sounds logical, in practice, I don’t think we take the time to acknowledge that.

I’ve learned that the hard way too I think.  Lots of failures- and a lot of failure has to do with my own ideas on how long things will take.  I really like this article that the same friend sent me a few months ago, which addresses this point.  Good things are painful, and awful, but at the end of the day, rewarding.

I have come to the conclusion that MOST good things in life take time. And by time, I don’t mean days, or weeks or even months.  I think they take YEARS.

So now new questions arise: In this new timescape, how do you prioritize?  Especially since we don’t have to do everything at once, and also, since sometimes you can start with small steps on one thing and bigger steps on another thing, how do you make sure you’re covering your bases?

I tried a few methods other people have but it just feels overwhelming. Le sigh.  Maybe I need to experiment more.

I Thought Dreams Died After You Had Children

I have realized that is just plain false.  A quote by Derek Sivers is quite relevant here, I think.  In an interview they asked him what advice he would give his 30 year old self. I listened intently as, well, I would be the target audience. He said, don’t be a donkey. Let me explain.  The story goes that a donkey was stuck between eating hay and drinking water.  He was hungry and thirsty and wanted to eat and drink at the same time but couldn’t do both so he was paralyzed into doing nothing.  So he died. Of hunger AND thirst.  So here’s the thing.  We can do everything we want to, it just doesn’t have to be RIGHT NOW.  That hit home for me.  I don’t have to do everything right now.  Or today. Or even tomorrow.  Sometimes it’s ok to put things off for later.  But I can start working on little bits of it now.

I think the moms I know do it best.  My cousins wife, mother of twins, does an amazing job of that.  She has dreams and she has a life but that doesn’t take anything away from being an amazing mom.  Same with my godchild’s mother, my friend Prajakta.  She still travels and thinks about her career and such, but again, is still an amazing mom.  Are their dreams the same as when they didn’t have kids? Probably not.  But why is that any better or worse?  They’re still dreams, they still excite you and you can still pursue them. Just..in a different way than before.

I guess maybe I’m stating the obvious, but I suppose I have this really warped view of the world and I’m only starting to realize that.  The world isn’t as terrible as the news makes it out to be.  It’s actually quite decent, turns out.  

When You Are Your Own Biggest Dream Crusher

Lately, my day has been starting with WTF Anu.  WHAT ARE YOU SAYING.  Is that what you really think about yourself and what you want to do with your life?  Just kidding- that’s what it SHOULD have started out with, instead of just being in a funk and accepting the heresy that my brain tells me, about myself and my life, as absolute truth.

Turns out, I’m my own biggest dream crusher. Of all time.  Kind of like Candy Crush, but much more sinister, and less fun. My problem is that now that I’m heading home, I remember all the things that everyone says about how I’m making (X,Y,Z) decision totally wrong. And I’m screwing up my life.  And I’ll regret it forever.

Also I’m probably killing puppies.  Not really, but the way they look at me, you’d think I was.

I have mostly realized that I don’t really have an absolute plan.  If I say anything otherwise, it’s mostly lies.  Apparently, this goes against nature, mankind, God, and Monday Night Football.  I’m only assuming this, because it seems to be heretic to say these things.  It is unfathomable to not have a, come hell or high water, this is what I will do plan.

And by plan, maybe because I’m a woman, or maybe because my ovaries expire soon and I can’t get a refund or whatever, my plan needs to include a man. A man plan.  Hell, at this point maybe a woman would be ok.  I’m not really sure.  It doesn’t matter.  Point is, significant others need to be involved in this plan.  Because I won’t be able to procreate and make sure our human species doesn’t die out.  Because we are close to extinction and me spreading my genes will save us from destruction.  Oh wait. That’s a different Will Smith movie.  Right.

Which begs the question, WHY AM I TRYING TO ANSWER QUESTIONS WHICH I HAVE NO ANSWERS TO?! And more importantly, why is my brain beating me up for not being able to answer these questions? It’s like those kids that just keep asking why all the time.  At first it’s cute, then it makes you think and you are happy to think about it, but after the 5th why, you’re just over it.  It’s really unproductive and annoying. I’m at the 6th Why. Now it’s just tiring.

I can’t tell you why I choose to do the things I do.  And more importantly, why do I need to? And why do I feel inadequate for not having answers? Does that make these decisions wrong? No. I think it just makes them hard to explain. Two very different things.

That’s the hard thing about hard things.  Sometimes they don’t make sense.  You just need to jump and hope you fly.  And if you don’t, know that you won’t die, and you can try again tomorrow.

After all, isn’t tomorrow another  day or something?