• B R E A T H E •

Dear Beatrice,

You’re doing the thing again: writing a letter to yourself.

You’ve been doing that a lot this past year: reflecting, asking yourself these big scary questions and finally having some much needed introspection time.

But this letter is doubly special, you see. It’s the start of the New Year and of a new decade. *dramatic pause for that to sink in* And no, we’re not going to be making resolutions in this letter cause we already know how you feel on that matter.

How did you get here, Bea?

2019 was many things and by far the most challenging year of your life but you survived it. It’s like you’ve lived out an entire decade in the span of just one year. That’s how intense it’s been but you fought tooth and nail and you’ve come out of the battle victorious.

2019 was a year of many trials, heartaches and essentially life-changing experiences. You’ve felt ‘stuck’ for a long time now in so many ways; in your career path, in your relationships, with yourself. Like time is slipping away, the whole world is moving forward and leaving you behind.

You need to stop examining your life under such a prejudiced magnifying glass. Do not fret any longer on whether the events of 2019 were for the good or the bad. All things happen for a reason and the one thing you have control over is your attitude, your reactions and how you take life in its stride.

The decade ahead is going to be a life-changing one. You will continue to find yourself as you grow and make choices that will set the foundation for the rest of your journey. You’ve had a rough time and in no way is this an invalidation of your struggles but you should no longer allow the past or the things you cannot control to be an obstacle to you finding happiness.

That happiness you seek? It starts with you.

From the past, present and future Beatrice to the one currently reading this letter at any point in time or space: as you embark upon the grand adventures that life has in store for you, here are some things to keep in mind:

Stop being so hard on yourself.

You need to cut yourself some slack and give yourself more credit. Why are you so forgiving of everyone else but yourself? You think that being hard on yourself brings out the best in you, and it has, but it’s also chipped away, little by little, at your self-esteem and warped your sense of pride.

You don’t own your victories anymore, you just sweep them under the rug and set your sights on a taller mountain to climb when you’ve barely caught your breath from conquering the last one.

Stop. Stop giving unlimited chances to everyone while sparing none for yourself. Show yourself the kindness you reserve for the rest of the world. Believe me when I say: you are far more deserving of it.

Create your own (Bea)utiful.

You’ve taken the road less traveled by. It takes real guts and bravery to choose the path you have and stick to it. And I get it.

It’s hard and very lonely sometimes. You look around and see everyone else going about things a simpler way, having ‘fun’ and enjoying their youth. Never ever give into that thought process. You’re digging yourself a grave there, Bea.

Remember: you have real gumption. You’ve always been ahead of your years and yeah, gaining that maturity so young, so fast came with a price but look at all you’ve gained in the process. Look at the warrior you’ve become.

Creating a meaningful life for yourself and achieving your dreams means challenging not only yourself but the world. People will try to dissuade you when they see you doing something different. You’ve encountered this before and you will again: those who want to take away your special spark. Did you let them? Have you ever?

Surround yourself with positivity.

You’ll soon realize the sacrifices you’ve made by taking the road less traveled by: they’ll get you to exactly where you need to be. What you’ve dreamt of.

And you will no longer fret on giving up simpler pleasures, on trading in the fleeting and short-lived ecstasies for a life of genuine and lasting joy and meaning that you’ve created for yourself.

Celebrate everything.

You are exactly where you’re meant to be right now. Live all your moments, even the tiny ones that seem insignificant because trust me, they’re not.

There might be moments where you feel like you’ve lost yourself and you’re unsure of the things that seemed so unshakeable before. But that’s okay. That’s how life keeps you on your toes.

Believe in yourself and your path, even if it isn’t so clear. Take each day as it comes and don’t project too much onto the future. Give it some space to grow, take shape and unravel from the wonderful mystery that it is on its own.

And while life unravels, delight in every little thing it shows you: the bad and the good.

Let go.

You hold on far too long to the things that hurt you: to the people that don’t deserve your love, to the memories that were of a past you are no longer tied to and to your own self-destructive thoughts that keep you from living in the now.

You live in two worlds and in neither of them do you live for yourself. Stop bleeding yourself dry for the things that are simply not worth it.

And I know what you’ll say. It’s what you always do: you make excuses and keep hoping for a turnaround in the things you can’t control.

“It’s complicated.” “It’s not that simple.”

Except, Beatrice, it really is.

Stop doing everyone else a kindness and do one for yourself: let. fucking. go.

Have the grace to let go of the things, of the people and of the choices that are not meant for you. Not everything that crosses your path will be there forever. People come and go. Some leave lasting magic, others disappointment. Do not hold animosity against anyone but appreciate the experiences they leave you with. Learn from them.

It will be okay. At the end of the day, you’ve always been standing on your own two feet.

All you are guaranteed is yourself, never forget this.

L I V E

Life is this great, big, beautiful unknown.

You will realize, time and time again, the vulnerabilities you’ve felt in your darkness is not weakness at all in the light of a new day. Reading this letter won’t cut it. You’ll have to live the pain, live the joys, live all the little hurts that make you real.

I see you, Beatrice. Peering into the darkness and uncertainties of the path ahead of you, sporting a grin. You try to hide that your hands are shaking as you fidget to try and turn on the flashlight for illumination, for just a little clue into what you’re walking into. Here’s what I want you to do.

You take that flashlight, turn right around, face the blinding light from the past 22 years that you’ve already lived and throw it as hard as you can. Throw it into the face of certainty, throw it into the chapters of your life that are already done.

Now, turn back, take a deep, steady breath, face your future and start walking.

You don’t need that flashlight, Beatrice.

You are the light.

• aethereal •

‘what a Dreamer,’ they scoff, throwing the word my way upon seeing the distance in my starry-eyed gaze. i pay no mind to their condescending tones, their earthly ways – no.

in.stead

i lift my eyes and
/ trace the edges of the velvet sky /
i touch the stars with my finger tips and
* bring the sparkle to my lips *
so my words may shine the light of a thousand suns 
and it burns me
( till i am nothing but a shadow of what i used to be )

in.stead

i glimmer,
i dazzle,
i thrive.

so faraway from the world
from the souls that tethered me to a lie
of what i am, of what i should be 
when i could be

more

and so i do not close

my star-bound eyes

that stare into the æther.

they call me a Fool and i smile

i may be a  Dreamer, darling

but at least i’m 

∞ a l i v e ∞

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2k18: An Atypical New Year’s

I woke up this morning to a buzzing somewhere near my ear. It went on for a couple seconds then paused before returning with a persistence that forced me to crack an eye open only to wince immediately. My phone screen lit up the darkness of the room and the top corner of the screen read 7:15 a.m. It was too early. But of course the concept of ‘too early’ is lost on New Year’s Day, the first day of the year where several souls promise to start fresh, bright and early. However, this does not apply to me – the queen of procrastination. I simply shut off my phone, rolled over and went back to a blissful sleep.

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Me, pretty much. (Not my work though but you should check out Cassandra Calin’s comics here if you haven’t already seen her work!)

My Instagram and Facebook feed were flooded with updates of people partying their way into the New Year. It was nice seeing everyone having fun but for the remainder of the night, I shut off my phone and lay in bed, binge-watching Gintama and sneaking in some midnight snacks, all the while selectively ignoring the loud shouts and celebratory fireworks from the streets.

Now don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against New Year’s and the whole idea of ending one chapter and starting another with a blank page waiting to be filled. Some people dig that and I respect their opinions. But personally, I’ve grown out of the phase of New Year festivities and making resolutions. And here’s why.

New Year’s often goes hand in hand with starting another 365 days of your life with a blank slate. I’m all in for that but time and time again, I’ve seen friends and people around me misinterpret the idea of a ‘new beginning’ and in the place of fresh starts, create ‘new excuses’ to run away from their problems. Heck, I’ve done it myself.

Yes. It is a new year and yes, it is an opportunity. But yesterday’s demons aren’t going to vanish overnight and rather than try to get rid of them or forget them all together, why not try to find new ways to handle them instead?

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Leave behind the past in a healthy manner, the things that don’t make you happy. Leave behind the negativity, the things that aren’t worth your time, the relationships that have taken more of you away than given you what you deserve. Leave behind the doubts, the hate, the jealousy. Throw out all the bad and in its place, make space for a renewed sense of hope.

Yet never forget the person you are today is because of all those experiences.  Wear ’em like armor and march forward into the future, shouldering the memories of what has already passed but carrying the confidence of someone ready to face just about anything  life can throw their way.

As for resolutions, I think they’re utter hogwash. You can yell at me but nothing you say will change my mind. Why wait an entire year to make a change in your life when you could start any day? Anyone committed to actually making a difference in their life would start pronto. Yes, January 1st is the symbolic start of a new chapter but the journey of change doesn’t follow the same calendar. It has its own clock: your clock. 

People get so pumped up about their New Year’s resolutions and it’s all fun and good for a while before it fizzes out after a week or two, a month at the most, the reasons often being: ‘life happened’ or ‘who am I kidding? I set the bar too high!’

‘Resolution’…the word carries weight. Let’s not make it lose it’s meaning. It shouldn’t just be a temporary, 24-hour buzz that simmers away with the mind-numbing effect of the alcohol from the New Year’s party-bash. It should be a fire, fueled by determination, that burns through the entire 365 days of the next year. And for the people that actually set resolutions and follow them through, kudos to you.

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In a nutshell, I believe that I don’t have to wait an entire year for a new beginning. Every single day is a new beginning and anyone who wants to really change something about their life would see it as such. My yearly resolution is usually “become a better version of yourself”. To improve. But this year, I’ve decided to scrap that one off too.

I want to have 365 New Year’s celebrations packed into 2018. I want to soldier through the hardships and win the tough battles. But I also want to lose from time to time so I don’t forget what it means to pick myself off the ground and learn to fight again. I will remember the thorns of the past year but not let it scare me from healing, if only to have my heart bleed once more. Every single day will be a new beginning and I simply wish to live each one.

So let’s all raise our glasses (or in my case, mug of hot cocoa) to the year that’s ended; here’s to all the tears of both joy and sadness, to the nights we’ll never forget, to the companions that have stuck by our side and to the ones that may have strayed. Here’s to the dreams we conquered and the ones we didn’t, to the madness we created; to the stolen kisses, the broken hearts and to the people that we’ve become. It doesn’t matter if it’s the 31st of December or the 18th of April.

Yesterday’s ending will always be today’s beginning – but the journey and how we decide to get there lays in our hands.

Start it right.

Greater Heights (#munnardiaries)

We started off the next day, bright and early, with a number of places visit on our itinerary.

First stop – Mattupetty Dam. The infamous dam is known for being one of the most essential sources of power for the state of Kerala through its conservation of water for hydroelectricity. The tiny travel pamphlet I had on me also stated that it was a common visiting ground for elephants. Unfortunately, we didn’t bump into any at our time there but again, the view of the landscape and the large body of water proved its magnificence.

Next up was Top Station! The drive to the highest point on Munnar took a while but the cool air coupled with the nature that surrounded us made it a beautiful journey. Luckily for us, despite the telltale signs of rainfall in the sky, the view waiting for us at Top Point was not at all shrouded by the clouds.

1700 meters high, it felt close enough to touch the heavens. Sometimes, you visit places and see things that’ll never quite leave you. That’s what Top Station was like. It wasn’t just the spectacular view that etched a permanent picture in my mind but that feeling of being so faraway from…everything, far enough to liberate me from everything that was waiting down on Earth.

Mom, dad and I spent a good hour there before the growling of our stomachs got the better of us and we decided to head back to town to grab lunch.

On our way back, we made a brief stop at the infamous Echo Point. As its name would suggest, the river bank carries with it the natural phenomenon of an echo coming back to those who shout their lungs out at the spot. There was an abundance of greenery, as expected, with the lake in the middle and tall trees surrounding the forest on the other side.

It was crowded too, with families and kids standing near the edge of the bank and screaming their names, waiting with bated breath to hear their voice echo back to them. I wish I could say I’d shouted something too but I had settled for watching the others do it with a smile on my face.

And of course, without fail, we took a few more pictures there too.

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I think what I took away most from that day wasn’t just the hundreds of photographs or the aesthetic pleasure of witnessing nature at its finest. But the weightlessness of just being.

Living in the city, amidst the rush of life as a university student and surrounded by throngs of people that all have an agenda of their own, I am forced to move along with the crowd and toward a future that I am both excited and scared for. But at that moment, I didn’t feel any of that.

All I did was simply…exist. And sometimes, we need to take a step back and realize what a blessing that is in and of itself.

Winds of Change

On my twentieth birthday, I had a realization.

Reflecting on the past two decades of my life, I’ve accomplished a lot I should be proud of. I survived a school life spread apart five different countries, received academic awards and merit for all my hard work, aced my A-levels and I’m currently conquering my way through a triple-degree that’s not as pretty as it sounds.

With one year left of university, I should happily proclaim the achievements under my belt. I’m a Distinction holder with a pretty good GPA, and an Associate of the Insurance Institute of India.I have a Diploma in Management Accounting under CIMA and I wrote a research paper in first year. I’m one of the founding members of my department magazine...yada yada yada. 

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My parents have a huge smile on their face when they speak of me and that’s possibly the one thing that makes me happy – that I’ve made them proud. But none of these achievements give me the pride I should have for myself. I know just how much blood, sweat and tears I put in and yet in the place of pride and joy, I feel a cold numbness. Because all these accomplishments have been on the academic front, for which I had to put my personal aspirations on the back-burner.

I don’t know at what point my academic achievements stopped meaning something to me. I hated being defined by a number. Studying and consuming knowledge in the field of accounting and business no longer gave me the excitement it used to. Despite the sudden monotony my life took on, I didn’t let it bring down my momentum. I worked unfeeling, like a machine, and continued to deliver as I always do. All the while, I couldn’t shake off the overwhelming sadness of not being able to feel happy about the fruits of my own labour. On the outside, it was all smiles and rainbows. My mind, however, had transformed into a hellscape.

Over the past year especially, my mental health took a turn for the worse – my anxiety acted up, insomnia got worse and all of it reflected on my physical health. I barely slept and at the wrong times, ate either too much or too little or nothing at all. Nothing interested me anymore. Each morning, I just wanted to stay in bed because there was nothing motivating me to stand on my own two feet.

I had several personal goals I had hoped to achieve by the summer of 2017. To have my next book released through a publishing house and to have completed the first draft of a new series. To have an active blog and Youtube channel, and to have learned to play the guitar so I could make more of my own compositions and possibly some music covers.

On my twentieth birthday, I realized how much I missed it all. How much I missed feeling something – the excitement and nervousness. How much I missed actually enjoying the work I put into my goals, as an artist and as a student. How much I missed seizing the opportunities I’d had to do something real. I resented how much time I had devoted to certain things, certain people – commitments that did more harm than good and devotion I could have put to better use for my own dreams.

I realized I need to stop and just breathe. I need to decide what is worth my time, who is worth sparing my overly sentimental heart on and stick to my goals. I need to stop living for others and learn to live for myself.

I need to change.

I’m only twenty years old and I still have a long path ahead of me. I will stumble and fall as I have over the past year and I do not need to justify my failures, nor should I rationalise the meaning of my hard work to anyone as long as I know what it means to me. I will  prove to myself that my dreams can come true.

In conclusion, to quote a few lines from Victor E. Frankl’s inspiring book, “Man’s Search for Meaning”, “It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us.”

I am going to punch life’s lights out.
Bring it on!

Weigh My Heart.

Kiss your own fingertips
and hug your own curves.
You are made of waves and honey
and spicy peppers when it is necessary.
You are a goddess,
I hope you haven’t forgotten.

I am a mute receiver of fat jokes.

People sometimes look at the top of my head and crack a laugh that I’m a 19 year old grandma due to my premature greying.

Bad skin. Brace-face. Lumbering giant. 

I hear these tiny jabs and I laugh but if people were ever to see the words I carry with me, they would know of the weight their careless whispers are capable of bearing on my soul.

As someone who’s been on both ends of the ‘beauty-scale’ that society so deems, it never fails to disgust me the double-standards that are placed upon us. When I used to look thin, people scrutinized me for ‘never eating’, for having less curves. On the other hand, now when I look a little chubby, people point out my ‘rolls of fat’, suggest I should join the gym and stop ‘pigging out’. All these subtle hints at pretending to look out for me do the opposite effect and destroy my confidence, because they aren’t just hints…they are judgments.

There’s no ‘in between’. Nothing is ever good enough. You’ll never be good enough. 

It’s a struggle I face everyday. My confidence has grown leaps and bounds compared to a couple years ago when the chase for perfection led to a dark time ridden with anxiety and the thought that I’m not worthy as a human being. Because that’s how deep those words can run, and that’s why it’s important to realize that you and I don’t need to be tied down by society’s flawed perception of perfection.

Weigh my heart, not my body. 

Look me in the eye when I speak and see the fire in them, the passion, instead of joking about how many calories I need to burn. Watch me live my dreams and meet every single goal I set for myself, rather than joke about how going to the gym would be a better use of my time. Try and see how much your words can kill my sense of self-worth, and think again before you speak out of ‘good intentions’.

I am a warrior because I’ve learned to pick myself up when you put me down and remember that I am beautiful in any and every form. I’ve learned to love myself, accept my flaws and continuously strive to make myself a better person in the ways that actually matter. You should too. Because if you don’t love yourself, how can you expect others to? As my good ol’ friend Charlie said, “We accept the love we think we deserve.”

Prove to yourselves that you are your own hero. The one person that’ll stay by your side forever is yourself. Love that person. Look yourself in the mirror and appreciate every little thing there is to you – beyond what there is to see. Because as the saying goes, beauty is skin deep.

But your heart and soul weigh so much more.

 

Don’t.

I’m sick.

I’m sick of people thinking they know me when they don’t.
I’m sick of caring about what these ignorant fools say when that’s all their words really are: ignorant.

Don’t think you know all of me when you see the coals of my eyes glitter like falsified gems. Don’t think you can define me by the numbers that attach themselves to my self-worth. Don’t think you can pass the final verdict on my disposition as the Big Bad Bitch.

And if you do, don’t think I care.

Because I’ve learnt not to waste my time on people like you who think what they see is what they get.

I’ve learnt to be free.

Inspired by DailyPost
(although funnily enough, I wrote this exactly an hour before the prompt was out – ’twas meant to be!)