Do you believe in something or are you just following? (and how often do you ask this to yourself?)

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Can you think of 1 idea that unites millions of people around the world and yet divides them at the same time? An idea that bonds hearts and brings love and yet stirs hate and contempt? An idea that brings so much good and yet terrible evil to the world around us?

This 1 idea may fascinate you or make you cringe in disgust. But it will not go away anytime, whether you like it or not.

It is Religion….but wait, that’s not the full answer yet.

Now before you classify me as some atheist who denounces religion..let me assure you I am not. I practice a faith but yet have observed many religions and seen how this simple concept has sprouted a range of effects on our world. But if you observe closely with a rational distance, you may realize that it is not exactly religion by itself that has accomplished all of the above.

But we all need to believe in something, don’t we? Whether it is a faith, values, a code or science, we do have to place our beliefs somewhere. Living without any central personal belief is like a barren land, full of void and death. And the void is so discomforting, empty and souless that we desperately search for a truth to fill that void. We just need to believe in something. Anything!

And that is where your answer to the above question comes in…That one idea is Organized Religion. Is it just another word? Maybe…but look at the world around us closely and you realize that there are differences between a faith and organized religion. And the systems of faith that run the world today are all Organized Religions.

A faith is simply a belief. Organized Religions are “mind controlling” governments based on a Faith.

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So you believe in a Supreme being or you don’t. Whatever the case, you will have your own way of life. But Organized Religion is truly a ruling structure that uses the Faith and our needs to believe to build a commanding presence over every aspect of our lives. It is no wonder that while Faith is generally based on a ethereal Being, Organized Religion is usually heavily based on a human personality, be it Jesus, Buddha, Mohammad…and many a times…the writings and sayings of these people are usually reproduced by people and saints (and by hearsay) who came generations after them. So, you actually have no proper way to discern whether such rules, traditions or behavior was truly the way of the “Prophets”.

That’s the irony…“the more mountains of data you have about some person, the less you actually really know him/her.

A Faith generally links an individual to a Creator or The Universe. Organized Religion is a Hierarchy that “religious scholars” use to control large amounts of people and tell them what to do.

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Churches, mosques, temples and religious bodies know that organized religion offers a bounty of ways to influence and create a following which a mere Faith alone can’t. You can invent traditions, cults, and your own laws that are supposedly “inspired” by those prophets or deities and use them to preach and entrance people to follow along. And surprisingly, there are large amounts of people who would just follow along in all of these without any question. if there is any form of government that has held unquestioned power over people over centuries, it is Organized Religion. And why is that?

Organized Religion is pillared by the sheer volume of followers and Powerful Preachers

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If you were in a church filled with thousands of believers singing and praising, would you dare stand up and voice a doubt about the Pastor or of the message he preaches? The emotions in Churches sweep so powerfully across people that it is almost impossible to find a distance to be skeptical. Think Groupthink. Unless you want to be frowned or worse, in some cases, punished, you would not dare voice an opposition there. Ever wondered why Congregation and Gatherings are a big part of every Organized Religion?

And oh yes, these emotions are usually manufactured by some powerful saint. The Pope, the captivating Pastor, the Shekih or religious scholars or some leader who has the charms and charisma to stir groups onto their feet. Think Joel Osteen. Think Zakir Naik. Look at the powerful passionate following they have. They don’t just have followers like we do on WordPress. They have armies and they know full well how to keep these crowds alive and engaged. And the larger these armies get, the more easier it becomes to attract new people.

(I am a fan of Joel Osteen, btw)

A Faith promises Redemption and Peace. Organized Religion promises much more…

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What does the Qu’ran offer a believer for being Faithful? A “Garden of Peace and Springs”…the Satisfaction and Mercy of the Lord…but what do the so-called “clerics” say that Paradize has? Gold…pleasures of all kinds..maidens..72 virgins..none of which are actually promised in the Faith itself…but all so alluring to eager believers who just want more and more. If you have heard of the “Prosperity Gospel”, you know..some promise fortune, great tidings, victory..these words are so captivating…you cannot not want to believe..then you look at some of these Pastors..in their huge mansions, sports cars, beautiful families..successful books and seminars and you wonder..

That’s when the Pastor raises his hand and thanks God for all the Blessings that have rained down on him for being steeped in religion. Well, you should also pay close attention to the times when they preach about Charity and Good Causes and then suddenly the donation collectors go around and with thousands of followers, the coffers fill…no they overflow with gold.

“Us vs Them”

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If you thought following traditions blindly was dumb, this is where it gets dangerous. Organized Religion is known to stir its followers into violence. Of course, Christianity has had its terrible History but it seems that the Organized form of Islam has taken its place. I have observed such hate messages in both churches, mosques and temples and I think I feel the reason why. The Pastor identifies a particular group that is “devious” and “evil” or the “unredeemed”. They preach about how this group is out to destroy their faith and strangely, this seems to unite the followers tighter. The creating of”enemies” bonds the group and allows these “leaders” to stir emotions of hatred. It also closes the followers minds to other values of other cultures and thus closes their minds to reason.

These “enemies” could be “The Humanists”, “The Secular Space”, “The Gays”, “The West”, “The Americans”. Christian Pastors and Muslim Clerics are equally guilty of this crime and even the older Popes in the Middles Ages have waged wars on this dynamic.

So what, then is the alternative?

I am not a Priest or Scholar or a Pastor. I don’t have any solutions but I guess we could all do well with Reason and our Faith. Question the traditional practices and really feel whether it is what God wants of us or just some supposed practice that someone preaches in the name of your Faith. Open our eyes and question yourself, your faith. The Qu’ran tells Muslims to do that and so do many other faiths. And if there is one Faith that is so marred by Organized Religion today, it is Islam.

Organized Religion will continue to prevail because unlike Faith, which is based on God and Nature, it is based on Power. and Power is irresistible and there will always be new “Saints” who are hungry for that power. So some Organised Religions may bring good to our world, many of them need to be critiqued and questioned and tested against their own Faiths.

SO the next time you hear your pastor, your scholar, your sheikh or someone talk about the way things should be and the way people should be…ask yourself what is it that you are really believing in.

We all need something to believe in. Let that just be a Faith.

[These are just observations and my personal thoughts that I have shared with a distanced and rational view on Religion and in no way is this a outrage or attack against any of your Faiths. You may agree or disagree and I welcome both. If this post offended you in any way, I graciously apologize.]

Image Credits

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Why you should harness the power of shifting? (and what it does to those around you)

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“I would never die for my beliefs as I might be wrong”  Bertrand Russell

Do you believe in something so absolutely that it blots out anything contrary to it? You may have a Faith, values, principles and opinions through which your lenses capture the world around you and through which you make judgement.

And often, you may praise a person with this strong devotion to such beliefs and principles as a “mature and disciplined individual” and you may glorify such people when their values are the same as yours. But looking at the world today, especially with social media, I believe you and I may need to value another skill immensely. What is that, you ask?

It is the difficult but yet powerful skill of “Value shifting”.

Anyone who is familiar with the X-men series would have admired the powers of Mystique who can effortlessly morph into any individual she sees. She may have used her powers on the surface and for deceptive purposes but the power of shifting yourself into various personalities, cultures and beliefs can be used for much good, and much good for a very globalized and mobile world we live in today.

A white person “shifting” into a person of colour. A man “shifting” into a woman..A heterosexual “shifting” into a homosexual..A parent “shifting” into a child..A person of faith “shifting” into an atheist…All of these and Vice versa.

“That’s insane! ” Some might say. What’s the point of having beliefs and values if you don’t stick to them with a super-glued bond? The complex problem is, our world is becoming much more global and we are getting exposed to a bounty of cultures, lifestyles and belief systems. They may be in your country, your neighborhoods and even your news feeds. You may be the majority or you may be the minority but you are a player in the game.

At the heart of it all, the prize of this skill is empathy, something which you may feel is so lacking but has plenty of benefits to offer you. It frees you from your current state of mind and sometimes our states imprison us and lock us into our shells. It gently opens your mind  and heart to receive sprinkles of knowledge about the others that you may not identify with.. It widens your lens of the world, letting you see a brighter image, a greater range of colours and truly appreciating the beauty of a co-existing world.

It frees a man to embrace his “feminine” side and harnessing its power without being labelled as “sissy, faggot or gay” or being trapped in a “always macho manly” state. It empowers a woman to float into a “masculine” arena, letting her display her strengths, prowess and independence without being outcast as “butch, tomboy or aggressive”.

There is nothing wrong in me being an Asian and adoring Western values and I don’t see why that makes me a hypocrite or wanna be. There is nothing blasphemous in me being a Muslim and thinking of the world where the notion of “God” is absent. It doesn’t make me a disbeliever.

The world is in its state today because people cling on to beliefs and tradition in such a way that it becomes a dried and swampy quick sand. People refusing to tolerate that, just like this planet has its endless variety of lifeforms, there are an enormous variety of  people, races and beliefs which all have their entitlement for existence.

I would invite you then to take a moment to lay aside your hierachy, whether you are superior or inferior. Free yourself from the bonds of your gender, male or female, to be like a rainbow that is comprised of many colours. What would that be like? Do you feel freedom? Confusion? Conflict?

Perhaps just as the morphing mystique is still a mutant white woman underneath her blue morphing skin, underneath all your “shiftings”, you can be who you are truly. You can still uphold your way of life, your Faith and your values but the experiences of all those “shiftings” may have given you the ability to really see things from the other’s point of view. You may or may not agree with it but at least you have taken a step into that person’s position and felt his/her struggles, their desires and aspirations. Even if not identical, they are as valid as yours.

I may not be a “rooted individual” in doing this but that’s not what I aim for. I would rather make you smile by appreciating our differences rather than sinking my roots in and sowing conflict. Even strongly uprooted trees can be ripped off when a tornado blasts through.

I invite your views whether in agreement or rejection. I will “shift” into your position to understand why.

Image Credit: www. my-xmen.com

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A question that can make you feel a whole lot better- (it’s well known but easily forgotten)

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Have you ever pondered over a situation so bad that it gave you a splitting headache? Or you put in a whole lot of effort to achieve something but ended up crashing and failing and feeling terrible? Or been in a loving relationship that just broke into pieces?

The events I described above are the extremes but day in and day out (even through the nights), you are thrust into various situations, some you skillfully ace and come out shining, others with a bruised eye and mud on your face. Just thinking of the outcomes alone is daunting and fires a hectic torrent of stress in your body.

And stress, it seems is surely not going down the scale.  A study in America has shown that those ages 18-33 — the Millennial generation — are plenty stressed, and it’s not letting up: 39% say their stress has increased in the past year; 52% say stress (and not sex) has kept them awake at night in the past month. And more than any other age group, they report being told by a health care provider that they have either depression or an anxiety disorder.

Although it is natural to experience stress, you don’t have to live with it. And with today’s pace of life, it is all easier blogged than done. Perhaps You and I ponder over too many questions in any given experience. Will I fail? Is this right? Could I have done it better? What did I do to deserve this? and of course not leaving out “Why me?”

These questions naturally will race towards us and brooding over them is inevitable. But if there is 1 philosophy that I believe that will help you in picking yourself up and going on tough, it is this:

Just ask yourself this question: “Will this event matter to me 5 years from now? If yes, why and if no, why not?”

It’s one of those thoughts that has always been around but you may not have given it enough attention. So, you could do yourself a huge favor and keep this question in your brain’s “FAQ” (Frequently Asked Questions) section. Because at the core of it all, i think this is what matters for anyone of us. An enduring outcome and mindset rather than focusing on a short term injury that is known to heal.

If you have ever embarrassed yourself or been ridiculed in a group, it certainly feels like crap.But you only damage yourself if your carry that embarrassment on your shoulder for the years to come. Whatever that you have ended up in, people may remember it now or tomorrow, but they easily forget what is not their experience. Hey, we live in such hurried times that people can’t even recall what they ate for breakfast 2 days ago, do you think they would bother keeping your negative experience in their memory slot just for recall? Not a chance, but if they do, then you know precisely who to stay away from.

Ultimately, you and I are likely to be the ones who beat ourselves up for our mistakes and mishaps and play it on a auto recall loop. Most, and almost plenty of times, most of our blunders will barely cause a ripple beyond 3 years. A host of mixed teenage experiences I have had to testify to this and I am pretty sure your past may be an example as well.

So, “Will this event matter to me 5 years from now? If yes, why and if no, why not?” The question comes from you and the significant answers come from you as well. After all, in the end, that’s what matters. You can ask yourself this whenever you win or lose, make it or break it, or when happy or sad. And as you ponder over this, take time to breathe and reflect.

5 years from now, you will know the answer or at best, you are somewhere better and haven’t even thought about your troubles anymore.

Image Credit: http://estrangedfamilies.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/embarrassed-moshfeka_b.jpg

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How do you see beauty in the dark?

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“You are really lucky to be this black and yet this successful”. That line from Oscar Winner Lupita Nyong’s speech strikes sharp cord to me as well as anyone who falls outside the white/fair colour group. I knew what the resounding message was going to be: “It doesn’t matter how light or dark you are, beauty has no colour or shade..you are beautiful inside”.

I applaud her for her courage and determination and many of you would have done the same. Many people of various colours (white included) have wrote comments praising her and testifying to her message as well. Sadly though, this speech as enlightening as it is, has a long way to go in turning on the lights to people who refuse to see.

We can blame the Movie industry, the fashion and beauty industry and many do blame “Western” civilization and advertising for much of the white/fair skin image of beauty imposed on us. But I can tell you that we point our fingers to the West and are ready to assign blame when we ourselves are as guilty of fair prejudice.

“I don’t want to be dark like you”.

I am from Singapore, a multi-racial city that has people of various colours, with the Chinese being the majority. Yet, Singapore has managed this well and there is no racial discrimination in any legal or state matters. However, even in such a mixed existence, the colour of the skin plays a big role in the way you are viewed. Years ago, in High school, there was always this one Chinese kid who refused to play soccer with the guys out in the field and when asked why, he had a ready response and pointed to a group of Indian boys “I don’t want to end up dark like them”.

Now before you classify this as a “one-off” incidient, you only have to stay here in Sunny Singapore to realize how people give off this message in various vibes. You can see lots of people carrying umbrellas even when the sun is not bearing down hot. People scurry for shelter when the sun brightens up just a little

Stop any of these people and they won’t say “I am protecting myself from UV rays”. All you would hear is “I don’t want to be dark”. It is a little wonder why some of the Chinese refer to Indians here as “hei ren” (translated as black people from Mandarin). And that too not in a pleasantly sounding way. If anything at all, the popularity of fair skin treatments and skin whitening creams among the fairer chinese is already clear proof. What’s beautiful are fair maidens like Korean and Japanese actresses. As much as people here would praise this speech, you will never see Lupita Nyong on a billboard in Singapore to embodify beauty.

The brown shunning the brown

And if you thought it was just white or yellow people, you are in for a surprise. Indians themselves are equally guilty. Fairness is still a mark of beauty in the Indian realm and Bollywood and Kollywood are doing very well in white washing our screens with snow white princesses. Even in this brown chocolate pond, the milk chocolate gets the praise and the dark chocolate gets the bitter face. Although this is not true in all cases, I am very sure there are men and women out there who have experience such disrimination even among their own race.

Looking beyond colours

So many people have come up and talked “inner beauty” and it is indeed heart warming to see people of colours taking screen roles and making great strides in the fashion industry. It is also even more cheerful to see the white and fair people sharing these “rainbow” views on beauty.

But we still have a long way to go. “Fair and beautiful” still sounds so eerily natural to say and words such as “dark secrets, black magic, dark days” only resonate negative emotions. Is anybody willing to change the colours of our English Language?

“There is no shade in beauty” Lupita proclaims and indeed looking from the inside out, all of us would agree. But just as how men are not going to rate plus size women as the most hottest women on screen after hearing this, many people still lean towards fairness and whiteness as the closer mark to beauty.

But fret not, It’s not utopia. We are just getting there at a very slow pace. How do you see beauty in the dark?

You just need to be colour blind and that, my friend, is a trait that is as worthy of applause as Luptia’s speech.

Image Credit: http://www.ibtimes.com/lupita-nyongos-acceptance-speech-2014-oscars-your-dreams-are-valid-1558882

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Why having enemies and polar opposites in your life can benefit you?

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“You like people who like you and people who are like you”. But imagine tomorrow that you had a social network whereby people can opt to become your enemies instead of your friends, where likes could be drowned by “Unlikes”. How would that make you feel?

You know that having great loyal friends who share your values makes your life a whole lot better. Who wouldn’t want that? But you would be surprised at how having enemies can add great meaning to your purpose and achievements. It seems crazy talking about harboring enemies and “polar opposites” people in the explosive times of social networks where “likes”, “Shares” and “views” are the boosts that you would so much crave.

No school would teach you on why you should go out and “make” enemies. There is already so much hate in the world that we won’t want to have additional toppings or bombings for that matter. But as much as we are taught to forge friendships and bonds, you may find that having a few opposing characters or “enemies” as we can simply label, can give you the opposite view of what your friends won’t offer. The adage “Love Your Enemies” from JC comes to mind here and perhaps if you open that message open and search for a deeper meaning, you may find some precious pearls of wisdom and see the ways in which enemies make your life meaningful.

1) It is far more safer to know clearly who your enemies are than to be guessing who your true friends are.

If you have ever been betrayed by someone whom you trusted so much, you know how painful and bitter it feels. And if you have to continue being with these people, it is a struggle to know whether to forgive and forget and trust (and maybe be betrayed again). I am not here to cast a gloomy painting that your friends are double faced and will turn on you someday. But if you have been through High School and Office politics, you know that there are people in your life whom you can’t put a finger on and that is equally dangerous.

Enemies or people who oppose you, on the other hand, are frank and outright. They do not stand with you on your values and may openly challenge you. But you know who they are and you know why they do that. Just as friends will aid you and carry through troubled times, enemies will do their best to topple you and land into the sewage. But the most important thing is you know them and you can arm yourselves against them.

There are people who will just oppose you aimlessly and there are also people who oppose you with purpose. And there are also friends who will claim to stand by you but desert you. You are far better off with declared opponents than wandering around without knowing who will trip you up.It is certainly better than being stabbed in your chest in the dark.

[In the movie The Dark Knight, Batman’s real problem was not the Joker as he was an outright enemy of the Batman and made it very clear that he wanted to kill Batman. His real problem was not knowing who the corrupt officers in the Gotham Police Force were and how they were helping the mobs.]

2) Your enemies are mirrors that show you what you are not. 

There are people who hold vastly opposing views from yours and live it in their lives. So, in observing them, you can get a very clear reflection of what you are and what you stand for. I am not talking about what’s right or wrong here but what’s left and right. It is so tempting to rein in others into our points of views and our cultural values but that is just pure selfishness. Sometimes you stare at a mirror and ask yourself “who am I? and part of that answer can be revealed by the kind of company you keep. But, a clearer part of that reflection also comes from people who are totally unlike you.

[Batman and the Joker are extremely opposed characters. While Batman strives to eliminate crime and create order in Gotham, The Joker is to destroy everything and bring about complete chaos in the city. Batman hides in secrecy and is cloaked in dark colours while the Joker broadcasts himself openly for the world to see his face no matter how hideous. Batman is serious and the Joker is comical.]

3) Your enemies drive you to your purpose by clashing against you.

If’ you’re out there saving lives, there is always someone destroying them. If you’re out there building homes, there is always someone blowing them up. At times, you may feel disheartened when you see that there are people who clash and try to bring you down. Striving towards your goals in face of all these forces you to be more motivated, strategic and also focused in attaining your dreams. Ask any person who has overcome obstacles…as much as they were pushed on by those said “you can do it..go for it”, they would also have been pushed further by those who said “You can’t…you will crash and burn”.

[Batman strives to bring order in his own way into Gotham but the Joker tells him that his cause is futile and that whatever order that is established will collapse in the future. Joker himself is only fixated on creating anarchy and chaos. Joker asserts that Batman won’t be able to kill him as Batman “needs” the Joker and as much as the Joker “needs” the Batman.]

4) Your enemies can teach you in defeat and victory.

In business, “enemies” or competitors rather, have a lot to offer you. Like a talented chess opponent. they force you to focus on every single step and pressure to create a well crafted strategy. And you should take it as a blessing if your enemies are talented and intelligent and filled with a purpose, even if it is opposed to yours. You study their moves, their reactions and become more observant and methodical in your own approach.  Sometimes, they may outshine you but even that is a learning lesson if you take it in a positive light.

[Batman usually deciphers the crooks’ plans with planning as they are usually tied towards money, violence and power. But the Joker’s crazy maniacal schemes follow no logic or motive and makes sense to the Joker alone, forcing Batman to think many steps ahead. This always leads to a cat-mouse chase but each trying to outdo the other. Sometimes, the Batman gets fooled while other times the Joker gets outsmarted. Very much like a competition in real life. You win some and you lose some.]

Keep your friends close but keep your enemies closer.

What I am saying, dear reader, is not that we should value our enemies above friends or that friends have less meaning in our lives. In harsh times, you know that a pat on the back, a warm hug, a listening ear and words such as “I believe in you” are the powerful charges that you need to get back on your feet and these are very likely to come from those near and dear to you, your friends and your loved ones.

But I think you may agree with me that accepting “polar opposites” and “enemies” as a worthy part of our life may indeed allows us to co-exist in harmony and benefit each other. We may not need a chaotic world with Batman going against Joker or US going against North Korea but we can certainly do good with the huge range of benefits of varied views, whether they be symmetrical or complete opposites.

Now, you may vehemently disagree with me or support my opinion. Either way, I welcome your stance. At the end of the day, just like a toughly fought tennis game, I will walk over and shake your hand..win or lose…and say “that’s one hell of a game we had!”

Image Credit: http://www.wallibs.com/resolutions/1600×1200-batman-vs-the-joker

 

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Understanding teenagers: An adult’s perspective

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“Young People don’t know anything……especially that they’re young” (Quote from Mad Men Season 2, AMC TV)

Whether your’re an adult or a teenager, you would have experienced that getting a common ground of understanding is as easy as trying to get a passed out elephant up on its feet. Adults find teenagers moody, emotional and unstable while teenagers find adults overbearing and rapidly judgmental of their behavior. Everyone knows that going through a teenage phase is extremely difficult but as “grown up” adults, we easily forget those sticky situations that we were once  in and maybe having healed from that phase, we pass it off easily.

Like myself, I believe many of you may have had parents whom with you found it impossible to connect with or share your thoughts and feelings. I am past the teenage phase now and but having been in the working world, I observe the similar attitudes that many “grown ups” have of the younger generation and in many instances, it is not a good picture.

Now before any adult goes on to dish out examples of “how the country is rotten with young kids” or any teenager screams “how society screws up the world”, we all know that both groups have a lot of good and bad to offer the world. Not one is better than the other, but there are some special circumstances (especially in this age) that teenagers live in that require us to understand deeper in order to better connect with them.

No 1: Understand that puberty is not just about sex but a rapid phase of change in a teenager’s life.

Voices deepen, testosterone buzzes in the body, breasts develop, hormones rage…puberty is a biological storm that occurs all around the body of the teenager. But not only is this a time of physical development,  it is a period of mood swings, emotional roller coasters and sexual perceptions. Anticipating this and being prepared to support them through this phase will indeed be a better journey rather than fighting/resisting it. Always remember that you are also your body and whenever your body changes, everything else follows suit in way. This is why they are more risk taking and emotionally volatile. That’s just the way it is. If you always strive to support them and encourage them through this stormy weather instead of focusing on just controling them, they will very much welcome your presence in their lives and begin opening up to you.

No. 2: You may have been a teenager once but you are NOT one today

And in today’s social media explosion, you would agree that it is even more confusing to be a teenager than it was in the 90s or 80s. Peer pressure has always been a tough rock for any teenager of any era but it seems to have amplified with exposure to all the social networks. The terrain has changed and the method which you once used to get through your experiences as a teenager may/may not exactly work for the teens today. Part of this involves us as adults looking at ourselves and evaluating on whether we are being the right models for these teens as this is a phase where they look at us and learn to be an adult, so hand-holding them and supporting them is important. But a good part of it also letting them have the freedom to explore, navigate and learn from those unique rich experiences. So fret not if they don’t share their problems/thoughts with you as much as they used to. “Live and let live”.

No 3. Teenagers are a group that are not armed to defend themselves – so spare the shooting arrows.

We have seen discrimination of blacks/asians/homosexuals but teenagers are also a group that usually get the bad rap more than the compliments. As an adult, we may be able to thwart away negative perceptions of us by either ignoring it completely or by using our qualifications, career accomplishments and wealth as signs of how good we are. But, a young person has none of these to use as a shield. They have little to prove but a lot more to learn.

No. 4: They are individuals and not a “younger version” of ourselves.

This is a perennial problem in South East Asia where many parents are guilty of “hot-housing” their children right from the age of 4 so that they will grown up to be academically successful. It reeks of “Be successful like me” or “We are cleaver parents and so you must live up to our reputation”. And the more of this that is poured down their throats, the worse it gets. Stress skyrockets, tensions boil and the teenagers are left with unnecessary disappointment. They don’t need that and neither should any of us impose on our values on them with our own expectations on how they should live, what job they should do or whom they should love.

In essence, every young person seeks to differentiate him/herself from their previous generation in style, appearance, music, lingo and values. It is a vital part of self identity and we should understand and navigate those roads carefully.

No. 5: Saying “You are having a far better life than I did when I was a youth” and envying them for it

I am pretty sure life must have been crap for those who lived through the war era but that time is too far away for me to understand. Every generation enjoys more of the privileges than the previous generation lacked and that’s just a progression of life and something that we should be happy about. I wouldn’t like to see the world getting crappier. I did not have FaceBook, YouTube or the millions of wonderful bloggers to share their stories when I was growing up but I am glad that kids have a whole world of opportunity to them these days. Of course, there is also tons of porn and crap out there which are more easy to see than getting a playboy magazine was in my era, but u always get 2 sides of a coin.

The worse anyone can do is to look at all these with a green enviable eye. We’ve ha dour good ol’ times that our parents lacked and worked hard for so let us have our young ones have their youth well lived. Envy doesn’t help anyone in anyway but also increases your blood pressure, and not in the part of your body that you would desire.

No 6. Worry less, Respect more and most importantly have faith in the “young ones”

We all worry about when the walls will come crashing around us. As a parent, I know that it is only natural that we worry about our children and hope the best for them. Sometimes, we get carried away. In many cases, these teens will go through a whole range of experiences and will be able to venture out on their own with the proper guidance and support that we can give them.

Respect involves us not looking at them as children or wandering youths but as young adults who are learning the craft of decision making. Nothing frustrates a teenager more than hearing “your’re just a kid, what do you know about ….blah blah blah?”

Most important of all, is to have faith in them and offer words of Blessing. Whenever we are tempted to lash at them and say “you are so irresponsible” or “you’ll end up in a ditch” or anything negative, we should strive to calm down and listen. Easier said than done but we should try our best.

There is nothing more happier than hearing a parent say “I believe in you and whatever the outcome, I know that you are a capable young person. Now go out there and show the world”.

These words sometimes are rare to hear from a parent. I haven’t heard them but I would love to offer them to my child. I believe that the young ones will bring their own innovations and their own problems forward but I am pretty sure they will remake the world in their own way and do a good job out it.

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The daunting phase of a career change..Should I take that leap?

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You are at the tip of a high jetty as the distant thrill of the jump calls you. You want to make that jump but your knees turn jelly and your body feels a mix of emotions: fear, uncertainty, confusion..excitement, anticipation…The cool blue waters are right down there..just waiting for you to make that leap..

I imagine this is exactly how one would feel at the crossroads of any critical decision. And as I embark on working towards a change of career at the age of 31, i revert back to the same emotions I felt when I made that first jetty jump..I have worked in IT for 7 years now and I do not have anything to rant about my current work. Instead, I have developed a keen interest in another field : advertising and marketing. Although I am not a career coach or planner of any sorts,  I am, however, in the midst of this change. I just hope to share my perspective on this for the people out there who are on the same high jetty as me, contemplating on that exciting jump.

Like many people out there, I got into studying IT as my dad saw it as a profitable and successful venture and it was at the turn of the millennium where the IT industry was getting a big boom. “IT promises to be a multi-million dollar industry” screamed 1 of the programme brochures in my university. Well the millions go to the industry and not to you. And soon followed the bursting of the bubble and I found myself floating along laterally.

What do I want to do?

Some people are fortunate enough to find answers to this question while others have to ponder, study, explore and tread unknown paths. I belong to the latter and while taking a Degree in Communications, I sort of triggered my interest in humanistic subjects and went on to realize that my interest lies elsewhere.

If you are thinking of what field might be the best for you, one sure way to know is whether you and your interest for that field grow together. You start reading books on that field, watching documentaries and TV programmes and finding out more and more on that topic without being forced to. As you may have guessed, I hardly did that much (enthusiastically) for IT although i constantly upgraded myself through courses.

Researching on your desired field 

This word may sound as dry as a desert but this is vital for any new field that you are venturing into. And with so many useful articles and benevolent bloggers out there who are sharing their expertise and experiences, we can be very thankful for the bounty and wealth of information out there to arm us before we make any move. Also, the more you learn, the fogginess starts to clear and you get closer and closer to that “ahah” moment and you may have finally answered the “What do I want to do” question.

Seek Mentors who can guide you

These could be your teachers, bloggers or even experts on your field. I am learning a lot by reading articles online and blogs from people who are in advertising. I check with them and have been grateful to receive their encouragement and directions. The blogosphere is abound with helpful people who are ready to share and guide you through this period.

Having Finances at home in order

It is challenging to think of a career change where your finances are wrecked, you have a mountain of bills to pay and a family to feed. Setting your priorities and savings in order shoves worries aside and keeps you more prepared and ready to make a critical decision or seize an opportunity. Although this is all easier blogged than done, there are no shortcuts to having a firm financial foundation.

Your Money or your Love?

Another huge dilemma is also the dough. What if the job you are doing earns well? What if right when you are thinking of moving, you get a promotion that fattens your pocket? Are you going to throw that away? You may be a mid level executive in your current job but moving to another shore means you start off fresh there and that could mean taking a slump in the salary. Can you stomach that? These are the same questions that pound my brain as I carry on with my planning. It may be true that even the field that interests you has its own “poltics”, corporate BS and shifting rank ladders, but it seems far easier to handle those with a passionate drive than just a “got to work, pay the bills” mentality.

But from what i have heard from all those people out there who have made that jump, looking at the dollars alone may be superficial. You may earn your way to a good living but that may not given you a satisfying living experience. We spend an enormous amount of our lives at our work and it would be tragedy if we die breathing the last words of “my job sucked”.

The questions that you live with

And of all the questions that could around, the worst question that we have to confront is the “What If?”. It only reeks of regret and whether you like it or not, it will prick you some day. What if I had chosen my own path instead of my parents? What if I had listened to my callings instead of following what was out there? What if I could have a far more fulfilling life doing what I have interest in than what I have done all these years?

Changing careers does not mean you have to hate your boss, your field or your life. It just means finding meaning in your life and bringing your special talent to a world that needs it. It doesn’t matter if you fail a few times in these changes, win or lose, you will gain wisdom.

Dragging yourself in a job that doesn’t enliven you just makes you miserable. You put in half-hearted attempts. You don’t do justice to your job, you let your calls of talent die off in a lonely cave. And most tragic of all, you end up betraying yourself.

So if you are at the edge of the jetty like me, I invite you to join me my friend. Learn there is all that is to be learned and embrace the uncertainty of it. You will never know what it feels like until you have leaped off. You may not do a perfect landing or stunt-like jump, but damn, that splash of the ocean water feels so good! The world needs your special talent, your special voice..and that special splash that you create in the vast oceans.

I know that there are many out there that have jumped to their delight..I hope to have that same courage and vision as yours. End of the day, it feels so good to say ” I did it, I made it.” For those of you in this phase, I wish you all the best of luck! It’s going to be one hell of a ride, but you’ll be thanking yourself for it big time!

Photo credit: katie appleton day / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

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