Dreams are a fickle friend. Sometimes it makes you feel like you are on cloud nine while at other times it makes you feel like the sand under your feet is disappearing.
I will be lying if I said I have never given up on dreams. I have. Far too many times. But with each lost dream I uncovered yet another. It feels like a never ending cycle. But I am yet to find out if it's a vicious one or a virtuous one.
I do not know if I speak for the vast majority or the minority but has there ever been moments in your life where you felt like you had to do something to fulfil somebody else's dream? It could be a parent, a sibling or a grandparent. A nagging voice in your head keeps guilt tripping you. No? Just me? (I promise I am not crazy).
Well recently (well it's more like for the past 3 years) I was faced with this same dilemma. I wanted to please my family but at the same time I knew it would cost me my happiness. I was and am to some extent still stumped by this. But all of this anxiety I was experiencing got me wondering - What are dreams? When should you follow them ? and more importantly, When should you give up?
WHAT ARE DREAMS?
Now I think dreams can be anything. Something as momentary as the bag of chips (or crisps) you want or something far off in the future like a career. Dreams are in the most basic sense something your mind craves. Something you really really want. But what makes dreams tricky is that they sometimes aren’t realistic (as much as we would all like it, an inexhaustible supply of chocolate isn’t realistic…although that won’t stop me from hoping it is).
I have always felt this boiling rage whenever people tell me something is unrealistic. I can’t explain it but when someone tells me something is stupid or unrealistic thats when I want to make into a reality even more. I have had countless people tell me I shouldn’t follow my dreams and ambitions as I am too average to make them a reality.
While this is certainly something I am dealing with in my day to day life, it had me wondering why that is. After a long (and very relaxing) session of over analyzing things that probably shouldn’t need to be over analyzed, I came to a rather simple conclusion.
Before I start my little rant, a quick disclaimer - I am by no means a psychologist or a scientist and is instead just a highschooler with a lot of free time on her hands to over analyze things. So as always, take everything I say with a grain of salt. Or even better make your own theories !!
I think the reason why other people have such a hard time understanding other people's dreams and aspirations is due to the fact that they simply aren’t real enough for them.
It's kind of the same reason why some people believe in ghosts while others refuse to believe it. Some things are real to you only when you are really deeply connected to it emotionally.
We actually see this phenomenon in a more realistic sense in our day to day life. It’s referred to as “unconscious selective attention”, that means that our minds don’t necessarily process everything happening around us. There are a million different things happening around you at all times but our brain processes only a fraction of it. So think of our previous dream question in this context. Why would somebody else's mind place emotional importance to your dream? From a realistic standpoint, our brains simply don’t need to. This is also the reason why when we watch horror movies things seem too easy. Our body isn’t going into fight or flight response. So we think clearly.
This is the reason (I think) why our dreams seem unrealistic to other people, Because most of the time they will look at it from a strictly realistic view while we see our dreams through the emotional connection we have with them.
So this conveniently segways into my next question:
WHEN SHOULD YOU FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS
I think it's safe to say that you should definitely follow your dreams. Like seriously. You should. Given that it doesn’t hurt anyone or anything. And I often find myself thinking about what hurting someone in this sense means. Inshort, you should follow your dreams as long as you don’t hurt yourself, anyone or anything else. Another thing to keep in mind in case of career choices is of course your future. While I do believe you can make your dreams into reality, it's also feels good knowing that you have something to fall back on but in all honesty, if you are really driven to do something then try your hardest to make that happen. A quick look at the pros and cons doesn’t hurt though. But the part about hurting someone keeps coming back to me.
For example: If you get someone black coffee when they asked you for a frappuccino then yeah...they are gonna be a little disappointed. (Although I do drink far too much black coffee for a normal human being)
But at the same time does that really hurt them? Like does it really really hurt them? Chances are no. Well unless they are allergic to coffee…
Almost all parents have concerns about their child’s future and that's perfectly normal but when the parents try and control every aspect of their child’s life and try to make them into something they are not, that’s when things get out of hand.Perhaps this is an asian thing (could be) where parents try to decide their children's career and I most definitely disagree with this. If the kids and the parents unanimously agree then yeah, it's great. But when the kid doesn’t agree then that's where things derail. It just doesn’t work.I spent much of my early life believing that I had no choice about picking who I was going to be. And I don’t want others to grow up that way.
So I do think you should follow your dreams and ambitions. And if your parents disagree or are not sure you will be able to earn a living, then sit down and talk to them. Talk to them about why you want to do something and its prospects and if you still have doubts or your parents do then a double major or a dual degree is an option. Yes it's more work but it is a wonderful opportunity to acquire a wide variety of skill sets and also it’s an amazing opportunity to learn more.
On the non academic side, the best way to see if you want to do something is to compare the pros and cons. Look into what it means to you. Also consider what it means to the people around you. Look at your circumstance and see if this is the best time for you to go forward with it.
WHEN SHOULD YOU NOT FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS?
This is where things get tricky. This is particularly hard as we often form very deep bonds with our dreams and aspirations. But at the end of the day we do need to do what is best for ourselves and others.
Here are some situations where you need to consider whether your dream really is good for you:
IT IS CAUSING YOU PHYSICAL OR MENTAL HARM : This is undoubtedly a scenario where you should definitely stop and consider your dream. Talk to others. Either family members or seek professional help. Stop and reflect on yourself. It is not weak to give up on certain dreams. It's ok. Your life is not two dimensional and doesn’t need to be confined.
IT IS CAUSING OTHERS PHYSICAL OR MENTAL HARM: Just like the last one, this is yet another instance where you should stop and consider your dreams. Talk to those close to your and then consider your dream. See if you are doing something wrong and consider how you can change the way you accomplish your dreams.
These are simply some of the most basic tips and if at any point in time you feel uncomfortable or anxious regarding anything, please do not be afraid to reach out to people you trust.
Remember that you are human and that you are loved and that you are very valuable.
I hear this everyday. Every. Single. Day. Every single time I touch soap and water, something in my head goes -
“just one more time” or “what if your hands are still unclean?”.
I feel helpless to struggle against it. But at the same time something in my head also goes -
“what do you mean you have to wash your hands again? You have done it 8 times !” or “This is ludacris”.
I feel annoyed. Immensely annoyed. But still. Some sort of irrational...thing...in me tells me to do it again...and again...and again.
You see, I struggle with germaphobia with a sprinkle of OCD-esque symptoms because why not?
And it's been going on for years. I used to carry around hand sanitizers EVERYWHERE (well in the light of covid, I like to believe that I was just really good at predicting the future..perhaps morbidly good at it). I avoid tightly packed areas if I can (not in an unfriendly way...I am not a hermit...I promise). I generally don’t like hugging and physical contact in general.
Now that I have everyone reading this convinced that I am a hermit and hate humanity, Let me walk you through what it feels like. It’s strange really...I know it’s not normal. But I can’t stop it.
Well it’s like this. Say I just ate something or touched a railing or something, and immediately my head goes -
“You need to wash your hands''
and then the rational part of my brain goes -
“But why??? Your hands aren’t unclean.”
But then the other part of my brain goes “you have to do it. You have to” and then that part wins.
It’s almost like you are losing a game against yourself while commentating on it live. It’s like a tennis match in my head and I am the only spectator. It feels really weird. Like. REALLY WEIRD.
But then there is the compulsion to keep doing it again and again. I wash my hands, at the minimum, over 30 times a day. That's too many times to do anything in a day. I keep doing it again and again. I wash my hands twice consecutively and I am like “ok...I am done” but then I hear the dreaded statement - Just one more time. It’s like I am being controlled. Because I cannot stop myself from doing it.
It’s scary in a way. Knowing that you cannot control yourself from doing and thinking things which make you anxious.
I find myself keeping track of “where” the “germs” are. I keep a mental list of things I am allowed to touch without washing my hands afterwards. This is just plain stupid. I mean hindsight is 20/20 right? And my hindsight is telling me that this is downright idiotic.
But perhaps the most annoying of all is the fact that my hand washing habit hurts. Literally. I have extremely sensitive skin which gets irritated when I use too much soap, but as you can probably imagine, I use a LOT of soap and this leads to me itching my skin until it turns raw. But of course I still wash my hands after that with soap. My hands burn after particularly bad allergic reactions. I feel tears in my eyes and find myself actually dreading the idea of doing yet another one of my “washing cycles”.
I have found myself avoiding perfectly normal situations as I don’t want to wash my hands again or because I don’t want to spread the germs.
I live a life which is getting structured around my germaphobia. I have to keep reminding myself that this isn’t normal. That this is not how things are supposed to be. And in many ways that's the most important thing we have to keep reminding ourselves. That this isn’t normal or that we can have a better life free from the chains of this fear and anxiety.
Here, I wanted to share somethings that I have found helpful in my struggle (which is still going on) against my habits.
Be optimistic about your ability to come out of this as a better person. Be optimistic about your ability to triumph over this. Be optimistic about yourself.
Always remember that you are an amazing and wonderful person, and having a phobia doesn’t make you strange or deranged. You are an awesome person. Never forget that !
While I do not recommend self diagnosis (especially if you are seriously in danger) I do recommend reading up on your symptoms as it helps you learn more about yourself !
Well the US elections are finally done. The world watched with bated breath as millions of Americans cast their vote and elected the leader of the oldest democracy on earth.
The American elections, while important to Americans (well...duh), are also crucial to the rest of the world. As the country that has the most powerful military on earth and one of the largest nuclear stockpiles, suffice to say the US elections have far reaching consequences.
Add to that a pandemic and we have a pretty dramatic election. This year we witnessed Americans coming together as a community and voting in record breaking numbers.
Now regardless of who you voted for, this election was dramatic to say the least. But in this article, I am going to look at the elections from an outsider's perspective. An international perspective.
The election was in all honesty the highlight of the year for me (this either means I have a really sad life or that 2020 has just been a bad year). Now I am from India and let me tell you, people were invested. Our local media even covered the election live! I pulled all nighters in the middle of exams just so I could watch live coverage of the elections. Yes, I like politics. Yes, I am a bit insane.
But this article isn’t about that. It's about what this election means for the international community.It is about some of the issues and situations that might arise in the coming years and might have to be dealt with by the US government. Key word - MIGHT. Now a quick disclaimer before I start- while the results of the election has been called, owing to the political situation in the US, I will not be referring to either of the candidates throughout this article and will instead be focusing on what I think are some of the most important things which will be impacted on a global scale due to the election results (as called by the Associate Press). I am neither a political scientist nor someone who is officially qualified to assess political situations. So, take everything I say with a grain of salt… or maybe a tablespoon of it.
DEVELOPMENTS IN EUROPE
So Europe, one of the most crazy and busy parts of the world, will undoubtedly be affected by the results of this election.
One reason for this is caused by the fact that Angela Merkel, widely regarded as the de facto (in practice) leader of Europe, will no longer be heading the CDU and will thus not be entering another race to be the chancellor of Germany. She has served as the Chancellor of Germany since 2005 and played key roles in establishing the euro zone, dealing with the migration crisis, the Ukraine crisis and the Greek debt crisis (to varying degrees of success). With her confirming that she will be stepping down from the position she has held for over 15 years, this leaves Europe and the west in general with a power vacuum. This by itself isn’t necessarily dangerous.
Germany needs new politicians just like any other country and Chancellor Merkel knows this. However, the rise of far right parties and the questioning of democracy as an efficient means of governance and a general shift in tone all over the world creates an instability that may be good or bad (depending on your personal political beliefs). The steadyfast leadership that Chancellor Merkel provided (regardless of anyone's political beliefs) was a sort of relief but with that gone, it's now up to other western leaders to take up the responsibility which they undoubtedly will.
THE ASIAN DILEMA
This is of course something that has been on the forefront of international politics for a while recently. With the tensions between US and China rising and the pandemic at large, Asia is not exactly looking as peaceful as it should be. But Asia has always been a melting pot of different cultures and will always remain so. It's incredible diversity has always been something to be proud of.
The US-China trade wars that started last year already wrong footed US relations with China and the pandemic certainly didn’t help things. Not to mention, China and India’s rising tensions in the Himalayas is a concern as well. The way the new US government handles these issues will be of monumental importance not just for Asia but for the world as a whole.
This has been one of the regions on earth where the US has a long history of involvement. The most pressing issues in this region have been surprisingly consistent for the US and that is probably going to remain the same for the foreseeable future.
However this is also a region where things need to be handled carefully so regardless of the decision the US government comes to - to reduce involvement or not - will need to be carefully evaluated while taking both US and east asian sentiment into account. Taking the beliefs and sentiments of the east asian people into account is just as important as taking the opinions of US citizens into account.
While these are by no means the only situations that may arise, these are a quick look at some of the more obvious ones.
That's it for now! Part two of this article is coming next month discussing matters on South America, Africa and Oceania.