As toddlers, we tried to reach for anything that would help us up, help us stand on our feet. We failed a few times, but we keep at it, until we got it right. Growing up, we reached for everything that poses a challenge, be it a high tree branch, a jar of cookies on the shelf, a monkey bar in the playground or anything else that gave us a sense of accomplishment. Later in life, we reach for social acceptance, materialistic happiness and for personal satisfaction. In short, we spend our entire lives trying to reach for things that are out of our reach and it gives us a sense of pride and joy when we attain what seemed to be unreachable at one point.
Approval and Validation are two words that most of us aren’t strangers to. Why, you ask? Because we’re constantly seeking approval and validation, from family, relatives, friends, peers and even strangers! This topic has intrigued me for a while and it got me thinking; I realized that we spend our entire lives in the quest for validation without even realizing it.
As toddlers, every clap, ever laughter told us that we were doing good and it egged us on to do better. As kids, we used to look to our parents for a smile or a nod that could be construed as a mark of approval. We spend our entire school years trying to fit in, doing whatever it takes to be accepted. And our whole career and family life is spent trying to be liked and accepted, fearing criticism, yearning adulation and craving validation.
My parents are and have been extremely religious and they had inculcated religion in me at a very young age, like all parents do. However, mom tells me that my Dad was not always this religious. It’s only in his late thirties, when he was faced with challenges at work, that he started treading on the spiritual path. I on the other hand was always religious, until the day I lost my faith.
I’ve been called serious, cold and humorless and almost all the synonyms you could think of for an expressionless face. But in my defense, I’ve always been an introvert. It’s not like I wake-up every morning and tell myself that I’m going to be grumpy and serious today! It’s how I’m genetically programmed and though my case may improve over time, I’ll probably never be able to rid myself of my inhibitions entirely. It’s not that I’m absolutely incapable of laughing. I laugh when I’m drunk and also when I’m humored. It takes a lot more than slapstick comedy to humor me. You’ll never see me laughing belligerently; at best, you’ll find me laughing in short bursts. If I find something amusing, I smile. Sadly, owing to my facial paresis (self-diagnosed), most people may not be able to tell the difference between when I’m smiling and frowning.
I was watching an episode of the blockbuster TV series, Satyamev Jayate, a couple of weeks back. The cause discussed on this episode was ‘Intolerance towards love ‘and I’ve been mulling over this social injustice ever since. If the Indian culture and values are being propagated as justification for the Taliban-style treatment dished out to couples in this country, then we must ask ourselves, are we really a democracy? No self-respecting democracy would tolerate such vehement and heinous crimes against couples whose only ‘crime’ was that they had the audacity to fall in love. It’s because of obsolete and illegitimate practices like these that India is still referred to as a third world country.
Women. God’s most exquisite creation. She’s a mystery that has remained unsolved since the beginning of time. Neither were our forefathers able to decipher the code nor are we any close to doing it (I mean cracking the code). One would think living in a woman’s womb for nine months would make us genetically programmed to understand a woman. Obviously, that’s not how it works.
I’ve had this topic plaguing my mind all of last week. Hence I decided to talk about it on my blog. I’ll start by sharing my thoughts on this topic and then you share yours, deal? Okay, good.
It all began when a colleague from work started talking to me about his altruistic deeds. He gushed about how he plays with the kids at a local orphanage and how he visits the elderly at an old age home, at least once a month. He went on to share how his eyes well-up with tears and his heart fills-up with joy, when he manages to put a smile on the faces of these orphans and waifs. All this while, I was listening to him in admiration, but then something he said made me stop and ponder. He spoke about how he believed no act of kindness would go unnoticed. I thought to myself, here’s a man who has his heart in the right place, but if his act of kindness is compelled by his intent of receiving something in return, does the act still qualify as a good deed?
We’re all familiar with the term ‘Censorship’, aren’t we? As a teenager, my understanding of this term was a bit different. I thought of it as an evil act, practiced by a bunch of old people, which took away all the fun from watching television. Oh, to be young and innocent…those were the days! As I grew older, I came to understand the various paradoxes and attributes that this term characterized. However, one such paradox or oxymoron if you will, that stood out for me the most was ‘Self-Censorship’.