Happy World Photography Day

If you think, future and past doesn’t really exist in time. All that matters is this moment, right here and right now. Past is now a story you’d look back upon and future, well, it’s inevitable and always unknown. All we have is this present. And if you think a little more, you’ll realise that’s the answer to every age old question, this beautiful, alive, melancholic now.

So, here’s to photography, that taught me how to be in the moment, to be mindful of every little thing around me, to all the imperfect, dull, everyday moments that still had an ounce of beauty waiting to be discovered. And here’s to every social media for allowing me to share my perspective with thousands of flawed yet artistic people (just like me) all around the world.

Happy World Photography Day!

PS: Here are all the not-so-perfect moments I captured over time.

The solution to the problem of future.

Let me tell you a story- Colin Singleton, is a prodigy, who keeps dating girls with the same name(Katherine) over and over again, also, keeps getting dumped by them over and over again. Like a lot of prodigies and highly intellectual people everywhere around the world, he loves creating patterns and connecting dots between random stuff. He loves it so much, that he unknowingly creates an epic pattern of failing every romantic relationship he gets in. Colin fears two things in his life- 1. No Katherine will ever like him and he will keep continuing being a dumpee. 2. He will never matter to anything and will never be a genius (FYI: being a prodigy is different than being a genius). Colin’s fears sound very familiar. Ah, wait! Those are exactly the things I am afraid of. Colin once asks his best friend, “How do you stop being terrified of getting left behind and ending up by yourself forever and not meaning anything to the world?” Good question Colin, I’ve been wondering that let’s see, from the beginning of my time.

Colin needs answers, and now so do we. He sets himself to kill two birds with a single stone- coming up with a mathematical theorem, which will predict the future of any relationship, which in return will prove that he is a genius and that he matters. But it’s never that simple, is it? After a whirlwind of summer vacation, Colin has multiple epiphanies:

How you matter is defined by the things that matter to you. You matter as much as the things that matter to you.

You can make a Theorem that explains why you won or lost past poker hands, but you can never make one to predict future poker hands. The past is a logical story. Its the sense of what happened. But since it is not yet remembered, the future need not make any fugging sense at all. In that moment, the future- containable by any Theorem mathematical or otherwise – stretched out before Colin: infinite and unknowable and beautiful.

And if the future is forever, then eventually it will swallow us all up. In another 2400 years, even Socrates, the most well known genius of that century, might be forgotten. The future will erase everything- there’s no level of fame or genius that allows you to transcend oblivion.

I guess he is more than right. I, in no way, will matter or be remembered once I am dead after few decades. So why care so much? Why tiptoe around life for some stupid rules some dead-soon-to-be-forgotten people set to measure our success. We can choose whoever we want to be and if that doesn’t make us anymore unique than we already are, who cares! At least we’ll be happy with actually living our lives trying to do things that matter to us. We may not live forever, but our stories will! And, as John Green says in the book, “Maybe life is not about accomplishing some bullshit markers“.

From the book- An Abundance of Katherines by John Green.

How to be a bad guy

Disclaimer: This blog is specifically for people like me who are inherently nice, they need this the most.

Has anyone told you you’re a nice person? Do you care a little too much about everything? Do you put everyone else first but nobody puts you first? Do you apologize, a lot, even when its not your fault? Do you pretend to agree with everyone? Do you take extreme measures to avoid conflicts? Do you think you’re responsible for how people feel? Did you ever feel that if you were an asshole things would’ve been a lot easier for you? If you said yes multiple times then I have news for you (which I received recently ), you’re a chronic people-pleaser.

I was kind of shocked when I realized that now even being nice is a problem!? Well yeah, when you’re suffering from a painful migraine but you can’t tell your friend that you’d like to go home and take your medication rather than go to a restaurant, and force yourself to eat with the headache, when you tell your Uber driver to drop you few miles away from your home so that it won’t be inconvenient for him, but inconvenience for you is no big deal, when you’re suffering from food poisoning but you don’t say no to work from home, even though your teammates could do the same work, when someone lies to you and you just smile and change the topic because it would put that person in an awkward position, when you put on a little less makeup so that your female colleagues won’t feel they haven’t been putting in any effort, (okay I know your list may be different than me) but you know when you do such things just because you’re supposed to be nice, that’s a huge problem, not for others but for you.

I have done this all my life, I’d do these grand gestures for everyone, I’ll go out of my way for people I don’t even care that much and completely abandon my own physical/emotional/mental well being and when the time would come they’d usually put everything else before me. And I’d be devastated, I’d feel like a victim, because I was perfect, I’d been so nice, I’ve done everything by the book and yet I’ve been rejected. So like everyone else I’ll go to social media and post some emotional bullshit about how bad the world is for kind and nice people. I hope I’m not the only one here who has done this, that would be really awkward and embarrassing.

Also, I realized how many years I’ve wasted pleasing people, thinking about them, making them feel comfortable, walking on eggshells with their likes and dislikes, that I’ve completely lost my self in this process, seeking validation and approval from almost everyone to make myself feel good enough. I never once thought what if nobody cared about me what my life would like then? And it dawned on me does anyone really even care about me? I mean yes my family and handful of friends do, but they’d support me no matter what, others mostly won’t, they are too busy thinking and caring about their own selves. They might think about me for a second, make an opinion (which can be wrong) and then completely forget about me. And all I’m doing here is trying to make people think good about me for one second, trying to change one fragment of their thought? Is that even worth it, making sacrifices for no apparent reason, and innumerable times a day! And then one day you wake up and realize you’ve wasted your life away doing things you didn’t like, and now nobody really cares for all the things you’ve done for them because it was supposed to be your duty?! Well, I don’t know about you, but I’d rather care about myself more from now on than to wake up with a midlife crisis in few years and stuck in shitty situations.

Okay, if that wasn’t convincing enough, how about this- Have you once in your life seen a bad-ass personality on screen and wished it was you? I have, almost everyday! And it’s never with good guys. Well, we do love our heroes, on the other hand we love anti-heroes a little more. And I think you already know why, they don’t give a fuck what people think of them. They don’t do stuff because it will get them compliments in life, they do things because they want to, because they like it, and they’re really good at it. I’m not telling you turn into an anti-hero (which, by the way, would be so cool) but may be try this out- think of your alter ego, your ideal self, what he/she would do in a tricky situation? I’m most certain they will not care so much.

So next time try this- you’re at some bill counter and there’s a large queue behind you, take some more time than usual, do your thing, let people get pissed a little. I know, even thinking about this gives me crippling anxiety and that’s why it needs to be changed. The thing is as psychopaths need tiny bit of empathy to keep them grounded, we need a little apathy from people around us so we can depend on ourselves for the validation that we seek.

Movies about Cancer.

I wanted to make a list of movies based on cancer for a very long time, but I never made it. I always thought why would someone in their right mind would want to see them! Not everyone is a masochist like me, not everyone enjoys crying while watching a movie and I think hardly anybody would want their heart get broken into million pieces merely by a movie.

These movies, about cancer, are not just sad or depressing they are so much more than that. They give you this hope in some weird little way, it makes you feel grateful for the life you have and had, the family and friends we have, who we always take for granted, the love you have experienced, no matter for how long. It makes you realize that you don’t have to wait for something fatal to happen to you to start living your life on your own terms, you don’t have to wait for death so you could stop and make your own bucket list and start striking through the items which you always wanted to do. There are some great life lessons in these movies and I believe you should watch them at least once.

The Fault in Our Stars

Very obvious I know. If you haven’t watched this movie yet then watch it right now. Also, this was the first movie I had seen about cancer, so you know how it would ended for me. I still remember how this book and movie took the whole internet by storm and all for right reasons. People still cant get enough of the quotes from this movie. I don’t know how something so heart-wrenching can be so beautiful.

Five Feet Apart

Okay, I cheated a bit. This movie isn’t about cancer but its pretty close. If being a teenager and falling in love isn’t terrifying enough, they have to deal with a fatal disease and the only way they could survive is if they are five feet apart?! Ugh! take all my money! This movie makes a really good point which I loved- sometimes you have to sacrifice a lot just to keep yourself alive.

This movie is available on Netflix.

My Sister’s Keeper

Okay enough of the romantic stuff. This movie hits you right into the gut. It is about a young girl who is forced by her parents to donate blood, organs, tissue to her sister suffering from cancer. It accurately depicts how cancer affects not one person but the whole family, it shows all the dark and gruesome side effects of cancer which we rarely see on screen. Even though this movie made me cry the most, the ending gave me an unexpected sense of calm.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Don’t you hate it when your mom wants you to be-friend with someone, especially when they have leukemia?! A movie purely based on friendship between a girl and a guy and neither of them are gay! You know how rare and special this is! It is one of the most amazing and sadly, most underrated movie I have ever seen. If there is one movie I could make everyone watch it has to be this one. DO. NOT. MISS. IT.

50/50

If you thought a movie about cancer cant make you laugh or make you feel good, you need to watch this ASAP. Adam doesn’t drive because accidents are number one cause of death, he also doesn’t smoke or drink. He is a good guy. Everything is turned upside down when he is diagnosed with a rare cancer and the survival rate is 50/50. No, he doesn’t make a bucket list, neither he rebels and becomes a drug kingpin. As he goes on with his ordinary life the way it unfolds, he learns the value of love, family and friendships.

This movie is available on Netflix.

Death and loss are inevitable, but these movies somehow make it a little better and get us ready for the uncertainties of our lives. I hope these movies gives you the closure you seek to live your healthy life to the fullest.

When I wanted to die

I have tried writing about suicide innumerable times and I always ended up deleting it. It was always tragic, triggering and I wouldn’t want anyone to feel that way even in my nightmares. But with the recent news of such a young talented actor passing away because of suicide and all the mess social media has made I think it’s time not only for the sake of writing but for awareness.

I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety half of my life. It started when I was too young to even understand what it was. The stigma around mental illness was so strong around that time that the only way out was to hide it. It was as if I’m living a double life, I wish it was something as cool as 007, but no, it involved continuous sobbing, never getting out of bed and hating everything. The people who saw me everyday saw me as shy, quiet, weird, lazy, irresponsible, awkward, trying way to hard but always smiling, and laughing and ready to help. No one would ever imagine who I was when I was alone. I don’t know how to sugar-coat this, but self-harm and suicidal thoughts were a norm in my day to day life. I’ve seen all the highs and the lows. I’ve been to that particular low where I never wanted to come back, it was enough of life for me. I’m not going to lie, I’d never in my life imagined myself to be old, to be even of 30 years of age, I never thought I would survive.

Gradually, things changed for me. I was fortunate enough to have my family and friends there for me, I was privileged enough to find the right resources. It did completely change me who I am today. I’m in such a better place, I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been – physically and mentally. It was one of the hardest thing I had to do in my life, but it was all worth it. If I had to do it thousand times over I’ll do it all over again. To see my family and friends smiling when I’m around them, to see every sunrise and sunset, to be able to go to places and experience each emotion as it comes, it all feels a blessing now. And even though this is the happiest I’ve ever been there is no denying that ghosts from the past come and go capriciously.

One of those time is when I come across news of celebrities dying of suicide. It deeply triggers me, it makes me feel all the work I’ve done is useless, and it’s impossible to overcome something like this. It breaks my heart to even imagine the pain they might have been through. It reminds me of my pain, how crippling it was and how everything seemed worthless. It doesn’t only bring back all the memories but the thoughts starts clouding my future- what if it happens again, what if I couldn’t survive it then. It’s tough because I’ve been in their shoes, I know what it’s like, that’s why seeing someone lose this battle is the most difficult to take in.

Today, even though we are aware of variety of mental illnesses and how severely they can affect a person, I still don’t think majority of people understand what it’s like. I see everywhere on social media people saying “why would he do that” and I don’t think you really have to know the intricate details of a persons life to know why they did something like this. I hope this quote helps you understand it better –

The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill himself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill himself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.

– David Foster Wallace

I feel like the one thing missing from this description is the amount of time: it isn’t minutes of trying to avoid or put out the fire. It’s months or years. Part of it is you can only fight that fire for so long before your lungs are choked with smoke and your limbs are limp with fatigue. And imagine people not believing there is a fire, or saying the fire isn’t bad enough for an extinguisher. Or that you’re weak/ a crybaby for having a fire or needing fire extinguisher. And if that isn’t enough imagine thousands of people talking about you, discussing your life in open as they have every right to do it. It’s inhuman, but we can change this with a little compassion and awareness. I don’t think I need to tell anyone how to do it, we all have it in ourselves.

So if you, or someone you know have these constant thoughts then I want you to know there’s help available, its never too late. I don’t know why some people get what they get and some people don’t, but that doesn’t mean you cannot change those things. You deserve everything you dream of. All you have to do is take the first step and ask for help. Death and change are the only certain thing in our life, so why rush? Who knows if you wait for the next wave of change something beautiful might be waiting for you.

Here is a video that saved my life. I hope it does the same for you:


Anna Akana is a comedian and a Youtuber. Her sister committed suicide when she was a teenager. Anna her self has suffered from depression, anxiety, self harm and suicidal thoughts. Her content is humorous, creates awareness about mental illness and never fails to help me when life gets darker. 

PS: In case you need help or want someone to talk to please DM me on Instagram- @theclumsyvixen

DSLR vs Phone camera

I bought a DSLR few years back as I wanted to take my photography to next level. I used it extensively, took it everywhere I went, even though it was a major inconvenience, it didn’t matter much because I loved it. Then something happened, I bought a new smartphone. It had this amazing camera with all the latest features including the pro mode, so naturally I loved it more. It was enough for me to completely forget my DSLR.

The qurantine was hard initially because I couldn’t go out any more and take pictures. So I figured why not start taking pictures indoor with all the fancy things I own (books and gourmet teas). I started with my phone camera but something didn’t feel right, eventually I realised it was time for my DSLR to be of soe use. And as I had no work at all I took several pictures with phone and then with DSLR as an experiment and I found this-

(Left: DSLR pictures, Right: Phone pictures)

DSLR: Canon 750D (18-55mm lens)

PROS:

  1. Depth of field
  2. Image quality
  3. Colors, details, ambience
  4. Control over angles

CONS:

  1. Expensive
  2. Learning curve
  3. Not very handy

Phone: Redmi Note 7 Pro

PROS:

  1. Easy to use
  2. Cheap
  3. Lots of available apps/filters
  4. Portable

CONS:

  1. Image quality
  2. Not that defined depth of field
  3. Modifies the colors

In the end, I feel, it doesn’t matter how costly your camera is, or how many lenses you own, if you have that spark, it will be very hard to hide it.

So keep clicking!

Why I almost gave up as an artist.

From my first memory as a child I remember drawing all the time, on paper, slate, walls, anywhere and everywhere. I was always scribbling something even if it was nonsense, and I loved it, but my parents loved it more. It kept me busy, distracted, and happy all the time. Painting has been in my family since few generations, my grandfather ran away from a large family business, and made a living from his drawing skills, and became a street painter. My father followed his legacy, but made very sure I take this skill as a hobby only and never pursue it as a profession. He taught me and my friends basic drawing stuff, and most of the times we would even help him paint banners and boards, it was a fun childhood. I was always-always creating something, and when things got bad around me I knew what to do. I survived so much throughout my childhood because I had a hobby.  It was my happy place, a getaway to my own world.

As my family moved from place to place, I met new people, made new friends. It always came as surprise to everyone as how I good was at drawing and they always ended up showering me with compliments. It made me feel good about myself. I had no idea that I am talented, I had a skill, that I am an artist, all this was news to me. You see, in my family drawing and crafting is such a subnormal thing that no one really cares even if you can draw a hyper-realistic portrait, so compliments, appreciation were literally non-existent, and I was okay with it until I knew better. Now that I knew how compliments made me feel(it was some kind of high), my whole purpose to draw and paint changed. I was continuously trying to impress people, chase that high, chase that validation, that I am something, I am good enough.

Then came out Facebook. Do I even need to tell you what happened next? Yeah you guessed it, all those likes, comments, sharing, from people I knew and people I don’t, brought a new high. It was like I was addicted. First time in my life I felt I mattered, people saw me differently as I am more, something more than just a shy weird girl who hardly speaks. I was famous, everyone wanted me to draw them all the time. And I did, I drew for so many people, even the ones I didn’t care about, just so I can prove to everyone and also to me that how good I am. I went a little further to impress boys with my skill, so they’ll go out with me. I know its so fucked up, but hey I was a lonely teenager and I did what I could to survive. I soon realized half of my so called friends didn’t really care about me at all, they only wanted a free painting. Many of my acquaintance were pissed when I begun to say no to their selfish offer, that was fun.

Social media brought something along more, it was the awareness, or self consciousness that I was not the only artist on the planet. There were millions of them, and so much better than me, I was nothing compared to them. My whole belief system as to how good I was shattered so easily. I was full of doubt, jealousy, and under so much pressure to be perfect, that I stopped drawing altogether for few years. I couldn’t do it anymore. And whenever I did people constantly told me how good I was, and how much money I could make out of it, if I started monetizing it, including my own father. Can you believe this betrayal! Because I could not. One guy I dated even went further to say to me, “Okay nice! Now what? You completed the painting, now whats the point? What’s the motivation ahead?” And I seriously had no idea. This one sentence triggered a massive crippling nihilistic-existential crisis in me. I mean he was right, what was the point of all this? Why am I even drawing if I cannot make money out of it? Anyway, I’ll be dead soon and I’ll be forgotten and this paintings will turn to dust, so why waste time?

This particular thought never left my mind. Until one day, my anxiety went through the roof, things got really dark around me and the only way out seemed like picking up a pen and paper. It didn’t matter what I was drawing, how perfect it was, I didn’t think even once how many likes it can get, if this painting is even worth any money, I didn’t think at all. I just painted for few hours, and somehow I painted all my anger, sadness and frustration on that paper. It made me feel relieved, brought a different sense of calm. And it occurred to me, that this is why I do it, I don’t do it for other people, I don’t do it to be famous, I definitely do not do it for money. This is for me and me completely, this is my coping mechanism, my self expression, these are my thoughts, my values. And that should be enough motivation. Since then I am also working on my belief system and making sure, that things like this wont affect my self-esteem, as this is a small part of me, and doesn’t define me completely.

So, this is why I wrote this blog post to remind myself, if I ever forget, as to why I paint, and also to let you all know that next time, do not come up to me and tell me how much money I can make from my paintings unless you’re going to buy them.

Have a good time quarantining! 

Coming-of-age movies that changed me

Few days back I wrote on my Instagram about my favourite genre in movies.

Well nobody asked, but here are my most favourite coming-of-age movies that has supported me in my dark times and has helped me become the person I am today.

The Breakfast Club

Society is going to stereotype you, put you in a box. It doesn’t has to be this way. There’s no one single thing that can define you. There will always be more to you than what people can see. 

The Perks of being a Wallflower

You can be a shy introvert, you can suffer from a mental disorder but you’re more than that. Life is more than that. You have every right and chance to change your life. It doesn’t has to be a sad story. 

Spectacular Now

You can avoid your responsibilities so you won’t make a mistake, you can push people away so they won’t hurt you, you can keep living in denial but sometimes you have to accept that there is going to be a tommorow and a day after tomorrrow, and many more days, and take a step forward to change them for better.

Juno

juno

You’re going to fuck up (literally). You’re going to make mistakes that can potentially ruin your life, but you can always choose to stand up for yourself and for your decisions even though they don’t fit our societal norms. 

Ladybird

Boyhood movie is for guys, what Ladybird is for me. You might not have good relationship with your parents, with your differences, perspectives, opinions, but someday you’ll learn to understand why they are the way they are and accept it. Oh! And make some more mistakes in between. 

Call Me by Your Name

What’s a bigger life lesson than a heartbreak? It teaches you so much about ourselves, the world around us and human existence.

Dead Poets Society

You don’t have to pursue what everyone is, you can choose a path less traveled and not follow the herd. You can always dare to be extraordinary. All you need is a little courage and the rest would be history.

Submarine

I cannot tell you enough how visually pleasing and funny this movie is. It made me realise that you cannot fix everything, you can try, but most of the times you have to let go and wait life to unfold itself.

The Diary of a Teenage Girl

This movie gave me huge validation about all the shit I have done in my teenage years (she does far worse). Sometimes forgiving yourself and starting new is the only option.

Good Will Hunting

Something inside you seems to be healed when Robin Williams keeps repeating, “It’s not your fault”, because what happened to you when you were a kid is never your fault. You can have the ability to change the world but you can always choose to change your world instead.

New year, New me

Yeah, I know January is over and so are our resolutions. Nothing really changed, it’s the same us that we were on the midnight of December 31st. All that motivational bullshit about new year new me is gone within a month. But you know what, I think this is the perfect time to write this blog post now that the trial month is over.

So what were your resolutions? Did you have a list of things you wish you can change about yourself? Yeah me too. I don’t want to sound preachy, but that’s exactly why we fail. We try to change every aspect of ourselves all at once. We are not going to turn into some hypothetical ideal version of ourselves simply because Earth completed its single revolution while we were doing the same shit that we do every other day.

Ever heard of this quote:

If nothing changes, nothing changes. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’re going to keep getting what you’re getting. You want change, make some.

Courtney C. Stevens, The Lies About Truth

I know that was extemely preachy. So how to make a change you ask me? As a person who repeatedly failed every years resolutions but finally accomplished one last year, and has read several self-help books and watched almost every video Matt D’Avella has made, I think I’m highly eligible to answer this question.

  • First things first, throw away your list of resolutions. It’s really not working and you know it.
  • Now, think about one thing, one single thing that you can change, one thing that you need to change about yourself which will help you immensely with your physical and mental well-being. You know exactly what that thing is deep down. Do not wait for circumstances to take over where you’re forced to make this change. It can be losing/gaining weight, quit smoking/drinking, quit that job you hate, or something as simple as learning a new skill. Take a day, a week or even a month to think about what your thing is. It’s a lot easier when you’re focusing on a single thing.
  • Now that you have realised what you want to change and it all seems daunting and overwhelming- start with research, Google the shit out of it, break it into mini steps, start with something small and then stick to it.
  • The key is not working towards an end goal but to make it as your lifestyle, to make it a habit and not to rely on motivation or willpower. (Atomic Habits, by James Clear is the holy grail about building good habits)
  • Of course you’re going to fail in between and thats okay. But don’t wait for next Monday, next month or next year to start all over again. It’s never too late to be the person you want to be.

So next year, when you look back you might not have changed everything on your list, but you would have had changed one huge thing, and I think that’s enough for you to start your new year with a brand new you. And then you can brag about it all over social media, around your friends and family or even write a blog post about it like I did, who knows!

And if you can take one thing from this, take this- I believe that there are three types of people, one who have accepted their fate and let themselves go thinking change is not in their hands. Others, who hate themselves so much that they want to change everything about themselves. And lastly, people who know they are enough and deserve the world, and wouldn’t settle for anything less than that, therefore, they put in the time and effort and make things happen for them. So which one are you?

You can read my last New Years blog here.