30 days left…

In just 30 days, I will be graduating from college. When I flip my tassel from one side to the other, I will be closing the most vital chapter of my life thus far.

I will walk across the stage, tears in my eyes, and hug my friends who enabled me to survive these past four years. I will say goodbye to my professors, my mentors, my community.

But how do I say goodbye to somewhere?

How can I possibly say goodbye to the place that welcomed me with open arms? The place that pinched me to make sure I was alive, and with a final embrace, will release me into the world outside?

I want to say goodbye to the kund I have walked around a thousand times with tears in my eyes and thoughts dancing around my mind.

I even want to say goodbye to the nights I didn’t sleep, frustration and fatigue boiling over in the morning. I am so much stronger because of them.

I want to say goodbye to my people most alive on sunny days. The people who just sit with their friends, talking about nothing in particular. Our laughter harmonizing with the other contented sounds.

My life is in this place. My identity and my passion are here.

These have been the years of strength, of self-discovery, of pride. The years of reflection and understanding.

So how do I possibly say goodbye to the place that planted seeds into my soul and encouraged me to bloom?

In 30 days, I will leave quietly. This place won’t remember me. In a few years, I will be just a whisper in the wind, swirling through the vibrant autumn trees.

But I will remember my time here. My life here. My self here.

I’m not entirely sure if there even is a way to say goodbye to somewhere. But maybe it’s for the best.

Maybe this isn’t goodbye, but just a “see you later.”

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Let my heart grow…

Before I tell myself that my heart has broken for the last time, before I shutter its chambers and swallows its key, remind myself that it is a muscle.

Before I tell myself that my heart could not possibly carry another name within its core, which it would hang too heavily in my chest, which it would weigh me down even more, remind myself how muscle is made – how it needs weight to strengthen, how it needs pressure to restore.

Before I tell myself that baggage is a bother, that trying stunts my growth; remember that heartbreak is the most important thing that will happen to me. It will hang like concrete in my bones, it will pile up within my words, but it will never weaken me, it will never cripple my love, for my heart needs weight to rebuild itself, my heart needs weight to grow.

A letter to self on 22nd birthday!

Dear 21,

Hi!

When I was younger, I used to write to my old self a day before my birthdays. In that, I started salutations as Dear 13, Dear 14 and that continued until 15. The letters remind me of my little achievements and as well the failures and goals that were not achieved. That somehow helped because I then learn to achieve those pending goals in the coming year. When I was 16, I got so lazy and felt that doing such is so silly and childish. However, tonight I’ll be writing to this 21-year old self who will be turning 22 tomorrow. Yaaa! Tomorrow is my 2015 birthday. I’m not really looking forward to something big and wonderful, but well, I have to call September 20, 2015, as my 22nd birthday, a natal day, a special day of mine; marking two decades and two years existence of someone named Sureen Sarona Hasan in this world.

21, you have been so so good. This year I was able to achieve so many things that years before, I never thought I could have achieved by my future self. I never thought I would that be brave, courageous, adventurous and goal-getter. I gained several important connections through my God-given talent, gifted skills, average intelligence and enough confidence (that is now existing when needed, thank goodness!). I met a lot of great people. I made a lot of friends whom I communicated with in much less embarrassing manner because unlike before that I was too shy and tactless, I could manage myself well enough already.

I travelled far as well. Perhaps, not yet in my dream places such as Scotland, Maldives, Istanbul, Prague, Spain or Paris, but I explored a lot more of Vietnam where I met inspiring individuals. I stayed at beautiful Buddhist pagoda during the summer. I went to Amritsar, the land of the Golden temple, spent my Diwali there with my best friend, Nimarta and Goa with my roommate for a college fest, then Madurai with my batch mates on a research project and with my family to getaway venues. There were so much more than that compared to ones I could remember and I will be forever thankful. Traveling releases all your doubts and pushes you to choose wiser decisions. Meeting my best friend, Ipshita after almost 2.5 years was the best last summer. Spending time, laughing, shopping with her.

Honest, this year has been so tough as well; the very painful year for me. Good, it is my happiest year but it is indeed true that the thing that could give you your intense happiness is capable as well of cutting you with the most painful wound. I have lost friends and my confidence; I did my best and gave what I can. It gave me twinge thinking that my efforts and sacrifices did not pay off, but as what most people say, “that is part of life,” and I am happy that I am able to embrace that maxim and push myself forward to the next level.

This year my friendship with other people was tested as well. I experienced being betrayed. It made me mad, hate and envelope second thoughts on trusting people, but it encouraged me to ponder that you cannot keep all specks of sands in your hands if the wind keeps on blowing hard. Even if you carefully put it in your closed fist, only those who are in the centre could make it. Some relationships are destined to end if only one party is sincere. That is not just for intimate ones, but for friendships as well.

 

However, I am just so thankful that my God has kept my family intact, centred in Him and loving as ever for more than two decades of my life. I am praying it will be good as forever. It is my parents and grandparents that entice me to believe and hope in true love and forever between two people, that there are genuineness and loyalty in a marriage, and that there is a strong foundation in a bond that is linked by God. Believe me, feeling the same seems surreal because it feels so overwhelming. They are like the lit of hope that lights the dimness of the cruel world.

Other than them are my close relatives and best friends who stayed as my compass in finding my good path. I realized that these people are our angels here in this planet earth who are always there to back us up and they are meant to be treasured.

Moreover, I thank God for my faith and for my family that I proudly belong. It is a home that I could always come home to if I have no one and a comfort that soothes me when I am lost. It is an epitome of promise that at the end of a very long ride, there is a Paradise that awaits.

21, I cannot count what I gained and lost when I’ve been you, but surely, my 21st year is a blessing! Because everything in between has been contributing pillars to create and found me as good as 22.

Goodbye 21st Chapter, and have a blessed and a happy 22.

Love,

Outgoing 21 Self.

Home.

There-is-nothing-more-important__quotes-by-Rosalynn-Carter-85

You know when someone (or two someones or a bunch of someones) hurts you so deeply you can’t even form coherent sentences to describe how you’re feeling? When you wake up feeling more than sad, like someone is sitting on your chest and has soaked your sheets so they weigh on your skin? When your emotions are a roller coaster of sadness, anger, jealousy and pure, sticky hatred? Well, that’s where I’m at.

And so I went home. Not to the house I stay, but to the house where I was raised. Home. I grabbed my laundry, packed my suitcase and caught a flight to my penthouse in Bangalore.

It’s a long flight, but a heavy foot and an iPhone full of music help you make the time pass. The miles go by and the distance gets shorter until you take that exit and finally feel your stomach jump while landing.

Sometimes, when I feel the butterflies in my stomach up in the air for the first time in months, I closed my eyes. It’s totally silent, motionless, cool and calm in the sky. I closed my eyes again for a few minutes, taking a few deep breaths. I feel nothing but relief.

Going home is wonderful for so many reasons; every corner of the house is familiar though it has changed a lot since I was a kid. When your parents become empty nesters, they have more time to prowl antique stores for the treasures that decorate your house. But the bones are the same.

Your things are still there: the childhood books, the collage of quotes. Clothes you don’t wear, but can’t bear to get rid of. Soft toys. Lots of Photos. It’s all there waiting for you to come home again and bring it to life, that “Toy Story” effect. Your whole life, to a certain point, is between those walls.

And it’s not just the house that offers such comfort; it’s the land. The roads don’t change. You’ve been navigating them since you were wobbling on training wheels. They’re waiting for you. The trees grow and die. The people never leave, though they age. That’s not the point, though. The point is that they’re there.

I have to put great distance between myself and things that have hurt me. It’s part of how I heal, and the gravel roads, army land and the sunsets I grew up with are what help patch up my mangled heart and broken spirit. I wake up in my childhood bed – much too small for my childhood self – and look out the window, and I think, “I will be OK.”

What do I know?

Most of what I’ve believed is based on hearsay, gossip and distortion.

The facts take years to sift.

Reality boils. It is not a millpond. Its roiling surface is opaque with the confused seas of the moment. Its contents are the mystery we must navigate through and inhabit.

Time is sedentary, sorting by gravity what is important from the dust of experience. I can never know the full meaning of my life in my own time. Perhaps I should be less harsh on myself.

I can never know my past completely, for remembering is a distortion itself.

My childhood, both the deprivation and the innocent wonder, the betrayal and the promise, are seen through the flawed glass of my needs.

I invent my history by selecting what I choose to remember and what I allow to remain hidden.

Even when me knowing is dim, persisting only in remnant attitudes or hidden fears, what I know still reflects everything I have experienced.

I am my memory, large and small, retained in my character, body and being.

Some part of my past is always telling on me.

Awaken from the dream of innocence and remembering my history.

Know how I color the world.

True freedom is called openness to my past.

The worth of happiness.

Everybody wants what feels good. Everyone wants to live a care-free, happy and easy life, to fall in love and have amazing sex and relationships, to look perfect and make money and be popular and well-respected and admired and a total baller to the point that people part like the Red Sea when you walk into the room.

Everybody wants that — it’s easy to want that.

If I ask you, “What do you want out of life?” and you say something like, “I want to be happy and have a great family and a job I like,” it’s so ubiquitous that it doesn’t even mean anything.

Everyone wants that. So what’s the point?

What’s more interesting to me is what pain do you want? What are you willing to struggle for? Because that seems to be a greater determinant of how our lives end up.

Everybody wants to have an amazing job and financial independence — but not everyone is willing to suffer through 60-hour work weeks, long commutes, obnoxious paperwork, to navigate arbitrary corporate hierarchies and the blasé confines of an infinite cubicle hell. People want to be rich without the risk, with the delayed gratification necessary to accumulate wealth.

Everybody wants to have great sex and an awesome relationship — but not everyone is willing to go through the tough communication, the awkward silences, the hurt feelings and the emotional psychodrama to get there. And so they settle. They settle and wonder “What if?” for years and years and until the question morphs from “What if?” into “What for?” And when the lawyers go home and the alimony check is in the mail they say, “What was it all for?” If not for their lowered standards and expectations for themselves 20 years prior, then what for?

Because happiness requires struggle. You can only avoid pain for so long before it comes roaring back to life.

At the core of all human behavior, the good feelings we all want are more or less the same. Therefore what we get out of life is not determined by the good feelings we desire but by what bad feelings we’re willing to sustain.

“Nothing good in life comes easy,” we’ve been told that a hundred times before. The good things in life we accomplish are defined by where we enjoy the suffering, where we enjoy the struggle.

People want an amazing physique. But you don’t end up with one unless you legitimately love the pain and physical stress that comes with living inside a gym for hour upon hour, unless you love calculating and calibrating the food you eat, planning your life out in tiny plate-sized portions.

People want to start their own business or become financially independent. But you don’t end up a successful entrepreneur unless you find a way to love the risk, the uncertainty, the repeated failures, and working insane hours on something you have no idea whether will be successful or not. Some people are wired for that sort of pain, and those are the ones who succeed.

People want a boyfriend or girlfriend. But you don’t end up attracting amazing people without loving the emotional turbulence that comes with weathering rejections, building the sexual tension that never gets released, and staring blankly at a phone that never rings. It’s part of the game of love. You can’t win if you don’t play.

What determines your success is “What pain do you want to sustain?”
I am willing to live out of a suitcase for months on end, to stammer around in a foreign language for hours with people who speak no English to try and buy a cell phone, to get lost in new cities over and over and over again. Because that’s the sort of pain and stress I enjoy sustaining. That’s where my passion lies, not just in the pleasures, but in the stress and pain.

There’s a lot of self development advice out there that says, “You’ve just got to want it enough!”

That’s only partly true. Everybody wants something. And everybody wants something badly enough. They just aren’t being honest with themselves about what they actually want that bad.

If you want the benefits of something in life, you have to also want the costs. If you want the six pack, you have to want the sweat, the soreness, the early mornings, and the hunger pangs. If you want the yacht, you have to also want the late nights, the risky business moves, and the possibility of pissing off a person or ten.

If you find yourself wanting something month after month, year after year, yet nothing happens and you never come any closer to it, then maybe what you actually want is a fantasy, an idealization, an image and a false promise. Maybe you don’t actually want it at all.

So I ask you, “How are you willing to suffer?”

Because you have to choose something. You can’t have a pain-free life. It can’t all be roses and unicorns.

Choose how you are willing to suffer.

Because that’s the hard question that matters. Pleasure is an easy question. And pretty much all of us have the same answer.

The more interesting question is the pain. What is the pain that you want to sustain?

Because that answer will actually get you somewhere. It’s the question that can change your life. It’s what makes me me and you you. It’s what defines us and separates us and ultimately brings us together.

So what’s it going to be?

Being alone…

When I have found myself, being alone is a privilege, not a punishment. 

All the good work that i’ve done comes when i am alone.

All my dreams are dreamed alone.

My best ideas are conceived in solitude.

My dream of a better world and the contribution i’ll make to it will also come when i am alone.

My creations and inventions, my solutions to the problems that most vex me, all comes to me in isolation.

It is only when i am by myself that I can be receptive to the stillness of my inner voice.

This is the voice that tells me what I need to know, the inner directive, the heart of my soul given words.

This solitude is the place from which my originality and specialness issue.

In my aloneness I hear music and see art more clearly. only when I am alone can I receive the gifts the world presents. 

In my aloneness I am in touch with the energy that runs the world.

It is the place here God speaks to me.

The things I take from this place fortify my spirit with grace, forgive myself and fill myself with new resolve.

Learning to love being with myself. it is the highest place to which I aspire.