I am a good person

I recently shared with you my insecurities. One of you guys, read it and wrote me a beautiful message on my blog. It was in short about taking time to focus on the positives I have as person, because as women we have the tendency to focus on our flaws, than champion our strengths.

I took a moment, after reading the message, to think about my strengths. Damn was it hard! How did I find it so difficult to think of my strengths, yet within a blink of eye I could list out all my insecurities and perceived negatives?

After days of long and hard deliberation here is few things I believe are my strengths. I’ve split it into the same categories as I did my insecurities, just so I can see for myself that in every avenue I have my strengths:

> Physical: I am beautiful, and I am so confident in my natural God-given beauty, which does make me feel so empowered and one with nature. Here are some of the favourite physical features about myself: my eyes, my cute beauty spots across my face, my healthy looking hair and my booty! Yep, you read that right.

> Relationship: It is a blessing to be in a secure long-term relationship. No matter how hard things get, we always seem to power through and find ways to become even closer. It is that much more tough when we have been living in two different cities for the most part of this relationship. Being in a long-term relationship for as long as we have been, and keeping that relationship alive and so beautiful is tough. Things were a lot easier when I was a student; I would just drive down to London as and when I wanted so to spend time with him (I was a bad university student so just bunked off my classes!). However, in my final year, I cut it down to weekends predominantly, and now with work we hardly see each other. We both work on different schedules, and we both have other commitments, individual to us, outside of work. He travels a lot for work and his performances. My weekends are taken up with my wedding dance business. Nowadays, we would be grateful if we could spend at least 1 hour, every two weeks, together. It is tough, and we have had so many difficulties as a result of it. Nonetheless, we are only coming out stronger. I pray God blesses us with more such happiness and strength, for which I am always grateful.

> Career: I am a doctor. I have a small yet significant wedding dance choreography business. And now, I am taking blogging a lot more seriously, and maybe in the future, I can make a career out of blogging as well!! Why the hell am I being so tough on myself?! I have worked so hard to build a life that I have dreamt of. There are few more things yet to do, but that will come with time. I am so grateful to be in a position of such responsibility. I am so grateful of the people I meet daily through my career. I am grateful for how my career is shaping me into a better person day-by-day.

> Travel: I need to accept that I currently do not have the travel bug. And that’s okay. I am on a mission of my own, and travelling does not fit into that picture at the moment. I just need to accept that be more loving to myself. On the contrary, I am instead saving some money. It is not a lot, but something is better than nothing right? I believe the savings will come to use at one point in the near future and I am proud that I am becoming a more financial aware person, because of my savings.

In addition to the above, for which I am forever grateful for, I have some great qualities as a human being. No one has ever really applauded me for them, but why wait for them, when I can applaud myself.

> I am a great listener. I spend more time listening that talking, and I believe that is a very important quality to have.

> I am very understanding. Whatever you throw at me, I will actually take time to think about the situation in your shoes. This has cost me my own feelings at times, but that is a conversation for another day.

> I am quite organised, disciplined and dedicated. If I set my mind on something, I will do all I can do to ensure it gets done.

> I am a loving human being. I am not good with regular messaging, and regular meet-ups. If you understand that and accept me for that, I will shower you with so much love always. If you do not understand that, and judge me for my decisions and the way I am, I will just step away. When I decide to love someone, I do so with my whole heart. Love rises above all.

It is so refreshing to look at how beautiful of a human being I am; and I am proud of myself for it.

We all have strengths and weaknesses. Just as we are uncovering our weaknesses/insecurities, we need to become more aware of our strengths; that balance is what will keep us in a state of mental and emotional balance.

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Satsumas are so under-rated

When I was a child/teenager, at secondary school, this is how my average week looked:

> Mondays – School, an evening for home-work/study/I sometimes had tuition on monday evenings
> Tuesdays – School; I finished at 3.30pm; I came back and then had some time to shower and eat before I had 2 hour dance practice at 7pm.
> Wednesdays – School; once I finished, again I would rush home, shower and eat and then get ready for singing and veena class for 2.5hours
> Thursdays – School; again 2 hours of dance class after this
> Fridays – School; I would come back, shower and eat and then go to the temple with my family
> Saturdays – I would have to wake up at 7am, because I had dance class from 8.30am to 11am/12pm. I would then eat the food, my mum packed for me, in the car as she drove me to swimming lessons, which were from 1 to 1.30pm. I then came home and had the whole evening to chill and catch up on movies, TV or home-work – unless of course I had a dance show, in which case that was pretty much a zero.
> Sundays – I had tution in the morning from 10.30 to 12.30pm, and then had the whole evening to myself after that.
> Back to Monday again.

Now this is all excluding the extra hours I had fit in for school plays I was rehearsing for, school show rehearsals I had to put time into, external dance shows I did with my dance school; and some time for friends and family.

I eat the Tesco satsumas. So juicy and sweet. Yum yum yum.

My life at university looked something like this:

> Mondays – university which normally finished at 5/6pm followed by dance rehearsals
> Tuesdays – university which normally finished at 5/6pm followed by dance rehearsals
> Wednesdays – university which normally finished at 5/6pm followed by dance rehearsals
> Thursdays – university which normally finished at 5/6pm followed by dance rehearsals
> Fridays – university which normally finished at 5/6pm followed by dance rehearsals
> Saturdays – dance rehearsals for at least 8 hours, if not I will be at home!
> Sundays – dance rehearsals in the morning followed by catching up with my friends or myself haha

This is excluding studying, assignments deadlines, societies I was involved in (Tamil society, Hindu society). I also tried to make time for family and friends, partying, getting drunk and recovering from hangovers, being in and out of relationships…in my last 2 years of university I was in a relationship which I am still in, for your information – woohooo go me! Hahaha, I was such a crazy person and do not know how I managed it all. (I am not going to neglect the fact that I was a terrible university student, hardly being present at any of my teaching sessions, unless there was a register. I basically just focused on doing enough to pass; this was particularly the case in my final 2 years of university).

I managed to get through a whole bag of satsumas this weekend.

My life now looks something like this:

> Mondays – work; come back, shower, eat and chill
> Tuesdays – work; come back, shower, eat and chill
> Wednesdays – work; come, shower, eat and chill
> Thursdays – work; come, shower, eat and chill
> Fridays – work; come back, shower, eat, drive back to London
> Saturdays – day for wedding dance rehearsals where I usually schedule 1 client at a time convenient to them, for however many hours they want (unless I have prior commitments)
> Sundays – morning and afternoon of rest; drive back to Birmingham
> Back to Monday again

Maybe I should buy a satsuma tree. Does that even exist?

What happened to me? When did I become so lazy and uninteresting? When did I stop taking interest in doing things I love and things which help me grow and learn?

Have I become that person who says ‘work is so tiring.’ Bullsh*t. I can understand 12-hour on-call shifts being tiring, but an elective day at work cannot be tiring. I have been that individual who has gone through the craziest schedules at school and university. I came out so strong. I need to bring back that fire.

Writing this made me reflect on life. Many of us who are doctors now, were engaged in a whole host of fun extra-curricular activities as children and teenagers, to help with our growth and self-development. We got to university and that started to narrow down slightly. We started working and then it all became non-existent. The most we do is go to gym (or hula hoop in my case) from time to time; go out partying and getting drunk, to numb ourselves of the monotone lives we are living; or travel around the world to escape from the mundane lives we have built for ourselves.

Here are things I want to do and I am determined to start weaving it all into my life:

1) Learn a new language – I want to improve my french (which I stopped practicing after my A Level French). I also want to start learning Spanish. I am going to find an online which I can use to start learning both. If I can get a few cute qualifications, even better haha!

2) I want to build dance into my weekly schedule. At least once a week, but I can do it twice a week, it would be ideal.

3) I want to try something new. Something like pole dancing/acting classes. I have always loved acting; I did drama at GCSE and did three/four school plays at secondary school as well. Why did I stop? I would like to believe I was pretty good. Maybe I need to rekindle that fire.

4) When I am in London, I want to start making use of the Veena my parents bought for me. I loved playing the veena and I want to get back to taking lessons and learning again.

5) Of course I want to travel. However, I want to travel to learn and immerse myself in other cultures. I do not want to travel to escape from my life. This may be why I do not feel ready to travel yet. I am working on building a life which is amazing in itself; that way I do not need to look forward to going abroad, but instead embrace the fact that it is just another fun aspect of my already fun life.

6) I want to do small courses here and there. I have a particular interest in nutrition and skin-health so it may be something I venture into, on the side.

6 months down the line, I want to be able to read what I have written above and say that I have commenced at least 2 of the above. It’s all in my hands.

PS: Satsumas are so under-rated…oh crap, I’ve already made that point very clear.

PPS: This piece was nothing to do with satsumas, as you have probably clocked already.

Coming to terms with my insecurities

I have several insecurities. I have found it very useful to put my insecurities out there, so I do not feel vulnerable or guilty about them. I do not think I will ever overcome and forget about my insecurities, but I can make peace with them.

The first step to making peace with my insecurities is by acknowledging and being aware of it.

So here goes…my biggest insecurities:

> Physical: my body, my hair, my skin, my eyebrows, and my lashes. However stupid this may sound, yes my physical insecurities sometimes do take a big toll on me. Ever since I was a little girl, people around me passed ‘interesting’ remarks about my appearance. This shaped how I started to look at myself. Day-by-day I am trying my best to overcome this, but it is not easy when I was made to feel unattractive for years.

> Relationship: I have been in quite a few relationships now. In each one, I felt like I was a 2nd option. I think (well I hope) the guy I was with on each occasion in the past, did not intentionally want to make me feel that way, but I did. I felt like I was never good enough. It’s my perception of those relationships. I have grown a lot since. I am now grateful to be in a relationship where I feel loved and cherished and made to feel like a number 1. Nonetheless, my emotions and insecurities associated with my past relationships sometimes to seep through and take a toll on my security in my current relationship. Sometimes I feel like I am going in circles. I give my boyfriend a hard time as a result. I am really trying my best to grow beyond my past emotions, so both him and I can be happy and stress-free. It is a work in progress.

> Career: Let’s be real. I am in one of the most rewarding careers ever. I am so freaking proud of myself for it. It is not easy being a doctor at all. I am doing my level best to be as good of a doctor as I can. At the same time, I am trying to balance my dance career. It is so tough. I feel exhausted and demotivated so much of the time. I then see all these Instagrammers who are dancers, constantly produce amazing content. I feel the pressure that I may need to produce content regularly to validate that I am dancer. This takes me into a whirlwind of negative emotions. Guess what, f*ck it. I am and will always be a dancer. Producing content is not what the success my dance career is going to be defined by. My definition of success in the dance world is very different to several others’ definition. Therefore, I should not feel pressured to have to fall into the trap of trends, producing videos, etc. That is not where my focus lies, not for the time being anyway. And that’s okay. If I feel crap, I will not dance. If I feel great, I will dance. It’s that simple for me.

> Traveling: I want to travel so much. Right now, I have a few other priorities that I am focusing on which means that I probably won’t be able to travel much for the next year/year and a half. That’s okay. I should not be judging myself for that. Nonetheless, I see all my friends traveling so much, and I’m thinking to myself…have I made the wrong decision? Should I be travelling now? This led to a lot of sadness. I felt so down. I spoke to my boyfriend and he pretty much counselled me. He made me talk through what my priorities in life right now are, and why. I came to realise how much I want to travel and learn. Right now I am not in the mental nor financial position to travel around the world. And that’s okay. If I keep progressing through life the way I am, I will eventually get to a point where I will be able to travel. I just need to take it at my own pace.

It has really helped me get off my chest some of my biggest insecurities. I am working on making peace with it. I am working on acknowledging that most of these insecurities come from comparing myself to others. So yes, there is a lot of work for me to do. But cheers to my first step.

I would recommend that if you have insecurities, you start acknowledging it and making peace with it as well. Write it down on a piece of paper at least. Figure out why you have this insecurity and how you are going to come to terms with it. Simple things like this go a long way.

I am grateful for…

My family

My boyfriend

My friends

My education

The roof above my head

The food on my plate

The clothes I am wearing

The clean water I have access to

The people I meet through my career

A career where I have the potential to touch the lives of others

My love for dance

My love for learning

Every negative experience, which is helping me grow

…and God

Thank you God for all that you have enabled me to learn. A grateful soul attracts all things positive.

What are you grateful for?

Here’s a late night thought for you

With the advent of social media, the need to share every positive and negative moment of our life has become such a norm.

The question I have started to ask myself is this: ‘Is this a necessity?’

I have started to become more aware of myself and my surroundings which has meant I have become less inclined to post ‘live’. Any moments I want to keep a record of, I take a picture or video, put my phone away and then enjoy the moment.

I feel like I have recently fallen victim to the pressures of having to post every ounce of my life as it unravels.

My motto in life is whatever moments are private, are the most precious. I want to be more present and care less about posting and more about living the memories I want to create.

I do not think there is any harm in posting whatever one feels comfortable posting. The most important thing is about comfort. As I get older, I want to share less. My close family and friends will be a part of my deepest and more valuable moments and that is all I need in life.

To my dearest mother,

You are honestly an inspirational human being. This letter is from me to you, to say how much I love you and am proud of you.

There was once a time when we did not really see eye-to-eye. We had so many differences. Your values were different to mine. Ultimately we just did not vibe, the way I dreamt a mother-daughter to vibe.

I used to look around and be jealous of other mothers and daughters and I wanted that for myself. I started blaming you for me not having that.

I realise how wrong I was. Now, all I do is love you and be proud of you. What has brought about such a change in me? Well it is where I am at right now, and what I see on a daily basis through my job.

You were always a very ambitious woman. You were smart, grounded, knew what you wanted in life and did all you can as teenage girl, living Sri Lanka (amongst all the political stresses against the Tamil community) to live your dreams.

You wanted to be of service to others, and managed to work a great job at one of the top banks in Colombo. Then you got married, and came to London, putting all your faith into a man you hardly knew (my wonderful father – honestly he is such a legend, and can’t wait to write about him soon!).

You had to start from scratch in the UK. You did courses at a local college and successfully got qualifications, and managed to find yourself jobs. You were a girl in her mid to late twenties, trying to navigate herself around the busy London, figuring out tubes, travelling in the late hours on public transport on your own. You proved that you had a courage like no other.

Then I was born! You started to juggle motherhood and working full-time as a mother of a toddler so perfectly. You proved to me again how strong a woman can be. You put your family first and understood the importance of working to support your husband to provide for your small, imperfectly perfect family.

You managed like this for 6 years before my sister was born. During this time, you were blessed with the help your own mother, whom you managed to get London, all the way from Sri Lanka. Grandma’s time in the UK, was short. Two years following the birth of my little sister, your second daughter, grandma was lost to cancer.

Two young children in your hand, a family to bring up, and having lost your own mother. Honestly, you stood strong and became an even stronger woman. At this point you and dad had the ‘talks’ and decided it was best for you to stop working so you can look after me and my sister, whilst dad provided financially for the family.

This time was life-changing for me and little sister. You learnt driving so you could take us to all our classes: dance, music, swimming, tuition; and all our dance and music shows. You sacrificed your evenings waiting in the car whilst sister and I had 1-3 hour classes. You sacrificed your social life so you could be there for us to make us endless cups of tea when we had exams coming up. Your sacrificed couple-time with dad, so you could embrace and comfort us when we were stressed out with life.

When we started university, you sacrificed your weekends: making food for us to take back to university; doing our laundry because we were spoilt brats who did not know how to do the washing; ultimately making sure we had a stress-free time at university.

Basically you started living your life, for us. That became your purpose and that still is.

I have come to the biggest realization. I am able to live the life of my dreams, pursuing my passions in various avenues, because of all your sacrifices. I cannot imagine a life where I am not able to be a doctor, a dancer and blogger. I cannot imagine a life where I do not live independently. I will always want to live on my own two feet. But for me to have the courage to be the person I am now, you sacrificed your independence and dreams. I can only imagine how scary that must be, because the thought alone makes me sad and anxious.

You sacrificed your whole life for me and sister (and dad, but dad is dad! Haha). We became your world, your social life, your passion, your love. You CHOSE to make us your world. Our successes are not ours. They are yours.

Amma, our relationship is not perfect. But it is nonetheless beautiful. I love how we are working on it on a daily basis. I love this new openness we have, and I can’t wait for more of such beautiful memories together, because amma, you are a superhero in my eyes.

So damn proud of myself

I am going to keep this short.

I’m so proud of myself!

Today I went to cinema on my own, for the first time in my life, and watched Aladdin (2019).

Now you may be thinking, seriously is that all Praveena?! Actually this is big deal for me. I have always done things with other people. If there are things I want to do, and no one else is on board, I have not pursued it. I decided a few weeks ago that this needs to change. If I want to do something, however big or small it is, I just need to do it.

I have always been the person to get a little anxious when I have to do things on my own. When I found out Aladdin was coming out today, I literally booked a ticket for myself without a second thought. I just couldn’t be bothered to ask around and wait to go with other people. I wanted to go so I booked it. However, today at work, the thought of going on my own got me very anxious. I was so close to not going to the cinema. I spoke to my boyfriend who said, ‘Praveena, you are going.’ (Gosh I do love him for his tough love). So I came back from work, showered, and then left to go to the cinema. I bought popcorn for myself, went to the theatre and queued outside on my own and sat on my own.

Literally it was the best decision ever!

May this be the beginning of a journey or self-love and self-development, where I grow more and more courage to do things and be present as much as I can. If I have a burning desire to do something, I don’t need to wait for anyone. I should just do it! Even if that means I am on my own.

By the way, the movie was so epic!! It reminded me of my childhood dreams of wanting to become a princess!

The hardest relationship…

…is between myself and my body.

Ever since the day I remember, I have had a dysfunctional relationship with my body. I think if I was left to my own devices I would have been fine and quite secure in myself. However, throughout my whole life people around me (many of whom were my relatives) passed comments about my body, my weight…and worst of all, compared my body to my other cousins’/friends’ bodies, which made me feel so sh*t about myself. I mean I was only a 10 year old child when I started facing such demeaning comments from some of my extended family members and family friends.

Believe it or not, when I was a teenager my uncles and aunts turned around to me and called me ‘fat’. By the way, I was of, and have always been of a healthy weight and within the normal BMI range. Nonetheless, who in my society ever cared about being ‘healthy’. Everyone just wanted LOOK ‘healthy’. Sadly being healthy, for many, meant looking ‘skinny’. I am not skinny. Never will be and never want to be.

I have come to terms with a few things now. Being skinny does not mean you are necessarily healthy. Eating the correct food and doing moderate exercise, at the least, is what being healthy is all about. My goal has always been to be healthy, and less about looking skinny. Why? Because I have fallen into the trap of crash and restricted diets, which have led to ill health and low mood to say the least.

My metabolism is changing as I am getting older, which is why I have become more aware than ever of what I eat. I try and avoid crappy food, but that does not mean I will not treat myself. I deserve a few guilty pleasures from time to time.

Now what I have experienced is only one end of the spectrum. I know of individuals who are naturally skinnier, and get called out that they need to put on weight. Guess what there are individuals who struggle to put on weight, no matter what or how much they eat. It is not their fault that their bodies are the way they are. Let’s not be giving them a hard time; let’s not put the pressure on them that they have to put on weight.

Ultimately, we need to encourage a culture where healthy lifestyles are so much more important than conforming to body types. I am so grateful to be surrounded by amazing friends who make me feel so beautiful. But I know that there may be individuals in this world who may not have that.

So here is what I wanted to say through this post. F*ck what they all say. If you suffering from body image issues, you are not alone. I am here with you, alongside several thousands across the country. Never stop living a healthy life. Don’t fall into the trap of crash diets. Don’t fall into the trap of extreme workouts. Be healthy. Be safe. Just love your body for what it is, and take care of it. It is seriously that simple.

I mean…I don’t know

I cannot believe that the last time I wrote here was over three months ago.
Honestly I have been wanting to share the whirlwind of emotions I have been going through. I have made a start to write. I have paused. I have disliked it; I have become more anxious; I have started over-thinking about who is going to read it, and why those who may come across my writing would even care about my emotions and feelings…so I delete what I have written and go to bed feeling unaccomplished and more anxious than ever.

A lot has happened to me in the past few months, and I would like to say it is for the better. I am growing to be a wiser, more humane person. I have started to forgive. I have started to break down all the grudges I have held against others. I have started to share more positivity. I have come to terms with my own pain and disappointment, which I have felt with myself and others. Basically, I am growing up at a rate faster than ever before.

You might be thinking, okay why is she blabbering on so aimlessly. On the contrary, you might not think anything at all. I mean why do I do I need worry about what you may be thinking? I have spent too many months worrying so much about what others may be thinking of me, that I have stopped thinking about what I think about myself.

I honestly do not even know the purpose of this post. I just needed to release a lot of tension in my mind, and give credit for myself. It has been a hard few months for me mentally and emotionally. I have been fighting many internal battles. I am not writing for anyone’s sympathy. I am just writing for my own peace of mind. The lack of any structure to this just shows how jumbled my mind has been.

But Praveena, do not worry, it is getting better. You are getting better. Do not waste your time worrying so much about what others think of you. You are so freaking amazing. You have been through so much, and you are coming out of it all stronger than ever. You are so freaking strong. I am proud of you.

PS: I do apologise to those, if any, reading this. It may serve no purpose to you, but it is serving a huge purpose to me. That is all that matters.