Sitting on the couch, I felt it coming. It was late at night and the world was fast asleep. It was slowly making its way to me and I started to feel terrified. “What do I do now?” I asked, addressing no one in particular. And then, it begins: “I can’t do this. I don’t have what it takes!” I was starting to feel overwhelmed and if I didn’t get hold of it, it would lead me down a deep hole the way Alice did when she followed the rabbit.
“I don’t know what to do. I’ve put all my eggs in this law school basket and I just dropped it,” said Christy Plunkett, a character in the television sitcom Mom. Her mother Bonnie yelped in excitement, “That’s why you don’t put all your eggs in one basket. I just got that!”
How often do we learn something and not really get what it means? We read countless books about a particular subject, watch experts talk about it, maybe even take courses so we can put it into practice. We think we understand but at the back of our mind, there’s still a paradoxical layer that leaves us confused, struggling to fully grasp its true meaning — until the proverbial penny finally drops. Most people call this an aha moment, and this is one of mine.
If you embark on a journey of personal growth or spiritual development, at some point, you’d want to have a teacher to guide you through that labyrinth. Some people hire coaches, some look for mentors, and there are those who even travel to places like India or Tibet to seek counsel from yogis, gurus and monks. But many people believe the famous Buddha-associated quote, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” In my case, that teacher came—but not in the form that I expected.
Leonardo di Caprio has it. Often, he feels the urge to walk through doorways multiple times. So does Daniel Radcliffe. It used to take him as long as five minutes or more to turn off a light. Then there’s Charlize Theron who claimed that she would lose sleep thinking about other people’s disorganized cabinets. And of course, there’s Howie Mandel who refuses to shake hands with people he meets. This is what obsessive-compulsive disorder — known simply as OCD — looks like for different people.
My whole life, I had been my worst critic. I was my own judge, jury and executioner. I strove for perfection, sought validation and felt that I have to compete for everything in order to deserve something. This is a result of people - most especially my family- criticizing me, telling me in many different ways how I was not good enough and how I need to be different and do better. Undoing that damage is neither easy nor quick. The solution was both simple and complicated but I am now peeling away the ugly layers that covered up my true self.
How many of you have taken a selfie? I’m pretty sure most people had taken many selfies. In fact, in the past I took lots of selfies even before they were called selfies using my camera’s self-timer (yeah millennials, go ahead and laugh), all because of Facebook. That was around 2007 before it exploded to having more than 2 billion daily users. It was back on the day when updating your status was still done in the third person and the newsfeed was called the Wall. These days, even my 68-year old mother takes selfies to post on Facebook. So yeah, we all have done it.
Ah, carpe diem. How many times have you heard this phrase? But have you really paid attention to what it means? It was made popular by the movie Dead Poets Society in 1990 but when I read the blog post Don’t Carpe Diem, I asked myself, “Why not? Isn’t ‘to carpe diem’ a good thing?”
Often, when things in our life seem to go wrong, we feel as if it’s the end of the world because we can’t see further than what’s right in front of us. It is only when we look back, after we’ve survived the storm, that we realize that those “broken” parts are actually pieces that make up the beautiful picture that is our destiny.