Fearless


What is fearless (to you)?

When I asked this question to those around me, the answers differed.

“It is the ability to speak the truth without hesitation.”

“It is the belief that I stand with the truth.”

“It is the ability to share my emotional and vulnerable moments with those close to me.”

“It’s when you are not scared of anybody or anything, and even if you are, you don’t show it.”

“Freedom.”

“Fearless… is to be able to feel and act consciously from state of awareness and to own responsibility for everything that comes under it.”

What is fearless (to me)?

My favourite movie character is Mulan from Disney. The eponymous character brandishes her sword and saves her nation. In my eyes, she’s fearless, not just because she charges in to a battlefield, but also because she has the courage and the guts to break stereotypes and break norms of the society. She has the courage to stand by what she believes in. Fearlessness comes in many forms, and I have met great warriors of everyday life. They are resilient, sometimes quiet, and sometimes not, but they all have faced the battles of life, and won over demons, both outside and inside. That’s fearless to me.

Here I present to you my most recent definitions of fearless. These are two women I interacted with recently. One a mere teen, a young girl, who was bullied once but who, now has returned to fearlessly face her demons, and overcome them through her book and her performances, and the other, a 46-year-old international personality, TV host and speaker, who fearlessly tramples on every rule book, to say and do what she believes in.

Aija Mayrock: Author, Performer, Activist 

rent.com/aija-mayrock-interview-bullying/Aija was bullied as a child and as a teen. That kind of experiences affect most people negatively. However, Aija turned the same experience as a motivator to help others. I got to know Aija when I came across her very powerful anti-bullying performance. For someone to overcome the feeling of not being good enough, to overcome self doubts and hesitation that comes with being bullied, and still to be able to give such a power packed performance on her experience is fearlessness indeed! But she is not bitter. On the contrary, she was friendly, enthusiastic and prompt, when I approached her for an interview. Read the interview here

Anita Kapoor: TV Host, Media personality, Speaker.

image1

I met Anita at an event where she was the main speaker. She spoke on being fearless. According to her, the courage to be vulnerable, the courage to embrace whatever you feel, is what fearlessness is all about. On the surface, this seemed like a paradox. You could either be strong or be vulnerable. Right? But she proved it otherwise. And she proved it with a personal story, so poignant, that for the first time, I was blinking back tears in a live talk, and in a hall full of powerful, and successful women. Anita eloquently spoke of her bereavement, her fresh loss, and her journey of grief. However, she did it fearlessly. Anita is not new to such fearless show of vulnerabilities. Her documentary on living with the elderly touches on the same personality trait of hers. It’s raw, it’s sincere, and its powerful.

The above are just two definitions of fearlessness. They are not the only ones. As I meet new people, both men and women, my definition keeps expanding, keeps growing.

And then of course, Taylor Swift sings…

Source: Imgrum

So, maybe being fearless is also about being able to take a leap of faith. My definition continues to expand…

(This post is dedicated to the fearless. Thanks to The Asian Parents Magazine for endorsing the interview, and thanks to Primetime Business and Professional Women’s Association for the beautiful evening with Anita).

Advertisements

Be The Change Exposition- 2013


Source: SoCh

Source: SoCh

I went looking for big accomplishments,

I thought bigger the achievements, better it would be…

And then the little ones came marching along,

And in a firm voice one said, ‘well, you can look at me!’

 

‘I am neither big, nor grand,

And I only make promises that I can keep,

My solutions are simple yet effective,

My feelings though are true, and my thoughts deep.’

 

‘I don’t give up till I succeed,

Because I’ve been told I have great power within me,

It must be true and I do totally believe,

That I will be the change that the world wishes to see!’

© Prionka Ray

 

That in short sums up my entire experience at the ‘Be The Change Exposition’ that was held on the 12th of November at #2, Orchard Link, Singapore.

I had promised in my last post to introduce you to some real life young heroes and this was the place to find them. So, I had braved gloomy weather, rain and a chaotic traffic to reach the venue but once inside, I found myself transported to a different world, a world that was bursting with vibrant energy and was far removed from the gloomy streets. The place was full of educators, parents, supporters and students, aged 9 to 14. Each of the students believed that he or she could change the world. It was not an empty boast, either. They had indeed changed a few lives, in a small way perhaps, but changed them, nevertheless. In fact, the exposition’ 2013 celebrated these achievements and hoped in turn to inspire the others, by these success stories.

Inspired I definitely was, but I also realised pretty soon that it would be unfair to hand-pick a couple of heroes in a room that was full of heroes. No one there was better than anyone else, so, before I go any further let me say that I am honoured to be among these bright, passionate and creative kids who didn’t wait for the world to solve their problems, but jumped right in with whatever little resources they had, and came up with creative solutions. When asked, what bothers you, these kids had not only come with an extensive list related to stress management, peer pressure, body imaging, loneliness, etc.,  but they had also come up with ways to handle these issues around them. They had worked systematically in groups, reviewing and revising plans, using design-thinking skills that the ‘Catalyst for Change‘ workshops had equipped them with, and then implemented these plans. It was heartening to know that each student group had tried out their solution and now these solutions could be emulated and implemented by anyone, anywhere in the world with a similar issue. It was good to know that people across the world could connect in this way. Going around the venue hall, where groups displayed their causes, I was struck by one recurring theme, bullying. This seemed to be bothering most students these days, and if so it was a worrying trend and reflection of the society.

IMG_7324 IMG_7321 IMG_7309IMG_7311

 

“Why did you choose ‘bullying’ as the issue to tackle?” I asked the students of Tampines Primary School, and the smallest boy there, Samuel replied, “It’s because I was bullied.” Two other voices echoed in unison, “he was bullied, so we decided to do something about it.” I smiled and looked at the serious faces of the girls who supported Samuel. These students, along with few others had formed a group. Their message was, “I may be different, but that does not mean you can treat me this way. Stop bullying!” When asked if things had improved at school after their project, the answer was a shy ‘yes.’

Wellington Primary students echoed the same thoughts on bullying and had created an anti-bully song which they dutifully sang for me. They had performed the same song at their school assembly, at various classrooms and many other places where they thought they could shame the bullies. Their simple and catchy song was based on the tune of ‘Best Song Ever’ by One direction and so I knew that our ten-year old heroes had a favourite boy band that didn’t differ much from other girls of similar age. So heroes are like you and me and like any body else. Perhaps what differs is their determination and the way they look at things.

Sengkang Secondary was another school handling the issue of bullying, but with a different perspective. They wanted to help the bullies overcome their problems. Why? According to Humairah and Janice, (both 13), when you help the bullies overcome their anger issues, listen to their problems and perhaps provide them with a channel of communication (sometimes even with their own parents), you tackle the ‘root cause.’ Curious to know why they had come with this slant, I probed further. “How do you know this works,” I asked. “I was a bully,” one of them replied “but now I am here, helping others with the same issue that I had once.” I looked at the pretty girl with the kind eyes. It was difficult to believe she could be a bully. Strength of character is not limited to adults or famous personalities. These kids had conviction that many adults lack. Maybe, that’s why children make better change agents. I sincerely believe more children should be encouraged to lead changes and this belief had resulted in my association with SoCh and Design for Change movement. I looked at these kids and knew the movement was on the right track.

IMG_7308 IMG_7306 IMG_7303 IMG_7276

 

Half a day in such a place is enough to get a person inspired, overwhelmed and emotional, and I was no different. It was like recharging my batteries. I visited many more student run stalls, where passionate team members talked about the ways to save the strays, stop food wastage, handle study pressure, help peers cope with studies, rise above body imaging issues and integrate students with special needs among other relevant issues. Having faced the problem either themselves or having seen some one around them facing it, they were determined to come up with solutions. To my question, is change easy? The answer  was a consistent “No.” Change, they acknowledged, was not easy to come by. There had been failures, disappointments, oppositions and many false starts before they had achieved any kind of success, but at the end there was an immense satisfaction and that to them, mattered the most.

(My heartfelt gratitude to the teachers, educators, parents and the SoCh team members, who had facilitated these young heroes to reach their full potential and a big thank you to the young heroes for leading the change and for inspiring others to do the same. (To read all the change stories, please visit www.sochinction.com).

Before I go, I would like to thank another educator who turned her teaching experiences in to stories of a different kind, ones that entertain. Author Barbara Park, who recently succumbed to cancer, created the adorable, funny and spunky character, Junie B. Jones, who is a shade younger to the kids I had met at the exposition. I know that I should have read the ‘Junie B. Jones’ series when I was a kid, after all it’s a kiddy book. Instead, I discovered them as an adult and realised that as an adult, I need the laughs more than I did as a child. So, thank you Ms Park for your stories and farewell!

junie-62594e67f1986b2bd5829cd2e69154a555f8874e-s6-c30

Source: Random House

“When you’re in between dreams, you get to lean back and relax and stop trying so hard. Trying to be somebody, I mean. It’s not as exciting as being a television star, but it’s not that bad, either. You just have to learn to be satisfied with the way you are for a while. Not Forever. Just until you’re finished resting.” (From the series- Junie B. Jones)

Link


(Featuring: Psychologist Malini Shah)

September is an important month for me. It’s a month when I round-up my year, take a closer look at my priorities, dust my dreams and renew my relationships. It’s also a month when I let go of things that serve no purpose except weighing me down. What I call ‘things’ here are actually the intangibles like the failure fragments, the melancholic bits, the pessimistic moments and the doubts that have been borne of unfortunate events and circumstances and that have stayed inside of me as residue. It’s in September, that I let them go, I speak them aloud, share them with somebody, write them down and move on.

not-talking

Credit: Nataliedee

This post is for those of you who bottle things up. It’s time to talk!

In William Blake’s words-

I was angry with my friend;

I told my wrath, my wrath did end.

I was angry with my foe:

I told it not, my wrath did grow.

(A Poison Tree)

Negative thoughts and emotions have a way of fermenting in closed spaces and before long, the unexpressed feelings and sentiments have the power to consume the space it’s in, so talking to friends, family members or if need be, an expert becomes crucial. Let this be known that seeking help is not a sign of weakness, instead, it takes great courage to acknowledge that you need help.

According to Psychologist and Behavioral Trainer, Malini Shah, “every person needs help at some stage of life; we do seek help or advice from elders or friends and don’t feel bad about it. Similarly, taking professional help from somebody who is more equipped to handle a situation is better than struggling and taking a wrong decision. Early treatment helps to overcome an issue much faster. Therapies like CBT, Gestalt, Transactional Analysis help understand and cope with our personality traits, or lessen the intensity of negative emotions. Many past experiences condition our mind or create prejudices and this can affect our current behavior and interactions. Therapies help us understand and cope with our personality traits, or lessen the intensity of negative emotions.”

Here’s the rest of my Q & A with Malini Shah, co-founder of AasthaChrysalis (Mumbai):

Question: I understand that AasthaChrysalis aims to empower an individual through mind, heart and body. Can you briefly explain why connecting the three is important?SAMSUNG

Malini:  AasthaChrysalis means Transformation through Faith. It is the mind, body and heart, which can create this transformation. Our centre’s motto is believing in others’ potential, expressing that faith and then motivating them to believe in themselves.  An attempt without any one of these three will always be incomplete.

Question:  What’s the biggest challenge in your line of work?

Malini: Time management as well as the feeling of helplessness, especially, in personality disorders when the scope of therapy and counseling is limited to the person’s way of implementing.

Question:  The current generation faces issues regarding body imaging, bullying and stress at schools/ colleges. Is this a concern?

Malini: Yes, these are the concerns that tend to harm, and not just mentally and physically, but also because it shifts our energy and concentration from studies and things that are actually important for self development to other negative and self-demeaning thoughts. It can lead to self-absorption, self- pity, and obsession about body image and can cause withdrawn behavior, low self-esteem, and low confidence. It can also create unhealthy coping patterns like dominance, indifference to others’ feelings and emotions, as well as difficulty in being sensitive to others’ needs.

Question: Let’s talk about Eating Disorder. How can parents/ friends recognise the symptoms of eating disorder in their loved ones?

Malini: Any change in the normal eating pattern, like, if a child avoids eating with the family or vomits soon after eating, changes in weight –increase or decrease, changes in appearance – dryness of skin, hair, redness in eyes, general behavior of the child in terms of unusual sadness/irritation etc. should be paid attention to.

Question:  What are some of the subtle signs to look out for in people undergoing stress or depression? When you say ‘talking is essential,’ are you implying that there is a lack of communication now?

Malini: Subtle signs could be changes in behavior: excessive moodiness, getting irritated on small things, remaining quiet, lack of interaction with others or preference to staying alone, changes in diet and sleep patterns, weight gain or loss. Any other unusual behaviour patterns like crying, sleeping issues, nightmares, being too cautious or being hyper vigilant, avoiding people, unusual reference ideas (like I will lose myself if I go there) or incoherent speech and expression can be noticed as early warning signs of issues.

These days, communication is more impersonal or superficial; trust levels are decreasing. People are comfortable sharing without face-to-face communication AND THIS CAN LEAD TO IMPERSONALISATION. The ability to sustain and tolerate frustrations is less now and this is giving rise to reactive behavior pattern. People are confronting rather than sitting down and discussing the issue. In most of these cases a clear and good communication can help resolve any misunderstanding or confusion and can help to build a good & trustworthy relationship.

Malini’s final advice to the youth of today is: “Have your own identity as well as co-exist with others. You can stretch your limits and learn and grow from your mistakes.”

(This has been a ‘guest feature.’ I would like to thank Ms Malini Shah for her time and expertise and most of all for her commitment to spreading awareness. Ms Shah is an Affiliate Counsellor/Trainer PPC and the Co Founder of AasthaChrysalis, where she is also the Senior Psychologist and Counsellor/Behavioral Trainer.)

Leaving you all with the image of Mark Webber riding on Alonso’s Ferrari at the Singapore Grand Prix. It seems, Webber broke article 30.9 (b) of the sporting regulations with this act, which is a pity because I found the sight very endearing. Guess that’s life! And in case, you are wondering why September is the month, I start afresh, let me give you the answer. I was born in September.

formula-1-grand-prix-singapore-mark-webber-red-bull-fernando-alonso-ferrari_3008015

Previous Update:

Reading list- Midnight’s children by Salman Rushdie, The lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Movie- Naukadubi (Bengali selection), Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
On the discussion table- Multifaceted education
Concern:  Prejudices

Featured Organisation: Children Cancer Foundation, Singapore.