On Being a Private Person

September 12, 2016 ~ 10:41pm

I've always told myself that I'm a "private person". For years, I've used that as an excuse for being evasive when I don't want to talk about certain things or just to avoid giving away details about my life. But the truth is I'm not even sure I know what being a private person really means. While it's true I don't like to expose too much about myself, there have been people with whom occasionally I have admitted to things (though never everything). And even so, it's always been very calculated. Reflecting on it, most of my comments made in public have been purposeful almost staged at times.

But why? Because I'm a self-absorbed fraud? A little, maybe ... I'm being safe? Possibly, I guess ... I'm fearful? Yeah, that makes the most sense. I sincerely thought for the longest time that revealing too much would make me vulnerable. That people would judge me, gossip about me or somehow I wouldn't fit it in somewhere.

But really who the hell cares? Probably no one. I'm not that important. And there most definitely are some people out there who will judge me or do some unkind thing to me behind my back - but that's life. And more so, I'm now seeing the irony of being shackled by the opinions of some small subset of people who I am allowing to have so much control over me.

Even realizing that, there are some other aspects to my foolish mindset. As much as I would like recognition and appreciation for things in my life, I often doubt people's sincerity when they say nice things to me. I don't even know why. Maybe because I personally never felt proud of myself so at times it just feels easier to be skeptical of everyone else's motives. And then this pessimism feeds into itself. I don't want others to question my intentions, so I don't give praise or encouragement all the times when I do genuinely want to. And then people who I care about, think that I don't care or I'm insensitive or worse: that I'm refusing to join in their happiness. And now writing that all out, well, it just reads like a total farce.

No really, I'm just a coward, just hiding my emotions because I'm scared I'll get judged or hurt. I've been hurt before and will again. I've been disappointed by people and been judged. But those are all poor reasons to always have to hide the things in my life and constantly build pointless defenses.

I don't know what purpose this "confession" of sorts really serves, other than to help me re-evaluate my "old ways" and to try to become a better person. Life is just too short to wish you could have told someone that you're happy for them, or to miss out when someone else really just wanted to share in your happiness.

10 Days without Social Media

September 9, 2016 ~ 07:13pm

Almost 2 weeks ago, I had a major personal disappointment that really affected me. Unfortunately it happened the night before the first year anniversary of my father's death. While the turn of events were incredibly upsetting, I didn't think at the time that it was anything that I couldn't deal with alone. I didn't want to outright tell anyone I was overwhelmed, but I did have the urge to say depressing things on my social media accounts, Twitter especially. As struggled to avoid sad tweets, I was having trouble concentrating at work. I became increasingly distracted and found myself just staring out the window or at pictures on Facebook. In a brief moment of clarity, I thought to myself that I would just quit social media for a while and try to deal with my personal turmoil. I firmly decided that if I had to say anything then I would say in person it to someone who cared. And if I had to write anything then it wouldn't be short tweets or posts - I would it write it down in complete thoughts.

And ... so I did. I signed off Facebook, killed Facebook Messenger. Signed off Instagram. Disconnected Twitter on all my computers and devices. No more Snapchat. Even stopped Google+, Untappd and BuzzFeed just to be thorough. The world became dark. Man, was it ever. But in that darkness I could hear myself think - or rather I could filter my thoughts from the constant random comments, pictures, rants or political jests.

So what was it like? Well everything went by so slowly. So painfully slow! I literally had no idea what was going on in the world or even my backyard. I don't have cable TV, don't listen to the radio much and haven't spent too much time talking with co-workers recently. True, I was trying to get over my personal issues and didn't show much interest, but I was still curious. I did wonder if anyone even noticed I stopped tweeting. I did feel some emptiness as it occurred to me that some of my family and close friends don't often text or call, but do constantly communicate or share info over social media. And I was missing that. Even as I write this, I feel anxiety about what all happened while I was "out".

I noticed for the first 3-4 days that I would habitually pick up my phone, turn on the screen, realize I had nothing to check, then I put it back down. There were some long days that I was excited to see a text or email (even from work). However now that I made to 10 days, I've almost completely stopped looking at my phone. In fact, the only time I did recently was to check the time. I'm worried that when I sign back on I might relapse into constantly reading Twitter. Of course, for almost the entire time I was disconnected, I wanted to tweet or post about what it was like to be disconnected. I even started keeping mental track of smart things I was going to tweet when I signed back on.

So looking back, I'm glad I did it. I did find it easier to get through my troubles by not being glued to a tiny screen. I did get a good break to reflect on my life and priorities. I talked more on phone with some of my friends in the past week or so, than I've done in months. I did rediscover that I have a (very) crappy blog which I really haven't spent any time on in years. All the notes I wrote down (on paper or electronically) were definitely therapeutic - and I'm not done writing things down.

I was surprised seeing how poor I had become at writing, but even so, I'm sure I want to write more. Does it help with the sadness? Yes, a little. Am I over the sadness? No, not really. I will write just for me. I hope my future self stumbles upon these words one day and realizes what a journey he's made from those 10 long and sad days.

30 Years Ago

June 16, 2013 ~ 10:30pm

At this time 30 years ago, my parents were bringing my siblings and me into the United States to start a new life. They came with a few suitcases, limited money and 4 kids under the age of 8. They derived their strength from nothing other than the support of their family and their faith in God.

For all the times I've thought my parents did not take any chances or feared risk, I cannot imagine what courage it took to make such a difficult journey. To leave their home, family and friends and travel 8,000 miles to other side of the world. On this Father's Day I thank both my father and my mother for their immense sacrifice. Sadly neither did ever see their parents again.

At times I wonder if I could ever do what they did. Thanks to them, I don't think I will ever have to.

The Little Things Add Up

January 14, 2012 ~ 09:44pm

A year ago today, I quit my job of over 6 years. In the 12 months following, so many things both positive and negative occurred that I can't honestly decide if it was a good year or a bad one. The only certainty is that it will forever influence my life.

When I think about any of the situations I faced last year, I realize that either I was ready or not. Everything I had done up to a certain point prepared me for it. This maybe obvious in a job scenario, but it applies equally well to health issues or personal matters. It really isn't an excuse for someone to say that they didn't have time to prepare. Every day we automatically prepare ourselves for tomorrow.

I don't have any advice or motivational message here. Just that when I pause and look back I know I'm glad I did do some things correctly and took care of myself. And when the situation was bleak, only then do I begin to see the negative things left to fester.

The little things, good or bad, they all add up.

In Memory of a Friend

March 23, 2011 ~ 06:36pm

I originally had decided not to post this, but I now think it will be therapeutic to do so. Exactly 2 weeks ago, my good friend, who I've known for over 15 years, passed away after a 4 month battle with cancer. He was only 31 years old and had been married for less than 6 months.

While I was aware of his condition immediately after his diagnosis, I am still in shock of how rapidly everything happened. For whatever wishful reason I naively thought he had more time, and that I would have had at least one meaningful conversation with him. Sadly this was not the case.

I have always observed life threatening illnesses such as this from afar. Occurring to other people or distant relatives (usually much older). The reality of knowing someone so close both personally and in age, makes me more introspective on my own life (as if that were even possible). All these thoughts, memories and regrets flood my mind.

My biggest regret was that I never spoke to him when he was sick. I never told him that I had not forgotten about him and to let him know that he had all my support. I remembered him. I just hope that he heard me on a voice-mail I left for him or saw one of my messages. ... The only thing I am proud of in some small way, is that I did summon the courage to get up and talk at his funeral. Something I did not plan on doing.

Since he lived across the country, I did not see him often. To his credit, he always visited me when in town and I saw him a few times a year, which is more often than I see some people who live much closer. Being remembered is worth so much more than I can properly quantify. I really wish I had expressed that to him.

At the funeral when his family spoke, his brother's wife said something that stood out to me among all the sadness. She said little by little, each step in his life he pursued a small part of his dream. From engineering, to attending law school, to establishing himself to California and to finding his love and getting married. She encouraged everyone to find their dream - their love - to pursue it and once you have it: hold onto to it tightly. Such precious words from a broken heart. Words to live by.

Grief is a very personal thing. I can't imagine what his wife, siblings or parents are going through. For every word written here, I could speak a thousand more. I can recall the past 15 years quite vividly with all the ups and downs. I can appreciate the changes between us: career, life, relationships and everything else. For the handful of friends who I care about, there is now one less, and that change at the moment is quite difficult for me to accept. In time ...

(a big thank you to all my friends and family, especially my youngest brother)

Rest in peace my friend.

Aashish Kumar Garg
July 20, 1979 - March 9, 2011