Yes. It is that time of the year when you will make lists and resolutions. Then 365 days later, you will tear it apart because you miserably failed. We are very sensitive to feelings of guilt and failure. Thus, I suggest small and subtle changes done for a limited period of time. If you like them, repeat them. If not, continue living your life as you desire. Because irrespective of a democracy, dictatorship or monarchy, every citizen of the world has the royal right to screw his life up, without any outside help.
1. Keep a bad display picture.
Remember the early sane days of social media when you did not have a good camera phone or a friend with a DSLR? You kept your favourite actor/actress/sportsman/car and what not as your profile picture. Your photos would have that pimple, zit or horrid scar and the one with the least would be the display picture as no one knew Photoshop then. And now here you are making your friend click 50 photos in same pose and spending hours editing so that you get 500 likes and hearts on Instagram and Facebook. There is that social pressure to look good because that “sexy” acquaintance of yours has uploaded a photo which should form the cover of Vogue/GQ. Keep a bad, human picture clicked with your phone and with minimal editing. Resist the temptation to go for the rat race of compliments from people who don’t even really matter. What is the worst that could happen? Few likes. Friends telling you to take it down because you look too human and not like the supermodel they all intend to be. A guy/girl you like will ignore you because you are “weird” for keeping a simple photo. I am guessing that when/if you date that guy/girl, the truth will come out when you see each other in person. And since, there is no Photoshop yet for the human body, the truth will be out. Give yourself a break and be carefree. A thousand photos cannot save those who are damned from the inside.
2. Fall off the grid.
What if I told you that there exist people who you can connect to better when you are not online? Turn off the data on your phone. Unhook the Wi-Fi. Internet Addiction is a real thing and a problem of the future. Give yourself a weekend, free from BBM/Whatsapp/Facebook/Twitter/Snapchat and host of other things which will come up by the time I finish writing this article. A tweet does not tell you the feeling behind a statement. A Facebook status is now kept for adulation rather than honesty. And IM have made it easier to lie and disconnect from people in a way which was never possible before. A face to face conversation, a nice meal or a simple time to yourself doing what you love is more liberating when the guillotine of social acceptance and relevance is not hanging over your head. As Charlie Chaplin once said, we think more and feel even less. But sadly, even our thinking is grinding to a halt as the Social Media bug refuses to leave our consciousness. Social Media will reach its saturation one day, like Orkut did. But the need to have human beings in your life is perennial and more real than that chat on the phone.
3. Be sorry when you are supposed to.
If there is one word in the English language which has no use in describing any human condition or relevance, it is the word perfect. Human beings are not perfect and so ipso facto cannot do anything which is perfect. There is always something flawed in all of us. And we all need to be sorry for that. One of my favourite songs was “Sorry, put the blame on me” by Akon. I would end each day feeling sorry for things I did intentionally or unintentionally. It wasn’t a burden or an overflow of guilt washing me apart. It was pure relief. I accepted I was human and did or said things which I shouldn’t have. We may not see or understand them, but they are out there. Did you shout a lot on your employee today? Say sorry. Gave a rude excuse to a stranger when he asked if he could sit on the bus because he needed to? Close your eyes and remember that mistake. Saying sorry to yourself is not a futile exercise. It imprints on your mind a reflection of what you did wrong. And what is tomorrow if not the chance of doing better.
4. Don’t Bully.
My definition of Bullying is this: any action-verbal or physical, taken with the sole intention of causing injury or pain ,physical or otherwise, for mirth in order to blur one’s insecurity and feel better at the misery of others. Bullying and criticism also differ vividly. “You should control your eating habits the way you wanted to. You are being lazy.” That is criticism. “Wow, you are fat and ugly!” That is bullying. In a cyber world with no identity or consequence, it is even more tempting. In a world which does it to you, it even seems fair. But don’t. Not because of the usual-“Oh bullies they are weak people” motto, but the proven fact and truth-we are all equally weak. It may not appear so. But the fears we harbour are all the same. You can pretend for 5 minutes that because you bullied someone, he/she is lower than you. What about once the thrill ends? You are the same. Of all the things I have mentioned, this will probably be the most difficult one to do. It is a common practice through high school-college-family-work and everywhere. The causes? Too many to list. The behaviour can be pointed out only if you look for it. Stop Bullying yourself too. That perfect rosy picture in movies and media is not true. It is ok to be the way you are-men and women. You are a beautiful work-in-progress in every single way and words should not bring you down. And it is not a blonde anorexic millionaire who is telling you this, but me-a depressed, bald Indian with no income yet.
5. Stop “listing” your life/ Be weird.
We are all naturally weird. It is the standardization demands of the society which forces us to conform and stop who we are. I observed the trend of lists such as-“Top 10/20/30 mistakes you can make when you are 20/30/40” or “Mistakes you make in Love.”They are based on the generalisation that we all act out our fears in the same way. People in different regions behave different even if the causes are the same. As most things on the internet, these lists where made for the West. No list/lecture/warning/advice ever spared me from the mistakes I was always going to commit. They tried to standardise me. I refused. It is not easy. But losing yourself to the point you don’t recognise who you are looking at in the mirror is more painful. Be quirky and natural like you always were. Speak and do freely rather than following the crowd. As I said previously, we have the treasured right to “screw up” our lives. Treasure it. Don’t be stupid. But don’t pretend to be wise either.