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Today, do nothing! Relax. The weekend is coming!

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Get confused often? Write things down

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When I was young, my father used to constantly remind me to write things down. He insisted I should note down every important point in a rough notebook. I used to loathe this nagging habit of his. I couldn’t see why I need to write down when I could easily remember stuff in my head. However, looking back I think things were simpler then. The textbooks were sufficient and regular exams ensured we stay on track in school.

As I entered high school, things changed. The level of studies got higher in terms of diversity and difficulty. I could no longer read a single notebook and give exams. I was supposed to go through reference books and give my opinion on things. As I entered college, the standard got even higher. Now major portion of my studies involve going through reference material deeply and squeeze out important information. The assignments are more interactive and allow me to think freely, giving my point of view instead of adopting the bookish view.

Still, I didn’t follow my father’s advice. I continued my habit of reading and trying to remember everything. As exams approached, I discovered I don’t remember half of the stuff. I panicked. I was so confident I knew it all, I didn’t make notes. I could remember only in parts and it got me confused and frustrated.

Now I was wishing I should have noted things down. There I was, sitting in the examination hall and getting all confused. Somehow all the information in my head mingled into each other in a way I couldn’t sort it out. I was very upset with myself.

Why writing helps?

The thing is, as a human being we have the tendency to overestimate our strengths. I am good at remembering stuff but I could not recall them in the exam. I realized how important writing is. When we write things down, we are completely engaged in the material. We try to concentrate our knowledge and try to write in easy and simple words. We frame a structure in our mind of what the facts are and how they relate to each other. It is like painting a picture in the brain.

Writing things down prompts you to think straight. Anything you write, you tend to analyze. Subconsciously, we try to make sense of things and when we see written information, we try to relate and verify it with already familiar things. In this process, we make new neuronal connections. In other words, we create long term memory.

Therfore, today’s tip is to write things down. Even if you are not going to look again, even if it is a rough scrambling on paper. Put things in writing. You WILL remember better.

Find your personal legend-4

Hey there! As my regular readers know, I’ve been posting about finding your personal calling or your “personal legend” since last few weeks. Today is the fourth post in this series. (You can check out previous posts here)

DREAMING Versus DOING

As I said last week, actually trying out something is very different from dreaming about it. You think you like to do something but if you do it consistently and regularly, you might feel differently.

dreaming vs doing

 

Take my example. I thought I liked photography to the extent that I would make a career out of it. I decided to explore career opportunities in wedding photography. Turns out, professional photography is more about getting clients and post processing than actually clicking pictures which I enjoyed. I volunteered at one of my cousin’s wedding and the pictures turned out horrible. I couldn’t keep up with the demands of his parents and the wedding ceremony was moving pretty fast. Moreover, there were a lot of people who wanted their pictures clicked and I was the only photographer. I couldn’t take the pressure.

I believe that somebody else who is used to dealing with crowd and pressure of missing out important moments would have worked wonderfully in my place. The job wasn’t that tough but I didn’t like it. I decided not to pursue wedding photography anymore.

 

Where I failed

I wasn’t prepared enough

To start with, I didn’t have a good camera. Yes, I didn’t. How could someone be such an idiot as to forget the most important thing? I was overconfident. I thought my camera was nice enough. I was afraid if I bought a new one and failed, I would lose my money.

I didn’t research on what kind of rituals will be performed. I thought I knew how an Indian wedding goes. However, when I actually had to be there, I realized there are a lot of small ceremonies and customs I had never paid attention to.

I didn’t interview bride and groom beforehand. I didn’t know what they want. The bride didn’t know me well and thus wasn’t comfortable around me. It was a major factor of ruining their couple photographs. Getting to know the couple before the wedding will acquaint them with you. Once people are comfortable, they give natural and memorable shots.

I didn’t have any previous experience 

This point can be ignored as I was just trying out. It wasn’t supposed to be that great. However, I wish I would have started small with simple assignments before taking a wedding shoot.

Keeping up with the circumstances

When I took this opportunity I had some idea of how difficult the job will be. However I failed to prepare myself for the unseen circumstances. The crowd and the poor lighting, it was a nightmare. No matter how detailed your plan is, something will definitely go wrong. In my case, everything went wrong.

 

What I could have done

First of all, I could have borrowed a good camera from a professional. I knew some professionals and they would have lended me their camera. But I didn’t ask.

Secondly, I should have researched. I should have interviewed and spent sometime with the couple. I should have prepared a list of the rituals so I would knew what to expect.

Lastly, I should have practiced with smaller assignments first. I should have gone to another wedding and clicked pictures without the pressure of me being the only photographer.

 

What I learned

It is this kind of real life experiences that let you discover more about yourself. You discover the particular aspects of something you actually like and can do under pressure. You may even discover new interests. I discovered that I should not be overconfident but I should always believe in myself. sometimes, taking a few deep breaths is all you need when you are under stress.

Conclusion

I assume you are working on your interests. If you already found something which clicks, congratulations! But if you have not, keep on trying. A week is a very small time to judge. Take more time. Keep on looking until you find something you both enjoy and get something out of. Something will go wrong,  make a plan nevertheless. You might fail, try again. Change your approach, change your strategies.

The important thing is not to succeed, but to discover yourself.

Money is tight

Money is a difficult affair for most students. Since we don’t earn full time, either our parents pay or we have to take student loans. It can be tempting to spend a lot when you are handed over the amount for the month but it goes as quickly as sand from hand.

money

In short, money saving is very important. It is not enough to make a budget(from my experience, budgeting never works out) but you have to cut down some of your expenses. It is not necessary to stop buying, you can buy smarter instead.

Ok. HOW?

Let’s say you need sugar. If you go to a supermarket, you will see a number of brands selling sugar. Generally, we go for the most familiar or popular one. However, the quality is almost the same. Sugar is sugar. If FDA approved it, the chemical composition is the same and the difference in cost is only for the brand name.

You can check out this post for a list of items to buy generic. In my experience,the average monthly expenditure got down to 70% by following this tip.

Today, check your shopping list for items which can be bought generic. Do not shop impulsively and take advantage of student discounts. Happy shopping!

Learn to cook

Hey there! The title of this post is self explanatory. Learn to cook. I’m not asking you to become a masterchef overnight but at least learn the basics. Trust me, you will have to, eventually. You can not live on take out food all the time and making instant noodles or breakfast cereal is not an option always.

As a student, many of us leave parental home and live in hostels/dorms on campus. Generally you are provided food there but you eventually get bored of it. The cafeteria food isn’t great either and you never have enough money to buy delicious food outside everyday. Most of you would have experienced this. So what do you do? Do you eat the crappy food? Do you buy potato chips or cheaper street food?

If you are like me, prefer to take the middle route. I take the crappy food and reinvent it. Add more veggies, seasoning, sauce or whatever else you feel like adding and then eat it. It tastes good most of the time but sometimes you just can’t eat it no matter what you add.

Therefore, I learned to cook. There are so many simple recipes out there which are easy and get ready in minutes. You can try smoothies, sandwiches, semi cooked foods, two ingredient desserts etc. which can be learned very easily and the ingredients are readily available. Here is an excellent post which lists a number of exciting ways to get delicious food in dorms!

If you can’t do much, learn these 5 skills at least:

1. How to make a simple sandwich. Did you try ironing your sandwich?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgPBQpkh60I

2. How to use a knife to chop vegetables(seems easy? I’ve seen people who never touched a knife in their life)

3. How to cook eggs. Omelet, scrambled, boiled whatever you like. Easily available and very nutritious.

4. How to cook ramen. There are very different ways

5. Smoothies and easy drinks(e.g. lemonade)

Below is a list of some student friendly websites which offer super easy recipes that anyone can make. Take your pick and try:

Personal Excellence: Compare yourself to no one

As young adults, we often try to measure our success in terms of what others have achieved in the same situation. It can be money, grades, relationships or even fitness levels. To see your friend’s accomplishments as an example could be inspirational and many people will say it is a healthy comparison because it inspires you and propels you do the same.

However, I beg to differ. I believe that no matter what the other person does, he can never be you. Every one is unique. Whether you fail or succeed is only a reflection of your own efforts and conditions. Under no circumstances should you compare yourself to someone else. Not when you do good and not when you do bad.

When we compare ourselves to others, we give away the sense of responsibility

 At the subconscious level, we start to feel like whatever we do is merely a consequence of our circumstances, that anyone in our place would have done the same thing. It can relieve you from the burden of being a failure but it can also make you feel like a puppet of destiny.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an atheist who wants to get rid of the notion of destiny. Infact I’m a huge believer in destiny and the fact that there is an inherent meaning in everything that happens. However, I also believe in free will and the fact that we create our own destinies.

Philosophy apart, it is what we do and say that gives us power. If you feel like a puppet, you will not try harder to get what you want.

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Take responsibility for your actions. It seems stressful at first but it will actually give you freedom. Freedom of what you want to do and not what others expect you to do. This freedom is an essential requirement to excel in life. You know what they say-

what happens to you is not always in your control but how you react to it, is.

A cliche I know but it is true.

In conclusion, today I want to say that we are all the same in the sense that we are all unique. We have our own set of talents and personal abilities and it depends on us what we make of them. In the end, you are the one who will reap the fruit of your actions. So, take responsibility and stop comparing yourself to others. You will never walk in their shoes. You need to walk in your own shoes.

Food as medicine

I know Thursday could be a hectic day. It is right in the middle, weekend is still far away and you feel like overwhelmed with whatever work you do. I feel the same and hence I tend to write a short status or post a link instead of a complete full length post. Today I was stumbling on the internet and found this gem. It is a great website and the linked page lists various common lifestyle diseases like Migraine, Obesity, High cholestrol, common cold etc. Foods that cure/reduce the disease are also listed. I hope you benefit from it. See you tomorrow!