Recently, when we were video calling my brother in Dubai, he said that his two-year old walked into a room, saw too many children, screamed in disgust and said: Bye Bye. This is how my nephew is able to clearly communicate what he wants to walk away from.
As we grow older, and especially if you live in the U.K. and adopt the usual British diplomacy, saying no or walking away from things and people you are not sure you like, is probably not done as often as it should be.
Knowing when to stop, or when to stop someone, when to say no, all of these could help minimise complexity and negativity in our lives. Without realising, being nice can prolong dysfunctional projects or relationships. Selfishly speaking, anything that we think affects us negatively, we should be cut-throat about and aim to eventually ween them out of our lives. From personal experience, I feel like I have had situations where I built up anger towards people, situations and even myself, which could have been avoided if I just walked away earlier, or just said no.
AVOID 'BAD HAIRCUTS'
I stole this from Legally Blonde 2, which is about a lawyer who is stereotyped as a Blonde but is actually intelligent in her ways. She mentions in a classic chick-flick style speech, that the reason for her bad haircut at a salon was not the fault of the stylist, but her own. She could have involved herself earlier in the process, trusted herself in what she wants and spoken up to stop the stylist from ruining her hair.
This applies to manicures, pedicures, massages and everything else we pay for but do not necessarily get the best service out of. I know I sometimes still say it's fine when a masseuse asks if the pressure is ok, when I am actually in borderline pain (I am working on it). There have also been times when a beautician would file my nails unevenly and I would not say anything because I would just bear with it and do it myself later. In my mind, I would rather not make the situation uncomfortable then, even if it would make me angry later.
This is something I need to learn from my dad.
In restaurants I wish any waiter luck when they ask him how his meal was, if I know my dad really did not like it. He tells people, to their face, that their service was not up to scratch. But often I notice that people appreciate honesty and take feedback on board, while my dad does not build up any negative feelings in his mind as a customer.
Although, he has also told one restaurant manager that he won't be coming back again, which perhaps I will never do, but it does make me laugh.
NO MORE 'ONIONS'
We all love a checklist, right? This article highlights s 10 signs that you may be ready to let go and calls those that make you cry: Onions.
I can talk about this now, but in my previous job I was feeling almost all of the above for about a year, which is a long time, but it could have been longer if I didn't take some action. It's crystal clear now, but it wasn't then. Until I resigned, I did not know how much being at the wrong job, five days a week, was sucking my energy and life out of me. To the outside world, and with the help of social media, I was living my life and traveling, drinking, socialising. But all of these activities, as much as I still love them, were only helping me avoid what I was feeling about myself. In this case the onion was in fact my job.
Applying this to relationships and friendships, there have been times when I bottled up a lot of things that I have wanted to say to someone, when certain things about their behaviour annoyed me, or when they were crossing the line. The end result has usually been a delayed emotional outburst or arguments, and sometimes they had no a clue about how I had been feeling.
My view is that when there is an imbalance in the effort put into a relationship, or if someone has crossed the line more than once, you should not refrain from telling them how their behaviour made you feel, as soon as possible, in the right moment, calmly and politely (not after 20 years). If possible, a healthy discussion, face to face or at least a phone call, could clarify whether either of you are willing to look into your actions to make the relationship work.
Personally, I find writing emails or text messages easier to articulate, but this has backfired a few times, and it's inevitable that the other person may misinterpret what I wrote. Texting is never ideal, but my opinion is that communication is better than not saying anything at all.
Having said that, if we can see and feel that a relationship has lost its base, is broken, hurtful and doesn't involve mutual trust and respect, maybe it's time to say Bye Bye âin the interest of everyone involved.
'JUST DO IT' (IF YOU WANT TO)
I will caveat the below with the fact that I truly respect those who have the dedication and will power to challenge them to do physical challenges like marathons, triathlons, mountain climbing or train for competitive sports and so on. Especially if you're a crazy French Spiderman (Alain Robert) who free climbs skyscrapers like Burj Khalifa.
By all means, if anyone is passionate about something, there probably is not a better feeling than achieving certain goals related to it. However, what I have now learnt about myself and what I disagree with is: trying to physically challenge myself because others are doing it, or they expect me to, or because I want to fit in, or I want to prove something to the world... etc.
It is good to push ourselves, but not at the expense of what we really value for ourselves. For example, I wanted to do something to mark my 30th birthday so I decided to attempt to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. I am glad I trained for it, attempted it, and enjoyed my journey up. However, on the last day (summit day) I struggled to breathe and I was close to crying in frustration that I cannot even take a few steps. In that moment I decided to turn back. I could not give myself a single reason why I should put myself through the self-imposed torture (emotional and physical) to get to the top. What was I trying to prove and to whom?
No doubt, if I made it to the summit on that day, it would have been an amazing feeling. But in that moment in time, I said Bye Bye to the situation and did what I wanted to do (go to my tent and sleep, and no I am not a lazy person).
F*** THAT SH*T
You can make many meanings out of this, but I had to maintain the PG rating of this website.
This was something our guide, Fabio in Peru said to me, looking bemused when I asked him if we needed to dress up in smart clothes to go to a certain bar in Lima: F*** that Sh*t. Ever since then, it has become a regular thing I say to myself when something or someone is not worth a headache. In kinder words: Bye Bye. Try it, it feels good and is liberating. We rocked up at the fancy bar in our usual 'holiday clothes' which for me involved my fading t-shirt, capris and sports sandals. We had a great night! Thanks Fabio!
linear career paths
There is a Bollywood movie called 3 Idiots (and yes, they do start singing and dancing, but within context...sort of). The movie has a strong message about pursuing what you truly love and you will probably be very good at it (eventually).
For instance, where I am in my career is probably a hybrid of what I love and do not love. It is a combined result of my interest in marketing and being taught to be practical.
The linear models for education and career paths have been suggested to every other child for generations. For example, having a real job to many parents would include being a Doctor, Banker, Engineer, Lawyer, etc., which is great if you genuinely love sciences, maths, law, etc. But if you really do not and instead you love singing, painting, writing, running, pottery etc., whether it's now or in ten or twenty years, you should consider saying Bye Bye to what you do not love and say Hi to what you do love.
It is something I am telling myself and I know it is harder than it sounds and may involve foregoing elements of my current lifestyle and money. I am not sure if I am brave (or stupid) enough to quit my job and become a painter, but maybe being in the middle of my career, a fine balance would be to have a flexible job doing what I do not mind, to make more time for things I love doing i.e.: travelling, painting, photography, swimming, writing and eating!
I am guilty of this myself: filling up my diary with something to do for most of the week after work and ending up stressed, tired and grumpy. I have gotten better with cancelling and declining meetings (or 'tentatively accepting' which basically means, I won't show up). Being busy gives me a buzz and I love meeting new people and sharing ideas and talking in general, but being too busy can cause stress, anxiety, depression, headaches, insomnia... and in extreme cases heart attacks! Having a good social and professional life is great for our personal growth, but not to the expense of our physical and mental health.
Here's a few things I plan to say Bye Bye to:
Everyone has priorities in life which are unique to them, so what you bring to your life or remove from it, whether it is a situation, a person, a job, your colleagues, your boss, your fears, challenges, qualifications, labels, tasks, or even yourself - is all in your hands. We just need to learn when to say Bye Bye.
My first impression of Sweden was that it was a bit 'boring' from a couple of years ago, when we took a 30-minute train ride across the Oresund Bridge from Copenhagen, Denmark to Malmo. I have to say, the main reason for our visit was that my brother and I have our own targets for "countries visited" to achieve (transit stops don't count and Wales, England and Scotland count as three countries, thanks). My new job made me think of Sweden differently, especially after my latest work trip to Stockholm.
Having spent all of my adulthood so far in London, one of the busiest cities in the world, Stockholm felt like a yoga retreat. On a Tuesday evening, after I finished work at my 'temporary office' near the city centre (with a whole three other colleagues in the building), I went for a wander, crossing a bridge or two, and walked over the cobbled streets into 'Gamla Stan' i.e. the Old Town.
The first thing I did was buy a magnet of a colourful building in Stortorget, the main square in Gamla Stan. I noticed that apart from review websites like Tripadvisor, another quick way to find out 'what you should see' on your trip is to visit souvenir shops. They usually have all the famous tourist landmarks on plates, bottle openers, magnets, bags and snow globes, all freshly made in... China. I still buy them.
TOP 5 FACTS ABOUT STOCKHOLM
1. Nobel Prizes in Sciences, Literature and Economic Sciences are awarded in the Stockholm City Hall
2. Stockholm is the 14th richest city in the world
3. The famous pop group ABBA was formed in Stockholm in 1972
4. Stockholm is made of 14 islands and 57 bridges
5. Stockholm has one of the largest archipelagos (series of islands) in the Baltic sea.
The first thing I noticed about almost every other person I spoke to in Stockholm (excuse the stereotyping), was their piercing blue eyes. I don't think I have seen so many pairs of beautiful blue eyes in the space of three days. Apart from trying to stop myself from being the creepy little Indian girl who keeps staring, I also admired how good everyone's spoken English is. Swedes have one of the longest life expectancies, probably due to their relaxed and healthy lifestyle, focus on quality over quality food and just the lack of too many people to stress them out.
There's no question about the fact that the Nordic countries are expensive to visit, even more than London. A beer is around GBP 8 (94 SEK, Swedish Krona) and at lunch time, it is normal to spend around 170 SEK (GBP 15) on a plate of Sushi (compared to GBP 4 for a beer and GBP 6-10 for lunch in the City of London). However, once you get over that, you will appreciate the quality of the food, especially the Salmon from it's neighbouring country, Norway. The salmon I had was probably the best I have ever had.
One evening, I acted like a traitor in Sweden and had Spanish food for dinner at The Hairy Pig, which was perfect with it's dim lights, wooden tables and cosy ambience. Delicious tapas style food and local red wine gave me some entertainment and energy to walk back to the hotel.
But as I had nothing better to do for the rest of the evening, I took a detour and walked to the end of Gamla Stan and sat in silence next to some ships, with not one living creature in sight (picture the typical wallpaper on a meditation app - this is what I was looking at in real life). I walked across one of the bridges to the island where The City Hall is, the 106-meter tall tower with three golden crowns at the top of the spire. I ventured into the building, apparently made with eight million bricks (I don't know why anyone would count... I don't know how many bricks a normal building would have either). It's certainly I nice place to wander into and walk near the water banks during and after sunset.
I have already gone on about how nice Gamla Stan is, by foot. However, with more time and budget there's a lot more to see in Stockholm, whether you do this with a 30-minute flight on FlyOver or via a boat trip along a big part of the 60km archipelago, with prices ranging from 1500 to 2500 SEK (GBP 120 - 220). I didn't have much time to see many of the other architectural sites that the city has to offer, such as the Royal Opera House and The Great Synagogue, but as long as I pass my probation, I should be coming back to Stockholm, gladly.
I don't think Poland (Polska) was ever on my hit-list, if I'm being honest. However, when you meet someone who is so passionate and patriotic about their country, its culture, natural beauty, food (especially meat) and vodka you can't resist the temptation to see the place through their eyes. And I'm glad I didn't.
My friend and I talked for four hours straight, from Stansted Express to the flight, to Krakow Airport, pissing off almost every unfortunate soul that had to be around us. We were picked up by a (very beautiful) young man in a fine Mercedes E-Class, which was a nice intro to the country. Although I wouldn't call a local experience, it almost felt necessary after Ryan Air. Apart from a pit-stop for a hotdog in a quiet petrol station, we got to Zakopane within an hour and a half, a small city right at the bottom of Poland.
We checked into a wooden cottage style house, although a little tricky to find in the middle of the night. The inside of the house was decorated with pretty crochet pieces used as curtains and lots of paper decorations placed strategically around the walls, with a nice warm and cosy feel to it. It felt a bit like a prelude to Christmas.
touching slovakia: tatra mountains
The following day, we went to Koscielisko Valley in the Western side of Tarta National Park. This was an 'easier' trek near streams, through forests and some waterfalls and a lovely secluded lake, until we decided to check out the caves. We thought this would involve strolling into a cave, taking a few photos and walking out. Instead, it involved close-to-vertical climbs and descents on soap-textured rocks, using nothing but a metal chain and a lot of arm strength.
This was real-life bouldering and I was close to tears. I still can't say if I enjoyed it or hated it (probably both). On one side, was the sense of achievement and on the other side putting myself through that freight that: "if my hands or feet slip I may fall and will die". A slight change from indoor bouldering in Harrow (you fall onto a mattress), or abseiling in Thailand or canyoneering (or canyoning) in Costa Rica where you have a harness and are clipped onto all sorts of things to make sure you will at least hang in the middle of nowhere, but you won't fall into the valley. It was certainly one of the highlights, though.
krakow: the oldest city in poland
Overall, my impression of Poland has been eye-opening and is certainly under rated or less spoken about as a tourist destination compared to many other European counterparts. The history, the religious influence, the art and architecture, natural landscapes and the vodka... I will be back for more.
The only thing that I wish I could change about this trip was Ryan Air and Stansted Airport. Neither should be on anyone's bucket list, unless you have a desire to torture yourself, confuse each other and generally not want to travel again (for a while). I will spare the details this time.