2021 and the art of giving without expecting anything in return

There has been a tough year for everyone. We’ve been through so much and had our strength tested in ways we couldn’t even imagine.

I remember entering 2021 with good prospects, believing that this year will be better. In January, I had some ideas for self-improvement and made a long list of to-do activities. The interesting part is that I completed them all, and the exciting part is that life added some more.

It’s amazing how one can never predict what lies ahead and must instead ride life’s rollercoaster reluctantly. I was so focused on this project that I had no idea that a new position was just around the corner and that I would be chosen for it.

I was so excited and learned ahead of time, wishing to know everything that was to be known of that field and striving to be that great person that they needed. 

Unfortunately, I found out later that the role was not for me. It turns out that I’m not cut out to be a skilled salesperson; my poodle-like, pleasant nature doesn’t exactly attract new clients, and they needed a strong individual to do the job, a man.

During this process, I was able to assist the firm in understanding the customer needs and meet great people with whom I am still in contact. While the new opportunity did not work out for me, it did teach me valuable lessons, and I do not regret any of them.

I was stressed about what had occurred, my dreams had been partially shattered, but I was relieved to move on. Now I’m working on a new project, I’ve met new incredible people for whom I’m grateful, and I’ve got a fantastic team, learning new things every day and working together to accomplish the client’s objective.

I didn’t anticipate all of this to happen professionally; life simply carried me on this path, and I just followed my intuition. I’ve stepped outside of my comfort zone, taken on new challenges, and met new people.

God took care of sending the most wonderful people my way. I’ve had excellent friends along the way who have cheered for me – for which I will be eternally grateful – and who have listened to my sobs, offering their shoulder to weep on. I have my crazy noisy family to encourage me, and a nice partner to rely on.

Conclusions

The year 2021 taught me to break out of my comfort zone and broaden my horizons by being curious and eager to move forward. It taught me to give without asking anything in return, to be good support for others around me, and be more humble. 

Offering a smile to a sorrowful person, good support when required, happily cheering while everyone else is judging, and giving a penny to a homeless person. One random act of kindness at a time.

The year 2022 will have 2021 teachings in it. I will be more modest and loving, include others on my to-do lists, and just be grateful for the challenges of each day. Life isn’t about knowing what’s ahead and being flawless; it’s about adjusting, making mistakes, falling, and getting back up.

And rather than worrying about what other people thought of you during this process, think about how you made them feel. Make them remember you with their hearts. Be famous and unforgivable for your unconditional love. 

Hope in the dark

This week flew by like it was a dream. Another nightmare that sent me on a chaotic roller coaster and then held me back breathless. Even though it is Sunday and a new week of work awaits me in a few hours, I feel tempted to write again.

I believe I’ve become used to always rushing to complete tasks. Hurry to get out of bed in the morning, hurry to do some chores and get to work, hurry to respond to as many customers as possible in a timely, accurate, and courteous manner, hurry to take care of house chores, and then go back to sleep to begin another day.

When I realize this is happening, I try to take it gently and one task at a time, but the workaholic in me comes out and I end up doing more than I planned. Of course, I end the day drained, exhausted, with no appetite, and a mountain of negative thoughts.

I feel as if I’ve lost interest in performing these things because they keep repeating themselves in slow motion, and just when I believe they’re beginning to improve, I’m taught a new lesson. Furthermore, in my haste to always be on time, to be the perfect employee, partner, daughter, and friend, I lose sight of myself along the way.

I believe I’ve just gotten used to looking after myself while helping others. For example, buying the right clothing for someone else and realizing I bought the incorrect size for myself, staying up late cooking, and waking up early to do housework. Or always completing the partner’s tasks and being understanding while he takes care of his work and studies, ensuring that he always has solid advice and steering him in the proper direction.

When I do get to take care of myself, I frequently feel bad about it. Guilty because I took the time to exercise or go out, but didn’t do any housework. Guilty because I wanted to leave an hour sooner, even though I covered that hour and one additional. I’m guilty of spending my salary on things I actually enjoy because I need to feel rewarded, and the list goes on.

You are enough

I just think we end up giving too much, and others around us become accustomed to our methods, so when we withdraw our energy for our own benefit, they are offended and make us feel uncomfortable. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy making good acts and giving my all, desiring to be everything for others around me, but being kind to ourselves should be a habit that is constantly recognized.

Toxic situations and individuals are ubiquitous, and at the end of the day, it’s important to set boundaries and communicate who you actually are and what you want from them if they want to stay around. Get your sleep in order, exercise, eat correctly and know when to say yes and when to say no.

It’s time to accept that certain people are only in your life for a season, and while they’ve been lovely and brought fantastic memories if their toxicity levels don’t drop, you shouldn’t kill yourself to be the ideal person that they need in their life. Maybe you aren’t, and that’s alright as long as you recognize it and begin to love yourself for who you are, investing the time and energy you do in others. 

In certain situations, whether they like it or not, we’ve outgrown the people around us. Don’t force yourself to be someone you’re not merely to please others. Be selective and assert your rights; those who stay are valuable, and those who leave weren’t supposed to be there in the first place.

Close your eyes now and ask yourself what you actually want for yourself and your future; is this what you expect from yourself? Are you pursuing your wildest dreams, doing what you love, and taking risks? or are you overburdened with responsibilities and negative behaviors? Remember that life is short and that there is no time for remorse.

Foggy season

The loud alarm wakes me up groggy from the previous night’s dreams, and I’m struggling to unplug the tangled headphones so that I can turn them off. I wake up to see the gloomy morning sky and the crows doing their peculiar dance while making strange noises. It’s 7:13 AM.

Every day is alike, with the same cat meowing for food in the morning, the same arabica coffee that has to be prepared, the same bed that needs to be put together, and the same dishes that need to be washed.

I’ve grown sick of yearning for new things and expecting miracles to arrive. I guess I’ve simply been delusory, believing that if I give it my all, all my energy, and all my true self, everything will fall into place just as effortlessly as I make it look.

It’s irritating because no matter how much I give, I get so little in return. For the time I offer, I get loneliness; for my true friendship, I get false people who gossip behind my back; and for my work, I get a monthly wage that goes toward expenses.

I’ve even lost the urge to go home and unwind since I’m constantly there and there’s always something to do. It’s simply another apartment with thin walls and loud neighbors, where I feel like going insane every day, getting angry and laughing, smiling, and then sobbing.

It’s not that bad

The issue is, I can’t even complain since it’s OK. It’s fine that I have a decent job, a family who cares for me, a pet, friends, and that’s it amid this epidemic. However, if everything is fine, why am I unhappy? Why can’t I find my place and feel as if everything around me is superficial, neatly packaged in a box with a gleaming ribbon on top?

I’m not sure whether I’m blind or if not conscious of what I have around me, but sometimes I feel trapped, going around in circles, trying to figure out what’s going on. I’ve worked on myself and ventured to clear the fog by surrounding myself with the right things and people.

The irony is that I now have no notion of what is right or wrong, and I’m living my life with my eyes closed, wishing to trust fate in the new route ahead of me. The problem is that I’m blindfolded and keep going in circles, stumbling on unforeseen circumstances and bumping into cold strangers.

I used to read somewhere that when you lose your way into the fog you end up in beautiful places. Though I worry about what awaits me in the next chapter of my life, I know I need to get lost so that I may eventually find my way and purpose.

Resistance

The dictionary describes resistance as the ability to not be affected by something, particularly negatively. But how can you cope with things when they’ve changed by 100 degrees and the only way out is so far away?

I was so easily deceived, having hope and doing my best, giving my all, and hoping to persevere. I went over my past work today and relived the early emotions, the excitement to begin anew. I was so eager to learn more that I put up with the unpleasant moments of not being understood or listened to.

A complete emotional roller coaster that dragged me from the highest peaks and most wonderful dreams to the darkest nightmare while everything around me is crumbling. I feel like I’ve lost everything. Since my plans were canceled, I have exhausted all motivation and desire to accomplish things. I can’t seem to enjoy any activity or be pleased with anything.

I’m honestly tired of it. I’m tired of having to please others while I’m not satisfied on the inside. I’m tired of apologizing for mistakes made by the system, not by me. Tired of dealing with misinformation and a general lack of cooperation between parties. I’m tired of having to change shifts and disrupt my sleep routine and life in general. Tired of dealing with difficult people and only receiving negative feedback.

Why do I have to be the first to recognize other people’s efforts and constantly remember people’s birthdays and undertake duties in place of others? Why do I have to apologize all the time? How can I be wrong when everyone else is unjust and too arrogant for this world, too entitled to accept their errors, and too proud to apologize?

I don’t have the same positive energy to wish that everything would be OK and that I will be happy again. I understand that there are times in life when we must confront difficulties, but this feels like a dagger that continues prodding an open wound. At the end of the day, I suppose if I bleed too much, I will be strong enough in spirit to resist this new blurry future ahead.

Suspicious activity

This week began with an unexpected invitation from a specific iPhone to connect to my email account. That’s strange, I thought, and instantly dismissed it. But the question lingered with me all day: who would want to access my email account and why?

I am not the wealthiest person alive, and my resources are not worth gaining, as far as I am aware. Eventually, I’ve changed my password and went about my day. 

Today, I was once again blown away by something. A WordPress user claiming to be a renamed physician informed me he wanted to make an investment proposal in Romania. He appeared to be a serious man, and I took his words for granted. 

I was preparing to talk with one of my supervisors from the consulting firm where I work because he seemed credible and we might be able to help.

The next thing I know, I receive an investment offer email. See below:

I was surprised to see that an actual respectable individual with important milestones online engages in such actions. And, really, who sends money to these people in the first place? I guess I didn’t expect to see one online, let alone on WordPress.

No, I didn’t reply to the email as James Veitch would have suggested, could have written a comment in WordPress, lol.

Another strange activity I witnessed at my former position was ex-customers passing around ZIP documents protected with a password, ostensibly locked to protect the information contained within. We had to open customer emails on a regular basis, which did not appear to be fraud at first.

According to ZD.Net, unlocking the document will enable macros and execute the commands for the next stages of the attack, which ultimately uses PowerShell to install a remote access tool onto the system, as well as mechanisms to ensure persistence.

This could simply be information theft, or it could be part of a larger plan in which attackers monitor the inbound and outbound emails from a compromised user to determine who they communicate with, then potentially use another phishing attack to compromise additional users from the initial account.

That email was opened by several people, including myself. Within seconds of opening the email and inputting the password, the browsers were functioning strangely, everything was in slow motion, and there was nothing I could do about it. I ultimately reinstalled the Windows pack and got everything protected by a new antivirus.

Dealing with suspicious emails and phone scams

With the Pandemic, hackers are omnipresent, and everything appears to be an opportunity to them. Offers to connect to your mobile device, send money to a random bank, and even payment information that is password-protected. These fraudsters, believe it or not, lurk in plain sight and utilize real-world issues to draw you into their scam.

Protect your email with a strong password that includes lower case, higher case, special symbols, and numbers and is at least 12 characters long. Don’t place your confidence in random people online who appear to be legitimate. If you open questionable emails, run a full scan. At the end of the day, no one is ready for these assaults, and it’s best to be prepared at all times.

Dealing with negative emotions

I have been experiencing a strange feeling lately, like if something wrong is about to happen. I am going about my daily routine, minding my own business, when I suddenly feel an ache in my chest, get depressed, and feel the desire to cry. 

I have ignored that feeling for a few days but it is just that with every day that goes away I become more unhappy and anxious, not knowing what terrible event is going to happen.

I thought that this is getting out of hand, and I need to talk to someone about it. Just as I was ready to tell my friend about it, she informed me that she was feeling the same way, and that she, too, gets depressed for no obvious reason.

Then I considered informing my mother, and the strange thing is that she was just as unhappy as I was. She seemed depressed as well, but when I inquired as to why, she replied that she believes something awful is about to happen as well. Now, I’m not sure why this sensation is shared by these women in my life, or if we’re all simply too anxious for this life, but I trust my intuition, and I feel like I have no power over what will happen.

Ways to cope and stop the chronic worrying

Identify your main worry – and then, write it down so you can see it. Most of the time, we just disregard our ‘minor’ concerns and go about our daily lives without giving them much thought. If it hurts you and takes up a lot of space in your thoughts, you should take care of it. Take a scratch, for example. Since you know it’s painful, you disinfect it and apply a bandage to avoid infection. If not treated immediately, life scratches can lead to severe infections too.

Wipe them away – If you’ve already been through the first phase and identified the bad feeling, and arrived at the conclusion that it’s nothing serious, just wipe them away. Think of these thoughts like clouds in the sky: just passing your mind like clouds pass across the sky, obscuring the sun.

Face reality and be brave – Hiding behind worries and allowing anxiety to invade your life is not the solution. If there is something you can do about it, do it. Perhaps it’s time to move closer to the things that make you uncomfortable and find out that they’re not as disagreeable as you imagined.

Relax – Instead of allowing your unreal anxieties to dictate your life, do something you love doing. Read a book, go for a walk in the park, draw, talk to a friend, or pray/ meditate.

Exercise – It has been proven that aerobic activity reduces stress hormones, provides you strength, and enables you to cope better with negative emotions.

Most importantly, if you’re like me and have others around you who are experiencing the same negative emotions and feelings as you, understand your feelings and then help them as well. This may appear to be an extra task, but once you’ve dealt with your difficulties, focusing on someone else’s may offer you a feeling of purpose and can chase the blues away.

And if the inevitable happens, as Charles Jones once said, things don’t go wrong and break your heart so you can become bitter and give up. They happen to break you down and build you up so you can be all that you were intended to be.

(Image Source – Unsplash, Toni Reed)

Disappointment and rejection

Dreams come and go, and they are incredible to start with. We become so enthusiastic about a new challenge that we are prepared to go above and beyond for things to work out in our favor. We’d get up early to discover things about the new dream, read more, and do our best not to disappoint.

But what happens when the new dream comes crashing down, when the path ahead is rocky, and we can’t seem to find the answers to our questions? It appears that our Universe has failed to fulfill its purpose, and we must embark on another journey although the track is unclear, foggy, and the baggage is heavy.

It’s foolish if we think about it. We get all the signals that something may go wrong, and we’re feeling that inner guilt rotting inside, sensing that it’s not going to happen, and yet we hope, yet we allow our dreams to spread their wings and fly.

Just like when our mama told us not to do something because we’ll get hurt, but we still did it because we wanted to and were too stubborn to listen. Did we shed any tears? You bet! Was it painful? Of course, it did, and we made sure that everyone around us was aware of it.

We eventually wiped away our salty tears, pulled up our sleeves to conceal the bleeding bruise, and went on to our next disappointment. Not all of the obstacles were painful or discouraging. Some of them helped us to climb higher and learn new things.

We’ve learned a lot along the road, and many times when we felt we were being turned down for something ‘good’, we were led to something greater. I suppose that every new opportunity brings with it a new set of aspirations and accomplishments, and no matter how many warnings we get, we’re never prepared for that kick. And we can’t expect to be shielded from everything in life; disappointment is a necessary part of growing up.

If we’ve been rejected and feel disappointed, it doesn’t mean the journey is over, it means that something greater is on the way.

Be patient, believe in yourself, and never give up hope; happiness and success are just around the corner.

Overthinking

What is the definition of life? What makes it truly significant and worthwhile? Is it the new job, the new laptop with the colorful keypad, or the dreadful sensation of the unknown that creeps in every night?

I recently struggled to make sense of these meanings and came up empty-handed. I’ve been going in circles for a long time, mostly because I’ve lost sight of my purpose, of the things I used to like doing, such as writing.

I’ve been terrible at delaying and doing everything but the one thing that makes me happy. It was fun to create ‘to-do lists,’ ‘what should I purchase next month lists,’ plan new activities, exercise, and schedule doctor visits to see what was wrong with me. 

I have to admit that ticking items off a list may be satisfying and inspirational, even if it doesn’t provide the same level of enjoyment as doing something you like. The best aspect is that most of the activities were beneficial to me, and my problems were resolved.

The previous several months have been life-changing, and I have changed as well. The routine has changed, and I’m attempting to improve each day by reading more and participating in new things that I never dreamed I’d be doing. I’ve gotten rid of the majority of my negative habits and replaced them with new ones.

I’ve got new hopes and aspirations, but I’ve also got new anxieties and obsessive thoughts. Before going to sleep, I can’t seem to stop my mind from racing, and I tend to overthink things more than usual.

I used to be frightened of new experiences and envisioned things that did not occur; it was all in my brain the whole time. That caused me to miss out on essential sleep hours and struggle with day-to-day tasks. When I first awakened, I found myself laughing and feeling sorry for myself. Nobody should do that to themselves, and it’s a good thing I discovered it.

Lose some strings along the way

It’s normal to be scared of the unknown and to wonder what will happen next after a significant transition, but what if, instead of worrying and pondering what may go wrong, we focused on what could go right?

Overthinking destroys the new’s delight and wonder. Life will never be perfect, and for that matter, we will never fully know what will happen. Instead of overthinking and attempting to control everything that may occur, take one step at a time rather than picturing the entire staircase.

Imagine where we’d be if we spent every day overthinking and attempting to plan and control everything that happened to us. Honestly, I don’t believe we could’ve ever envisioned ourselves in the places we are now, with the people we have in our life; I definitely couldn’t have imagined myself in this situation.

Woody Allen once said, ‘If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.’ Instead of creating plans that may never come true, realize that God already has a bigger plan for you, one that you could never have imagined, something out of the ordinary. Let go of the ties that bind you, relax, and remember to breathe and appreciate the delights of each new day.

Image Source – Unsplash,
Rodion Kutsaev

Pandemic snowy-rainy day

These past few days, I’ve awoken to the sound of raindrops. They just kept falling from the sky, sometimes mixed with snow, sometimes plain, as if the sky was mourning. I can’t recall waking up and walking outside these days because that doesn’t happen very often with working remotely.

I summoned the courage to go out and meet my colleague on Friday. It was snowing heavily, and it was one of those days before the weekend where you just want to crawl into bed and sleep for a few more minutes before chores and work.

Despite her hesitation, I insisted on meeting because she had to offer a gift for my mother. I considered it a good day to go out, hoping for the snow to stop falling from the sky and the weather to change. I got ready quickly, didn’t pay much attention to the weather, and just dressed up plainly, with a spring coat and had light makeup.

It was Friday, and I was just a simple girl in another city forgotten by time. I sprinkled at the door, bid farewell to the cat, and skipped my chores for a few minutes, so I could get out and have some rough polluted air. And meet my friend.

Dashing through the sleet…

Under the curtain, the snow did not look so intense, but outside there was a different story. The small town traffic became mundane by sleet and snow. The cars appeared to be a collection of toys, driven by small children with attitude and no patience or consideration for pedestrians.

I was a little early for the meeting, so I took the opportunity to order two cappuccinos from a new local coffee shop. The waitresses didn’t bother to express their surprise at my spring outfit in the middle of winter, in March.

Needless to say, I was already drenched and had dirt on my shoes. But who cared? I was just another girl who left the house during a pandemic dressed for the coming season, full of hope and good vibes.

I met a friend at the bus station and we drank cappuccinos while walking through the heavy rain and shivering. We swapped our goods and said our goodbyes soon after. I then ran to my station and caught a micro-bus back to my house.

It’s incredible how people can judge and analyze you with a single glance despite not knowing you very well. I was escaping my everyday routine by going out to see a friend on an ugly-snowy-wet day, wearing only a short coat and forgetting to bring my umbrella. What a horrendous crime!

I could almost hear their mutterings: ‘Ahh, poor girl, look at her!’ She’s dressed shabbily and is drenched,’ while I’m listening to my favorite song through my earphones and enjoying a lovely Friday outside.

Instead, I wanted to concentrate on the bus window while leaning against the walls and listening to music. Life can be wonderful if you choose to ignore the curious, judgmental looks of others; it motivates you to attain your purpose and enjoy your time.

Home at last 😊

The bus eventually came to a halt, and I proceeded on my way home. At the traffic light, I noticed an older woman dressed beautifully, wearing colorful eyeshadow and carrying a red umbrella.

I could feel her gaze running through me; it had to be my mascara that decided to bleed and give me panda eyes. But there she was, serious-looking at me, and there I was, laughing and enjoying every drop of rain that was now falling on me.

I felt like a little kid, walking out in the snowy-rainy weather and forgetting to bring my umbrella, not wearing my usual winter coat or office shirt. It’s lovely to break the rules now and then, to get out, meet with a colleague, dance in the rain, and glow.

At the end of the day, snowy rain can be just confetti from the sky. In those days, meet a friend, have a sweet cappuccino, and allow yourself to play in the puddles and get soaking wet.