Category: Self-reflection

What you know now is enough

Photo: PublicDomainPictures
Photo: PublicDomainPictures

I used to fool myself into thinking I needed to know everything, before beginning on everything. That that person who I saw as successful, who was on stage speaking, or on a panel offering his opinion, or online writing an article, somehow knew more than me and was better placed than I was – and more worthy – of offering their views. That, even though I know intuitively that all opinions are just that, no matter which “experts” they may come from, somehow those individuals have some sort of magical-know-how, more “experience” and therefore know what they’re talking about (especially when they say what they say or write what they write with a sense of conviction – which is often there, to the outsider looking in at least; though not always on the inside).

I say “used to” as if this has now completely passed; it hasn’t, but I have been managing to keep it more at bay, to step back and look at the situation objectively, as I am now, and not to let my brains and emotions (“chimp chatter”) take hold and control over me.

They say your biggest strengths are also your biggest weaknesses. In my top-5 list of “Gallup strengths”, I have Input, Learner and Intellection – all of which allude to taking in a whole bunch of information and enjoying letting it simmer and trying to make sense of it all. They certainly are strengths, and I wasn’t surprised with the results – I love to learn and I love to read, and I have interests in so many different things. However, taken to the extreme it means I crave more and more information, in order to form what I perceive to be “better” and “more valid” conclusions; a dangerous cycle as, whilst it leads me to keep bettering myself and being open to knowledge-gathering (I can’t see it any other way, seeing as it really is my natural disposition to learn and wish to take things in), it also means I keep chasing those magical conclusion, those magical insights. Those answers which will make me feel legitimate and valid and as if I can take to the physical stage, or perhaps to a metaphorical stage (like this one) and offer my opinions.

The fact is that even those “experts” who you see talking with conviction, and with all of those followers on their blogs or social media profiles, are really just offering their perspectives – based on their own limited knowledge-gathering. I say limited because it can never be unlimited…

What you know now is enough. Especially so if you have a tendency to spend time learning and inputting, and have thus accrued hours, days, even weeks of doing that in your lifetime already.

But even if you haven’t, even if you’re just starting from the beginning. You still have lived experience, your own perspectives, which equal or can even be of more value than what you read about from others.

Ironically, when I was in primary school, and to go and learn it either had to be through borrowing/buying a book, or by putting Encarta or Brittanica into the CD-ROM (remember those?!) and finding out about whatever it is you wanted to find out about.

Today, the blessing and the curse is that we have the internet. The blessing being is that we have information at our fingertips, and from so so so many different sources. The curse being just that. Information there, at out fingertips, for us to get sucked in, to want more and more, there and then. To distract us and fool us from thinking that we “know enough”.

You enough now to get started on that thing. So for goodness’ sake stop reading. Stop thinking. And get to doing. You’ll be glad you did. And it might get you onto that stage. You might just change the world.

Some reasons to write in the morning

– Writing is cathartic
– Writing is freeing – especially if you do “stream of consciousness writing”, which is literally just writing things down as they come to you, without too much thinking/dwelling
– Writing can help get you out of the habit of perfectionism
– Writing is a good start to the day – setting you into “creative”/active mode rather than reactive mode (i.e. checking emails, scrolling through news articles, social media)
– Writing is arguably essential to everyone – even for those of us who don’t have a typically “write-y” job as such
– Writing gives you clarity

My perspectives / Self-reflection

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Introverts: A look forward

My school and university life were fairly unsettled periods, where I struggled to fully understand who I was. Though, at school at least, I did tend to gravitate towards those of a milder temperament (like myself), I would still resent the fact that I didn’t fit the ‘cool-and-popular-and-outgoing’ bill.

When I got to university, personalities and lifestyles were seemingly amplified by the freedom that we all had, away from home. Though “off the rails” might be pushing it a little bit, I was constantly forcing myself to go out too often, and drink too much. I wish now that I had better understood myself, and perhaps surrounded myself with more of my crowd/tribe that I now identify with clearly. Looking at university, and also more so at my school days, I can think of several in my year group who I now wish I’d spent more time with and gotten to know better; perhaps hanging out with them may have brought my own personality and self-awareness to the fore, as I reckon I would have more readily, and more often, been ‘myself’ around these people. Or perhaps the version of myself which I think is the most true, and that to me is the most identifiable and the one that I am happiest with. The benefit of hindsight, indeed.

The eventual self-diagnosis of my introversion only took place more recently in my mid-twenties. This realisation was extremely powerful to me — not only in the sense that I had been given tangible reasoning as to why I was the way I was, but also knowing that there were a multitude of others out there, just like me. I also realised that, just like me, it had taken many introverts a while to figure out that that’s what they were, introverts; reading stories on forums and communities online — safe havens for us introverts to hang out on — I often read about individuals discovering their introversion in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and well beyond their 60s. These are individuals who were stumbling along in life, like I was, not really understanding themselves.

Again, looking back to my school days, I now have a fair idea of who the other introverts were. It all seems to make so much sense now. I ‘knew’ some of them, but I didn’t spend time with enough of them. Again, a quieter and milder-mannered bunch who tended not to shout so much from the roof-tops; this is the thing — in the increasingly extroverted and noisy society* that we live in, if we’re not careful, us introverts will become and feel even more drowned out.

*By this, I don’t mean that the voices of the extroverted world are getting louder, but I believe that social media — especially Twitter and Facebook — have provided other avenues for self-expression and this other media for extroverted, and of course introverted, self-expression. As self-expression quite often manifests itself in more noticeable ways with extroverts, us introverts must make sure that our voices are not left behind, that our social media footprints are just as firm! On a positive note, social media is arguably a channel that favours introverts and our self-expression, given that many of us feel more comfortable writing, and the associated time it gives us to reflect in our solitude and form our thoughts before putting them out into the world.

Communities such as Quiet Revolution will play a crucial role in bringing us all together, giving us collective inner-awareness, confidence and strength, and making our quiet, yet powerful, voices heard.

If you haven’t already, check out the Quiet Revolution website – also on Twitter (@livequiet) and Facebook. Not only can you read countless stories from introverts all around the world and from different walks of life, but you can also contribute your own stories, and engage with the introvert community via the ‘comments’.

Join your fellow introverts worldwide and prepare to be inspired.

My story so far

Quitting the familiar, corporate path for something bigger.

My name is Jasraj Hothi — ‘Jas’ normally causes fewer complications. A third-generation British Indian (my grandparents and parents came to England before me), I have lived in London for all of my life thus far.

I was lucky to have been given a very fortunate upbringing, with plenty of positive family experiences and holidays to remember, not to mention a very comfortable lifestyle. I also went to reputable primary and secondary schools, which I still view as a fortunate thing.

Quite early on, I realised that I was fairly ‘academic’, and I proceeded to have a head in my book up until the age of around 16 — willingly, I might add. After 2 more years at school, this is when things became interesting; I started two different degrees at two different Universities, and didn’t finish either. Truth be told, I was very confused for these few years.

Not knowing what I wanted to do, I had made the ‘shortlist’ even smaller — in the world of 2010, there were only certain paths one could take without a degree, no matter how ‘bright’ I might have been in my school days. At that point, things just ‘happened’… I feel into a recruitment job with one of the largest firms globally (I am pretty sure everyone else in the intake had a degree, so this gave me marginal satisfaction at the time). The competitive world of sales in a large corporate world was only me second office job, and certainly opened my eyes a little bit. Due to several reasons, things didn’t completely work out there; however, I took a hell of a lot away with me — I’d spent over a year there, and being thrown in the deep end was difficult, but served me well. The next company I joined was far smaller, and the culture was refreshingly different. It was here I realised how much more nimble a smaller firm can be, and just how different these outfits were to the large, corporate behemoths.

In my second full year at this company, I had establish myself as one of the top fee earners. I earned more that year than the majority of individuals my age — even my peers from my secondary school, many of whom had found themselves in well-paid legal and banking positions.

I loved the satisfaction of getting to really know the sector I recruited for, and the people (both clients and candidates) working within that. I found it really rewarding and satisfying building long-term relationships, and becoming the person that people trusted for their recruitment needs.

Despite this, something didn’t feel quite right. I was doing well financially — I was more than comfortable in that regard, I would be taken on nice client lunches at fancy City restaurants, I often go out drinking with colleagues and clients after work — this is what it was all supposed to be about, right?

This wasn’t the case, and this empty, dissatisfying feeling only grew. Being honest with myself, it was a feeling that had been there for a couple of years at least. The feeling would grow and shrink at different intervals, often dependent upon how much I had ‘billed’ that month (i.e. how much I had earned for the company, and therefore for myself — the more I made for the company, the more money I would ‘take home’ the coming quarter) — quite often, the good months in terms of billings would give a temporary sense of joy which temporarily numbers the dissatisfaction that I felt deep down.

The feeling came to a real climax early in 2015, when I went away for a week’s holiday to the Barbados; so often, it is when you remove yourself from the situation at home and away from all of ‘the noise’, that your true feelings really come to the fore and become amplified and clearer.

Things had become clearer than they had ever been before, and I began to make more and more realisations every day. (For example, that money is to a large extent over-rated, with more and more scientific evidence backing this up. It dawned on me that I had been placing way too much emphasis on financial reward — pursuing money alone was not the right thing to do, and also an unhealthy attitude to have.)

Whilst all of this had been going on, I was somewhat going through a real journey of self-discovery. I read a lot, specifically non-fiction works. There were 2 major things I discovered which had a profound effect on me:

1. I am an introvert: though I often dislike labels, the realisation of my introversion has had a truly liberating effect.
2. Positive Psychology — the science of happiness: I stumbled across this relatively new and exciting field, with real science and evidence proving that there are very real and actionable steps that we can all take to become happier people, and live more meaningful and fulfilling lives. It really is possible.

I came back from Barbados, and began getting my affairs in order. On Friday, 19th June 2015 I resigned from my job, shortly after receiving an offer to study a Masters in Positive Psychology and Coaching* (*this is not strictly true; I had a conditional offer pending verification of my references — the official, unconditional offer actually arrived in my email inbox whilst I was handing my resignation in to my Director).

I believe, and hope, that this is the beginning of a fulfilling new chapter, in pursuit of a happier and more meaningful way of life. Exciting times lie ahead…