What’s that coming over the hill?


Trek Fat Boy Trek

Well, this is it. It feels surreal as I think back to that video that I saw 2 years ago that convinced me in that moment to climb a mountain. I actually paid the deposit within hours and told my parents that I was going on the trip afterwards. As you can imagine, they were not best pleased. It has taken me a while to get them onside.

Since then, I have been patiently waiting and frantically fundraising so that I can step foot on a plane that will be the biggest physical challenge that I have faced so far in my life. Not the plane, the mountain climbing bit…you know, the trek – anyway you know what I mean. It is going to be tough.

In the last few months, it has been great to (attempt to) train and get my kit together and now the two bags that are going to safely take me to nearly 6,000 metres altitude are ready. I am staring at them and realising that this is everything that I am going to need and I can carry it on my back.

I have absolutely loved talking to people about their experiences. Your words of encouragement and laughs have dialled down the nerves that are now starting to creep in. I know in my heart of hearts that I am not physically ready for this challenge, but there is nothing (bar falling off the edge) that is going to keep me from reaching the peak.

There have also been a lot of doubters and mockers. I was one of them for a while, and I am the one actually doing it. However, the privilege has been raising over £3,000 for Meningitis Research that I know will make a huge difference to people’s lives. I do not want to be verbose, but meeting and listening to some of the people that this money will go to help has made this all the more worthwhile.

I could have just paid for my trek and gone and done this myself. However, I never would have had the motivation of doing it if I wasn’t walking with all of the support behind me. I am carrying the names of all my donors on my back and thinking about the gentlemen that burst into tears when he told me that his wife died of Meningitis in early hours of a bucket collection in central London.

This is real and it is happening. When I next speak to you I will have been over the clouds and be back on the ground again. As much as this is an “easy” climb, compared to others, I am not going to take this for granted.

For anyone that is thinking about making a stupid or impulsive decision, my advice is to throw your huge size 10s into it and apologise later. This could be the dumbest thing I have ever done or it could (and will) be the most amazing. The only way to find out is to actually do it and suck up the fear.

I am absolutely terrified. But I am also massively excited. What’s that coming over the hill? It’s a fat boy, mate. See you on the other side!

bit.ly/HiranKili

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The Alternative Narrative


Credit: whatmegsaid / Flickr

Credit: whatmegsaid / Flickr

We all have an inside voice. Some of us have many. The interesting thing about this meta-narrative is that people generally consider it to be either extremely positive or negative. It either motivates or debilitates them. There seems to be no middle ground when I talk to people about this and it becomes a question of mental strength. Note that I didn’t say mental health.

It still fascinates me that we do not entertain the full capacity of our minds, and that if anything we mentally underperform considering the breadth of mental strength we have. Not to go into too much detail, but the ability of the brain to create unique connections through synapses far surpasses the capabilities of many other species. That is why we seem to have utmost control of our immediate environment.

However, we seem to be our own worst enemies. In a world where we are not challenged for authority by other animals, we tend to find the enemy within ourselves. Our ability to cope with adversity, especially within the understanding of our own weaknesses, is woeful. We choose to focus on the negatives, because we are surrounded by the similarities. Every organism that we come into close contact with (for the most part) has the same build as us, talks in a similar language and moves in a way that we ourselves frequent in.

We don’t see the narrative, because we take it for granted. As human beings, we are incredibly lucky to be a position of ultimate control. It is like growing up and suddenly being promoted to CEO and enjoying the spoils. We treat being human as a right, when it is in fact a culmination of thousands of moments of effort. For those who believe in karma, and more so in reincarnation, you will be aware of the idea that being born again as a human is the pinnacle of existence.

So why do we get distracted by the narrative? Why do we let the voice(s) inside us dictate the way that we behave? If, as a collective, we have been able to effectively colonise and populate the Earth with our own kind, it is crazy to think about the amount of conflict that we put ourselves in and reflect on other people. We press the self-destruct button when this narrative, our intuition, works against us like rubbing up a carpet the wrong way. We fray.

The most inspirational leaders make this alternative narrative work for them. The greatest sportsmen and women, business leaders and spiritualists understand that their self-talk is the difference between them getting up in the morning and winning…and pulling the covers over their eyes.

We are built to win. Yet, we underestimate our own abilities. It is time to turn that critic inside your head into a coach. And the quicker you start teaching yourself lessons, rather than berating your mistakes, the closer you are to being the pinnacle of existence.

That voice in your head is probably telling you to ignore this.

Take control.

20 Messages


Credit: davidalexanderelder / Flickr

Credit: davidalexanderelder / Flickr

I am very bad at keeping in touch with people. This sentence alone probably has many of you nodding your heads thinking, “yes, I just remembered you didn’t reply to that message that I sent you x days ago. What a twat.” Well, I apologise for not responding and if I didn’t, it wasn’t meant to be intentionally malicious. I’ll be honest and say that I just don’t prioritise as much time as I should to catch up with people I haven’t spoken to in a while. Or sometimes even with those I speak to often.

Going back to the beginning, I find the advancement of technology difficult to adjust to. Before owning a proper mobile phone (really only in the last few years) I found it easier to keep in touch with people because I could see them. Graciously on their part, knowing that I would be rubbish to get a hold of, they would either call or meet me in person. I could hear their voice, watch their nose crinkle as they laughed and look into their eyes when I spoke to them. I could resonate with their humanity.

The ones who did not meet me after my invitations or seemed to become more distant, was painful at the time but slowly I have understood that they had priorities and I wasn’t one of them. That is not to say that if I ignored you above that I don’t value you, if anything it means the opposite. Because I only speak to those that I value – those are the ones that I make time for. The frequency of communication does not heed the development of a relationship. My best friend, who is incidentally getting married this week, is someone I only see every 6 weeks or so but I couldn’t be closer to them. Absence, like appearing offline, makes the heart grow fonder.

Now, it becomes easier and easier to string people along. To give them the impression that you care without ever really valuing them. I read an article recently on the phenomena of “ghosting” where an individual deals with the idea of ending a relationship by just ignoring them. Rather than facing up to the reality of saying goodbye, they choose to revoke that courtesy from both people. It was confusing and frankly quite scary. I can understand why this can lead to people becoming so mistrusting.

With this in mind, I have decided to experiment with something. Considering my distaste for technology, it has taken quite a lot of self-convincing. I am going to send 20 messages out over the next week. Knowing that I am bad at sending that first message to people, it is going to be interesting to see their reactions. I am going to send it out to people that I am close to, those that I have moved away from, those that have inspired me and those I want to learn from. In some cases it will be a “thank you” and a hug, in others an “I’m sorry” and in all of them a “Hey! You know what, I really value you and your time – let’s have a conversation.”

I am not going to tell them about this, but it would be nice if they made the connection themselves. And it doesn’t mean that I am just messaging 20 people and cutting the rest out. It means that I am taking myself out of the comfort zone and building a bridge. If we can’t do that, then we might as well be ghosts.

No Greater Insult


Credit: marcusjb / Flickr

Credit: marcusjb / Flickr

I constantly kick myself for not knowing enough about the world. Every day I learn about a new figure or amazing personality, and as excited as I am to learn something new, I always berate myself for not finding out about it sooner. There are so many things that I should know, but there is a finite amount of time within which to learn it.

My hunger for knowledge overtakes my commute. The two hours that it takes to get to the office (not an exaggeration) is a combination of listening to new albums on Spotify, reading my book on marketing and watching a daily TEDx talk. A lot of people have spoken to me about TED talks and tell me that they fall asleep to them. I don’t know how they do that as I am hooked from the moment the video starts.

On Friday, however, with the onrush of the working day rendering me physically exhausted, I had to retire at home and get my learning fix from elsewhere. I may be overdoing it. Well, I am overdoing it. It often happens that I fall ill have to restore settings to the last time that they worked properly. On instruction from my manager to rest, I chose to watch The Imitation Game, as it was another on the “must-watch” list of films that I haven’t made much of a dent in. You can probably tell I am not the sort to sit still for two hours straight.

However, the entire film engulfed me. Even though the Hollywood interpretation makes Bletchley Park look like a luxury estate, when after seeing it as a high school student it looked more like a dilapidated college, I was taken aback by the work of Alan Turing. I had never really heard of him before. I had seen a poster or two and the name rang a bell, but nothing more than that. It still upsets me now that I did not look into it further.

I could not be typing if it were not for the work of this man and his team. It is incredible to think that the digital civilisation that we find ourselves in now can be traced back to a shelter in the south of England that cracked the most difficult puzzle in the world. My life would be completely different without him, and I didn’t even know his name.

It unsettles me. The idea that a man’s name could be forcibly forgotten because he was gay. One of the most important minds in the history of the world could be so easily tossed aside because of his personal life. He is the reason that 14 million people lived on and that the war finished early. A society that he chose to save gave him no option other than to kill himself. There is no greater insult than that.

And now our personal lives are on show. The secrets that Alan kept and the truths that he cracked are now celebrated (by some). There are other parts of the world where he would still be considered a criminal. It frightens me that you can be imprisoned/killed for something that you can never atone for – a part of your being that is considered fundamentally unlawful. And for goodness sake, your sexuality is not a choice. It cannot be ripped from you.

As soon as we forget our humanity, and we choose not to see it in others, is the day that we ourselves become inhuman. The monsters that we hope to extinguish. The only question is: how many more great minds must we lose before we remember?

There will be more thoughts on this in the future I am sure.

Nine Two Five


Credit: yu7yu / Flickr

Credit: yu7yu / Flickr

Working life is in itself an oxymoron. I have found it very difficult to distinguish between work and my life since I started my internship. The company itself, to its credit, prides itself on finding the right work/life balance and making sure that you have something outside of the job. Yet it is very difficult to find that when you are interning. The idea that you are 5 weeks away from a job that could secure you for the next chapter, makes it difficult to make time to play tennis three times a week.

It is this constant nagging concern that you aren’t doing enough. There is no benchmark for knowing what is going to happen, and so you are working, thinking, doing everything you can to impress. And it’s absolutely exhausting. Looking back after half my time in this job, I have never worked so hard in my life, and I usually work for myself. The ability to prioritise, work at a thousand miles an hour and make sure that I make the 17:36 train to London Waterloo makes it a challenge every day.

I would be lying if I said that I enjoyed every second of it. Everyone who says that is lying. At times, it is incredibly stressful, upsetting and downright frustrating. I am starting to make headway, but it has been a very steep learning curve.

Luckily, I do have a great manager who is incredibly perceptive to the journey that I am on. In a typical 9 to 5, it feels like I am doing 925 hours of work and he is appreciative of that. However, there are plenty I have seen that have killed the motivation of interns they have working for them because they simply don’t have time. It amazes me how managers forget that they started at the bottom rung of the ladder and someone gave them a step up.

I have no idea whether I am going to get this job or not. And now five weeks in, I realise that this is out of my control. What I can control is how I present myself in this environment. Winning means doing the best you can, and if it doesn’t work here, then it will work somewhere else. Effort has never let me down. It has always taught me to be hungry for more.

I am taking this weekend to reflect about how I am really doing. Personally, rather than professionally. I think that is why I am starting by writing down my thoughts here. My development is as important as the bottom line.

The Precipice


"At the edge..." / xMEGALOPOLISx / deviantart

“At the edge…” / xMEGALOPOLISx / deviantart

Well, I failed. My 30-day blogging challenge that started off with a shot of adrenaline managed a pitiful 8 posts in 9 days before the stress of exams finally caused me to put it on hold. I am quite disappointed in myself, but then again, choosing to write 500 words a day for 30 days in the midst of cramming thousands of words in revision was probably not a good shout. However, the one thing that was encouraging was the amount of people that engaged with them, at a time when they were definitely too busy or stressed out. So, rather than killing myself putting these thoughts down with a 24-hour time bomb waiting to drop, I thought this one would just allow me to de-stress before tomorrow.

I read an article yesterday, yes it was the Tab, sharing techniques on how to de-stress when you feel like the sky might be falling. One of those was blogging, and I have written about it before, so I am not going to repeat myself, nor paraphrase the words of thousands of people on this. Yet I can stand testament to the fact that doing something different and allowing yourself to be expressive in the face of public ridicule prepares you for something that examination questions just can’t tackle.

But I still have to do exams which count. And this is the penultimate year of my education. I am feeling fairly okay about it for the first time ever!

It feels strange, that after all of this time, you would think that I would have learnt how to prepare better by now. For those of you reading this in the library, you will probably let out a small grin, knowing that everyone puts themselves in the same boat. They leave it to the last possible minute and then a rush of energy hits you (hopefully) which pushes you over the line. It is like standing on the precipice of a cliff, looking at the fall you need to take, and feeling the tips of your fingers tremble as the nervous energy starts to set in, before your feet throw you over the edge.

The reason I am feeling fairly relaxed is that I know that I don’t measure my worth or success by exam results anymore. I don’t tell myself how good I am based on the hour that it took me to cram in as much information as possible so I could to secure the grade I needed. This time, I actually enjoyed learning it – I felt like I got some of the value back from my investment. I finally felt less out of place in this environment, and I tried to put the work in. Obviously if this doesn’t translate into decent results, then I will have to reflect on it – but it is more about technique, than actual skill. Play the game. Please the examiners for the 45 minutes that they need you to and then go home and find pleasure in something else.

All I wanted to do was to wish you the best of luck with the upcoming exams, but I know most of you will do well. As much as anyone tries to convince you, you can’t blag a university exam – trust me, I have tried (and failed). You don’t need to – it is there within you – because you are already successful in most of the things that you do, as well as being healthy, loved and supported by the people around you. Numbers and statistics will try to define you, as much as people will look at what you are wearing and make their impression, but it is those that see behind that who will last.

The sceptical, stressed-out version of you will think this is flowery bullshit. And that this isn’t what you need right now. You need a 2.1. And don’t get me wrong, you do, but you also need to be a human being too, not a drone. If you don’t believe me, read this. Now jump.

Opt In


Credit: European Parliament / Flickr

Credit: European Parliament / Flickr

It was a bit of anti-climax. It isn’t the same putting your vote in the post, amongst those who are making their way to the polling stations now, huddled into those familiar wooden booths. It is a technological vaccuum where even the advances in everything electronic won’t stop you from taking a black pen and putting a black ‘x’ in the designated box. And it is totally yours to choose.

The beauty of voting in a General Election for the very first time is that it is like crossing the threshold. A threshold that has very rarely changed in the last few hundred years, that has built the nation and brought it to its knees. And it all invariably starts with you walking into that familiar wooden booth, and marking your choice. It was a very exciting moment for me personally, having been heavily interested in politics since I can remember.

However, I can’t help feeling like the tokenism behind voting should have more value than it does. Amongst many of us, it is as much about telling people that you are going to vote, as well as actually doing it. An exercise in democratic responsibility, as well as a vanity project. It is a curious juxtaposition between generations that have kept their political views to themselves, and many of us who are bold enough to post our explicit political views all over our social media profiles. It is a positive notion, I must admit, that so many people want to be more involved, but I am worried that we sometimes don’t see how important this actually is.

I know there is no need to point fingers at the engaged, when there are many others that have no interest or time for the way in which this race pans out. It isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Also, there is no right or wrong reason to vote – it is a very personal dimension and there are a plethora of reasons why an individual might choose one box over another. Yet, do we take the time to understand who and what we are voting for? Can we ever consider the implications of such a decision on one ballot paper on one day?

It sometimes makes me feel like it is an ‘opt in’. You tick a box (or rather cross) and suddenly you align with a certain viewpoint, a major issue or a charismatic leader. You endorse the way that they work, who they believe in and you give them the right to decide a part of your future for five years. It is the terms and conditions at the bottom that we miss – the small print that surfaces months after the wooden booths are taken down, and the pollsters go home – the devil, as someone said to me today, is in the details.

So cross that box. Smile at the fact that you made a little piece of history. But realise that this is just the beginning, and that it is time to start holding those to account after the banners have been taken down. It will be a very exhausting night. And for a few groups of people, it will be a celebration amongst all the chaos…but the real winner should be you.

Because this should never just be an ‘opt in’ – this is a statement of intent. This generation will not be deceived again, not this time.

 

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