Diwali in India.
Performance I watched.
Salma, me and Parul...which one of these things is not like the other?
Just cuz I think it's funny.
I've never had trouble stepping or thinking outside of the box...I excel at that shit! I do however have a huge problem getting outside of the box I have created for myself. This blog isn't about doing things differently from everybody else, it about doing things that are different for you.
Last week a client and friend invited me to celebrate Diwali which is a festival of lights in India that is similar to our New Year's celebration except there is no meat or booze. When she first invited me, my immediate reaction was HELL no! Not because it sounded like a bad time, but because that would be a huge leap out of the tiny box I live in.
My life consists of working, working out and eating and thinking about working out and eating. After that, I go home, hang out with my cats and go to bed and do it again the next day. Somehow I am always surrounded by some controversy or rumors...if they only knew what my life was really like...the gossip mongers would be soooo disappointed. I am completely happy with my life over all. Some people love to go out and drink and be social and fill every waking moment with stuff and that's great if that's what makes them happy. I prefer a more streamlined approach. I only want a couple things on my plate and I want to give them my full attention. I get overwhelmed very easily and my shyness and social anxiety keep me tucked very carefully inside my cozy little box. I have no doubt that I have missed out on some amazing opportunities and experiences.On the flip side, I have missed a few things that turned out not to be so great. So maybe I'm breaking even??? Probably not.
I asked my friend if I would be sitting with her or a table full of strangers. She assured me that she wouldn't leave my side, so I said I would go. As the day went on, I started to get nervous about it. After all, everything I knew about India, I learned from movies like Slum Dog Millionaire and let's face it...that movie didn't exactly paint a pretty picture. But I started to relax because I would trust her with my life. I knew she wouldn't set me up for failure.
So the day came and all the sudden it hit me...."What the Hell am I gonna wear?" I knew all the women would be in beautiful colorful Saris. I'm rarely in what people call "regular" clothes. Since my work and play are in the same place...the gym, all I have is workout clothes, so I had a major clothes crisis. That shit never happens to me. I normally go to my closet, grab the first thing I see and throw it on. Not this day. After reaching an almost complete mental breakdown, I slapped on some black and headed out the door.
I knew the event was sold out and she was already inside. As I walked up, I sent her a text asking her if I would need a ticket. She said I would be fine, just come in. So I walked in an immediately the guy (who was not Indian) at the door was like "Do you have a ticket?" Meanwhile there were people going around both sides of me without being stopped. Clearly I didn't look like everybody else and it was the one and only time I was made to feel uncomfortable and judged the entire night and it was from an employee at the event. He was looking at me and I knew he was thinking something like "There is a vampire trying to get in. If I remember correctly, you have to invite them in...I wonder if anybody has a wood stake or some garlic?" She came out and scoffed at him and said "Here's two tickets!"
So we went inside the auditorium to watch a show which consisted of performances of people from age 3-60. It was about two and a half hours long. Before each performance, they would tell a story that made us understand the cultural significance. I was really blown away. It's not that it was the best show I had ever seen, but because of the cultural aspect. I found it fascinating how they had managed to hang on to their heritage and roots and preserve their culture in America without it feeling like it wasn't inclusive of America. I came from a culture of TV trays with dinner on them in front of the television every night and then football on the weekends. Sure we had our holidays and what not, but it was nothing like this. And I'm not putting my own culture down, I love it...it's just different.
Once the show ended, we headed to the banquet room to eat. This was the moment I was excited about and most nervous about. I'm a huge fan of Indian food. The fact that the entire meal was vegetarian was really exciting. That never happens at big events. I normally just skip whatever meat is being served and load up on carbs. This would also be the time that I would be forced to be somewhat social and talk to strangers. I have to say that there wasn't one moment that I was made to feel uncomfortable. Everybody I met looked me in the eye with a warm genuine smile and shook my hand. Everybody was very concerned if I liked the food...well no worries...it was AMAZING! The whole experience was perfect in every way.
As I drove home, I thought about how my fear of the unknown could have kept me from having that experience. That would have been a tragedy. Then my mind went to New Year's resolutions. My resolution will be to step outside of my box and take a chance on the unknown. I'm fully aware that every step won't be amazing...but even if there is just one great step, it is worth the risk.