Losing Your Equilibrium

posted by on 22/07/2014

It feels strange writing one of these things again. The last time I opened up with a personal post was a while back and even then, I probably only scratched the surface with a quote. Funnily enough a topic of conversation that many of my fellow mid-20s friends and I speak about is balance and how it’s somewhat unattainable in the industries that we find ourselves in. A society that celebrates the overtime worker, the one who stays in the office till past midnight and shows up at 9am to do it all again. For me, my job has always been about producing great work that satisfies my creative needs. Y&Y is the side project that allows me to freely create whatever that comes to my mind – budget allowing that is. It’s fast come to realisation that trying to juggle the day job and a growing side project has its ups and downs. Read on my friends.

Last month marked 3 years since handing in our final essay at university. Time has flown by and not once for a second have I missed university. I have missed the free time but that’s life. You deal with it. I’ve been in the digital industry ever since leaving university with just a week’s break transitioning from student to a wannabe agency individual.

If you want to know more about the journey through university – click here for an old article from me. Everything was going pretty swell this year. It’s the year of transition for me, being 25 and realising that you’re a fully-grown adult. One of those grown up adult decisions included a rather unforgettable day in January where I proposed to my better half whilst flying over London. It’s crazy a single moment can turn your outlook on life just like that. Suddenly the talk is all about weddings, saving for a house or heck, even moving abroad after marriage.

Then just like that, in March, something happened that was out of my control. I won’t be blaming anyone why it took place as it’s all in the past now. However at the time and for a month or so after, it disrupted my mood, motivation and drive. A colleague and I were travelling to the USA to work over there for a few months but due to having the wrong visa for the type of work we would be doing, we were sent back. However as all the flights for the day were done, we had to be detained as ‘aliens’ with no rights overnight. This meant being frisked, handcuffed, driven in a cop car to a detention center to stay at overnight. You’d think that would be it, right? Nope – had to change into blue overalls as opposed to orange as we weren’t criminals. We slept on the floor of a cell for the next 7 hours before we headed back to the airport to be shipped back to the UK. That’s a really cut down version of what took place. It was dehumanising, demoralising and surreal to say the least. I guess it’s a story to tell the grand kids one day, ey?

If you’re wondering where these photographs are from, they’re small selection of shots from my month away in Kerala. These are from my trip up to the tea plantations in Munnar

Although it didn’t leave us traumatised, I definitely felt the effects of that surreal experience for a month after. Anger, a lack of drive and passion – it all hit me subconsciously. Heck, you’ve probably noticed the feature side of the site not being updated in two months. Prior to the trip, my mind was set on getting out to Portland – focusing on short-term work goals above everything and just like that the opportunity was given and taken away. A great reminder for me that not everything is in my power and that God had other plans for me. During this lull period, a door opened up for me to go work on a personal project that I’ve wanted to do for a while.

The perils of advertising is that a lot of it comes across meaningless, by that I mean work that’s solely created to feed the man through consumerism and materialism. It was an enlightening moment for me, the beginning of all my existential woes. I’ve longed to leave a positive legacy with my gifts and when the opportunity came up – I had to take it. India was a personal trip to embrace my motherland as well as do a little bit of soul searching. My home away from home but I always disliked going there as young kid, life was too slow and boring without all the perks of London life. I used to be one of those ignorant westernised 3rd generation kids who never appreciated their roots; I wanted to go home back to civilisation and my Playstation. This time I had different motive, I needed head space, which involved a break from the industry, Y&Y and the hectic city life to rest and renew my mind and soul.

Though I went there with a motive to create a book around where I’m from, personal photography is never a chore or a task. It feels like a natural extension of my being that allows me to capture the world I see. The project spans around Kerala, whose tagline is God’s Own Country for reasons such as this -
click here. Though it’s not a country, it’s full of life and culture that makes it stand apart from the rest of India. I’m probably being very biased with that statement but that’s India’s beauty – 29 states that are so different to each other in terms of landscape, language and politics.

One of my friends asked me what were my three key learnings from the time away. A tough question to answer at first but here’s what I summarised:

Enjoy the simple things in life.

For me, this began as soon as I stepped foot into my dad’s family home. The house felt somewhat empty after the deaths in our family in the past decade but their love and spirit lives on through us. A month away from being always connected to embracing the small things that shape us such as spending time with family; from being an older cousin to learning from the elders, enjoying the food, teaching and catching up on my reading. I was waking up and going down to the riverside to just sit and stare. Over here, I’d have my iPhone out ready to shoot the next Instagram photograph. You don’t have to document everything you see; sometimes you just have to enjoy the moment. Don’t miss out on life.

Relationships first. Always.

I’ve stood by this for years now but still once in a while fall victim to the idol that is work. Work should never come before relationships. One of the main reasons that I used to dislike going to India as a youngster was because we were dragged around to people’s houses. I never quite understood why my dad always insisted on seeing extended family. By that I mean, dad’s cousin’s cousin’s brother’s mum etc etc. He always makes time to go see everyone and dragged us along in our younger days, much to our displeasure. However I see why he did, there’s a famous Maya Angelou quote: ‘People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ The greatest gift you can give someone is your time, I enjoyed spending time with everyone who I encountered in my visit.

Be energised by what you do.

This was more of a reflective learning from looking back at the past 5 months of the year and my career. Passion and happiness takes you a long way but getting comfortable is an enemy of progress. Refuse to settle for mediocrity. I certainly want to spend my days doing something that inspires me and make a positive difference in the lives of others whilst doing so. Ask yourself – how you can be a blessing to those around you? It’s not always about changing the world. Just impact to those around you on a day-to-day basis is where you begin. The more one forgets himself by giving himself to a cause to serve, the more human he becomes.

I can’t believe it’s taken me a good two months to write this post. Being able to open up and talk about such personal things is a blessing in disguise. Some may call it a weakness but I personally believe we go through everything for a reason and sharing our stories can impact the lives of others positively. Right, balance is now restored – so back to life I go. Work less, live more.

Have you ever lost your equilibrium?

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  • Words & Photography by Yin
  • Edited by Tahirah