Home > General > How I became an addict!

How I became an addict!

November 12, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Image Credit: Seed Publishers

It’s midnight on a Holiday and everyone in the home is asleep! I’ve been going back and forth between the computer and the fridge 3, maybe 4 times now. Nothing inside seems satisfying to my disturbed mind. I finally reach out to the cupboard and grab the Nutella chocolate spread. The feeling is greater than me — I greedily shove 3 big spoonfuls into my mouth!

As the sensation moves down my throat and reaches my pleasure centre in the brain, I check my email, Twitter and Facebook for the hundredth time. I’ve been doing that for the past two hours, sitting helplessly in front of the screen in a wonder what happened to the world — why there’s no one out there sending a new message for me to read?

Maybe if I tuned into one of those chatty Twitter accounts that send a barrage of messages streaming down their channel I could find something useful?! No, I needed a person to send me something interesting, not some software scheduling a large queue of tweets that mean nothing to me. I needed to be able to reply back with a witty comment or enter into a discussion over a thought-provoking question.

This is when it struck me! A shiver ran through my spine and I felt I can’t move. I don’t know if the weight of the realization caused the shaking. Or maybe the high cocoa dose in my brain activated too many senses. Whatever it was, it certainly felt gravely cold in the room! I could think only about one thing — I am an addict!

It wasn’t always like this. Almost 5 years ago I moved to Canada with my wife and my 2 years old daughter, leaving our culture, extended family and friends behind. Life started getting strange ever since.

I didn’t notice for a while, but things started changing rather drastically for me. I was proud to be in control of my life back in my home country. I was the ruler of my emotions and together with my wife we held supreme authority over our decisions — the world begone!

But Canada was different. I mean, what in the world do all those people that keep chatting with me wherever I go, want? I go to a supermarket and not only the guy at the counter wants to know what plans I have for the weekend, but the lady behind me in line wants to know how many kids I have and what I do for living!

Then there is the girl in the train I catch to work that wants to know if the book I just started reading is good and if I can recommend it to her, — the guy in the coffee shop wants to know if I’ll watch the hockey game tonight and who I think will win, — and the old man waiting on the bus station wants to give me an advice about raising my kids!

What is going on people? Why are you all intruding in my life? What happened to the good old questions around the weather?

And then the feedback giving came too! In my country feedback equals criticism and no one likes to hear one. But nobody cares about my feelings in Canada — everyone thinks they’re not only invited to give me feedback but they seem to do so with authority!

My first reaction to all this was to turn on defensive! I was loosing my supremacy in my own personal life and had to struggle to still keep some of it. At least that is what I thought at the beginning — until I started getting high from experiencing what now I know is my fix!

One of the first times it happened — with me noticing that is, which was hard given my state at the time — was just few months into my new job at a big software company in Vancouver. My manager asked me if I could cover for him as a lead for a sizable area in an important project while he goes on a vacation — with no email access! Being new, I couldn’t say no, though I had my doubts around the motivation.

So many things went wrong while I was replacing him, but I got overwhelming help from colleagues across the world and with a lot of effort on my side I was able to get things back to normal. When my manager got back, he asked me if I wanted to finish the project as a lead, utterly shaking my belief system. I was dumb-founded by the show of  unjustified (in my mind) trust. That is when I experienced true inspiration from someone’s actions!

The next blow to my beliefs happened with feedback. No matter how much sugar coding you add when you tell someone about their “areas of improvement”, they will always see it as criticism — or so I saw it that way when a manager from a totally different team gave such feedback about me to my own manager. At the same time, nothing can inspire you more to accept such feedback, but when that same person you hated for criticizing you vouches for you when recommended for an important role!

By now, two cornerstones of my views got shaken — I saw giving both trust and feedback for what they really were. My feelings started to get all mixed up and I could sense my throne over my personal kingdom sliding down!

This is the state I was in when I got introduced to TED! Wow, what an amazing opportunity that was. A top-notch elite conference where the likes of Bill Gates and Al Gore get to speak to others like them has been suddenly opened to me — for free! Besides Bill and Al, I could now hear the thoughts and ideas of great thinkers and inspiring scientists, leaders, designers, etc. I suddenly got free access to Richard Dawkins, Sir Ken Robinson, Steven Pinker, Dan Gilbert, Susan Savage-Rumbaugh, Malcolm Gladwell, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Stefan Sagmeister, Dan Dennet, Jared Diamond, Jane Goodall, Aimee Mullins, Jill Bolte Taylor,… the list went on and on and on!

I was like a child given a new toy, but unlike the child, who is excited to learn how to play, I was excited with the stories told by the speakers at TED. I was truly inspired by what these people — these strangers! — had to say. And this is when my belief system encountered the third blow and would never recover since. I learned to appreciate stories more than facts!

What did I feel like at those moments? The appropriate questions is not what, but when? When was the last time I blindly trusted people? When was the last time I was freely saying what I had in mind? When was the last time I was entranced by stories? In childhood, of course! I really felt like becoming a child again. My senses changed, my fears slowly dissipated and my heart started to open up.

And I started seeking for more! I no longer dreaded people’s questions on the streets, or buses, or shops, or elsewhere — I even started asking questions myself! I eagerly listened when someone had a comment or feedback on something I did or cared about and I tried to give valuable feedback back! And I did my best when someone trusted my a new responsibility, trying to do the same when on the giving end!

But I ran into a problem — the inspiration I was getting from engaging with the people at work, my friends circle or on the street was no longer enough! I needed more and more of it! I realized that what inspires me is not just the stories these people were telling me, nor the ideas or thoughts they were willing to share — it was their excitement to engage with me, it was their passion to show me what they value, it was their efforts to help me, even in a tiny little way.

Again, TED gave me a clue where to get more to satisfy my increased cravings! With its openness, TED managed to build an enormous community of volunteers and supporters that were eagerly engaging with other members of the community. It truly showed what can bunch of passionate volunteers do when motivated and empowered, a result of which is TEDx — numbers and numbers of TED-like events being organized around the world by TED community members and volunteers.

I thought: Volunteers, of course! To volunteer you must be passionate about something and you must have a story — let me hear it! I decided, then, that volunteering is a great way to get more to keep my cravings satisfied.

But TED showed me another way too. One of the secrets of their success was their move to open the talks online, free to the world. Millions of viewers got to watch them and, more importantly, comment and discuss with other people around the ideas presented in those talks.

This led me to jumping the social media bandwagon, as the ultimate medium that lets you reach to many people around the world. It was one of the few final bastions in my heart and it got surrendered.

Once I dreaded the idea to send messages publicly to the world using something like Twitter — now I cherish the opportunity to check what some of my favorite people like Jamie Oliver are doing, the chance to bring something to attention to someone like Sir Ken Robinson and most importantly, the ability to ask questions, give feedback and engage in discussion with people I would have no other chance otherwise.

Believe it or not, that is still not enough for me! That is why I am still disturbed and check my email and Twitter and Facebook for the hundred and first time tonight, while still feeling the taste of Nutella in my mouth. That is why I shivered — my life is no longer the same as 5 years ago. I am no longer in total control of my emotions and have no supremacy over my personal kingdom, because I let others invade it!

The shaking came when I realized that I’ve become vulnerable and I need meaningful interactions with people to stay happy. Without that, I will only have limited opportunities for inspiration. That is why I started this blog, even if I haven’t realized it at the time!

I am an addict — and inspiration is my fix! Will you help me stay high? 😉

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  1. November 17, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    This whole story is absolutely not far from my story- The only difference is the active blogging and the level of openness. I am one of these passionate readers that are following you on a daily basis but not being myself a parent most of times I can just add an opinion, not an opinion based on the experience and the feedback -Therefore, I am not commenting. This time, finding myself on the same stage and more interesting on the same way towards the openness I had to comment (I am far from your state of openness but maybe I will be there in 3-4 years. I am only 6 months in Canada.
    And to make the story short- quick comment, feedback or idea about the openness – don’t you think that being open means being possessive – have all the ideas, all the knowledge, all the validations and ultimately all the attention on the world? If we get there, than we become untouchable… and soon after that, if you want to feel happy…You have to start everything again… hating being poked by people thru enjoying it to being happy… and here is the idea I put forward- the idea about the cycles. I have the reason to believe the reoccurring happens every 7th year, but some other time more on that… For now, great post as always Kima!

    • November 17, 2010 at 9:58 pm

      Thx for commenting Igor!! Learning that my friends are regular readers is always motivating! 😉 This article in particular is very personal to me so it means a lot that you find it valuable and can related to it!

      Interesting thoughts on the 7 year cycle idea … I’d love to get references if you found something that lead you to believe there may be something to it! … I may not be a good candidate for testing the idea out, though, as I don’t think I stuck to a major routine (e.g. school or job, town residency and similar) for more than 5-6 years 😉 … maybe something internally always told me to move on before the cycle ended?! 😉

      /Kima

  2. November 15, 2010 at 8:21 am

    GM Kima, yesterday I had mentioned to this guy about your article.. and today he is on Freshly Pressed, thought you would be interested!
    http://theextinctexistentialist.wordpress.com/2010/11/13/facebook-fatigue-friendship-and-focus/

    • November 15, 2010 at 9:11 am

      Thanks so much for linking my article to his blog Rachana! It is a funny coincidence he speaks of addiction in a similar way I do … though I am trying to embrace the addiction in my case, as I am growing addicted to interaction with people … I just need to shake the other addiction to checking Twitter, Facebook, email updates too frequently — for the sake of checking news — and let myself room for properly engaging with people that either share or challenge my views

      Thx for your unending support!

  3. November 14, 2010 at 9:52 am

    This is my first adventure with catching a blog that is essentially about a world
    that so often eludes me. I am impressed with your diligence as much as I am awed by the fact you have let your personal world become so open. For whatever reason you write you must also be seeking validation.

    I am somewhat shying away from allowing my thoughts, my opinions, my philosophy to
    be sent across the world for the internet voyere peeking. And if Nutella is the means to comfort the rawness you feel with your allowing the world in to view, that
    can be replaced by the positive feedback you get from so many people.

    You chose to do this. You find a satisfaction in doing so. Keep writing, tell it
    like it is. Nutella or not, obviously you have a great following!

    Becky

    • November 14, 2010 at 9:56 pm

      Thanks Becky! I am always glad when a new reader decides to comment!

      While validation is good, engaging with my readers is more important to me! That is what brings the meaningful interaction I am seeking. I cherish inspiration and, as I was trying to express in my article, while I can be inspired by hearing ideas posted on web sites or presented in online videos, I appreciate the inspiration coming from the stories I hear when talking to people. My blog just broadens the possible audience I can interact with! It also adds freedom of expression over social media like Twitter or Facebook.

      Btw, I checked your web site http://www.bigarthouse.com/ The murals look really great! I also appreciated your style of work as described with this message to your prospective clients: “…you can look forward to an exciting adventure in artistic co-creation with Becky. … Children are especially welcome to pitch in with their own imaginative ideas.”

      Though you say “I am somewhat shying away from allowing my thoughts, my opinions, my philosophy to be sent across the world” your style of work reveals that you decide to open up with the people you work with and let them intrude in your creative process … I don’t think what you do is dissimilar to what I hope to achieve with the people that may find value in my blog!

      Thanks again for dropping by and for the words of support!

      /Kima

  4. Ema
    November 12, 2010 at 7:44 am

    Kima, I really enjoyed this post. This particular article is thought provoking, insightful, and in ways profound. Your sense of self awareness and the adjustment from a culture you know and love, that is a total part of you, to a culture that is so open and for the most part, extroverted, is very interesting. I enjoy your writing and following your exploration through the journey that is your life here now. I look forward to more articles and TED talks – keep them coming. I enjoyed the ones you’ve sent to me. Keep writing, keep exploring your thoughts and feelings, they are an inspiration to others.

    • November 13, 2010 at 12:39 am

      Thx Maria! I am so glad I was able to send some inspiration your way as you need all the motivation, courage and strength you can muster to go through the difficulties in your life! You’ve been a great source of inspiration and motivation for myself and I am honestly grateful to have you as a regular reader!!!

      /Kima

  5. November 12, 2010 at 6:18 am

    Because this addiction has been happening to me too, and I was feeling I was spiraling out of control, I now check email, phone, messages, blog, websites etc etc etc.. in specific times of the day, otherwise, it has becoming distracting to the point that it is worse than writer’s block when I want to write something.. 😦

    “I needed to be able to reply back with a witty comment or enter into a discussion over a thought-provoking question.” – You will think I am acting like a Diva when I tell you that sometimes, I find it extremely hard to see some thought provoking, intelligent stuff to read and reply to.. Do I have way too high standards, is that a psychological issue with me??

    Unfortunately, work place improvement suggestions are seen as hassles and abuse.. You are right! But, you were not on the receiving end of suggestions and queries yourself, so why would you think that it is acceptable for others to take your work advice.. Is it because you are superior.. Just a silly question, that’s all, I probably know the answer too – Yes, because I am the boss, and I am supposed to improve their skills and approach, right?! — Oh never mind, please ignore this line, I wrote this, before I read your “I no longer dreaded people’s questions on the streets..”

    I think as we are constantly fed information in the form of extremely polarizing and opinionated news bloggers, it is tough not to just ‘blindly’ go with the flow and take time to think and form your own idea about a given issue..

    I like your choice of picture again, Male and female dependencies.. ROFL!!
    And I LOVE NUTELLA, discovered it 6 months ago and finally figured out what was missing in my life!!!

    • November 13, 2010 at 12:34 am

      Thx Rachana!

      You may not realize this, but your regular readership and comments mean a lot to me! I always enjoy reading your own thought-provoking articles and cherish the feedback I get from you on my own. Exactly the kind of meaningful interaction I am looking for with my blog!!!

      I can’t agree more about your comment for the writer’s block being easier to handle than the other distractions. I don’t consider myself exactly a writer, but I do find it difficult to write with no interactions for longer than 15 mins even when I know what I want to write 🙂 and unlike you, I haven’t been able to discipline myself and stick to strict times for checking emails, Twitter, etc. 😦

      Thank you for the poetic interpretation of the workplace improvements and suggestions part. I am impressed and inspired at the same time!

      As for the Nutella, I much prefer a version I ate as a kid, called Eurocream — with both black and white parts and very specific taste, but that’s harder to get in Vancouver 😉

      Always grateful to have you as a reader!

      /Kima

  1. November 12, 2010 at 3:13 am

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