coffee date #2 with madhavi alaparthy
(aka madhavi aunty)
senior director – IT solutions and support, my go-to life crisis contact, professional clementine peeler, owner of a contagious laugh
me: colombian black coffee | aunty: colombian flavored cappuccino
location: madhavi alaparthy’s comfy living room, new jersey
NOTE: this was one of the most enriching and enticing conversations I’ve ever had. Be sure to check out the EPIPHANIES below!
Throughout my childhood, Madhavi Aunty was always “that aunty” who came looking for you at parties if you had not greeted her. She’d say “Where’s my ‘hi’ Esha?” and then I’d redden up and greet her with a ‘hi,’ throw an awkward smile, and give a hug. That’s pretty much the only interaction we had for a fairly long time.
After I got older and closer with her daughters, I was able to talk to her more and more. Thank god for that because Madhavi Aunty is literally my savior.
It takes a lot for me to open up to others, but with Madhavi Aunty it was natural and easy. I attribute this to her open-mindedness and ability to listen attentively compared to other Indian parents I’ve interacted with. I’m not implying that my parents are too strict or old-fashioned, but they still would not understand or be able to help me with situations that I needed to talk to Madhavi Aunty about.
More than being open-minded, Madhavi Aunty is willing to unlearn and re-learn. This is especially important for people who grow up in a culturally rich environment. Indians obviously have a ton of vibrant culture, but that culture also comes with some ideologies that are outdated and must be unlearned (i.e. being fair skinned is superior, women do the household chores). Madhavi Aunty’s lack of stubbornness and willingness to learn again is what makes her so exceptional. She’s also the most forgiving and patient person I’ve ever encountered. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes as a kid by clinging to toxic people and adapting their toxic behaviors. However, Madhavi Aunty was still able to forgive, be approachable and kind.
I remember for my Sweet 16 two years ago I was a frantic mess the week leading up to the big day. The day before the party, my parents threw a pot-luck in our backyard with our friends and family. Out of the nearly fifty, if not more, people there, only Madhavi Aunty noticed my unsuccessful attempt at holding back excessive sobs and insane anxiety.
She was talking to my dad as I stood next to him. I was distracted, inattentive, and wanted to desperately hide out in my bathroom. She noticed and said “Esha, come with me.” She took me to the tent set up farther away from the rest of the gang and asked, “What happened?”
Our conversation started off with my sobs. She let me let out all the pent up emotion I’d been carrying with me all day and once I calmed down, she asked again, in a softer and more fostering tone, “What happened?” I explained the “gory” details and she did what she does best: calm me down and bring me back to center. She then gave me a tight, warm hug (short people give the BEST hugs hehe) and that short conversation with her made me feel a 100x better because that’s just how conversations with Madhavi Aunty unfold.
Ever since then, I’ve called her up numerous times to discuss relationship issues, fights with my parents, life problems, etc. We’ve gone on multiple walks in our neighborhoods as she let me vent my heart out, took time to actively listen, and then would somehow always find the right things to say.
It’s evident that before making a potentially life-changing decision, Madhavi Aunty is on my list of people to consult.
- Face your fears!
A statement we hear often, but only a finite amount of us can act upon it. Failure is scary territory and we are used to steering clear from it by all means. According to Madhavi Aunty, the key to facing your fears is to stop thinking about yourself. The minute we assume the opinions of the people around us, is the minute we paralyze ourselves and turn that situation into a fear-ridden moment.
Madhavi Aunty shared an anecdote from her workplace. One of her colleague’s was always the first person to speak up and raise her hand for any event or position. She wouldn’t wait for the task description, but instead would dive straight for the deep end. With this proactive attitude and ability to speak up boldly, her colleague was able to soar through the company. On the other hand, Madhavi Aunty used to wait to hear the description, deciphered whether or not she’ll be able to complete the task, and would try to reach a level of perfection before she jolted for the opportunity. However, by the time she was ready to jolt, someone else would swipe the opportunity. Morale of the story: we should never strive for perfection because it will be a perpetual struggle.
“Do you think in a constantly changing world that you’ll ever be perfect?” – Madhavi A., 2021
Instead of analyzing every detail of every situation, we should be able to simply “go for it.” I always believed that to fulfill any task, I need to perfect my skill within that department before I even attempt the task. However, through this conversation, I now realize that my mentality has been wrong the whole time. It’s only when I attempt the task that I’ll discover a path to perfection.
- Everything happens for a reason.
“Don’t think to yourself ‘Why me?’ Instead think, “Why not me?” – Madhavi A., 2021
When faced with any situation- whether it be an adversity or a blessing- it is crucial to understand that there’s a reason why we’re faced with it. It’s solely because we’re faced with it that transforms us into our own problem solvers. Therefore, instead of reasoning why you were burdened with something, change that mentality. Think that you were thrown into this situation because you are the only one capable of accomplishing it. Going from the “Why me?” to the “Why not me?” will help us push through any obstacle we may face.
- Hold high expectations for others and don’t be afraid of confrontation.
This was a big one for me! I have this nasty habit (that I recently recognized) where I notice how someone I’m close with does something wrong- like lying, cheating, judging, blaming, etc. Instead of acknowledging and addressing these flaws with that person, I tend to just distance myself from them and never give them a reason as to why I left. This makes them confused and leaves these people hanging on threads.
Through my conversation with Madhavi Aunty, I realized the importance of confrontation. Confrontation was always anxiety-provoking for me. It was something that I would need to muster up courage for hours and hours before I attempt to speak to that person. This is because during my rare confrontations, I would unconsciously accuse the person of “doing this, this, this, and that,” putting them in an automatic defensive position. I should have instead used the template below that Madhavi Aunty advised:
“When this incident happened ___________, that made me feel like this ________________, but I expected this ______________.”
When you speak to someone like this, you’re not putting them in a defensive position where they are programmed to ignore everything you tell them and only think about it from their point of view. It allows them to think about what they’ve done since you described it from your perspective. Additionally, this type of conversation allows for the other person to see that you care enough for them to hold them at high expectations and then to call them out on behaviors that don’t align with their values.
Confronting in a positive way will almost always lead to healthier and more balanced relationships.
- Pick people who are important to you, and only work to please them.
This one is a common lesson, but something that I needed to hear. It’s utterly impossible to please every single person we meet, so we need to develop that circle of people who are most important to us. Then we proceed to only please those in that circle. The kid in the back of a class, who judges those participating during a discussion is not someone within your circle, so he’s not someone you have to please, which means his opinions of you don’t matter. They don’t matter!
- Changing what you don’t like about yourself is a deliberate, ongoing, and conscious thought process.
I am well aware that there are many things that I need to change about myself. We are all flawed individuals. Once I recognize these flaws, however, it’s exceptionally hard for me to act on changing them. That’s because I used to think it was a one-time approach, where I could tweak my mindset and my flawed characteristics would naturally disappear. Wrong! Change is a constant process and most of the time it involves a tweak in our perception by constantly rerouting the way we think.
- Perception can become the reality if you hold back.
“Our perception of what others will think of us can become a reality if you keep quiet.” – Madhavi A., 2021
One of my biggest flaws (imo) is that I form opinions about myself based off of others’ opinions. It’s a battle for me to voice my opinion in a group setting if I am not accustomed to its members because I’m so deadly afraid (hence why point #1 was so important for me!) of what others would think of me. When I told Madhavi Aunty this, she said that whatever I’m thinking that others will think of me will eventually become reality because I would constantly be preventing myself from contributing to my fullest potential amongst other people.
“You’re always going to be the one creating a limitation for yourself.” – Madhavi A., 2021
☕️ People who want to judge will always judge no matter what you do! It’s healthier and less stressful to focus on yourself and your inner circle.
☕️ If you can’t take risks, then every life-changing opportunity will drive right past you and you will remain stagnant and without purpose.
☕️ CONFRONT!!! Ditching years of relationships due to toxicity is allowed, but only after you confront (in a positive way, using the above template!) the other person and convey what you expect from them.