Make Friends With Failure, w/ Utkarsh Saraswat


Failure. It's the thing we all love to fear. But as today's guest, Utkarsh Saraswat (@sillyworldpodcast) discovered, failure is an important part of the creative process, and can lead you to major breakthroughs.


Highlight Reel:

2:00 - Fear of failure

4:20 - Failure is a prerequisite for innovation

7:00 - When failure drags your life into a nightmare

21:00 - Holi relief

24:00 - Lockdown to the rescue!


Adrienne MacIain 0:01

Hi everyone, welcome to the That's Aloud podcast. I'm your hostess Dr. Adrienne MacIain. And today we have with Utkarsh Saraswat. Please introduce yourself.


Utkarsh Saraswat 0:12

Right. So, I'm a pharmacy student. I'm a poet... I mean, not really. I like to call myself that. But I'm just another person, to be honest. I'm just here.


Adrienne MacIain 0:28

Well, I know that you have a podcast.


Utkarsh Saraswat 0:31

Yeah.


Adrienne MacIain 0:32

What inspired you to start that?


Utkarsh Saraswat 0:36

Yeah. So over time, I felt like I had a lot to say. And because I'm kind of the person that doesn't really talk to a lot of people doesn't have a huge friend circle or something. So usually, all my thoughts are very close to me. And like, it's all in my head. But I was like, you know, I have been wanting to start something for a long while. And with the pandemic, and the whole lockdown happening, I was like, I have some time right now to actually spend on a project. So let me actually start this and see how it turns out. And it just ended up happening from there on, I got a couple of friends involved. I was like, you know, I reached out to a couple of close friends: Do you want to do this? Let's have a conversation every other day. And let's see how it goes. And it turned out pretty alright.


Adrienne MacIain 1:29

And you call it It's a Silly, Silly World, which I love. Because of course, it is a very silly world.


Utkarsh Saraswat 1:36

I mean, given the situation in which I started, it definitely was a silly world.


Adrienne MacIain 1:42

I think it's always pretty absurd. But yes, there there was an extra dose of silly year 2020.


Utkarsh Saraswat 1:50

I mean, if you can believe that, during in the year, I couldn't actually believe that it could be more of a failure, and somehow it was. Yeah.


Adrienne MacIain 2:04

So what do you think is the story the world isn't getting?



Utkarsh Saraswat 2:09

Right. So the story I think the world isn't getting is the fear of failure. I mean, it's being talked about, it's not something completely new. And it obviously will be-- a part of it deals with mental health and all of that stuff. So yeah, it's not something new, it's being talked about, but I feel like it's just... the conversation hasn't progressed as much as they probably should have.


Adrienne MacIain 2:41

How do you mean?


Utkarsh Saraswat 2:43

Well, for a change, like, nobody actually talks about the fear of failure, like how deep it can be, or like, what it stems from. And, I mean, it doesn't come overnight. Like, the repercussions of it might appear out of nowhere. But it's a slow build. And like, if people approach it in a bit different way, maybe the consequences wouldn't have been that serious. So I think there needs to be a conversation about it's okay to fail. And I don't like some I personally believe like some of these sayings, like it's okay to be failing, might actually ended up end up causing a mentality of mediocrity. But like, that's not what I'm saying. What I'm saying is, do your best, try to succeed. But if you fail, that's not the worst thing in the world. So when you are not afraid of failing, and you know that, okay, I might fail. But I, at least I would learn something from this. At that point, you have a good attitude for learning, as well as succeeding eventually. But because there's this stigma of failure being a bad thing, always. You kind of have that fear, okay? If I don't do this perfectly, I might fail. And that's, like the end of the world. And I feel like that is something that should be more talked about, like, it's not the end of the world. It's just a learning step.



Adrienne MacIain 4:26

Absolutely. So everyone should have a growth mindset. I completely agree. I think failure is a necessary prerequisite to innovation, for example, like maybe you can succeed at something the first time out. But that probably means you're doing it the same way that it's already been done, or that you've already done it. So to do something new to create something unique, you really have to fail a few times, I think.


Utkarsh Saraswat 4:57

Yeah, definitely. Agreed. A part of the creative process is really failure.



Adrienne MacIain 5:04

Yeah.


Utkarsh Saraswat 5:06

If you are the if you aren't failing, that's great. You have done something right. But if you fail just know that it was a part of the process.


Adrienne MacIain 5:16

I actually would take it a step further, I think if you never fail, that you're not challenging yourself enough. I think if you never fail, you're not being creative enough. I actually believe that I think if you succeed at absolutely everything you try, then you're not trying things outside of your familiarity zone very often.



Utkarsh Saraswat 5:38

Yeah, I mean, that could be a thing, or either you're just really, really talented.


Adrienne MacIain 5:43

Sure. Well, when I meet that perfect person who never fails at anything, and yet is trying new things, I will agree, but I haven't met that person yet. Everyone I know, when they try to be creative and innovative, they fail sometimes. And then they try again. I think the only way to to ultimately fail is to give up on something. If you keep trying, you will eventually find a way.


Utkarsh Saraswat 6:12

Yeah, I mean, sometimes-- See, failures have their own sizes and their own impact. Sometimes it could be bigger, sometimes it's not as big. Like, and I think failure has to be seen from the eyes of the person that failed. You cannot judge a failure just by your own perspective.


Adrienne MacIain 6:37

Sure. Everyone's definition of success and failure are different, too.


Utkarsh Saraswat 6:42

Yeah, exactly. Like in the saying, aim for the stars, you'll reach the moon, or you land on the moon or something. I'm saying for that person who aimed for the stars, it would be a failure to reach the moon. But to everybody else that's a success, right. Success and failure have their own perspective, it depends on which perspective you're seeing it from. So likewise, if a person in kindergarten, a kid in kindergarten failed his exam, you're like, that's a small hurdle should be fine. But to that kid, it's like all my friends progressed and I'm still here. That might be a much bigger failure. But just because you have passed through that phase of your life, you can have an outsider's perspective of it, and you're like, yeah, that is not that harmful. But to him, it's like a lot has happened, and I'm suddenly behind the people that I work with.


Adrienne MacIain 7:46

Can you share with us a time that you failed, and it was a ultimately productive failure?


Utkarsh Saraswat 7:54

I mean, the whole of last year, I believe, I mean, actually the whole of last couple of years. Because, see, for most of the people, when the pandemic started, when the lockdown happened, people kind of panic after a couple of weeks, because they were like, well, we do not have anything new to do. And there's so much time on our hands. For me was actually quite the opposite. Like, I really welcomed the lockdown. I really welcomed everything being stagnant for a while, because everything had happened so quickly for the last couple of years, and it was constantly going downwards. So when everything stopped, I had the chance to start afresh. I had, I will be accorded the time to just think about what went wrong, how do I make it right, and how to progress from there on. So basically, what happened was up to my school days, I was never really a good student in biology. Like that subject just didn't interest me as much, I was more of a math or like a physics person. And after school the All India entrance examination for engineering and all of this stuff, so I gave that. I mean, I'm just an above average student, I'm not the excellent one, of course, my rank was decent, but it wasn't good enough to get into the best of colleges in the country. So my father was like, see, if you're going into any other college, like any other private college at this point, you'll spend more on your education than you will ever earn, because that industry is very much saturated. And so he was like, there's this other industry, pharmacy, and it's not as saturated. It's very like self-employment based, so there is a much better scope for you in this world and I didn't know any better, because to me, like for the last couple of years, up to that point, it had always been like, okay, you have this already exam coming up, prepare for it, cram, like, study as hard as you can for this. And I didn't know anything apart from that. I didn't know what anything else was I was studying for that one thing. So when that didn't go through, he was like, okay, there's other option. I hadn't researched my other options. And I was like, you know what, parents always have the best in mind for the child. So if he comes to this decision, like, and this is, at this point, this is a very career-defining path, because whatever I'm going to do my college degree in, that's probably the path I'll actually take my career on. It was like, yeah, if that becomes your decision, and if he has made this an option, he probably thought this through. So I was like, fine. Let's do pharmacy then. And on what rank I got in my All India examination, I got a good college. And it was like, fine. Let's study pharmacy. However, I did not realize the fact that pharmacy was completely based off of two basic subjects, which was chemistry and biology. And I was terrible at those two subjects. My strength was math and physics. And there was no math and physics at all in this particular field. And now usually, the first year of college is, it's like an introduction to the college life and introduction to higher studies. So it wasn't that much of a problem. In the first year, I breezed through, it was a decent score. Fine. Second year comes around, and now teachers start coming into the examination, like, teachers start coming into the lectures, and they're like, oh, yes, you must have studied about this, this and this in your 12 standards. Let me continue from there on. No, but I didn't study biology since standard eight. So these people have been fiddling around with had four more years of studying biology in them, which I didn't do at all, because I was busy studying the other subjects. So at that point, I felt--like, not just felt, I saw myself going further and further behind the curve. And by the time third year started, I was miserable. Because anything they taught, I knew that if I study, I can get there. But there just wasn't enough time for me to study the basics, and then come back to this. Like I said, the fear of failure started kicking in. Because up until this point, I was always one of the better students, like I said, I was at least about average. So to me, I hadn't really failed as much. Literally, like, every examination that I gave, I was a good student, I scored a decent score. It wasn't the best, but it wasn't bad either. And now suddenly, I find myself in a place where I'm not the good student anymore. In fact, I am one of the ones that teacher is concerned about will not pass the examination. And it was certainly a very different feeling. Because I'm like, I am very interested in everything other than syllabuses, but like, I am very interested in all other activities, I have a good GPA, and all of that. So I'm like, I know for a fact that it was in a one on one conversation with any of my classmates right now, I could probably outdo them in almost every other aspect. Like I'm better, I'm better at debates, I'm better at just holding a conversation or anything other than pharmacy. But what we are studying is pharmacy, so that was much more important. And there I found myself at the back of the class behind the 50, 60 other students that were in the club, and that was a feeling quite alien to me. So that fear of failure started kicking in, like, I'm not doing as good, like, there's something inherently wrong with me. And since there was that kind of pressure building up from the fear of failure that I cannot fail again. Even then, even after like the hardest of attempts that I made, I still failed, which was natural because I didn't have the basics to start from. Yeah, it all came to a head when, at the start of 2020, when it was the start of my third year, and at that point, I was like, you know, I am so ready to just give up. Like, this is not happening, I have a backlog in quite a lot of examinations. I am, I don't even have the necessary grades. Like at that point, I felt like, even if I somehow ended up getting the degree, my score is going to be so low, nobody's going to give me a job anyway. Because I'm a bad pharmacy student. I was so low and like I said, I am the first child of my parents. Today, basically, what I do is their first experience in parenting. So, of course, I had never failed up to that point. So it's like, for them, the feeling would be new as well. And, like, I feel like I'm a very understanding child. Or at least so I would like to believe. At that point, I was like, you know, if I fail, it's not just myself, like, it starts as a setback to me, but to them as well. And that mindset just didn't help, because I already had the pressure of performance, way more than I should be. And then I added the pressure of expectation, and all that stuff. And it just took me to a point where I was like, you know, I cannot face a parent with this kind of result. And I cannot tell them, at this point, when they have invested so much money into my education, I cannot tell them like, 'Okay, this is not happening.' And that led into such a bad routine of habits. And like, I basically started skipping college because I was like, there's nothing going to happen from this. Like, I had all sorts of disorders at that point, like, I wasn't eating right, I wasn't sleeping right. And it just became a chain of all disastrous events. Like I was waking up at 12. Or like, one o'clock, I was sleeping at three or four. And all this time, like, it's not even like I'm doing anything productive. I'm just sitting there, sometimes crying for hours, because I failed at something, and then repeating the whole cycle all over again. It's like, I'm not even being productive. And I know I should be doing something. But it's like, even if I do something, there's just not enough output that I'm going to get from it that I'm expecting. So at that point, it led to a point where I think, in the late 2019, like, towards the end of the 2019, I basically contemplated suicide and all of that stuff. Like, I started to think about suicide and I was like, I will be insane. I got into that kind of mindset, which, looking back on it like, now I know I had that outside perspective of it, because I'm a year ahead, I have made much progress, so now I'm like, you know, maybe that wasn't that bad of a situation. But to that one year younger me that was a big situation. The pain just kind of went into a downstairs loop from there, all my suicidal tendencies got more and more until like January 2020, where I was literally staring down the 10th floor, and I was like, you know, I could jump from here. Everything will be just... it wouldn't exist any more. And at this point, my parents discovered about all of this. And I remember like, I think it was January, like late January or early February. So basically, I lived away from my home, I live where my college is. So one day, I was just preparing to go to college for some reason, like, it just happened that I wanted to go to college that day. I went up, I got out for college, and at the same time, my father was coming to the college. He probably knew about what I'd been doing and he wanted to have a talk or something. And midway through my college, I saw him and I kind of panicked. Like, what am I supposed to do right now? And I don't know what went through my mind, I was like, you know, the train station is very close to me right now. I will just run away. And so I tried. And that probably wasn't the best of decisions, looking back on it now. But yeah, the younger me went, took a train to a random station, and started on my journey. And midway, like--I had switched off my phones and all of that stuff at that point--I switched it on mid-point, and there's like 50, 60 odd missed calls from my parents, my sister.... Yeah, that whole process happened. They talked me out of it. I came back home. We had a couple of discussions about it. But even at that point, I wasn't really convinced. They were like, you know, you're not going to college anyways so, don't go to your apartment, stay here for a while, and see what do you want to do. I stayed home for a while. I was like, now that I'm staying home right now, then I'm even being much more less productive. Like, I'm not doing anything. I'm just staying at home. So you know what, let me just go back to college. Because at that point, like I said, I hadn't known about any other options before I went to college. I don't know of any other options right now. For me one option that I know of is pharmacy. So I'm like, let me try once again. I went back there. I tried as hard as I could, again, feeling in my classes. And then Holi happened, which is a festival. It was March 11 last year on Holi. I came back home--


Adrienne MacIain 21:46

Can you explain briefly--Because I think a lot of American audiences don't know what Holi is, and I love it, so can you just describe it very briefly, so people understand what you're, what the backdrop is here?


Utkarsh Saraswat 21:57

Yeah so Holi is a festival of colors, we basically apply colors on each other's faces. It's a festival that-- I mean, it has a lot of religious backstory to it. And I don't know how much of that is relevant right now. So I'm just going to go through it briefly. Basically, it's a festival. And like any other festival is just a reason for you to spend more time with your family or your friends. And more time to be is just an excuse to be happy for no reason.


Adrienne MacIain 22:25

And to throw powdered color, literally at and on each other.


Utkarsh Saraswat 22:31

Throw powdered colors or throw water, or, just do whatever you want and eat like a maniac. It's the best cheat day of the year. Because at that point, everybody around you is doing the same. You don't have to feel guilty about doing something out of your way. So even if you don't celebrate it, it's still a nice day. So last year, Holi happened, I came back to my parents place for Holi, celebrated Holi. And the day after that was I think Holi happened on Thursday, so it was like Friday, Saturday, and then Sunday would happen again. What I used to do was because my place is not that far off away, what I used to do was I used to come back on weekends, like every Saturday, I would take a train, I'd come back, I'll stay Sunday here. And then Monday evening, or like Tuesday, I'll just go back to my place. So my mom was like, you know, today's Thursday, and you will only go away for like Friday and Saturday and then you will back you will have to take a train back. Just skip college for two days, and then just go back wherever you want to. I was like, fine, I stayed back. That Sunday came the announcement that let's try this lockdown. Because at that point, COVID was already gaining traction. On Sunday, the government did a one day trial of like complete lockdown. So I didn't go back.


Adrienne MacIain 24:16

So what was your mindset there? Like, you hear that this has happened. Are you relieved? Are you panicked? Or like what what's your emotional state around this?


Utkarsh Saraswat 24:20

I mean, my emotional state was non existent at this point. Because like, it wasn't even I'm upset anymore, I was just numb. I was just it's like at that point I hit autopilot. I'm doing anything that makes sense. I'm not really thinking like if this is going to help, I'm just like, if this makes sense, let me just do it. So when I heard of the lockdown happening, I mean, let's be honest, nobody knew what lockdown was actually meant to be. And what Corona was actually meant to be like, there was in like our study there was this actually a subject in which Coronavirus was actually a small part. And it was, I kid you not, it was just this big of a paragraph. It basically in that entire paragraph but was written in Coronavirus is a very unharmful virus, it is usually transmitted to animals and it is not as potent. So I was like, okay, maybe this widespread will not be as big as people are making it out to be maybe this is going to stop in a couple of weeks. Anyways, lockdown happened. For months. I got tired of the lockdown. I was like, fine, this is good, this is good, this is good. I'm getting my space. Let's just not do anything for a while and not feel guilty about it because nobody else is doing anything either. First couple of weeks went great. I did nothing, and I was fine with it, and nobody was getting on my back about it. Next few weeks came the transition. Now, I was like the government has just announced that the lockdown will continue for I think three or four more months. I was like great, perfect timing. Three or four months, I'll just study the basic biology, or like the basic chemistry that I have missed out on. I downloaded all the books of like class 9, 10, 11, 12 of basic biology. I started making this habit of studying 100 pages a day like I will not try to go into details of it, I will not try to study like I will not try to mug up anything, I will not try to understand anything. I have always been like a reader. I will read a lot of books, I was like, let me take this as a piece of literature. I'll just go through 100 pages a day and cover as much as I can for the first part of it. If I have more time, I'll just go back on everything again, and just make the foundation that much more stronger. I did develop that habit, I started reading 100-200 pages a day of biology this time for a change. And a couple of months later I was through, I had read through like most of basic bio. And then I went back again, because I had two more months to go. So now I started going into details, if there was a doubt I would mark it, I would write it down, do the good student stuff that I was trained to do in my earlier days of school. And obviously, that was always going to help, and it helped. I got a better understanding of biology as a whole. And now the lockdown was extended for another full month. And I was like, brilliant. Now let me go through the basics of pharmacy. Once again, I brought out my books for like the first, second, third year. And I was like, bio is done, let me study this. I went through pharmacy books for first, second and third year. Then when they do the retail mark down every question that I had. And there was this list of 850 questions of doubt that arose. And I was like for a change these questions seem really good. Like I'm happy that at least I have questions about something. I started finding answers for those questions, I started to understand it a lot more better. Fast forward to now. The lockdown still isn't over. And I actually believe I'm at least a little bit better at least reaching the average pharmacy student. So I'm like, Good. Now, the college is supposed to open it in a month or something. I'm like, you know, let the college open. I am completely prepared this time.


Adrienne MacIain 29:30

Fantastic.


Utkarsh Saraswat 29:33

And all this while, like throughout this whole process, this is the academic side of my problems. Now there was the mental side of problems. Whether it be my suicidal tendencies, whether it be my fear of failure, I... from the other time that I had when I was taught studying biology or pharmacy, I started reading books about like social anxiety, I started reading books about psychology and all of that. Like, the more I studied and read, the more I got to the conclusion like, yes, everybody faces this. Like I started getting into podcasts early last year. So I was hearing more podcasts, talk about mental health and stuff. And I was like, okay, this is normal. Because in the Indian society, talking about mental health isn't as normal as maybe some of the other ones. I mean, I feel like it isn't normal anywhere, but at least in some cases, in some countries, it is better than others. So I had this new exposure to talk about mental health. And I got to understand myself a little bit better. And, you know, I cut a lot of parts out from like the podcast that I record, because what happens is me and my friend, I think, one of my closest friends for the podcast, because I knew I could talk about absolutely anything, because he knows most of it. Now, when we started recording episodes, we sit down, we have a conversation recorded, recorded as a whole. In those conversations, we started going like very deep. And we started talking about our mental health and all of that stuff. And I cut out all of that from the actual episodes I put out because I wasn't as comfortable with it, like people knowing the backstory of all of that stuff. But during those conversations, I got to know myself better. Like, I was like, yeah, this happened. And I had this fear of failure of being a bad pharmacy student, because I haven't ever been a bad student. So fear of failing came because I wasn't, I hadn't failed as much. At least in my Academic life.


Adrienne MacIain 32:04

Yeah, I think, fear of failure, let's get back to that a little bit. It really helps build resilience, when you can push through that fear of failure, and do it anyway. And I really want you to take a moment to, you know, congratulate yourself, pat yourself on the back, the fact that you used this time, not to just feel sorry for yourself and you know, flail in like, well, what do I want to do, and you actually didn't give up, you took this time to go back and learn this stuff and teach yourself this stuff. And, you know, so many other people would have just given up and been like, this is too hard, I can't do it. You said, no, I'm going to take this opportunity, and I'm going to use this to my advantage. And not only that, you looked at it holistically, you didn't just study the things that you were failing at, you looked at the emotional component of it, and recognize that if you didn't fix that portion of it, it wouldn't matter how much you know, because that would still sabotage you.



Utkarsh Saraswat 33:11

So my father is actually a safety officer in a plant that he works in. So he'll always talk about root cause analysis. You have a problem, find out why it happened, find out the root cause. I did that basically with me. I'm feeling academic, but the problem is much bigger than this. Let me, let me focus on the smaller part. Like, you know, I'm studying medicine. So this is a great analogy. When you see a patient, there is going to be a cause of the illness, and they're going to be the symptoms of the ailment. So what any medicine is supposed to do is, first of all, treat the immediate symptom, so that he has immediate comfort. And then on a longer run of diagnosis, you treat the actual cause. So basically, that's what I did. I first of all, fixed the symptom of being not a good student. And then I went into the actual problem, which was my own mental well being. At that point, yes. Like, like you said, pat yourself on the back. I have been doing that for the last full month, basically.


Adrienne MacIain 34:33

Good!



Utkarsh Saraswat 34:35

But one of the biggest reasons when you reached out for the interview and all of that stuff, I was like, if you would have approached me a month earlier, even, I wouldn't have been comfortable to talk about it, and I would have definitely not reached back. But this time it was like, now I'm getting out of that place. I'm completely over it. Now I can talk about it. Like, and this has also been one of the biggest problems like, you know, being introverted and having mental issues is the worst thing. You have so much to talk about, like, I'm a very talkative person. And I can talk to a lot of people about a lot of things for a long time. But these people have to be my very close friend. If you ask me to say just good morning to 20 people, I would be exhausted by the end of that. Whenever I'm interacting with strangers, it's like a social battery. And it has to be your capacity. So when, and the thing is, when you have this close bunch of friends, you talk about a lot of stuff. But when it's something too close to you, you become more aware of it, you are worried whether they will judge me or not whether, like, would they see me as a different person, if I tell them this, and all of that stuff. And at the same time, like, I haven't been, I have sort of a best friend relationship with my mom, who are like, my entire childhood and even now, like, we talk about the most random stuff, we talk about most of our problems, and all of that stuff. And, like, at this time, when she found out about all of that, she was like, 'Why didn't you tell me?' and I'm like, you know, it makes sense to talk to you. But at the same time, I'm afraid of telling it to you do or in the person that I was going to talk to about it. And there wasn't anybody else either. Like, you know, now that I have the space, I would actually want to talk about this. So the biggest thing that any mental coach, or anybody that talks about mental health, the first thing that we do is talk to people. And I will say sometimes it's not easy to talk to people. Yeah. Because you do have a lot of things to talk about, but you don't have the right person, or at least you don't know the if you have the right person or not. So you don't tell anyone. I feel like that's one thing that this conversation is missing, about finding at least one person that you can talk everything about, it doesn't have to be a close friend, it can be a very distant one, like right now. I'm talking to you, I don't know you. So this is basically talking to a stranger about things that I had been through. And to me, it's like, yeah, I end of the day, even if you judge me, I'm not mad about it. Because there's hardly going to be a time when I would interact with you on a daily basis.



Adrienne MacIain 38:28

Right? I that's actually a big reason I created this podcast, to be honest with you, I really wanted to create a space where people felt like they could share their story and open up to a stranger, because I think that can actually be so much easier. And in some ways.


Utkarsh Saraswat 38:47

I feel like that is basically the core of therapy like that with the concept of therapy, because you know, this complete stranger and he's not like, even if he judges you, it doesn't affect your daily life. Now, so you enjoy him about anything and everything. In result, you discover more about yourself. Like, actually, when, like preparing for this podcast, I was listening to one of your episodes about how to be amusing. And in that you discuss, like, if somebody is going through a creative block, not to them, because they will eventually find out themselves through the conversation that they are facing a problem. And that's basically what a good therapist says. He doesn't tell you what he was supposed to do. He tells you nothing. He just entered in a conversation.


Adrienne MacIain 39:39

And what do you think about that? How does that make you feel?


Utkarsh Saraswat 39:42

Yeah, exactly. is basically about asking the right question. Yeah. And I think one thing that I was very fortunate to have is like, I'm a very over analyzing person. Like I'm a very self critical person. I'm a very self analyzing person, like, right now I'm having this talk with you. Whenever I'm free in during this day, I would sit down. And I would think like I said this, I couldn't say this better. Like I'm, I am hyper aware of to that extent like how hard my hags movie, I've been looking weird. If there's one side of my hair sticking out, I'm very hyper aware, like, Okay, this should not come out, this should be like this and all of that. So during this whole process, that also helped, because I was hyper aware of the mistakes I was making. And I was hyper aware of the causes of my actual problem, like, sometimes you need the therapy sessions, because you want to find out what mistakes you're making. You want someone to ask you the right question, to nudge you in the right direction. To me, it helps because first of all, I was an introvert, I wasn't going to talk to anyone. But because I wasn't a self analyzing person. I was asking myself the right questions, believe me in the right way. And yeah, like most, most of more often than not, it's not the best thing to be that self critical. And that's analyzing, because it also creates a lot of other issues like, I'm a writer. And most of more often than not, when I'm writing, I'm very hyper aware, again, I'm very hyper aware of what I'm writing. In the moment, I might be like, Okay, this is good. But by the time I even finish that piece, I'm like, this is not good enough. I have read much better pieces, just not going to cut it. So yeah, it has negative, but it also has its positive like every other thing. Of course, I think the key is to balance between the positives and the negatives, make sure the negatives don't weigh you down as much as the positives lift you off.


Adrienne MacIain 42:01

Yeah, well, I'm going to transition for a moment here. In just a moment, I'm going to do a little exercise with you, which I always like to do with my guests. But before that, I really want to give you an opportunity to kind of give, like the solid takeaways that you really want people to walk away with, there's one that I want to say first, which is, this is actually something that Einstein said, and I don't remember the exact quote. So don't ask me, everybody, you can look it up. But basically, what he said was, if I had an hour to solve a problem, I would spend 15 minutes defining the problem, you really did a great job here in problem solving by just defining the root cause of the problem. And that is such an important tool for people to understand. So what are some other takeaways you want people to walk away from this with?



Utkarsh Saraswat 42:49

I think first of all, that one, which you just said, offered some of the beliefs of this particular conversation, because I mean that basically, a good student knows how to calculate. But you need to lead him to the point where he knows what to calculate. But of course, if finding the problem is just as important as solving the basic problem, I think the other takeaway would be, have conversations with yourself. And I'm not saying be a freak about it. I will say, whenever you are free, in your whole day, just sit down for 15 minutes, 10 minutes. And think about all the wrongs that have happened in the day. If something if you try something, it goes right, it's perfect, to not change anything about it. But if you try something, and it goes wrong, when you're free for those 10 minutes, sit down and think, okay, how I did did, like, how I started doing this, where a might have gone wrong, experiment with what you have done wrong experiment, what other days, you could have tried all the other things, maybe you will fail five more times before you succeed that one time, but that one time that you succeed would be the one time that you would be super proud of yourself. And that that builds that endurance that builds resilience. Next time, no matter what the problem is, or how big the problem is, you can actually sit down again for 10 minutes. Think about what you did, think about what you did wrong data already collected, and then do that. Again, you might fail. But you know, from your experience that yes, I did fail five times before, but I did get it right in the end. And that's all there is to it. Get it right in the end. If you did it right. Nobody's going to ask you what Good girl. Like, you know, this is a constant problem that I have with myself. Sometimes I say things like this and I'm like, maybe I'm being too philosophical for my age.


Adrienne MacIain 45:17

Embrace it. Embrace it. You're philosophical.


Utkarsh Saraswat 45:22

Yeah. So basically yes. Don't be afraid of failing. It's just a learning step. I mean, sometimes something that I really like to do is, I used to write short song back in like 10th and 12th. And sometimes I open that book, like, three months, that's very good about being organized this, you always have your stuff in one place. So usually right in this particular notebook, and I kept it safe. And now sometimes I just pick that up. I go through all my songs, cringing at everything I wrote, because I know now that those were not good. But that is good to me. If I'm printing unit, it means I have made progress. So if you are if you sit down for 10 minutes, and if you think what you did wasn't the best, or if you're cringing at your decisions, that means you already learned from them. And now you can have a fresh approach to all those pain problems whenever they arise.



Adrienne MacIain 46:34

Absolutely. Alright, so let's do this little exercise here. So I'm going to have you just close your eyes for a moment, we're gonna take some deep breaths first, I just like to do that. And as I breathe in, I love to just picture a colored light coming into my body, so I'm just gonna see what color I get today. Alright, so mine was kind of silvery and sparkly. What did you get?


Utkarsh Saraswat 47:05

Very neon ish, purple.


Adrienne MacIain 47:08

Nice. Let's do it again.


Power of suggestion, mine was purple this time.


Utkarsh Saraswat 47:23

Like golden ish, but a dull golden.


Adrienne MacIain 47:28

Beautiful. I love it. Okay, so I'm going to wave my magic wand over here. And now everything that you deeply, deeply desire has come to pass. So you are now in your ideal existence. And I want you to you can keep your eyes closed, if that helps you to visualize, but keep them open if your prefer. And just tell me what you see and hear and what you can kind of smell and taste and touch in this ideal perfect existence that you're now in.


Utkarsh Saraswat 48:02

See what it's 530 in the morning, I have a day ahead of me. One cup of coffee and a banger of a day. I started this day very well. And this is going to be a good day. That's all there is to it. Well, tomorrow, we'll see what happens then.


Adrienne MacIain 48:27

I want you to you can smell that coffee can smell that. What can you hear in the space?


Utkarsh Saraswat 48:39

I can actually hear that one insect that has been bugging me for the last 30 minutes in my balcony.


Adrienne MacIain 48:49

But in your ideal world, there's still an annoying insect.


Utkarsh Saraswat 48:54

I mean, see, no matter what how the ideal world is, nothing can ever be perfect. Like I'm a bit of a daydreamer. Like whenever I'm very free, and I don't have anything to analyze, or when I'm not self criticizing, I have this world that has created a complete different reality that I've created in my own head where I am the hero of my story. And I get to do whatever I want to do in that particular reality. The songs that I wrote in my school were good. In reality, I learned to play all the instruments that I wanted to play in that reality. I'm really talented. But even in that reality, there are flaws to it. Because if you don't have a challenge to come over, isn't that really boring?


Adrienne MacIain 49:42

So what is the challenge that you have on this ideal day ahead of you?


Utkarsh Saraswat 49:52

A few of them. I think the first one will be to think about all that I can do today. How to be more productive today how to how to be in the perfect state of mind to get all of my things done. And then have a priority list of what comes first. Because that that's one thing that they will always help. And that's one other good habit that I have developed in this particular pandemic, have a priority list, like there's going to be 50 different things that you want to do, or priorities for what comes first. And that always helps if and earlier, like, when my teachers used to say this, like however it is, my biggest problem was, how do I decide what should be my priority? I have come come across the best solution to this question. Think about what is one thing that if you do not do it, it will go horribly wrong. How horrible your outcome can be, the more horrible it is, the more important it is to do that.


Adrienne MacIain 51:12

So I want you to think about something unexpectedly wonderful. occurs, you weren't looking for it. You didn't do anything to earn it, particularly. I just by pure grace, something unexpectedly wonderful happens. What is it?


Utkarsh Saraswat 51:30

Oh, see, when you said that, I wasn't really thinking of what something wonderful that will happen. I just started thinking of something that wonderful will happen, which was basically whole of last year. Like, honestly, sometimes I still sit down and think about all of the things that happened last year. And I was very surprised, and I'm very proud of myself. When when I started the podcast, I had nothing particular in mind to discuss and all of that stuff. But then the conversation that came from that podcast, the people I got to sit with, and yeah, like, I just sometimes it feels weird, like, Okay, this might not be real. with amazing people have amazing discussions over an hour of my day, and then just it's like, it's almost like tuning into that perfect space. Yeah, like, when I'm doing something that I really like, that's the perfect space from Absolutely. One more thing that I will talk about, before we go, yeah, I have never liked the concept of meditation that people have. Like, usually, whenever someone talks about meditation, the first thing that comes to mind is sit down, take be brief, and all of that stuff. Sometimes it doesn't work for some people, because like, for me, I have, I have tried yoga and all of that stuff, it just doesn't work for me, because my mind is too excited all of the time to be in that particular mood. And to I believe meditation is something that completely takes you out of everything that's happening around you, that allows you to focus on one activity that allows you to distance yourself from the world and just enjoy the one thing that you want to do


Adrienne MacIain 53:46

Just be in flow.


Utkarsh Saraswat 53:48

Yeah, to me, meditation can be anything meditation could be discovered. Meditation could be me just sitting in a balcony, looking out into a bed, thinking about whatever I'm thinking at that particular time. So for me meditation is when I'm doing something that I really like. And I have always said, like writing is my meditation. Because that's one moment in my day, when I'm writing that. I do not care what's happening around me, I do not care what happened to me in the whole day. In this moment, I'm writing and I'm writing whatever i want to i in this piece that I'm writing, I could be whoever I want, I could do whatever I do. And this is my ideal world. So one thing that I have always hated is the because if people are going to make that a stereotype of meditation, the peace for the people like me, for whom the meditation, the typical meditation doesn't work, they start hating the concept of meditation, right? This when you think about it, meditation is actually really good. Okay, so find your meditation, find what you enjoy the most. That's your meditation. Meditation is not a bad concept. Just some people have. For some people that typical way of work, they feel like that is the only way for meditation.


Adrienne MacIain 55:17

Yeah, I think find your devotional practice whatever that looks like to you. 100% on that beautiful note, Where can the people find you?


Utkarsh Saraswat 55:29

People can find me on Spotify at the Silly World podcast. They can find me on Instagram @thesillyworldpodcast. I say I'm a creative person, but I'm really not. I have basically struck on this one particular thing, the Silly World podcast, search it anywhere you want. If it comes up, it may if it doesn't come up, I'm not on that platform. Side note, do not try to find me on Facebook or on Twitter. I'm just not active on social media.


Adrienne MacIain 56:09

Got it. Thank you so much. This was a wonderful conversation. Thanks so much for being here.


Utkarsh Saraswat 56:16

Perfect start to my day!




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