Life’s lessons from retrospection

Life's LessonsA sense of peace has resided within me. I have been feeling it ever since I set foot in India. I don’t know if it was the travel or India or the fact that I am older (and hence wiser?). I realise that things don’t hurt or tick me off as they used to. Being born and growing up in India, I knew what to expect, both from places and people. I had made up my mind to not let things/people bother me. What surprised me most was that it wasn’t at all difficult to do just that. I was more relaxed and much more forgiving. As a result there was almost zero anxiety related to anything, however big it was.

Being back at places I have lived gave me an opportunity to remember old times and on more than one occasion I wished that I should not have let the bridge break. I missed a few people and wished I was more forgiving back then. I realise that things that I thought were huge back then are now of no importance. Most things turn out to be nothing with time. I was obviously too young, too inexperienced and too naive to see it that way. Now that I do, I have decided to not let things matter, no matter how big they seem. With time, we change and heal. I now believe in second chances.

Friends who were extremely close a few years back haven’t seen each other for years now. We lived in the same city but didn’t meet for a long time (before we moved). Now that I made an effort to reconnect and a few responded. We met and we picked up right where we left. It felt nice. I learnt that all relationships take a lot of work and effort to survive and sustain. Effort from both ends.

As I sit, my eyes closed (as I usually do when I want to imagine), I see my life, from as early as I can remember. I see the negative feelings I kept bottled and how they have influenced me as a person. Or, if I’m being honest, hindered me from growing. It now seems like a waste of time and waste of space in my mind. Have I finally learnt to let go?

Love yourself

There isn’t a lot of self love in the world. There aren’t a lot of people loving the way they already are. There aren’t a lot of people happy with the kind of person they are. We are taught to love and not hurt others. Why aren’t we taught to love ourselves as well?

I have struggled with my image to the self. I have felt inadequate and undeserving at the best of times. I still don’t deal fairly with compliments. It is an internal battle that rages at the worst of times. It hinders not only my efforts at getting ahead in life, but also eclipses the little bit of positive light and drags me to a dark bottomless pit of self doubt.

I don’t necessarily crave a comfort zone, but I have appreciated the lack of negative attention being a wallflower receives. At the very same time I have also longed for the rush of adrenaline a change or challenge brings. I want to feel good and positive and happy. And have hated myself for not having the courage to grab the opportunity with both hands (the threat of negativity and all). To get straight to the point, I have been afraid of judgement. To be fair to myself, I have been judged in the past. But to be honest, I am the one who has let it affect me the way it does.

Not plump enough.

Not beautiful enough.

Not fair enough.

Not intelligent enough.

In the past, when I received a negative comment, my mind would immediately go into defensive and then proceed to shut down. It was a reflex action, trying to lessen the impact of negativity and to protect myself from further harm. The more and frequently it happened with the said person, the farther away I drifted from them.

A simple comment like “you probably have darker skin than what suits that dress“, to my oversensitive ears sounded like “you don’t deserve to look pretty wearing that pretty dress, because you are dark skinned.”

I now recognise that it is more a fault with me, than with the others. People do it all the time. And there are all sorts of people. So expecting them to be nice and considerate of the possible insecurities I might harbour about myself is not fair.

Why I have gotten strong enough to make that recognition is because I have learnt to love myself. It isn’t a switch that switched on at a certain point in my life. It has been a very gradual process of introspection, retrospection, self evaluation that led to realisation. The hope to find a strength inside myself that I could pass on to my daughter. The hope to make my dreams come true. The hope to survive and thrive in this world that is sometimes too harsh than it needs to be. The hope to beat the odds and come out a winner. The hopes, dreams, aspirations and the ultimate decision of not giving a s**t to what anyone thought, collectively gave me the strength to be able to appreciate all I have and to love myself for who I am.

I have learnt to love my jiggly tummy marred decorated by trembly, silvery lines of stretch marks because they signify that I was once home to my beautiful, growing baby. I have learnt to love my crooked irregularly arranged teeth because I appreciate the fact that I have them in original, non-spoilt condition. I love my entire being, just because it is me, unlike anyone else that ever existed. At some point along the way, when I was looking for motivation, I discovered Nick Vujicic and I haven’t been the same. Initially I felt ashamed of having thought so little of my own self. And from there it has been a journey of internal healing and every day I try to be a little less hard on myself.

Loving myself hasn’t completely erased the fear of being judged. I still feel conscious when I go out or talk to someone outside of my comfort zone. I still have self doubt. I still feel insecure. But loving and accepting myself has laid out the course of healing, through which I can effectively deal with those demons. In the face of rejection, instead of thinking “I’m not good enough” I now think “I might not be good enough for them, but I’m still good enough for me and I’m willing to find out if I’m good enough for someone else“. I am willing to try, and try again and keep trying, despite the results. This is a reminder to myself to not stop loving myself, to not stop trying, no matter what.

There is a lesson in here for you, if you are looking for it. There is motivation. And most importantly there is lots of love from me to you, just for being you.

Repeat after me, because sometimes you just need to speak out loud to your inner self to wake up.

I will be strong in the face of adversity.

I will fight back when bogged down by insecurities.

I will stand up for my self worth

I will not give up on my dreams

I don’t care what anybody thinks

Because

I deserve to be happy

I deserve to be successful

I deserve all the good things in life

For

I am beautiful

I am strong

I am confident

I am unique

I am me

In retrospect

Have you ever felt that moment of astonishment, where you suddenly realize that you are not exactly the same person you were a year ago? You see a photograph and wonder how in the world did you end up wearing such a hideous outfit or meetup with friends and remember a party, to find yourself thinking, how would you have gotten so drunk. The scenario might be different but the feeling of strangeness with one’s own self, the old self, creeps into the mind making us wonder. I’m sure most have felt. Some might revel in pride over the past achievements, some might regret doing things they did, others might feel they have actually changed for the better. Or may be something entirely different. It is different to different people.

I have been blogging since 2006. Holy s**t! I know. And I still have the old blog “It’s A Beautiful Life” (in case anybody still remembers). I am not going to delete it any sooner, as I have some very closely held memories of feelings, captured in that. When I am finally ready to let go of all that, I shall let go of the blog too. But for now, it is to stay. Sorry for digression, I do it a lot.
So here I was, reading through the old blog, post by post and trying to remember and feel whatever I felt, when I was writing it. It all started coming back. Not ready to let go then. But that is not what intrigued me. It was the way I wrote, that caught my mind. I almost laughed at how I had actually reflected the styles of the authors I was reading back then. It was childish, but it was something I did subconsciously.

My old blog

A screen shot of my old blog

I am not ashamed that I tried to copy others. I can see that those are the stages of my growth, in my own sense. I feel strangely proud at having tried. Clearly, I wrote for myself, because I found many posts with absolutely no comments. I was writing to vent, so that the angst and anger didn’t eat me up from inside. It is not surprising that many people didn’t find it interesting. As I said, childish stuff. I also found some nice, soulful poetry. It is when I read them, that it struck to me, that I am not doing it anymore. Not with that kind of frequency and brilliance. Where did that emotional, lyrical and dreamy girl go?

As I went through the posts, out of which most were purely venomous, I found that I was blabbering in a majority of them, instead of speaking about something clearly. I realized that instead of making a point I was dragging myself all over the place, confusing myself and others in the process. I guess that one attribute is still there in me. When I have issues and I know I can’t talk about them, I tend to blabber incoherently. Hopefully I won’t do it here.

I also felt that I have grown. Tremendously. I thought I was mature back then. May be I was, in my behavior and outlook. But in my writing, I was completely juvenile. And I am a little taken aback, to see myself now, clearly putting thoughts into words, spending time thinking how I want to articulate a certain thing. Blog, for me, is no more just a place to write my mind, but a place of a purpose. To mend my writing skills, to get feedback and improve. I want to write something of value, if not for others, but to myself. Of course, it will still remain a place where I put my innermost thoughts, now, in a better fashion. Or so I’d like to believe.

I’m sure that someday I will read this and laugh at myself. After all this too is still a baby step. I’m sure there will be a lot of things that I will learn every day from well-known writers, websites and blogs. I am fortunate to have been exposed to so much information and learning. I am hopeful to make use of it and come up with beautiful, thoughtful, hopeful, cheerful (among many other things) write-ups, which might sometimes also be insane, given that I am incurably crazy. That is going to stay with me forever, for I believe insanity is a blessing in disguise.