Life is weird. It has no rules, no regulations, no patterns, no surety. Yes, we have cultural norms and we have country legislations. We have rules in families and see patterns among people. But life by itself has no such thing. It’s bigger than all of us. The present norms today eventually die and the future eventually becomes the present. Outliers change the world and some to be world innovators are lost in the obscurity of life.
The only thing remaining thus is – now. And in that now is you. You. Your story, your life, your pattern, your rules, your regulations. But how often do you follow them? How often do you believe in your brilliance and follow your heart? Often, we don’t.
We get caught up in the definitions set by others. We get caught up in someone else’s definitions of intelligence, and life. We see things as others want us to, which isn’t bad because it’s all we’ve been taught. It only becomes ‘bad’ when we fail to see things differently and blindly follow what we’ve been taught.
And then, if all that wasn’t enough, our bubbles are bursting. To some extent at least. While our virtual bubbles are getting larger and larger, so is the need to belong. As much as we want to stand out, we also try to fit in. If we stand out too much, we get ostracized for it. Norms keep society in check. And fitting in keeps people in check.
But push that too much and you’ve chained people. If not physically, definitely mentally. Studying in the United States I realized that the chains are very different in India and America.
In India, the chains are everywhere, on everything. How you dress, what you say, when you say it, how much you respect someone. Good or bad, is not being questioned (though it will be in another post) the freedom one has, is being analyzed. The Indian Youth have very little freedom. Right from the beginning, we are taught to second-guess our opinion. We are told that our opinions are inferior to those older than us.
We are taught, that in order to be loved, and welcomed, we need to fit in. We need to be liked by others. Not just our families, but even outsiders. With such an upbringing, it’s no surprise that when we young Indians go abroad, we find ourselves lost. We come from a home where everything is measured, and every move monitored and go to a place where everything is fluid. This change in how we live our lives puts enormous pressure on young minds.
Now we have to figure everything out. We have to figure out who we are, where we belong and often have to do it in a mold that our parents approve off. If not, then we become “too big for our boots” or are accused of being disrespectful and rude.
Then how do we balance it?
Becoming who we are, and between who they want us to be? Do we follow the century-old law of hypocrisy? Where we sneak out in a long skirt over the mini skirt? Or do we begin the painful process of changing those who taught us how the world works?
These questions of who we are and where we belong, don’t live in isolation. Your thought processes are not singular. We all face them. As a motivational speaker, I did too. Balancing who I am and who I am expected to be was a carefully calculated act and then became a habit and today it’s become who I am.
But the process is brutal. Between being monitored 18/7 to being free 24/7. It’s not your body that gets hit, it’s your mind. Your mind suddenly finds itself in the pits of painful loneliness and your center, or core gets lost.
The funny part is, it happens to most of us, if not all of us at some point in our lives. If you’re lucky, it happens when you’re in college, if not, it hits you in the gut on the night of your 31st birthday.
What I did? Well, that’s a long conversation, and I will cover it piece by piece. But know that, for now, for this post – keep doing what you have to do. Keep being uncomfortable. Keep challenging who you are. Grow from who you were yesterday.
Get comfortable being lonely, learn to enjoy yourself, your company. Read more. Even if it’s fantasy. Find a way to calm your anxious heart. Learn to escape every once in a while. Cut down on alcohol, unless you actually enjoy it. Look for solutions, not reasons. Find one friend who makes you think. If you’re lucky, you’ll find two.
And most of all – remind yourself that you’re okay. You are okay. You are okay. You may not be great yet. But you’re okay. And that is a great place to start.