It wasn’t too long ago when I thought that I had lost my ability to thrive. My life felt like it was stuck in a rut. I felt like my head was just being pushed inward because of all the pressure that life offered me and that I won’t be able to come out of it.
For the past one and a half year, a routine day has been – me waking up at 6 am, rushing to the gym, grabbing some coffee, attending classes at college, keeping up with frightening internal assessments, forgetting to eat lunch most times, answering client calls, doing a few Skype calls and going for four meetings per week on an average for a venture that I’m associated with.
I stopped meeting any friends, apart from the few engaged with me in my venture. College life usually is considered to be a happy-go-lucky phase interspersed with sudden trekking plans, Saturday night outings, fun-filled picnics and carefree binge movie watching. None of this happened to me.
A year ago, my friends in my hostel used to ask me to accompany them for a fun night of listening to refreshing qawalis at the Nizamuddin Dargah, or go shopping and eat at Chandni Chowk, or just randomly chill in south Delhi. They have almost stopped asking me for anything now. They know I’ve been keeping busy and each time that I turn down their offer, I am the one who feels really sad because deep inside, I also want to go but the work doesn’t allow me to.
Some people in college even bully me because according to them, I don’t take a break in life. They mock me and I just stare at their faces. My old school buddies now remind me of their own birthdays and express each time how I forgot to wish them year after year. I used to never forget to wish them when we were in school. I’m in close touch with them, but the workload here is probably playing with my memory.
Life hadn’t been a bed of roses before entering college and starting a venture. I had to study day in and day out for my board examinations in high school. There was too much pressure. By the time I was 16, I already had a bachelor’s degree in Kathak (an Indian classical dance), headed my school’s students’ council, had topped class consecutively for the past four years, ran a little school for children living with HIV and had managed to complete hundreds of extra-curricular activities.
My Geography professor expected me to be the first student in our school’s history to score a 100/100 in the subject in the board exams. My class teacher made the naughtiest kid in class sit next to me, in hopes that he would gain from some positive externalities, by being in my company. Each time I stepped out of my school classroom, my juniors used to look up to me with bright eyes, expecting me to completely nail the board exams and secure a perfect score.
But when I returned home, subdued under the weight of my heavy school bag and strenuous aspirations, I entered the kitchen and saw a pressure cooker. It looked exactly like my head. Pressure cookers are known to be hot, dangerous and capable of blowing their lid. My head resembled the poor cooker so much because it was burning and steaming with fire.
Each of us has a multitude of things to do. All of us eat, sleep, work and dream. Each night we lie down on our bed and just out of the blue, beautiful thoughts of our favourite vacation spot that we have always craved to go to, magically appears. This happens to me so much. In the toughest of days, I get the best of dreams. I dream of a clear sky, scintillating blue cold water, high-rise mountains, no phones and internet, no work and office. I dream of my own self, striding my path wading through the water and finally reaching the summit.
You and I, all of us are going through a crazy maze of trials in our life and each experience is just testing our capability to hold on.
Now, what makes me survive the bullying remarks of my acquaintances? What makes me steer through the pressure and still manage to put a smiling face at the end of the day? What makes me bear the wrath of my friends who feel that I am not paying attention to them?
It’s the satisfaction that I get from the work I do!
My motto has always been to do what I like to do. My parents and my sister taught me to listen to my heart but work with my mind. I have stopped caring about what others think of me. Of course, I do care about people and about their opinions of me, but I take it as a learning.
Even right now, as I am sitting and writing this in my hostel, my best friend hands over a pamphlet of the next street play she and her team is going to perform. It’s been three years in Delhi and I haven’t been able to see her perform even once. I know that I won’t be able to attend the play even tomorrow because I have to go to work, but still I accept her invitation and say I’ll try my best. I do that because I don’t want her to feel bad and I also don’t want to feel bad.
A lot of times when I feel stuck in a rut, I forget that I actually have the ability to change things. I now have started to think of ways to strike the right balance and stop complaining about life.
Sometimes, it’s easy to believe that the world is determining your path for you like you have no say in the matter, and the only thing you can do is wait for the world to change it. However, it wasn’t too long ago when I finally took the plunge.
I became fed up with my life and decided to take it back. I buckled up my boots and started to tackle my issues one by one. I stopped hiding behind my fears and started asking for what I wanted and what I believed I deserved. And when I did, I felt alive – as if I’d just awoken from a year-long coma.
To be honest, it was scary, but in the midst of doubt, I imagined what my life would be like if I didn’t make those changes, and, frankly, it scared me to my core. So while I’m still developing the strength to lead the life I want and strike the right work-life balance, I wish that I am able to help empower people to free themselves from feeling stuck in their own lives and enjoy the process, instead.
This article was originally published here