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Once An Under-Confident Woman With An Inferiority Complex, I’ve Come A Long Way

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While writing this post I still doubt whether it’s a good idea for me to put this part of me out here because it’s a topic that’s tricky to put into words and is something very personal to me — my struggle with confidence.

Even though I am quite sceptical about putting my struggle into words, a big part of me hopes that by writing this, someone out there reading this might be able to relate. And it might even help someone in some way and reassure them them they are not alone in this journey.

I believe different people have different definitions of confidence — being outgoing, being outspoken, feeling proud of yourself or it might be sharing your story and giving yourself a voice through different mediums.

I am going to pen all this from a perspective of a 27-year-old woman who has struggled a lot and is struggling to boost her self-esteem till today.

Issues with confidence is something a lot of people struggle to comprehend but it’s an inner-battle, which takes a long time to make sense of.

I have never been able to express myself very well and always found it difficult to give my opinion. I always had and may be still somewhere have public speaking fear. Being a woman, I always compare myself to other women out there who are beautiful, have clear skin, fair, nice lustrous hair and a fit body. Why do I do that? That’s because the society has made me think like that — let me strike that off — more because my own people (now acquaintances) gave me that inferiority complex. With time, I didn’t even realise when my self-esteem started going down.

Even during my school and college days, I never used to participate in class discussions because I was so under-confident and shy to say anything. I was scared of saying the wrong thing and embarrass myself, so I thought it was best not to say anything. At times, I also feel under-confident or shy to say anything or may be express myself when I am with my friends.

At home, I was a complete different person who would shout at the top of her voice in front of a room full of people who didn’t care about the world. But again when it came to public domain, I couldn’t be that confident person and although I tried so hard, I just found it really difficult to come out of my shell.

Issues with confidence is something a lot of people struggle to comprehend but it’s an inner-battle, which takes a long time to make sense of. Society is of the opinion that being a modern generation everyone would be super outgoing and opinionated but the reality is some of us still struggle with anxiety, social anxiety, lack of confidence in ourselves and so many other factors that prevent us from expressing ourselves the way we might want to.

Well, though it hasn’t been an easy journey and I doubt it ever will when it comes to my confidence but I am trying my best to get there.

Although I am making progress but sometimes there is something that holds me back, something that prevents me from being the confident person I know I am and can be. I might be a different person when I am talking on the phone but when I meet that person I might be the quietest. My friends say my biggest weakness is “being sweet” to “every person I meet or talk to”. And I do agree with them because no matter how sweet I am to someone most of them never seemed to like that sweetness of mine and back-stabbed me and made feel at my worse.

Today, I am working in one of the biggest media conglomerates as a journalist and I am going to complete almost five years in this field. All this makes me realise how far I have come. But yes, these things did not happen over night. There have been times when I didn’t believe in myself and felt like quitting (at times I still do!). I started comparing myself with others who were doing so well, seemed happy with their work and looked so confident.  So with time, I have learned to push myself a little bit further and tell myself that if they can do it, I can do it too.

Well, though it hasn’t been an easy journey and I doubt it ever will when it comes to my confidence but I am trying my best to get there. I still might not be the most confident but my struggle is no longer a battle, it is just something I work on time to time.

So, all those people out there who struggle with lack of confidence, I want you to know that you are not alone and with time, you will find your way. You just have to believe in yourself and tell yourself constantly that you can do it — just like I did and still do. And if you get someone who supports you to build your self-confidence, call yourself the luckiest.

If people judge you, then let me. Because nobody will understand your journey until and unless they are in our shoes someday. 🙂

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

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Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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