Under the guise of ‘keeping it cool’
“You cannot protect and connect both at the same time,” my therapist keeps reminding me of this in almost every session. She tells me – to have an emotionally fulfilling relationship, I need to let my guard down and willingly let my fears and inner demons resurface. (terrifying, I know). Especially for someone with concrete defense mechanisms like mine, it gets more complicated (Bob the builder, if you are listening, this is your cue to come help me break down these damn walls!!!)
The most beautiful (read it as terrifying) about being vulnerable, however, is: that you never know how someone will respond to it. Some will welcome your vulnerability with arms wide open, while some will slowly push you away, shut you down, subtly saying, “Umm, I did not sign up for this!”. Over time, you learn the art of not showing, not expressing, smoothly sliding everything under a rug.
From throwing “hey, I’d like to take us real slow and easy” under “yeah, let’s see where this goes” to “I don’t think I can do this alone, can you help?” to “I’ll figure it out myself,” pretty much everything goes under this rug. I call it a rug of awaiting ruckuses(yeah, I just came up with that). All this sweeping to be perceived as someone ‘strong’, not ‘weak.’ And in swinging between these two labels, I somehow fail to swing by a label called ‘being a human.’ (yeah, my swing goes three ways. Philosophy defies physics lol).
“How long do you intend to keep doing this?” she asks.
You keep doing it until one day when there is no space left. It’s now time to pull up the rug and have a look at the decayed mess that you’ve kept on sweeping in for decades. It is messy to look at. Messier to clean. The worst part? You didn’t ask for it, but it’s yours anyway. So with a broom in one hand and courage in the other, you stand at a corner, perplexed about where to start but ready to clean it up. All over again. Some mess in this heap is dry – easier to clean. Some, wet – demanding more effort. So you bring along a mop with a broom and several other cleaning tools (we don’t want a single stain to remain unattended :P) and begin. Smooth. Easy. Gradual. With one hand filled with courage and the other with a dustpan now. One stain at a time. You get done. It’s now the same rug, with a new space. You then patiently wait. For the newer, fresher waste to accumulate and turn itself into a giant heap for you to attend to it when it becomes unavoidable.
While I’ve shared a push and pull dynamic with courage/resilience(one of these two) for as long as I remember learning their meaning, I do not know for sure what they are. But if it is not tirelessly cleaning up your mess again and again while also making space for the fresh one, I don’t know what is.
Oh, and on days when you find yourself short on courage or the cleaning tools – unabashedly be a couch potato( @me, are you listening?!). Snuggle in your comforter, binge on your favorite series, read your favorite book or stare at the ceiling who cares?. Because you know what? The cleaning can always wait.
I’ve been trying to write for so long, that today, like every other day, when I sit to actually write – words continue to throw tantrums.
Maybe it’s because I’ve made it a compulsion to sit for at least 30 minutes a day and write. Anything. Just has to be words. (Pointer: Journaling my thoughts has proven to be helpful in unwinding).
Okay, coming to the point- I have been unable to weave words into sentences of late. Everyday when I sit to write, I stare at my laptop screen for about 20-30 minutes and eventually end up shutting it down. It’s not like I have got nothing on my mind. But I think that’s the thing – I have too much in my mind at times. Those millions of thoughts to dissect, observe and then streamline into a flow – Uff! Ek bichara dimaag aakhir kare toh kare kya! Aur kitna kare!!
Now that I’m actually penning down – there comes a train of thought with the probable reasons for my struggle to write.
1. Aimed for perfection, yet again!
Well, to let go of the need to sound perfect is a toughie. Especially for someone with social anxiety who is constantly chasing perfection in everything she does.
You know when I used to write as a kid – there was no pressure. Words were more of an outlet of my emotions rather than something seeking external validation.
So right now, I choose to lower my pride and go on pasting words from my mind to this space – however they might read to you, reader.
2. Write where you write!
So I’ve also come to realise – I’m very much comfortable writing in my mobile phone’s notepad. I don’t know why. Maybe because I’m used to filling up the black space with white texts(thanks to dark mode!). The contrast is somehow satisfying to me.
And whenever I try to pen something down on a google doc file on my laptop, me and the page play the stare game for about 30 minutes until I finally give up. Maybe, the screen size is another reason here. Maybe, with bigger screen size and bigger space to fill, my mind gets petrified. And perhaps words weigh down under higher, bigger expectations. You see, mobile phones are safer that way – they’re not giant!
3. Discipline sucks
Again, as I mentioned earlier – I’ve been forcing myself to sit and write thinking that it will somehow help me write something other than just scribbled thoughts. But all I get are scribbled thoughts. Clearly, that has not been working well.
It’s surprising that I’m writing this at 12 am on my phone’s notepad, lying comfortably on bed after a long day at work and still feeling like I could go on. Is it the time? Or the nightly peace? Does midnight inspire my writing instincts suddenly? Is there a literary tap somewhere in my head that turns itself on and floods when I don’t expect it to? Who knows. But atleast I got something here. For me. And you.
I am not sure if or not you enjoyed reading this – but for today, this is my achievement. 🙂
P.S. I’ve got to check if my laptop has a dark mode feature.
I remember one of my school teachers asking me about what I wished to do with my life, within a snap I had an answer “oh me, definitely a Pilot! I would fly planes” . No second thoughts, no going back to re-assess what I have just said.No logical reasoning. Today, I revisited this instance while sitting on my desk, biting my nails out of sheer boredom and thinking what was I doing with my life.
There are these gaps, some pauses that can struck at any time with some self-realizations, that hit you so strong and hard, that show you a mirror of what you are, what you can be and all those courageous things you want yourself to be. I had one such pause today. In the middle of a working day, I was thinking about what I’m missing on and how I can find amusement in my routine.
I thought of all the things I could do except for sitting in a small cubicle and trying to look like others and pretending to care. Some say it’s a temporary phase that will fade off. I am afraid if it ever fades off because that would be the day I shun off all the possibilities I could extract from life and settle for what has then become a comfort zone. Isn’t life meant to find out what you’re best at by trying out all possible paths that you think can lead you somewhere? Umm, I feel it’s more of a question than just a phase, a question that needs action and not an answer.
Oh, the Pandemic
The mornings I wake up to now are so much still; it’s like all my surroundings have been paused. A slow-mo. the video that was previously fast-forwarded.All of a sudden my home feels like a huge scope of possibilities, offering me tons of things to work upon. The dusty guitar that was staring at me from a corner of my room for months now gets a chance to get picked up. The blank pages of my diary that screamed to me, telling me to find peace by talking to it now getting what it asked for. Each day counts itself, looking up to another; days are incremented however the pattern of it remains the same. The ticking of the clock is so much more audible now, it’s like even the hands of the clock have learned the pattern of ticking in the same rhythm. The nights I fall asleep to, be silent, but the silence has filled a tad of gloominess, maybe fear that the world will not see some more faces tomorrow. The birds sing their happy song, busy building their homes without any humane nuisance. I behold the sparrows leaving their half-built nest in the morning, finding some more grass sticks to fully build their nests. The twig that the pigeon left on my window shed is still fixed in its place, not moved even an inch, even the winds are locked down. I see empty roads from my window, the footprints of the person I saw walking the other day are still imprinted. I see people at night, walking in their gardens of the societies and talking through their days with their spouses, finding peace escaping from the claustrophobia that is being felt. Amongst all of this, the thing that has remained unchanged is nature; I am seeing it has always been this still and at peace, Fortunately, now is the time that I do notice its serenity. Amidst this slow-moving, serene self-time, when the “in shorts” shows me an incremented number of deaths, my heart bleeds a little each time. With increasing deaths, even my feelings of condolences have become immune and getting used to the New Normal. Once this gets over, I believe there would be a world with lesser people but with more strength.