“I am a failure”, “ I am useless”, “ There is no hope for me in the future”,
“Whatever you do, there is always going to be someone who is better, so save yourself the trouble and give up now.”
Is it just me or does everyone hear these 18 nagging voices in their brain?
I realized, when I was giving my tenth grade examinations, how much I was failing myself. I was locked in my study room for hours at a time, had my handy bottle of water and energy bars next to me; to keep me sustained, and I realized just how incapable I am to be left alone with myself.
I guess there is some truth in- “ You can either be your own best friend or your worst enemy.”
In a room, all alone with my thoughts, any time I did not get the right solution or messed up in some way, no one was hurting me more than myself, no one was abusing me more than myself, and nobody was putting me down more than myself.
It was then that I found what a toxic relation I had with myself. I did not know who I was. All I heard was this crazy perfectionist screaming at every miniscule, sometimes trivial mistake I made, and whenever there was a glitch, she punished me, I blamed her and she blamed me.
There was no end to this vicious cycle. The only relief I got was when I stepped out and had some human interaction, any human interaction, good, bad, ugly, the works.
But, by about 2 weeks I had had more than enough of this voice inside me that constantly reminded me of how incapable I was.
I knew then that I needed to meet myself.
I needed to befriend myself.
I needed to respect myself.
I needed to love myself.
I decided I needed me – time. Well , there was absolutely no doubt that my classmates, teachers and parents thought I had gone cuckoo. After all which crazy teen takes herself to the movie theatre, spends an entire evening there, munching popcorn in the backseat before one of the most perilous and future defining set of examinations !?!
Well, that was only day one. The next day I spent 3 hours in the society park, walking around, sitting, eating, swinging on the swings, rolling in the grass with dogs, all of it; ALL BY MYSELF.
By the end of the week, I had spent so much time with myself, that to be frank I was bored of myself.
But that week was important, a game changer really; because I got to know myself, I found out where my flaws, imperfections and hidden talents lie, but most importantly I developed a way to correct my flaws the best way I could and learnt how to nurture those hidden talents and find new areas of potential.
It was safe to say, my parents had given up on me and had turned to my teachers, complaining that I had decided that I did not give a hoot about my future, my teachers when I did meet them, would reiterate that they thought highly of me, and expected me to succeed with flying colours. My classmates were gossiping behind my back and made bets to see how low my percentage would drop.
But I did not care. There was this new found sense of empowerment. And it was none other than self love.
You see, it only took me a week to realise just how much I had ignored myself, how much I had battered and hurt myself in pursuit of a win, which I could achieve with me being my best friend. I did not need to be hard on myself, you see I realized that there is a fine line between shoving yourself and disciplining yourself, and I had a bitter taste with the former.
Until now I focused this whole piece on me, on what I saw, what I thought, and what I did. And you must forgive me for what people term as “selfishness’ and “narcissism”. I am on a journey to self love, which means keeping aside a little extra time, just for me. It isn’t selfish, it is just me prioritizing myself before others, helping myself before I help others; just like we have learnt all this while to first put on our oxygen masks before helping others on the plane. The piece is on me, because I am the heroine of my story, and I am the best protagonist that my story could ever have.
And I have no regrets, because I am building myself by my image and what I think of myself, not by what others think of me. If a person wants me to be skinnier, or more fair, or more of a people pleaser, that's on them.
You are the most important in your story, because you cannot always count on others to take care of you. When the world is against you, no one but you will stand up for you, no one but you will believe in yourself, and this love and respect you have for yourself will make you perceive a more positive, brighter future even when it is dark, and it will motivate you to stand up for yourself even when everyone is against you. This love for yourself will take you places, because you believe in yourself, and you respect yourself and you will achieve that sense of satisfaction with every deed, that reduction in stress and procrastination and that mindfulness to make and take the right decisions.
You will grow into the beautiful person that is the best version of yourself, setting an example for all those around to see you as a role model and achieve the same, and that is how you will spread love, doing what you do and inspiring others every step of the way.
Because we all know we must first excel to succeed.
And we must first love ourselves to love others.
Author: Akanksha Mahapatra
Editor: Jia Bakshi