My friends and I have been talking about this a lot. I’ve been thinking about this a lot, too.
My immediate circle of friends and I agree upon one thing – that this year has been an absolute force to reckon with. The stuff that we have done in the last few months alone, and the things we’ve learnt, have been beyond epiphanic. I’m at a loss for words when I try to describe how real and challenging and rewarding this year has been. I have never felt this alive, and I have never felt this scared.
You ever do something so out of league it surprises you that you even had the nerve? That’s essentially how my year’s been going so far. Everything from attending a fellowship for Instagram, performing a live audience, flying to Darjeeling on my own, to opening an Etsy shop, to making new friends, I done it all this year. I done it all. Some of them exceeded my expectations, some turned out fine, and some, well. Some been shi**y.
YLAC, for example, opened up so many doors for me, not only in the outside world, but in myself, too. The Counter Speech Fellowship with Instagram has been my biggest achievement yet, and I cannot explain how big of a feat it has been. Guys. I used to HATE Instagram. I hated it to the core. I detested the whole idea of communication via the social internet, mostly because I was scared. I was afraid I’d lose myself in a rush to prove myself to a disconnected audience, to pretend that connections were real when they were the exact opposite, and worst: I thought I’d lose myself, trying so hard to be the person I wished I was but never would be.
I hated Instagram. I hated sharing. But now I don’t.
Achievement? Yes, sir. Gimme a pat on the back, I deserve it.
Then there’s stuff like Etsy, which I did in the most sudden, random outburst of creative energy I have ever experienced. I had a little artwork lying around, I like money, I combined the two ideas, boom, Etsy.
It didn’t work out lol
I got so caught up in the idea of selling my ideas and my thoughts to people that I forgot that this is supposed to feel good. My art is supposed to heal me, before it even tries to heal anyone else. So I left Etsy at that, feeling slightly disheartened about the whole thing.
Just this evening, the universe sent out the words I needed, as always, in the form of my mom and her sage-like advice. She said, and I quote, “It’s good to try something and realize you’re not ready for it. One day, when you put your heart to it, you will be.”
To all the people who are reading this and feeling like you’re being pushed down by the weight of your own expectations, I say this — just because you did something wrong doesn’t mean you’re bad at it, or that you suck, or that your worthless without this thing to feel proud of. It just means you ain’t ready, son. Take your time. Chill. Do something that makes you feel at ease. Keep trying. Don’t stop trying. But don’t rush it. Do more of the stuff that builds you up to the thing you’re not ready for. Build yourself up to that strength. When you’re ready, you’ll know. Let me know, too. I’ll cheer for you.
Forgive me in advance if this post doesn’t seem like your cup of tea. I’m unspooling a lot of thoughts from my head at the moment, but fear not, I’m fine. I’m just taking my time to speak my mind.
I’ve been mesmerised by this poem lately after watching it on Vlogbrothers, called September 1st, 1939, by W.H. Auden. Like John, or even more so than him, I only treated the poem as a glimpse of the past, a past I could never fully understand. As a fifteen-year-old, I barely understand my own time, let alone an era of war that existed eighty years before I did. But as I read the poem again and listened to John, I found that there were certain parts of the poem that I could comprehend.
I find myself in this spot of my life where I feel responsible for things I’ve never done or never intended to do. There’s this strange aura around me right now that’s both very new and very discomforting, to say the least, which makes me feel terribly guilty of my actions, and until now, I didn’t know what was causing this.
The poem begins “I sit in one of the dives/ On Fifty-second Street/ Uncertain and afraid/ As the clever hopes expire/ Of a low dishonest decade“, and while these lines refer to the 1930s, it holds true for the present as well. I can’t put a finger on what it is, but something about the the decade we’re living in feels deeply scary. Sure, we’re at the pinnacle of scientific and technological breakthroughs, countries are way more secure than they were back then, but there is still a lingering aftermath of the hatred that the past endured. We find ourselves at the mercy of the social internet and its vagarious nature. Virtual communication is usurping the need to form real-life bonds. Relationships (not talking about just romantic ones, mind you) are made and shattered in seconds, and I hate it.
I find myself deeply and consistently aware of the transience of life, and though that’s an accurate description for any decade — the truth that life as we know it will end — now, that’s mixed with another, more disturbing truth: in today’s world, we are precariously tied to being fake and happy at the expense of being real and honest.
What I hate the most is how most people, including me, are terrified by this image, but not moved enough to change it. In John’s words, it’s like we’re all actors stuck in a play that we can’t rewrite.
We call people trash. We lash out at them for things they don’t necessarily control. We say it’s fine to break trust as if it’s something transitory, easily mendable, and in the process, we actually end up treating people as trash, we break trust, and we hate people just for the sake of not being able to love enough.
I now realize why I feel so guilty. It’s because I let myself be swept away by these waves of fear and hatred. I actually believed, even if for a moment, that loving people and being kind to them was not only stupid and dumb, but also extremely dangerous in this world, where hate runs everything. I hold myself responsible for the things I say out of hatred, but now I realize more and more, that the world we live in pushes me to treat every interaction with a neutral, indifferent tone. So who, exactly, do we blame? Ourselves? Circumstance?
I realize that I probably should reiterate the statement that I’m fine, but I am at the same time, absolutely clueless about how to resolve this. The last stanza of the poem does well to translate my thoughts into words:
Defenseless under the night Our world in stupor lies; Yet, dotted everywhere, Ironic points of light Flash out wherever the Just Exchange their messages: May I, composed like them Of Eros and of dust, Beleaguered by the same Negation and despair, Show an affirming flame.
As we grow older, and just a little bit wiser, I hope that we can learn to put our intense emotions aside, and just for a while, feel safe, knowing that the light we shine towards others is fair, real, pure and full of love. As Auden said,
“Do not be silent. Do not sideline yourself to the imagined power of another. This silence you stand in begs you, answer.
Be silent only on your terms, for your own listening, for hearing what you long to speak, and when your voice rises— speak it.
When words inflate your chest, heart beating ahead of your mind, drumming its path for you, it is time.
Even as your palms sweat, know this— your body does not fear the speaking; it does not fear being heard. As you stand trembling, as you hover on the lip of voice— all your body fears is that you might stay silent yet again.”
I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will. — Charlotte Bronte
Why Being Independent Matters So Much
It boosts your confidence.
Independence and the ability to hold yourself high is a big boost to your self-confidence and self-esteem. To most, the idea that they don’t need to depend on someone else for their own happiness puts them on a track of self-belief. To me, the fact that I can take care of myself is a huge motivator and this drives me to be my own hero!
Less reliance on others
The more you rely on yourself for getting things done, the more you’re likely to get done! But it is easier said than done. However, if you keep exercising your independence like a muscle, you will obviously get better with time. Soon, independence will change from a habit to a way of life, and you will achieve things that you never even dreamt of dreaming.
Better decision making
Self-reliance does something magical to your brain. It clears all the foggy, misdirecting thoughts and internal fears in your brain, making it easier for you to think with clarity. It’s an amazing feeling to be able to think clearly without any stress clouding your judgment, isn’t it?
More time for personal development and creativity
Letting go of external circumstances that influence you can have a big effect on your daily lifestyle. When I was less independent than I am right now, I would waste so much of my time at home, going over situations that I believe could have gone better. Whatever I’m doing, a nagging voice in the back of my head would keep whining, ” The day has gone bad, and it’s your fault.” This self-defeating self-talk would kill my willpower and happiness, forcing me to depend on someone else for my mental health.
But now, I don’t care about what circumstances that come my way, I just accept it and move on. As for that evil voice in my head, I’ve put it to sleep for good. My focus has been shifted to improving and nurturing my own personality.
“Absorb what is useful, Discard what is not, Add what is uniquely your own.” — Bruce Lee
Increases your self-value
Making the decision to stand up for yourself teaches you the importance of self-worth. When you realize the true extent of your strengths as an individual, you strive to do everything in your power to protect those strengths and nurture them. You accept yourself for your flaws, for your innumerable cracks and quirks, because you now realize that these are a part of your core personality. You take pride in knowing that you are everything you want to be, and everything you will be in the future.
How To Increase Your Independence In Your Daily Life
Learn to enjoy your own company.
Embrace the feeling of being alone. It might seem pessimistic and introverted to distance yourself from normal surroundings for a while. But in a world increasingly focused on speed and competitiveness, solitude is precious and something to be treasured.
Solitude gives you time to reflect on life and greater meanings of the world. Every day, try to spend some of the time you spend alone to focus on yourself. Make time to be introspective and think about your life. Consider where you are and where you’re going. Think about your short and long-term goals. It will help you find calmness in a world of growing chaos.
Engage in tasks that require your best efforts.
When you force yourself to focus only on the tasks that require all of your concentration, you block yourself from all others distractions that can lower your self-esteem. For example, whenever I’m feeling a little depressed, I play the guitar, sing or write. These are tasks that need me to be 100% in the moment, keeping my mind free of any distractions that will negatively affect me.
This also works if you’re trying to be more independent. If you do things that put you in a state of extreme focus and concentration, you’re more likely to do it on your own. The more you do things this way, the less dependent you’ll be on other people.
Talk to yourself. Understand what you want and what you need.
Please, please, please read what I’m saying very carefully: NOTHING MATTERS MORE THAN THE FACT THAT YOU NEED TO KNOW YOURSELF TO HELP YOURSELF. It doesn’t matter whether you just want to solve a personality type test or if you’re trying to get yourself out of a situation of self-despair. If you don’t know what in the world your mind thinks of itself, you’re busted. Why? Because you don’t know what you really want in life. You don’t know why some things make you smile and some make you cry, and so you don’t know how to make yourself better.
Getting to know yourself isn’t a cakewalk. But just like getting to know anyone else, it requires time and effort. It requires that you go out of your way to make sure what you’re doing makes sense and feels right not to your friends, your relatives or your pet cat, but to you. You must be willing to be vulnerable to yourself, in order to fully, truly be yourself.
Independence in my life has opened me up to a beautiful, vivid world outside of my bubble of fears and doubts. It has allowed me to treat life, not as a task to tick off a list, but as a gift. I have stepped way outside my comfort zone, something that I never would have done, and in doing so, I have been able to enjoy my life with clarity and a sense of gratitude. I have stopped looking at myself as insignificant, and I have started believing that I do have some value in this world.
The last one week has made me feel much more alive than I’ve felt in a long time. I’ve tried new things, made a fool of myself, pushed myself to new limits, and most importantly, GROWN FROM THE INSIDE.
But opening up to myself at such a level was not easy. to do. It was something I had been putting off for a long time because I was too afraid to know myself. But now that I have, I feel free.
If you’re reading this, first of all: thank you! You successfully read an 1100-word essay! Second: Thank you for your time and attention. It really means a lot to me that my writing gets noticed so much, and words cannot express my gratitude towards every single one of you who reads my stuff.
This post has been pretty personal for me (not that the others aren’t) because it’s made me think about my own struggles with self-love. It’s made me realize that ever since I started blogging 7 months ago, I’ve become WAY stronger and happier than I was, say, a year ago. I’ve learnt to love myself on a scale that I’ve never done before, and all the credit to my happiness goes to you, dear readers. You have made my life colourful, exciting, and full of amazing opportunities.
I love all of you. Thank you for making my life beautiful.