Contributed by Debjani Sinha
Do you hear this background noise in your head?
“You’re too loud!”
“You won’t make it.”
“They don’t like you.”
“You look bloated.”
“It’s all your fault.”
and “Here you go again…”.
I do. I always have. Even though some of them might be true, it is not the end of the world. I have been overweight for most of my life, but it doesn’t necessarily mean I am ugly or grotesque (as was my self-image). Likewise, being loud and outspoken is also one of my many flaws. That doesn’t mean I am incapable of kindness, generosity, and empathy. I don’t intend to tell you that your mind is lying to you, instead, I want to emphasize that all those wrongs and imperfections are blended in just the right proportion with your strengths, beauty, and abilities to make the whole ‘YOU’.
I grew up in a typical South Asian middle-class family, where academic achievements were the benchmark for success. Gifted with above-average intellect, I was able to conform to these standards set by society first as a student and then as a professional. I flourished in the eyes of the beholder, but these self-deprecating thoughts always plagued my adolescence years and most of my adult life. Even though I was good, I was never good enough. And with age, I have come to realize that many go through this endless pursuit without ever really stopping to pause and appreciate what we are as individuals. We must always have the ‘growth mindset’ but that doesn’t mean that we should deprive ourselves of contentment and acceptance.
COVID forced us to hit reset and re-evaluate how we live our lives.
What is profoundly important/ must-have?
What is merely a comfort/ nice-to-have?
Finally, the holiday season 2020 is here! And this holiday season is perhaps more important than the ones we have seen in the recent past because it has been an exceptionally challenging year. Kindness, generosity, and gratitude are the flavors of the season. In the holiday spirit, let us pledge to treat ourselves with compassion and understanding as well. Let us be grateful for the person we are today and the journey that got us here. Each one of us has a story to tell. Each one of us has scars to show. We all have regrets. We all are flawed. But that’s what makes us unique and one of a kind. We are all just the right kind of wrong!
So, my message to you this holiday season is to let go…let go of the could-haves, forget all the should-have-knowns, forgive yourself for all the wish-I-didn’t episodes, and get rid of all the if-only-I’ve scenarios from your closet. I say this because we happen to be our own harshest critic. Your mind must be blaring out “Easy for you to preach!”. But, without listing down all the small and not-so-small challenges that make up the fabric of my life, I want to you believe me that it is hard for me too. I too am trying to accept the things I cannot change and work towards changing the ones I can. At best, it’s a work-in-progress.
I shall leave you with five things you could do to lift your spirits this holiday season:
- Call a friend/ acquaintance you were close to but have lost touch
- Read the book you’ve always wanted to but never found the time
- Smile, take a selfie and update your social media account (if you have one, or create one)
- Learn a new skill (knitting, croqueting, painting, cooking, carving, glass painting)
- Bake a cake, enjoy a freshly baked slice and share the rest (even the boxed ones will do)
Finally, before bidding adieu I want to confess that there are bad days and dark phases that still haunt this ‘NEW ME’. Hours when I find myself sinking back into self-pity and doubt. But the only difference is that I know that it will end and I will climb out of that sinkhole no matter how long it takes because I have done it in the past. These words uttered by Scarlett O’Hara in the book Gone with The Wind – “After all, tomorrow is another day.” are the ones that I keep singing to lull myself back to life and light. Hold onto them, they’re magical just like all things Christmassy!