I’ve isolated myself for fear of people’s judgemental behaviour, but I have realised it’s taking me nowhere.! This is my story
Many-a-times, our desire to fit in the crowd can come in the way of our true authentic self. Add in the trauma of depression and anxiety and it becomes a complete recipe for disaster.
When I moved in from a small town to the city of dreams, I anticipated some roadblocks but I never imagined it would take away my mental and emotional balance.
This is my story of how I overcame my depression and lost and found myself again.
– Neha Bhatt, Performing Artist
I had a privileged childhood, that of one close to mother nature and all of her glory. We had an areca nut plantation in Mangalore, with beautiful stretches of overarching trees that you could lose yourself too.
With rains come these little delightful streams of water and I simply loved jumping into it, splashing water all around. It did not matter how scruffy and muddy I had become as I was just in the moment enjoying myself.
On turning 16, my parents thought it fit that I spread my wings and study in a metro for better exposure and grooming. So I packed my bags, leaving everything that I loved behind and came to the city of dreams with wonderment in my eyes.
But soon my fantasy was shattered with reality. You see, my modest upbringing and demeanour was no match for the hip and upbeat college that I enrolled in to. My long plaits, traditional dressing and plastic chappals were considered “too lame” and I as a person was thought of outdated.
And yes, people were mean enough to pass snide remarks and snigger,
“What on earth is she wearing?” “Somebody please tell her to get a makeover.” etc.
It was probably the first time in my entire life that I began to feel conscious. It was like people’s eyes were darts that were constantly poking me.
Even if they weren’t talking about me, I felt that they were. I missed those carefree days when I was all covered in mud and couldn’t care less about what others thought of me.
Most of all, I was terribly lonely and missed my parents and home town. I was in a new city with no one to turn to. This loneliness followed me wherever I went, in coffee shops, libraries and classroom.
Also Read: Loneliness is a health epidemic!
I found myself getting up in the middle of the night and crying uncontrollably for no particular reason. There was this hollow feeling within me that I could not shake away.
This only pushed people further away as they thought I was being over emotional. Junk food became my comfort and escape, leading to weight gain and bad breakouts of the skin.
The worst part is while I had no real company, I lost myself too. I dressed differently, cut my hair short, shunned away my passion for Bharatanatyam thinking that people might consider it “too traditional.”
My company became these bunch of spoiled brats who wasted their life on smoking and drugs. In my heart, I knew what I was doing wrong but I was so hungry for acceptance and company that anything went.
Strange, on one hand, I was pushing people away and on the other, I was doing whatever it took for acceptance. My personality transformed from this soft-spoken person to a brash one. I was isolating myself from everybody (unknown and known) for the fear of being judged.
Deep inside, I couldn’t feel further to my authentic self but I kept shutting out that inner voice. My grades began to drop to the point that my mother had to come to visit me.
She was aghast and heartbroken to see what I had become. One evening, she sat me down and convinced me to seek counselling. I flatly refused, once again with the fear of what people would think about me.
Somehow she convinced me to opt for online counselling as I could get therapy in privacy, as per my convenience and without anybody knowing about it.
So every time I came from college, I used to tell my roommates to give me some space as I had to Skype with ‘my boyfriend’. I was, in fact, speaking to the counsellor who frankly speaking was better than any boyfriend.
Here was someone who was completely non-judgemental about me and my life. She provided me with the mental and emotional support and gave me clarity.
I no longer looked at my loneliness as a weakness but as a strength to accomplish what I want in life. I realised that my fear of people judging me was taking me absolutely nowhere.
I regained my confidence and best of all my true self.
You see, the truth of the matter is that I hold great respect for my traditional values even in this so-called modern world. There is a joy in a simple life with a modest demeanour.
I rediscovered my passion for Bharatanatyam, this time around not caring what people thought. As a matter of fact, with years of practice, I became rather popular and today I am highly respected in my field.
The best part is that I learnt to be self-reliant and content without others. And guess what? The moment that happened, I noticed that I was attracting genuine people around me.
Some of you might feel that ‘so what’, ‘so many people change places for better learning’, ‘why is she getting so melodramatic about it’. But this is what I have learnt, while it is always good to toughen up, you should never shut your emotions and your true feelings.
It is important to acknowledge what you are going through. Being away from parents for the first time in a completely unknown place can be extremely daunting. No supervision of parents and added freedom for a teenager can be a deadly combination.
This is when we are our most vulnerable self and can fall into bad habits that can destroy our lives.
So whatever you are going through at any given time, no matter how trivial it might seem to the other person, it is extremely important that you tend to the emotions and find an outlet.
Do not shun away from your feelings because it is in that mess that you truly discover what you are as a human being. And most of all, you have to be true to your authentic self and let it shine. Each one of us is unique.
And don’t forget, a little help along the way with counselling works like miracles.