When Anxiety Banters With Me

//On some nights, anxiety banters with me.//

It does not tie me up — instead, it seeps in slowly from the pores of my skin and mixes with my blood, warming every inch of my being. It softens my bones and heats my flesh; quickens my breath and lowers my reflexes.

//On some nights, anxiety banters with me.//

Those nights I think of U, where U is the variable for all those pretty eyed boys that I gave my heart to. I close my eyes and focus on U until I can recreate the exact smell that hung between us that summer. Other times I stare into the dark abyss and try to recreate faces too. I then sigh.

//On some nights, anxiety banters with me.//

I try to focus on one thing, failing to focus on any. My cluttered head spills out thoughts on my pillow, staining it with all shades of blue. I feel insecurity dripping down my back like one long thread of sweat. I toss, turn, and wallow in nostalgia. I longingly look at my ceiling, hoping to see stars, thinking of all the bridges that I have burnt.

//On some nights, anxiety banters with me.//

Some have said that I should try and fight it — that if I try hard enough, I will be able to defeat it. On most nights, however, I let it tease me. I invite it for midnight tea and offer it cookies. I let it consume me and break me apart in the desperate hope of feeling something, anything. I use it to escape the numbness in my soul.

//On some nights, anxiety banters with me.//

On those nights, I banter with anxiety.

Half and Half 

It shall always play out this way – you will meet someone new and they will fill your heart with joy, with hope, with butterflies.

You will be given new books, new music, and new stories to savour. You will relish each, slowly, chewing till the taste fills your being.

You will stay up nights, thinking. You will spend days, longing. You will smile more. You will shine a little more. The birds will sing. Violins will play.

Change, however, is eternal, and thus the wheels of change will move yet again –things will start falling apart. You will try to put them in place; frantically. You will race against time, you will push and pull – all in vain.

The atheist in you will pray; the numbness inside you will weep; emotions you didn’t know you had will surface. You will curse the day it all began.

You will find closure, though – of course, you will. They all do. It will heal. You will let it go. One day you will wake up and the emptiness won’t be the first thing that you feel. It will begin to get better.

And then, one day, as it rains and you travel with the wind blowing in your hair, a familiar song will play on shuffle.

A familiar song – one that came to be half-forgotten. Half savoured. Half-sung. A song that will sing of a time long gone. A time that was only half yours.

Letting In

Letting go is widely spoken of –there are books, movies, speeches, music, and experiences (I have, like most others, touched upon it as well: Learn to Let Go). It is an important part of life and the relationships that we build with others. The process is painful, bittersweet, and at the end of the day, extremely liberating.

Lately, however, I have been thinking about how beautiful, bittersweet, and tumultuous, letting in can be.

Here you are, enclosed in your space, with walls that you have built with bricks made of your fears. You exist within the walls to guard yourself against the pain that eventual letting go brings –to avoid the letting go, we build a wall that keeps us from letting in. It is our own safe space that is set to our comforts, expectations, and intensity. It is a space that has no surprises –everything is, at least on the face of it, under control.

People, however, are like rays of the sun; they creep in through cracks before we know it. It doesn’t take much, either. All it often takes is a smile, a gesture, or some kindness. Before you know it, your wall is cracked, your fears are realised, and your life spins out of the false sense of control that you had instilled.

As far as I am concerned, I resist. I frantically run around, trying to place the bricks back into their places. I try mending those cracks by pushing people away or shutting myself further. I run, I scream, and just throw my arms up in frustration. It is, after all, quite frustrating –letting in is not easy.

It is also often inevitable, this letting in. Some people just make it through before you know it. You stop resisting after a point –you fall into routines. There are patterns, jokes, secrets, and unloading of baggage. Nights are painted with secrets and days brim of laughter.

When we let someone in, it reflects in our lives. We have new ideas and new thoughts. We are exposed to new versions and a new world. We pick up their words, their styles, their thoughts. We find new things to laugh about, new stories to ponder upon. There is new music, new movies, and new books. There are new places and fresh experiences. There is shyness, comfort, and gradual treading. There is fear, insecurity, and curiosity, all laced with a weird sense of happiness. There is the birth of something new –something that has not existed before. You discover a new part of yourself.

This doesn’t really have to be romantic either. This is simply what letting in feels like –it is a new day, each filled with adventure, new thoughts, and immense self-growth.

It is not easy to do, not at all. It is also, for most bit, inevitable that at some point this letting in will transform into letting go. Change, after all, will always be the course of nature. What is important, however, is to wake up each day with a smile to remind yourself that at this very moment, something amazing is happening to you. Remember that you are creating new memories, new stories, and for all you know, new relationships.

Sure, it might hurt later –when you hear those songs again, or those jokes, or references, or perhaps simply their name. There may be triggers, tears, and something inside you may break. There is a risk, there always is.

What should keep you going, nevertheless, is that all of this adds up to what life really is. Each experience, each letting in, and each letting go, eventually becomes a part of the big book called Life. When you are older and in a different phase, you are going to look back at these little moments and know that these are what made you who you are.

Whoever we let in, big or small, influential or not, romantic or platonic, they change us. They become a part of us. Wherever you go after that –whether together or apart –you will carry a piece of them with you. They will be a part of you and you, of them.

To think of it, maybe letting in isn’t so bad.

The Struggle Called College

This morning I woke up with a brand new realisation; college tends to mess us up in more ways than we actually realise.

So much had been said about college; there would be fun, and friends, and love, and tremendous self discovery. All movies, TV shows, older friends, and books had romanticised the idea of college and the life that it offers. But now that I have spent a reasonable amount of time doing college, I am surprised that nobody warned me about screwed up sleep cycles, food disorders, and emotional trauma.

I spent my freshman year believing that I was perhaps the only one going through this. As time passed, I began to realise how common this really is. College is suicidal. It is a roller coaster ride that only goes up.

You enter a phase where you struggle hard to figure out who you are, but at the same time, externally you’re supposed to look composed and like you’ve got your shit together. You have to worry about grades, assignments, and attendance. You have to burn yourself in order to keep up with being a good student. You need to manage self care, your GPA, and your relationships.

I am surprised that nobody warned me that college is about you losing people; to death, to circumstances, and to other people. Why is that nobody spoke about the break downs, letting go, and lying awake at 4 AM staring into mental abysses. College is low key scary that way.

I have come to realise that it is a rite of passage where you don’t have the protection that school provided and the stability that future will entail. You are a fish trying to find its way in the sea. You are on your own, trying to mould what will mould you.

It is about staying alive and staying sane.

Don’t Give Up (Please)

At lunch time on August 10, I was treating a few friends. We ate our favourite dishes and chatted away happily; occasionally gossiping and majorly laughing. I had no idea, not even in my wildest imaginations, that at that very moment, some kilometres away, a friend of ours, one who we were discussing over noodles and dal makhani, was contemplating suicide.

Only if we had known.

His death was unfortunate, the news shocking, and the feeling unbelievable. He was the happiest, most joyful person we knew. Who knew that that grin was a facade and that those eyes were, in reality, battling depression.

Depression.

It’s a horrible pit, depression. You often find yourself lying on your floor at three in the morning, with dry eyes and a heavy head. You cry for help, often in vain. You scream, shout, and then give up. Some cut themselves, some run-away, some fight it, and some… Some escape it.

I have been depressed too; I think everyone has. What sucks the most about depression is the insensitivity and nonchalance that the society harbours. “It will be all right.” “Don’t think too much about it.” “It’s no big deal.” “Why are you even depressed? There are children dying in Syria”.

It is horrifying, to say the least, how people deal with depressed people. They are ignored, often left to themselves. At times, it is assumed that they are strong enough to face their challenges. Other times, like with our friend, the depression is never noticed by anyone.

I really don’t know the point of this blog post. All I know is that I feel terrible and shaken. It is chilling that someone, who was loved so dearly, had moments where he felt so alone. Haven’t all of us failed him collectively? Haven’t all of us failed in telling him that he is loved, and cared for, and special, and amazing, and everything but a failure.

This is a plea to everyone out there –shut your phone and close your Facebook tabs. Go out and look people in the eyes. Hold their hands, hug them, and talk to them. Don’t fall for their emojis on WhatsApp and don’t buy their “I am fine”. Don’t opt the path that is convenient for you. Do the harder thing –tell people you love them. Tell them they matter and tell them they are awesome. Spend time with your loved ones and kiss them goodnight. Talk to each other and find out about each other. Ask people how their day was. Be there to wipe each other’s tears and be compassionate enough to understand their battles. Pain cannot be measured; no pain is greater than the other. A child being killed in Syria is as bad as someone breaking up a relationship that lasted three years. Pain is the only thing that unites us and it is important that we be there for each other.

For everyone out there who is having a hard time –you are amazing. You are unique and you are beautiful. You have a smile that is heart-warming and you are not a failure. You are loved and adored. You may not feel that way, but it’s true. Your parents love you so much albeit they may have a different way to show it. There is always light at the end of the tunnel; you just got to wait to see it. Keep going, because the world needs you. You’re here for a purpose. All obstacles are nothing but stepping stones. The Otherside awaits you –you have to wait for it too.

I know life becomes crappy and I know that often we feel that this is the end –but it’s not. The bad time passes too, no matter how bad it seems. I never thought I’ll get over a bad relationship, or lost friends, or failure, or losing loved ones, or disappointment. But you know what? I did. Everyone does. You will too.

Please keep going and don’t give up.

Reach out to each other and talk. We’re all in the same boat –all united by pain, fear, and hope.

I wish our friend knew this too.

The Thing About Childlike Curiosity

It was a hot summer afternoon in Kolkata and I was standing in a long queue. We had decided to spend some time in the Science City before our departure to Delhi and were now mildly regretting the decision. The queue was awfully long for a 3D show (that would perhaps not meet our expectations anyway). With rumbling stomachs and impatient demeanours, we waited.

Shortly, my eyes fell on a little girl who stood on the other side of our stanchion. She was as tiny as the barrier and was playing with the elastic cord that connected two stanchions. She had short hair and an adorable frock. She was perhaps the only human there oblivious to the excruciating wait –she had found entertainment for herself in the elastic cord itself. The little girl continuously hit the elastic cord with her tiny palm. She would watch the cord vibrate and move, and then smile with glee. Her discovery had filled her with wonder. Her eyes were wide and her mirth was infectious. It was almost like NASA had finally found that alternate life existed.

Not long after, her parents noticed what she was doing. Absentmindedly, her father grasped the cord between his palm, causing it to stop vibrating. He then resumed talking to her mother. I expected the little girl to begin crying now –she had found a wonderful game that her father had successfully ruined. To my surprise, she didn’t cry at all!

Instead of throwing a tantrum, her eyes opened wider and her mouth formed an ‘O’. Cautiously, she hit her palm against the cord to make it vibrate and then grasped the cord in her palm, thereby causing it to stop. It was true –the cord could stop too! Her smile turned into laughter as she repeated the process over and over again –first causing the cord to vibrate and then making it stop. What was natural, almost immaterial, to the humans twice her size around her, became an adventure for her.

Her glee was seamless and infectious. Before I knew it, I was smiling too.

Marks Don’t Matter

This piece of news is the first thing I read in the morning and I cannot stress enough on how much it disturbed me.

 

May 13, 2016; Hindustan Times

 

A girl studying in Class XI suicides because she fails a Chemistry Exam twice.

Was it really worth it to end your life because of an exam that bears no consequences on your future? Was it really worth it to put your parents through unimaginable pain only because of an exam that will change nothing in your life? Was it even remotely, even for one second, worth it?

It wasn’t. It will never be.
This is a message to all students out there –IT DOESN’T MATTER.

As invaluable as education is, and as important a degree and a good life are, IT DOESN’T MATTER. There are things greater, and bigger, than the three hours you spend trying to score marks out of 100. What matters is how much you learnt. What matters is how much of a better person you became after a certain lecture. What matters is the amount of hard-work you put in.

RESULTS DO NOT DEFINE THE PERSON YOU ARE.

Results only define you on a scale set as a standard by some members of the society. MARKS DO NOT DEFINE YOU.

You do not get good colleges or good jobs based ONLY on your academic performance. Please take this from someone who scored two perfect 100s in her board examinations –IT DID NOT MATTER.

This is also an earnest request to all teachers and parents everywhere in all corners of the world –TELL THE STUDENTS THAT IT DOES NOT MATTER. I am extremely grateful to my parents and my teachers who gave me the space to grow and learn through my failures and setbacks. This is the kind of atmosphere we need for all students everywhere. Students need to be told the truth –YOUR MARKS DO NOT MATTER AS MUCH AS YOU THINK THEY DO. They do hold a lot of importance, but for the love of God, you cannot end your life over an exam that will create a very little difference in the long run.

Please focus on learning and growing, and exams will become cakewalks. Please choose subjects according to your ABILITY and not the society. Science is not better than Humanities and Commerce is not a ‘second option’. Do what you love and excel in it. Make learning interactive and fun, and you will realise that marks DON’T MATTER.

My prayers are with this young student who could have grown up to become an invaluable member of the society. My condolences are with her parents who must be going through ineffable misery.
What only matters is your happiness… Marks do not matter.