I don’t think you need to adjust so much to other people as you have to with yourself when you start living alone for the first time in your life. I feel like the last year has been just a series of repetitions in so many ways. I start. I hesitate. Come to a standstill. Stop. Now weep. Is that what it’s going to be again? Am I that hard to please? I might be jumping way too far.
So many things that I didn’t know about myself that I’ve only just discovered.
- I’m no good at boiling something in the microwave without having it spill over. I don’t know what it is about being watched when you’re trying to cook but it unnerves me. I creepily try to eat at the most odd hours now.
- I’m having a hard time not judging people only because I feel like I’ve constantly been under the radar over the past few days. Minutely scrutinized for inconsistencies. Been under watchful gazes. I’ve tried my best to be myself and I’ve done satisfactorily well, I believe. I’ve watched how I went from nervously touching my hair when talking to someone way older than me to resting my chin on my palm in rapt attention.
- I feel like I can see through some people and then again others are so difficult to read. People all over the world are mostly the same. It feels odd to say that as if I was going to move to another country and expect to meet a different breed of humans. We’re just all creatures of habit. It’s amusing the things one can get accustomed to.
- Somehow, I just can’t be sure if I have turned off the light when I leave the room. I’ve been going back and forth, upstairs, downstairs double the times to recheck. I don’t know what it means to care so much about these things. But I do know that being obsessive about them is certainly not a good sign.
- Living alone doesn’t bring so much freedom as it does responsibility. So easy to get confused with the two, even though they’re hardly the same.
- I must stop leaving the keys in the door.
- I’ve found that some people respect me far more than I deserve and I’m adjusting to that, too.
- I’ve found that I have a capacity to love far greater than the capacity to hate. Maybe when people continuously disappoint you, all that anger and distaste piles up like grime around the soft corners of your heart. I’m all cleaned up now. The rooms of my heart are open and I will accommodate as many as I can and keep them grounded in there.
- I can honestly say I’ve known money’s worth and always been wise about that knowledge. I’ve known all my life that I must spend reasonably and that money is important but not everything and definitely not more important than love, safety, genuine concern and graceful words. But only now do I feel that I could do so much more if I had that kind of money. The kind of money that doesn’t make you think twice before buying yourself a meal at the mall or debating about the size of your drink. I don’t think I’ve ever felt like I needed to make money as much as I do now.
- This transition has also diverted my inherent pessimism into a structured, rational pessimism. I’m less bitter even when I have good reason to go all out and be furious and hateful. I see people and I think about what their story might be and for a second when my gaze lands upon them, in that moment, they are important to me. They give me a reason to think beyond myself. So often been told that I’m self-centered and I have never been able to rightfully deny it, either. If this isn’t a first step of rectification, I don’t know what else is.
- My energies are being split into so many directions and there are a hundred things that feel like they’re begging for my attention all day and night. My source of nourishment for this crass sapping away of energy is always the person I love.
- Some people label me as very brave. Others use sophisticated terms such as courageous but really I’m anything but. If anything I’m reckless and I’m a little selfish when it comes to what I want in the moment. I believe that even in my worst moments I’ve been fortunate to have had a few things that kept me going. I know some people who can’t describe the light at the end of their tunnel and my soul crushes in pain when I imagine what it was like. Oh trust me, I know.
- Someone I met today told me they wanted a tattoo that read, “Everything happens for a reason.” I said to this person whom I just met a few minutes ago, “You have no idea how many times I’ve repeated and just how much I believed in those words in the last few weeks.”
- I’m having no difficulty in staying true to my roots. However, unlike the others I’ve met I have no qualms about cutting off my roots and crawling out of the ground, either.
- I’ve realized over the last few weeks that people can overwhelm you in a way that you feel like you’ve merged into a singularity. That the rest of the world is just a swirling ambiguous motion of fractals around you and that when this person moves, you move instinctively and when this person wants to pull away you emerge and grow separately like the newly sprouting branches of a tree. Together or apart, you’re still blooming. That’s what matters.
Write a short story about this, a novella maybe.
Those were the words my friend said to me before I left home. Words I’m going to repeat to myself over and over until I can’t do much else except sit down and write.
But not right now. Not when I’m so busy actually feeling. I feel like writing about a hundred different things everyday. Experiences and stories are being served to me on a silver platter. The urge to record every single happening is so high. I get inattentive at times when I’m talking to someone because I’m mentally writing down how the conversation went for future reference. I’m pretty sure this is a writer thing and I’m not alone.
This may or may not be an excerpt of what I’ll write but if, for no one else, this is for me and M. That’s all that matters anyway.
Time, I’ve come to understand, can be stretched. It can be expanded upon, when need be and it can also be paused, made to freeze if your need is that powerful. It’s hard for most people to agree upon this. But how can I not? Time has literally changed for me altogether as I’ve gone several hours back in time by leaving home.
Sooner than I expected I feel so much at ease with myself. Like this is who I’ve been all along but only allowed to exhibit in the company of a few trusted others. I feel comfortable with who I am and isn’t that ultimately the most important thing?
M is a part of me now that is simply indispensable. We’ve gone back in time, too, in a way. Reliving the start of us all over again. Only this time, we get to see and feel the same things at the same time. There’s no question of missed connections, misconstrued tones, confused (and very often, poor quality) signals. When you love someone from a distance you create a personality, an impression that is – in all imaginable ways – tweaked to your understanding of perfection. But the last few days have made me realize that there’s no such thing as perfect. I am so far from perfect. My definition of it can’t possibly be accurate. And maybe, we don’t really even need perfection.
I am aware that this is one of the best feelings there is. We’ve all been there at some point and the sweet scent of it lingers in our imagination forever. Being happy. In love. Finding joy in the smallest of things – a back rub, a shared meal, an inside joke. I feel other things, too, but cannot explain and that’s why I come back here. Where I can discover what I can’t quite say out loud.
Over the last few days, I’ve been asked how it feels to be away from home, whether I’m homesick, able to adjust, sleeping okay. It is all out of pure, genuine concern and it humbles me to such a great degree. But I almost wish they wouldn’t ask because my response is far from honest and it makes me so angry at myself, my life, a helplessness at the cards I’ve been dealt. Oh, but why would I miss home when I never felt at home? What a silly question is that? Must we just overlook the fact that there are some people who do not grow up with the privilege of knowing how to feel at home at home.
That’s the thing. I believe children that grow up or rather grow out of an environment they simply cannot adapt to but are forced to live in nonetheless, will always find the question “Do you miss home?” to be hostile. Almost an accusation, which will develop into resentment and ultimately confusion, “Why don’t I miss home?”. But how is it their fault? You see, when you’ve understood that you don’t fit in at home you subconsciously search for another safe place. For me, it was my books, it was words and all the spaces between them. It’s really not that different now, except that it includes M’s fingers and the spaces between them, too.
It’s only understandable that having a home, that very concept of being at home and having a place to live and leave becomes an in-built compass. Whatever comes next must be measured, paired up or brought to par with it. It’s the source of solace that has been yours inherently – without having to strive for – and therefore your right to look and expect it wherever you go. You know no other way of living. You are fortunate. However, what happens when that needle isn’t there, when there is no direction or expected standard, no means of understanding what you deserve.
It’s a disconnected, silvery, semi-porous, unevenly segmented, half-there, half-not-there feeling. Like when you want to rest your feet on the bottom of a swimming pool but you can’t quite do it. Your legs flap about desperately trying to reach out but it starts to feel like there is no landing, that it wasn’t there to begin with. You then have the choice to stay afloat or – like me when I was nine – you can try so hard that when you reach, you slip and almost drown. I never got into a swimming pool after that. I knew better than to wish for what was clearly beyond my reach. Once rescued – disoriented and cold – you can feel people peering down at you and hear their voices which are more eager than your own to know if you’re okay. I was okay.
Last night I cried quietly over the phone as many things came to my mind. I was crying out of joy. I was crying for the person I was and who I became and the tortuous road that lay in between. I believed that there’s only so much joy another person can bring to you and then you’re left to make do for the remaining part yourself. I was wrong.
A very safely nurtured dream came true a few days back. I saw my words being approached by complete strangers and being respected and praised immensely. I realized that the very nature of my writing that day – different from what it usually is – was still my writing and it made it to the Freshly Pressed page of WordPress. For people like me, this means everything and yet it stings just a tiny bit.
What followed in the coming few days was overwhelming, exhausting and so incredibly amazing; I guess there’s no way to entirely explain what I felt in words. Especially not in words. My views climbed and soared. My followers and like counts peaked. My phone was blown up with the incessant notifications and still goes off suddenly on a vibrating trip. But that’s not even the important part.
I received the kind of love writers can only dream about. More people than I can count told me how my writing reached to them. Some offered solace, some gave me their compassion, others promised to read, while the rest simply and honestly said thank you. There were few who said that I got into their minds and wrote their story. Which has to be what shocked me the most. I hurt all over wondering about these people I don’t know but their pain that I know all too well. It restored in me the faith that we’re never truly alone in the way we feel and think. Our experiences might be our own but there are people out there who have crossed those bridges at some point, faced the same demons and come out stronger. It’s a very big revelation to absorb when you spend most of your time cooped up in your worries and your tiny little life comprising of three or four important people. It’s an even harder blow to take when you have never been able to share your humiliating stories for fear of thinking it made you look bad.
One more reason I feel like I have to write this is because in retrospect if I had known this was the blog that was going to make the mark I would not have written some parts of it so harshly. The part about my mother. No, I wouldn’t challenge my integrity and change the facts. But I would’ve selectively imprinted on my readers a somewhat milder version of the pain I felt. The part about my mother. What part is it exactly? The part where I say how she hurt me? The part where I tell you that she only did what she thought was right? Or the part where I don’t talk about her?
Isn’t all of it in some indescribable way all her? Am I not, in the most inescapable reason simply because of her. Tied to her.
People wrote to me and said they couldn’t fathom what kind of mother does that to her child. They expressed their anger and confusion and tried to mimic my sense of betrayal, if only to form a kind of kinship with me, maybe to make me feel better, by virtue of their humanity. But I read those comments, I read the ones that said, “What kind of mother…” and I lost my cool. I couldn’t control the rage I felt on the inside at hearing someone else question my mother. I’m sorry but that is an inherent right that only I can wield.
Last night, I cried because I heard the most beautiful words spoken and they were all for me. There are elegies of love and then there are confessions. There is poetry and wit, letters of love and actions of compassion and infinite mediums of explaining what a person makes you feel and what you feel for them. The rainbows, the sunlight, the kisses sent via snail mail, the memories of the places you’ve seen together, the songs that are always about your lover. Does anything ever not speak directly to you when you’re in love? The unwavering respect that someone can give you for what you do is the most enchanting kind of confession there is. I cried because for the first time in my life, I didn’t have to wonder what it was like to feel complete. I was, in that moment, by all means…infinite.
So I’ve come to understand many things with this whole writing and going viral business. I read on a blog somewhere that you can be really good at what you do but writing is lately like high school and that it’s about who can shout the loudest. Not about who can write the best. I did that shouting into the Internet void and hoping to hit a gold mine thing. I did hit a few good shots and got published in lesser known places but it was not enough for me. I can’t self promote unless it’s absolutely essential. So I waited patiently for WordPress to come through for me, knowing that the odds were way too many. I think this happened to me at such a promising and beautiful time in my life and that instead of it being the sole reason for my joy – as I had initially hoped – it only adds to the pre-existing happiness in my life.
I believe that posts like this, are not going to be too frequent here. They take something out of me and I can only put so much of my life up on public display. I am afraid that one day I will have exhausted all of my personal experiences and that will be the end of it. I was bothered before because hardly anyone was reading my blog, now I’m on the opposite side and I’m still troubled. I patiently spoke to everyone who left their precious comments on my blog because you only get to bask in the sun so much and also because while it’s shining you mustn’t forget to make hay. I said to them that readers like them make everything possible. And it’s true.
Last night, I cried because this is my life now and it’s absolutely beautiful.
Sometimes you wish for something so hard and then it actually comes true. Has that happened to you? Against countless odds and still, your wish actually came true. Does it count as being lucky or should you be careful about hitching your hopes up too high? I’ve been thinking these thoughts for a while now. I’ve been thinking so much about it and I’ve also been trying not to think at all.
So much has happened since the last time I was here, blogger friends. So. Much. Where do I start from and how do I explain any of this? I am not sure. But I want to take it one step at a time. Keep my emotions in check. Make sure I’m not borrowing more happiness than I deserve to have in my share.
I can’t write like I used to. I’m putting that out there so you can decide whether to read further. This will be another of those journal style entries and while I could’ve just used my diary I cannot risk anyone laying their hands on these thoughts, again. I can, however, trust people I’ve never met. It’s something I do effortlessly.
I remember reaching a point in my life where I kept telling myself that if a particular thing was possible, I would do this and if this particular thing happened then I could do that and the conditions and clauses were infinite. I remember that life had become monotonous only running on that little proverbial speck of light at the far end of the dark tunnel. An endless pile of possibilities while I sunk down deeper and deeper and pretended I was fine – hopeful even. I did everything that was asked of me and I remember all too well – even though I wished I didn’t – what I received in return.
But now it’s time to forget everything I remember.
Maybe someday when I want to go back and experience pain and disappointment and need to write something of the sort I can resurface those memories. Maybe someday they’ll actually be useful.
But not now. Not when I’m this happy. Not when I’m finally getting everything I’ve wanted for so long.
I was on the phone with a friend the other day and I told him, “Everything worked out. This is really happening.”
He replied, “I’m actually happy for you.”
I said, “…okay, thank you?”, not sure about the tone in his voice.
He clarified, “I’m never really happy for anyone but I mean it, I’m happy for you.”
And I said to him, and to myself, really, “Everything is perfect except my writing. I can’t write.” I took a pause and added, “Though I’ve been reading a lot.”
He and I discussed it a bit more but I couldn’t make sense of it and changed the topic soon enough.
I think about writing a lot. More than I actually write I spend hours on end thinking about it. The words float around in my mind and it’s my personal heaven right there. Writing was what helped me and writing was what brought me ashore and it was writing that ultimately led me to the best things in my life. It’s hard to bring up anything else to par with it. Yet, I told my friend quickly that I was reading a lot and it wasn’t me trying to backpedal. When I can’t write, I read. Is that supposed to be some sort of consolation to the sad fact that my writing is no good? Does that even come close? I’m not sure if that makes sense. If my reading compensates for the part of my life where I’m unable to write well, is it a much truer love than writing?
Maybe going back to a repressed memory will help me understand.
When I was younger I started reading, collecting and hoarding books while children my age were going out and being social after school hours. Sometimes I remember being asked how I had spent my evening and I realized that the response was the same, every time. With my books. I grew up with words more than I did with people my age. I grew up in different times and different places through the escape provided in the book realm, obviously I felt no need to go anywhere. When I reached an age where subtle romance and other emotional references in books started making sense, I desired to write them down for keeps. I picked up sentences and emotions behind them and started jotting them down as I read them. I wanted to come back to these words and inspect them when the time was right and when I felt the way the characters in the books did. I knew better to keep these notes and pages concealed because my mother would not have been pleased to find them. The reasons for which are so fragile, so complicated and difficult to make anyone understand especially if they haven’t met her. However, soon enough she found the pages.
The scribbles of words and expressions of emotions so much more mature and deep than she expected I was reading. I remember sitting frozen as she put on her glasses and read each and every thing and glanced up at me once with an expression that guaranteed me that I was in a lot of trouble. Who would’ve thought reading and wanting to preserve what you read would be such a heinous crime? I couldn’t think that way then. As far as I knew, I was so scared at what would happen next I couldn’t move a muscle, afraid that I’d wet myself. (I had poor bladder control when I was younger.) While she read through all of them, handling the pages with no care whatsoever, I knew something inside me broke. It was over. Years later I understood reading was my first love. The heartbreak I felt when she stood up, tore the pages into bits and pieces and burned them on the stove will never equal to anything any mortal being has made me feel. In that moment I knew, I didn’t need to copy things other writers wrote. Because my mother would find them and throw them away and probably stop me from reading completely. Which she did, for a while. (Though, I started reading secretly at school again and no one really stopped me there.)
I wasn’t reading anything forbidden but I wonder what my mother thought I was going to do with words. She knew, probably, that words have unprecedented power. I then read books and tried to mark subtle dots in between alphabets and scratches on pages that I wanted to go back to. I then read books and memorized things in my mind because I knew my mother couldn’t get inside my head and tear up my memory. And then suddenly, it came to me that I didn’t have to depend on someone else’s words. I didn’t have to hide and read books when I could one day, write my own.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been so unimaginably happy but I couldn’t come back here to establish that on my blog. I’ve come here in the past and ranted and shared my apprehensions so many times. I’ve even had to leave this place and come back with a different identity and conceal parts of me after that, but I’ve always been around. Is writing about happiness really all that difficult? Why is my writing so afraid of being found out? Am I really never going to be able to write anything good enough and always hide myself behind this anonymity? Was my mother only trying to protect me from eventually realizing my inadequacies, the portent of failures to come? Then again, as Rita Brown rightly put it, “A writer’s life is not designed to reassure your mother.”
A few weeks back I finished Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking and my life was put back into perspective. I thought to myself, “I’m glad I can’t write. I’m glad my writing isn’t good enough now because I can appreciate her words so much better. I can see that her sentences are so fluid and so perfect and her thoughts are untainted by the way other people think and express themselves.” I could connect to how Didion felt the pain of being separated from her husband, also a writer. I felt tears of tremendous joy pour down my face when John, her husband, read out a passage of her book for her on her birthday and after closing the book he said, “Goddamn. Don’t ever tell me you can’t write. That’s my birthday present to you.” I reeled over when Didion expressed the fact that it took her a year after John’s sudden death to realize he’s not coming back. I took excerpts of various pages of this book as I read it and sent them to the person I love, also a writer. I was able to explain, in whatever way I needed to satisfy myself, to another person how words move me and how I connect with them. This person has, on several occasions made me realize that my love for words, for books, for book people, for random internet writers is completely sane. He said once, and I quote, “I will champion your literary appetite’s every whim.” To be able to simply share pages with someone of a book I lived vicariously through is a joy I can’t see being compared to anything else and I couldn’t have done it if I was immersed in my writing.
I think that sometimes you spend your entire life searching for people who understand you and then you find someone who does and everyone else in your life suddenly starts falling short to this standard. I explained to my friend that leaving home like this does not affect me because in my heart and mind I had already left this place long back. People ask me if I’m going to miss them and while I know that I will go back and think of them sometimes, I will reminisce and recall fondly moments with them that made me who I am today but I will not be able to imagine going back just for the sake of those things. Home was a place I never fit in fully. Although I was sure that one day I would leave, the difference is I was not sure if I’d have anywhere to come back to. I read somewhere an odd poem of sorts which went along the lines:
How to be unloved
Lose all family,
By chance or by coincidence…
I think about those words now and I wonder if it was chance or coincidence or it was something else entirely. Destiny, maybe? I told my friend that there comes a point in life when for better or for worse a family is finished. I guess finding a safe place in someone’s heart is enough family anyone can need. And finding someone that inspires your writing, someone that respects it and believes in it even when you can’t find the courage to do so, enough love anyone can need.
“You’re my Person,” is a line I’ve said to three people in my life and meant it from the core of my being. While I can argue at length with anyone what being someone’s Person actually means I will also admit that it is obviously a borrowed idea from a TV show.
Newsflash: Nothing original about that.
The word ‘Person’ always meant something to me I couldn’t quite elucidate properly. The word in plural meant even more. Persons who knew how to use it in a sentence so as to effectively emphasize that we’re not just talking about Ordinary People always had my salute of respect. Metaphorically. We don’t salute anyone anymore nowadays.
Ultimately my concept of a Person was truly defined by a show and the way it was applied in the lives of fictional beings.
If I could ask for one wish for the betterment of everyday lives, it would be less pop culture influence on our minds and a more individualistic approach to the daily aspects of living. When I won’t be granted that one wish, I would ask for time travel to go back to the ’90s. The beautiful, ephemeral, subtle 1990s. The time when the world was on a precipice of change but not quite there yet. When pop culture was not something our lives depended on, and our face-to-face interactions comprised of inchoate words and sentences that we came up with. On our own. By thinking.
When I woke up this morning and decided to write, I paused and wondered if I was seriously doing this again. Another article to justify I’m different and very clever and a cut above the rest. But the truth is, I am not.
I’m just a nobody like everyone else searching for some kind of semblance and resemblance in a world of fiction and make-believe. I’ve realized that being your own Person is such an uphill task and we’d all rather use fiction to escape than head up that road of discovery about who we truly are.
Does it not terrify you when you meet someone new and you’re not sure if they are actually what they look and talk like? I always am. Because suddenly, we have all become sum totals of the sitcoms we devour every Friday night, the indie movies we binge-watch over the weekends and the young adult novels we bury our noses in. When did ‘you’re not alone’ somehow culminate into ‘let us all be the same’?
Ideas are borrowed from all of these media. Sometimes deliberately. Most of the time, subconsciously. We throw ourselves into these independent realms of escape hoping that we’ll come out new and refined and more knowledgeable, somehow. We come out not with new but simply borrowed, secondhand personalities.
What adds to this visceral way of life, is the kind of boost social media provides to our self-inflated egos. “What Game of Thrones Character are you? Click here to find out.” Why, of course, knowing that I have something in common with an on-screen persona would absolutely make my day. That’s not all. Maybe I should answer the quiz in a way that will ensure I’m most likely to be the Mother of Dragons. Swoon.
Then there are certain other kinds of motivators. “Ask yourself what would XYZ do?” I know more than a handful of naive people who are blind enough to worship these characters to a point that they dictate their every move. What they don’t realize is, that is the reel world. It has a definite ending which, in all likelihood, has already been thought of and anything the characters now do however morally right or wrong is only a step towards a pre-decided conclusion. Applying those things to your life (without considering these factors) is not an indication of how well you think you know and connect with the characters. Trust me, it’s far from that.
Let’s skip over to the part where we decide that reading listicles on Thought Catalog will guide us on how “How To Be A Great Girlfriend”. As ridiculous as it seems, we are all guilty of clicking on these links and mentally ticking check boxes to see how well we’re doing. The kind of validation that is expected in relationships these days simply seems to revolve around the one that social media and movies have imprinted on our minds. Suddenly, everyone’s definition of a perfect romance is a beautiful guy called Augustus Waters telling you that he loves you (in spite of your cancer, and all) and that he knows love is only a shout into the void and we will all be blown away into oblivion eventually. If someone were to profess their love to me like that I’m not sure I would be in a position to believe them. Much less hold myself back from barfing in their face.
I’m not an unhappy person. Nor am I any less of a romantic at heart, it’s just that my idea of love stems from a connection that is original and unique to the two people involved and not a by-product of a fictional story.
When I was younger I always took it upon myself to do things differently. Whether it was a simple assignment, a group effort or even a formal essay. My parents always told me that it was very easy to get swayed by the crowd and lose myself and they took it upon themselves to ingrain that in the very core of my bones. The obstacles you face along the way of being ‘different’ are never-ending. When I reached a stage where I had to adjust my personality to fit in I saw that all the lessons taught to me made no sense. I was very sharp in my mind but weak in my heart. If I did what everyone else did, if I (pretended to) enjoy what they enjoyed, it was actually somewhat of a win-win. On the surface, at least.
When you strive your hardest to be someone you’re not, you will always find yourself unhappy and I stepped out of that disguise soon enough.
While we can all fuel our addictions and interests, what I believe is that moderation is the key. When you step out of the world that is inhabited by the characters you so adore, learn to leave it behind and move on with your life. Realize that just twenty six letters of the English alphabet when arranged and rearranged into words and sentences and the permutations-combinations of writing something original are actually infinite. Maybe you won’t have to complain anymore that all good writing has already been written and done for. That statement in itself should prove how powerful originality can be and the scope of it is unbounded.
All of these facets have the usual pros and cons, two sides to every coin and every other possible adage that you can conjure. You can tell me that the pop culture influence has only brought the world closer, that it is one of the shining victories of globalization and that it unites us when we discover similar interests with another human from another part of the world, it provides fodder for a conversation and is so much better than small talk. But when you’re liked or disliked depending upon the kind of media you’re interested in, when you are basically judged because of the views you uphold about a story that is most often far from reality, when you decide that indulging in a particular activity is for the sole reason of not being left behind, whether globalization or any other heavy term, not being a Person anymore is not a price I’m willing to pay.