37 years around the sun

I am right now thousands of miles up in the sky somewhere between Indonesia and Malaysia. Depending on when I publish this post, I might be close to, or already 37 years old. Why is my age being mentioned here? Be patient and read on. I make extensive “To do lists”. Daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually. I am not kidding. I really do. They are not your regular, “Pay electricity bill” or “Buy groceries”. Of course, the daily and weekly ones do have these mentioned (not the bills, they are auto debited :P) But, my long term lists have goals and targets that I want to achieve in that given period. For eg: “Learn how to swim” has been featuring continuously for more than 15 years now. 🙈

So twice a year, during my birthday and new year’s I go through this list again. Checking, striking off and sometimes even adding things I gained/learnt but weren’t an original part of my list. As these two dates fall not too far apart, they are a source of great anxiety for me.

As I am high up in the sky, I look at my list for 2019. Look at the paltry number of targets met and sheepishly add some new ones for 2020. “Learn how to swim” is still sitting there because till I am confident enough to jump in a pool or a water body without any concern for it’s depth (doesn’t mean I intend to be foolish and jump in the ocean, off a boat) I wouldn’t consider myself successful. I am known to be too self-critical and with sometimes unreasonably high expectations from myself, which constantly leads to high pressure situations and hence the anxiety. 

Just like most years, I sit thinking of all the other things that went on. The highs, the lows, the plus the minus, the gains and the losses. I started this year at my emotionally, physically and mentally worst. I barely weighed 40 kilos, had physical and emotional injuries I was dealing with and was in and out of therapy. I believed I was absolutely done for.

Even if this year seems to be one of the hardest ones I have gone through, it is also the year I have been the happiest (in sum) in a long long time. Why this change? Why am I not anxious and worried about everything that has gone wrong and all the clear difficulties that are coming up ahead? What did I learn? What did I see?

  1. I am humbled: I always believed, very strongly that I had a good sense and judgement of people. That I knew the rights ones and the wrongs. I learnt the hard way that I wasn’t as smart and sharp as I wanted to believe. I could be extremely gullible and a fool in certain situations. After months of heartbreak, anger and hate I felt humbled. Humbled to see myself as someone who made mistakes. A lot of them. Again and again. Humbled to see this person who needs a lot of work to become the one I would want to. Humbled to put in the hard work and patience for a long time to get to that place.
  • I accept who I am: The anger and hatred I felt was projected more on myself than the cause for my pain. Angry with myself for not seeing what was going on. Disbelief that I could be so blind. Hatred for refusing to accept the truth for so long. Understanding finally that, I let that happen. I valued myself only as much as I could love and provide for others. I was too busy trying to love myself by showering love on others. I spent my time and attention on people, trying to rescue them, fix them, nurture them and support them. And hoping, this would make me like myself more. This is me psychoanalyzing myself. My therapist and I joke, that for the amount of therapy I have gone through, I should probably get a diploma. Like my friend Aishu said, “We always love ourselves the last.” I decided it was time to love myself now. Genuinely. Not by buying clothes, going out for drinks, dinners or on holidays or all the other superficial things we do. I choose to love myself by accepting wholly who I am. The good, the bad and the extremely ugly.
  • I am grateful: The proverb, “ Hard times always reveals true friends.” says it how it really is. When you go through a difficult time, when you are facing hardships, look around you. The people standing by you, are your real friends. Not the ones you spend your time with and not the ones you share your secrets with. It’s the ones who choose to share your sorrow and give their time to give you strength. Sometimes, these people aren’t part of your inner circle. Sometimes they aren’t even people you would consider sharing your feelings with. While I was hurt to not see the faces I expected to be there for me, I was astonished and elated to see the ones I didn’t expect. Apart from a lot of friends near and far who stood by me, checked on me and showered all their love (You all know who you are and I am forever grateful to you), there were people I can’t define my relationship with. My friend’s mother; wait. That person cannot be defined as my friend anymore but still, their mother was one of these people. It’s not like I am a close family friend, or someone who has spent a lot of time or has a deep connection with her. I am extremely fond of her, but I was also just another friend of their child. I tear up everytime I think about it, like right now. Despite being just one of the (probably) 100s of friends of their child, she reached out to me when I was going through a difficult time. Put an effort to make things better for me. (Oh god! I am sniffling and sobbing at the departure gate! People are staring! But then again, nothing I am not used to. :P) And for people like these, I am grateful. I choose to not focus on the hurt on being abandoned by the ones I depended on, but focus on the ones who sheltered me. I will be eternally indebted to them.
  • Who loves me?: As humans we tend to chase after things we want and like, irrespective of whether they would be good for us. Run after things that give us instant gratification, make us feel good about ourselves. And in this race, like a horse with blinders, we don’t notice the ones running after us. Makes for a really funny and sad picture. We choose to value ourselves based on how these people “we want or love” reciprocate our feelings. I am not just talking about romantic love. It’s all. Love for friends, (maybe some) family members and even maybe that job, or a certain way we look. We always desire what we don’t have. By doing this, we disrespect the people who have chosen to love us. Honestly, you don’t learn till you have been on the receiving end. So now finally, most importantly, I choose to celebrate these people. People who love me! And how can I not love back someone who does that? That friend who calls me up when they see my text to be out of my usual chirpy self, that one who sits and hears me rant, sob and spell out what I feel, that one who is thousands of miles away but shows me the reality without any judgement, that one who accepts and loves me even if we see each other once in a couple of years. That one who shares their joys and achievements with me. My beautiful family who have loved and supported me throughout! Years and years of loving me? Telling you, they need an award! 😛 And that lady who looks out for me even if I am a nobody. I choose to cherish these people. I choose to celebrate them and love them and try my best to be as beautiful as they are.

And this would go into my “To do list” for 2020.