I was a child back then. Whenever my cousins would visit, I would try to act like them. I would try to be like them. I would eat with a fork and a spoon because they did so. I would say that I love basketball, despite having never played the sport. I would make up phoney stories to show how I was as cool as they were. I would even say that I was an ardent fan of Ronaldo. Back then I didn’t even know what sport this guy played. All I knew was that my cousins were all into him and so I would play along.
When I would go to school, again I would try to lower my pants below the waist. Why? Because the so-called “Cool dudes” of the class preferred that. They would sport haircuts called “Spikes” and apply hair gel. So, how could I have stayed back? I wanted to be a part of the gang, so I did that as well. Imagine a five-foot douche with a paunch and spikes on his head. No doubt everyone other than Maa used to chortle when I would pass by. Alas, I could not see that then.
Even when I was studying in Kota preparing for engineering entrances, I would tell people that I had been into a relationship before and had to break up as she didn’t think we could work out a long-distance rendezvous. Why? Because there was this other guy in the group whom everyone admired, and he too had a girlfriend. I would just try to be like others all the time. No doubt those guys don’t even talk to me anymore. After all, they had never really formed a bond with real me. Yet, if anyone of you guys is reading this, I am damn sorry!
All through this journey of life hitherto I joined College could be elucidated in a nutshell as follows-
I would always try to figure out interests and agendas of the people around me. I would then play along. I would try to play that agenda. I would impersonate those interests that would please the people around me and glean some traction. I would work hard to emulate their interests. However, despite endless attempts, I failed miserably every single time. But, I never stopped doing that and kept trying to be a part of the best clans wherever I went. Result- I failed oft-repeatedly. I ended up disgruntled.
The aforementioned scenario would keep on repeating itself again and again until I took cognizance of a fact. After all these years of trying to be someone else, I had forgotten what being myself was like. I was having a hard time being myself. I didn’t have any idea of how to achieve that. I had lost myself in the pursuit to please others and attract attention earning a litany of failures.
Who am I? I asked myself. And, I had no answer. But, slowly I came up with a definition. I told myself- “I am a spark of soul packed in a bag of skin held together by bones and blood.” Okay, who am I kidding! I am not that creative. At least not yet. I stole that line from author James Altucher. But, I do believe that it’s the aptest definition of a human.
In fact, we are all the same. Different sparks of souls packed up in bags made of skin. Some a little darker, some a little lighter than the others. There is no other difference. And it was then that gold struck my mind. To be a better version of self, I realized that there is a simple process which I need to follow. It’s the same as body building. Before the reader shouts, “Where did body building pop out of!” let me elucidate my point.
When Arnold Schwarzenegger built an iron cladded rock solid body, he practised on a daily basis. He would toil hard in the gym. Rigorous exercising and lifting lots and lots of weights was a daily ritual for this man. He would follow specific diets to ensure that his body eats only what is good and not what is tempting. Rather than observing on how others in the gym were trying to build themselves, he believed in himself and did what suited him the best. Result? Arnold built a masterful body that won him the fabled titles of Mr Universe and Mr Olympia multiple times!
I knew what I had to do. I had to stop looking at others and observing their agendas. I had to start focusing on myself like Arnold did. I had to only let in the things that can augment my understanding of self. In a teeny tiny nutshell- All I had to do was to ensure that I have the strongest bag to hold my soul. And, to have a strong bag, I had to work on it. How? I had to practice being me. Every time my mind would veer me off to live by someone else’s agendas, I had to stop myself. I had to supplant my own self over it. I had to choose myself over all others around me.
And, I began to do it. I would try to be myself and act normal. I would end up saying things that others would like to hear. Then, I would again pull myself back and practice again. Over and over again. Then, again. And, it went on that way. And with regular practice of being myself, I became witness to change that I had yearned for long. I was becoming a man of my own character. Someone who would present to others what he is and not what they wish to see.
My bag of skin was finally strong enough to hold my soul. The principles and tenets I followed during the practice had moulded me into the perfect person that I wished to become. I had finally stopped feeling the innate desire to please others. Why? Because I was confident about myself. Because I had become habitual to being myself and not acting anymore. I had by now realized that I am a masterpiece crafted by myself and I need not showcase anything else to the world.
And, that’s how I became confident about myself.
Be it anxiety while talking to a stranger, or be it giving a speech in front of a hundred people, the problem is same. Some say that its lack of confidence. Some say that they are shy. Some others say that they aren’t meant to do these things. However, the truth is that in all of those cases, we are simply not habitual to being ourselves. We simply aren’t sure about how to present ourselves and how to act. As a result, we feel unnerved in such situations.
I took that stance almost two and a half years back before joining College. I pledged to myself that I have pleased others enough. It’s time to choose myself over others and make myself happier. I was determined that no matter what I would not succumb to anyone else’s agendas and I pretty much lived up to my commitment. The result is that I have grown natural to myself and nothing seems unknown about self anymore.
Just in case there is the slightest chance that the reader feels that they too have been acting, it’s time to bloom and spread your own bliss around. Life is great that way. Also, just in case the reader feels that the writer (I) is an eccentric person who writes kooky stuff, I apologize and hopefully my future works would spark some interest in you.