By S Sandhu
Artwork by Trisha Srivastava
You. The word that we use to refer to another individual. The word often refers to a living, breathing, feeling human being or animal. In a world where we constantly criticize ourselves and hold ourselves to others’ standards of success, of aesthetic beauty and of mental resilience. This blog is dedicated to how, as an individual, are more than enough. You are meant to be who you are, the way you are, however you are. The comparisons to other human beings, to their successes and achievements, to what defines happiness, prevents the development of self-compassion and care. It disconnects us from ourselves, who we are and who we are capable of becoming, not for the world to see but for us to feel within.
Enough... is not a word we use often in the context of our lives in this modern world. Many Of our days go by in ruminating over the tasks we still need to do, places we still need to go and goals that we still need to accomplish. I’ve spent many many days oscillating between either ‘“I am not doing enough” to live the life that I want or that ‘‘I don’t have enough to be living the life I want”. Be it money, time, health, friends, family, or mental and physical health, we are conditioned to think that we never have enough to be ‘truly happy’ until we achieve, attain or accomplish certain things. There is always something missing, something more to be achieved, more growth to be experienced. There is always something more we can do or have, to achieve the state of pure bliss that we have been conditioned to think is something that is sold to us, or comes from an external source.
A Time For Introspection
Two years into the Covid-19 pandemic and the lessons just keep on coming. While it has been a tough battle of being in relentless survival mode and copious coping, there have been many silver linings as well. In the last two years, the one person I could not avoid or distance myself from in this pandemic was myself.
Amid lockdowns, losing my job, being separated from friends and family in a new country, recurrent anxiety and chronic pain, I found myself looking around and finding no one to help get me through this experience or solve my multitude of problems.
Yes, it helped to connect with people via phone and video but no one could actually solve those problems for me. While it was a rude awakening that instigated a lot of denial and anger at first, slowly but surely, things started to turn around for me. I soon realized that whatever the circumstances, the only person I could rely on to make a real difference in my life, was myself. Whether it was working on my thoughts, attitude or actions, it was only me who could really help me.
I started off with the cliches at first...the meditation, the self-help books, the self-care through epsom salt baths or long walks in nature and spending more time with myself. Of course, it helped that the pandemic did not allow me any other option but to keep on going, even on the bad days. It helped to know the world was at a standstill anyway, so I wasn’t missing out on much in the external world, by trying to go within (yes, fomo is real!). At some point though, I started to enjoy the process more and focusing on the results less. Slowly but surely, I started to enjoy my own company and getting to know myself. This time, it wasn’t about finding myself in order to achieve a greater external goal. It was simply being curious about my own self, and finding joy in having discovered something new about myself without an “agenda”. And there it was….the realization that cliches are called cliches for a reason because sometimes they work, and that too, universally. I found a way to be content with myself and my life in a way that I am excited for the future but can be in the present, without worry. I found that if I allowed myself to, I could find immense pleasure in having a cup of tea on my balcony, while listening to my favourite song. I found that when I stop obsessing about how to make my life better, it automatically feels better.
Finding Solace and Purpose
Ultimately, we all want to achieve our goals as soon as we can, so we can kick back and relax for a moment. I realized that I can actually do that every day, without feeling like I have to have accomplished some herculean task in order to savour a relaxing moment by myself. If I must focus on achievements, I can choose to think about how far I have come rather than how far I have yet to go. Eventually, the chronic pain did get much better, I am back to work, the anxiety is more manageable because of all the internal work I have done in the past year and I look forward to spending time with friends and family. I realized, however, that during this time I enjoyed the simple things and my own company so much more than any other time of my life, even though it was one of the most challenging and isolating phases of my life.
I have learned that ultimately, it is only me who truly knows myself, only I can make myself happy and content. Only I decide what my idea of success is and how I choose to work at achieving that. Only I choose what I and who I surround myself with. Only I get to decide what is right for me, despite what the world says, because that changes all the time, anyway. The only constant is that only I can solve my problems and for that matter, I can also create them by ignoring these cliches of life! They are only cliches until you actually experience them in some way or the other. It is always easier said than done and to truly experience it, you have to take on the sometimes uncomfortable path of learning to be there for yourself, first and foremost. Once you figure that out, it becomes easier to accept the biggest cliche of them all, that ‘you, are enough!’
We are all unique individuals with different paths of life, and yet there is something that connects us, the fact that we are human, we all breathe air to live, we all take each breath without worrying about where the next one is coming from. We trust that feeling without ever doubting it. Similarly, the one person you can rely on, without doubting, is you and you are all you need to fulfil the purpose of your life.