From the beginning
I was born and raised in India. Growing up in India is beautiful and I have many happy memories about my childhood. But looking back I also always felt like I was in a race. Society in India is extremely competitive. No wonder: given the amount of people living there! Just like any other asian parents my parents wanted me to be successful in life: achieve good grades in school, get into a good University and become an engineer, lawyer, doctor or something like that. The Indian education system is focussed on being successful and is known for putting a lot of pressure on students. The underlying feeling is that if you have a good education, you will get a good job, you will be successful and then you will be happy.
Welcome to the race
So obviously I started my education. But instead of growing and developing myself, I felt that I got further and further away from myself. Instead of being curious and creative and experiencing life I felt sad, lonely and exhausted. It seemed like everyone around me only cared about my grades and whether I would fit into the expectations of what they wanted me to become.
Since I was a child, I always remember deeply caring for the people around me and wanting to see them be happy. So no matter the loneliness, exhaustion or the pressure I felt, I put in the hours and made sure to deliver what was expected. So that the closest people around me would feel happy, I had no different way of looking at my life since this was all I knew. So I girded my way through my school and ended up in the Netherlands for my university degree.
A new country, same me!
Even though I was in a different country, my main goal was to finish my university with good grades and get a Job, which would make my parents proud and happy. Throughout my university years I met some great people along the way, some who stayed in my life and some who did not. But talking & connecting to them gave me a very particular feeling, a feeling which said “Do you even know who you are or why do you even do the things you do”. I started realising that some parts of me were missing or maybe not found yet.
I remember how passionately people would talk about their dreams, adventures, traveling experiences. Or talk about these crazy experiences they have lived through, or tell me about how they have met someone special and are having this amazing time getting to know one another.
Falling on all fours
And I wanted that, not just the experiences or the relationships but the passion they had for who they were. Even though their lives were not perfect it felt like they were still content or happy enough. All these relaization were really confronting and painful to accept. Thinking about the years of tears, sweat and hard work I had put into myself to do well in school, but none of that made me happy. It’s tough to find yourself, I mean where do you even start.
I couldn’t relate to anyone, the pressure for all the things I had to do, the expectations of my parents I had to hold up…… they all got to me and so I crumbled, my foundation broke, and I fell face flat onto the ground. This is when I realized that I actually abandoned myself way back when I was a kid to make others happy. Not having my own Identity but taking on what other people wanted me to become. I had no goal of my own, no purpose and no direction other than study all the time.
Returning to Myself
So I started again, step by step building myself. By understanding who I am, and discovering my own internal thoughts and feelings. Discovering the importance of being truly connected with other people and finding back my creativity, energy and joy. Instead of doing what others wanted slowly thinking and feeling about what I wanted. I started spending more time with myself, taking care of myself, and stopped listening to that inner critic who would constantly shamed or guilted me for doing things my way.
I found new ways of dealing with my feelings, understanding how my body and mind react to certain triggers and events around me. Slowly but surely I started recognizing and liking the parts of who I was becoming. Since then I believe that even when life can seem extremely difficult, you still can’t give up on yourself. I am happy that I tried and I am sincerely happy to meet the people that helped me connect with myself again.