Hi. My name is Nandita Singh, and this is my scattered story. Short broken excerpts from my life spent in school, at home, and now in college, that attempt to make sense of the chaos in my heart. I just wanted you to know that even when the world seems like it will swallow you up whole, always remember that you are not, and will never be, alone.
There is time yet, to restart, to change direction, and to find yourself again. This is just the beginning my friend, the prologue before the main event, so buckle your seat belts, take your places, and enjoy the show.
Don’t give up just yet, don’t lose the naive ambition that accompanies youth, the electrifying excitement and the natural high, don’t lose any of it. There will be many years for retrospection, for regret, for second guessing your decisions, but we haven’t gotten there yet. Imagine what 50 would feel like, if being 20 feels like this. If we feel so old, so jaded and so tired already, then what is old age for? So stop with the worrying and the sadness, and just believe that it will all work out.
Believe, have faith, have hope and anticipation. Be excited about the world and the life that you’re going to live in it. The places you’re going to go, the people you’re going to meet and the stories you will make together. The stars under a night sky, the setting sun, the chill of the water on your feet as you walk down the beach, the nightingale’s song, a tiring trek, adrenaline, sweat, laughter, joy, tears, hugs, passion, romance, sisterhood and friendship. There’s so much life to be lived yet, so stop wasting it with thoughts of death. So dream a little, wander the world and love with all your heart.
Don’t you wish someone would carry you just for a little while? That you had someone to take all the nightmares away, to hug away all your fears and stand with you through stormy weather. An anchor for your wounded soul and a hand to pick you up off the floor. Sometimes I think that my friends would back away if they saw me fall in a crowd. That they would run in the opposite direction if they heard the things I think and understood the things I am capable of doing. It’s instinctual to want to protect yourself, to shield your own face against shattering glass and run at the first sign of danger. But once, just once, I wish that my friends, my best friends, my only friends, would at least try to save me.
It gets really lonely at night. It gets really quiet and calm, and when there is nothing to distract you from the life that you are living, you begin to feel the emptiness in your heart and the weight on your lungs. I want to close my eyes and know that I am not alone. Believe with every fibre of my being that there are people in this world that love me, people that will take my trust and hold on to it. Protect my secrets and cover my scars. People that will always be on my team. But when I close my eyes and attempt to look into the abyss that is my life, I find no one. I don’t find my mother or father, my brother or my friends. I find nothing but more emptiness. A darkness that has slowly become implacable, and an inherent loneliness that is ingrained so deep within my soul that I fear I have almost completely lost the ability to feel loved.
Sometimes I wonder why I’m even alive. For whom am I breathing in this polluted air and for whom am I waking up in the morning? It becomes difficult to live just for yourself sometimes. And in that moment, you realise that you are thinking of death. You realise that you are seventeen and you are thinking of death. And then you get scared and so you stop. You wake up the next morning, just as you have always been doing, and you hope and pray that today will be different, but when 3am comes around and you’re alone in your room, your mind goes back to the lure of oblivion and you realise that you’re thinking of death again. Such is life.
I do not understand it now, but I know I will when I’m older, when this understanding itself becomes redundant, because we never quite learn a lesson until it’s too late, until we have no choice but to pick ourselves off the floor and carry on. In this moment, I may be alone, but I am alive. I am a flawed, broken, and beautiful human being, and I think I owe myself the potential of tomorrow. As my seven year old self looks up into the stars with bright and eager eyes, she knows that someday she will belong in the sky with the rest of them. Let me fight to make sure she becomes the brightest star in the darkness of the night, the guiding light that gives direction to lone travellers, telling them that even though the road ahead is a difficult one, and that the horizon seems impossibly out of their reach, all they need to do is look up and realise, that no matter where they go, they will never be alone.
“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” E. E. Cummings
How can you be standing in the middle of a crowd, surrounded by your friends and those who supposedly love you and still feel so heart achingly lonely? How can you still feel this painful yearning for a life that you think you’ve been denied, for a friend you might never find and for lips that you might never kiss? There’s a sorrow I feel, a permanent mourning for the horizon I will never chase and it refuses to go away. It’s as if I miss someone, or something. I’m restless and unsatisfied, always wanting, always dreaming. We’re all looking for something we’ll never find, because it doesn’t exist to be found in the first place. Happiness you see is not a discovery one can stumble upon; a cave of light, a fortress of satisfaction, a treasure chest of smiles; it’s not something that is waiting to be found. Happiness is an action, it is an active pursuit, a feeling that must be chased not searched for.
Are you afraid? Are you sometimes overcome with an incomprehensible fear, a paralysing insecurity that you’ve forgotten something acutely important, and that this abstract world with its inherent contradictions will never truly be understood by you? See, there’s no need to be afraid, I feel it too. This causeless fear, this undeserved guilt is an experience shared by all of us, and if you’re one of the few that succeeds to avoid it, then congratulations, you’ve passed life.
So this is my anthem for the underdog. To all the revolutionaries, the misfits, the unread writers, the rebels, the hidden artists, the shy and the unconventional, I salute you. For those that walk the halls with their heads down, hide their faces behind the covers of books, and stand small so that others may stand tall, this is my advice to you: stop. Just stop and look around, and trust me, all that you will see are other people. People, with their own set of flaws, fears and insecurities that they work through every day, just like you. If I have learnt anything in my fourteen years here, then it’s that you can’t let other people define the terms of your happiness. You have to stop waiting and hoping for something to change, because there isn’t any external divine force guiding and determining your life. It’s not fate or destiny or predetermined outcomes, it’s always you and only you. The minute you stop wishing and start doing, is the minute your causeless fear and undeserved guilt will vanish, because then and only then will you realise that your life is your own, and only you get to write your story.
There is a world out there, built just for you and me. One in which we did everything we ever wanted to do, said everything we ever wanted to say and were so unafraid of the world with its judgement and expectation that we didn’t waste a single moment in hesitation, but rather filled our life with moments of fearless honesty and unashamed courage. I know it’s just school, but more often than not, it’s here that we catch a glimpse of who we’re going to be. So make this world the one you never regret, and hopefully one day, I’ll join you.
I was scared that if I got too happy then I wouldn’t be sad anymore, and if I wasn’t sad then I wouldn’t be able to write anything. I would have found no words if I looked within myself, no sentences to express what I was feeling because I wasn’t feeling anything at all.
There’s an emptiness now, a distinct loss of weight and worry. The problem is that I don’t know whether to be relieved or further worried. It’s like one of those days when you go to school with no bag on you because you don’t need to carry your books. Although you’re aware of this fact, you can’t help but feel a certain panic when you look at your arm, as if you’ve forgotten something really important, or somehow misplaced the bag you were never carrying. So you look down and left and right before you realize that there was nothing to forget in the first place. That’s how I feel, uncomfortably naked. As if I’ve lost something, even though there was nothing really to lose.
I wanted this weight to be goner, wanted to feel empty of the heaviness. Then why is it that, when I’ve finally got what I always wanted, am I wishing it back? No, I’m not hoping it comes back. I would never ever wish for it, it was horrible. I just think that I’m not used to not feeling. It’s a strange feeling, leaving me uneasy and anxious. I’m paranoid and vigilant, watching and waiting for all the pressure to come rushing back.
I’m just holding my breath, wondering how long it’ll take for my knees to crumble and the tears to spill. It always came back, always, and I can’t convince myself that it’ll be different this time. It can’t be. I’m not meant to be happy, it’s not in my blueprint. It’s just not how I’m wired. This isn’t my skin, these aren’t my lungs and this isn’t my sunshine; it’s borrowed, stolen, kidnapped, and soon enough, I’m going to have to pay the price.
It feels weird being happy. Everything was done today, for the first time in my life; everything is ready. My saree is in place, the blouse is being picked up tomorrow. I have shoes; although I’m second guessing that decision at the moment they are shoes nonetheless and I have them. It’s all set, and I think that it’s going to work out. My pre-boards are over, my projects are done and I have a free month now. Everything just seems okay right now you know. I’ve oiled my hair, glad I remembered to do that. I’m going for a movie tomorrow at a hall which happens to be five minutes away from the boutique that’s making my blouse. And so, all things considered, I think that happiness was called for. I smiled, randomly and somehow it just didn’t feel right. With everything in place, it was happiness that ironically seemed to be the odd one out.
I just haven’t been happy for a while I guess. Plain, simple, uncomplicated and calm happiness. This is not excitement and rejoice, this is contentment. This is being able to finally sleep without having something, some stressful event to wake up to. Something has to go wrong, now that I’ve gone on and on about how right everything is, something definitely has to go wrong. Maybe I’m jinxing it, I should stop.
I was scared when I smiled. Happiness scares me. It means that I have something to lose. It’s because when I’m at the bottom, when I’m suffering and miserable and alone, at least then I know that it will get better, that things will go up from here. I’ve always set the bar lower, always expected less, loved less, felt less, because I know that the fall from the top hurts the most. It’s always better to be pleasantly surprised and to do better than you were expecting, than it is to love and care and give, just to have it eventually taken away. People hurt people.
People have insecurities and self-doubts, they have wounded pasts and round stomachs, and other people just don’t seem to understand that. “Never leave me,” that’s all anybody really wants to say to one another. People like being liked, and understood and cared for, loved even, and it’s unfortunate that very few are. There are so many people in the world, desperately deserving love and kindness, and have so much of it to give back, but I don’t think anyone really wants it from them. They want it from the indifferent boy in the leather jacket and the hair-flipping girl in the tight dress. I lack the necessary talent of making other people feel special. To make them believe that what they are saying in this very minute is the most interesting, important and profound thing that anybody has ever said.
Many times, and I know I’ve said this before, it’s the clown that craves the audience and not the audience that seeks the clown. Those who laugh are valued more than those who make you laugh, especially in girls; and those who cry are cared for more than those who suffer silently. Nobody can see strength unless they know that you have something to be strong about. The mere definition of strength, of stoicism, and not complaining is that no one notices it. It has to go unappreciated, because the moment people can tell that you’re hiding sadness, is the moment you should probably realize that you’re not doing a very good job at it.
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