So, today I was travelling in a bus and the traffic was heavy due to the rains. The roads were all flooded with water and people were all messed up. For once I thought that it was a bad idea to come out of home in such a rainy day but it was meant to be.
Checking my watch from time to time, just when I thought “Damn, I’m so late”, my friend whom I was supposed to meet, texts me and says, “Got stuck in the rain. Can’t make it today”. But I was not going back home. Something deep within me said, “Come on, take this chance and do something that you have never done before. Roam around the city in the rain, eat out alone, do whatever but go back home only after you do something worthwhile today.”
So I decided to give it a shot. And I waited for the bus to reach Shyambazar, where I decided to grab lunch at first and then do some earring shopping. So, there I was, sitting by the window, waiting for my stoppage, in a quite bus which was usually crowded on other days and then I notice this teenage girl sitting behind me and she was discussing something with her friend.
Now, I am quite an observer especially when I get bored in public transport and I find it a good quality because when you observe, you learn. And today I learned that as a teenager, it wasn’t only me who had social complex or any other complexes in general; it happens to everybody and the girl behind me, even she was going through one of those phases.
She was probably 16 or 17 and was talking about not being liked by her classmates. She was talking about not being a perfect daughter. She was talking about being a failure all the time and she constantly compared her to some other girl (probably her classmate) whom she considered the best in everything. Now, the friend she was talking to tried to console her by saying that “it’s okay and things will turn out just fine” and she was right in any way because in future she will eventually turn out fine and when she will look back to these times, she will feel silly and she will laugh over it. But how to tackle these emotions when they are the heaviest on you?
Let me tell you. The simplest way to get over these heavy negativeness is to avoid it or by not thinking of it like you do. The main problem with teenagers is that they fail to see the brighter side of their own selves and all they care about is the brighter side of someone else. I’m going to narrate a story now and will try to put my point in an easy way with this example that I’m going to share.
As I already mentioned earlier, I was a kid who had a lot of complexes as a teenager. I was just not happy with anything that made me myself. I used to be very disappointed about my looks, my complexion, my figure. I hated my physical self. I was used to people calling me names like “moti“, “kali“, “bhains” and stuff like that. It was a very natural outcome for people when they saw me or met me.
Social networking sites had just flourished and people went crazy over Facebook. I made my account too since all of my friends had but I was afraid to put a picture of myself. I was too cautious about what people might think. I was afraid that nobody will be eager to be my friend if they saw how I look. And so, I never uploaded pictures of myself and instead I put teddy bears as my profile picture. This was just one of my many complexes.
The other problems that I faced as a teenager was social issues. I could never interact with anybody new, be that a new classmate or a senior. I used to be that introvert girl who would sit with two of her limited friends and just be there from the starting till the end but I was also that girl who wanted to be the other girl from my class who was bubbly and social and who was just out there making friends every hour, every minute. I wanted to be her but I could not because I was too shy and that was just not my personality back then.
I used to come back home, stand in front of the mirror and pretend to be that extrovert girl who made friends with the blinking of an eye, the girl who could make anybody laugh with her charming self, the girl who was by default everyone’s favorite. I used to feel so good being someone else. With nobody in the room I felt confident and more open than I was in a room full of people. And this somehow affected me a lot during those times.
My mother noticed the weirdness within me and she approached me one fine evening. It was raining outside. I was just back from school and I had just settled down in the veranda to enjoy the drizzle outside when my mother approached me. She knew she had a very difficult task to do then; to make her daughter realize that she doesn’t need to be a different person to get noticed or to make friends. She was there to make her understand that being somebody else is much more hard work than just being one’s own self and moreover being a different person is not even worth anything. So she came over to the veranda with two hot cups of coffee.
At first she asked me about school and how things were going on with my friends and studies stuff. Slowly she diverted herself to the intense discussions. She made it sure I was comfortable talking about it. And after sometime she asked me, “Tell me how you actually feel about yourself. Consider me your friend and spit out everything that is in my heart.” This made me nervous. My mother never had these conversations with me before and now she was this entirely different person who was trying to help me figure out who I actually was. And I told her everything, everything about how I hated the way I looked, about how I wanted to be the energetic girl from my class whom everybody loved, about how imperfect I was, a 15 year old, good for nothing, I told her everything.
Now, her reply was something that every teenager must be told. She patiently listened to me and then taking small sips of coffee she said with a smile that my problem was not any problem at all. She said, “You are trying too hard being a different person when you can just be yourself and it is much more easier. Every individual is different, their traits are different, their habits, their choices, everything varies and that is what makes us special in our own way. If your friend is good with making new friends because she is much more social then that is her strength. She can do that because she is good at it and people love her because she is being herself all the time. But you are trying to be her which is so unreal. How can people like you or be friends with you if they don’t see who you really are? Weaknesses are in everybody and so are strengths. The things you are capable of, that will make people like you. Here, you are sitting and wondering if you could be that other girl from class, but have you imagined that there might be a chance that someone else is also wondering if they can be like you? Calm and bright, with a contagious smiles who can do poetry and art like nobody else?” She again took a sip of her coffee which was already cold by then and then continued, “People want to see the real side of an individual, the uniqueness in everybody that sets one person apart from another. People will admire you, they will love you only when you know who you are and is confident about it. And appearance wise, you have the most beautiful smile and the prettiest eyes and I’m not saying this because I’m your mother, but I’m saying this because that is true. You are the cutest person in the family with the heart of gold and pretending to be someone else is just so unfair to your real self. Think about it.” She patted me on my head and let me drown on her words in that moment and it worked miracles for me since.
So, to the girl who sat behind me on the bus today and to all the teenagers who think they are not good enough, freeze for a moment and listen. You are not supposed to be perfect, you are supposed to be the imperfect self that you are. You need to carry your imperfections and flaws in style and own them. You need to believe that you are enough for yourself and your confidence is what reflects you, that is what makes you, that is what people recognize you with. So instead of being all judgmental about the wonderful self that you are, embrace it and see the magic that follows.
Because in life, you either choose to be happy or you choose to be somebody else.