I mentioned earlier that I missed feeling comfortable in my skin. In the last year, I have had ample time to assess and reassess why I thought and felt so.
New city, new country, new culture and new relationship — all of which did mostly nothing to make me feel out of sorts. It was the expectations that I put on myself (and then not meet them) that led to (and continually lead to) make me feel out of sorts. The realization came in small bursts but when I tried to apply it across situations that made me uncomfortable, I realized it was not the situation but what I expected from them situations.
It became an interesting journey, one that I am still on, of expectations. There are so many times in a day or week or month that I am unhappy or dissatisfied. I can choose to wallow in it or learn that it is what it is. This realization on your stomping grounds is good, even great but in a place where you know very few people and have fewer places to turn to for comfort, this realization, on some level, makes you feel truly alone.
That’s when I realized I wanted to feel comfortable in my skin again. I loved that feeling. In India it meant not caring what people thought of me, my looks, my choices and to be able to truly make decisions on my own. It means different things here. Here, where you are literally not understood, it means a whole different thing to just do your thing.
One year later, I feel like I am more in control of the ride on this roller coaster. But who knows? May be am just acclimatizing better and learning to say carmel (for “caramell”), red light, trunk and of course, the ‘zee’!
Often I see that until you vocalise or write down your goals/ dreams or ever fears they never really come true. Superstitious that I am, I used to only believe it for the bad things or unfavourable things that happened in life. But let’s test that out shall we?
The last 20-odd months have shown me that you are thrown a curve ball when you least expect it. The result is something you will have wanted all along. The journey may have not been what you had imagined or even expected. Then, as consequences unfold, you realise this is exactly what you wanted! But you are so busy ruing the current circumstances that you do not get a chance to look at the big picture.
When exactly did you wish for it? What else did you wish for then? Who did you curse? Any ill wishes hidden back there? See that’s the scary part! Your wishes might actually come true.
I thought this would be a good opportunity to knuckle down and write down (visualise if you must) what I want out of life. For unless I know what I want, how will I make those wishes actually come true?
Just so that I have a timeline – these goals are for the next three years.
1. Get fit – starting burning fat; eating well and balanced meals. No excuses.
2. Cook and feed healthy foods
3. One hour every day doing what you love – read, garden, stitch, even sleep
4. Conquer one fear in a year at least – jumping off a height, jogging, wearing sleeveless clothes in public.
5. Accept people as they are; not how you want them to be. Even if you don’t like what they are.
6. Crystallise professional goals.
One night, while listening to a particularly moving piece, I chanced on a realisation. A realisation that my biggest block or stopping block came from the fact that I was unwilling to re-examine all that I held dear, opinion and experience wise.
The minute the thought crossed my consciousness, that very minute all my weird, fantastical dreams made sense. All those large waves, big gory murders, weird situations, long lost friends and even unreal expectations all suddenly made sense. But before I could anything much, a bad headache distracted me. I could not help but wonder if my old thoughts and prejudices were literally flying out of my head?
When I started thinking about my thoughts and opinions and everything I had known to be true – I wondered. What if I re-examined every opinion and its reason to have them? What if the thoughts came up wanting? What does that mean? Does that mean that everything I knew was not so? Does that mean every slight, every wound did not really turn out that way? Did I spend almost two decades imagining pain and hurt or paining and hurting over imagined slight? Nursing grudges and ill-will for no reason, apparently?
I hesitate to say anything now without thinking what makes me say it. Whether my reasons are truly just that – my reasons. There are times when you think and think and think about things and continue to arrive at the same conclusion. There are also times, when the same incident, in a few years, looks and feels different. It might your memory playing tricks or different perspective allowing you to now understand the situation better – either way things don’t feel certain anymore.
There are days when you wonder which turn of your life brought you to this very place. So many random thoughts fly through my head on a second-to-second basis. Most of them random, few deep, couple of ideas that flit on the outskirts of all those thoughts and many wishes that mingle with those thoughts.
Then a few of those wishes come true. And that scares me. Scares me because who out there is deciding which which wish will come true. Which wish I would wish harder for? Pray harder for? Then I really get scared. Because if all the things I wish for were to come true, I would have some very strange realities to explain.
It also makes me wonder whether working towards what I want isn’t the way to really go about achieving anything? Should I just live my days one at a time and wait for things and events to happen as they will? Sometimes I susbsist on a completely superficial level, only aiming in thought for what I want. How is that any different from randomness actually turning to reality?
There is much to be said for moving countries in your mid 30s. You are less susceptible to popular culture and can easily identify what will make you feel better. Things seem familiar yet alien but your mind tells you that you need to give it time before you feel like you are home in this new country. Your intellect knows it all but your emotional side just refuses to wait.
Almost 4 months later New York is still new. New in its smells, sounds, with its friendly yet aloof strangers, with its ready acceptance of people who do not look like the norm and yet the certainty that you will be always alone and revel in it. That perhaps is the best gift. In some ways, with the crowds and noise, New York lets me be the way Mumbai let me be.
I think the most important thing I am missing in New York (and it was hard won in Mumbai too) is my ability to feel comfortable in my skin. It took me many years to find it in Mumbai but in New York I seem to be grappling again. It might have much to do with the fact that I am relying on other people’s experience to increase my familiarity. I need to be sure that even though it is a new city, the person in me is still the same. So it may be spring/ summer and it is okay to not to always shave your limbs smooth! Or have make up in place just for a cup of coffee. Or do the thing because it is the thing to do.
It might be harder right now but better in the long run.