Wednesday, August 26, 2020


Sometimes there is this overwhelming feeling that the world requires me to present myself as a happy and cheerful person in a constant and predictable matter to the point when that isn't happening, it can upset those around me. This demand to be a stable, patient, and ever-smiling human can be an exhausting task because it is just not humanly possible to be presentable at all times. But based on my upbringing, I learned that it was easier to not show any other emotion other than this particular one because it will unsettle them. I am not just talking about strangers or coworkers, this includes everyone, especially family and nosy aunts. 

    Somewhere in my early years, the grooming had begun. Children were meant to be seen as pleasant sweet faces that would be able to recite whatever the parents wished on command to impress the relatives and family friends. They were always meant to look presentable and greet all their elders in a calm and respectful manner never raising their voices or eyes. I was told to not talk too much unless a specific request was made so that I did not embarrass my parents over my antics. I could not voice my hunger, fatigue or any other issue which if by mistake I did would be met with a silent but piercing glare from my mother which would squash any intentions I may have wanted to present. It was a very confusing time actually. Sometimes an adult would give me a gift and I was supposed to politely refuse it but if they kept insisting, my training had taught me to eventually comply and accept whatever the adult was requesting of me. My parents however would not be pleased with this behaviour and it would be termed disrespectful to have listened to the other adult in this particular moment. But I was also taught that it was rude to say no or be upset over being given something. How does one proceed in such a situation? 

    The main idea behind all this was to present the facade of perfection and the cohesiveness of a happy and balanced family. You would never catch my mother looking upset or serious during a dinner party she was invited to or hosting herself. My parents looked like the perfect couple who had everything in control and were on their way to so many future successes with sweet-tempered little girls. It was the portrait of the family in front of a proverbial white picket fence. The expectations of maintaining this perfection became the way of life, no matter how many cracks were forming behind the masks. Behind closed doors, it was not the rosy, happy picture we presented. 

    These days, the matters are somehow made worse by the establishment of social media integrating into our daily lives. Now we see the family with the beautiful house and white picket fence traveling in their fancy cars to fancy destinations and looking oh so happy while doing it. All I see around me are women with the perfect hair and skin being able to afford the best of the best portraying they are so happy in their lives with those beautiful smiles showcasing a perfect set of glistening white teeth. In my mind, this translates into the idea that I need to have a certain way of life to truly be happy. Does this mean that right now I do not deserve to be happy? 

    In the first two decades of my life, I started equating receiving attention from others as equitable to being loved and happy to the point where it consumed my life. What I lacked at home, I developed a fervent addiction to and would attach myself to whoever would give me the time of day. I am sure in those years; I became a nuisance to my friends and formed unhealthy attachments to members of the opposite sex. I thought I needed this in order to be happy because those moments I would spend with someone who would gift me with their undivided attention would become everything for me and I craved more. I would be upset with my friends for making new friends or giving away "my time" to their boyfriends. As this vicious cycle continued, I realized I was never happy. This equation would also relate to studying, work, and buying things. Buying things would give that rush of endorphins, but in the long term, it was meaningless. I am still trying to understand and grow from these experiences, but I slip even now. It is so easy to find those temporary fleeting moments that raise the good feelings enough to last a day or night, but as soon as morning follows, very little of that chemical joy flows in my brain. I need to supply it again. And again.

       The thing is, life is not meant to be fun and games all the time and actually, the purpose of life is not the constant pursuit of happiness. Life owes me nothing, and if I think otherwise than it is time to look within. What makes me so important that I can confidently say that I demand the world to make me happy in some form or another, or that you should be in my life to bring me happiness? There was a certain turning point in my mid-twenties where I realized what I was truly searching for was peace. Emotions are volatile and subject to change with the ebb and flow of the day. I cannot control what will happen next but how I react to it really varies based on my mind's stability. Sure there is the constant motion and pendulous swing of emotion, but the magnitude of the highs and lows reaching extreme ranges become fewer and farther in time and space. This is not a facade anymore. It is the acceptance of unpredictability and relying on fewer people and things to save me from falling into dangerous depths. 

    This might seem as if I am also trying to suppress the very heights of happiness, but that is not the case. It is true that the peaks of the highs do not reach such extreme levels but I am okay with that because that means the height of the drop back to normalcy isn't so jarring that I feel such an intense withdrawal making me need to feed immediately again. There is also the acceptance that there will be pain and sadness at times, and it is okay to just let the moment wash over me and enable myself to feel it. All emotions have their importance and must be accepted and given their time otherwise it just keeps building up until it inevitably overflows through the entire system. Part of the beauty of life lies within its unpredictability and movement, where we are meant to feel and experience so much intensely in such a short period of time. Whatever beliefs one holds and however different each journey is, we all experience life in ways that make every story an original masterpiece. 

Until Next Time,

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