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12th May, 2016 – I had an exam for which I had not studied enough. It was also the day when the CLAT scores were going to release. After giving the exam, I couldn’t think about anything else. I was frantically reading about the results, cut-offs and everything that was even remotely related to it. I sat there in the examination hall, blank, unable to gather my thoughts, my hands shivering and I couldn’t wait to come home and see the scorecard. It was the day that would change my life, for better or for worse. I spent the previous week daydreaming about all the possibilities. I found myself smiling at the mirror, did not spend my mornings sitting around ruminating about the dreadful day that lay ahead, did not have to give unnecessary pep talks to myself, and did not find solace in mopey music.
That one-week was the first time in two years when the thought of my future made my eyes all starry and my smile all goofy. I knew it wasn’t right. I knew I was immersing myself in one of those potentially dangerous thoughts resting at the back of my head and letting myself soak in too much pleasure. For a person living with an anxiety disorder, something like this could have unimaginably severe consequences. I went on with it, hoping I would come out fine, but hell, I drowned. I saw my score and tears rolled down my eyes; excessive crying, intrusive thoughts and frantic searching for psychotropic drugs followed by one of my worst panic attacks ever. I often see these gone days, as I call them, not as the worst days (hence I always add ‘one of’ to the sentences) because it seems there’s no such thing as hitting rock bottom when your rock bottom is a bottomless pit. But hey, its not like I haven’t read before that ‘CLAT is not the end of life’?! But how many of us believe it? We are all striving for the best, and there will be opportunities that we would be missing because we are not in an NLU. And that sucks! It makes me cringe and I’m burning with envy. I embraced all such terrible feelings that were floating inside me, and tried to come to terms with my obsession. We all have our own journey; we might even end up doing something very different from what we think we will be doing in 10 years. Instead of being a lawyer, I might end up becoming a nurse and helping people and at that moment in future, it may seem completely justified and make me happy. I was running after my goals, relishing it but I ended up valuing my goal more than the process.
Eventually, our journey, wherever it may land us, would be a summation of the little moments, and these could be life-changing moments and by idealizing the goal, we are overriding these very moments, the process and the possibilities it comes with. What was I even running after, exactly? There is no definite source that would guarantee me what I want, like happiness or freedom or success or all three that I want to touch and feel and breathe and shield myself with! In hindsight, it feels I was living in a memory, one I had built to comfort my own-self, sort of like a coping mechanism. Now its slowly fading, I’m not oscillating between extremes and the cloud is lifting over. But my delusions did keep me motivated; one can always rely on them. It’s difficult to grow up and not get f**ked up when the people close to you are trying their best to throw you into the rat race and pushing you to run for your life. Even more so when your sense of self is overlapped by countless layers imposed by them, that you end up wired and are caught in the never-ending struggle of untangling yourself. But it is how society has created most of them, controlling and fearful, with little scope for acceptance of change. One of Walt Whitman’s poems gave me the strength while I toiled with the idea of allowing my failures to be a propelling force, to be the foundation on which I build success, to allow it to fuel the fire on which I run, so that I don’t end up silencing the madness that yearns to be liberated within me.
Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.
I am here, and I exist. Maybe that’s all I needed to hear. After years of beating myself up for everything that went wrong, for the emotional volatility, for the fluttering highs and lows, for giving in to others’ perceptions of the world and myself, for my unpredictability, for pushing myself to damaging extents to bring an end to the problems, it dawned upon me, its really not worth it. I might be reckless, unfathomable, one with little regard for self and absolutely no regard for anyone else at all, but even then, I vow to try till I am, with all the pieces that constitute me, completely dissolved and withered away, and to let my downfalls empower me with every new day. I still strive to be a successful lawyer, I still believe in some kind of magic or mystery; else, I’ll be as good as dead, and I do look forward to the small victories that may come my way, leading me wherever I wish to be or wherever I am meant to be. For now, even on the ‘gone days’, when I look at myself, unsure of everything yet simmering with passion and ambition, I do see that I am among other things, better equipped to deal with whatever comes my way, and that I may contribute a verse, because I am, for real, rendered just an ordinary person with nothing to lose.