Just Keep Walking

“You are just a scared little kid, you’ve always been.” They say time never stops. But when it does what are you supposed to do with it? Do you keep moving unconsciously? Or do you stop to feel unfelt, see the unseen, hear the unheard? When life takes a break, do you waste your time or do you let it waste you? My relationship with myself was always complicated. Life has always been fast and I was always trying to keep up. The school was hostile and uncomfortable. I was lost and disconnected. After seventeen years of not being able to understand the world, in 2020 I finally could. If not, the world I understood my chaos in this stillness. People had bigger and sadder traumas so I always ignored mine. I had issues unaddressed, problems were unsolved, thoughts unconsidered, and conversations unheard. That’s why in 2020, I heard myself. “You can’t compare to that” It was so easy to intimidate me because deep down I knew that I’ll never be ‘that kid’. My academic and co-curricular life was for most times dull. Everybody was always better, smarter, and prettier than me. That somehow made me believe I am not. When I started journaling in the lockdown, I realized how self-sabotaging my behaviour is. One day while mindlessly scrolling through Instagram I came across this quote-“You don’t need to be gifted. You just need to have enough commitment to accept being bad at something for as long as it takes to get good at it.” Realizing self-worth doesn’t happen overnight through an Instagram caption. But it happens slowly. And it is still happening. “You lose a lot” Before the pandemic, I had participated in over twenty-eight public speaking events but I could manage to win only two. Every time I stepped on the stage, every time I stood in front of the podium, and every time I wrote the draft for my speech, I was more apprehensive than excited. Therefore, I went back to square one. I reminded myself why I liked being on stage in the first place. I reminded myself that I still found my way back to the podium even after losing dozens of competitions. It takes strength to do that. Thankfully, the college started offline and I started enjoying the process. I was therefore not obsessed with the outcome. It still hurts losing competitions but knowing that I have my validation, I heal faster. “Why are you a closed book?” Being an unpaid therapist is a blessing in disguise. I am used to listening to people rant about their problems. I can help people out and that’s a blessing. The curse here is that I cannot talk about mine. Seeking help was harder for me than it looks. It still is. The tricky thing is that there was no conversation, journal entry, or Instagram caption, that could solve this conflict. I just had to trust people, be vulnerable and wear my heart on my sleeves. The world works on reciprocity and I had to seek balance. So, I did.I shared my competition-related anxiety with one of my teachers. She was sweet enough to tell me that- “Winning and losing is a part of life. We need to learn to take both gracefully. All we can do is to work hard and you do that very sincerely. I am very proud of you, winning and losing won’t change that. You deserve much more. Love and blessings!”   “You’re too much” It’s funny being too much when you are always made to feel that you’re not enough. Some days were overwhelming and I couldn’t handle myself. Ambulance sirens, calls for oxygen cylinders, and unexpected deaths in the second wave made my mental health worse. My parents were sad but they were fine after a week. My mom said, ” We can’t grieve all the time. Life goes on”. I had to learn the art of letting go from my parents. They were not insensitive; they were just practical. When we hold on to loss, grudges, or pain, we hold ourselves back. And if anything, the pandemic told us succinctly that life is too short for that. “You’re emotionally sensitive” This is the only conflict that I couldn’t resolve. Mainly because I realized it is not an issue to be addressed. It is who I am, fundamentally. And I don’t want to change that even if the world makes me feel otherwise. What might sound insane, conversations with myself are ironically the only thing that has kept me sane in the pandemic. Relationship issues are inevitable, be it with your family members, your friends, or your love interests. While all of them hold some worth, our relationship with ourselves gets side-lined the most. Before we go out to conquer the world, we should be at peace with our own. Before we seek acceptance, we should validate our individuality. Before we accept our mistakes, we should learn to forgive ourselves. ‘Successfully overcoming hurdles’ is a fancy term that I cannot use. I still stumble more than I walk. But I have won because I continue to walk, nevertheless…

THE AUTHOR

Ifrah Fatima

Ifrah is an 18- year old student pursuing Humanities as her academic stream, studying English and History at the University of Delhi.  She is passionate and dedicated to her work and has shown a keen interest in creative writing, mental health, intersectional feminism, art, and environmental activities for the past few years. She is a fun person to have around if you find random instant puns and memes funny.

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