Growing up in south Delhi and studying at Modern School can be challenging and complicated experience even for the bravest and wisest, but for me it was nothing short of a nightmare. Between making sure that I had a nice enough car, fancy enough birthday parties, latest Reebok shoes, girlfriend and descent marks – life was one huge conundrum in just to trying to fit in.
Belonging to a middle class family but with rich friends at school and upwardly mobile aspirations I grew up telling lies about imaginary cars, perfect homes and foreign holidays. What else could a 12 year old do if all his friends went to London or Singapore for summer vacations and themselves lived in big bungalows with Dad’s who owned factories? Telling them I holidayed Shimla or Mussorie and lived in a one bedroom flat would not cut the slack. I would be ostracized!
The fear of judgment and rejection by my so called friends ate into my very development. Insecurities fuelled a dark and long spell of depression coupled with a complete loss of purpose and desire to live. In comparison to them, I was a looser, always had been a looser – fat, poor, ugly and not up to the mark which society dictated of me.
I know now that my story is nothing new and to varying degrees the fear of rejection by others and not fitting in or belonging to a certain group has eaten its way into the development of many a psyche. Medication, Counselors, Psychiatrists, Paath’s and Puja’s and many a interventions by grand parents, siblings and parents did nothing to heal my deep routed insecurities.
Then one fine day, I met a man whom I could share every single wrong doing I had ever committed – every one of them! This ‘opening up’ did not seem to change his image and attitude towards me. In simple words I was explained that my actions and thoughts were part of the samskars and impressions that I was born with. In other words, it was my destiny to do the things I did and suffer the way I had – it was not in my control. Boy was that a relief to hear!
This man slowly imbibed in me a spirit to accept and respect myself for the way I was – on an ‘as is where is basis’. No easy task, I assure you! He gave me a book called ‘Karma Sutra’ which completely changed my life for it educated me in the most basic and primeval of ancient wisdom condensed together in the most relevant and appropriate of formats. Most importantly, it enabled me to understand the purpose of this life and suggested methods for achieving my life targets.
I learnt the importance of doing good karmic deeds and also easy tips and tricks on best to accomplish them without spending much time or money! I wanted to pursue these deeds because deep down I had a longing to lift my sense of self-worth and felt that by doing these deeds, my miserable sense of self would rise from its current state of hell. It was a last resort.
The first change I made upon reading the book was to start not remain caught up in my own web of problems and confusions but to start thinking other beings. Why not put some bajra on my balcony for pigeons to feed on? Why not visit my ailing grandmother and cheer her up by telling her some jokes, or why not share my class notes with some of the lesser intelligent students in my class? Although Karma Sutra was not the first source to educate me on the benefit of planting trees, the way it explained the sheer scale of the benefit that would be achieved by a meager 100 rupee investment in buying a tree sapling for me not just in this life but in lives to come got me motivated to finally do deeds that would nurture and enrich my soul.
Many such deeds and months later, I looked into the mirror one surprising day and found a slightly different image to that poor useless fellow to a young man trying hard to make a difference – and make a difference he was! The little actions, step by step, enabled me to love me. To appreciate & respect me. No small feat I can assure you. Now what could be better than this?
The corresponding rise in my self esteem and acceptance have led me to become a much more self-assured person who is FINALLY comfortable in his own skin – & no longer the nervous people-pleaser! This new sense of self assurance has given me the confidence and energy to become a resource rather than a liability to my family. And if that is not all, now I am even better able to handle my clients and employees at work so much better – all this because when the self is self assured it doesn’t get shaken by the negative actions or jibes of others. A loss of a client at work or argument with a fellow employee no longer brings me down the way it used to. I no longer personalize the negative actions and behavior of others. Even if a client at work shouts at me or an employee is cheeky, I am able to simply laugh it off – this laughing, believe me, dear reader is the essence for I have realized I am not the doer, so why worry? Now please cheer up and raise a toast to my success story because I sure do every morning, without fail!