Or so I have been told. Is it always applicable? Some days you can be walking down the street, looking normal. But your mind is screaming at you from the inside: “Look at how clumsy you are! Everyone’s making fun of you. Can’t you see their silent smirks, those long side way glances?” And then you feel lost in a sea of people, almost like you’re drowning. You think to yourself, if only you could belong! If only somebody here would stop and listen to you, and talk to you. If only you could hear another voice, just for a little while, talk about something “normal”, something beyond the struggles of justice and equity you are trying to shoulder upon yourself.
To save you the trouble of analyzing the above paragraph, I will do it myself: I see at least three distinct strands of thought in the “problem statement” above: there’s social anxiety which can eat away at your inside when you’re in public or even with just another person, there’s loneliness because when you’re by yourself it is more comfortable but at some point you crave human contact. And there is the plague of what I would call “critical truth-seeking” where you are trying to seek a truth that isn’t absolute, but will cater to your critique of what you think “ought to be” for the purposes of a just/equitable society that is also sustainable for a number of stakeholders, many of whom have no voice of their own (think non-humans and future generations).
When you carry all of this around with you almost every day, sometimes it is likely to get a lot, leading you to ask yourself- must I continue down this road? I can stop any minute I want and try to seek comfort in something else entirely. There are plenty of other roads I can think of taking: music, writing, blogging and crafts, for instance. But you know you can’t turn your back to something once you have set your eyes on it. This isn’t because you are stubborn (well, maybe just a little bit). It is mostly because this is a quest for something better. And although you know that these kinds of quests are mostly unending- think of the writer’s dilemma, for instance, where the process of producing something worthwhile makes her a better writer so that by the time she lifts pen of paper, she knows that she can write better than that novel she just finished and so she must go on, to the next one- you can’t help it, maybe because you are a little bit addicted but mostly because you wonder, well if not this then what? What in the world is better than the unending adventure of self-discovery and rediscovery? Nothing! And you know it.
So now that we have established that this isn’t a battle you’re ready to desert, where does this leave you? Perhaps what you need to do is fake it until you can make it and pull through. Is this a worthwhile strategy to adopt? I believe it is one of many that can help you ease those knots in your stomach. You must keep doing what you simply have to do, until it becomes easier. But there are hidden dilemmas here: sometimes it can stop you from seeking support. If you’re acting like everything is normal, others around you will just assume that it is. Soon you may find yourself caught in a spiral where you have to maintain the position of “everything is all right” for the sake of everyone but yourself, even though you do not believe in it. On the other hand, admitting that there is a problem , even to the most well-meaning of listeners (your own self, for one) will not automatically lead you to solutions.
I believe a cocktail of solutions is better suited to this purpose. Admit, but to the best kinds of people: yourself, a friend, a parent, a partner. Fake until you make it, with all others: tell yourself how confident, beautiful and smart you are when faced with moments with the potential to break you- you may actually start to believe it, at least enough to pull through with panache. And in the midst of this complex web of self-trickery and truth-telling, remember the following (these are techniques I have learnt from a trustworthy source): observe your thoughts and fears swim by but do not judge yourself (a meditative stance), be respectful and firm to your own values no matter how murky the battleground may seem, and remember to keep practicing the art of self-acceptance!
Disclaimer: None of the above tricks and tips may work for you, or a combination of these with other self-realizations actually just might. None of this is likely to be at all easy. I think the trick is to know that you’re in a battleground and that you won’t give up!
Fact: One in four people in the world are battling their minds everyday!