There’s something I think about a lot when it’s quiet all around me. It’s the starting lines of a piece I wrote back in 2010 when I was applying to universities and trying to understand myself better.
“Sometimes you need to be at war with yourself for a long time before things start looking better. It’s the hardest battle to fight, but in the end, you will always be victor; you just have to be patient enough to reach the end.”
When I wrote this, I thought I was on the road to recovery. Little did I know that I had only just reached the end of just one hurdle in a large line of many hurdles to come.
But most of all, I believed in every word that I wrote in that piece.
Now, you may not think that’s a big thing—so I believed in something, that should mean I’m doing better now, eight years later, right?
As people, we struggle with ourselves on a daily basis; there’s always something that’s weighing on us in one way or another. It’s purely a fact of human nature and the downside of growing up. Growing up comes with many conditions, some of which we will never truly understand. It means learning that life isn’t a piece of cake—it means longing for all the time we spent wanting to grow up, a time when things were easier and our innocence didn’t know better.
Unfortunately, we can’t go back in time and tell our younger selves to enjoy that time in our lives while we still have it.
In fact, some of us never really had the luxury to know what it was to be a child. Some of us experienced things in our lives that forced us to grow up earlier than we should have. Some of us just refuse to grow up.
I happened to fall somewhere in the middle of both.
You see, life is a really weird thing. We don’t really have a choice whether we want to come into being or not, but after our birth, pretty much everything is a choice of our own or someone who will directly affect our lives. For starters, our parents make the choice to name us. As a person who believes in the superstitious, I believe that a person’s given name holds weight in who they become.
My name means prosperity. It also means ‘Gift of God’ in some languages. Those are two heavy titles to carry around.
One of the biggest choices we have in life is living. Ironic right? You’re given this life without your will being taken into consideration, but then you’re given a choice: live or don’t live. And let me tell you, there was a time when the ‘don’t live’ option was oh so tempting to choose.
It was a time when I didn’t feel prosperous, nor did I feel like gift. Infact, I felt like a burden on those around me. I believed that if I wasn’t here, the lives of those around me would be so much better. What I didn’t realize is that my crusade to shatter my life into a million little pieces wouldn’t hurt me if I wasn’t here—it would hurt the people I was trying to protect.
Not many of you know what ‘Dear Zindaagi’ means. Pretty much no one knows why I began this blog in the first place. Sometimes even I find myself why I started this blog. Have I strayed from my mission? Did I forget why I’m here?
The answer is no, I didn’t.
‘Dear Zindaagi’ means ‘Dear Life’, and this blog is intended to be a letter to my life. It’ll have many ups and downs–it’ll have even more inbetweens. It’ll plateau at times, and I’ll often forget to post as well. But I don’t see that as a failure or anything wrong. In fact, I see it as a representation of my mental health.
Over the past few years I’ve learned some things.
My life is a story I have to write myself. It’s a book of mindful decisions I make. Everything I do will affect me in some way or another, but I cannot let anyone but myself dictate the direction is goes in. I can ask for directions, I can question other people’s decisions if they directly impact mine (and vice versa), but ultimately I need to be make my decisions myself.
I cannot see myself as anything less than a force of nature. This force can sometimes be negative, and at other times be positive, but I can’t let that force drag me down in any way. My strength is my guide and I am stronger than my demons.
This life is the only life I’ve been given. I need to live it carefully and to its absolute fullest. Reckless spontaneity is good every now and then, but not as a constant. I have to learn to stop and enjoy the moment. I have to remind myself that time moves as fast as I let it, and if I continue to let it get away from me, I won’t be able to get anything done. The fact that we only live once is true, but not to a reckless extent.
Breathe. Yes, that’s right, breathing is a lesson in itself. Meditation, self-care, and just being able to close your eyes, take a deep breath, and cry for no reason can be cleansing. It doesn’t make you weak, and it’s better than allowing your pain to build up high enough that you eventually erupt. Eruptions aren’t good; we learned that the hard way from Mt St Helens.
Exist. We’re not here to merely show up on a day to day basis even if that’s how it feels at times. We’re here to really, truly exist. Our presence is needed on a daily basis; whether we like to admit it or not, we are needed by those around us, even when they don’t specifically say so. Existing also means living in the moment. You have to be present in a ‘mind, body, soul’ kind of way.
I started this blog as an online journal so I could track the things going on in my life and in my mind. It’s funny how things like televisions shows, movies, and even music teach you so much about yourself–how easy it becomes to relate fictional happenings to your own life.
In case you haven’t been able to tell from my last couple of posts, the show ‘The 100’ holds a dear place in my heart. I will admit that I have had my fair share of ups and downs with it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still love it. It’s taught me a few important lessons in my life and gotten me through some very rough patches.
If it weren’t for Raven Reyes and Bellamy Blake, I don’t think I would haven’t gotten to this point in my life.
To me, Raven has been a beacon of hope since the beginning. As a child, all I wanted was to be an astronaut. I was obsessed with the sky. I would imagine myself in a space suit all the damn time. Getting to see this slightly cocky, incredibly strong, and above all lovable brown woman space walk gave me hope for the second time in my life. (The first time I had hope was when I learned about Anousheh Ansari, but that’s a whole other story for another time). The fact that she rebuilt the dropship and arrived with just a head-bang was a huge thing to me. And the way she stood up to Bellamy easily? [insert chills]
Raven proved to be one of the strongest characters from the very beginning, and her injury via the gunshot wound only added my admiration for her. She’s everything I want to be as a person. Her mind is her strongest weapon even if it’s plagued by occasional doubts, and ultimately a battle of wills in Season 4 as she fights against the radiation spreading over Earth. Her ability to be the key to everyone’s salvation throughout the show gave me hope—and the fact that she wasn’t meant to last this long only adds to it.
As for Bellamy, there’s been something about him that spoke to me from the first episode. From the moment he came on my screen, I knew there was something more to him than his cocky, playboy demeanor. He’s not perfect by any means, and I will never try to say he is, but his flaws are what makes me love him. He’s struggled with himself, his identity, and his mental health from the very start. Above all, he’s always been the type to put other before himself—especially his sister. I’ve always felt I understand him—I understand his pain and his struggles, and his need to protect his sister and be a good influence on her.
It’s how I’ve felt my own life with my younger brothers.
Despite everything though, these two have thrived amidst bad choices, broken hearts, bodies, and souls. They’ve gotten to a point in their lives where things are finally looking up and to me that’s huge.
Raven taught me that I’m more than my pain, and Bellamy taught me that I don’t need to be what everyone needs me to be—but what I need myself to me.
On top of all of that, if it weren’t for Lindsey Morgan and Bob Morley’s strength to open up and be advocates for two amazing causes for mental health, I know I wouldn’t be here today.
The lessons I outlined previously are lessons I only learned recently. They’re lessons I learned from following both Lindsey and Bob. And it’s because of these lessons that I hold Active Minds and Beyond Blue so close to my heart.
I didn’t have the luxury of being properly educated about mental health in high school, nor did I have access for the proper resources to get help. When I tried to seek help or change to remove myself from the toxic environment I was in, I was stopped by a very bitter school counselor who really, clearly didn’t like her job. She only helped make my senior year of high school even more miserable than it already was.
It’s due to these experiences that I’ve come to realize just how important it is for teenagers and young adults to have the proper education on how to deal with their mental health and come to terms with it. It should be seen as a stigma or disability, but acknowledged as a natural part of life.
I am not broken. I refuse to see myself as disabled. My mind is just far too complex for some people to understand that’s okay with me.
I’ve learned to take charge of my story and my life. I’ve learned to step out of my comfort zone and embrace the unknown. I’ve learned that chasing my dreams isn’t a frivolous notion, but something I must do.
Life is short and unpredictable—I only get one shot at it, so why waste it?
To learn more about Active Minds, click here.
To learn more about Beyond Blue, click here.