Life is a journey that changes you – sometimes for the best, sometimes for the worst. Whichever way, you don’t stay the same all your life. More precisely, you don’t stay the same throughout your adulthood. Of late, I have been thinking a lot about how I used to be as a person till a couple of years ago and how much I have changed. There definitely are certain things about me that have stayed the same and sometimes old friends talk to me and are like “Wow! You are still the same!” But that is because they see only the surface which gives out a friendly vibe, happy talk and nothing else deep down.
The true change in me came about after my fight with depression and the consequent therapy sessions. It changed the way I perceive things, the way I feel things and most importantly, the way I respond to things. I must say, it made me a more mature and happier person in the process – more accepting, more forgiving. Now when I look back, I feel ashamed of a lot of things about me. Perhaps I shouldn’t, because that was a younger me, a more naïve and a more reckless me – a person who saw and went through a lot of things strongly and emerged victorious, paving the way for this new me. But still, the thought of some of it makes me go red in my face and feel “I used to be so dumb!”
My extra-hyper frankness and utter lack of diplomacy should hold position number 1 in that list of things I am now embarrassed about. Not that I feel I should have been a suck-up in any way or a two-faced jerk who hated someone and still acted too pally with them. People who know me well know that I could never do that. It’s just that I used to be way too particular in showing off my honest feelings about people. Forget not faking a smile, I simply had to give out the cold bitch vibes in either ignoring someone I hated or showing pure resentment on my face every time I had to make eye contact with them. And the word ‘hate’ was something I strongly felt, sometimes even for people who need not have been hated in the true sense of the word. I am still not on the path of “Everyone has good in them” with these people because most of them were jerks who did really bad things to others. But a lot of them could easily be ignored or acknowledged with just a “Hey”. I am especially embarrassed that I used to go out of the way to show my hatred towards these people, mostly at my workplaces. And to be honest, it was simply unprofessional and immature of me.
Hand-in-hand with this desperate need to show off my hatred was my desperate need to use my ‘acid tongue’ as effectively as possible so that with not a single abuse or anything remotely politically incorrect in any of my sentences, my opponents would still shrink out of humiliation. I used to (sometimes still do subconsciously) imagine scenarios and keep my retorts and super-duper punch lines ready so that when the time actually came, I wouldn’t fumble for words. I think I craved that ‘victory’ so much that I was disappointed if the conflict I was expecting didn’t happen at all. Kind of like “Ah! All that preparation and all the punch lines gone in waste!” There used to be a high that I used to get out of seeing that my razor-sharp words had hit the exact nerve I wanted. I know! Sick!! Some of the conflicts could easily be avoided if at all I chose to be the bigger person. And some of them which couldn’t be avoided, could easily have been handled so much better and so much more professionally and gently if at all I chose to be nice. But I didn’t.
At the time it made me feel like a victorious warrior and earned me the applause of quite a lot of by-standers (most of whom were colleagues who didn’t have the guts to stand up for what they believed in and would happily watch someone else say or do what they wanted to, while they resorted to flattery or sucking up, quite common in the corporate world). And while I thought I was doing everyone a favour by being a fearless warrior against injustice and unfair people, I realized much later that people were simply using me to further causes they didn’t want to talk about. I was no warrior; I was just a dumb girl who didn’t know how to control her emotions or be a grown-up in handling conflicts with grace. And a lot of times, my reactions to issues were borderline abnormal, too highly laden with emotions, coming out at the wrong time in the wrong place in front of the wrong audience.
While people who haven’t met me in a long time would have difficulty in believing this, I have mellowed down quite a bit, especially in the last couple of years. I still don’t fake anything really. But I also do not act out impulsively. Except for a lapse or two that I deeply regret, I have been pretty much in control of it to the point that now even the urge is very rare and minimal. Even better, I have learnt the valuable lesson that petty satisfaction out of saying something mean or showing off negative expressions on my face is short-lived and do not really mean anything in the long run, except for making you feel embarrassed. I reserve that for extremely bad people who do extremely bad things, and that is not something all that common to find around me, thankfully. With the rest of them, I have a response of a smile that is not too warm, but not too cold. If at all words are needed, I make sure that I choose a polite, yet firm response that tells them that I choose to disagree or that I do not wish to engage in a conversation at all. I no longer have to win always.
Another thing that has changed about me is my extra-hyper loyalty I used to have for people I love. I mean, I wouldn’t have hesitated to die or kill for them. I still would do that for Hari and Vedu, but not really for anyone else. Because over the years I realized that I was the only one in any of my relationships, friendship or family, who had such staunch belief in that kind of loyalty and super-strong love. If anyone even thought something bad about any of these people or had even the slightest of tiffs with them, I would take it so personally that I would hate them so much and would want to have nothing to do with them ever, despite the fact that there were no issues between us.
Why I got out of that expression of loyalty is because most of the times I would end up looking like a fool when the parties actually involved in it would go about like nothing happened, sometimes pretending to be good friends too. It must have had to do with my first issue of extreme honesty about feelings; but I could never digest such fake relationships, particularly when I was acting like an idiot in holding a grudge with a person who never did anything to me in the first place! I also kept getting wake-up calls in the form of someone hurting me real bad and all these people who I used to fight for, acting quite normal with the other person. Back then I used to be hurt by that display of what I thought was “betrayal”. Not anymore. People needn’t and shouldn’t make someone else’s problems their own for no reason. They knew it already; I took time to learn that – that was the only difference.
I also had this sick need to keep helping my friends or people I thought I was close to, even if they could easily do things without my help. I would keep offering my help or just go ahead and do things for them voluntarily for no reason. I should have known that if they needed something, they would have asked me – I didn’t have to assume that I should do something. It must have been overwhelming in a bad way for some of them. And some of them might not even have appreciated it. Thankfully, I realize now that I have my own life and my own things to take care of instead of focusing all my energy on helping people who never even needed it.
There are so many more things which have changed, some a little, some a lot – like my obsession with making long-term plans and sticking to them too rigidly and crying my heart out if even one thing didn’t work out as planned, consciously over-thinking even the smallest of things and constantly making mountains out of molehills and lots more. It is still a journey of being a better person with every passing day. I’m just glad I’m on the right track finally and the worst of my negatives are kind of in control already. 😊