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  • Writer's pictureKanika Bhatia

Me? Me! Me.

It takes work to keep up with myself on most days. I am not my thoughts, but it's not easy to remember that when they come unchecked, unfiltered, and not the purest while I am casually sipping my coffee [insert thought: my help has a very shrill voice, gosh.] They scale morbidity, extreme judgments [Insert thought: ’Dad bod’ is a rumour men spread to make themselves feel better], to self-critique. Hand it to them for versatility [insert thought: Do I even know what I wanna say?]

In the show "You," the couple has a breakthrough during therapy where they both realize that at the end of the day, they have more in common. They both feared that if someone actually got into the backwaters of their head, to know what they really think, it was a possibility they would never talk to them again. It's mucky, messy, and impure. Agreed, their benchmark of "problematic" is a tad higher than an average being, but all of us live the same fear. What if, we are our thoughts? If not, who are we really? [ insert thought: Is this 500$ belt going to define me now?]

With years of compulsive observation, it's safe to conclude, I am not who I am when am afraid. I am not myself when I fear loss (of confidence, life, or love.) I am not 'Me' when the world around me crumbles like dominoes and I have nothing but the feeble support of hope to keep going on. I am not who I am when my heart is broken into a million pieces. At a very early age, I realised I am a "complicated female character" even when the phrase "complicated female character" was introduced years later in books. [insert thought: please brain, let my thoughts flow freely.]

As a woman maybe the archaeology behind my thoughts is deeper, or so the theorists who reward us for our depth say. We are bitter, brave, complex women. Literature had very little empathy for us because, in real life, we had very little empathy for ourselves. We allowed little room to express ourselves even when we felt too much. Whatever little logic couldn't explain, hormones did. Our childhood heroines might not have been fearless but they were resilient. As we grew, fear grew, and we became a mush of hope, tenacity, dread and self-discovery. In his “Book of Disquiet”, Pessoa has written: “My soul is a hidden orchestra; I do not know what instruments, what violins and harps, drums and tambours, sound and clash inside me. I know myself only as a symphony.” Some of us were dealt bratty orchestras that don’t know when to shut up.

All our emotions became rooms we couldn't overstay our welcome in. You couldn't risk labels of sad, manic, or depressed even to yourself. So we had to keep moving through these rooms calling it life or phases or whatever fleeting term we chose to describe how we felt that very moment. If you don’t believe me, just ask your mothers about the precise life they led and shock yourself that they are still standing. But in all this packing and moving, somewhere we lost who we are. [insert thought: why would anyone watch Tv serials anymore?] A Twitter thread some weeks ago spoke about yes us "30 somethings" are lost and tired. We aren't popping children, getting married or following timelines like we were "supposed" to, and now we are lost. We are still dressing up like we are in our 20s, drinking and destroying only to recuperate weeks later to do it all over again. Our timelines are confusing even to our body timeline (fact) and mental stability because ours is the first generation defying "rules, " which makes us the guinea pig. So fucking cut us some slack. We are doing it all, and yet not moving ahead despite all this defiance.

For yet another perspective in this journey to define ourselves, most days we forget we are a sum of hundreds of factors. How contingent the ‘me’ in me is. A 19th-century railroad worker, Finius Gauge survived a horrible accident. His memories were intact, but a blow to his frontal lobe converted him from a loving man to an extremely violent character. Chris Cornell banked on a bunch of medication which had suicidal tendencies as a side effect. Great career, great life, yet the great man decided to commit suicide one fine, tragic day. Yet again reminding us that no matter how certain we are of ourselves, almost everything is contingent. I skip breakfast one day and believe me everything you know about me is instantly false. So a larger part of understanding you, is the differentiation of the essential and contingent perhaps?

Anyway, back to why am writing to you today. I think I am my true self when I am my happiest self. Something like right now? I have work that I like, a partner that I love, a solid family, friends who are rock centre, and there is less drama. Nothing seems like too big a goal to achieve and I trust timelines. I trust that there is a plan. However, sometimes the number of days, that I reduce myself to the lowest common denominator of all the things I am, is higher than the good ones. So which of the two versions do I choose to define ‘me’ if I have to? I would pick the content/happy me over and over again. Adversity doesn’t define you, it only tests, pushes you till you come out the other side refined, and decide what the next content/ happy you're going to look like. [insert thought: did I just jinx myself?]


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