I was bullied all through school and college. I did exactly what people asked me to do till I was about 22 years old. The only reason being, as a child I was told repeatedly, not to question people or the ways in which they do things or make you do things. Simply because it was rude to do so.
So as to not come across as a rude person, I would blindly and without any self-respect do things other people asked me to do. This meant never saying ‘no’ to anything. This meant, accepting defeat. This meant putting up with people that made you feel like absolute shit. This also meant following inanely boring indian cultural practices just to make other people temporarily happy. And I say temporarily, because in India, nobody can be happy with you forever. You’re bound to offend someone or the other at some point in time. And for most part of it, you might not even realize it. People very commonly hold grudges (excessively seen in the Indian society) and express them at the most odd hours, enough to embarrass you and your near ones in the process. Sometimes causing irreparable damage, but let’s get in to that later.
People in India are so engulfed in their traditional ways of living that they would not be able to stand a person with the ability to question and resist getting entangled in this dark abyss. But i’m getting away from the topic at hand here.
So doing things without questioning them made me really unhappy. Until one day, I looked around and realized that I was the most miserable person in the world. Well, everybody at one point or the other feels that way and this was my turn.
But that moment made me realize that just because you don’t follow or believe in the same things as other, does not necessarily translate as disobeying them. And it certainly does not mean that you are being rude. And even if it does mean that you are being rude, I found solace in the fact that at least I could live with a happy self. Not a self-loathing, society hating, rapidly being pulled towards the dark side person.
The first time I actually stood up against a older boy in my class was when he was ordering me around to bring him a glass of water and some snacks. A very dear friend pulled me aside and pointed it out to me. I hadn’t even realized it till she said something to me. I was in my own sweet oblivious world, trying to please every soul. Dead or alive. That day I put my foot down and braved his insults. That was a new beginning. It was a small victory, but I felt a tremendous rush through my head. I knew then, that I would henceforth live my life on my own terms. And I since have.
Although, in the later years, I came across a lot of people who harassed the living crap out of me. And as bad as it sounds, they only made me stronger. But people who are very obviously vicious and out to get you are not the worst of the lot. The ones that actually matter are.
For people like me, there is a constant struggle between doing the right thing and pleasing other people. There is no way you can reach a balance between these two end of a spectrum. The difficult part is to migrate from one end to the other and once that is done, you are good to go. When you are in between these points, you will hear a million people criticizing you. They will say stuff to you that will nearly break you, but that is exactly the point where you can pick up the pieces and move on and become a better person. Not for others, but for yourself. Because you should consider yourself worthy of your love and attention. What is the point of living your entire life pleasing someone else?
I often come across people who lead a rather meaningless life and it makes me extremely happy to see that I am not one of them. I’d help them see the light on the other side of the tunnel, if they really want to. Till then, god help them.