The faintest memory that I have of my childhood, dates to the time when I was just 3 years old. I was always a fun-loving, chirpy child who used to talk, play, make friends, win people’s heart by her innocence and wit. That was my authentic self, the real me. I was fearless, unguarded, loving, enthusiastic and playful. I don’t remember when I started to pull myself to a cocoon to hide myself from the world and the people around. School happened relatively early for me. Most of my class-mates are older to me by few months or a year. That’s my rational mind speaking, in fact my small mind talking to show you that I am young. Ah! Thanks to me that I could figure this out! How does it even matter if my friends are of the same age or older?!
I loved going to school. I loved my teacher, Miss Ida Mary who was my first role model. I loved the way she dressed, the way she talked, sang, cared for us and most of all I loved her moves. I wanted to be like her. I even imitated her when I was young. Those were the days that were carefree, fun and simple. It resonated with my being. I loved acting with her, rhyming, singing, dancing and imagining a beautiful life. The environment was positive, I was positive. I was kind too. In fact, I was very kind and vulnerable. I still remember once while I was going back home from school, I had an apple which I was about to eat since I was hungry. But just then a beggar came towards me and asked for the apple. The young girl in me never ever gave a second thought but gave the apple to the beggar happily. I wasn’t driven by the need to be loved, to feel important or to feel good; but it just came from a space of kindness. That was the leadership depth of a young girl of 4 or 5!
Empathy wasn’t taught, it came naturally. This is what we all human beings have at the core. Love, positivity & warmth. That’s what is people essence to me. But, slowly I transitioned into a different person. I no longer found that innocent girl in me. Every time I tried to be one, I feared the consequences. I tried to guard myself slowly and even unconsciously. It took me 37 years to even dare to look back at my life and be aware of that fear that stood in the way of my authenticity. I wonder why this happened and I sat in the inquiry of this transition. Today I am doing this because my Coach has inspired me to do it. What good did this transition do to me?! I am living my life, I have a family, I am blessed with a son, I am doing well in my profession, people know me, I am loved, respected. What more do I need?! I feel fake. Every time I feel fake because I know I lost my authentic self, long back and the person who I am today is not the one who I was truly born as. God created me to give love and kindness but as I walked the journey and experienced few challenges, I started guarding myself. I put a curtain on my authenticity and I tried to satisfy my small mind: to be loved, to feel important & to be good. These needs drove all my actions and eventually made me who I am. But, at the core, my essence got hidden and I let this happen to me. Probably, unconsciously I chose the name People Essence for my organization too. I didn’t have that depth and maturity to not let it get guarded.
I loved the subject Moral Science. In fact, I used to score good marks in that subject. It’s not just about scoring but I loved the subject because I resonated with its teaching. For an innocent mind, I foresaw a world of morality, love, freedom. There wasn’t word like impossible, no, can’t, negative in my dictionary. My parents also tried to reinforce that believe in me. My grandfather also lived by those values and walked the talked. He inspired me to live those values. His actions gave me strength and courage. But as I grew, I wanted to be a part of the herd. I longed to be accepted by my peers. I wanted to be included in their groups. To be included, I had to compromise somewhere. I realised that when I showed my goodness, my deepest core to them, they took me in different taste. I didn’t like being alone. So, I slowly started to cover up my core. I tried to be like them. I acted to be like them which I was not. I started to have a dual face. One for the outer world to accept me and one for myself & those special people who would accept me with my core. This happened unconsciously. And I became so good at this that I slowly lost touch with who I was. Whenever I wanted to connect with my real self, my rational mind stopped me. My rational mind, my small mind told me that to be loved, to be important and to be good; you must abide by the norms of the society & people around you. Yes, at the basement of my core, there resides a fear of being left all alone. When left alone, whom would I care for or shower my kindness to?! So, I need people around me to give them my love, affection & kindness. This belief in turn created some deeper thoughts in me such as: To be accepted, I need to act like the crowd; to be loved, I need to follow the common rules; and when will I feel important, when these people like me not for who I am but for who they think I am. When you put shadow in your gifts and let your dark side come out intentionally; eventually what happens? You break down/you become numb/a part of you dies. When people don’t belief your genuine intentions, what you do is slowly drop it and just become one like them. This is so easy, and you gain admiration very easily. My unconscious motto all my life had been: Play low to be liked; don’t display your core because for them this is not real. I am amazed at my coping mechanism and to a great extend ashamed also that I destroyed my own core, my gift with my own hands.
You are good the way you are. Do you believe in this? I am sure we don’t because many a times we spot the goodness in others but don’t see it in us. I had a lovely voice and had a flare for singing. I got the first prize in the school singing competition too. But, because I didn’t belief in my own gift; it was very easy for few bad mouths to break my moral and aspiration. I always needed validation. Unless and until there is validation from others, I wouldn’t belief in it. But, the truth is this that because we are good, the talent gets validated. It’s not because of the validation that our talent gets nurtured. Validation came in different forms to me: wearing the aura of being the good student, getting top ranks in the class, winning medals, being liked, the adjectives that we hear from people and those that make our parents proud, the kudos from the teachers, the rivalry even because of being good, the competition…You name it and I have it! Yet, I feel I am not important, nobody loves me, and I am not good enough. Why, because only I know at the core who truly I am and what I am doing to fake all these.
When you fail, you just crush. Why? Because it is a biggest validation to your small mind that you are not good enough, you are not capable; hence nobody will love you and when no body loves you, this means you are not important at all. See, you have attached your sense of worth, a sense of your existence to such trivial thing that you try to escape this vicious cycle by sulking, dramatizing and blaming situations, challenges in your life. But, the truth is that we are here in this journey of life not to prove anything, not to be validated but to live by connecting with our core, living from our essence, from our being. That is our purpose. But, we wander here and there till we realise that we are living in disillusionment. I am angry at myself for this sheer stupidity on my part. I grilled myself, I walked a path to realise that this is not my purpose. My path was well walked by that innocent girl in me that I didn’t give importance to, that I ignored, that I didn’t care for, that I didn’t love.
When the need to be loved becomes addictive and when it gets into our head, we then operate from a space of rationality. This again takes us away from our authenticity. When I didn’t crack my medical entrance exam, I broke down. My mother was so upset that she told me that she wouldn’t expect anything from me in future. It was her small mind operating then and hence she said that to me. But, she has all through out her life loved me, taken care of me and guided me with her best intentions. I took this in a negative way because something inside me got triggered. My failure mirrored back the believe that I have for myself: “I am not good enough.” One exam defined my existence and that’s the impact my validation had on me. My mother had always been proud of my achievements. But, I failed to receive that because I had long back blocked my core from being authentic to any emotion, feeling because it would display my true self to the world. And I thought that showing that beautiful self to the world will seclude me from all and hence to be included, just wear a mask that makes you look like everyone around.
My maternal grandfather and I shared a unique bond. I used to have matured conversations with him as a young girl. I revealed my core to him. I felt understood with him. I felt that he saw my gift and encouraged me to nurture it. Yes, he was my undeclared Coach! I felt a genuine sense of security around him. A man to me should be like him. That’s again the young girl in me talking. He lost his parents when very young, then he was raised by his uncle. He was a Lieutenant in the Royal Indian Navy. He fought for our country’s freedom, worked with Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. He became an advocate par excellence and raised his children to be great human beings. I always saw him mastering his craft, reading books, leading with grace and inspiring us to manifest our gifts. I wish I could spend more years of my life with him. I would have been a different person or maybe I would not have waited 37 years to realise what I am realising. When he left me for his heavenly abode, I was broken. But, I acted strong. I tried not to feel the pain at losing him. I didn’t even go to see him good bye for the last time. I wanted to keep him alive in my thoughts, my memories and most of all, I wanted to live in the oblivion that he is with me all the time, guiding me and coaching me. I learnt to numb my pain. I never let myself feel this pain. I gave this the name of being strong. I would miss him like hell, would long to hear him speak to me but never acknowledged this loss. Maybe it was anger, the helplessness of losing that special person who believed in me and my dreams. At least I felt that way. He made me dream big and think big. I didn’t know how to react and what to do. He just went away. That’s when I decided to emotionally withdraw from loving someone so deeply. It is painful. I could have relived my memories with him by living what he preached. But, I was back to square with my own small mind. I myself gave power to my small mind to lead me, my destiny and my life. Everything that I did, came from the space of my small mind. I lost touch with my big mind. I believed that I am not good enough, no one loves me, and I am not important for anyone. I numbed my pain by running away from realities and doing things that pleases others. What best way could be then becoming obedient?! Yes, I chose to graceful, polite, obedient, studious, committed, amicable…I chose to be Miss Perfect that would evoke jealousy in my friends, social groups, a pride for their parents, a bench mark for adults of my age group. But, I wasn’t doing all these from a space of truly owning myself; but to please others to gain their love, to feel special, to feel important. And imagine what happens when you operate from this space?! Do you become productive? Do you excel? Do you gain good reputation? Oh yes, you do! But, you feel fake and lost. Sometimes we don’t even realise that this is what we are doing to ourselves. At least I could nail the demon in me before it is too late. What kind of people, relationship, career, path would I attract from this space of triviality?! Just the way I did in my life. I topped my MBA, I scaled in my career, I am known as a good girl, I am known to be a committed wife, I am known to be a proud mother, someone living my dreams and purpose. But, I know the truth and I own it today.
Yes, all my life I operated from a space of living in my small mind. There was fear, there was neediness to be loved, to be valued, to feel important and to be worthy of love. All these negative emotions guided my actions & behaviour and it didn’t give me an ounce of fulfillment in true sense. Everybody around me said I am doing wonderful work, but I never believed in those voices because I knew where I was operating from. Deep down I knew what my deepest intentions were. So, today I take complete responsibility of my entire life. I own everything that happened to me and I let it happen. I don’t blame anyone. In fact, I thank them for being a part of my growth journey. Every soul that I encountered contributed in their own ways to make the person that I am today. However, the final touch needs to be done by me because I was the first person to have put the first curtain on my beautiful core. I was born with a core that exuded love, kindness, compassion and reverence for all beings. I was the one who didn’t let this core bloom into a beautiful self. I take responsivity for my life and I am now shedding my curtains, guards one by one and cleansing my soul. I want to bloom into that person who I truly am. I want to operate from the space of my core and not from the neediness of my small mind. This shift in me and my being is my gift to the world. I wish to inspire people like me who wants to relive and reconnect with their core & operate from a space of limitless possibilities not for gaining love, importance or to feel valued, but to do things from the space of that being. Living by being authentic. I welcome the little girl in me again. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Coach to People Leaders, Start-up Founders & Transitioning professionals