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When my mind feels like a pressure cooker about to explode

April 4, 2017 • Ria Golecha • 20 • New Delhi

It wasn’t too long ago when I thought I had lost my ability to thrive. My life felt like it was stuck in a rut. I felt like my head is just being pushed inward because of all the pressure that life offered me and I felt like I won’t be able to come out of this.

In a routine day since the past one and a half year, I have been waking up at 6 a.m, rushing to the gym, grabbing some coffee, attending classes at college, keeping up with frightening internal assessments, forgetting to eat lunch at most times, answering client calls, doing a few Skype calls and going for four meetings per week on an average for a venture that I’m associated with.

I stopped meeting with any friends, apart from the few engaged with me in my venture. College life usually is considered to be a happy-go-lucky phase interspersed with sudden trekking plans, Saturday night outings, fun filled picnics and carefree movie watching binge. None of this happened to me.

A year back, my friends in my hostel used to ask me to accompany them for a fun night listening to the refreshing Qawalis at Nizamuddin Dargah, or go to shop and eat at Chandni Chowk, or just randomly chill in South Delhi. They have almost stopped asking me for anything now. They know I’ve been keeping busy and each time that I turn down their offer, I am the one who feels really really sad because deep inside I also want to go, but the work doesn’t allow me to. Some people at college even bully me for the weird reason that I don’t take a break in life. They mock at me, and I just stare at their face. My old school buddies now remind me of their own birthdays and express each time how I forgot to wish them year after year. I used to never forget to wish them when I was in school, in close touch with them, but the work load here is maybe playing with my memory.

Life hadn’t been a bed of roses before entering college and starting a venture either. I had to study day in and day out for my Board Examinations in high school. There was too much pressure. By the age of 16 years, I already had a Bachelor’s degree in Kathak (Indian classical dance), headed my school’s students’ council, had topped class consecutively since the past 4 years, ran a little school for children living with HIV and had managed to badge hundreds of extra-curricular activities. My Geography professor expected me to be the first student in our school’s history to score a 100/100 in the subject in the Boards. My class teacher made the naughtiest kid in class sit next to me, in the hope that he would gain from some positive externalities by being in my company. Each time I stepped out of my school classroom, my juniors used to look up to me with bright eyes, expecting me to completely nail the board exams and secure a perfect score.

Returning home subdued under the weight of the heavy school bag and strenuous aspirations, when I entered the kitchen and saw the pressure cooker, it looked exactly like my head. Pressure cookers are known to be hot, dangerous and capable of blowing their lid. My head resembled the poor cooker so much, burning and steaming with fire.

You know, over time, I have come to realize this one fact. Each of us has a multitude of things to do. All of us eat, sleep, work and dream. Each night we lie down on our bed and just out of the blue, beautiful thoughts of the favorite vacation spot that we have always craved to go to, magically appear. This happens to me so much. In the toughest of days, I get the best of dreams. I dream of a clear sky, scintillating blue cold waters, high rise mountains, no phones and internet, no work and office. I dream of my own self, striding my path wading through the waters and finally reaching the summit. You and I, all of us are going through a crazy maze of trials in our life and each experience is just testing our capability to hold on.

Now what makes me survive the bullying remarks of my acquaintances? What makes me steer through the pressure and still manage to put a smiling face at the end of the day? What make me bear the wrath of my friends who feel that I am not paying much attention to them?

It’s the satisfaction that I get from the work I do!

My motto since forever has been to do what I like to do. My parents and my sister taught me to listen to my heart but work with my mind. I have stopped caring about what other’s will think of me when I pursue my passion, which is seemingly something different from what people of my age do. Of course, I do care about people and about their opinions on me, but I take it as a learning. If I agree to their notions, then I end up imbibing them but if I am against their thoughts and ideology, then I do not consider it because it wavers my focus and my personal ideology.

Even right now, as I am sitting and writing this blog in my hostel, my best friend comes and hands over a pamphlet of the next street play she and her team is going to perform. Its been three years in Delhi and I haven’t been able to see her play even once. The time for both of us, just didn’t match. I know that I won’t be able to attend the play even tomorrow because I have to go for work, but still I accept her invitation and say I’ll try my best. I do that because I don’t want her to feel bad and I don’t want to feel bad myself.

A lot of times when I feel stuck in a rut, I forget that I actually have the ability to change things. I now have started to think of ways to strike the right balance and stop complaining about life.

Sometimes, it’s easy to believe that the world is determining your path for you, like you have no say in the matter, and the only thing you can do is wait for the world to change it. However, it wasn’t too long ago when I finally took the plunge. I became fed up with my life and decided to take it back. I buckled up my boots and started to tackle my issues one by one. I stopped hiding behind my fears and started asking for what I wanted and what I believed I deserved. And when I did, I felt alive—as if I’d just awaken from a year long coma. To be honest, it was scary to do, but in the midst of the doubt I imagined what my life would be like if I didn’t make those changes, and, frankly, it scared me to my core. So while I’m still developing the strength to lead the life I want and strike the right work-life balance, I wish that I am able to help empower people to free themselves from feeling stuck in their own life and enjoy the process with flying colours.

TAGS #balance #coping #pressure