The other day I was speaking to one of my mentors. As we sat talking about success, dreams and ambitions, and why mine has not materialised yet, she said, "It's because I'm not passionate about it." I looked at her with the stillness of a boiling kettle as she gave time for the words to sink inside me. While it had the required effect, the fumes from within me did condense over her. She stuttered before settling into a confident clarification, " I mean, not passionate ENOUGH. As in your desire is not STRONG enough, for the universe to conspire..."
I know some people who are 'passionate enough' with 'strong desire' focussing on their dream, challenging the universe to conspire in their favour. A few of them have managed to get the undivided attention of the universe, as well.
I envied them. Felt jealous of them. I wasted days and nights thinking how they managed to achieve that. Then a period of frustration, bitterness, anger and disorientation followed. I felt miserable, unworthy and useless. My emotions even spilled over into the kitchen, living room and even the bedroom before I collected all self-help books from the shelf and devoured every word and set about cleansing myself - a cold turkey process, pleading with the endorphins that punished me for abusing it. Ultimately, when it replenished me, I would see reason, feel better and be happy. But the sunshine lasted only until I saw or heard another success story.
I was tired of myself. I hated myself. And, yes, I began doubting my beliefs, too.
That pattern has stopped. It wasn't a step-on-the-break-and-halt action, because the pattern was the sediment accumulated over the years within me. Like the rocks on the shore that watch in awe the play of majestic waves and helplessly receive the thrashings at their whim, only to continue their silent life, so did I live my life for many long years.
As a 12-year-old when my first cousin caught me by the arm and showed the piled up gifts on the table in her bedroom, the night before her wedding, I was thrilled. I thought I was taken to help her unwrap them. I jumped up the bed, when I heard, “What did you get for me? Look, this is how you come for weddings. Go, tell your parents.”
|That's me and my kiddie brother [left] with a cousin at the wedding|
That was the first blow of life’s reality I had! I did not reply. I remember smiling, before running out to play. I never asked my parents why they didn’t give her a gift. I found the answer myself.
Numerous occasions in childhood years that followed, I remember just smiling at veiled comments made by my affluent cousins which made me feel like an appendage. Like the time I was reprimanded for shutting the door of my cousin’s new Maruthi. “This is not Ambassador, Nisha. Don’t you know how to close the door to a car?” I remember smiling, before talking to my teen mind...'had my parents owned a car, would they have dared that tone!’
Annual visits to my hometown served as a crash course on life’s inequalities. Those were the months I matured into an adult even before I could step into adolescence.
A couple of years later, when my kiddie brother’s shoe had come apart at a family function, my uncle [older to my dad by at least 15 years] said in front of the gathered guests, “Ask you father to spend some money, boy. And then he turned to me and continued with a shameful scorn, “Go get him a pair of slippers, at least.” I remember smiling before quickly glancing over my shoulders to check if my parents were within hearing distance. By then, I was obsessed about protecting my mom and dad from the shame other's inflicted on me.
However, it was only to get worse. When my brother and I finished school and opted for BCom and BSc respectively, even our friends whom we thought were our best buddies ridiculed my parents. What will a boy do studying BCom! At get-togethers my parents were pariahs attempting to hold their own amid exaggerated professional talk.
My 'desire' to succeed began then. My 'passion' to succeed began then. But so also, did comparison take root then. Impatience spread its tentacles sowing the seeds of hatred all within me...
It took me all these years to understand what 'success' is. The journey was fuelled by real-life experiences I was privy to. Such as, seeing some cousins whom I thought were extremely well-off, not satisfied and yearning to compete with their neighbours. It came after seeing a few relatives who are on the top rung of society and in their upper tier of life span cribbing. It came after seeing one of my aunts who is on the verge of penury who always adorns an infectious smile and never misses to prepare a five-course meal for me. It came after seeing two social butterflies of my family throwing a party for selected relatives. It came after seeing friends visit me only when they needed some help and not attend my calls. It came when my senior called me an intense and private person but a reliable professional - all in one breath. It came when friends went on monologues for hours, advising me on life and purpose judging my silence, I guess, for ignorance. It came when I was spoken to by friends on what is best for my child because I'm not seemingly ambitious a mom. It came when I was hurt by dear ones who kept me waiting when I called on them. It came as I am forced to listen to a friend's breathless talk of her business every time we meet when I have no clue or inclination for anything retail. It came when I saw friends who haven't read my book nor showed any interest in knowing what it is about being curious about how much the project cost…
I don't want to be sitting with my laptop when I have visitors. I don't want to be on the phone and wave goodbye when friends take leave of me. I don't want to ask my child to shut up and leave me alone when she comes to speak to me. I don't want to ask my husband to switch on the TV for company when he returns after a tiring day at work. I don't want to keep my old parents waiting and choose to work on holidays. I don't want to ban my daughter's friends from coming over because it would eat into my private time. I don't want to send hugs on Whatsapp and not visit people in person so as to make up for my lack of time for them...
When my mentor explained, "To be successful, you need to live your passion every waking minute to materialise it. Think about it every fraction of a second to see it come true. Talk about it as often as possible to as many people as possible to attract help. Intent the first thing in the morning and the last thing at night for the universe to look your way...", I walked away with the word 'SELFISHNESS' echoing in my ears.
Dear friends… this post comes out to all you dream chasers out there, who are frustrated at not being ‘successful’. I'm not against life coaches. They are the best people to turn to, to get a pick of wisdom and methods to speed-track towards your achievement without having to spent your years in trials and errors. But one size does not fit all. It's when you try to squeeze into it that you hurt yourself. So customise their tips to meet your needs. Also, ignore the plethora of success stories they dish out of people who live and died their dreams.
My frustrated years have taught me: Your aims and dreams are independent of your success. You are successful when you live a happy life. And the secret to being happy is to RESPECT relationships and ENJOY your DAILY moments.
Also, remember your success cannot be defined and measured by any others' 'success' for the simple reason, what gives them happiness need not satisfy you.
Do strive to achieve your dreams [with ‘enough’ passion and ‘strong’ desire and the universal tools prescribed] but not at the cost of your daily life and your relations, please!