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I live my life my way: your validation is not needed

19 Feb 2017

“Marzi se jeene ki bhi main

Kya tum sabko arzi doon?

Matlab kii tum sab ka mujhpe mujhse bhi zyada haq hain???”


The song lyrics blew out of the bus radio and rocked my senses hard, harder than necessary. Not that I haven’t been heard it before, but this time it got me thinking; may be because I was in ‘the phase’? Oh you don’t know about the phase right? Well, let me tell you.


The SRK venom ensnared my senses like millions of youth across the world, I too dreamt of a pink romance. The reality was different however. From college to university, even the early days of job, relationship was something that never worked out for me. May I was too ‘me’, having priorities other that the ‘boyfriend’, or maybe I expected too much; but whatever it was, break ups were hard to deal with. With every break up, I felt losing a part of myself in the process of getting up and moving on. It seemed to be I was closing another door within me so as not to get hurt.


And then one day I told myself, what the hell? Damn those dramatic moments of kiddish romance, let me grow up once and for all. Luckily, I had a job when I took this decision, and independence came quite easily. My workload helped me not to fall back to the gloomy desolate nights, and the financial freedom allowed me to have my own pad rather than putting up with the family and its old fashioned nuances. But like everything, the freedom also came with a price, the price that you need to pay for being you.


The relatives whined and complained when they learnt about my decision to shift away from parents and live on my own. Frankly speaking, my parents were not much happy about it as well, especially my mom who took it as my abandoning them. Her comments bothered me; I could not understand why she could not see my point of view. The relatives told me it was not ‘right’ for an unmarried girl to stay alone, that if I want to be away from home I should get married, what will people think etc; but by now I have learned the hard way how to ignore others’ opinions and live with my own.


In spite of all the negative feedback, life was great. I was savoring every minute of the independence. I was not answerable to anyone other than myself; need not go out of the way to please someone else. I started working with more vigor, resulting into a well deserving promotion. It was in the party that I gave to celebrate my success; I heard what people actually thought about me. Few had the courage to speak to me about it while most hushed behind my back. What hurt me the most was that my parents silently agreed mostly with them, they hardly took my side the whole evening.


No one was happy to see how beautifully I had furnished and decorated my apartment. Rather they inquired whether my salary is enough to support all this; if not, then where am I getting the money from? It reminded me the visits to the thrift stores and bargaining till my voice got hoarse. They were troubled that I was not depressed being alone and was not running back to my parents for every other necessity, I was managing well on my own. They expected me to stumble at the first rock; I standing tall was too much for them to take in.


It was just the beginning. The comments became sharper day by day, the insinuations graver. I must be living in with someone, hence the choice not to get married and staying alone. I must be taking financial help from someone else, or else how could manage such an apartment. People do have biological needs right? So how am I living without my share of it? Ergo, I must be having it in a shameful way! My parents were not happy to see me independent and self supportive, rather they lessened contact as I ‘shamed’ them.


Initially I took them in stride, but at times it did take a toll on me. Why the judgment, mate? I mean do you see me coming to your place and questioning your lifestyle? Why can’t you return the courtesy? But no matter how much I tried to convince myself this, it was hard to live with this. 6 months this was and I started questioning myself. I was doubtful at time about my decisions and felt whether it has been better if I stuck to the traditional route. And then the logical mind would counter, why do I need to live by their rules and laws? Because they could hurt me otherwise; it was the truth but I was ashamed to own it up even to myself; it made me feel weak. I liked myself a bit less these days; and it was at this ‘phase’ I heard the song in the bus.


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I was going to meet my cousin Supriyo, who had come to visit after 6-7 years. I was apprehensive about him too, thinking about how he would judge me after all this time. For a moment I regretted coming at all. The chat with Supriyo over coffee that evening did not blow away all the negatives from my life, it simply reminded me that the right path had more hurdles, thus, I was having more trouble that the rest.


He told me that it is not possible to make everyone happy, and most people do not even care about the efforts that we make for them. Therefore it makes no sense to attend to those do not even care, rather necessary to focus on the ‘Me & Now’. It might be that they had wanted to live my life all along, but could not take the step to achieve it; sad people lash out at others, don’t they? There is no need to think people will appreciate all the goodness, most don’t if they are unable to achieve it themselves. Also, we live in a country where gender determines health hazards and working hours decide character. So is it really worthy to doubt myself based on their judgment? No. Period.


I told him I expected my parents to support me. Supriyo smiled.

‘Ah little sis, here is the catch. As much as you need not live up their expectations, they also can choose not to live up to yours. Can’t blame them for that.’

It was an eye opener for me. He was right. When I stopped living with others opinions, I expected them to agree with mine; but it was not necessary that they would or need to. I could not change them, nor did I need to; but I could live with my choice of choosing myself over others. The Indian society is pathetic at some points, but hey, we can make it better, can’t we?


Sadda haq, aeithhe rakh!

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Tags: single woman, society, judgmental people, assertiveness, coping skills, well being, live with dignity