Raise your left hand if you’ve ever felt like a misfit — in school, college, workplace, social gatherings. Now raise the other hand if you’ve killed yourself (not literally, Einstein!) trying to change yourself because it made you feel inferior. If both your hands are up, GOOD. At least for the next few minutes, this should be your punishment for being so stupidly harsh on yourself.
If you must know, my one hand is raised too, and believe me, it’s not easy to type out this column single-handedly. See, I have nothing against people trying to better themselves. Constant improvisation is what dictates an individual’s growth. But then getting a complex because you don’t look, talk or dress like everyone else in your group is just.not.done. Suna Kya?
Last week, I got a mail from a 24-year-old engineer from a town near Dehradun. This guy recently moved to Gurgaon to work with a software giant. And within a few weeks, things have come to a stage where in his mail, he asked me for a therapist’s reference because he is depressed. "In corporate world, life can be hell for someone who is from a small town. I am worried all the time that perhaps I don’t come across as being as smart and fluent as others in my team. Even when I know that I can beat the s*** out of everyone when it comes to technical skills, I’m made to feel under-confident. I’m utterly depressed because I don’t speak or look as modern as they do."
Oh Dehradun wale bhai… depression is not flu that you can catch standing at the bus stop. Therefore, please don’t use heavy-duty medical terms to scare yourself further. What you are going through is a problem that troubles even those who are not from small towns. Can’t you see so many from Delhi, Chandigarh or Lucknow reading this column right now with both their hands up, and trying to fool their family or friends by saying it’s some new yog asan?
Let’s deal with your problem right now.
1. Being the odd one is NOT a crime: If you’ll remember that one truth, you are likely to sail through life being way happier than others. You may not be as fluent in English as some hoity-toity classmates whose parents raised them by singing English loris every night (uff, lullabies, for those who didn’t get lori. Doob maro!). You may not dress as well as your colleagues who could easily double as beauty pageant contestants after work hours. You may be an introvert who doesn’t like to talk much while others in your group deserve a bandage on the mouth for non stop chitter chatter. You may speak with a regional accent that some mean colleagues try to poke fun at, while forgetting that they started rolling their ‘R’s after they went to US for just three days, that too on company expense.
Seedhi baat?…you could be any of the above and it is still OKAY. Don’t try too hard to transform into someone that
you are not, overnight. Dress sense, language fluency etc are things that anyway change, hopefully for the better, during the various phases of a person’s life. Give yourself time to go through that natural evolution. For those who make fun of you because you don’t belong, I’m typing these words with my middle finger now.
2. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for being different: Author Carlos Castaneda, in his popular Teachings of Don Juan said, “In every explanation, there is an apology.” So, unless you’ve done something wrong and malicious that causes harm to someone else, how you speak, dress, behave is no one’s business but yours. Offering an explanation would seem like an admission of your shortcomings and would suggest that whoever was making fun of you is right. Be proud of the way you are, people get impressed more by inner confidence than anything superficial.
3. Misfits are necessary: Imagine how hellishly boring life would be, if all friends in a group dressed, spoke or gelled their hair exactly the same way. Those who are different, add spice to interactions. In fact, a lot of those who history has termed genius, considered themselves misfits in the conventional sense. It worked for them. It’ll work for you. Haan, don’t try to grab attention by intentionally try to act different or cool. People who have the problem of d.a.s.t (desperate attention seeking techniques, you dirty mind!) come across as cheesy and tacky. You are good the way you are.
Okay, hands down now. Tomorrow morning, your arms will hurt so much that you’ll look and behave different than others. Mission accomplished.
The Tension-Not calmness trophy this week to
- Nicky Kulwant, for being one of the most positive people I’ve ever come across in life
- Naveen Arora for a spectacular sense of humour that’s entirely unmatched; and
- Maninder Singh for a rare combination of extremely sensible thinking and superb technical expertise.
Calmness to all of you…
Sonal Kalra wants to eradicate the disease of inferiority-complex from this world. But she thinks she's not intelligent enough. How depressing. Mail your calmness tricks at email@example.com of on Facebook at facebook.com/sonalkalra13.
Follow on Twitter at twitter.com/sonalkalra.