Wear your Struggles

Jyoti Shekar

I recently experienced something that made me question our culture and practices.

Actually, a lot of things trigger that thought! But right now, I am talking about taboo subjects like pregnancy, marriage, divorce and so on. Funnily enough, these terms themselves have no happiness and sadness attached to them. It is only people’s feelings associated with each event.

I mean, a marriage is happy if the parents and family arrange it, but a sad event (still in many families) if it is something they do not approve of, especially inter-caste or inter-religion.

Same with pregnancy, if married, it is the best thing in the world (of course, even better if it is a boy baby), but totally not acceptable if unmarried. While there are cultural practices and acceptable behaviour defined for a semblance of decorum in the society, but ostracising someone for something like this is the reason people are ashamed of being different than others.

I recently came to know that one of my closest friends is divorced but was ashamed of telling people. While I do not care about it either way, it made me think, are we really that ashamed of ourselves?

If we climb an un-scalable mountain, won’t we feel proud of ourselves? Forget about the accolades from others, but accomplishing a task in itself makes us happy nevertheless.

I clean my house thoroughly once a week. Nobody gives me an award for it, but I feel particularly happy after that. Isn’t that the right way to feel, rather than being depressed and ashamed of how the house looked before?

That’s a small and silly example to make my point. But digging in deeper, I have been ashamed of myself most of my life. Because I have a skin condition. It impacted me so much that I tried to hide it from everybody. In fact, I only made friends with those who did not ask me about it. That is my parameter to know a good person from a bad one. My filter to make friends. Surprisingly, I have a big circle of friends. That taught me that there are a lot of people who don’t care about how different you look. In fact, the difference is something we should wear like a crown.

That is when I started feeling confident about myself. And that is what I think we should all do. My father taught me that everything is relative in life. Our struggles too. All of us have something to struggle for, something to be ‘ashamed’ of and something to hide fearing ridicule. But if we compare ourselves with someone having a good phase, we will feel more ashamed, but if we look at someone less fortunate at the time, we feel lucky.

What I used to do, when someone asked me about what’s wrong with me, is to retort that let us not discuss weaknesses or problems, all of us have something or the other. That is just one way of dealing with it. Everyone finds their own path, once we accept ourselves as we are.

And I am inspired by people who boldly share their journey, without fear of judgment or ‘not fitting in’. Those, to me, are the brave ones; definitely more than people who do something knowing that they are doing what society considers noble or honourable, and would sure shot receive appreciation for it.

But that’s public sharing, a personal preference. But if we don’t have a close set of friends to share our troubles with, without worrying about being judged, then what is the point of having friends?

Having said that, I don’t mean we should share our problems with every passerby. Especially I have seen single women struggle with opening up about their marital status because of the way people perceive them, at work and outside. I am a very open person and do not think of my life as secretive. And I was single for a long time (out of my own volition). And somehow it was almost always awkward sharing that piece of information about me, as it was sure to bring totally unwanted advances. That’s a classic example of sharing with the wrong person.

Sometimes, we have to bow down and simply avoid telling people something. But we should not feel shame in something that is not our fault at all. The only time I would feel shame is if I hurt somebody or caused harm to something.

We are ashamed of our struggles because it makes us different from others. But don’t you think that’s exactly why we should be proud of them?

That we are unique and not nameless in a crowd?

Let us wear it like a crown!

*All images used in this article are either Eyra’s own design or widely and freely available on the internet.*

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