Aging is an inevitable process. It’s both, a curse and a blessing. Curse in a way, that you realize that life is not about unicorns farting rainbows over the blue sky. Rather, it’s about the emotional outbursts and brutal realities of daily life. Now the blessing part is not so cool but yes, we develop the ability to become functional adults despite all the complexities.
Remember what Peter Pan said? He was right, y’all.
Growing up, in itself, is a tough job. Particularly talking about the 20’s. Just like any other person, I have also been surrounded by existential dread and emotional trauma lately. Every day I would tell myself that everyone is doing better than me and all my friends have got it all figured out. My daily routine was a 9 to 5 job, followed by binge-watching a TV show and eventually going to sleep at 10 pm.
I stopped hanging out with friends and visiting relatives so that I don’t have to face the questions regarding my future plans.
Amidst this routine, I decided to catch up with my friends, to get to know how they are holding up with their apparently Instagram-happy lives. Here’s how that went down:
First up was Zara. Zara and I were friends in university.
She married a handsome guy who was a lawyer by profession, in 2017. All of the girls in our class were envious that her life is going to be ideally happy. Her Instagram was always flooded with joyous pictures. But the other day, when I heard her story, it was very different.
I found her very depressed and emotionally drained. I asked her why her husband isn’t helping, as he was very supportive, apparently. Her reply left me very shocked.
“My husband has emotionally abandoned me.”
I was stunned and sad at the same time. She was juggling her studies and alongside handling her household, but she was so dissatisfied with her performance, that it threw her into this state of depression. I realized then and there that not everything is as it seems.
My second friend, Aymen, is an intelligent and very hard working woman. She would always be in the top ten students in our class. Everyone thought she was out of their league.
When I reached out to her, she was depressed because she felt unwanted and misunderstood.
After having a long conversation with her, she concluded that it sucks to be single and all those girls who are married or are in a relationship are better off because they are wanted and valued and they have someone to go to when they’re down in the dumps.
My third friend, Amna has done her MPhil and she is now an independent working woman. Our circle adores her, but above all else, envies her too. She’s the co-founder of a startup. All sounds ideal, right?
However, one of her so-called “mentors” told her that her attire is not impressive enough to satisfy or attract the investors and she compared her with other co-workers, bluntly telling her that she is as submissive as a servant. Oh, and guess what? The mentor was a lady. She even had the audacity to comment on the accessories that Amna wears.
This not-so-constructive feedback shattered Amna’s self-image.
Now she has countless complexes about her physical appearance. Talking about the same, Amna says: “Every day, I stand in front of the mirror and compare myself with all the good looking women and think, even at my best, I look worse than all of them.”
These three meetings were enlightening and introspective for me in many ways and I concluded the following:
No one has got it all figured out
We all are trying to preserve the facade of being fine. Our surroundings pressurize us to bottle it up and put a silly smile on our face and go about our daily routine, pretending everything is fine, when it’s not. Just add a filter and fake it until you make it. Even if you can barely take the shame and hurt that comes from hiding your truth from the world, just hide it anyway. You see, we all are on the same page.
We all are fighting our individual battles
Being an adult makes you aware of all the painful existential issues. There are a lot of fears which make you believe that you are a failure when you’re of a certain age, and you see people doing better than you. It hurts! It’s okay if you are chaotic and dysfunctional at the moment and your best friend is adaptive and successful, you will bloom in your time. This is just a phase.
Keep looking out for each other
Emotional instability is one of the major causes of mental illness. It’s time that we realize the importance of emotional support. Be loyal to the sisterhood and look out for each other.
Talk to your friends and be vulnerable in front of them. Leave small encouragement notes for each other. Stop telling each other that you are fine, share your experiences and embrace the fact that shit happens and learn from each other’s mistakes and stand by each other. And most of all, be an active listener. Letting the person vent out solves half of the problems.
Sharing your weakness is a sign of strength and courage. Let’s help each other to be strong by helping each other feel weak. Okay? Okay.
Do you feel the same way? Let me know in the comments.
Cover image via Jhoom Jhoom Productions