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“You’re asking me? Me???”

Many blue moons and heart-breaks before, when I was just getting the crazy idea of being a writer (after failing to paint, swim, crack maths, dance and so on), life threw a disaster and an opportunity at the same time. I think I was in the second year of college, when out of the blue, I realized that there was a board exam coming up and I got no idea what to do with those four hours in the exam hall. It was my first ever depressive bout that lasted half the year and obscured the my days long after the exam ordeal was over. The things I remember doing were (a) crying (b) looking fixedly at the ceiling for hours (c) craft a perfect suicide (d) make myself invisible. This was the first time I faced depression in all its aggressive energy. My counsellor diagnosed it as ‘the condition of a champagne bottle that had been opened suddenly. You being stretched at two ends by two diametrically opposite forces, the world of obedience and conformity on one end and the world of fun, rebellion and recklessness.’ At about the same time Westland Publishers were receiving submissions for Chicken Soup for the Indian Teenage Soul, the first of a leg of the famous Chicken Soup series, in India. I had the story wafting in front of me. The juvenile piece, that was written a good many years back, in the heat and tension of a sufferer is brought back to me my Meenakshi, a young girl about to face the Boards, going through something similar to me. Earlier too, a young girl had tracked me down to compliment me on the piece, which I have forever thought to be hopelessly juvenile. I have also written for Chicken Soup for the Indian College Soul, after which I was disillusioned with the series and promptly relegated them to didactic moral science text books. Meenakshi has suddenly bombarded into my cynical world and proved that something teetering more on passion than mature writing as such, holds more relevance. I am honoured to have her in my circle. And I wish her all the best. I a pasting here our e-mal conversation so that more people get involved, and discuss about how students are suffering under an unseen monstrosity and most often we have no one to understand us and lots of people to scoff these off as ‘teenage blues’. I am disappointed that I cannot track down the soft copy of ‘My Hardest Days’ (my contribution to The Chicken Soup for Teenage Soul) which in fact has prompted Meenakshi to contact me. I will post the piece here, as soon as I get hold of it. Meanwhile, let’s all participate and help a young person tide over some tough times.

Love and Wishes –The Jobless Ideator

Meenakshi wrote The Jobless Ideator on January 16, 2012, 9.52 pm (IST)


My name is Meenakshi… I’m a class XII student and I read your “My Hardest Days” in the “Chicken Soup for Indian Teenage soul”… and I must say it was such a relief to read it… I’m presently in a situation very much like the one you described there and I couldn’t find your blog, so I’m not sure if you’ll see this mail. But if you do, then I really need your help. I’m just a few months away from my Board Exams… but still, it’s not even that I’m afraid of… What really scares me is staying this way forever.

My story’s a long one, so I’m not gonna go into it… But, my problems are exactly what you described in that book. I just want to know… Is there something which could possibly help me now? I mean… I’ve tried asking help from almost everyone around me and yet I’m still spending half the night crying in my room. My parents don’t understand… well, I guess no one really does. But if you could shed some more light on what seems to be near complete darkness to me, I would be immensely grateful. Thanks a lot.


The Jobless Ideator replied on January 16, 2012 at 11.39 pm (IST)

Hello there!

Mighty pleased to hear from you!
I am glad to hear that my juvenile piece helped you in some way. Those indeed were some of my Hardest Days. And though I don’t quite know what you’re exactly going through, I can guess well enough.
I must say, Meenakshi that am perhaps the last person qualified to help you. I can only tell what I have experienced and learnt in my tenure on this planet, and maybe something might hit a common chord with you. I’ll tell you one of the harshest truths I’ve learnt
Nothing given to you is more than you can handle.

Believe me, Meenakshi, I speak from pain and realization and I pray with all my heart that you do not have to go through similar stuff in your life to realize this truth. But again, nobody really learns anything, without experiencing itthemselves. Which is why self-help books do not help us that much.
So Meenakshi, always have one thing straight in your mind – there is a purpose for you, there is something that God wants you to know, and this is His way of initiating you to a wider world. 

You must have read in my piece how lonely I was, how friendless and misunderstood. Like you, the only things I did were to cry and sleep. That’s it. Not one word registered in my memory. I knew I was going to fail. But I didn’t. I just managed to scrape through. And today I can live to tell you this tale.
Never say die. Believe that you’re going to come out of all the mess.
You’ve got to believe that you’re going to survive. The sun and the stars are not going to stop for you Meenakshi. Am sure you’ve heard of Rabindranath Tagore. The great poet lost his daughter at a young age. When nothing could console him, he submitted himself to the vastness of Nature. He looked around and saw a strange indifference, an insolent immunity in the leaves, the flowers, the sunshine. Then he thought, Nature doesn’t seem to care for my sorrow. What am I? I am Nothing. My sorrow is nothing!

Meenakshi am not your spiritual teacher. I am absolutely underqualified to handle that responsibility. All I can tell you is, you’ve got a long long way to go…When I spent nights like you inside my bedroom, crying to silent pillows, living on psychiatric drugs, I thought I’ve had enough of it. My quota of sorrow is full. 

It didn’t happen. It doesn’t. I am just 25 years of age. And you’ll be surprised to know what pain, anguish, terror I have and still go through, every day. What am trying to do is not give up. 

You just cannot give up Meenakshi. You’ve found me. Maybe, this is where our paths meet. Maybe, we’ll both benefit from it. Maybe, we’ll quarrel and shift away. Maybe, you’ll fail the Boards. Maybe I’ll win the Nobel Prize in 10 years. Or stay lonely and misunderstood forever.
I am as insecure as you are Meenakshi. I do not have answers. But, something keeps me going. Something that tells me I have to live through my quota of sorrow and happiness.
I have to accept that which I cannot change.
I have to have courage to change what I can.
I have to have the wisdom to know the difference between the two.
Millions of people around the world at this moment are thinking, how to get past another day. There’s no food, there’s flood, there’s earthquake, there’s poverty. And ironically, I sitting plush at my PC is trying to comfort you using examples of survival anguish.
You are not on a tree and seeing the water level creeping up and anticipating death by drowning.
You are not seeing a beloved lying in coma for 21 days straight, recovering and dying after 9 months.
You are not a girl who sells her virginity to earn her tuition fees.
You are safer and better. And someday soon the clouds will loft.
You can handle everything you’re going through. That is exactly why you’re being given to handle it all.
You’re blessed Meenakshi.
There’s a long road in front and this is just the warm up before the first lap.
  • Try doing some deep breathing exercises.
  • Mediate: Sit cross-legged in padmasana, close your eyes and concentrate on the area between the eyebrows. Concentrate. Do not try to force out stray thoughts. Also, avoid getting involved with them. Watch your thoughts as if you are outside your body.
  • Do not let pressure mount on you. Take stock of time at hand and the syllabus to be completed. Then do a time-table for yourself..with heads as Subject and study hours.
  • Sleep for at least 8 hours a day.
  • Remember it is not the number of hours you put into preparation, but the quality of preparation you put into each hour.
  • If you’re feeling suffocated/scared/not getting sleep, see a counsellor. Speak about this openly with your parents.
  • It is not always possible for our parents to understand us. Forgive them fo their limitations. And always know they want the best from you.
  • Wake up each morning and say with a smile, “I am the best!” (believe, we all are fabulous!)
  • Do not try to understand what’s happening to you. A lot of things are inexplicable. Leave them as they are. And concentrate on the damage control.
Anytime you feel down, just shoot me a mail.
You can do it. We all can.
Love and luck,
The Jobless Ideator
P.S. – Visit my blog at www.weareideating.wordpress.com
I’ll be posting our conversation on the blog page as well.
Everybody goes through your phase. So just fight it out.
Smile broadly now 🙂
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