Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Notes from a self conscious soul - 1

It strikes early - this monster called self-consciousness - and it never does leave one alone. We’re fairly easy to spot - that lady who can string a decent enough tune yet is unable to sing in company, that man at the party with a formal smile on his face, the young girl fiddling with her phone as she waits for her friends - yeah they're the ones.

I've been there, done all of that. I'm still there, in part at least.

If you're one of the other lot - that self-assured breed - you cannot even begin to imagine what we have to put up with. When you're pushing us to do that dance, or sing that song and we're standing tongue-tied and helpless we're not being drama queens, or kings for that matter. It's almost a physical thing - the nasty nit picking in born self critic - that's holding us back. Our brains stop functioning, our throats dry up and our limbs refuse to obey us, deferring instead, to the monster.

We're hating the attention, yet can do nothing except wish the earth opens up and swallows us, which it consistently refuses to do.

And there's more. 

1. We get labelled snobbish/moody because we rarely initiate conversations. The truth is we are often dying for someone to talk to us first.

2. Obviously then, we don’t make friends easily. When we do make friends, we're the best kind since we are never presumptuous and tend to be very thoughtful. 

3. Our jokes are continuously hijacked by the more vocal members of the group. And we're not even sure we mind.

4. Standing up for our own birthday song is excruciatingly painful so we'll often hide away all of that day.

5. As for photographs, it's always a "No, Thank You". Over time, we perfect the art of skillfully avoiding them or looking carefully casual when the camera does come on but we can never really be casual. And we often hate our snaps.

6. A haircut is an embarrassment. A bad one is a catastrophe.

7. We never believe compliments. Nope we're not being modest, we really don't. We do love them though, who doesn't? But we still don't believe them.


8. Everyone's opinion matters to us - from the nosey neighbour's to a perfect stranger's. Not a great place to be in, I tell you.

9. We dress to fit in, never to stand out. Oh we can be chic and stylish but never flamboyant. 'Understated' is our thing.

10. We stick with the rules simply because that makes it easier to hide away.

A lot of my tribe are great in their chosen fields once they learn to camouflage the monster, which most of us do. We might even trump it for a while, only until we try something new or get into an unfamiliar situation and there it is in all its mocking glory, laughing at us for thinking it gone.

If you're still with me, chances are you are one of my kind. Stick around for my next post where we'll figure out a monster-bashing strategy.

Meanwhile the rest of you self-assured people just be gentle with us, will you? We mean no disrespect but we take time and a HUGE amount of effort to step out of our comfort zones. Don't hurry us, don't harass us. Be patient, we're getting there.

37 comments:

  1. Aww, I for one, think you are an incredible person and will never make you stand up for your birthday song. Ok, maybe just once ;) Very heartfelt post, Tulika. Nice to see this contemplative side which is more introspective and self-examining in nature. Really loved it.

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    1. Thanks Shailaja, for the sweet words, but then you're biased - you're a friend.

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  2. Now that is a totally Dil se kind of post. Loves reading it and can relate to it very well. Though I may not mind standing up for my birthday song :₩

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    1. You don't? Well help me out here then - where do you look when everyone's looking at you - at the people? At the cake? And what do you do with your hands - cross them? Put them behind your back? Let them hang lose by your sides???? Aarrrgh! Totally avoidable.

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    2. Lol OM !! Reminds me of the times during weddings when we have to go on the stage to congratulate a couple and we get photographed, videoed :)

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    3. Ufff terrible. That's where you find the most uncomfortable, most fake of smiles. My sympathies though, lie firmly with the poor newly weds.

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  3. Aah! Did you write about me!! I can relate to this post sooo much. I have changed a lot over the years but still there are times, when this monster of self consciousness stands tall and firm in front of me. Cant wait for the next part :)

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    1. You know it Shilpa. We should collaborate on beating the monster maybe.

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  4. Ok. This could easily be me. I was the only kid in my family who insisted on examining the floor while people sang my b'day song. The only thing that I have moved on from is Point # 8. I have lost the capacity to care about what anybody or everybody thinks. Now I only care about the opinions of people who are close to me. But as far as every other thing on this list goes, all I can say is 'Check'. For that reason, I eagerly await Part 2. :P

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    1. Exactly. Where DO you look? If you've moved from point 8 it's a huge step forward. Congratulations. If only we could say to h*** with the world life would be way more peaceful.

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  5. OMG, I think you just described...ME!! Lol!

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    1. Ha ha Kathy we have a lot of familiar faces here. Maybe this a blogger thing.

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  6. I can't tell you how much I loved this one Tulika, you've brought it out so clearly! I can identify with so many of those points, and yes though I have moved on in some areas I know all it needs is a new challenge to take me back to that jittery place again. This comes at a good time for me, as I am in the process of many life changes and could really use that next post of yours :).

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    1. Glad you agree Aparna. It feels good to know wonderful people like you are facing the same challenges as I am and acing them so well too.

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  7. The reason we lug masks around wherever we go :)
    Very well written.

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    1. Thanks Magiceye. I am wondering if one feels self-conscious behind the camera too. Do you hesitate before asking strangers to let you click them?

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  8. I have been this person all my life and still am in so many ways. I've changed in many ways or maybe I've mastered the art of camouflaging. But the self-conscious, nit-picking self-critic person in me never dies. A very well articulated post, Tulika!

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    1. Thank you Uma. I know exactly what you're saying. Even if the entire world tells you you're doing fine believing it yourself is the toughest bit.

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  9. Tulika, this is a very sensitive subject for one who is self-conscious, so kudos to you for writing it. Hopefully it will help at least one soul, though I expect more than that! :) I used to be painfully shy and thus self-conscious or is it the other way around? Thus, I can identify with #'s 5 to 8 very well, more so in past but still at times, especially photos. Oh how I hate them of me as I say I might break the camera...photos of me are generally not great at all...other people are usually a lot more photogenic! ;) It's interesting too as I was just having a conversation with someone today: she thought I was - can't recall the exact word right now - outgoing or the like. I corrected her and said that I can be shy at times; however, I have come to generally (not always) not care about what others think about me as I can't please everyone (nor can anyone). We were talking about dancing. I said when I first danced I was stiff as a board and in time, I became more comfortable. But it takes a lot of practice and self-determination I think. And like you say pushing the comfort zone. That's it exactly. Not ideal, but usually the best and/or only way to grow! <3

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    1. Thanks Elly for taking the time and patience for sharing what you feel. You said it - practice and determination and plenty of courage day after day after day is what it takes.
      PS: You look pretty cute in your pictures :-)

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  10. Hahaha! I was nodding my head all along! You have described our lot perfectly! Now I am waiting for the 2nd part of this :D

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  11. I cannot even imagine you to be self conscious ... you are so amazing :)
    But I totally understand your points as I was like that till college. But I changed (for good) when I started working and living alone. But I still can't handle attention, ask me to sing and I will sprint like a champion.

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    1. That's the thing Rajlakshmi - most people don't believe it. Last year I organised a play with the society kids and everyone assumed I'd do the announcements. I had a hard time wriggling out of it because no one believed I hate to be on stage. As for singing and dancing - they're my absolute Waterloo.

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  12. Hi tulika....this is such a lovely post...I was nodding my head vigorously cos I seem to have all of these qualities...waiting for the monster bashing session...have I said this before...I love your writings

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    1. Thanks Gowri you're generous with your compliments. It's always nice to see you here.

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  13. I can identify with a few of those. I hate to attract limelight to myself. But once there, I enjoy myself. I hate large gatherings especially if I don't know anyone there. I am a strange mix of the shy and the flamboyant. Loved the introspection.

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    1. I know what you mean. Some situations bring out the dread while we learn to relax in some others.

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  14. I can understand your points and i guess you are meaning to say introverts.

    I don't quite fit this category, as i like to talk and get comfortable with others. In fact, I am a part of Toastmasters, working on my Public Speaking skills.

    I also wrote a similar post recently 'The Blah-Blah Story' comparing Extroverts to Introverts.

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  15. Hey OM! I'm with you all the way.. coming out into my own slowly. Sure will wait for your post on how to deal with this :)

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  16. Except for point 8! Never cared for what others thought about me, for as long as i can remember.. other than family of course!

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    1. If you've maxed no 8 you're pretty much there Priya.

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  17. I think most people are self conscious. I believe there are 3 types of people. Some are introverts like you, some are extrovert, and some are in the middle (like me).

    The more you get to know introverts, the more you see the fun/outgoing side of them. There is a book called "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking". It's a good one.

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    1. Must look up that book Uma. Thanks for dropping by.

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  18. I totally relate with it! I was boring my head for almost every point! Especially that part where you mentioned when we are forced to dance! My gosh! I only know how i escape

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    1. Tell me about it - the dancing is the worst of the lot.

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