If you asked me what my recent big life decision has been, it’s been about deciding to see a shrink.
Not because I need help. Well, no maybe I do. I just think I don’t. But what I need, even more, is an unadulterated hour of someone’s time. Someone who will hear me rant about everything that’s going wrong in my life. My last breakup I haven’t yet recovered from. My long overdue job promotion that I can’t seem to get because of my rather non- cooperative boss. My mother, who won’t stop talking to me about the multiple rishtas that she’d like to send down my throat.
I’m sure you’ll all agree with me that in today’s time and age, asking for someone’s time is worth its weight in gold. Even if you have to pay for it. In fact, it’s become such a precious commodity that you’d better be willing to pay for it if you want it. There might even be free lunch if you looked far and wide, but definitely no free time.
So I begin my ‘shrinking’ session with my therapist. Twice a week. On her couch. She takes notes while I lie down staring at her ceiling, ranting about life and its many tribulations. An activity I’ve started to rather look forward to. Because like I mentioned earlier, who else will allow me the liberty of just expressing out aloud everything that’s going on in my mind? Without judging me. Or over-advising me. Or checking their Instagram feed instead of listening to me talk.
And pretty much every session ends with her explaining to me how I need to have faith. And patience. And self- control, over the million thoughts that run helter-skelter through my head. Clearly virtues the Fates missed out on while creating me. She assures me how the Universe is always conspiring in my favor. How I need to practice more self- forgiveness. And most important of all, how I need to show myself more self-love.
Self-Love. Now that seems to be a prevalent theme these days. From social media posts to poetry, that’s all they’re all talking about. Self-love. Finding perfection in imperfection. Celebrate thyself, she tells me. Do whatever makes you happy. Ignore those who suck your mental energy. If you don’t love yourself, you can’t expect anyone else to, right?
I agree. I walk out of her office, feeling positive. A feel-high emotion I know I haven’t experienced in a while. I love myself, I love myself, and I love myself. I repeat my newfound mantra, in my head. Over, and over, and over again.
And love and indulge myself I do, only to realize that this love is rather short-lived. Because it’s only a matter of minutes before I begin to feel like that the entire Universe is actually conspiring to make me feel more, and more, and more insecure. And not just conspiring, it’s actually thriving on it.
For the realization hits me that there exists an entire industry that only reinforces my homegrown insecurity about the way I look, talk, dress, and feel, and will do nothing to ensure it comes down even by a single percentage point. By constantly reminding me how my acne slash dandruff flakes slash muffin top are standing in the way of my ideal life. Why I can’t get a stable boyfriend because well, my zits scare men away. Why my hair, which resembles nothing like those enviable tresses they show in commercials, makes it difficult to ace my dream job interview. And how I can eat, drink, exercise and buy my way to apparent perfection. Creams that promise me fairer skin. That new workout the celebrity trainer’s endorsing. The fad diet I should be on if I want to look anything like what Deepika looks like on last month’s Vogue cover. Maybe I’m too young to try Botox. But yes, the rate at which I’m going, that, too will be on my bucket list of desirable things, soon. A list that doesn’t seem to end. Whatever in the world happened to minimalism, honey?
When there isn’t the consumerist capitalist classist attack, there’s the Internet. Where, at the click, tap, and swipe, I have an entire world of who’s doing what, where and when, at my fingertips. Deepika’s wedding lehenga. Pictures from Priyanka Chopra’s beach vacation. Anushka’s diamond ring. My rational practical mind will remind me that these are all high-flying celebrities, and they’re supposed to lead multibillion-dollar lives. Yet, my inner devil shall channel these desires and make me crave these even more. Which is when every ounce of minimalistic aspiration shall fly out of the door. And every inner bone that’s fighting the desire to be drawn towards materialism shall get defeated.
Critics might say that I’m being over gullible. I can ignore both consumerism and celebrity-ism if I chose to. Fair enough, I say. Let’s forget these two for a minute. But there’s that third wheel in this gamut – social media. My personal monster, necessary evil, frenemy. Call it what you will. When members of my own clan are feeding me doses of I’m-leading-a-perfect- life-and-you’re-not. Each time I scroll through my feed, one of my friends has gotten engaged. A change of status, flashy ring in tow. The ones that have gotten engaged are posting wedding videos, in their very own attempt to give Bollywood a run for their money, by dancing around trees, lip-syncing lines from Bollywood movies, and telling the world how they were just meant to be. The ones that are recent entrants into the marriage camp are sharing honeymoon pictures. And those that are, well, seasoned marriage veterans by now, are on their babymoons. More pictures.
When it’s not the wedding brigade, they’re sharing pictures of macarons from that upscale cafe in South Mumbai. Or one from the girls’ night out where a bunch of red-lipsticked faces stare at me screaming – ‘You were not invited’. Or from the last vacation in Bali, where a pair of perfectly manicured feet rest against the sunset. In short, everything to convince me that everybody except me is making the most of their time around the sun.
And here I am, convincing myself that I need to show myself more self-love. In an era that actually teaches anything but that.
Story of my life, this. I’ll walk home from the shrink’s office. On the way, I’ll stop at that juice bar, pick up a raw juice, snap a picture, share it on social media, and then check back in an hour for the number of likes. And then when I see my favorite blogger talk about how a mascara changed her life, I’ll take my phone out and order that on the app. In the hopes that it might change mine, too. And I’ll remember to watch the latest episode of Little Things before bed, fantasizing one last time about the enviable life I can have only in dreams.
Insecurity Overload. Yes, that’s what it is. Sigh!