(1/6) The Graduate

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You remember that moment? That one moment when you’re laughing, you look around and think to yourself  I’m so happy. I hope this doesn’t go away. Imagine living everyday like that. That was university to me.

I had a ligament tear. The doctor begged me to stay in bed and rest my leg for two days. I was back in class the next morning. I couldn’t imagine anywhere else I’d rather be. I was going to be a Creative Director and have Saatchi & Saatchi never let go of me.

I remember my Dad say, “Things might get a little bit bad.” I didn’t listen. I didn’t think anything was going to mess up this life. Fate wouldn’t do that to me.

If only.

It came crashing down on me. That moment when I knew it was over. I’ve been through bad things, I’ve had to handle my emotions more times than one. But nothing prepared me for this. For the moment when you watch everything you planned, every dream you dreamt be taken away from you for no fault of yours.

I… I sank into depression. I’d sit by that window on my side of the bed, watching people park their cars. I’d think to myself, Maybe if I stand there, they’d run me over. Imagine that. And to think, I’m not even suicidal. But at that moment, anything to stop the ache was a welcome present.

It’s difficult to talk about this. It’s easier to talk about my childhood than this particular year. A part of me crashed and I didn’t know how to put it back together. I needed someone to blame because that’s what you do during a heartbreak, right? You pin it on someone. Either on you or the person who was involved in the story that broke you. So I blamed it on my father. I spent hours imagining how I’d run away from it all, my life would get better and then I’d come back. I’ll show them how I had the ability to do incredible things and they almost wrecked it. It would be the perfect revenge.

And as I lived an imaginary life, my sister began university locally. She asked me to go with to pay her fees. It’s my sister, how would I say, “No?” How would I tell her that watching her take those steps into a life that was no longer mine was emotionally destroying me? How would I explain that if I go with her I would spend the rest of my night crying into my blanket, praying to be taken away from this mess? It wasn’t jealousy. It was longing for what she had.

It cost me the three steps I’d forced myself to take forward. I took six steps back. I didn’t hate her for it. I just hated myself. For not moving on. For not finding peace. For not being supportive and positive of her life and the big steps she was taking towards getting where she wanted to be.

I began to lose control over my emotions. Anger and tears were put on hold to come rushing at any moment, in the middle of any conversation. I didn’t notice. I didn’t observe long enough to know that my sanity had been replaced with hurt, with depression, with failure. I didn’t stop long enough to think that I was no longer thinking. Because thinking meant remembering. Remembering meant hurting. Hurting meant anger. And my anger was self harming. So I numbed myself to a part of my life that I wanted to pretend wasn’t real. So much that I stood there stunned when it happened.

I didn’t realise how bad it had gotten. How I no longer controlled the things I said or did. Not until my sister stood there, crying and I couldn’t explain myself because I didn’t know what had happened. I didn’t understand what came over me. Her tears made me realise that my pain had taken over my life. It was clouding every inch of my existence and I no longer existed.

I volunteered to see a therapist. I knew I needed it. It was the best decision I’d ever made for myself. He prescribed medicines and walking. I put that pill in my wallet and told myself, “I’ll walk first.” Nature calmed me down. The silence of 5p.m. helped me breathe. Life began to seep itself into me and my best friend said words I needed to hear – “Get off your ass. Go find an internship.” So I did. I began a blog. I published articles in a newspaper. I was suddenly not dying in a hellhole.

I got a job offer I didn’t want to take. But I took it. I met people that would make life liveable again. I found comfort and for the first time in two years, I found a future. I would do this. I would live here. In this country that I was born in. This city that will always be my home. I will remain here, forever. And it’ll be okay. I was finally.. okay.

My father walked into my room – “I’m going to send you back again. It’s happening.” I didn’t believe it. Because.. What if it happens? Even worse, what if it doesn’t? I refused to let myself buy into that dream again.

But he was right. It happened. I made that call that would let me continue a dream I’d once lost. I enrolled back into university. I might not have my best friends beside me. It might not be the exact same life I lost. But I’m studying again! Or at least, I was.

You see, I graduated.

Six years after it all began, it finally ended. After our ceremony, back in my room, I picked up my wallet. Buried deep within the last pocket was the pill I was prescribed when I thought I’d lost it all. I never took it. But I kept it with me. As a reminder of where I’ve been. Of how far I’ve come. Of my grandfather’s words – This too shall pass. It made me cry. Because if it were upto me, I wouldn’t have survived.

And so you’ll see in the posts over the next few weeks. The people who kept me alive. The reason I have my dream. Because they deserve more than just a part of this story. They deserve a spotlight of their own.

Until then..

 

When I Gave Up.. It Rained Glitter!

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Can you believe I have six versions of this blog post? Because there are just no words to describe my 2016 to you. It’s been a year of throwing my hands in the air with both frustration and excitement.

I started this year with something that was emotionally important to me.

I began focusing more on what I was doing. This life that had been forced upon me didn’t seem so bad anymore. I made friends I cared about. I met people who seemed out of my world. I identified ways that would make me better at work. I still wished I could have had the life I’d wanted. But I no longer felt like a failure.  So I gave up hope.

My new work and my plan B didn’t give me enough mental energy to blog though. My writing style began to change. I neither had the time nor the ability to write. I considered pulling down my blog. I thought it’s time to give up writing.

The idea only grew stronger with every draft I couldn’t finish, with every thought I couldn’t put into words. I remember that night. I was sitting by the window, staring at my computer. I didn’t want to hit Publish. The article was so cheesy, so romantic and so girly. It seemed like the worst thing I had ever written. Maybe I need to edit it a little, I thought to myself. Maybe I should just delete this article and this blog and admit I can no longer write! After an hour of arguing with myself, I finally published “To The Girl In Her Mid-20’s.”

You know what they say about taking chances? Letting that article stay was the best chance I ever took because “It went viral” is an understatement of what happened to me that week. It wasn’t the platforms that shared it, it wasn’t the BuzzFeed feature. It was that email. The one that gave me goosebumps because I had done this to someone’s life. This…

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That blog wasn’t representative of what I normally write. But it reminded me why I do. The emails, messages, comments and love that poured in were each a reminder of why I started this blog. And I know for a fact that I’ll never forget again.

It was almost the happiest week of my life. Almost.

I was at work, just another day of life, when my phone rang. I knew what was coming. But sometimes, it’s better to not let your heart believe until it happens. And so the moment it came, I broke. With joy I’d never known before. One that made me run to the closest room and sob like a child. Because, so many people in this world continue to live life without one shot at chasing their dreams and I’d just gotten my second.

The moment my dad said, “It’s done. You’re going back.”

I could live to be 100 and never forget how grateful I’d felt in that moment. Grateful for the opportunity. Grateful for another chance. Grateful for a father that never gave up. Because I did. And if he had too, I wouldn’t have the ability to now tell you – After having to quit university half way, struggling through depression, battling suicidal thoughts, watching everyone I’d grown up with graduate, trying to be okay when my sister got closer to her degree – I AM BACK AT UNIVERSITY, FINISHING WHAT I BEGAN.

I am crying when I write this because nothing I ever say will do justice to the feeling that rises within me when I think about it. And I’ll say it a thousand times over – It wouldn’t have been possible without my father. And if we didn’t live in a very dysfunctional family, I’d probably hug him ‘thank you’ everyday of my life.

My classmates, unlike my last ones during degree year, are not rude. They are very nice people. We have fun. We all like cute cat pictures. And besides when criticising my apparently unreadable handwriting (jokes), there is never a dull moment.  But going back and absorbing so much information after a long break is quite difficult. I’m no longer a straight A student. But that’s okay. I know I’ll get there.

And to think, I’d given up on everything that had come back to me, better and happier.

I’ve gotten to know who I am this past year. I’ve had the ability to choose and I’ve made choices that were both logical and also, at times, emotional. Some of the choices were right and some weren’t quite. And I know the consequences of it all will come back to me next year. When every choice I make will define everything my future will be. Work, location, love. But I feel good about it. Because I’m waking up on the 1st day of 2017, exactly as who I am. No hiding, no pretending. Just me. With a smile on my face.

And I’m hoping it’s on yours too…

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NEED came a while ago..

It’s a dream. A dream many would find so simple. But in his world, it’s a big one. His mom picked up a third job to help him. His dad works all day, everyday, to try and give him what he wants. He puts in so much effort. He wants to make his parents proud. He wants to give them a better life, a better world. He repeats his mantra to himself every morning, I’m going to turn this around for them. I can! Or rather,

He could have.

Today, the world teaches you to think “positively” and turn yourself away from the face of negativity. We’ve become so focused on this that our positive thinking is now just ignorance towards the things that matter. And I don’t know how to make sense to a bunch of people that break the internet over something as irrelevant as a photograph of a dress with #TheDress. But I’m going to try. And I’m never going to stop trying.

Because “I donate a lot of money for charity” isn’t good enough anymore. Because his parents were looking forward to the day they could go to his university and watch him graduate. Because his parents went to his university to identify his dead body among 140 others.

Because I’m terrified that the level of ignorance is directly proportionate to the increase of dead innocents. Because we as a society are empowering people to get away with this by not shedding enough light on something as important as human life.

Because I’m not a blue and black dress. And this post is never going to be as relevant as optical illusion. We cannot break the internet. Not the problem. Not the dead university students. Not the thousands dying everyday for no fault of theirs. Not the selfish that cause this level of destruction of human kind.

People often talk about the tyrant that killed so many innocent people through a harmful gas. Little do we realize, for the one monster that died, there are a hundred more today. Every one of them claiming to have a reason – the religion, the race, the spirituality, the tradition, the culture. So what about the human being?!

Paparazzi gets paid thousands of dollars for a picture of a new celebrity couple. Did you know there are pictures of the dead students from Kenya? Every one of them more disturbing than the one before. But it’s not gossip. it doesn’t get the world going. it’s not as pretty a sight as two celebrities who constantly wish for privacy. How can someone not see why the entire concept of this is so unbelievably wrong?!

But what if it changed? Just for a day. 24 hours. If every celebrity in this world chose to talk about nothing but war zones and gunfires and dead innocents. If for one day, the paparazzi published nothing but news. If for one day, every government head in this world used every ounce of their power to track down the monsters that create such tragedies. If for one day, someone drops the gun and refuses to fight the war. If for one day, the loving parents could have their son back..

We’ve waited months, years, decades. We’ve hoped for world peace. We’ve prayed for world peace. We’ve created campaigns. We went on strikes. Until we put our hands in the air and gave up. We turned our faces away because we told ourselves, “What I’m doing is not going to save the world.”

We focused on better things like the weather and the Box Office. We cried when Paul Walker died because he played a bigger role in our lives than some kid holed up in a university room that called her parents to tell them she hears gunshots and doesn’t believe she’s going to make it out of there alive.

She was right.

And we’ve waited this out for a long time now. We’ve told ourselves that when they want our help they’ll call us.

But we’ve turned away for so long that we didn’t notice when the want came. When the want transformed into something more desperate. When the evil destroyed families. We were drowning in new age music, we didn’t hear the loud scream of the mother who saw her baby die before her very eyes. We were buying that new pair of expensive denims, we didn’t see the thirteen-year-old get raped. We were reading our favorite gossip spread, we didn’t notice the girls that got kidnapped for wanting to learn how to read.

We were so busy living our lives, we didn’t turn to them when their want came. We were so caught up with our problems, we didn’t pay attention when the want was replaced with need – the need for help, the need for support, the need for protection, the need for someone to look at them and see what they’re going through.

The need that is now turning into death counts.

And you’re still waiting… for what?!