Someone I know is doing this group writing exercise with one question a week from Oprah’s ’20 questions all women should ask themselves’. I thought I’d join in so here’s my version for the very first question, you can read the quietly resonating piece by Sara here that started it.
Question: Do you feel at home?
I was an incredibly shy person in my childhood. I used to play a lot on my own, always had very few friends, was socially awkward and mostly preferred to stay quiet. I was always pushed to be more ‘visible’, try and converse more, be more socially ‘pleasant’. It used to really fuck with my brain because I was inherently uncomfortable and even scared and nervous at times to step out of what I knew myself to be and try to be someone I was not. So naturally, I always felt I’d be identified as the kid whose always going to be in the corner and it used to make me a little sad because I couldn’t ‘fix’ myself.
Over the years through college and university, I gradually warmed up to being more comfortable with social interaction and feeling easy with being a shy person. I still felt this strange, tiny pressure to conform with what most people would want me to be but not being an overthinker, I would always ignore this pinch of a feeling I would get, shrug it off and move on. It had stopped bothering me but it would come around to say hi, now and again.
Gradually over time, I did become more confident and would no longer curl up and die inside if exposed to human interaction. No cold sweats on being in a new place, no thoughts in my head about whether my behavior is the most desirable or not. And one day I just realized, I no longer have any discomfort with being exposed to the nuclear danger that was known to me as other humans.
That was a moment.
Life experiences have definitely helped me adapt to the world and evolve into this more comforted state of mind. I know so many can argue that having a great job, traveling the world, meeting new people has helped me become confident enough to be where I am today. That’s true and I wouldn’t deny their contributions but here’s what I think: age, time and maturity have done the biggest part in helping my brain find the right equilibrium.
I firmly believe there’s a clock in our brains and hearts and it’s different for everyone. Not everyone evolves into being the star of the show in a socially obvious kind of way or at the same time. But everyone can eventually evolve into being at home with who they are, being self-assured about what kind of a person they identify with being (and thereby becoming the star of their own show).
It could be at age 12 for you. Or at 50. But it has to naturally happen and it comes in its own time.
Today, I’m not vastly different from the younger version of myself even though it may appear that way to other people. But I realise the difference is that I’ve just mentally owned up to it. I truly feel at home with myself. I feel at home with being someone who’ll chat a lot with close friends but be naturally quiet with others. I feel at home with not having a ginormous social circle spanning seven continents. I feel at home with being someone who enjoys alone time with a cup of chai more than most other things. I feel at home with people who are not like me at all yet incredibly close to me. I enjoy my time out with people, I enjoy social events, but I understand in what quantities and moods I appreciate them in and so it never feels like an out-of-body or unsatisfying experience. I feel at home with my thoughts and my mind. I feel at home with my own person.
Being at home can mean so many things for so many people. Your physical home. Your mental growth. Your emotional status. It’s all important and it’s great when you can feel that way, in whatever context.
I feel certain and self-assured with who I am and I truly feel at home.
Question 2 in the following week: What is next?