Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Rigidity or Freedom?

There was a curious incident when I was back home in India and about to leave for the US in a few days. I went to the mechanic to get my scooter serviced. While I was waiting there I noticed an old guy sitting besides me. He decided he wanted to talk to me and I obliged...you see I prefer to try and make it through the day without saying a word (but not always ;-)). Anyway so somehow the conversation reached to my telling him that I was about to leave for the US to study my MA in Philosophy. Then he said something that just made me think, 'this guy is weird'. He told me that he was a professor in the US somewhere and that he was, quoting him, 'very famous'. I said grrreat! Looked at my watch wondering how much longer I would have to listen to him. Oh did I forget to mention he was drunk? Reeking of alcohol I can say. Well moving on, he then decided to say somethings that just made me angry at him. He told me that in order to fit into the American life I would have to become like them. He said, 'If you act like yourself you will never be accepted'. I was like come on I am not known as 'the Rock' for nothing!? By 'the Rock' I don't mean a wrestling champion and nor do I mean that my heart is made of stone. (Nobody calls me 'the Rock' by the way). It just meant that if there was anything about myself I was proud of, it was the fact that I have always been myself and have been strong enough to be myself and also have been open enough to know I need to change when I feel it from within. So with these thoughts racing through my head I decided to just hear him out so that I could run away from him as soon as possible! And then he said somethings that made me think, 'this guy is creepy!'. He wanted me to know that since he was a very good professor, "Girls like you come to my house all the time". Time to leave.

Anyway I was glad to get away from him and also get away to the US to live out my dreams. To be in a new country, study new things, new culture, new people, be totally free to manage my life! My first semester felt like sheer bliss. I was enjoying every single thing. I realised along the way that I didn't seem to have done too well socially but it didn't bother me too much. As time passed this feeling seemed to have become more intense. I started changing my ways, what I talked about to try and fit in. I was getting influenced by people liking me or not liking me. I started missing all that was familiar, people who thought I was important to them, my friends and family. I made a big deal out of this in my head, wanting to fit in became so important. The creepy guy's words came back to me and I thought do I have to change who I am to fit in?

You see I have a big ego. Thats what was causing most of this in my head. I realised that it is my time to learn. Learn about new ways of living and dealing with life. My lessons from my old life were becoming stale. They didn't help and inspire me in these new situations. Back home I would be the one who people learnt things from but now it is my turn to learn from people here. Instead of realising and enjoying the freedom I had of being unattached to any preconcieved notions I was trying my best to become attached to everyting possible. So scared of the freedom that I always yearned for. But now it feels fantastic, like an adventure waiting for me. I will draw strength from my past to learn the new from the future. I am free and it feels wonderful. I am open to change and ready to be myself. The only way I can enjoy my freedom is to be myself and keep growing. Perhaps wanting to fit in is not a bad thing, but I prefer to try and hold on to atleast those things whithin me that are valuable to me. Savvy?


  1. For me it was the other way round. I came here, felt lonely, felt no sheer bliss at all during the first term, hated the cold more than anything and found the people very cold as well. But now, things are different and changing! I am still myself (thankfully!) though I think I lost a bit of my half-french half-indian accent, so I now sound like a weird(er) mix. But I'm finally starting to create a very multi-layered life for myself. I let myself grow obviously, but I don't let myself be coerced into change.
    Here is my two cents worth of advice: Whatever it is that you do ultimately, and I think it is very important to open oneself to a new life, a new place, a new culture; just make sure you always remain true to yourself and to whom you are.
    On another note, glad to see you blogging again! And good to have news from you.

  2. rock moved, rock needs to reaclimatize, rock will be back to being a rock soon

  3. To Kama,
    Thanks for the advice. That is the advice I gave myself too. Hmm I am so interested in hearing your new accent now. I always loved ur accent. I am glad to know you are doing better now than the first semester n thanks for the encouragement for my blogging.

    To Paul,
    Ha ha ha
    Thank you. You are right...