Parent's wishes, elder's decisions, bosses orders, time, religion, caste, gender.

We all have invisible handcuffs and shackles that hold onto us. 
I know I always did. Lots of them. One which was of my very own creation, in fact. You see, I always felt the need for everyone's approval. I would bend over backwards to accommodate people. I needed them to think well of me. I had to be the good guy in everyone's eyes.

But a funny thing's happened recently.
I don't care anymore for people who throw taunts and insults my way. Before it would have rankled. It would have stabbed. That was before. 
Today, I realize how silly it is to give a flying flute for such people's lies. After all, if a dog barks, we don't have to bark back at it. I know I almost did. 

Luckily, common sense prevailed.
Close friends always told me that I was stronger mentally than I let people know. They were right. I am. The mistake I made was that I always saw it as a curse since I would let very few people into my personal sanctuary and trust them with my pain. But I realize how wrong that was. That inner strength was what helped me through some of the most amazing crap that people have ever heard of. 
My life is testament to the 'fact is stranger than fiction' statement and there is nothing I can do to change that.

I realize now that I can't make peace with ill-wishing scoundrels. The mistake was to even try. Instead, it's time to be the person I am capable of being.
I don't want to be 'that guy' who talks of the brilliance of his caste and ancestry. I want to be known for the things I do and not the barks of brazen curs. Those who matter will stay. Those who don't never mattered.

This year has given me many chances to realize some of my dreams. 
  • I got to attend a book launch as a co-author, which is something I never dreamed off even while writing romance scripts for classmates in anatomy dissection halls.
  • As fellow blogger and co-author Nirvana pointed out, the publishing company was also kind enough to name me as Author of the Month  August 2012. 
  • This blog has also helped me become friends with wonderful people I've never even met - people who I now trust better with my closest secrets than some of the 'recommended good guys' I had the misfortune of meeting in real life.
  • I also got to finally catch up with my old partner-in-crime from college days. The last time I saw him and his wife was six years ago on his wedding day.  Since then, our worlds have gone in different directions and we just never found the time to take a break from being doctors, sons and care-takers. Finally being in Chennai and catching up with them ( Thank you GPS... how did people ever drive without it ? ) was a fond reminder of great days gone by, driving everyone from batch-mates and even our own staff crazy with our pranks. Age ( and weight !! ) have definitely caught up with us old folks, but the well wishes remain.

And that's an important realization I made. 
I have people who care. Not because of bloodlines or being in the same workplace or because they are indebted to my family. I have people who care for me as an individual. Not people who sympathise and walk away, but people who laugh genuinely with me and cry for the path my naiveté has led me down. People who actually pray for me. 
The irony is that in trying to please people who should never have mattered, I turned my back on people who cared for my well-being. Rookie mistake, huh ? That was a lesson I should have learned before I was allowed to graduate from college. 

I learned it too late. But now I have learned it. And it changes everything. 
I almost started barking back at the dogs barking at me. But I didn't. Because it isn't worth it. What I can do is stop caring for these boulders in my pathway and make my own destiny - one that I can finally say is all my own. 

After all, the way I see it, as long as I keep caring for those who care for me and refuse to succumb to the taunts and viciousness that is a part and parcel of life anyway, whether I reach my destination is actually  irrelevant. 
What matters are the memories I create and cherish along the way.

32 Comments

Now that you've realized, its going to be a good ride ahead. Not that it will be silky smooth, but when there are hurdles you know who to rely. And you know who will be secretly happy also. That is the biggest lesson one can learn, only from experience. And you've learnt it early in life, I should say!
And about the achievments you made from blogging- you totally deserve more than these.
Fond memories, for one.

Good introspection.. and you know what, we tend to accommodate other people's views but ignore our own.. paradoxical?
Spaceman Spiff said…
I have this problem too, of wanting to please anybody and everybody. I just cannot do without everybody's approval. It had reached a point where even if 10 people told me something good, and just 1 insignificant person told me something bad about myself, I would tend to start believing that 1 bad review.

I'm trying to stop doing that now. Constructive criticism is welcome. But bullshit, not so much.
Roshan said…
true.. its never meant to be silky smooth, but atleast I know who to care for and whose opinion I shouldnt give a damn about. I should have this common sense a decade ago, I feel.
As for blogging, well... it was a vocation. I'm glad its given me as many opportunities as it has while also opening an avenue to meet better people < nod to yourself :) >
Roshan said…
paradoxical, yes.. but sadly the truth also. Kept pleasing the wrong people while letting the good ones slip away by taking them for granted.
Roshan said…
same here... one single bad comment ruins the day some times. We really need to get over it. True, theres a huge difference between constructive criticism and bullshitting and some people seem to enjoy doing the latter just for the heck of it.
Nisha said…
You get hurt when you receive criticism from an unexpected source. When you've been nothing but nice but you are rebuked, it feels awful. It's then we realise how naive we are and how clever the world is.

It's not easy to not care if you've always been the pleasing types. I'm halfway there and have no hopes of being completely ignorant of others feelings. Good luck to you though :)
Roshan said…
I totally agree with the term you used - "unexpected". I've been blindsided quite a few times from very unexpected quarters and it truly is the worst feeling.

But thats the plus point. Atleast you know not to care for those people's opinions anymore. I want to say I'm past halfway... heaven help me if I still havent done atleast that much by now :)
Danny Simon said…
You have two kinds of people in your life.... One is the one who criticizes you so that you become better and the other is the one who criticizes you simply to tear you down.
Our ability to see the one that matters and the one that doesn't is what makes the difference....
Well written Radha!
BluBluBling said…
Everyone is a people pleaser only the level varies :D , Congratulations on the big list of awesome things :D . Your story is still one of my favourites :D I'm glad I reviewed the book and hence found your blog :)

All the best for the bigger and better things ahead :)
Oh I see that badge on the top right hand corner.. and it is kuthifying in my heart... jealousy has no cure :/

Roshan said…
so true Danny. Thats whats been thoroughly lacking for ages in me. Well,not so much the ability to differentiate ( that is impaired in me,definitely ), but the ability to know which one should matter and which one should just be ignored.
Roshan said…
I guess my level was of people pleasing was on the 'self-hazardous' section :)
And thanks about the story. Hopefully can move on to bigger and better things :)
Roshan said…
Hahaha.. relax. This is a rolling trophy. In a couple of months, I'll be booted out and you can take over :)
Anonymous said…
We are all cured of it at one time or another. The cure usually comes as a bolt of lightening. And in the end you realise that all that matters is your own happiness and everything else revolves around it.
Very glad that you found the secret. :)
a-hem said…
By any chance, are you the oldest child? It's a disease that afflicts many of us... 80% of Harvard students are first borns. I think attending an Ivy League school has at least something to do with the need for approval... I'm glad you've gotten over it, because I still struggle. :)


“My friend...care for your psyche...know thyself, for once we know ourselves, we may learn how to care for ourselves" -Socrates”

Good luck and prayers for the time ahead! :)

Purba said…
But their criticism doesn't reflect who you are, it reflects who they are.

Too bad, we take so long to realize that pleasing all is an exercise in futility.
meoww said…
i guess that is what happens with extra emotional people like us..
we tend to let others ride over our hearts like a truck and then brood endlessly..
its great that you have finally been able to come out of that and keep your own amidst others..
something that i am struggling to master...
but i know someday m gonna be there..
and yeah..the blog world has given me some fast friendhips too..*touchwood* to that..
good luck to you...may you keep rising higher and higher like this.. :) :)

cheers!!
Roshan said…
very well said.. at some time, we have to choose our own happiness. Besides, if it involves being with the ones u care about and who care for u too genuinely, thats a wonderful bonus, rt ?
Roshan said…
actually no.. Im the younger.. though I guess I had to grow up faster.. and I dont claim to be over it. Just a strong decision taken not to let the crap affect me anymore... not to keep waiting for people to pat me on the back.
Roshan said…
Thanks Sharni.. will need both for coming days :)
Roshan said…
that is the crux of the matter indeed. What you say in your first line is indeed the truth.. and sadly, the second line is what applies to me.
Roshan said…
meow, totally agree. being extra emotional is an idiotic curse...
and definitely am blessed to have found some really cool sensible friends in the blogosphere.
maithili said…
The earlier parts so much like myself..The only thing that is different is that I m still in that transient stage where I now know that my goodness has been taken advantage of but I m learning to unlearn this habit of always accomodating people. I m trying to fight my way to that level where I dont bother what people think about me and not trying to be the "good girl" in everybody's eye.
Roshan said…
trust me... unlike what conventional wisdom teaches you, no good comes out of being the 'everybody pleaser' of the gang...
Rohan said…
Many of us including me would say that we don't care for others opinion. That we never bother for anybody's approval but truth is we all care for what others think. . We think about what others think about us. I feel it is a natural thing. But to make sure others think only good about you is not good. I have learnt it the hard way, despite whatever you do there'll be always someone to put you down, despite how much ever good your intention is they say nothing good. Best is to avoid such people and be with them who gives you honest opinions. . Good or bad..
Roshan said…
We do care. We call those who dont care heartless, but being the other extreme too isnt the right way to go. As you said, yearning for everyones approval doesnt help make us better, does it ?
jaish_vats said…
Hi Roshan

Whatever anyone says I think we should take it with a pinch of salt...Not get flattered by false praise...Nor get disheartened by unfriendly and harsh criticisms...Our inner self at its peaceful state can tell us what we are good at and not....Kudos for all the good things that happened! :)
Roshan said…
thanks. i know we shouldn't get infuenced by extremes of opinions but that just seems easier in theory than in real life, doesn't it ?
Really?? Some one actually barked at you? I thought these things happen to only stubborn people like me and I thought (from your blog) you are someone who everyone loves :)Well, it's their loss.

Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind
Roshan said…
WD, the thing with pansies like me is that people love taking advantage.. and when you finally complain, they figure they can get away with bitching about our character so that we are shamed back to pansy-hood.

That last line should be tattooed onto my forehead so that i see it in the mirror daily.