Warning: Some strong language but you guys are probably used to that by now 😀
Them: “I’d never had guessed you struggled with stuff like that…”
Me: “Oh damn…. has my flashing sign malfunctioned again?”
So, I get this a lot “Oh I would never have thought you struggled with anxiety or self-esteem stuff…you always seem to throw yourself into stuff and are quite you know…. loud” — Yessss, now that is because probably most kids like me who have had difficulties with mental health from an early age have learnt to keep quiet and fake it till you make it – Or is that just me?
Growing up, feeling odd, weird and crying because you felt an imaginable pain inside you was NOT cool and indicative of a good, little Indian girl. (Well DUHHHH!!!) So, the way my family managed my “outbursts” were to direct me to the nearest toilet and told me to stay there and cry until I was finished and when I was finished I could make the announcement that my little “tantrum” was over and I was ready to go back into the family room to be seen and not heard.
Now I am an adult (apparently) I have the feeling this probably wasn’t the healthiest way to deal with any emotional difficulty but I had no other coping mechanism. Fortunately, or maybe unfortunately this carried on into my teenage years and then eventually adulthood. Now, let me clarify I don’t run into the bathroom every time I feel sad, anxious, angry or whatever instead what I do is, I retreat into my “inner” bathroom. I fold into myself and release all the shit I am feeling onto myself, quietly and on the outside, I crack jokes and act like I am this super, confident, epic human being. This was my first self-taught class of Faking it 101.
I find any showing of emotion extremely uncomfortable and what makes me feel even worse is when people HUG me when I have a moment of what I call “weakness” and my inner bathroom floods the other rooms of my house. (Rooms being my face and the house being ME – are you following? Awesome)
I used to cry more outwardly until an ex (and a few other friends and family members) said I cried too much over nothing and since that moment I very rarely cry in front of people and when I do – it is very brief and is followed with a series of self-deprecating jokes and a swift change of topic.
Since this realisation that I can’t cry and in some sense, release the pain I have accumulated inside, I find myself feeling physically unsettled. It is like my body is telling me; “Shrin….open up, we need to release all of this through a big cry” and my brain is: “Yeah….no, that is not happening.” The other day I needed to cry, desperately. I knew it was the only thing that could help – so I waited until no one was in the house and I got into the shower (I really wanted to make this work so I copied every single romantic comedy movie I could remember, where the girl gets dumped and eats her way through her misery – you know the one) and I sat down and began.
It. Was. Complete. Shite.
I got like a few tears out until my brain was like: “what the fuck is this? Pack it in..” and then I ended up laughing at the absurdity that was this situation of me stark bollock naked crying in the shower over something I couldn’t work out. Needless to say, that experiment was deemed an epic failure and I got out of the shower and carried on about my day.
Just to clarify I am not saying that expressing yourself through crying is a form of weakness. Absolutely not – in fact I admire those people who can freely cry, feel that release and then can let go and move on. More power to you but for me it’s a no go. I feel that after being silenced for so long, being shut down from such an early age and told not to express myself, I find it extremely difficult to express myself now. I don’t mean to belittle the situation or come across as harsh when I vehemently pull away from an embrace, it’s just how I am wired I guess.
That being said, if you ever see me a bit down feel free to join in with my hilarious one woman stand up show chock full of wildly inappropriate jokes and satirical humour. I would gladly welcome that!
Faking it was something I quickly picked up when I was a teenager. I realised that there was no place in my life to be “me” – me being full of pain, unable to describe what I was going through, soul crushing depression and stomach crunching anxiety etc. No one understood me and no one seemed to have the time to get to understand me SO I decided to just play pretend until one day it would just all fall into place. The sad thing about it was that it never did fall into place and after faking it for so many years it got to the point where I didn’t even know who I was anymore. I lost all sense of myself and kinda found myself morphing to fit whatever friend, crowd or even a boyfriend wanted me to be.
Slowly though I am being to realise who I am and what I like. It is a long and arduous journey and is not half as fun as that Eat Love Pray Chick had because for starters I am not off finding myself in exotic places like Bali, no. I am in Chatham in the pissing down rain waiting for the kettle to boil so I can munch on a gluten free pot noodle (yes, it is as hideous as it sounds)
I still often fake it as a defence mechanism, I have some metaphorical masks always quick to hand in case I need to use one. The “bitch” or the “Mariah Carey” – the girl who doesn’t care about anyone or anything apart from herself. Walks around like every corridor, strip of earth is a run way and loves to the attention. The “Good Indian Relative” – the girl who says yes to everything her elders tell her and never has an opinion about anything, oh and cooks and cleans like Cinderella. A good one I use is The “chill one” – this one I normally reserve for boyfriends or romantic interests. This is the girl who is so chill about everything and doesn’t wanna kick up a fuss in fear of being clingy, (She gets treated like shittttttttttttt BTW so if any of you are looking for a “mask” for the love of GOD don’t choose that one) and many many others. Hit me up if you need something specific – I got you!!!
I joke around a lot but what I have learnt through countless years of faking it is that – it doesn’t work and you just end up feeling more like shit than you did before. So, if I have any advice to people out there who are thinking about faking it, it would be to NOT fake it. Own who you are and love yourself for it. Those things you think are weird or abnormal are what make you, YOU and they are fucking awesome.
So, fuck faking it to fit in and STAND THE FUCK OUT. Do what I am now trying to do and be true to yourself and who you are.
Now where is my “Fuck You Too” Mask?