Disclaimer: The narration below is based on a true story. Names of characters may be changed for privacy issues. Throughout the story you will find lessons that I learned. If you are able to filter them out, well and good, otherwise they have been summarized at the end.
There is a quote I truly believe in:
Only hearts suffered in great pain can create great art.
Second Disclaimer: We all have our own stories. If you don’t like mine, create a better one of your own.
Once upon a time…
Second year of my college and I am doing what everybody around me is doing, that is, wasting my time. From the time when I wake up to the time when I go to sleep, I do things. Meaningless things. Movies, Malls, and wasting money on junk food. There is no purpose in my life.
And then something worse happens. I fall in love with a girl from my own class. It feels very good. She (Sana) is beautiful, of course. I met her on the first day at my college and since that day I have been trying to talk to her. We became friends and good ones too. Then, I started to feel for her. One fateful day, I decide to tell her and I do. What happened? You guessed it…drum roll…she rejected me.
It devastated me. I am dumbfounded. There are questions in my head and I want answers. Three semesters, yes three, I ask her to give me the answers and every time she gives me vague and incomplete responses. This doesn’t agitate or annoy me rather I suffer more from inside. Just like that two years went by.
A Love Story? Seriously?
For me, those two years have been the foundation of where I am today. There were three days when I was at my worst. I felt that I was in depression. I was listening to melancholic songs. I almost stopped talking to my friends. Ate only least necessary food. The third day, I couldn’t give a presentation in my class. I just couldn’t.
My friend thought he had seen enough and it is time to talk. After the class was over, he comes to me and says, “No matter how hurt you are from inside, always have a smile on your face. The world doesn’t give a shit.”
I cannot be more honest here to tell you what profound effect these words had on me. I went home and I thought a lot about it. I recalled all my past experiences and I thought he was right. I guess, for me, that was the push towards a better life. Slowly, I opened my mind to other ideas too.
And after the two years when I was in my senior year, I was walking in my college campus. Suddenly, out of the blue, I got this idea and I pulled out my phone and texted her. I asked for forgiveness and I told her that she will never hear from me again. That day I felt a burden being lifted off of my shoulders. It felt good.
Books Saved Me
I don’t know when and how did I start reading books but when I did not get any answers from Sana, I had to find out them on my own. The only place I could find was the internet. I came across the section of books called ‘self-help’ books and so I wanted to learn more about it. It took me a bit until I found a book endorsed my millions of people, which is:
The first book that I bought was The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. This may be the best thing I have done for myself in my entire life and it is what you can do too. Take it from me that you will never regret this.
A book like The Seven Habits
A book like The Seven Habits will change your thinking in a revolutionary way. I promise. The seven habits in the book are timeless. There is a reason I say that it is the best thing I have done in my life to purchase that book. In the book, the author talks about two concepts: character and personality. A character is who you are from inside (your principles and values) while as a personality is who you are from outside (the version of you that the world sees).
Today, we develop our personality, and not our characters. We believe in quick-fixes. Let us take a simple example. You have a date with a beautiful lady in a week. Now, both of you will try to put your best behaviors on because you need to show the other person that you are, in fact, civilized and well mannered. You sit, eat, drink like royalty. You talk in such an eloquence. But what happens after that? You both come back to your original habits and behaviors as soon as you get comfortable with each other.
On the other hand, if you build your character, do you think you need to be prepared or worried for anything? You will act on your best behavior because you know that that is the right thing to do. You will treat the other person with respect, not because you have to, but because it is who you are.
All you need is an Idea
This is the idea. I started here. I worried a lot that people should like me and for that I almost said yes to any request they made of me. The result? I was available for everyone and thus had the least respect among all.
I took off here. Now, I slowly tried to do more of what I wanted to do. I always wanted to upload short videos of me online but I didn’t because of the fear of being judged. Now, I uploaded, one or two, here and there, just to get that fear out of my mind. I started writing too. After reading a few articles and books, all of them emphasized on writing on your own and so I started on a small scale.
As I had suffered myself on self-esteem and confidence, I started writing on self-help. I read books and I made a summary of what I learned to turn that in an article on my blog. I wanted to help in any way I could. Writing is what resonated with me. I mean, come on, I am not a public speaker. I needed a medium. I found writing. I am glad I did.
You do not need to write too. You can help however you want to. Volunteer or organize events. Anything you can. Never think your 9–5 job is making you worthless. Surviving in a corporate life is not easy. Apart from politics or favoritism, you get experience working on real-time projects. Who knows, maybe you will start your own company one day.
One More Thing
If I am telling my story, I never forget to mention this part of it. This part always comes first to my mind, and through my mouth. Although here, I had to tell a story.
The last and eighth semester of my engineering, I went to Bangalore for an internship with my friend (Vaibhav). He already had a girlfriend and he is very bold and open when it comes to speaking up, unlike me. I stayed at his place for the time I was in Bangalore.
One fateful day, we were sitting in the cafeteria and there was a girl sitting alone on a chair nearby. Vatsla (Vaibhav’s girlfriend) had this amazing idea of making me to go to her and talk. A guy like me, who could never think about doing such thing, was asked to go talk to a random stranger, that too a girl. I was forced to do so but I went. It almost took me more than 5 minutes to get there while my heart was beating profusely.
I did approach her and introduced myself. She told me her name. We talked a bit and then I asked for her number. Guess what? She gave it to me (Later that night I texted her. Guess what? She never replied). We bid our farewell and I took off.
You are not going to believe how happy that made me. I was so happy the whole day and night. That night I may have had the best sleep of my life. After that incident, I came back to my college to give my last test. For my last days in college I approached and talked to a few more strangers (that too girls). Good for a change, isn’t it?
I Started to Believe
It is from this experience I started to believe in myself that I could do things that I always thought I couldn’t. It was a new life. A new beginning. All the issues or problems I tackled in the story above, they were my fears. When I faced my fears, there was a better me.
I knew now that for a real growth, I must face my fears. Your fears are holding you back and you are expressing them through anger. Anger is nothing but disguised fear. Face your fears and sail the tides of maturity.
My story may not have too many tragedies or losses that you are accustomed to hear in the most popular success stories but I have lived this life and I would not change anything about it. I am where I am because of my choices and I will keep making better choices in the future.
A Motivating Question
Imagine this is your first life out of the infinite lives you will live. You will be living the same life perpetually as you live this one.
Tell me then, are you satisfied with your life right now?
Can you live the same life over and again without changing a thing about it?
Would you like to start over because you are not proud of this one?
If this question doesn’t put you in perspective, nothing can. Live a life that you are proud of. A life you would be happy to live, no matter how many times.
In the end, this is life…
Here are the key takeaways:
- Believe in yourself. Any change starts with a belief.
Whether you think you can or you can’t, you are right. — Jim Rohn
- Company matters a lot. The people you spend your time with (family or friends or others) will determine who you are. Take me as an example. If I never had friends like Vaibhav and Vatsla, who pushed me to face my fear, do you think I would have done anything about that? I don’t think so.
- Start reading. I have said it a thousand times and I will keep saying it a million times more. Knowledge is power. Read books. Novels or management, small or big. It doesn’t matter. You have no idea how much knowledge is there in the world. Your life will turn upside down. Just start.
- Write more. Writing your thoughts in a diary clears your mind. You write down on a paper or a computer whatever it is going in your head. Why do that? You cannot look at your thoughts in your head but when you write them down, they are in front of your eyes. You have more clarity on what you want and what is bothering you.
Out of sight is out of mind. — famous proverb
- Face your fears. There is no other option. None. To grow personally or professionally, you must face your fears. Every day do something that terrifies you.
- Nobody owes you anything. In my case, for two years I kept asking Sana why I wasn’t good enough for her. I believed that she owed me to love me back just because I loved her. It took me 24 months to realize the truth but I am glad I did. Remember, nobody owes you crap even if you have done them plenty of favors. The sooner you realize that, the happier you will be.
- Write your own story. This is not your story. This is mine. You will not succeed on this path. You have a different path, maybe even better than this. If you be yourself, and follow your dreams diligently, I can promise that you will be successful.
- What is success to you? I have a different meaning for success and so do you. Understand who you are and what is it that you love to do. Then, find your definition of success. We all have our success goals. If you think success is million dollars, please go ahead, you have my permission to live a delusional life.
- Great art requires aching heart. The only way you can create exceptionally great art is through your heart and for that you need to have more experiences. Go out in the field. Be vulnerable. Let people in. Listen to them. Suffer and share your best art.
Syed Idrees is the author of Creativity Consistent. He is writing on self-help and life since 2016. Published on Medium (@idreessyed), he writes creative poetry too.