Saturday, November 21, 2009

An epiphany

I have been passing through rather tumultuous times lately. Things have been uncertain and they have tested my inner strength and resolve. There were times when I was scared. There were times when I was down. There were even days (though luckily only a few) when I was so depressed that I didn't even come out of my room most of the day.

Going through this whirlwind of emotions naturally drove me to find a solution -- to make some sense out of this mess. And luckily I did have an epiphany. I found an answer which put a lot of perspective on things, which made me feel better, which seemed obvious in hindsight but which still caught me off guard.

The main source of my anxiety and fear was an unhealthy focus on myself. The surprising aspect to all of this was that I have never considered myself to be a self-centered person. Perhaps the only self-centered aspect of my behavior was my desire to succeed and be successful. Society often idolizes successful people, narrates their success stories and there is an implicit pressure on us to be successful. As we grow up, we often state our desires in terms of being successful in this or that, and that is all considered acceptable social behavior.

So, why is this desire to be successful an unhealthy one? For one, and quite obviously, it is not potent enough to get us through the tough times. Secondly, and much more importantly, this desire is mostly accompanied by an ugly and paralyzing companion: the dreaded fear of failure. And when things aren't going in our favor, when we are forced out of our comfort zone, that fear of failure can be absolutely crippling and debilitating.

The funny thing is that I have been working on a personal project all this while and I was actually excited about that project. In spite of that, the uncertainty of not having a regular job and the fear of failure often got the better of me. Even though I dreaded feeling that way, it was very hard not to feel that way every once in a while.

It was a relief when I finally found a way out. I had to stop focusing on myself and stop stating my goals and ambitions in terms of myself and lose and consume myself in what I was passionate about. As simple and obvious as that sounds, it had become less and less obvious to me as I had grown up. It took an uncertain situation and a very real possibility of failure to drive this point back home.

Living a self-centered life is one of the most boring and depressing ways to live one's life. While no one wants to live such a life, what was surprising to me was how I was partly living such a life without even realizing it. Now that the realization has been achieved, I can finally start to nurture the child within me. The child who is least concerned about himself and who is lost and one with the world he finds himself in.


  1. salam, welcome back, what about those who are already imensely successful in their careers but still face the same problem. May be source of anxiety, fear and depression is something else.

    By the way below are some nice poems. thought of sharing with others. enjoy


  2. Interestingly, I've had the opposite problem my whole life: I always nurture the child, and have turned out to be rather incompetent and irresponsible as a result.

    I think being ambitious and worldly, and being creative and spiritual, are both needed in balance.

  3. @A: Apologies for the late reply. I too don't think that success can give you any lasting satisfaction and happiness. You have to find that elsewhere.

    @Butters: Agreed.