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  • Swati

Wondrous silence - the real within

Updated: May 7, 2022

While we are busy chasing dreams to perhaps fulfil some or all our aspirations, something keeps shackling us, albeit unbeknownst mostly. We may acknowledge it, remain ignorant or fear being called out – let’s face it, depression is real.

In this fast-paced world, where every moment in life is commodified to satisfy perceived notions of success, mental well-being is unfortunately undervalued - the aggregate of our happiness, sorrow and creation seemingly appears to hinge on the frailty and insecurity of being left behind in the rat race.

Mental health including both psychological and emotional wellbeing has an impact on how we think and feel – essentially the very fabric of our being and how we navigate the world through our interactions. We continue to focus on overall physical well-being, ignoring what leads to these ailments in the very first instance – self-inflicted debilitating negative thoughts and subsequent stress. An earnest and deliberate examination of the absurdity of what we seek is not lost – although not part of an active actionable agenda.

COVID-19 only seems to have exacerbated and brought to fore the importance of fostering both mental and emotional wellbeing. Isolation owing to prolonged lockdown, grief, fear and loss of income have triggered mental health issues with many facing increased level of anxiety. What the pandemic has essentially done is shine a glaring light on our ineptitude as a community to accept and build for a more empathetic as well as inclusive approach towards mental health.

As a society, we have been conditioned to ‘succeed’ – to compete with our classmates, siblings and peers – for better grades, parents’ attention or fat bonuses. While the pressure to succeed is strong – why not self-love? Driven by the desire to surpass others by being hard on ourselves – every moment, all the time – is an outcome of a society consumed by this insane need for ‘perfection’ which already exists in each one of us. Lack of real community connections in a digital, ‘always at your fingertips’ world has brought forth a chasm in human relationships which seemingly appear normal.

With COVID-19, the importance of having human connections – meeting socially, children playing together in the park to picnics - beyond the occasional text messages has never been more pronounced. It would be extremely foolish to ignore the central message – that we need human connections for the stability of our society, emotionally and practically. What we have today as a community is a delicately frayed thread work falling apart at seams.

Without a stable community life or a network beyond social media, our lives and intimate relationships account for what we project externally to the world. Although inter-connected digitally, we are more alone than ever – buried in our screens but socially disconnected in the real sense. Our superficial relationships leave little scope to voice out real issues and share real problems with screen times interfering with our ability to read social cues. Mental illnesses and anxiety festers in the absence of this inability as a society to communicate and empathise with each other.

The taste of anxiety in our mouths, imagining the consequences of failure – the churning of thoughts and worries are but voices in the head. The voices that tell us that we are screwing up and are not good enough to succeed, a reflection of the standards society sets for us. The urge to quieten this noise in a ‘fight or flight’ mode is like a song stuck in the head, albeit an uncomfortably noisy one! There’s of course another voice that isn’t so loud to be heard over this noise, or rather has faded in the background for obvious reasons – the still voice, our identity stripped bare of the social conditioning, biases and restrictions. What is life saying to us beyond our careers and success – what are we in this moment, here and now?

Heard when the noise is tuned down, this voice is like a rare diamond sparkling on dark velvet, should we choose to listen – the voice of our real self – raw, naked and pure.

This moment is all we have. We need to confront and question the fears that plague us – fear of loss, fear of failure or fear of being judged and instead see and acknowledge the beauty & goodness in each of us. Empathise and be inclusive - for despite our ability to create and destroy, we are fragile without our community.


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