#1

“It just really hurts to know that I need to take pills imply to function. Really painful, I can’t wait to be beige again”.

Hannah, Please Like Me (S3, E3)

 

I felt it would be most appropriate that my first post be as transparent as possible an update on my post-graduation life thus far. Those of you I am friends with, whether the friendship has been a more ‘real life’ one, or on social media, might know that I generally don’t hesitate to openly share my thoughts or experiences. I think that today, especially for young people, life has become exceedingly difficult. All of the pressures to perform; to be upstanding citizens; to live up to the ideals that society has decided on, that determine whether a person is successful or not; and at a more basic level the stresses of being able to afford decent living and food in our present economic climate; all of this with the immense and broad effects of climate change we are experiencing.

I recently graduated in June. A feat for a while I thought not possible. It took 5 years of a swirl of emotions, breakdowns, cultivation of wonderful relationships, not enough sleep, too much sleep and a whole slew of other things. Upon finally finishing undergrad this summer, I initially felt free. I thereafter immediately felt enormously lost and like a failure. Watching many of my friends beginning professional school or grad school or acquiring their dream jobs, and here I was and still am with quite literally no idea of what I want to do or will be able to do next.

Over the past 5 years, I had the realization that I wasn’t mentally like many of the people I knew (or at least as far as I knew I wasn’t). Academics were hard, life was even harder. There were so many obstacles trying to defeat me, but somehow I made it out the other end having learned so much more than I could have fathomed at the start of university. In July of this summer, after my relentless quest to figure out why I couldn’t seem to function ‘normally’, I was finally formally and correctly diagnosed. It was simultaneously a relief, and saddening. I felt resentment and mourning for the person I could have been but wasn’t during school. I didn’t do nearly as well I had would have liked academically, and even socially. But now at least I know what’s so called wrong with me.

This entire summer has been a series of existential crises. Just prior to graduation, I decided I would and needed to take this year off, despite the fact that I was now 2 years behind my peers. Behind in what? Who knows. I decided I’d apply to graduate school because that’s what I thought I should do, lest I let my parents down. Perhaps a little too late I realized I would need to study for and write the GRE (a standardized test for graduate schooling), so that’s what I started to do, even though deep down I knew that this is not what I wanted. The past few weeks has frankly been terrifying. I had been doing so much better prior to these weeks. I had started medications that were allowing me to feel sane for the first time in so long, and generally taking care of my overall health. But then suddenly a few weeks ago, I was right back to where I was for the past 5 years, which was so scary. Would I ever be okay?  I broke down, at dinner with my dad in a packed restaurant no less, the person I was most afraid of letting down, and told him that I just simply cannot do this. It’s exhausting to want to do so many different things, but your body not allowing you to. He said to me that all he wants is for me to be alive and healthy. While most people intuitively know their loved ones of course wants these things for them, to hear someone, especially a parent, explicitly say to me that they simply want me alive (something I didn’t want for a long time) left me lost for words.

I’ve spent most of my life comparing myself to everyone else, and now feeling like I’m behind all my friends, while I’m not getting any younger. I can’t say I believe it yet, but I keep telling myself that success is more than your credentials or others’ perceptions of you. I know it’s living a worthy life, a life that makes you happy, one in which you are surrounded by people you love and perhaps even making the world a little bit of a better place. Despite all this, all I’ve been thinking about is how after 17 plus years of schooling, in my eyes, I’ve amounted to nothing. I could lie and tell you I’m fine right now, but that’s not reality, and that would defeat the purpose of this blog.

For now, I’m moving to India for the next little while, doing exactly that which I’m trying to trust is more valuable than anything I could put on my resume. Spending time with the family I’ve grown up without, (hopefully) finally truly taking care of myself, and experiencing parts of this vast and beautiful world. Working on being a little brighter than beige.

 

Chandrika Manjunath Comment