I was 9 years old when I had become materialistic, snobbish and showed off too much. I was often condescending towards my friends. I cracked and understood many the adult jokes, had a lot of crushes, which my friends didn’t always appreciate. Karma got back at me when a year later my then best friend (“a”) started hating me, spread rumors about me, and made friends with a bunch of people I hated. I felt betrayed, and started over eating. To add to my miseries, my favorite Disney shows stopped airing on TV and I got my first period when I was just 10! Cherry on the cake, my maid, who was like my best friend also left working at my house to go to her village. I scored awful marks, even failed in Sanskrit, and got grilled at home for my poor performance.
I made a great new friend that year (lets call her b) but her mother overheard our phone conversation once when we were talking about some grown up things. Her mother was very conservative, and complained about me to our class teacher, made “b” promise her that she’ll never talk to me again. It’s a different story altogether that after a one year gap, we became inseparable and her mother consistently complained about me to the class teacher for the next 4 years, saying that I’m a “bad influence”.
I now entered 6th grade, and was 11. My section got changed and my life got even worse. I had to make new friends all over again, and “a” who had betrayed me was in the coolest group of not just her section but the entire batch. They had a trio and were probably the first to do novel things like have boyfriends and a social network in the senior batch. Now she had not only moved on, but took all my, in a sense “grown-up coolness” to her new clique.
I was unable to make new friends in this new section and had lost all my confidence. I hence turned to food to feel better. During the summer, I cried all night, felt at loss and started hating change. I missed being in my old section with familiar people and I swore to never trust anyone again. For about 6 months, school was nothing but hell for me. I was always anxious because of my low confidence, feeling of betrayal, and a negative body image. But because I was at my worst, I couldn’t go any lower. Things started to change. I secretly stole the series “Friends” from my sister’s laptop. I started watching the cathartic American soap, learning guitar and distracting myself. I finished all 10 season of friends even before turning 12! (something I like to show off about even now :P). I watched a movie that had come out recently at that time about how a gangster starts hallucinating about Mahatma Gandhi and his ideas, called Lage Raho Munna bhai. I was quite inspired by this film and started thinking about Gandhian peace, the philosophy of non violence, and goodness. I remember studying 3 definitions for “civics” in class for the first time- discrimination, prejudice and stereotype. These hit me pretty hard for some reason and I’d often think about them. The same year my parents laid a lot of emphasis on being dil ka achha or “good at heart”. They wanted me to understand that wealth or achievements are superficial unless you’re a good person from within. With these teachings, I blamed my earlier best friend for betraying me and being mean. I thought that she was going against all these ideals of goodness.
To overcome the grief of being separated from my old familiar friends whom I anyway had had huge tussles with the previous year, I started making new friends. These weren’t very “popular” people, so I felt that I went “below my standard”. There was a group of stereotypically thin, bitchy and popular girls in this section too, but I felt too under confident to talk to them or be good friends with them. However, I really enjoyed the company of the simpler people. I felt like I could be myself around them and felt safe in their company, like they couldn’t hurt me. I also joined facebook that year. It was fun to post pretty pictures and look at other people’s profiles.
Some good things did happen that year, like my class teacher made me sit with a boy who I initially didn’t like, but after a while, I started having a crush on him as he seemed very sweet, sensitive and funny. The teacher who taught me Hindi that year was my favorite. She taught us the poems and the lessons in the most beautiful way. She literally made me fall in love with Hindi literature. Her birthday also fell on the same day as mine.
Soon enough, my aunt who practiced Buddhism, shared a Buddhist quote with me. She said “True happiness comes without a reason and that materialistic bliss is not true bliss. In order to be truly happy, we must not depend on anything or put conditions on our happiness. We must work on a bigger goal of making everyone around us happy. This way, we can be happy anywhere and in all circumstances.” This quote inconspicuously made a huge difference in my life. I started doing the gratitude exercise daily and actually started being more happy. During the same time, my dad and jeeju (cousin’s husband) introduced me to 70’s music- from pet shop boys, Bee Gees to Pink Floyd..I was hooked. I grooved to stayin’ alive and Brick in the wall every single day. As my post exams holiday approached, I went on a fitness spree. I read up information on weight loss online, started walking around 7-10 rounds of the park, controlled my binging and listened to music all the time. I felt more in control of my life as my habits changed. Right before entering the next grade, I managed to become good friends with the “bourgeois”/ popular, bitchy group of my new section. It was almost like my karma had changed. I also performed exponentially better in my exams as compared to the previous year. My parents were proud.
My attitude transformed, as I realized the root cause of my problems. Me being a snobbish, bossy, intimidating show off in 4th grade was what led to “a” turning her back on me. This was my first karmic realization, and after that day, I swore to never be snobbish, intimidating and mean. I took a vow to always be empathetic and non materialistic. My style preferences changed too. From Disney girly, I shifted to Joan Jett band t-shirt androgyny. One of my “simpler” friends, who a is a gem of a person was facing issues with some bullying by this group. I counseled her actively and helped her deal with it. I remember talking to her about the concept of gratitude- that she could be happy that very moment by just having lemonade or watching her favorite sitcom.
7th grade approached and my section changed again, right when I had settled to the previous section change. This felt horribly unfair and I was confused as to why my section changed again. In fact, it was crazy and mystical that in the entire batch, only 6 people’s section got changed to a third section that had been made recently for students “weak” in studies. They were my old friends “a”, “b”, one of a’s friends from the trio, me, and 2 other girls who were best friends with each other and well connected.
I was extremely nervous before entering school for this term. I had just started to settle in into the section change of the previous year, this was too much! I was strong, told my mother that I would eventually want a section change. She asked me to wait a few weeks and then decide. I agreed. The first 2 to 3 days were scary, yet alright. I remember being very confused about who I should hang out with. I felt the conflict of having to choose between the “nice, sweet and simpler” people and the “popular, bitchy and pretty”. I didn’t talk too much with “a” and her trio friend, but we noticed each other’s presence.
Within a week, “b” and I started talking again. We had always had great conversations even before, catching up and reconnecting was even more fun. I started being really happy. Not just because of our reconnect, but because I felt like I had a new found purpose in life. Classic rock music was not just nice to listen to, but it inspired me to think bigger and beyond my day to day existence. The karmic realization I’d had last year about being humble about wealth had transformed me from within. I literally felt like a whole new person. Now, a, be and I had made up and all the 6 of us girls in this new section started having a blast. I formally apologized to a, and she and I swore to never let minor things affect our friendships again. This was my first ever closure. I started having new realizations like “we attract everything that happens in life” and that “nothing happens by chance”. I became a huge optimist and felt that one should exploit the power of positive thinking in life, that there’s no reason ever to be sad. In fact, I was so happy, that I sometimes anticipated and feared being unhappy again. Hence, I made new determinations so that I could preserve my spirit of optimism. I swore to never ever cry again, always be happy and to never discriminate against anyone, hence unconditionally accepting everyone. I sought the solution to sadness as distracting myself into activities I enjoy and am passionate about, such as watching sitcoms and listening to rock music. When I did this, I was talking to my past self who would cry all night because of low confidence and relationship issues. I wanted to “teach others how to be happy” and that was the first time I felt like I wanted to be a counselor. I proudly determined to myself- “I’m not dependent on anyone for my happiness”. My friends and I spent our classes laughing on crazy meaningless jokes and life was on a roll. Now even I along with b became a part of this “cool clique”, thereby enjoying a fairly good social network. I also joined a very good guitar class and started going for dance lessons which was always my dream. It’s like my reserves of creativity, intuition were opening and I was motivated to achieve new goals and inspired to travel to new places each day. I was enjoying my English and Hindi literature classes in school more than ever. A new maid who was young joined my house and we became the best of friends. Miraculously, all the people in my environment who I didn’t like/get along with, left my school that year and within the next 2-3 years as I focussed on my life’s positives. Note how everything that I desired earlier had manifested. Life had turned around 360 degrees and was back to being great again. In fact, I was so content with everything in life, that I often switched off the lights in the room, put on music and danced alone for hours in joy. Little little things that used to earlier bother me stopped bothering me now. I became much stronger and was ready to take on the world.