After the issues I dealt with after coming back,(Read here) I put in a lot of effort and energy into building strong new life principles. I started to emphasize on the importance of discipline and righteous living as I felt horrible for letting my happiness depend on other people during my facebook obsession phase and with the new ideals I’d learnt being exposed to the west for the first time. I wanted to be harsh on myself and hence started having rules for every single thing. The following were the changes I made in my life.
- Change in life philosophy/belief system: I went from optimism, belief in true happiness, (as in 7th grade) to believing in experiencing stress and anxiety to achieve results. Achievements became everything. I went into this belief system not because I wasn’t aware of the concept of balance, but because I just thought that I wasn’t capable of achieving it. This was positive and highly enjoyable that year, but the next year, I suffered because it either became too literal, or because I was challenging this belief and couldn’t really decide what my principle/life philosophy was. (cognitive dissonance). I also became very rigid about my lifestyle and schedule, and was very harsh on myself (covertly) if/when I didn’t achieve my target goals. Discipline became one of the central themes of my life and I wasn’t free, letting go, calm, relaxed anymore. I became over-competitive and obsessed with achieving. This was due to both guilt for wasting time and inspiration from western values.
- Going off the grid – I began to have a huge grudge against social media, for I realized that the relationship one builds on these websites are more often than not, only virtual and superficial. Hardly any of them sustain or last in the long term. Also looking at my cousin’s productivity levels, I realized that in order to achieve one’s goals, one has to cut down on their social media usage. I hence left facebook. It took a lot to cut down from 6-7 hours of social networking everyday to less than half an hour. Slowly, I went from just looking at my notifications daily to logging in once a week, and finally, there came a point when I completely stopped going online. It took a lot of will power,but I was successful in my efforts as I didn’t go online till my final exams ended. It hurt me to see that the people I was avoiding didn’t make enough of an effort to get back in touch with me.This move gave me time to introspect, focus on reading and achieving other goals. It was very spiritual and cathartic since it cleansed me. Not checking for notifications every few hours was actually very liberating.
- A healthy sleep cycle: I made a determination to sleep early every night and wake up on time. This was a big step for during holidays, I slept only after 2am and woke up after 10. On school days too, I’d usually sleep by 1 and wake up just in time for the school bus to come. So in order to be more in control, I started sleeping before 11 and woke up in time to take a shower, make my own breakfast and sometimes even tiffin for school. During weekends and holidays, I most often continued the same.
- Fitness: Both, being inspired by my cousin’s fitness levels as well as my desire to have a better body lead me to have more rules about my eating and put more effort into my working out. I was dancing those days, and had recently watched the movie Step Up 2 which inspired me to start working out more, try developing abs or do interesting stunts with my body. I was able to do a handstand one day out of the blue, which felt great! I sometimes tried running and doing abdominal excercies which I didn’t make any progress in. I started emphasizing more on the eating rules suggested by my favorite fitness counselor Rujuta Diwekar. Amongst the other lifestyle experiments, this one was the least successful since I didn’t make enough of an effort to see any good results.
- Practicing restraint/ascetic beliefs: I forbade myself from having any crushes or romantic infatuations and conditioned myself into seclusion and isolation to work on my goals. I also became unknowingly sex-negative, since I was judging my past self to be too “lose”. I started thinking that desire is bad and must be always contained. This was akin to wanting/practicing spiritual asceticism (except that I was 13 and hadn’t ever been physical with anyone. This was just at a thought/belief level).
- Developing social sensitivity: I also started feeling highly for environmentalism, donating money to poor people and righteousness in terms of awareness of social issues. I’d feel empathetic towards the poor and downtrodden more often than not.
- Social isolation: I cut off from all my friends because I felt that our belief system/values were poles apart relating to environmental sensitivity, liberal thought and personal freedoms, empathy versus gossiping/judgement etc. This was to a large extent due to my cross-cultural exposure. It could be considered liberal intolerance.
The next part of the story is about how I learn to achieve, which can be read here.