One of the rarest gifts both my parents helped me achieve was extreme forms of self-confidence, which never bordered on foolhardiness. And yet, when I lost one of them to a sudden act of God, it was this self-confidence that took first hit.
I had lost my mother to death and my dad to depression. The love of his life had left him, it took him years to reconcile to this fact.
And to add injury to insult, I suddenly realised that I was not confident because my parents told me so. I was confident because my parents shut out all the voices of the world who threatened to tell me otherwise.
And without them, there were scheming school teachers who found a golden opportunity to pull me down, set of relatives who could now without my mother, play havoc in our family and of course thanks to the emotional instability I had embarked upon, I even attracted a set of friends who had understood the power their words had on my physical and emotional being.
Slowly but surely I gave up on my self. I stopped going to debate auditions knowing they would be rigged. I stopped meeting relatives, understanding they would seek information out of my being to spread more gossips.
And kept seeking safest options in the world to ensure I do not fail. Which obviously involved aiming really low.
When you look at fifteen years of not scaling your potential, you miss these five second encounters and decide to move past them all to finally place the burden of your failures on your shoulders.
I did that.
Until one day something happened to me. Blogchatter. At first I refused to believe it was anything and kept playing it down. I pushed the idea as a mass movement and nothing more, until a friend over dinner drew my business model on a napkin! He looked at me and said ‘It is out there waiting for YOU to stand up and claim. Either do it or give it up’.
And my head went – ‘Give it up.’
If you don’t bet, you don’t lose.
But it kept pulling me back. It kept demanding my attention. Sometimes through tears and bawls, surrounded by a life of failures, I would wipe my tears and sit on my laptop and send out a tweet saying “Hola! Welcome back to Prime Time of Twitter”
And in that one hour I would forget all my miseries and failures.
What was it that kept pulling me back? What was it that undid fifteen years of conditioning? It was Love.
Love of these strangers who arrived on a Twitter chat every week. Who would enquire if we were sick – in case we got late by a couple of minutes. Who sent us emails and what not, expressing their love for us.
That love kept me going.
Last month I gave a TED talk. When I made this announcement on social media – I received a flurry of messages everywhere.
Someone sent me ‘Go rock the stage Richa, inspire us millions of women who have given up on ourselves’.
Another said ‘You are a Miracle.’
I was overwhelmed.
I went up on stage, gave my talk and amongst thunderous claps walked back to my seat in front row. In those few seconds, I was transported to when I was fourteen and I had given a debate audition (first after my mother), I came back to similar claps and juniors telling me ‘You were sooo good’. When the results were announced, another girl was selected. The whole room had a blanket of silence. I looked deep into the eyes of that teacher to understand if she felt any guilt. She looked back with that arrogant smile.
I never gave another audition ever again.
And yet here I was, speaking on a Global stage. Speaking to a hall filled with people, lining up to meet and greet me, getting selfies with me.
In a sea of familiars, I found my love in an ocean of strangers.
Uncommon Love of strangers online.
This post has been written in response to that same Blogchatter’s Prompt of the weekend – Uncommon Love/First Love.