I hadn’t worked out in two months. I finally hit the gym on a lazy Thanksgiving Friday, vowing to bust a sweat everyday for the next two weeks, so I could trim up a little before heading home to Dubai for the winter. After destroying my mind and body with unhealthy grub-ness and beautiful intoxication over the past few months, the gym session turned out to be a little pathetic. But, I rushed back home to write.
Work sucks my soul. It’s deceiving because you’re compensated for it, so you “can’t help it.” More importantly, it stumps your brain from doing anything after. And, I worry when my deep-sleep dreams are dominated by my new domicile – work. So, when that long weekend comes along where you don’t have a whole lot of trash planned, the brain craves stimulation – a stimulation not driven by monetary compensation, but by a true desire to nurture pride. Or that’s what I am attributing this epiphany to. Yay.
I’ve realized that I have spent a lot of my life adapting. Trying to “fit in” and not be that “weird” dude from abroad. It started in first grade. I was thrown into a preppy private school full of wealthy kids. For a little street rat sputtering in a language that wasn’t English, who played in chappals on the roads of a suburban city in India, to be thrown into an arguably uptight English private school, was slightly unnerving. Thank the lord I learnt English though because three years later, we shipped ourselves to the Emirates. Enter Dubai and all it’s vainness, and begin “Fitting-In: Phase Two”. Don’t get me wrong, after “fitting-in,” I did thrive a little. But, just when I started singing my song, it was time to set sail again. I hit the oh-so-liberal state of Texas for my college education. A new continent brought with it a whole lot more “fitting-in” that I could imagine. This was phase three – I should have been getting better at it at this point. Or not. My exposure to sex, drugs and rock and roll EDM was baptism by fire. It was such a different world, and I was so different from it, but not indifferent to it. I didn’t want to be that weird “FOB” that immature juveniles snickered about. It was a battle – how do I be generally accepted and yet, be true to myself? From haircuts to extra-curriculars, I did what I did best – I fit in.
I am in New York now and there’s something surreal about this city. I am constantly exposed to people that are doing anything but “fitting in”. They are doing what they love and working hard at it. They embrace the pain and share the pleasure. Their comfort zone is the uncomfortable. It’s so inspiring and yet a little depressing, but all in all, a much needed slap in the face.
While I was in the gym today, my brain, probably turned on by some much needed physical exercise, churned out a fittingly unscientific diagnosis of sorts from all the above chatter: Amidst all this “fitting in”, I’ve lost sight of what I really want, and who I really am (cue: gasps). I have been so busy protecting myself from standing out that blending in is all I am good at. My escape is lighting my emotions and building castles in the air that I suddenly see crumbling down. I have less to be proud of, just a lot of mystical pipeline-pride I seem to take solace in. I don’t remember the last time I set fire to my comfort zone. I am getting way too comfortable in mediocrity, and that’s scary.
Don’t get me wrong, all of the above sounds a lot more lethal than it really is. I have amazing people in my life that have made this more of a joyride than anything else. This isn’t a tragedy that I’m addressing, just a diagnosis. Sometimes laying it out helps you take the next step.