Fun fact! This blog was initially supposed to be for my “About Me” section, till I published it and realised, this blog is really about why I am grateful for the year 2020! So here goes. For the longest time, I never knew how I should introduce myself, either in job interviews or even mere social encounters. I’ve always faced that split second of confusion where I feel like I really don’t know who I am! I mean, how do I introduce myself beyond my qualifications or work experience? Does this cover it?
“Hi, I’m Aarushi Raina Bhaumik; a bicultural, secular, cis gender Indian female, who loves reading, binge watching series and movies, and lives to travel the world, while aspiring to make a difference someday.”
Does it reflect my life experience, my story, who I really am, and how I got here? I for one believe a human who’s lived 3 decades has more to say about themselves. So, here’s the crux. I’m four months away from a milestone birthday, in a year when the world has undergone one of the biggest changes in perspective by far. On a general scale, in an already cutthroat world, the survival of the fittest has become of the essence yet again. And, ironically, amidst this dreadful & uncertain future, I found my identity.
So, hello! I am Aarushi Raina Bhaumik, a survivor, and here’s my story.
When I was younger, I had a deep sense of vanity, which was further encouraged by people constantly telling me how much potential I had. Being an only child meant all the attention, aspirations & even the admonitions were laid wholly and solely onto me. I grew up believing I was truly the center of the universe, and everyone else were just side actors in this story of my life. A LOT of retrospection has brought me to realise, what a bully I was.
Soon, I was exposed to a world I had never seen before – college. I was surrounded by people of my age, from different family backgrounds & circumstances. I quickly realised what I had been touting as confidence, was infact vanity. I wasn’t smarter than most of my peers, but my circumstances were privileged. I wasn’t even as hard-working as most. But somehow I found myself getting away with a lot of things while they weren’t as lucky. That’s when I started recognising myself. On the surface, I was a strong, rebellious, confident girl, while my actions proved otherwise. My vanity was brought crashing down, while my hollow confidence chipped away, instance after instance, as I met more people & learned their stories. It wasn’t pretty.
Like so many others, I began to let external validations define me. Getting off my high horse, I dove into a deep sense of inferiority & insecurity. I couldn’t seem to catch a break in my personal or academic life. I was distracted, to say the least, by a lot of things, most of which were my own thoughts and insecurities. I was quick to blame everyone else but myself for my own pitfalls; my mother, mostly being at the receiving end of that. By the time I neared my graduation, my benchmark of success was extremely skewed. I began questioning whether I was ever going to be as successful as my peers that moved abroad for their education. Then, I came across the line that changed my attitude towards life & introduced me to the art of acceptance & letting go.
“Mann ka ho toh achcha– Harivansh Rai Bachchan
Naa ho, toh zyada achcha“
Literally, these lines mean, it’s great if you get what you wish for, but if you don’t, then it’s better. This implies, whatever happens, happens for the best; a quote that I had often heard during several spiritual gatherings but never really understood, before. I realised that gratitude would have to be the way forward. So, I decided to focus on the bright side of life. This, obviously, wasn’t a smooth journey. I’m only human, after all. After several arguments with my family, I concluded that financial independence was the need of the hour and my ultimate solution to happiness. Despite my mother attempting every tactic in the book to implore me to aim higher, I stubbornly found myself working without ambition, at one organisation after another, simply to fulfill some short term goals. My mind was set to do everything I wasn’t allowed to do growing up.
I moved out, gorged on junk, gained 30 kilograms in two years & saw my friendships become superficial. Even though I earned a decent salary, I didn’t bother keeping a track of it. Instead, I splurged it all on things I didn’t need, simply because I could. And, despite seemingly living the life I wanted to live, I wasn’t working in the profession I had graduated in, I hadn’t had any growth in the job I was doing, my personal life started becoming a mess again, and after all those months of working for just financial freedom, I noticed, I couldn’t see the point of my existence. I despised my job & hated the work ethic at my workplace even more. And, even though I always knew that I was passionate about writing, I had lost all my confidence. Every job I looked for required qualifications that I lacked. I just couldn’t see a way forward.
I found myself depressed.
It took months for me to tackle this state of mind. Tons of soul-searching & weeks of intense brainstorming later, I decided to take charge & invest in myself. I convinced myself that it was time to put my potential to creative use. I took my first step by starting my YouTube channel for covers of popular songs. I realised this was the creative outlet I had been looking for all along! Wanting to delve further into this field, I took up a Course in Digital Marketing offered by SVKM’s NMIMS Distance Education. I wanted to do something more in line with this course, so I chose to let go of my comfortable salary for a huge career shift, albeit, within the same organisation. I started to feel like I’d found purpose again, but, unfortunately, this feeling didn’t last long.
You see, you always start a job with a fresh perspective, but when your workspace is as aimless as you once were, especially when you’re on a crusade for your calling, even a new mindset can quickly vapourise. As expected, the work ethic hadn’t changed, even though my department had, and I realised, again, that this just wasn’t working out! Then, almost like lightning in a stormy night, along came 2020, casting light upon my life. While 2020 brought with it a horrific series of uncertainty for us humans as a race, for me, unexpectedly, it brought clarity. It gave me the courage to do what I had been procrastinating all those years; the courage to take the proverbial “leap”. The courage to quit my job.
This lockdown has given me time with myself. It’s allowed me to work at my pace. It’s given me the opportunity to do basic things that I had been avoiding for years, such as cook for myself, try different recipes, bake! It’s forced me to clean my house, nurture my plants, exercise, and do a lot more things that I hadn’t paid too much thought to in a decade. Eventually, what I learnt is, when you’re with your thoughts for too long, one of two things can happen, you can either talk yourself into loneliness, or you can discover how amazing you really are. By some luck, the lockdown of 2020 has helped me find myself again.
I know that there are many that won’t resonate with this sentiment and so many of you that will. While this lockdown has unfortunately made many feel trapped & restricted at home, I feel blessed to have been presented by it with liberation, instead. Liberation from my own thoughts, by my own thoughts, for my own thoughts. I’ve learned more about myself & finally understood what my mother meant when she kept asking me to aim higher. I’ve discovered I don’t exist to slog for the realisation of anyone else’s ambitions, but my own. I’m meant to fly, for myself, for what matters to me, with the lessons I’ve picked up along the way. And it’s now that another mantra I’ve held close to my heart all these years has found meaning.
“Nothing you learn is ever in vain.”
So here I am, UTILISING, every tool in my box, building up that confidence that had once stripped away, one word at a time, one sentence at a time, one blog at a time. And at least, for now, that not-so-split-second of not knowing how to describe myself, seems to have passed.