On Being Yourself

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Why is former Ms World & well-known Indian actor -Aishwarya Rai’s lip colour at the last Cannes film festival, the talk of the world, and not her work? Whether you personally like the colour or not…is not the point in question. The wearer liked it enough to wear it to such an important occasion and that’s what really matters…I loved her confidence, the spunk to go as she jolly well pleased. She could have worn a red or a pink, to be on the safer side, but she decided on mauve/violet…to be herself.

This twitter drama on her lip colour brings to mind an incident from my life: When I was about 26 -27, a male friend – first a client at work as a high profile passenger on the airline I worked for then, asked me conversationally if I wore Mauve lipstick.

“I’ve never seen one or heard of it” I replied smugly, thinking he was teasing me for the red I wore.

“It will suit you…just as high heels will, if you brave it. I’m off to Dacca, and will be back tomorrow. If I get you a Mauve lipstick, will you wear it?”

“Yeah, sure” I replied, “why not? I’ll trust your taste and will try it once…first on an outing with you off course, if you’re willing to take a woman with Mauve lipstick along.”

True to his words, he returned the next day and at the arrival hall of Calcutta airport, shoved a Christian Doir lipstick, with a pretty ribbon tied around it, into my hand. It was a few shades darker than Aishwarya’s.

I’m not one to shy away from challenges thrown at me. That evening, I wore Muave on my lips somewhat hesitantly with an all-black outfit…I left my waist length hair open, and wore the high heels that he dared me to, to an official party. Everyone loved it and I got so many admiring glances. I actually felt like a model that evening. My friend had the – “I told you so” amused gleam in his eyes.

What he had actually done in effect, was boost the confidence for life – of a girl who was a shy and rather conservative dresser, to wear anything I pleased and carry it with élan. In life I have met so many people, who have influenced me into shedding my caterpillar mask and stepping out into the sun.

With much practise over the years, I no longer care what anyone thinks of what I wear…I dress to please myself.

*****

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The words in this template above, are so true – especially, “for the first couple of years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not”: Luckily I had the foresight to understand this, and my first blog started exactly 10 years back in May/June 2006 was anonymous and remains so to this day.

In October 2007, I started another blog, but it just had my name ‘Shuvashree’ and no more…till only over a year later after the blog was already quite popular, I uploaded my photo and only gradually added my true profile/identity. Since then, I’ve had three other public blogs for the practise and to connect with readers and build my confidence. Then to ensure I don’t get too attached to the easy attention and readership I got there – I deleted the most popular blog on Ibibo after a year. Also as I just could not keep up with the demand to my time.

Since then, I’ve never found the need to either make my first anonymous blog public or ever go anonymous again. It’s actually most trying to post your writing on Facebook, way above it is in blogs and that’s why I do so, consistently…As the platform has so many of your old friends, ex-colleagues, family, added to people who don’t read one way or the other, and the number of journalist/writer/poet friends as well. And still you go ahead writing there, like you are singing on the road, irrespective of what people think or say of your ability…it takes a lot of daring to do that, but I persevere. This is even after publishing my first novel in 2013. I now fear no one – reading, misreading, interpreting, or misinterpreting me. As a writer, I feel absolutely liberated and free. 🙂

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 *****

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Why, I wonder pondering over Anais Nin’s words above, does our society look upon being an extrovert, as if wearing a halo? I was carried away by this desired halo effect too. But I’ve come full circle now:
I spent the first two decades of my life coveting to be an extrovert, and then the next two actually living as a pompous one – I’m not a bad actor you see smile emoticon.
But then, comparing the time spent as an introvert versus that as an extrovert, I realised how I had developed a reduction in the latter – of the finer abilities of being perspective, introspective, intuitive, empathetic and above all compassionate. I also realised that the qualities that I had been applauded for in the latter – of good leadership, were actually the result of the first two decades of my life as an introvert, wherein I’d garnered through reading, quiet, observation and introspection, these very leadership qualities attributed inherently to an extrovert.
Thus began the third phase, another two decades perhaps or more, of my journey back in time to my inherent inner self – that of being an introvert.
But this time I’m always equipped with my well woven extrovert’s cap, handy to wear any time and artfully at that too, when the need arises. 🙂

 

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