April 7, 2021
Isolated from her family and mired in feelings of inadequacy, Low Entropy Volunteer Writer Meghna Thakur hit a low point before gradually emerging from it. Reflecting on that time, Meghna is now putting pieces together to create essential personal supports.
It always starts with the same thought, “I don’t think I can,” in one form or another . . . a small, niggling feeling. Sometimes it’s easy to ignore, but other times it takes root and won’t let go. Then that thought becomes a faint whisper and, if not curbed, gains strength until it’s a loud inner monologue that is difficult to silence.
Self-doubt has been a constant companion in my life from a very early age. Though the term has a negative connotation at face value, I have had both positive and negative experiences dealing with it.
I grew up in a family of highly talented artists and well-educated professionals in the science, technology and medical fields. It was quite a legacy to live up to. Most of my young life was spent trying to excel in my studies or extracurricular activities because, whether I was aware of it or not, there was always a need to measure up, to prove myself. Growing up, I channelled those feelings into determination, which pushed me to constantly improve and learn. I discovered my love of reading all kinds of literature, my fascination with science, a passion for sports and a knack for analytical and logical thinking. On a personal level, it drove me to explore a plethora of hobbies before focusing on what interested and inspired me.
However, the motivation borne from these feelings of inadequacy was a double-edged sword. I left my home country to pursue a master’s degree abroad and naively believed that any challenges I faced could easily be tackled if I was simply determined enough. But being alone and away from everything that is familiar to you, that little whisper of uncertainty (that can usually be easily drowned out when you feel secure in your environment) can rapidly transform into something far more insidious. Within a month, I started fearing that I did not have what it takes to get through the rigours of this new, unfamiliar international education system. Coupling that with the fact that my family had just spent a significant chunk of their hard-earned savings to give me this opportunity led to me suffering several panic attacks. At my lowest point, I hadn’t slept for almost four days straight and had barely eaten a meal that didn’t come straight out of a ready-to-eat packet. I would stay up all night crying with my family, wishing they could be with me, but at the same time knowing that wasn’t a viable option. They even tried to persuade me to give it all up and just come home, and we’d figure out the next step together.
Looking back, what truly helped me get through that dark period were the friends I made at university. We were all in the same boat together, and knowing that they shared the same uncertainty and fears was a huge comfort. They lent an ear free from judgment or reproach, and I had never been more grateful. I realized that, though my family and friends back home would always have my back, it was important to build a local support system to feel a sense of community. The people you surround yourself with matter. Personal connection matters.
This lesson has never been more relevant than now. This pandemic has brought to light many things that I have always questioned but chose to ignore, because there was always something I could use to distract myself: travel, weddings, entertainment . . . But in the past year, with all those diversions gone, I have struggled with significant aspects of my life, like my choice of career, the place I live and what matters most to me.
I have found that a combination of the approaches that worked for me thus far has helped a great deal. I have forced myself to come to terms with things that no longer serve or satisfy me. This has re-ignited my drive to wholeheartedly pursue endeavours that bring me joy, and I have faith that success will follow. The very nature of the current situation prevents us from seeking out personal physical connection with those we love, and it has been difficult having to rely on solely virtual means. Nevertheless, I try to focus on keeping connected with my social circle (near and far) and checking in with them, and remind myself that I still have a great support system.
However, what became painfully clear was the severe lack of friendships I had formed in the two years that I have called Vancouver my home. To try and get out there and make friends, I took advantage of the partial lifting of restrictions last summer to join hiking and outdoor adventure groups. This led me to meeting some wonderful people from various backgrounds that I probably would never have met. Most recently, I have started volunteering at local non-profits, which is what led me to Low Entropy. The feeling of acceptance and positive reinforcement that I have felt from my peers here has helped me feel a renewed sense of belonging and has helped calm that nagging voice that probably won’t ever truly go away, but can be relegated to the sidelines where it belongs.
Meghna definitely belongs here, and you do too! Join our loving and empathetic community by participating in a Conscious Connections group chat, or simply drop us a comment here or on one of our other social media channels – we’re super acceptance-y!
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