I was once lost, but now I’m found…
If life is a journey then mine is stuck in a god-awful traffic jam. Not a minor one, but an epic trail of cars backed up for miles in stagnant summer heat. Wild West music plays in the background as a bald man, head glistening in the red sunlight, reaches for his mini plastic fan only to realize that the batteries have died. A mousy haired woman weakly beeps her horn only to sit back and wipe sweat off her forehead.
Okay, so the analogy went a little far, but that doesn’t change the fact that right now it feels like my life’s journey is going as many places as a clapped out Ford pulled up on the hard shoulder and smoking under the bonnet.
For me the future’s still largely unknown and I feel strangely disaffected with my school-day past.
All the introductions and new friends made at University have left me wondering who I am and how to define myself. Am I Rupen from Essex? Am I Rupen the brown girl? Am I the very same Rupen Kalsi that can sing and harmonise to every track to Lady Gaga’s The Fame album with no cues whatsoever? What’s more, am I even someone worth knowing?
In the past it was easier. At school your clique did most of your self-defining. Seven years of growing up with the same people meant they knew you well enough to characterize you with the material of all the embarrassing things you’ve done/worn/said/vomited on over the years. At University there’s none of that balmy homegrown familiarity. You find yourself wondering why the ‘cool’ fact about yourself is so shit after the fifteenth ice-breaker activity you’ve done in Freshers, and searching up where to buy a heinous edgy day-glo jacket for your next trip to Motion. I joined more societies to get more badges to add to my metaphorical brownie uniform, but even that didn’t stop my bemusement at myself.
Finding yourself seems to be shot down as the pipe-dream of dreadlocked backpackers with a disconnect from the ‘real world’, but I think the idea is seriously misunderstood.
It seems as though while we rush around with the everyday, saving time with mobile banking apps and half laughing at shitty jokes by the water cooler, we forget to take care of ourselves. So what is finding yourself, if it isn’t socially approved self-indulgence?. I’d say it’s a commitment to self-care and self-knowledge that is essential to our own mental, and physical, well-being and not a frivolity. We don’t ask ourselves what we truly want from life enough, and certainly don’t spend enough time finding what really makes us tick. It’s so engrained in us to be ‘modest’ and just accept what we have, as opposed to fighting against it and maybe valuing our happiness for a moment, openly, maybe while we wear some tie dye but also maybe not.
Do you like things because you truly enjoy them or because your label dictates that you should? Was it worth viewing that gig through a smart phone camera for your Instagram followers or do you wish you saw it through your own eyes more?
In an age where we are so obsessed with labels and external validation, taking time out to get to know and appreciate yourself within your own mind should be applauded and not ridiculed. I don’t know how to get out of my own life rut, but finding out more things about myself seems a good place to start. Instead of knocking finding yourself why not give it a try?
Make more time for yourself, sit in silence a while longer and spend your spare minutes on things that make you feel alive.
In finding yourself you’ve got nothing to lose, right?
Follow Rupen on twitter: @rup_kal
Illustration: Emma Palin & Madison Burford