Written By:- Shivangana || Graphics By:- Shushma
‘Take me to church’ by Hozier plays on a loop in the background as sunlight wedges in through the blue curtains which don’t really let them in. It moves around in your room, looking for spaces until it finally rests on the sheets you have forgotten you have stacked. Sheets; you refuse to call art. Sheets; which are everything art is. You turn and twist as your phone rings for the thirteenth time and you try to ignore it because you don’t want to lie to your best friend again about why you are not coming to the contest. You are feeding lies; feeding them? feeding yourself.
Change the sheets with speeches you wrote; pieces of poetry that you refuse to show to the world; videos of yourself dancing in the confines of your room; your 3 am song recordings which you don’t let the world hear; the monologues you have practiced alone or maybe the scorecards which you think define you; test papers which absolutely nobody except you cares about. Pick them up, one piece at a time.
Change ‘Take me to church’ to a song you listen to on loop. Scroll through your playlists, scroll through other’s playlists and change it. Pick your song.
If I had to sum it all up to you; If I had to tell you one thing that could probably help in all of the battles you fight, every day, bit by bit, it would be this, pick your song. Do not let anyone else choose your title track. Do not let anyone remove you from your own story, ever. And while you do that, remind yourself to drink water, not slouch, look away from the laptop screen, let your jaw move a bit. Remind yourself to be a person. This is an ode to you; the person you have grown out of and the one you are growing into; to the version of yourself you have left behind and to the one you are creating.
This is not going to be an essay which tells you 10 ways of building your self-confidence. You probably already know them all. This essay is going to tell you to create your own ways. It is going to tell you to look for yourself. And when you do, you will find yourself hiding in the strangest spaces of your mind. Dusty corners abandoned with casual disregard, not out of spite but out of the exhaustion that comes with just being. Listen closely to the voice memos you record at 2 am and pay attention to how you pronounce ‘beyond’ or the way you emphasise on the ‘s’ sound in words. Pay attention to how your voice gets softer when you talk about your dreams. You will realise that being vulnerable in front of yourself is very easy; very tough yet very easy. You’ll realise that you weren’t allowing yourself this vulnerability until you do. So, this essay is going to tell you to look for yourself and when you do, you’ll realise that that’s all that matters.
This essay is not going to tell you 10 books which you should read in order to be the smartest person in the room. It is going to tell you to think of the first book you read and the number of times you have reread it till now. And how the sense of wonderment never really left you. How you still curl your toes in anticipation of what the character is going to say next. Pay attention to how you play a song over and over again, focusing on a different instrument each time. Pay attention to how you sit in silence for hours and feel gravel scratching your throat when you finally speak. Watch every last film in the world and taste every single type of candy and feel all kinds of emotions there are. This essay is not going to tell you to pay attention on how to portray yourself in front of others; it is going to tell you to pay attention to yourself because that is where self-confidence breeds.
It is only when you explore all the damp, weird corners of your mind and embrace it, you do not shy away from being the truest version of yourself in front of yourself; in front of everyone. So, give yourself the time of the day you have been denied for so long. Let yourself in.
And when you do, let yourself pace around, walk, glide, fly. Do it all alone if needed. This book that I am reading tells me that journeys are about movements; neither about the destination nor about the speed. So, move but not because this essay tells you to. Do it if and when you want to move and be everything that they tell you not to be. There’s a popular song by Rabindranath Tagore in the voice of Amitabh Bachchan called ‘Ekla Cholo Rey’ that my neighbour plays every morning at 7 to remind herself to move. Even if she moves alone.
I play ‘Masakali’ from Delhi 6’s album to remind myself of that.
But you don’t listen to these songs because this essay tells you to. You shuffle through your albums, your granny’s old cassettes, your father’s record collection, random playlists that you come across on Spotify, songs that youtube thinks you’d like; shuffle through them all.
And pick your song.