She was in the playground, happy on the merry go round
Then they came and asked her, won’t you come, join us?
Why don’t you talk?
Sometimes misunderstood, sometimes not so much
“Look at that kid, she doesn’t seem to talk much
Maybe she is shy as such, let’s help her best, she is not like the rest“
Surrounded by commotion, expected to be more
She was told early on, that she needs to be a part
The constant pressure bore her down, until her smile was replaced with a frown.
Our stories generally begin when we enter school. Before this, it is just a fog clouded from narrations by our near and dear ones mixed with our own fuzzy memories. Often the society designs our situations and reactions. There are set ways and expectations. Early on we are unknowingly forced to live according to its norms. Our childhood often molds us into the adults we become. For some it is difficult than others.
Being an introvert is hard, especially as a kid when you are constantly being rewarded for being out there. Being a quiet kid, I often felt that I was different from the rest. When you are a school going pupil all you want is to fit in. Voices inside my head, forcing “you should be like them, talk talk talk”. Slowly, I felt more and more of a need to “entertain” others. Slowly, being at home seemed better, where I got to unwind and be with myself. But little by little the anxieties of the classrooms started following me home.
Then puberty hit or was it just a phase of discovering myself? It’s hard to differentiate. One of becoming outgoing and transforming to the society’s needs and another of discovering myself and becoming comfortable in who I am. By around 8th– 9th standard I got categorized as a ’normal fun kid’, which felt nice. Somewhere down the line, I realized what being an ‘ambivert’ means. I still have no clue whether I was an ambivert from the beginning or I became one. There are days when I like to be alone and days when i seek company. I find joy in the silence and bliss of the quiet moments. There are people who will outright challenge me when I say I am an introvert and yet others who will agree. However, these are just labels. The point I am trying to make is that society wants us to be who they are and there is no denying that the world is run and designed for extroversion.
When a kid is taught “Chubby cheeks, dimpled chin … ” what is the message that we are trying to send to our youngest? Is it that beauty is supposed to be defined by these parameters? What do we tell our children who flunk in exams? What do we tell the kid who is too fat or too slim? It’s time our schools are more sensitized to these subtle message delivery mechanisms that is so deep-rooted in the pedagogy that we are normalised towards it.
As we grow and become one with ourselves we get over it. In my case, the issues never got serious and being an innately optimistic person I was able to be truly myself. However, there are people who are scarred for life. I know people whose experiences have crept into their adulthood. Sometimes the extent of such influences can be traumatic and this is something that is still highly underrated, for everyone has their own struggles right?
Working in school for the past year as an India Fellow, I have become more and more aware of how our schools play a major role in our personalities. How often these little things are ignored and the focus is on learning the subjects. These spaces are more than just that. A fostering environment suited for each child in his/her own ways and enabling them to become the best of themselves rather than the best from all is what our schools and societies need.
As she grew, she came to know,
Why society does, what it does,
She let go of, all of her insecurities, and her obscurities.
She shed the shell, that enclosed her,
The one they said was hers, but was what they forced on her.
And she became who she was,
All of her with her flaws, coz flaws were not what she saw,
And then the world stood in awe.