I had just finished my graduation and everyone got interested in making me do what they wanted me to do. I neither listened to them nor to myself nor did something that I had passion for, I went for a Master’s degree. While I was in that phase of my life, I realized that I had become a bit more vulnerable to what people wanted from me. I did not have my best friend with me unlike my bachelor’s degree and I had no friends in college in whom I could easily confide. I being at the top of my class had a lot of eyes on me, the eyes of teachers, the eyes of competitors. Everyone expected me to consider their expectations as my priority, and I gave in to that pressure, for most time in my life, I was doing what people expected of me. Never in this entire journey, I realized that I could at any point say no.

So when did I realize that? Because of the loneliness that I was feeling in that college due of lack of someone to talk to, I fell in to deep stress which got converted into anxiety, I didn’t know exactly what it was because of which I decided to see a doctor and told him everything in one single breath without a full stop.

He asked me, “Do you eat junk food”? , to which I replied, “I have eaten a pizza only once in the last 3 years”. A long pause and then the doctor said, you are probably stressing about something and have developed anxiety. He didn’t give me medicines, instead he talked to me for some time which definitely made me feel better, it was as if, in the past year, it was the first time, I was having a meaningful conversation with someone. I came back to the hostel and gave my exams without much stress. But still there was a need to have my loved ones around me, I booked my ticket and decided to leave. I was at the bus station, my roommate called and said, “You have topped the university exams”, I was really happy and wanted to celebrate with my family. But in the morning, the bus I was in had an accident. In that moment, I realized that life is really precious and that it’s a folly to stress about anything because anything can happen any moment, it will be so quick that you won’t even be able to say goodbye or even think of the ones you love. I could see the blue sky above me and then I don’t remember. The local villagers came and recued us before the local administration could. Those local villagers who brought us to the main road on their backs, were angels for me. I was taken to the hospital and was told to be on complete bed rest for some months. At 21, I felt my lowest self. I did not feel the anxiety for some days, but then it kicked back, I used to hear someone singing at night and what not. The worst part was earthquakes, my sisters would cover me with their bodies because I could not move. I realized how lovable and important I was to some people in this world and that sort of became enough for me.

I healed form the physical injuries in a few months but there was a lot of mental pain inside that I was completely unaware of, the thoughts of the past, people telling me to not skip exams as my career depends on it, a teacher from college calling me to compete exclusive assignments while I was on bedrest, asking me to solve past years question papers. It was not helping me in any way and it was then that I realized that I need to tell everyone to simply back off. I need to create some boundaries for myself as well as others. It was a time when I decided to focus only on what my body was telling me. I kept my phone on silent for 1 and a half year and talked to only those people who made me feel better. I discovered natural ways of healing. I incorporated not just meditation, but yoga, random workout, healthy eating and most importantly journaling as a part of my daily living. With confidence, I can proudly say today, that I am not scared to say no to people, even if it’s a teacher or a person with whom I have a relative powerlessness. And it’s extremely liberating. My anxiety has improved because I have set boundaries for situations and people who earlier used to be the drivers and triggers for my stress.