I’ll be honest. I’m having to struggle to keep up with a whole bunch of things in my life. When I pause to exhale and think about my struggles I realise I’ve always struggled with my struggles. Right from childhood. Of course the struggles morphed into more mature, more adult struggles as I grew up, but they never went away. There was no magic abracadabra to make me feel invincible, or super confident, or super positive and make my struggles seem really small, like a grain of sand in the Universe.
When I was young
My struggles were about being dark-skinned, euphemistically called dusky skinned nowadays. I struggled with having ‘matured’ faster than some of the other older girls in the neighborhood. I struggled with having my body thrust itself out in a hurry quicker than some of the other skinnier girls. I struggled with them giggling and poking and whispering and pointing at my blooming femininity and wondered what I’d done wrong. Why were they all laughing? I was a smart kid and I managed to learn things by rote better and so would stand first in class. I was considered “intelligent” and I struggle with that label, till this day. I struggled with the burden of my family’s expectations of “studying well, shining bright, winning accolades and getting a great job”, none of which I really did. I struggled with the idea of having buck teeth and no one ever bothering to tell me that I could actually get it fixed. I struggled with never being great at sports and always losing out to someone better. I struggled with the idea of losing even though I was told that winning was not everything, participating was (and I know that wasn’t the truth, there’s really nothing like winning is there?). I struggled with being plump and short and dark and “smart/intelligent”, and not being good at sports.
When I was a teen
I struggled with never looking stylish enough when I was in college. At 16 all you want to do is look good in jeans and have shiny hair, a brilliant smile and hope all the boys want to take you to some party, any party. All you wanted was an invite. I struggled, because I was only giggled at and never invited. I struggled to figure out what would make extended family stop comparing me to other “prettier” girls in the family and I struggled to learn how “not to feel bad” when these comparisons and blatant favouritism was displayed. I struggled not knowing how to language it and so becoming temperamental and moody and depressed were my form of expression, for attention, for somehow wanting to tell those who hurt me to look at me as me and not as someone they wanted me to be. I struggled with the lies about my father, and his work, and the shame and the guilt that accompanied me whenever someone asked me about him. I struggled to comfort my mother and support her as my anger came in the way and I didn’t know how to channelise that anger into something meaningful and purposeful. I struggled when my grandfather died and I held my father responsible for his death and the eventual death of my grandmother 3 years later. I struggled with the guilt of being my father’s daughter.
When I was an adult
No one told me life wasn’t a piece of cake. I struggled to define my purpose. I struggled to have faith in my ability to do anything. I struggled to come up with a plan for my life. What did I want, where did I want to go, how would I go about getting there, would I find a man who could love me? I struggled every time a man came into my life and left me for another. I struggled with my desire to tell the world I could be the bride too, every single time I attended a friend’s wedding. I struggled as I grew singler and singler and older and wiser. I struggled with the chains of a 9-5 when my heart cried out to be free. I struggled to make sense of the pain of just being an adult and watching my life somehow not panning out the way I imagined – no fame, no money, no career, no travels, no books, no “love of my life”, no children – no nothing really.
When I am in the prime of my life now
I continue to struggle. My struggles are not vastly different from yours. I struggle to keep my body from sagging. I struggle with the narratives of loneliness and fear of death. I struggle to find meaning and purpose. I struggle with self-worth and coming to terms that I’m ordinary and very average. I struggle with my writing and the fact that I can never be a great writer. I struggle with acceptance and forgiveness. I struggle to keep my head high and not regret the past. I struggle with dealing with sarcasm. I struggle to keep bitterness with past behaviours of my family and find it so hard to keep my rage (rage, not just anger) at bay. I struggle when my life coach asks me about my father. I struggle to realise that I have one life to live and I haven’t achieved pretty much anything and we have Marc Zuckerberg who was the youngest billionaire in the world. I struggle when my trust is misplaced and yet I continue to place my trust in people’s goodness. I struggle with hope and I struggle to find meaning. I struggle to keep the greys out of my hair as I struggle to be patient with a parent who is only getting older, greyer, frailer. I struggle with my unexpressed passions, and I struggle to dream sometimes. And when I dream, I struggle to keep them burning, happy to put out the embers.
I struggle with struggles. All the fucking time.