See Saw, Up and Down

13Jan09

Up. Down, Up, Down, Up, Down……….. 

No, That’s not a 3 year old going up and down on a see saw. That’s 27 year old me watching my emotional self go up and down.

Just Yesterday, after visiting a special needs childrens’ school, where I saw chilren blessed with so little as compared to the rest of us being so happy and contented, I promised myself I would not complain about my life’s petty travails or put myself in the doldrums again.

A fat lot of good my pep talks do me. By the afternoon, I had seen someone whom I felt was far inferior to me in terms of abilities and talents (not to mention far younger) but who had gone far ahead in the corporate ladder while I was still struggling on the bottom rung, and I was depressed again.

What on earth is wrong with me? It frightens me to think I can be so shallow and silly.

I used not to be a jealous person. In my growing up years, I was blessedly, uniquely free of that emotion. I always appreciated kids who were smarter, prettier or in whatever way, more accomplished than I was. I never could understand other kids who were jealous. I understood jealousy as a concept, not an emotion.

This was probably because that as a child, my father deliberately created a competition free atmosphere. While other kids’ parents chatised them for not earning as high marks as or being not as pretty as or as sporty as so and so’s sons or daughters, my father not only suppressed my mother’s natural inclinations to do the same, but activley discouraged us from feeling any spirit of competition with others.

‘Remember, you are not runnig a competition with others at school. Just enjoy your time there. If someone gets the highest marks in Mathematics and you get the lowest, it doesn’t mean she is a better person than you are. If you get the highest marks in your class, that doesn’t mean you are necessarily the best person either’, he always cautioned.

Of my two siblings and I, my brother was the only one with a naturally competitive streak. Even this, my father was cautious about.

“We must always strive for excellence, but compete only with yourself, not others. If you get an 85 this time, promise yourself you will get a 90 next. Don’t think so and so got a 90, I must do better and get 95.”

That kind of attitude had a good effect on my laid back self and I had very carefree schooling years as compared to most kids of my community whose parents were continually pushing them into competition with each other.

I still remember how my best friend at school begged me each term to lie about my marks to her mother. Her mother beat her severely (Even well into high school), if she was not the highest in class. Fortunately our report cards did not have the idiotic system of giving our rankings in class and she could get away with it with my collaboration.

So, while I usually got around 10 marks higher than her in each subject, I dutifully reported my marks to be lower than the daughter’s to the smirking mother. (Who then always made a point of gloating about it to my infuriated mother).

Eventually we parted ways irrevocably because the several years of jealousy induced within her by her mother took its toll.

Now as I sit here and write, I can’t help feeling depressed that all my father’s careful nurturing could not keep the base emotion of envy out of me, later in life.

What on earth am I going to do to beat the blues?

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