Hope: A Different Perspective

I’m not that well read about the Greek mythology, but one story always grabbed my attention me like none other. It’s the story of Pandora and her box. It is said that Pandora was the first woman made and was meant to be a punishment. The Greek god Prometheus secretly gave the gift of fire to mankind which made Zeus angry. So as a punishment to mankind Zeus asked Hephaestus to create Pandora, the first female, created to torment mankind. She was a lovely human and all the gods blessed her with a gift. When it came to Zeus, he gave her a box but told her never to open it. Pandora was adored and lived a happy life but was always curious about the contents of the box. One day she opened it and realised that Zeus had trapped all the evil in that one box. As soon as it was opened all the evil was unleashed onto the word. In horror she closed the box with only one content left, hope. As she laid there crying and lamenting over her mistake, hope whispered from the box and Pandora opened it again to let hope escape into the world as a salvation.

I sometimes wonder if hope in reality was one of the evils that was supposed to stay within the box, away from this world. Hope makes us believe that something better will come, that the suffering will end, that evil will be punished and that our circumstances will one day become better. Hope traps us and keeps us satisfied with an illusion that things will get better. I think that was Zeus’s cruel joke, that Pandora will think hope will somehow help mankind fight against the evil she had released. I think Zeus knew hope was the most dangerous of them all, after all the biggest monsters wear the most beautiful disguises.

I look at my life and realise I never experienced what it felt like to be loved; truly, unconditionally, irrevocably loved. Not by my parents; two unhappy creatures trapped in a miserable marriage, driven by regrets and selfishness. Not by my friends; they never knew who I really was, always moulding me into a person that they could find acceptable. Not by my family; they were too busy in their own lives. All my life I tried to make myself acceptable to these people just so that they could love me. I thought if I could succeed academically, be soft spoken, be nice, always smile, never fight, never argue, maybe they will adore me. And for a while they did. But that person was not me, it was just a persona with no depth or maturity. It was a heavy mask to wear that took a lot of energy to carry. It was breaking me, making me rebel. So bit by bit I tore it, showing the real me beneath. I had hope that they will come to like the not so perfect reality that was my existence. I didn’t know at the time that hope makes a fool out of all of us. It was hope that made me cling to them, it was hope that made me suffer in misery trying to be perfect, it was hope that made me return to them over and over again, it was hope that made me believe they could change. It was hope that kept me in all those toxic relationships. Hope that I can win them over, that one day we could be happy. What a naive fool I was.

The reality is that hope is that beautiful monster that will ultimately end up destroying you. I now realize people don’t change and no amount of hope will ever change a person’s circumstances. Lesson one for survival: Give up hope, it will only drag you down. Hope makes us complacent in our circumstances, it keeps us trapped in an illusion, keeps us enduring everything just on the off chance that things will get better. What I learned is that hoping won’t ever change anything, action will. Unless you become the architect of your own destiny nothing will change. Instead of telling people to hope for the best, I think it would be better to tell them to plan and act in their best interest. Your will to change your lot will shape your future and help you over come adversities not hope.

An Open Letter To A Girl I Used To Know: You Were Never A Failure

A few days ago I was scrolling down my Facebook timeline (yes, some of us still use the platform) when I came across a post by one of my middle school mate. She had shared a post published by a prestigious private school of my city appreciating her contributions to their school and how proud they were to have her as part of the team. Now some of you may be wondering why this is of any interest to me, after all we all have perfectly currated Facebook timelines with people raving about their accomplishments. But this case was different and let me tell you why.

I had always been a high achiever my entire life. I was a good student, got good grades, was part of the student councils, participated in school activities, in short never had any trouble breezing through my school life. I was the model student. Now in my class there was this one girl, she garnered as much attention as someone like me but for the exact opposite reason. She was not good at studies. She failed all class tests, would continuously score at the bottom of the class, would need tutoring and still perform below average. And she was bullied by the teachers because of that.

In my experience, most of the educators love the minimum effort, shining star students that they know will succeed in life. They encourage them, build them up and want to help them get even better. But give them a problem child, a student that actually needs their help and they would get frustrated. This is what happened to that girl. She used to be put on display in front on the class when results were announced, teachers would openly ask students like me to help students like her in front of everyone. At that age, I didn’t realise how traumatic this would be for her, I didn’t know that the teachers were wrong to put her on the spot like that. Instead I was taught that she’s a failure and it’s her fault for not working hard. It was easier to accept that she failed because she was lazy and did not want to put up any effort. I remember having some fun moments with her at the lunch breaks and after school hours. She was fun and street smart. She knew more about the real world than I did and I enjoyed talking to her about these topics. We were never friends but I like to think we were decent enough with each other and I would categorize us as acquaintances.

Well life moved on, we grew up and went about our different pathways. I went to med school and became a doctor. I was expected to succeed in life from the very start and I did. It came as no surprise to anyone in my life, I just walked the pathway that was expected from me. A few years after middle school, in the days when Facebook was the coolest new thing, I got a friend request from her. I accepted it and that was the sum of our interaction on social media. Our only contact would be through whatever stuff we would post. We were virtual strangers who just happen to know what big moments were happening in each other’s lives.
So when one day she posted about her graduation with a degree in education, I was a tiny bit surprised but didn’t think much about it. Then a few months passed by and I saw another post about her starting a new job as a teacher. Now that surprised me, because I remembered that little girl from school. And I thought, “Well good for her.” Over the next few years, I would see her posting about her accomplishments, see her getting tagged in posts of her getting some award or another. I saw her getting appreciated for being a good educator, of people telling her how proud they were of her. And each time a tiny part inside me would see her post and feel proud on her behalf. Seeing her most recent post of her being made the branch head of a leading private school, made me feel proud of what she had achieved. She, the girl who was told repeatedly as a child that she was a failure, that if she didn’t get the grades she would fail in life, had made something of herself. She did not give up, maybe somewhere along the path she got the motivation to rise above the expectations. And she prevailed.

She is an inspiration to me. She overcame the odds stacked up against her and made something of herself. Today she is grooming the future generations and excelling at that. I couldn’t tell this to her, afraid she might get offended or think that I am being condesending. I don’t want to tell her that “Hey! I remember you from middle school and you were a bad student but kuddos for not letting that get to you and succeeding in life.” I don’t know her well enough to mention her past in such a casual way. But if somehow, someway she reads this and somehow relates to the story I want to tell her that she is a role model and I wish her all the best. She deserves recognition for what she has made out of her life and I hope one day I get the courage to tell her so myself.

Regrets

Wishes upon wishes upon wishes,
Regrets pilling up in heaps,
Memories and dreams all blurred
What’s there for me to keep?

Lost the chances I was given
No one but myself to blame,
Lost time will never come back
No choice but to bear the shame.

Inevitability of Failure

For as long as I can remember I have always been told that if I work hard enough and want something bad enough, I will achieve it. As a child I grew up with the believe that my hard work will always be rewarded. That if I want something bad enough, I have to work hard to achieve it. And if I give it my absolute best, nothing can stop me from achieving my goals. So I did that, after all if all the elders kept saying this it had to be right. Wrong. They were wrong.

This mindset that we grow up with, that you can be anything you want to be if you work hard enough is just not applicable in real life.

Life is not fair and you don’t always get what you want, that’s the truth that should’ve been told to me as a kid. Hard work does not always equate to success. You can give your 100 percent to a task and still you may never achieve it.

Failures are a part of life and in my opinion just as important as success, sometimes even more so. We won’t always score as high as we expected, or get into the University we worked so hard to get into. We may never get our dream job. We may work our butts off and still never get that promotion. Some of our relationships will fail regardless of how much we love that person. Some of our peers will be more successful than us and some of them will achieve things that we wanted but never could. There will always be someone better than you out there, someone who’s more talented, more hardworking, more intelligent and that’s life.

There are so many factors that influence our outcomes, a vast majority of them totally out of our control. It’s okay not to succeed all the time and it’s okay to not be the best. We all will fail at some place in our lives. And that’s okay. Failure is a far better teacher than success. It will teach you about your own limitations, strengths and weaknesses. We need to stop fearing failure, we need to stop thinking that if we fail the world will end. We need to stop telling our children that winning is everything and if you fail then you’ll keep failing. It’s just not realistic or practical. Life is not about winning or being the best. It’s about learning and growing, it’s a process of getting to know your own self. It’s about falling down and then getting back up again. It’s about trying to be the best version of yourself and that means embracing your failures and being proud of all that you have achieved.

One day

One day not too far away
You’ll look back at today,

At all the hurt and all the sadness,
At all the tears shed in darkness

And feel glad that these things
These feelings, no longer matter.