I was sitting down for another day of practice for my GMAT exam at the coaching center. The only difference this time was that there was another girl in the room using one of the computers. I normally lay down my bags and started to look through the topics as usual. This girl suddenly turns to me and asks,”If you don’t mind, can I ask you a question?” I obliged politely and she asks whether I could help her out with her attire and look trendier. I was flattered and curious at the same time as to what brought on the request. She answered that for me too. She said her ‘boyfriend’ wasn’t too pleased with the effort she was currently putting in and this put a small frown on my forehead. Soon we got to talking and what was a small request blew up into a full fledged conversation about her fears and insecurities. I knew for a fact that while my confidence didn’t extend to my abilities, it was concentrated in my outlook and beliefs. She could see something that I couldn’t. I don’t think I ever realized how confident I looked until she pointed it out.
I gave her my two cents on what I thought about her situations and how I could help her. I also asked her to get a group of friends whom she thinks might be looking for guidance so we could help each other.
This wasn’t the first time complete strangers found comfort in my presence and it often baffled me how they would divulge their deepest secrets. When I ask after what made them, they would simply say,”I just felt that you were someone I could talk to.” This time it really struck me that perhaps this apparent quality of mine would really be of help to someone who really needed that push.
Going back to the previous story..
Now, this situation has more to it than I described. To fully understand its importance, one would have to take into account the culture, background and circumstances that the girl was brought up in(mine not straying too far). We were South Indians. And that in itself has a lot of baggage.
Certain circumstances, at a very young age, had made me sensitive to the issues that girls and women face and I often sought to learn more about how to retaliate and cope. As I grew, so did the desire to stand up for the biases that one faces as a girl. Fast forward to my college years where I started volunteering and realized my love for the non-profit sector. I broke away from the herd of engineering grads and started treading( and still am) a path elsewhere that was riddled with insecurities, apprehension and that was met with confusion by my peers and elders alike. I strove on.
My experiences coupled with those of the people I had met along my journey have helped me understand that while I may not be good for anything, the one thing I am surely good at is helping people and being a great listener.
The reason I am writing this today is to tell you all out there that I am listening and if you want to be heard, I am an email or comment away. Whether you are an Indian girl being smothered by society’s rules or just someone who doubts yourself or you just need a friend, I will listen and I can help. I will not divulge any of our conversations without permission – just so you all know.
Thanks for reading. I hope you all know that you are not alone.