They say that school days are great memories for everyone. Well, they probably didn't do their research properly because it wasn't so for me.
I remember my mother used to call me a "problem" child. Of course, every mother finds her kid troublesome, spoilt and problematic at some point. However, I think my mom really meant it and in retrospect, I actually do feel sorry for her. Anyone would if one had to manage a hyper-sensitive, super-moody, irritable kid who blew off steam on the slightest pretext and pulled tantrums multiple times a day. If I remember right, not only did I make life miserable for everyone around, I was not too happy or satisfied myself most of the time.
Grades mattered more than life to me. If I did not get a rank, I would be depressed for prolonged periods of time. If a teacher did not send me to fetch her marker, I would get ridiculously pissed off and cry for hours at home. I would spend sleepless nights trying to conjure up a comeback on the girl who called my dress ugly.
Not that every child should be jumping around with glee 24/7 but it didn't require elaborate psychoanalysis to notice that I had better change or things were going to get worse with time. Looking back, I can't attribute any specific reason why I acted the way I did. It was not that my dad was a drunkard who hit us every night. It was not that I witnessed a gruesome murder and had repressed memories of abuse. None of it.
Comfortable home. Normal middle class lifestyle. Home maker mom. Engineer dad. Good school. Sorry Freud, I really had little to complain about. Yet, it was simply the way I was - ambitious, attention-seeking and competitive to an extent that was not needed or healthy for a girl that age. For me, the class was a game in itself - a world where there were the 'victorious' ones and 'failed' ones and I had to be the best all the time. Every one was a threat and every missed opportunity was a liability. It was me against them. It was as though if I did not prove my worth to others, and perhaps to myself through the process, I was doomed.
As I write these things, an exercise that started off by reminiscing and pondering about that little kid of the past, I suddenly realize that while the blatant traits have fortunately not carried over to today, perhaps their trigger motivation has.
So why is it that some are so anxious and insecure about their surroundings? In groups? I would think the answer is lacking a clear estimate of the proportion of the relative worth or magnitude of people, events and situations. Sizing up others. Sizing down the self. Thinking that everything else is perfect. Fearing that one's own imperfections is in open display for all the other perfect people to see.
For a small exercise, let us think of it in terms of camera angles. There are wide shots, medium shots, long shots, eagle's eye shots and so on.
Let us say, you are conversing with a person X. So, you and X are in conversation. If you mind were a camera in perspective, a close shot would be
It is not necessarily the actual distance X has from you. It is just the way your mind looks at X. As a look at the shot tells us, there is a lot of emphasis given to X, importance placed, worth magnified in this shot. In videos too, this shot is employed for the same purpose.
When you are viewing someone in this frame in your mind, your emphasis is totally on the other person and probably, you are suddebly not so sure of your grounded worth or simply do not feel it.
Contrast that with a mid-shot
What could be an ideal perspective? An eagle's eye shot perhaps?
This shot puts the audience in a godlike position, looking down on the action. People can be made to look insignificant, ant-like, part of a wider scheme of things.The object or character often gets swallowed up by their setting - they become part of a wider picture.
And as we assume this perspective for a brief fleeting second in the mind, it becomes clear - it becomes clear that X is not god. And in the grand scheme of things, we are all equal.And that X has flaws too and that this conversation is just one of the trivial passing moments of the grand scheme of the world. And that every one has problems, insecurities, adventures, anxieties etc.
Had I employed this shot years back, I would have probably understood that the class was just one among the dozens of other classes in school. The school was just one among the hundreds of others in the city; that students had lives beyond the institution; that teachers had problems; that everyone wished for a rank, that anyone would love being the teacher's pet; that if I did not get a rank, no one was going to spend hours thinking low of me, because they were not perfect either. There was always someone better somewhere else and everyone's life was an unique adventure.
In fact, thinking about it, every thing that could ever bother us assumes nothingness when we take a second and see life through the bird's eye view. As they say, "This will pass too".