wind beneath my wings

My father believed in people. He put his faith in them. He was often let down by people closest to him. Yet, he believed in them. He justified their actions by saying it must’ve been their circumstances that led them to go astray. I have seen him lose a lot in life, simply because he continued to believe in people. And he did not live long enough for me to see these people come around, or to see him get his due share. So I am not convinced we should put so much faith in people. I have an inherent aversion to trusting people too soon.

My mother on the other hand put her faith in God. She really does believe that all the good that happens is because of some higher being playing its strings. And all the bad that happens is the God actually punishing us for some thing we did wrong. This theory does not stand the test of times. Because as per her we are inherently good people. We lived within our means. Never hurt anyone. Always helped others, even when we had little to give. So then why did we have to deal with loss of our father so early in life? I am not a fan of her belief system. And she knows that. We respectfully disagree on this point.

Growing up with these competing mindsets in the house was not difficult. To be honest, a lot of what was happening to us then was incomprehensible to my little mind. But when I boarded the flight to the US, in August 2005, I knew that I was to be weary of people, and I cannot blindly believe in God taking care of me. I needed my own belief system. So I put my faith in myself.

My belief system suits the individualistic society that I live in.

I came to this country at an impressionable age of 22. The next 13 years I advanced my career and my life on my own terms, in a direction I was confident in, with my own capabilities and my luck. I met wonderful mentors, and coaches, and teams. I made great friends. They shaped me into who I am today. And I am grateful to them. Each turn I took was deliberate. I didn’t follow a partner at a firm. I knew exactly why I was taking the role each time and how it would position me for the next one. Of course luck and chance played a role here too.

But the last two years have been quite an anomaly. I did not quite choose my last job. It was given to me. And for the first time I tried to “follow”, and not “lead” my own path. By all worldly measures I grew in last two years, but in my own eyes I failed. I did not fail to lead. I failed to follow. Because when I chose to follow, and yes it was my choice, I had to also believe. For the first time in my career. I blindly believed in something other than myself. And I was disappointed. Mostly in myself.

I was swept away by the uncanny resemblance in our belief systems. I was so tired of leading, fearlessly, all by myself, that I wanted to just follow for a while. I wanted to act in the shade of something I trusted to be right. I wanted to see change done right. I wanted to be part of a positive force. I wanted to learn so I could grow. And so I believed.

But soon I found myself alone in a storm. The shade was gone, it became cold. And the more I believed the less I related to my true self.

And over a period of a year, I was slowly drawn into this negative space where I have never been before. This space wants you to give up and give in and succumb to the pressure. It made me question my authenticity. I already question myself so much, I could not deal with more. I experienced anxiety and self doubt to the extremes. To the extent that it made me sick to my stomach.

In all of this I learnt that the world will tell you all that you are not, to convince you that you cannot be what you are meant to be, so that you give up even before you start. Because in doing so their ego wins, and your passion loses. And in doing so you become a follower. You succumb to the system. A system set up by them. But this is not about them. This is about me.

I want to go back to believing in myself. Doing what I think is right. And being who I am, which has led me to where I am today. I might not go far, but where I go will be based on my abilities. My success and failures are for me to judge. I win even if I loose, because I let my principles and my convictions win. And that’s more important to me than a score the world stamps on you.

When I let his ashes flow I said to him – I am letting you go. But you will live within me, as long as I can keep believing in myself. If I lose that, I will lose you forever. I have felt his absence more than ever since this year began.

But here’s the good news. This phoenix is ready to get herself together, and prepare for her next flight, and she needs him to believe in her, and be with her, more than ever. For he is the wind beneath her wings.

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