Of Sunshine & Strength: The Category 2 People


Some ‘well-wishers’ ‘advise me’ not to write ‘posts like this’ 🙂 but you know me better than that!

In my little understanding about human life, I learnt that there are a few broad categories into which human beings can be placed (while considering how they react with the spaces and events around them).

1. Some just keep changing their course of life as obstacles and challenges keep showing up.

2. Some stick to the path no matter what the challenges are.

3. And then come the third kind who will present chameleon hues to say ‘We are smart. We adapt according to the circumstances and grow up the ladder’ (trust me — adapting is significantly different from stepping over others and enabling a discriminatory and excluding system).

How we each respond to the space and events around us is deeply internal, and influenced by a multitude of factors ranging from our upbringing to socioeconomic statuses.

For the people belonging to category 2, the small percentage of luck to survive is critical. Success is hard to get for Category 2 people, and survival becomes an every day battle to wake up to.

What we saw this past week in news of a Bollywood star’s passing, was in my opinion — him missing out on the small percentage of luck. When someone who he pushed away would have come back and insisted that they stay and watch over him. It may have needed just that much of push back from someone whose help he refused. But now, we will never know.

For many humans like him, the journey is lonely. Not many understand what they are speaking and for the insecure ones who can’t match their (Category people) brilliance, eliminating them becomes a priority task to ensure that mediocrity thrives over rare brilliance. Brilliance in my understanding always leads to change and change is hard to process for the elite few who control a system. Here is where the status quo comes into the picture.

In Bollywood they call the root cause for these selective support systems — Neopotism

In corporate workplaces, I hear many Indians broadly use the term ‘workplace politics’

In Indian sports too, ‘politics/ego clashes with administrators and top coaches’ is cited as a common reason for brilliant athletes losing the races even before competitions begin.

In academia, depending on the geographical positioning of the individual, root causes range from casteism to racial discrimination.

I have faced it. In the form of both casteism and racial discrimination. I was bloody lucky to have had people in my life back then who said —

“No matter what, we are stopping what we are doing, we are sitting with you, we are not leaving you alone while you are battling this brutality!”

This was not my blood-related family. A few years before, these people would have been strangers in my life. If I didn’t get lost in this brutal battle of discrimination, nepotism or what ever fancy terms we humans use to describe the ugly side of human behavior — that is because some strangers decided that being compassionate, and caring for a foreigner was more important for them than to appease the status quo.

We all need to educate ourselves to be more compassionate!

There is a strong need to move beyond hashtags and memes that will fight for equity and fairness. I don’t mean to undermine the efforts of individuals who are making an impact through social media content. However, many of us who are still operating under strong biases assure ourselves that by sharing ‘I Care’ content, we are absolved of our every day behaviors where we discriminate, abuse and disrespect people who are different from us in how they live their life or eat their food.

And for the Category 2 people reading this, when feeling low, it is hard to reach out for help. One needs a lot of strength to be able to reach out and ask for help.

Let me also tell you, to allow yourself to feel vulnerable by seeking help — is the hardest thing to do. But on the other side of reaching out for help —

There is sunshine. There is healing. There is growth. There is strength.

For many people who view me as an accomplished person who is living the best times of her life — I have been to the dark side. In order to not trigger other’s pain, I made a conscious decision to not speak about my struggles for sometime. But mind you, what I place on social media platforms is selective content. So that must never make anyone who reads the content feel — wow what an accomplished personal and professional life.

So this post was to tell everyone who looks at me and says to me — I am lucky. I am accomplished. I am doing great things.

I never set out to do great things. I am a curious person who always chased interesting questions involving many social science variables. But what you see came to me at a cost. And I don’t ever want that for anyone in my life.

Having said that, I will conclude this post with what a friend once said to me:

Adi, why am I like this?

He simply said,

“Padmini, you are an authentic person. There are no two sides to how you present yourself in any sutuation. And today’s world is rarely like that. So don’t change. But learn to protect yourself while you stay authentic!”

My Category 2 peers, don’t be afraid to be judged. Just reach out for help. Pick the phone. Show up at a door unannounced. Don’t walk away from asking help. Some day you will discover the power in developing that habit when survival is the need of the hour.

And some day you will save many more lives by just being you and sharing the story of your survival.

Padmini seen here in a white and green salwar kameez and also wearing a matching face mask. She is  smiling while looking into the camera with a balcony herb garden and  colorful wind chimes in the background
Dressing in Style when your mom is bored during the COVID-19 lockdown 2.0