Thanksgiving

I know I haven’t written in a while. No, I haven’t given up on yet another blog. I just wanted to make sure I had something quality to say every time I wrote. Something that wouldn’t make an older me cringe a few years down the line. Also, I use this as a platform to work things out in my head and I have been fortunate enough to not have any pressing concerns in the past couple of weeks.

Yes, it has been an unusual period of bliss-ed out contentment for me. One that I am very thankful for. I figured it would be appropriate to take a few minutes out of a day off that happened to fall on the eve of Thanksgiving Day to log my gratitude.

A lot of things have factored into this joy. I am doing well at work. I love my patients. I have found enjoyment in studying Medicine again. I am excited about my future. I have learnt to appreciate my family for how absolutely wonderful they are, and not take them for granted. I may have finally found my clan in Chicago – a group of smart, funny, decent Malayalees around my age who I met at a Meetup event, almost all of them having lived in Bangalore at some point in their lives! – can you sense my excitement? Now it may all fizzle out but I am OK with that possibility. I have learnt not to have lofty expectations of people. I have spent lot of time in the past dwelling on being disappointed by friends. Now I realize that is probably because I hold them to very high standards.  Most importantly, for the first time in my life, I am not looking for love. I really really like myself and seem to not mind not having constant validation of my worthiness.

Now this may seem to be contradictory to that statement but I recently went to a Dabble class on “How to attract with allure and approachability”. Yes you are allowed to laugh at me now. It was something I had signed up for before this whole I don’t-need-a-boy emancipation came about. I decided to go anyway, and boy, am I glad I did! It was a small intimate gathering of of five single women sharing their stories of love over wine at the host’s apartment. All the while our wonderful coach gave us eye-opening tips on things that must be holding us back in love. It was as delightful as it sounded. What I liked best was how honest everyone was with their vulnerabilities. It was interesting how even though we all might have our individual hurdles, the common theme was self- doubt. It was yet another instance where it was evident that we as women, tend to put ourselves down so much in our heads, that we might be really really far from our truths. I came out realizing a lot of my mindsets that must have been holding me back for years in situations that I could have taken to my advantage. Oh and guess what? We enjoyed each others company so much that we ended up exchanging numbers and making plans to catch up again this Christmas.

Don’t get me wrong. I am terrified that this will all come crashing down come December 6th on Fellowship Match Day. I like to think this time around I have enough maturity and wisdom to approach this period of uncertainty with balance and grace. I hope I can manage to keep my sense of hope and purpose in case things turn out unfavorably for me. I really struggled the last time during Residency Match two and a half years ago. In hindsight, things really did work out for the best. But I was young and naive and used to winning all the time at the time. I have learnt to forgive myself and others for my perceived failures. The fact that I said “perceived” in itself is a revelation to me of a change in mindset. I now have a mindset of acceptance and pride in myself and all that I have achieved. And I am finally happy to just live in the moment, doing the best I can each day, not agonizing about what people think of me, or what the future may look like for me. I am paying my bills on time. I have a 401k. Going to the gym daily has become a habit. I am reading, listening to podcasts, watching the news, making conversations with strangers, going out of my comfort zone. I am also making time to hang out by myself in my living room that I so lovingly decorated two years ago but never used much as a result of being too high-strung all the time to just relax on my couch. Thank you, Whoever is making all this happen. Please make it so that I am this happy come what may for the rest of my life. And please help me keep my feet on the ground while I am at it.

The Flight. 

She looks out the tiny window of the airplane at the universe, earphones in her ears, exhaustion in her eyes. Her loneliness feels poignant from this vantage point. As if this is a story and she’s the protagonist. She keeps playing the same song over and over, so many times that it feels like the background score of her life. The interview trail has meant a lot of time spent on flights lately. She always picks a window seat. It gives her a chance to go into her cocoon, where it’s just her and the universe. Also, that way she doesn’t have to look at all the young happy couples with their adorable babies. Why do all Americans marry so young?! She feels annoyed. The sitcoms she grew up watching were so misleading! Nobody falls in love at work! Yeah, you can stop looking for your Jim Halperts and Derek Sheperds girls. They don’t exist. The dearth of desirable single men in her everyday life has been so profound that she would now be very surprised if a cute guy did not say something like “so my wife and I moved here two years ago.” She had tried signing up for Tinder and it’s likes, only to always end up deleting her accounts in frustration. They simply did not work for her. The best place to find a mate was in college, she realizes. Men and women who are intellectual equals put in competetive environments for extended periods of time? Sparks are bound to fly. She imagines the subconscious drive to be something like “Oh you and I got into Harvard so we must pair up immediately so we can make ultra successful superhuman genius babies.” Like when she met S. It wasn’t his looks or charm. It was his intelligence, wit and talent that made her weak at the knees. Well she blew that, so thanks for that again universe. She scowls at her reflection in the window. As for the old school going to a bar hoping to get picked up? Well, that was another thing her Indian Catholic upbringing had not prepared her for. The fact that she was in a committed relationship during the ages of nineteen to twenty six did not help either. It might sound unbelievable to the average American but she simply did not know how to respond when she was hit on.  Her responses have involved a lot of incoherent sentences, fumbling and the dropping of things. Besides, what if they were a serial killer? A great comedy show she had recently watched at the Second City had commented on how women repeatedly put themselves in physical danger in the hope of finding their Prince Charming. Maybe we don’t need a Fucking Prince Charming was the much applauded conclusion. The show had left her all goosebump-y with inspiration. Well, for a while at least.  Before she had to come home to an empty apartment and Chinese takeout. S used to cook for her so much. He would have elaborately baked chicken dishes waiting for her when she came home after a long day.  And wine.  There was always wine.  And comforting hugs. And slow dances around the kitchen. Yeah, the boys on Tinder never stood a chance.