Have you ever been drunk-dialled? The calls can be maudlin but sometimes entertaining .
My friend Sam called the other night and told me how much she liked me and could we date each other? She blustered on to say that ofcourse for it to work I would have to change things about myself and she in turn needed to be in better place in her life things. I eventually got her off the phone and the next day she was suitably embarrassed, enough for me to not give her a hard time- her unique proposal did get me thinking about change and how we want people to change especially our romantic partners.
I had an ex-girlfriend who wanted to change things from the start– from giving me a makeover so we’d look more alike, to telling me what to eat and changing my exercise routine. I decided I didn’t want to morph into ‘matching couple’ and we split. I remember telling her that in a relationship the only person one could change was oneself. I think I’d go back and qualify that, it’s very hard to change even yourself, so it’s not fair to give your respective other a hard time about it.
Think about how hard it is to actually change things about yourself? Even something as uncomplicated like a diet plan or an exercise regime- you can do it for a month but beyond that it’s an uphill task and few stick with it.
And this is easy tangible stuff like diet and lifestyle-they’re trimmings. How hard is it to change fundamentally things about yourself? Can one become more courageous, fun or funny or more caring? How long does it take?
I’ve wanted to start writing in the last couple of years. But it’s taken much dallying back and forth and some false starts to get going. With the writing I’m trying to take it a day at a time. I guess that’s what one would do with other resolutions- Small steps, discipline and an insane compulsion to want that change.
For someone who doesn’t exercise to say “I’m going to exercise everyday” is unimaginable”. Or for someone who has skewed eating habits to eat healthy is a daily task. To change things takes effort and a lot of people decide that the effort isn’t worth it.
So anyway back to changing yourself and how hard it is to stick with those changes. I’m not saying it’s impossible to change yourself , on the contrary . Just that to change something about your inherent personality takes persistence and time which a lot of people are not in for.
I think the difficulty is compounded by the fact that we have a lot of external suggestions from girlfriends, boyfriends and from tv about improving ourselves and so we’re in the unique situation of not knowing what we really want to change about ourselves. Do we even like ourselves? we don’t know. What parts of us are likable? We’re often so worried about if people will like us , love us, we don’t know what bits to keep and what needs improvement.
With the explosion of television in India and allied technology as well as with the growth of the internet, a current of homogenization of wants and aspirations seeks to sweep us in. Popular culture as defined by the tv and magazine is starting to define what we aspire to, atleast till we wake up from the dream. For an increasing section of the population it determines lifetsyle- tells you what kind of kitchen to have, where to holiday and what to buy. If TV want to decide whats passé and what’s not where is the room for individual expression?
Fortunately for us ’15 minutes of fame’ isn’t a universal dream, however much we’re conditioned to believe. What the dreammakers don’t realize and often we don’t either is that we’re at different points on the graph- human effort as defined by Artha ,Kama ,Moksha, Dharma chart our lives in different permutations and combinations. Even if we do come to , we’re in a harder position still because we don’t know what to want anymore and if we do, we don’t where to begin.
The problem also lies in this biraadri /log kyaan kahenge mentality. It’s scary to be different and we do want to keep up with joneses. I recently spent some time with my nieces in Pune and they just couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to be on TV like Deepika Padukone. “But Masi you’re so pretty”, sadly being an unglamorous yoga instructor didn’t cut it with them. I can play guitar and sing, so that scored serious points.
I was reading Agatha Christie’s autobiograogy where she says it was easier back then i.e. in a family of three it was decided by the parents which of the kids would a) have a career b)be of no good c)be the quiet one. I thought this was incredibly funny and wholly appropriate. This was ofcourse a time when schooling wasn’t as uniform and one didn’t automatically go to college; also it was the time of independent incomes where you weren’t as worried about getting a job. I agree with the thinking – that children were unique and had different talents and should not all be brought up to want the same things. Agatha was slotted as “the quiet one” and with no formal schooling and a largely free and unregulated childhood she went on to become the best-selling author of all time! Hugely successful, she has single-handedly her sold more books than other author till date (apart from the Bible). Kudos to her parents and her two husbands on letting her be!
So back to the point, exercisers will switch from exercising three times a week to daily and back to three, dieters will diet and continue to, dreamers will dream, procrastinators will procrastinate and whiners will whine.
Self-improvement is a good goal but not if it comes at the cost of not accepting yourself and at the cost of not living your life in the present. The time for “when I’m more perfect” is now, not in the unforeseeable future.
Changing yourself is hard enough why would one put that expectation on a spouse, partner or mate?
Please someone remind me of that the next time “I’m completely I’m fed up” and want someone else to change.