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How We Readily Share Our Good Times, But Shy Away From Being Openly Vulnerable

Posted: February 3, 2020

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We’re a social animal, but so many of us find it difficult to talk about (or respond to others talking about) sadness and other negative things.

Over the last few weeks, a thought has been nagging me.

Indians are a strange lot. We love chattering but only about shiny, happy matters. Broach a complicated question and we clam up. In fact, we can go on for hours about geopolitics or the latest Bollywood gossip, but do not utter even a squeak about things that truly affect our lives. Maybe, we think that not chatting about it will make it go away.

Don’t believe what I say? Here are examples

People only want to see glowing pregnancy and adorable baby photographs. Nobody wants to discuss things like miscarriages, high risk pregnancies, and fertility treatments.

People only want to see in-love couples, and shiny wedding photos. Nobody wants to converse about divorces and heartbreaks.

People only want to hear about awards, promotions, and salary hikes. Nobody wants to express anything about layoffs and toxic office cultures.

People only want to know about certifications, degrees, and pedigrees. Nobody wants to say anything about failures.

We all battle demons; we rarely feel heard

Despite India being a collectivist society, Indians are retreating into shells. What we do not realize is that many of us are battling demons. Yet, we feel that we are the only ones fighting, because we have not heard anyone else mention it.

The moment we ourselves start sharing, we will realize we are not alone in our struggles. (Personal Experience!) And, disclosing does ease the burden. (Or, if you are a cynic, think of it this way – misery loves company!)

“Are you okay?”

So, the next time, I am going to ditch the small talk and the political discussions, and will instead ask, “Are you grappling with anything?” or “Is there something you want to speak about?” or “Is there something I can help you with?”.

(I wish more women asked, “Are you okay?” rather than the pathetic “So, when are you giving the good news?”)

Author’s note: Before you send me brickbats, here’s my humble submission – I am not against talking about happy subjects. I just request that a balance to be maintained.

A version of this was first published here.

Image source: unsplash

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