I Call Myself An Independent Woman, Then Why Did I Hesitate To Do This For Myself?

I felt guilty spending money on the air ticket and hotel stay for the writing workshop when I don't have any qualms about adding items to Amazon's shopping cart.

It was past eleven in the night. My mind and body were exhausted and overworked by the thought of packing and closing the house before leaving for our annual vacation in India. Sprawled on the couch, I absent-mindedly scrolled through social media when a new mail popped up. Thinking it was another promotional email, I almost ignored it. But then, on a whim, I opened the mailbox and squealed in delight, causing my husband to look away from his laptop and, not for the first time, question my sanity. But no, I was not losing my mind. I had just read the mail from Priyanka Sarkar, the facilitator of the Rama Mehta Writing Grant. I was amongst the short-listed candidates for the grant for the year 2023. Along with the mail was an invitation to a four-day workshop in Udaipur from the 20th to the 23rd of July.

I couldn’t sleep a wink that night. I kept opening my inbox and checking the mail, hoping it was not a hoax. Getting short-listed felt like a shot in the arms. Flagging sales of my self-published books and reduced traffic on my blog had created doubt in my mind about my writing. Imposter syndrome had been having a party in my mind. The mail was a validation that yes, I could spin a tale.

And wasn’t it fortuitous that we were anyway planning to be in India during the workshop dates? I won’t need to make a special trip to India to attend the workshop, my mind whispered.

The next morning I eagerly emailed my confirmation.

But… I wondered…

However, as the date for the workshop came closer, I became hesitant and anxious. Doubts assailed me. We were on a family holiday. How could I justify the travel to Udaipur? How could I put myself first and leave the family to go alone? How would I manage travelling alone to a new city? Until now, whenever I had travelled alone, a reliable driver waited for me at the airport to take me home. I would have to do everything by myself in Udaipur. Would I be able to do so?

In the meantime, the organisers sent another mail. Our stay was to be in Krishi Vigyan Kendra. My heart plummeted as I saw the pictures on Google. Would I, an NRI of more than twenty years, used to creature comforts, be able to stay in such basic accommodations?

Book a hotel if you can’t stay there, my husband suggested, understanding my doubts about the accommodation.

But the cost, my mind questioned. How will I justify the cost?

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Mind torn in different directions, I hesitated to book my tickets. I thought of backing out and sending my regrets.

But then I asked myself a question. Would I not regret letting this opportunity slip through my fingers?

My mind and heart’s answer was an unequivocal yes!

If I didn’t go, it would mean a lifetime of regret. What if’s would follow my whole life.

Coming to a decision, I asked hubby dearest, who had patiently waited for me to make up my mind, to book my tickets.

I was going to travel to Udaipur and learn about something I was passionate about, writing.

I went to Udaipur with zero expectations. I had no idea what would happen at the workshop, nor did I search for it online.

Why did I hesitate? Why the guilt?

For me, just going alone, for myself, was the biggest leap.

I know quite a few of my readers, who know me as a woman with independent feminist views, would find this statement surprising. Why was I anxious about stepping out? Why was I assailed by guilt for leaving the family alone and prioritizing myself and my work?

My hesitancy about travelling alone could have been because of my deep-rooted insecurities about myself and my abilities. Maybe, as a homemaker of twenty years, the walls of my home have become my cocoon, my version of a safety blanket. In the past few years, it had been easier to dump the responsibilities of travel and commuting at hubby and enjoy the ride (so to speak). The thought of making decisions and taking charge was overwhelming.

I do not know why I felt guilty spending money on the air ticket and hotel stay when I do not have any qualms about adding items to Amazon’s shopping cart. It might be because, like others in my circle, even I secretly thought of my writing as a hobby. Thus, spending money travelling for a writing workshop, even though it was free, felt like a frivolous waste of money.

Even worse was the mommy’s guilt at leaving the children. My children are not young, they do not need me every minute. They are surly teenagers who only speak when spoken to (and that too usually in shrugs). Then why the guilt?

The truth is, I do not know the answers to any of the questions. It might have been my latent internal conditioning that was creating doubts in my mind.

I’m glad I listened to my heart

But I am glad I took that leap of faith, otherwise, I would not have realised what I was capable of.

When I look back on the four days, I see a kaleidoscope of memories that will colour the rest of my life. Focussed on myself and my writing, it made me realise how much I love the world of literature and how much more I needed to learn to become a better writer.

And I have those memories only because I ignored those doubts and decided to trust myself.

P.S. Before anyone blames my family for manipulating my decision and blocking my dreams, let me clarify that my family never even considered such a thing. Even for a moment, my family did not think I would let this opportunity slip from my fingers. They were, in fact, happy for me, supporting me every step of the way. My whole fight was within, with myself and my conditioning.

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About the Author


My Motto is you can learn anything from books! I am an engineer turned SAHM turned book blogger. I love to read, talk and write about books. I am passionate about instilling a love for read more...

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