In standard two, I learned about a particular property of water…. It takes the color of the thing it’s mixed in and it takes the shape of the container that holds it…. Very mundane, very simple and very commonsensical isn’t it…. And imbibing this very property makes life slightly complex, if not entirely complicated….
This property of water is nothing but one quality that I can safely say, is common to everyone “living”: Adaptation…. Proven beyond doubt by Darwin’s theory of evolution and tested easily when you changed a bit of you to get accepted into a group. We have thus, evolved and adapted in varying degrees to become what we are today…. The level of adaptations could range from linguistics adaptation (where you use the slang that group uses often) to behavioral (where you tend to alter your behavior to give “acceptable” reactions to certain events)…. Every group you were a part of throughout your life would have been distinctly different from each other…. And as a result, you would have modified yourself over and over again….
Some people weed out the unwanted qualities through these adaptations and become better individuals while others go to an extreme and become clones of the most influential person in the vicinity completely losing themselves…. The net result is that there are many aspects – which are not completely you – that now form a part of your personality….
At this point, I wouldn't dare generalize but just talk about how I have adapted in due course of time (may be some people identify with it)…. During the first few years of schooling, I was with this guy who was creatively “gifted”! While I did have some potential, my association with him made my “drawings” good…. Not stopping there, I went on to take both the state level exams and clearing them… During the later years at school, my gang was heavily into sports…. Net result, I was a part of athletics teams and the football team of school…. At this point I wonder, had my group been the studious, teachers’ pets kinds or the culturally inclined kinds – would I have done these things? Is me becoming good in drawing and sports – intentional or associational?
In junior college, my group was this simple living, high thinking sort of a group…. It was with them that I was exposed to giving back to the society bit and I started to teach at an NGO…. College was primarily about sports (again my group had elements very active in it), debates (one of my closest friends was a studess in this field and I actively took part in such events) and technology (very good friends who were bonds in coding, robotics, programming)…. So, after 4 years when I joined the corporate world, I was a tomboy who was not technically challenged and a decent conversationalist (if not debater level)…. Later, my association with my roommate resulted in me going out for parties, movies, shopping extensively and becoming brand conscious (if not crazy like she was)…. My manager was heavily into history and gymming and just like that our conversations were converted into 2 hour gym sessions and reading about Roman mythology…
IIMB came and I was placed with the crème-de-la-crème as everyone puts it…. With such high standards, came a serious jolt to my personality as well. I became intensely competitive (everyone was just so good, that becoming better needed constant reminding), was prey to the hunger to make my mark (wanting to play drums, sports, dancing, FashP, writing cases, debating, making B-plans, having a good CG, being in different clubs – I seemed to want to do it all and do it well)... But the most prominent was becoming immensely practical bordering on callousness about things… My parents and siblings are still bearing the brunt of this change...
As I write this today, I am reminded of this conversation with a very old friend. She asked me for some advice and when I proffered she exclaimed, “What kind of advice is this? Sharmili I know would have never said something like this”.
I was forced to think that while I have adapted every time to find myself in this “grey” zone (sort of acceptable to all), is it the case that I have lost my “blacks” and “whites” (the core which defined me). Is it that in process of weeding out and becoming better, I have just lost what "Sharmili would have said/done"? Is it fear or is it not knowing yourself?