I went to law school because my career counsellor in class 10 said my power motivation and desire to help would be best served by doing law. Of course, once you get into the best law school in the country, you go. I went and fell in love, and made the most of this crazy, strangely blessed institution with its whacky inhabitants and high ideals.
A lot of the time, I wanted to be studying just the liberal arts, like my sister in the States. Law school seemed worth it because of the people and the strength of the qualification. There was little dancing, and little-r introspection. There was a lot of living, exploring, pushing boundaries, forming an identity, trying to break it down, escapism in action, blind thrashing around. I love that I did what I did, no regrets. But I’m glad to have got past that stage.
Law school was followed by a short stint at Google HK, the BEST place to work for sharp, driven and fun people. HK was very good for me, I spent quality time with myself, flaneuring, thinking, being. But that being was somewhat unconscious. And then I went to my dream NGO where my boss gave me the kind of project I always wanted to work on. My work was fantastic, I was traveling a LOT, meeting lovely people — everything was fine and yet something wasn’t right. I had that feeling for a few months before shit really started hitting the fan.
I wasn’t eating or sleeping properly, my heart was sore, I felt alienated from my creative side, lonely (not alone), somewhat bored in a wonderful but somewhat limited city… I should have been so happy, doing what I thought I always wanted to do.
I wasn’t sad. I just wasn’t happy. I wasn’t feeling, when feeling was all I ever knew I had. The ability to feel, relate, get angry, empathize.
When I could no longer concentrate on anything (at all), when I had to ask my junior colleague to help me out with tasks because the smallest thing had the potential to trigger a panic attack, when my self esteem had hit the kind of low I had last experienced as a confused teenager in school, when all I could think of during a training program was about jumping off the terrace – that’s when my parents stepped in and I came back to Delhi.
We went to: a shrink, a healer, met some of my closest friends. My nani came over and stayed for a long time. There were good days and bad days. Most days were just days to get through. I tried going to court, working with a judge – wonderful office but I was just in no state to work, much less on something I didn’t really want to do. I avoided my friends, treated myself and people around me like shit, stayed in bed for days, rejecting myself and my family. I had three false epiphanies, thinking I was over the hill and would stay strong. They turned into disappointment.
I had all these questions (I’d always had them, but this time they were genuinely existential) about the purpose of life, social injustice, realizing your potential, your own true purpose etc. Life didn’t seem worth living. I decided not to get out of bed until I was inspired to do something. And then one day I jumped out at the thought of taking pictures. All the time. And then suddenly I had a reason to live that was just about me. Not about my family or friends, but me, Aqseer.
Slowly I started getting answers. Some from the healer, some from these incredible books that my aunt suggested (A New Earth, Journey of Souls, Many Lives Many Masters — full list below). Things started falling into place. I went to my guruji and danced after ages — and I felt so alive. And happy. And alive. I applied to Global Music Institute for vocal lessons on an impulse — just allowing my gut to guide me. The application process involved composing a song – and thus I got to fulfill an old dream – of singing and recording at least one song. I loved that process. Reading A New Earth and learning about karma helped me come to peace with my role in social justice — I accepted that wanting to work in the development sector was not a process based interest, but an ends based one — my concern with the greatest possible impact I could achieve — all ego. (Read A New Earth to understand what I mean by ego here.)
And so I decided to focus on the PROCESS that I loved engaging in for its own sake. I started paying close attention to what I genuinely enjoyed doing. And that slow process of self discovery has lead me to — dance, vocal lessons, photography and healing practices.
If you’re not happy, do something about it. Create your reality, don’t wait for life to happen to you. Read all of the below. And get in touch if you want to talk.
1. A New Earth – Eckhart Tolle
2. The Secret – Rhonda Byrne
3. Let the Power be with You – Shivi Dua
4. Journey of Souls – Michael Newton
5. Autobiography of a Yogi – Padmahansa Yogananda
6. Many Lives Many Masters, Miracles Happen – Brian Weiss
7. Waiting for Autumn – Scott Blum
8. The Celestine Prophecy, The Twelfth Insight – James Redfield
9. Commentaries on Living – J.D. Krishnamurti
10. The Grand Design – Stephen Hawking