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ITS TIME FOR CHANGE - UNLOCK YOUR REAL SELF

Naman Singhal battled many demons in his student life: from bullying to body shaming to depression to low-esteem, the list is too long. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, one fine day Naman decided to take things head-on. What emerged was a story of grit, determination and hope. In Bangalore's Christ University now, Naman is ready to capture the world, brimming with confidence. It's all in the mind.

So what happened in between. Find out.

The biggest mistake anyone can make in their life is to run away from their dreams because they are scared of trying. I was one of those people until a few years ago when I realised things needed to change. This part of my life has been too personal (hence remained a secret), and even my family was not aware of it.

Then the obvious question is: Why am I sharing this now? Because I want to help people in a similar state as I was in.

Here it goes:

PHASE I: THE DARK BEGINNING

So, let me begin when it all started. In high school, I was a sensitive kid. I was kind and childish. I used to always joke around and laugh. I was the happiest person you would have ever met. I had never seen the hardships of life. In my last few months of Class X, for the first time, I faced a challenge when some of the good friends and I had a huge fight. We never spoke again and all this left me shaken and shattered. As days passed I felt depressed and helpless for the first time in life. I was so dissolved in pain that I didn't even know when I changed from being a happy soul to a dead, depressed anti-social soul.

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I had no clue how to deal with all the things that I was going through. I had bottled up all my emotions. I distanced everyone from my life, including my family. Even after a year (i.e. I PUC) I could not get over it. Somehow, I did make a couple of new friends in PUC which was the only light in the darkest of my nights.

If all that wasn’t enough for me already, I started gaining weight because of my bad habits of eating ice-creams when I felt low. By the end of Class XII, I was already 92kg, up from 60kg in 11th. And in society we live in, a fat person is always insulted and underestimated. So I started to hate myself.

My life at home wasn’t great either because of my grades and behaviour. All the things I went through in college made me violent and rude at home. I never let my parents know what I was going through. But my parents never gave up on me even after what I had become. They never let me feel missed out in any part of life. They gave me the best of everything they could even after being disappointed with me (I’m really glad to have such parents). But all this made me feel bad about myself. I felt like I didn’t deserve anything but hate because of who I was now. I started looking down on myself. My behavior had changed drastically from my Class X to XI to XII. People insulted me, bullied me and spoke wrong about me. I had become the clown of my class. My grades were at the bottom. Just to give you an idea, I never scored above 35% in any tests and we had 2 tests each week. I was in a mental trauma with all this.

In spite of everything somewhere deep down I knew I can survive through it. It wasn’t just hope that kept me alive, it was my belief and the goodness within me that never let me give up on myself and kept me living.

PHASE-2: THE AWAKENING

I managed to get into Christ University (in Bangalore) after Class XII. It was an opportunity for me to have a very new and fresh beginning with new people and friends. Until you get tired of what ‘is’, you will never think of what ‘can’ be. I was tired: tired of suffering, tired of having regrets, tired of giving pain to others, tired of being underestimated and tired of being obese. So the day I joined my college I promised myself I would be better. I had nothing left to lose. I was at my life’s rock bottom.

I was never sure how I could attract good things in my life. There isn't any recipe or instruction manual that can help me improve overnight. After some time in college, things got better. But I still wasn't happy with what I was doing. Things didn't start as I thought it should have. I was disappointed with myself again. I was still fat because I was too shy to go jog in public parks or college campuses. I was more concerned with what people would think about me. I was very shy to start conversations. It felt like I cannot be the person I thought I could become.

I realised then my problem was that I was very much concerned with what others thought of me. This is what made me shy. I wanted to do something about this. So I decided whenever I felt shy I would stop thinking and just do it, it doesn’t matter what happens to me later on.

I started practising this by asking questions to the teacher during lectures. I did this because this was the easiest thing for me to start with compared to speaking/approaching people I wanted to be friends with or jogging in public.

This did 3 things for me:

It boosted my confidence. How? It just did. Facing any of your fears will boost your confidence. In later years it made me confident enough to do presentations without stumbling and beat stage fear. It helped me get my topics and doubts cleared which improved my grades. This was just the start for me to face my fear of being in public.

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I have this habit of self-questioning things I do and things around me. I find my answers either by myself or take the help of the internet. In doing this I end up with my perspective of viewing and reasoning things and increasing my understanding.

Okay, back to the story. So one day, my friends and I were hanging out and having a discussion over a topic which I cannot recollect. I tried explaining something which I don't remember but instead of understanding what I’m saying they all made fun of me. I felt bad but I didn’t speak a word about it. It happened many times after that until one fine day when I was annoyed by them. That day was the day my life took a hard turn.

I gathered all the courage within me and changed my seat. I no longer sat with them. I was afraid of what people might be thinking why I changed my seat. I never gave any explanation to anybody. That day was the beginning of what I am today. It has shaped me completely. I sat next to a few boys who weren’t interested in being my friend so I wouldn’t speak to anybody now as behind me sat a few girls who made me nervous to speak to and my benchmates weren't interested. But as time passed few girls who sat behind me started conversing with me related to studies. Slowly, we became friends.

Few weeks later in college, I coincidentally met two of my previously known friends. One was my classmate in Class XI and XII and the other was from my hometown and my nursery classmate. I became good friends with all of them. I felt better as time passed. I had better confidence in making conversations with known/unknown people. It still makes me feel good recollecting those days.

Soon I got an opportunity to join one of my college clubs called “SHARAM - Street play Society”. I am most thankful to one of my friends for helping me get in this club because this club changed me. More than anything this club taught me is to be shameless like the name says partially. Most people do not grow and pursue their dreams because they are scared of even trying. There are many reasons for being scared and one big reason is “What will people think about me?”. You cannot stop them from thinking. No one can. Then why do you worry? What can they do maximum? Laugh at you? Or insult you? But this should not affect you because they are not going to be around you forever. It's you who has to stay with you forever. Would you rather live in regret for the rest of your life? Or choose to be a laughter model for few moments and live happily knowing you gave your best! Your dreams and desires are bigger than them. Don't be scared of people who will eventually forget everything including you, your good and your bad. Be scared of having regrets and not trying because it's you who has to live with yourself and not those people whom you are concerned about!

This is the golden lesson I learnt that helped me overcome the fears of society and shame in doing what one desires.

The street play club made be confident in myself. I also made many new friends in the club. Soon I was free of my shyness. I now had started giving time to my fitness with no fear and shame. I woke up each morning and hit the gym after jogging. I worked my ass off just to look and feel better. In no time I started losing weight. When I came to 2nd year of my engineering I had already reduced about 20 kgs. I was self-confident about everything now. I had a perfect morning-to-night plan ready for myself each day. I would wake up, exercise, plan for the day and go to college. This was the happiest time of my life. Gym was no longer about weight loss for me. It had become a part of my day. Working out helped me calm my mind and body. All my anger and stress I would loosen in the gym. It was a completely different experience. It played an important role in a healthy and active mind and became my motivation. Not just that, my grades went up. I performed well in academics. In fact, a few months back, my team and I wrote a research paper on a project we were working on. It was related to Artificial Intelligence in Medical Health care in India. We are currently working on building the project. So basically I was happy.

As life unfolded, I quit my workout and other good habits I had acquired as things became bad in life and needed my attention. In my 4th semester of engineering my friend circle split apart due to many reasons. I wouldn't give many details but the only reason I could understand for things to go bad was our expectations being too much from our friends. My 4th semester did not go well, compared to others. It took me quite some time to recover and understand things and process them. But I think it had to happen. It made me stronger and taught me lots of life lessons.

The first time I felt broken left me with a lesson on how to live. The second time it happened taught me the spiritual essence of living. It taught me the essential skills of life apart from physical fitness and confidence. The last one year has made me stronger mentally and spiritually.

I’d like to share a few lessons which I learnt over all these years:

Read each and feel them. Understand what it means in your life.

You are not less than anybody in this world. Everyone is born the same. If Bill Gates or Elon Musk are who they are then you can too. They didn’t have it gifted. They earned it by practice. It's just about finding the right passion that will give you a kick for your whole life.

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#My favourite quote is by Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. “Dreams are not which you see while sleeping. It is something that doesn’t let you sleep” Read that again!Find that dream and keep practising.

#Miracles don’t exist. There is nothing that can be done overnight. Nobody will come and give you a magic pill. It's you who has to work consistency.

#Let's take an example. Brushing your teeth. You brush your teeth one day. Look in the mirror. Are your teeth sparkling? No right. Brushing your teeth once/thrice a week won’t make them sparkle. But if you brush daily for just 5 minutes with full effort then soon in few weeks your teeth will definitely sparkle. Same with life. Doing anything once a while doesn’t do any good. Consistently doing it over time will change everything. Exercise for 15 minutes daily. That will do you more good than working out for 2 hours today and never going again for a workout.

#No effort goes waste. I personally believe, nothing you do in life goes waste. The universe is always witnessing you. It will always return you with what you deserve. Just keep working. When the right time comes it will happen.

#Don’t be afraid to start. See no matter how big the mountain (task) is. It starts with a small step. Nothing comes easy in this world. You want to reach the top? Then you have to start first.

#Don’t let others opinions shape you. People around you will always have opinions about you. But it's you who has to decide what matters to you more. At the end it's you who has to live with yourself for the rest of your life. People come and go. Do what's best for you, not what others think is best for you.

#Be a gentleman. That's what self-discipline is about. Doing the right thing. Restricting yourself with rules to live by that define who you are. Rules that will help you grow. Don’t do things to please others. Do what you think is right. That is what will make you yourself.

#Beat expectations. Do not expect anything from others. Expectations often leave you shattered when are not met. Be self-capable.

#Don’t be scared of being alone. Being able to stay alone is a mark of strength. People often start using their mobile phones when they are alone. They feel insecure. You were born alone with yourself. Even though you are alone you have yourself with you all the time. Spending time alone (with yourself) is one form of goal of meditation. It helps you understand yourself better. If done consistently, it is a form of meditation. Doing this will make you stronger from within. People who are scared of being alone usually get surrounded with fake people because of their desperate need of covering their insecurities. Be yourself and live strong. Try giving time to yourself by being alone.

#Science says that when we are in a state of happiness or pleasure chemicals like dopamine are released into our brain. This is the same chemical that is released in the brain of a smoker or dunk addict. It is the feeling of this chemical that makes them addicted to cigarettes and alcohol. The games of this generation are designed in a reward scheme manner. This scheme involves a small reward for achievements that releases the same chemical in our brain(dopamine). It is the same reason why thousands of Indian youths are wasting their lives on Pubg and Instagram.

#Get rid of anything that drives you to it and attracts you without it having a purpose. If you are driven by the feeling to just open your Instagram or Whatsapp for 1 min to see a message then buddy it is time for you to quit it. Control your life. You are the master. Do not let anything else drive what you want to do. Find happiness is real things. Get addicted to things that will shape you. Example, working out. It releases dopamine as well.

#Identify the good and bad in your life by questioning yourself with what you do and why you do. All the answers are within you. You need to spend more time with yourself to understand what I am talking about. I personally keep my Smartphone away from me. I have silenced all my social media notifications for a better life focus. This has helped me a lot. I have realised many benefits. It is very very very hard to do in the beginning. It just need dedication towards a better life. Believe me that your life will be much better with reduced need of social media and games.

#It is a good practice to inculcate in life. There are many forms. It can be done anywhere. It is used to calm your mind. A simple way to start is to sit in a silent dark room at night before sleeping. Close your eyes and simply sit in an upright position every day. Doing this even for 10 minutes will help you in ways you never knew.

#Be honest with yourself. More than anything that keeps you from improving you are your excuses that you make to yourself. If you are not being honest with yourself then you will never see your mistakes and learn from them. Each time you make a mistake you cover it up by blaming something else. Usually you make excuses for things you failed to achieve. Stop that! Each time you make an excuse there are two voices in your head. One that knows the reality and the other that lets you take things casually. Listen to the first one. Only then you shall realize and work better. You cannot hide from yourself and you know it. So be frank and honest with yourself

#The only way to solve your problem is to face it. Escaping is not a solution. Some or the other way it will come back to you. It will be hard, I know but if you believe you will win then YOU WILL WIN.

#You become what you believe. It doesn’t matter what others think you are capable of. If you think you can do the impossible then you sure can. Don’t let the thoughts of others limit your reality. You are limitless and I know it for a fact because I have been in such situations and beat them. It's always your thoughts that make you what you are. Your actions are also part of the thoughts. You are limitless!

#Did he/she leave you? Was it your fault? why care so much. What's done is done. She/he ain’t gonna come back looking at your pitiful life without them. If they cared so much they wouldn’t have left! DO not bang your heads anymore for what you cannot control. You cannot control what happened to you. You cannot control his/her actions. But what you can control is you. Let them go. They didn’t deserve you anyway. Don’t let them waste your time and life anymore. Be happy. Find your happiness is new things. Look around, there is tonnes of things you can be happy about. Never look back at what happened and never compromise for what you deserve. You decide what you deserve. Be free and live Now.

# Live now. The past is gone. You cannot do anything about what happened. All you can do is learn from it so you don’t go through the same again. Stop living in your thoughts and memories. Your memories will always give you pleasure/pain each time you think. But what's the point? You are just wasting time. You have a whole future to live. You can still make things work. Focus on the present. Do what you must right now. Stop living in the past or in the future. The future will always make you anxious and the past will always be wonderful to live in. But what really matters is what you do RIGHT NOW. In this MOMENT and make your Future worth living.

#Nothing happens for bad. Everything that is happening to you is happening for a reason. It is happening to make you prepared for the big brighter future. Learn from it and become strong. When I was in my Class X, I never imagined things would change so drastically. I always cursed for what I lost and missed. But today I look back and laugh at the things I did and that happened to me. If it hadn’t happened then I would not be the way I am today. So Nothing happens for bad. Things happen for your good. You might not see it now but soon you will and that day you will be grateful to the universe for everything.

Always stay positive. Life will flow the way you want it to be.

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