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  • Ojasvi Pandya

Awake But Not Aware

What's the most lost you have ever felt? Most scared, most uncertain? When have you most wanted a life timeout to take a step back and reevaluate? For me - every time somebody asks me - who are you, tell me about yourself, your passions, your dreams?


I have had the interview version of the answer ready for years now, but to this day I remain nonplussed if the question pops out in a real conversation. This one 3 AM, when asked, I mumbled something about what I'd like to pursue in my future. My harsh interrogator promptly asked me to cut the bullshit - that I was describing my education, my career; and even though they are significant parts of my life, they do not constitute my being.


Since that fateful night that brought me this rude awakening, I have tried countless times, in vain, to figure it out. I'd like you to pause here, dear reader, and reflect for a second, and try to answer this for yourself. Chances are, this seemingly mundane question is more complicated than it is given credit for. Chances are, you too might not know much about yourself besides your superficial pursuits.


Disappointing, is it not? Seems like the most elemental thing to know - about oneself. Why then, do most people fail to answer in a real sense? Why then, the first thought that comes to most of us, is of days that we have not even seen yet? It is heartbreaking how humankind has collectively "evolved" to a place where you are known by inked papers and all-you-can-know about somebody is coded into 0s and 1s, ready to be downloaded.


While I do not disregard the importance of vital aspects of daily life, like employment, or wealth, or even social status, I do think the pedestal we place them upon begs the question - when did the human mind become so shallow? How could we let an existence be reduced to trivial, ever-fleeting factors? There are entire generations seeking their self-worth and definition by validation found in degrees and salary slips and million-dollar houses, because there are entire generations who could never rise beyond the insipid mediocrity to realize what is it that truly makes a human being.


So here I am, preaching to you, provoking you even, to find out who you really are. You exist beyond the 20-something undergrad or the 50-something parent you confine yourself to. You exist outside your roles - of a child, a student, a sibling, a staff, a spouse. You have buried that unique sparkle, the one that make you you. Indulge in that dark, deep, liquid loveliness of feelings dimly understood. Only when you know who you are, can you be who you are. Romanticize, philosophize, idealize. Overthink, even. Because the effort you would put into finding the answer, will be worth not having to face the misery of not recognizing that person in the mirror.

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