This post is in response to a prompt – A Fish out of Water, written for #FridayReflections, hosted by Sanchie from livingmyimperfectlife.com and Corinne of EverydayGyaan.
Feeling like a fish out of water, did you say? I’m sure many of us can identify with that. Perhaps something we’ve all encountered at different times in our lives. I’ve been there too. Actually, I’ve been there so many times, that, frankly, I’ve lost count of it. For so many different reasons, sometimes because I felt I was different from others, sometimes because I wanted something that others thought was trivial or strange, sometimes because of choosing to do something for myself, and not going with other people’s notions of what I should do.
Sometimes, it was because of something that seems really trivial today, but wasn’t so at the time. Like, being the quietest one in the midst of a boisterous group of girls always made me feel like a fish out of water. Always. In college, it could sometimes be my preferences for certain kind of films or music or my streak of individualism that, for all my rebellious youth, made me question things a lot of the time, for choosing role models who broke taboo and sometimes, funny though it may seem now, even for listening to long hours of western classical music without being done to death. Yes, sounds strange, I know! In later years, my decision to not follow rituals after marriage, or question why women had to ‘show’ signs of being married on their person when men never had to do any such thing, not believing in fasting on religious occasions, even deciding to keep my maiden name, after marriage, all of these made me feel like a fish out of water. Not that it deterred me in any way, but the feeling was there, constantly. Or the time when we had just moved to Mauritius and I was shocked to discover that I was unlikely to fit in with the expat wives from the Indian community who wanted me to be a part of their potluck parties, something that I’d never really be comfortable with!
Or, even perhaps the time when I decided to get back to higher education in my third year of marriage and people thought something was wrong with me. Every opportunity was used to drive home the point that I had to think of starting a family because back then, that’s what was considered normal. It was the mid-90s and most people of my age were doing exactly that. My friends, my cousins, and everyone I knew were busy procreating and here I was, keen to travel the world, explore new vistas and get back to business school. Of course, I did exactly what I wanted to do. Went ahead and applied for a place at a business school in the UK, and moved out of the country. But, I knew for a fact, that people spoke behind my back and I knew from a few trusted friends I’d left behind, that this was not accepted by many of the so-called well-wishers of the family.
Life lessons brought along confidence but not without a fair share of pain too. It wasn’t easy being different. Blessed with a tiny group of like-minded friends I could relate to, I’ve learnt over time, that it is better to part ways with people and principles one does not believe in, and instead of buckling under mental and emotional pressure, it makes sense to hold one’s ground, especially while going against the tide. Never an easy thing to do, but extremely crucial to one’s self-worth. Because I’d rather be a fish out of water than a clone! Something, that has stayed with me ever since.
So how do people respond when they feel like a fish out of water? Either they succumb to pressure and give in or do something different, learn from one’s predicament and move on. That’s perhaps the only way to accepting growth and self-improvement. Every time we do that, we stay true to our beliefs and nourish ourselves to become the kind of person we wish to be.
But that’s not all. There’s one more thing that I learnt from being a fish out of water and it is this— We must stop blaming others for how they make us feel in such situations. It is inconsequential because when we cease to give value to them, they do not matter to us anymore. Because, in the end, we always have the choice either to accept what others think of us or do what we think is right.
Even today, when I have situations that make me feel like a fish out of water, I remind myself that these are opportunities that are actually helping me push myself out of complacency and comfort, and that these very things will allow me to find myself in a place where I rightly belong.
It is during these moments that I gain a lot of strength knowing that I’m on my chosen path, never mind if I’m treading alone, because that is where I choose to be:
“The moon does not fight. It attacks no one. It does not worry. It does not try to crush others. It keeps to its course, but by its very nature, it gently influences. What other body could pull an entire ocean from shore to shore? The moon is faithful to its nature and its power is never diminished.”
― Ming-Dao Deng, Everyday Tao: Living with Balance and Harmony
I love that quote, Esha. I can see a lot of similarities here too. I don’t wear signs of marriage. I am a fish out of the water among other wives not just at our current place but everywhere we have lived so far. Our son goes to a school different from other Indians here prefer, we can’t hear the end of it. Like that the fish out of the water phenomena goes on. We must accept our differences and learn to live on our terms and it would have been better if others also learned to accept that we are okay being the odd ones. Profound writing, Esha.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Vinitha. You’re right…we must learn to acceot our differences and learn to live with them as an inseparable aspect of who we are. About how others percieve us…well, we cannot say that, can we?
I believe in living as I please (often) and have given importance to my instincts/wishes when following a path different from others. It does bother me when people ‘talk’, but then I keep saying to myself that they haven’t lived my life, so they have no idea about my battles, my story, so why bother?
Loved the quote at the end, Esha, and also the way you have expressed your feelings!
Absolutely, agree Shilpa. The best approach is to ignore those who do not matter because our beliefs drive our actions and it is our life at the end of the day! Glad to know you liked the quote. 🙂
Absolutely, agree. The best approach is to ignore those who do not matter because our beliefs drive our actions and it is our life at the end of the day! Thanks for stopping by the blog, Shilpa 🙂
Esha, we seem to have many common traits. I do not wear any of my marriage symbols, no fasts ever for longevity of anyone’s life. I am also against rituals and I run miles from kitty parties and the ilk. And guess what, I also got back to studying now. Well, it makes me happy and I will not change for other’s wishes.
Tell me all about it, Lata. I gain so much strength when my thoughts are validated and I can see there are many like me who are led by similar values and ideals. More power to us, Lata. We shall not merely survive, we shall prevail!
We all are put at that juncture at some point of life I guess. But it’s good to remember that we aren’t weird, we’re just limited edition 😉
Well said Bhavya.
This -We must stop blaming others for how they make us feel in such situations. It is inconsequential because when we cease to give value to them, they do not matter to us anymore.
Thanks for stopping by the blog Sunita!
Loved the quote you used at the end- it really lends credence to your words and the sentiments. It’s awesome to be different IMO and that’s what I have always strived at as I don’t comply with set rules n mandatory dos n don’t s! More power to you for being a fish out of water!!
Glad it resonates with you Shalz. Thank you for sharing your thoughts here. More power to you as well. Sometimes, its people who think different who actually make a difference. Empowering thought, I guess!
I love that quote and naturally the fact that you’ve pretty much marched to your own drum beat. It shows! ♥
It is an empowering thought, Corinne. Not easy always but ensures we can retain our inner peace and do what feels right.
No, you weren’t a fish out of water. You were an eagle, soaring high in the sky and leaving the ones who didn’t follow their paths behind(something my late best friend told me once, when I was expressing loneliness because I was living a life that I had dreamed of.) It turned out to be a failed experiment, but I learned so much, soaring above the crowds. Excellent post.
Thank you for your encouraging words. It feels good when people validate what you stand for…soaring above the crowds not easy as they say, but totally worth it for what you might gain. Thanks a lot for stopping by the blog and sharing your thoughts here.
I think in the end all that matters is …. whether we are happy with the decisions we made. It is immaterial whether they are right or wrong. Its just the conviction… being happy with what we are. You have done the right thing Esha. Keep going
Yes, perhaps you are right, Arvind. I think so too. Your words validate what I think/did. The conviction of what feels right for us stands by us through the tough times. Not an easy thing to be different from the crowd but then, the joy of going your way and staying on your chosen path is unparalleled. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts here.
Happy for you 😃
What a lovely quote that resonates with me today I a completely different context. We all are fish out of water as you say at different points of time on our lives. That’s what adds to our own understanding of ourselves
Absolutely, Sunita! I know the feeling although I might be far removed from the readonsbyt as you rightly say, it helps to know that we’re not in this alone. I hope things make you feel otherwise very soon and you are in a happier space both inside and out.
A fish out of water – tell me about it!!! I grew wings and flew away!!! 😛
I really loved the quote on the Moon. It’s something that I really stay in awe with.. the moon, it gentleness, its coolness, calmness, the promise of being there even when it’s not visible, lovely. Just lovely.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. So glad you stopped by the blog. Yes, the Moon symbolises all that is peaceful, calm and all-pervading. Love that imagery.