We all need something to hold on to when darkness shrouds us. We all depend on that one thing, or one person, that can tell us, ‘Go on. This isn’t your stop’. That ‘one’, which when removed from our lives leaves us feeling like a tree without roots… orphaned.

For some it’s their parents, spouse, a BFF. A lot of people put their faiths in God. Some in their money, as mundane as that may sound. But it’s practical, and it happens.

Likewise, I too have something that is the source of both my confidence and solace when I’m feeling down in the dumps – myself. Unrealistic and vain as it may sound, it’s the one thing that keeps me going, has helped me through all my darkest hours and is the one thing I can rely on for the future too. Faith in myself is the source of my confidence.

I haven’t lived long yet, but in these 3 decades of my life I have known a few things – near poverty, alienation, rejection and loneliness, and through it all I’ve learnt that while my parents, the man of my life or my best friends may support me by lending me an ear or a shoulder, nothing and no one will actually make me get up and make things right, but my own will to fight back and the confidence in myself, that I can turn things around.

Adversity has been a theme in my life, be it in terms of education, career, friendship or love. I’m always battling someone or something who threatens to destroy my peace of mind, all that I stand for, all that is ‘me’. I’ve had to work hard for everything I wanted. And while I don’t resent the hardwork, I do resent when people call it ‘nothing’, in effect negating my labor and sweat. There are some troublemongers in my life who will always stir up trouble for me. But I’ve learnt, by tripping, falling face first and then gathering myself, that in the end, you can only rely on your own strength to get up.

I’m religious but not ritualistic. I’m somewhere between an agnostic and a theist. I’ve never relied on God to help me through things. I do believe in him, just not that he can help me with things, if I don’t help myself. I think God believes strongly in the survival of the fittest, or the luckiest. I’ve never been the latter, but I strive to be the former.

Maybe the reason why I’m so pessimistic in my reliance on people is because I have so few of them to bank upon. I don’t have many friends because by bad luck, distance has weakened our bonds, so that even if they ever wanted to help, the miles between us would make it hard for them. Ditto for my parents and my Husband, the latter being in a profession where he can’t help but leave me for months on end. I’ve faced a lot of crisis in his absence too, and that’s why my intrinsic strength matters so much to me.

Truth be told, I don’t see anything wrong in that – in relying on yourself. It makes you stronger, confident and readies you for the next challenge, any challenge really. The way I see it, when you start putting your faith in others, while it’s definitely not a sign of weakness, there may be a time when they are not around to help you, and your confidence will start to flounder. You may call on them for help, for guidance, but for actually doing something, you cannot always rely on people. In fact, that’s wrong – relying on others to do your jobs, or fight your battles. I know such people in my life who will not fight themselves but use others as shields or worse still, as their minions in the name of friendship/relationship, and I loathe them for their of lack of gumption.

Building confidence in yourself is not easy. It takes time and mistakes, but it helps you immensely because we are, ultimately, alone. We came alone, we die alone, and while we may make friends on the way, we have to tread the path of life alone.

It doesn’t however mean you become hermits and relinquish all your friends. It just means that when adversity strikes you should be strong enough to first seek help from your own reserves. It just means that we should not over-depend on the advice and help of others.

It also means that in your relationships, you do not expect things from others. It allows you to give more in a relationship because you’re anyway not expecting things. Often relationships break up because the other does not meet our expectations. Because we feel a lack of equal reciprocity from the other. This way of life I have has taught me that love in relationships is not a matter of barter or exchange. There cannot be an equal amount of give and take in any relationship, not even between husband and wife. All you can do is teach yourself that you need to just give, and not expect anything, or much in return.

It’s hard, make that very hard, and I still struggle with it all the time, but there have been times when not expecting things has helped me keep it together. So, for example, when it seemed like a possibility that my Husband might not be able to make it in time for my child’s birth, I didn’t let it make me resentful towards my Husband. That was one situation where I was entirely at the mercy of others because I was to have a C-section. There was little I could have done by myself. So, I told myself I had others around me, a good doctor who was caring for me, and that my Husband would be here a few days later. No biggie. But I do know some women who, to this day, give their husbands an earful for never being around during childbirth. Ladies, the man is with you now. Isn’t that all that matters?

There have been other instances too where during crisis my Husband has never been around because of work constraints. If I had allowed myself to break down on account of his absence I wouldn’t have been writing to you today. It’s only because I willed myself to go on and battle it out that I came out of those problems, and came out a winner too. How’s that for a turnaround?!

So, when people tell me they are facing problems and have no one to help them, my way of encouraging them is to tell them, ‘look within yourself. You have all the help you need right there. Leave the rest to God.’

Pradita Kapahi

Blog: The Pradita Chronicles