Open Up is a weekly updated series on Just Girls by Naysa Punhani.
About Naysa: Music and books make me laugh, cry and think. I find my ikigai in music, which is the reason I get out of bed each morning. I am a Grade 5 vocalist at Trinity College London. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is a book that has given me a different perspective of those with the same cancer that took my sister in 2019. My mother is a storyteller and educator by profession, and my father is a global marketer. Both have always been my first, and most trusted, readers and listeners. I am not limited by genre when it comes to music. Besides music and writing, movies and food are other things that transport me to a fantasy world. The Princess Diaries and The Intern are two movies I can watch on repeat mode at any point in time. After I finish my four remaining years of study, I plan to graduate from The Juilliard School in New York and become a professional and established singer. After seeing a couple of places around the world, I think I would choose to sit with my book and music in the narrow lanes of Spain, soothed by the cool breeze. Food equates to health for me, so an acai bowl would be my dish of choice. Those around me like me exactly as I am with my bubbly, cherubic nature. What’s perfect to me is to stand out and be different; not to be someone I’m not, just to please others.
There is a stark difference between what I want and what people want. “When you judge others, you do not define them, you define yourself” ― Earl Nightingale
This is not just another one of those philosophical quotes…it’s the bitter truth.
When I was going through anorexia, all I used to do was compare myself to others, or judge myself. It’s in our hands to either lay low or stand tall, it’s always our choice, sometimes we end up listening to what others want and, in that urge, to be that one person that people expect from us we forget what we really wanted from ourselves. All of this is something we all hear and talk about, but what we want is the solution. It’s quite simple- follow your passion, make your choice. The first step is to know what you want and ignoring what people want from us. Once you know what you want, you understand yourself, your body, soul and mind.
Everybody on this planet has some unsaid feelings, secrets that come out in the form of anger, tears, smiles or even anxiety…and that’s totally normal. But, at times, people around us don’t understand us or maybe they do. But sometimes you find it easier to write or say stuff to unknown people rather than saying it to our loved ones. If you are holding on to things, if you have something to say, something buried inside of you that is dying to come out, then come and live for yourself, by just opening up! I promise this won’t turn out to be disappointing.
Letter to ‘Anorexia’
Every single time I try, my heart beats hard like a drum,
I know there’s so much left, but look how far we’ve come.
A good cry once in a while is better with someone alongside,
Because life is not just an easy joyride.
Today I will fight you, be afraid, show your fright,
With all my might, by just not holding you too tight.
Milestone, goals, plans are the words all around,
But the answer from within is nowhere to be found.
What is my perfect is all that I care,
Not that barbie body, filter after filter or just the perfect hair.
This image that you engraved inside my mind,
Is distorted, Is dissolved and I am no more blind.
Anorexia, I know we don’t get along well,
I hate you so much and you’ll never be able to tell.
This cycle ends right now, as we will not walk that road ever,
Umm. think I’ll fall for you again? Never!
You have lived in so many minds, but you’re just an illiterate soul,
Not knowing that sometimes or the other people do see your foul.
I just hope that you get your peace of mind,
Because for a bad karmic like you, it is really hard to find.
Funny that you say you are just a phase,
Funny that we try to unclog this labyrinth like maze.
So, I leave you here and let you be,
Because you don’t even know that now I am free.
The Circle of Worry
Either lay low…or stand tall is a phrase which helps me stay away from despair,
I know for me someone will always be there.
I know there’s always a different mountain to climb,
To let go we have enough patience and time.
Do I fake it up or open myself once again,
I finally gather up the courage to change my lane.
There’s so many circles of life, but one is deadly,
It’s called the circle of worry.
History teaches us about the past and to live for the present,
In front of others you never have to pretend.
People don’t like messy is true, but not for a true soul,
Because there are people who always find ways to their goal.
All you need in life is trust, faith and belief,
Sometimes in people, you find relief.
Even in dark times you find your pole star,
And then the future is nothing but ours.
The circle of worrying of worry is the toughest one to hold,
It sticks on your skin, no matter what you are told.
Worry of how I look, worry of who thinks what,
All is lost and remains this one and only thought.
But then you stop one fine day,
Because of smiles, you let go of worry every single day.
Worry is just a phrase and can’t trap who you are,
Either be ordinary, or reach for the stars.
“Skinny, Plus Size or Just Your Thought…?”
Anorexia gave me a body that would only fit into “kid’s clothes”.
Until I left the circle of worry; I would not even step into the women’s section of a store; although being a tween, I preferred them instead of the kiddish clothes. But, I had no choice, even the smallest size would hang on me. And of course, that made me feel trapped or cursed. For example, I saw this tee which I fell in love with, but it was only available in the small size, and when I tried it on; I hated myself. But, I want to share something with you, I still bought that tee, no matter how ugly and pathetic I felt I looked; I knew that I’ll see the light soon. On my big day of turning into a teenager after a year of spending time in darkness, I got to celebrate my birthday, but when one of my friends asked me why I looked so boney and gave me a taunt “is mum not feeding you” I was exasperated, but instead I just laughed as if I didn’t mind. While browsing a website exactly a year back; I saw a separate column labeled PLUS SIZE. It caught my eye and I saw that the models were simply huge, now that was when I was anorexic and had this fake and perfect body in mind. Then I searched up stuff like size zero, intimidate dieting, calorie control, etc. That led me to hell. A free all-rounder ticket. I felt phoney positivity in what I was doing. I looked for those moments when I could hold hands of worry and go where it takes me, without any demands or questions, that was a mistake. My only question is- why call a person skinny or fat- if you do, that person spends the rest of their lives analysing themselves, taking out flaws in themselves, rejecting themselves. Well, this is for all the haters out there, all the people out there wondering if they’re meant to fit in or not; if that someone you’re trying to please deserves you or not. It’s time to change; because sometimes change is just what one needs. Well, you won’t know unless you try!
The Bright Places
It’s easy to leave habits but is always up to you,
Whenever you want to let go and start with your breakthroughs.
When I say this you look at me surprisingly,
I just gaze at you nonchalantly.
Past isn’t to be regretted upon, no more tears to shed,
Listen to your heart and have a talk with your head.
Those muddled thoughts won’t let you go anywhere,
All your body needs is love, warmth and care.
Living to the fullest is in our hands,
Raising our voice, making a stand.
Choose what your heart and mind agree upon,
Once the bad days are gone, they’re gone!
When you’ll start enjoying little things, is when you have understood,
The difference between what you did and what you could.
Depending on yourself is the best thing to do,
Cause that’s when you live fully and just be YOU!
Dying isn’t our choice, but living life is for sure,
Loving yourself is one of the best cures.
Even in dark times there are bright places, sometimes we have to be that place,
Sometimes; in that one person, we find solace.
My Bright Place
My dark times were quite different than what I had imagined them to be. An uninvited guest named- Anorexia Nervosa came to my mind straight from the actresses of United States and Netflix shows. It’s pitch on making me thin from the chubby person (it thought I was), was quite impressive and had me believing that I wasn’t perfect, I wasn’t the photogenic person I should’ve been. The people who called me thin, emaciated and scrawny had become my good ones (I did not realise what a mess I had created for myself). Although, I would never accept the fact that I was happy hearing such stuff and that led me to a point- where I was getting an IV fluid i.e.- My biggest fear till date. Turning into a liar was quite easy while Anorexia was convincing me- hiding food in my bags, eating less and flushing the rest, waking up late so that I could eat after a gap of 15 hours. No one knew this- no one would- unless I would say it. Anorexia was never happy with me- even when I agreed to eat nothing but an apple in a day. Going to the hospital for the 2nd time was not as hard- all I knew was- it’s now or never. It’s either living without life or living like the real me; my saviour.
Eating was even more easier when I left Anorexia back where it came from. It took some time, but apparently I did it. The lost self-confidence and trust in myself had come back, just by taking a bite of my favourite food. What I realised was that I was my own Bright Place, what’s yours?
A Letter to Perception
I hope this letter makes you happy. I trust that you have seen all the tears that have been shed because of you, all the hopes that have been lost because of you, and of course all the fears that have arisen because of you.
Did you see how I continue to think that I don’t deserve to be loved unless I am thin(even though I was never chubby)
How I believed that I need to hold worry as tight as possible and how the circle of worry has to be my only ally. Well, you didn’t leave me alone as you knew the consequences of doing that.
I still remember the day when you told me that an XS size is the only one I need to fit in. I cannot shift to an S or M. It is a crime and if by chance I cannot fit into XS, I need to work towards it.
Oops, and before I forget, remember when I watched Mean Girls and the saleswoman tells Regina George that she should try Sears(a brand with sizes beyond XXS XS and S) as she cannot fit into any of their sizes. I suppose that was your inspiration, right?
Oh, or when I watched Bride Wars and the saleswoman tells Liv that “our brides need to alter themselves for our gowns!” that must’ve been a perfect idea to teach me about size zero.
Well, I really don’t know how to explain to you that you ARE NOT a “know-it-all” you’re the opposite.
The only thing I want to tell you is that now I don’t need to believe in you…because I believe in me(finally)
Leaving you without second thoughts,
A Letter to Self-Control
Just because I don’t look like you doesn’t mean I’m not pretty, you are not normal, you’re a model. Mirror mirror on the wall, I’ve changed, don’t lie to me, I’ll know when you do. You’re not happy with yourself, I know you spiral in a circle too, don’t worry, I’ll be here in case you want someone to talk to, even though you’re a hater, I’ll be there but I’ll be stronger.
These were some things I wrote on sticky notes and put them on my mirror while trying to rip you apart and throw you out of my life.
You lured me into thinking that I need to be in control if I want to live a good teenage life. Why do you think I need something to remind me that I am in control? Why do you want me to believe that I cannot enjoy my own company? Whether you like it or not, I have understood your betrayal and I have decided to change. You might not understand the good part about recovery, you would think of it as an enemy.
You know, I used to think that there is a huge gap between you and deprivation, but you pushed me to the other side; deprivation. I, like a fool, fell into it without thinking because I blindly trusted you. But, now I don’t. I trust myself. I wish you were smart enough to understand that trust has to be earned, and once lost, it never comes back. But, sadly you go by half-baked knowledge, so I’m sure you won’t understand or relate.
Look, I know you come from a background of “WHAT I EAT IN A DAY”, “INTERMEDIATE DIET” etc, I know you can’t control it, thus I ask you, the uninvited guest to leave. I won’t be polite from today. Right here and right now is where I draw the line.
At the end of the day, life is too short to reduce myself to a few adjectives.
Stepping out of your spiral without second thoughts,
How many times a day do you go hunting for signs to change, how many times do you try to look for positivity. How many times do you try to return home – back to your heart.
We always think that we need something or someone to find our way back, but the truth is that we can be our own north star, guiding light or bright place. We just need to trust ourselves.
Your heart is waiting for you to come back, stay where you belong. But, sometimes we can’t realise that. We can’t realise that what we think is control is actually tormenting.
Perception, self control and self doubt are three friends that are determined to make your life dark, it’s up to you and your choices, whether you listen to them or walk over them.
Some people might help you pick up the pieces, but only you can build those pieces into something. Something useful. For example, you can be your own therapist, everyone needs someone to talk to, if you are honest to yourself then you will find that someone and isn’t that the role of a therapist? To forget the insecurities and open up?
Anorexia made me realise that those small gestures, moments of love, arguments, love etc are just pieces that end up becoming a mosaic.
Sometimes life can be nothing less than a place full of hatred, but as long as you can find a path even through the dark times, which leads you to your flashlight is what matters. So go on, try on some flashlights until you find the best fit!
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