Thursday

The closet introvert

My dearly departed mother was an avid reader. My dad also loves to read. Naturally, I too am a bookworm. Reading has been my only avenue of escape from the real world. Though most people consider me an extrovert, I know that I am an introvert through and through deep inside.
After all, I don't really like going to parties, hanging out at clubs, attending dinner functions, attending weddings, cocktail parties...etc...I find those events a real pain and could only wish that I can wiggle my way out!
I am not a social butterfly. I do not thrive on huge crowds. Perhaps this stems from my dysfunctional growing up years with an even more dysfunctional family and of course a really low self-esteem.
I mean, who doesn't get low self esteem from being called 'fatty', 'big butt', 'fat girl' and other similarly demeaning nicknames all my life.
I was born underweight and was skinny as a young child but as I started schooling, the pounds started packing on. I have a naturally big frame and is considered tall in my class but the pounds continue increasing (thanks to my mom's wonderful cooking at that time).
Before long, I am the 'fat girl' in class. As I reached my teens, I grew taller but did not get skinnier. Instead, I was still rounded but no longer in the obese category. Still, the old 'fat girl' nickname sticks.
After all those years of ridicule and being treated as 'one of the boys' in school because I am just too fat and too plain to be girlfriend material (believe me, teenage boys are just so shallow!), my self-esteem could not be worse.
The only way to survive was to have plenty of sense of humour and the wonderful days of solitude burying myself in my storybooks. Books beat having loads of friends. Reading beats going to any functions where I usually get disgusted stares or were ignored out right.
Along the way, I somehow lost some weight and looked better but the low self esteem remained. I made new friends and kept some of them.
But I was obsessed with my weight, I exercised and dieted. I became thin but still I do not feel good! I still felt inadequate, as if I do not belong here. I was suicidal at times and depressed at other times. I have really morbid thoughts of dying in various circumstances.All this while, I kept a cheerful front. Nobody suspected anything.
What really kept me going were my books. Even as I dropped out of college to start working, I withdrew more into myself. Books were my haven, my doorway to freedom and paradise. From Nancy Drew to Harlequin Romances to Mary Higgins Clark, I devour them all.
They were my salvation, my light in the dark and importantly, my reason for living.
Now, those dark days are gone and I have learnt to look on the brighter side of things. Once I read that we can accumulate as much wealth and assets as we want but still won't be happy. Happiness is a state of mind, we can be the poorest person on earth and still be happy if we want to.
Yes, it is definitely a state of mind. So, happy I will be till the day I meet my mom wherever she is now!

2 comments:

Daisy Dexter Dobbs said...

Oh, Nyla, your beautiful, heartfelt post made me cry. Those cruel jabs directed at us in childhood do, indeed, cling to us for many years to come, intruding on our present and reminding us of how we didn’t fit in at a time when it was so important to be accepted by our peers.

Like you, I’ve always found books to be extremely comforting. A great escape. That’s what I enjoy so much about writing too. I can create my own ideal little worlds and live there carefree while penning the manuscript.

You’re right, Nyla, happiness truly is a state of mind. A state that can be achieved and enjoyed by anyone. Personally, I’ve found the healing art of laughter to be a lifesaver. We can’t possibly feel sad, despondent or depressed at the same time that we’re laughing. I immerse myself in funny books, movies and television and giggle until my sides hurt. It’s enjoyable, therapeutic and injects your day with a hefty, healthy dose of happiness.

Thanks for sharing this wonderful post. And thanks so much for visiting my blog. I do hope you’ll come back often!

nyla said...

Daisy: Humour has indeed kept me alive in dark times, especially when my mom passed on suddenly a couple of years ago.
Nowadays, I too immerse myself in comedies and sitcoms, on good days and bad days. Of course, my toddler also gave me a fair share of wonderfully laughter-filled days.
Here's to more laughter in all our lives!