I have spent most of my life struggling to fit into my skin. Not in an excess of skin, baggy-round-the-eyeballs sort of a way, but in a constant, rigorous and unrelenting wrestle to be okay in the skin that I am in.
I have argued away the hours about how I could better improve myself, seeking out numerous remedies and strategies to negate the qualities in my possession that I decided were unbecoming. I have constructed only to deconstruct to then reconstruct a myriad of different thoughts, patterns and behaviours and to be quite frank, I am over the entire building process all together. Too much dust and the job is never finished.
These last couple of weeks have seen me travel to India, where I witnessed suffering so unfamiliar to me that if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, I would deny it existed. I could tell you all about how the gutters are piled high with rubbish, how the heat was almost oppressive some days; I could tell you how I had my heart broken by a beautiful young girl and how I never want to hear another car horn again.
There are many things that plague me about India, injustices so complex that I am literally brought to my knees by them, but however disconcerting as it may be to see thousands of people making their beds by night on the pavement, I want to talk about the joy I found in India, etched into the lines on the people's faces in spite of that suffering.
I met people who were institutionalised and sick but managed to hold my hand and laugh with me, I met people living under a tarp beside a railway line who met me with so much enthusiasm I almost believed I was a big deal. I met a little girl selling balloons who talked to me about her favourite colours and came alive. I met resilience, I met determination, I met humility.
As I encountered such inspirational people who gifted me with a warmth that filled my lungs to overflowing and who possessed a buoyancy that left me in reverence of them, I began to realise that all we really have to give in this life is ourselves.
And if that's the case, I better start believing that I am a gift worth receiving because here is the thing…we are all a little bit marred by life and if I don't have room for my own failings, I definitely don't have room for yours. And we need each other, you and I.
I think as humans living with worldly wealth, we have the potential to spend our whole lives in poverty, berating ourselves for how much we lack, evading the truth because we are afraid of what it will mean if we embrace it and never backing ourselves for fear of being found guilty.
But the people of India and all of the richness in their response to suffering have helped me to declare a cease fire with myself, get some perspective and acknowledge my validity as a worthwhile person. Even though I still have a mouth on me like a sailor, a short temper and an over active imagination, suddenly my skin fits.
Along with faith, hope and probably worms, India has given me back myself, and I want to spend the rest of my life, in my made to fit skin, sharing it with all the other dishevelled and disillusioned souls out there, because I am convinced, that the only way forward, is together.
First published October 21, 2013
Gemma Taylor, despite constant scorn and painful jokes, is proudly from the Waikato; although she is presently living in Auckland with her fingers in many pies. She is inspired by truth, creativity and connection. Gemma writes for buoyancy and hopes to one day live wholly by the ideas that she writes of.
Gemma Taylor previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/gemma-taylor.html