Living a private life versus living a public life is a result of our cultural environment, even more than our cultural proclivities. I was thinking about how my life was lived out almost in the public eye- by public, I mean ALL my relatives, extended family, friends, half of their extended families, the entire neighborhood, school, undergrad and grad school friends (and their parents)- when I was in India. I never thought much about this at the time. Everybody kind of knew what problems everybody else had, how they lived, how they ate etc. Mostly, people shared their problems, issues and sob stories with each other.
After living in the US for the last couple of years, I find myself trying to always portray a happy front to people (at least the people I do not count as close friends). I now seriously have a lot of hesitation before I share my pain or problems. Mostly, I just don't. I always say that I am okay. Even when I'm not. Even when I'm facing huge problems. The US has made me a lot more private. There are probably four people in the whole world who know my current pain. Unlike in India, when every person and their dog knew about it.
What changed? For one, my cultural environment has had a huge impact on me. I share so much less of my problems now. Secondly, I always feel that nobody will be interested in my pain, since everybody has their own issues to handle. And lastly, I have lost touch with so many of my close Indian friends, and not made such close ones in this country. We've all gone our different paths. Yet, the closeness of school and college friends is irreplaceable.
And of course, Facebook happened in the last few years. With it, came this need to always have the best me on show. An image, a facade, that is displayed to the world. A facade of a life lived to the fullest, of a life lived with the best of everything life has to offer. Facebook is all about pshopsha (the Punjabi readers should get this). So now, I am perpetually on display to the world and I need to uphold this happy, smiling, carefree, Super-self phantasm that I have created.
I was thinking this morning about all this. About how I can no longer share my pain and sorrows easily. Mere halak mein mera dard atak jaata hai... and I swallow it back and in, and smile. I'm good, I say. Maybe I am, maybe I'm not. Maybe I'm not sure anymore.
Yes, at some level maybe even I swallow this pill I'm giving the world. Even I think life is okay. It is sanitized and harmless and hurtless. Maybe I need to peel off the blinkers and strive for more honesty with myself. Maybe, I can become my best friend again who will listen and talk and understand and encourage. Just maybe, I need to begin sharing with myself again before I can do it with the rest of the world.