Introspection Never Ends

Defining me!

Athira T J
5 min readFeb 25, 2022

In our performance-driven society, people are very interested in status — “I’m Athira, a graduate engineer from Thrissur, Kerala”. That defines me. Maybe I can also include something like “I’m the daughter of, sister of, a friend of, and I work for…blah-blah-blah”. Now see, everything I believe myself to be is all dependent on something else. So, who am I really?

“Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle.”

― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

What’s Under The Surface?

I’m not who I used to be. It’s a bit like an iceberg. What is seen above the water represents our status. Indeed, from this point of view, I’m not merely a flow of immediate experience, but a huge repository of hidden depths: beliefs, attitudes, motives, suspicions, hopes, fears, and how I perceive life and the surrounding society.

“Start with yourself. Take care of yourself. Define who you are. Refine your personality. Choose your destination and articulate your Being.”

Dr Jordan B Peterson, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

As of today, I am a short and petite, almost 24-year-old woman who easily shies away from talking to people, either individually or in a group.

There are so many other things that make me a person.

My Personality

If anyone knows me, I am a kind, innocent and honest person, who dedicates myself to completing my duties. I’m introverted, but I love spending quality time with the people I appreciate.

Personally, I like being optimistic, but however, I end up thinking about each and every possibility. Ahh, overthinking sucks.

I’m impossibly impatient and can’t tolerate uncertainty. I find it hard to make rational decisions when I’m upset. Are you a person who cries in public? For me, I just don’t let it flow. Maybe I have a choice? I don’t know.

My Beliefs

I’m a relatively spiritual person, who believes in the importance of leading a spiritual life. I’m more independent in making spiritual decisions. I consider it important to learn different religious views.

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about.”


Coupled with these words from Rumi was a message — if only we would take these words to heart, humanity would be able to move beyond its current conflicts so as to move to a world where we focus on what’s truly important.

My Fears

I seriously question my decisions all the time. It makes sense to me, that I don’t actually have control over what I choose, that I’m in a community that’s making collective choices above my consciousness.

I’m not smart enough. I always need more and more time to understand humans. I demand closure but am terrified of door slams and goodbyes. Thank God, I’m single. Not really ;)

Again, I don’t want to feel judged. Like I should feel bad for the feelings that I have. I am trying really hard not to judge myself or others for the decisions they make.

My Doubts

  • What does feeling alive mean?

Sometimes, life feels like it’s on hold. This past year has added to the gamut of the emotional spectrum for me. I thought I had been sad before, and I was, but this was different in so many ways. The polarization and rapid speed at which my mental states changed astound me. One moment, holding complete despair, and the next excitement.

But now, there is some distance. I didn’t think things could get better. That I could feel better. But somehow, today, for some unknowable reason, I do feel better. Whatever the case, I want to spend a moment thinking about what it means to long to feel alive when for all accounts I am living!

  • Aren’t birthdays weird?

Ahh, my birthday is near! Each year I’m really tempted to downplay the day, keep my expectations low, not tell anyone it’s my birthday and protect myself from disappointment. But I think it all goes much deeper than this.

What am I protecting, you ask?

That part of me who don’t feel worthy,

who is scared of being loved, because being loved has been really complicated in my life.

who is afraid of being shiny in any way, because I’ve learned being seen was dangerous.

who feels like my birth was unimportant and a burden in some ways.

who has a default core belief: I must be inherently unlovable in some way.

  • Am I normal? Is anyone?

We are all different in our own way, right? Our society is very ingrained to think about everything in terms of what is “normal.” We then see anyone who deviates from this label as somehow dysfunctional.

I feel like I never really “fit” in with what’s normal — am I supposed to?

“So, this is how it’s become? This is how I’ve become? A walking contradiction? I’m surrounded by people and feel alone. I claim to crave a bit of normalcy but now that I have some, it’s like I don’t know what to do with it, I don’t know how to be a normal person anymore.”

Gayle Forman, Where She Went

My Longings

I want to be understood and taken care of. If I am being honest, I long for someone to tell me the things I needed to hear to feel safe.

Whenever I tell someone that I think I had covid, I swear they say the same thing: me too! Basically, I just want to feel connected. Like we had the sort of bond that could withstand the stress of life.

I want to learn how to be myself. I want that feeling when I relax my muscles and close my eyes. I want to feel the sort of goosebumps I get when I’m really excited about some idea or idea of a person that makes my skin tingle with warmth.

How do I do this?

I think we should be a little skeptical of our introspection because our mental depths are murky and perhaps even actively distorted. When we explain our words and actions, we are rationalizing: The explanations, beliefs, desires, hopes, and fears that they mention are part of the story we tell in retrospect. I don’t believe that our intuitions about our stream of consciousness can be trusted either. Sorry, I don’t know. Maybe I’m making this up.

However, my understanding and concept of what is a “happy ending” have drastically altered of late. Has yours? It has morphed from wanting things to work out, be happy, reach the goal, endure hardship to accepting that life is complicated. And also shitty. And, personally, how do I feel comfortable in my own skin? And find the little joys and pleasures in our existence.

“Now that I’m free to be myself, who am I?”

— Mary oliver

I owe it to my future self to push through. There is a possibility in the uncertainty that there is no way to know who we are becoming. We just have to keep going, for ourselves to find out. We owe it to ourselves.