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|Volume 11 |Issue 21| May 25, 2012 ||
‘It's for your own good'
Aasha Mehreen Amin
It is a sad but true fact that no matter how many plus points one has in life, the spectre of failure will haunt one, leaving a sickening trail of self-doubt and low self-esteem along the way. Human nature, after all, is programmed in such a way that it will always be unsatisfied with the self and with others despite obvious signs that things are actually quite hunky dory when one looks at the big picture. But this masochistic path is often reinforced by others who say they are one's well-wishers but end up making one feel like jumping off the first ten-storied building one can get to the rooftop of – hopefully the traffic or sheer laziness will prevent such a tragedy.
Take this scenario. You have woken up with that rare feeling of optimism, with no dull headache from a night of sleeplessness, no pesky phone calls at seven in the morning; there's no early morning activity like classes or school duty, the day is relatively free of stressful encounters, presentations or projects and generally you are feeling quite good about yourself and the world. Unfortunately this is an ominous sign – someone is about to call you or visit - to burst that bubble.
A 'well-wisher' pops by - to ask after your welfare, of course.
The well-wisher will barrage you with questions that will leave you no time to muster up or simply concoct self-gratifying answers that will put them off the killer trail. Instead, you will find you are like the poor soul being grilled in BBC Hard Talk – What have you done with yourself lately? Why have you not completed your Masters? Why are you still in this dead-beat job that pays so little? Why are you not getting married, if you don't do it now, it will never happen you know that? Why are you not having children, what about a second one, being an only child is very lonely right?
The funny thing is that the Inquisition is not meant to bring forth adequate answers, the exercise is merely for the satisfaction of being able to tell someone that they are just not up to par, that they are total failures in life. This becomes evident by the long and drawn out descriptions of the success and accomplishments of other persons of the same age as you or much younger. Sometimes the references are to the well-wisher's close relatives which makes some sense, though it is still undeniably sadistic. But at times they are about people you have barely any clue about and hence all the more irritating.
The well-wisher may come in the form of a contemporary, usually with whom you have had zero contact for at least two years but who will give you a call just because they heard some nasty gossip about you. The main reason for this call is to get confirmation from the horse's mouth and also derive some sickly sweet pleasure of knowing that someone else is in a mess for a change.
Thankfully it is easy to spot the fake well-wishers from those people who genuinely care about you and give well-intentioned advice, even if it's bad. It doesn't need too much calculation or analysis – just good old intuition will do.
But dodging a fake well-wisher, now that's another story altogether. Some people avoid any possible chance of meeting them at social occasions and end up as total recluses. Others have developed the skin of a rhino so that the piercing darts of humiliation are mere pin pricks or feathery touches; this is facilitated by imagining the person talking to be a crazed monkey that has got all his tricks jumbled up but is still trying to put up a show. This will actually make you feel sorry for them.
The way to beat the toxic effects of these well-wishing busy bodies is to just delete their innuendos and jabs from your brain's main hard-drive and spend time with someone who just adores you for who you are. If you can't find a human, a loving pet will do.