I’m a hermit

Nida Chowdhry, blog, writer, hermit, introvert, cartoon, I’m not hanging out with anybody, Mindy kaling, is everyone hanging out without me

I’ve been feeling really, really guilty about something for the past few years, and I recently realized – hey! I’ve always been like this!

As a kid, you could find my siblings playing outside, and me? If there was a statistic based on us, it’d be:

2 out of 3 kids are playing outside. The other one’s reading a book.

I very much preferred and prefer the company of books and television to actual human beings. Just saying that out loud makes me feel like a total monster!

My parents would push and push for me to go play outside. At around 5pm everyday, they made me see the light of day. I got sneaky and tucked a book into the back of my pants, or ‘made an appearance’ at my neighbors’ house before climbing over our fence and reading in a nook in our backyard. My God!

I would read in the bathroom all night. I would read by moonlight coming through my window in bed. I thought I was really smart, but it turns out my eyes could only handle this for so long before I had to get huge glasses. By which I mean actually huge gigantic glasses with polarized lenses. Yeah.

Anyway, books are my friends. I was and have been pretty darned introverted most of my life. But there’s a huge part of me that loves people very much. I love seeing people happy. I love being a wallflower and I love being center-stage making people think and feel things.

There’s also a huge part of me that suffers when I’m around people too much. It’s like… too much to process. I go haywire. I can’t hear my own thoughts. I start to make mistakes. I don’t have enough time to read people and evaluate my mistakes. (This sounds like the ramblings of a mad perfectionist.)

I’m really intense and better suited to one-on-one’s. And even then, I’m really intense and better suited to my couch and chromecast.

Speaking of introversion, just saying that word out loud makes me feel like I’m listing a phony symptom so I can get out of class! What would my South Asian tough-it-up heritage say! My ancestors are probably rolling their eyes ten generations back into their heads.

I have realized that I need to make more time for my loved ones, so it’s something I’ve been working on for the past couple of years. It’s tough figuring out the balance between isolation vs. solo-ation, aloneness vs. loneliness, time vs. boundaries, but as long as I’m working on it… ::nervous laughter::

What I have been doing lately is working on letting go of the guilt. For the two seconds someone might be thinking of me and hating me for being a hermit, I’m spending 24/7 feeling bad about who I am and how I am, and it’s just not helping anyone. I think if I stop making myself feel so guilty it can open up some emotional real estate for me to be a better friend (insert more guilt here). Here’s to silently hoping.

Maybe social media makes me feel like I need to be more social. It definitely makes me afraid that people think I’m all talking to people and hanging out with people 24/7 and trying to make 1,000 million billion new friends, when I’m really in my pajamas researching a new show. Meh. It seems like I have a conflicted relationship with social media. What did Twitter ever do to me.

Then there’s the apocalyptic part of my brain that’s like *shakes fist* It’s a sign of the times! Maybe it’s a sign of *french accent* modernity and *some American president’s accent* urbanization and maybe Tolstoy has something to say about this. I don’t know because I don’t know anything about Tolstoy and I’m just trying to sound smart – everyone else is doing it so why not.

But really, I wonder if my ancestors had so much pressure to socialize. I feel like they were probably busy dusting the insides of their house and making meals to feed their 10 children i.e. their retirement plan. They probably went out to the market once in a while and ‘tweeted’ their neighbor across the balcony. Their entire life was an Instagram live with the chickens in their backyard.*

P.S. In case you’re wondering, I do very much love my Kindle! If you weren’t wondering, you’re like, what? Okay…

*This is historically inaccurate AF.

The bar gets higher

A few years back, I met someone at an NYC networking event and we got to talking about what we were up to. When I told them I just finished the UCB Improv program, they were like, “Advanced?” (referring to the UCB advanced classes) and I was like, ::sheepishly:: “No.” And they were like, ::disappointed:: “Oh. Well… keep going.” (Read: DO YOU EVEN LIFT???)

For me, everything really has started with a step. And taking a step at a time has added up, and I have gotten further and further on my own path. But it turns out that the further I get, the length of the road ahead is all I can see.

My friends used to come to my improv shows and lovingly tell me how funny I was and how I compared on stage. All I could really see is how good everyone else is, and how much I need to improve.

Maybe it’s classic imposter syndrome. But also, I think it’s that thing people talk about. The thing where they say, you’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with. And the other thing, if you’re the smartest one in the room, you’re in the wrong room. Nevermind that both of these things are a bit pretentious sounding. I think what they refer to is making sure that we always challenge ourselves. If we’re not in a place where we see room for improvement, if we’re not feeling like the weakest link, it means we’re not challenging ourselves enough, we’re not asking ourselves enough. (And I think it’s possible to feel like the weakest link in any room if we see each person’s unique gifts and ask ourselves to work harder.)

I haven’t really figured out the look-around-and-appreciate-the-milestones part. I am still focused on the climb. And yes, it is exhausting to think like that. I’m sure I’d be better off if I marveled at the distance a little more, but I don’t/won’t/can’t. If instant success were a thing I’d gladly give up the hard work and sit on the throne of my ginormously cushy ego. But it turns out it’s not a thing (mostly) and there is only one way: the hard way.

I do find something both humbling and exciting about constantly feeling like the loser in the room that has the most work to do, the longest way to go. It’s thrilling really, because there is potential. It’s like… knowing how much burn one has to feel in a workout before getting to the next … goal? Idk muscle language/talk. But yes, there is a sort of thrill/adrenaline rush attached to it.

I guess I’m writing this to share something I didn’t know when I was 22. There is no instant satisfaction or award awaiting the end of each milestone. There is what I have in myself. Knowledge, and also, increased knowledge of how little I know and how much more there is to learn. I think and hope this is how I will always feel. Which is cool and exciting. No matter how much I accomplish, how much I do, there will always be bigger achievements, people who have contributed “more.” And “we can always do more,” but also, “we’ll be dead soon anyways.”

So there is a built in dissatisfaction in achievement that I had no idea about. And witnessing the pattern of my life, it’s clear now. There really is no such thing as “winning” in the solo sense and it really is about how we get there together (even when we think we got there alone). And… winning doesn’t really feel like “winning.” It feels more like, “wow! that was fun! okay cool, now let’s get some rest, and then… onto the next.” I think that’s pretty cool, and grounding.

And also P.S. I’ve met lots of cool people on the road who are like, oh cool! and lot’s of people on the road who are like, oh. that’s it? The road giveth medicine for thine ego.

Hoping to blog more

nida chowdhry, blog, writing, writer
This is where I got re-started a few years ago. I was sitting in my apartment living room in Hell’s Kitchen, surrounded by four Thai restaurants of the same name. My couch and coffee table were my office, dining room, and living room. I sat there and cried and tried to figure out my life. I often curled into a ball unable to leave my apartment. I had a telecommuting job from that same spot. And that is where I recommitted to write as a way of life, for life, for living.

I had felt suffocated for a while, like I was holding something in – myself. Everything I believed and felt, everything I had to offer and give, even if it didn’t matter to anyone else.

I thought back to these moments in life when everyone around me used their voice, took up space with their thoughts and opinions – with ease – even when bigoted. They struggled aloud. They spoke.

And I stayed silent. And processed. And brooded. And struggled to speak. To open my mouth. To bring what I felt to fruition.

I don’t know exactly why at this moment that I decided to dust off my blog. Maybe because I had been contemplating the larger question of what to do with my life. How to give from my life. Maybe because writing had been my way before. Reading had been my way. The way that I came to understand life – at my own pace, from the safety of a book. And writing, it was how I waded into the pool of my thoughts without drowning. It was a life raft, a boat.

This exact place – an internet space – was where I got started. Re-started. Re-connected with what I want to do in my life. To write and figure things out. To share and be honest. Vulnerable and raw. To go out having been myself.

So here I am. Dusting off my blog again. Finding and typing my way through existence life.

The energy it takes to run a social media campaign

Something that wears on me more than it used to (or I’m allowing myself to notice it) is the effects of running a social media campaign. I limit how much I run these things now, just because I need the mindspace to focus and produce my work.  Continue reading “The energy it takes to run a social media campaign”