Proving Your Mettle: Recipe for Sabotaging Your Happiness!



“Prove them wrong”, “Show them what you can do, prove to them that you are not weak”, “Prove your mettle and your detractors will go silent”, “Let your work speak for you”…these seemingly encouraging words, aimed at egging you on, aimed at not letting you give up are the very words that take the joy out of your life. You must think I’ve lost my marbles! And, I don’t blame you, for this is what we have been told all our life. These very words right from the word go, instill in us, the need for external validation. These are the very same words that teach us that competition is essential. And so, I believe, these are the very words passed on from generation to generation, that teach us insecurity, mistrust and poor self-worth/ self-esteem.

My husband walked in a few minutes ago and read the title and the first line of my blog and gave me the look of a man finding out that he was with a demented woman. He does think I have a skewed brain. No, he doesn’t say so explicitly but his expressions give him away. I won’t be surprised if a large number of readers feel that way too but do read through and think about what I have to say. It is a realization for me as well and in sync with my blog name “Musings while unlearning”.

Why are we not acceptable and worthy of love and respect if we don’t achieve anything, the way we are meant to? As far as research goes, just by breathing we are doing wonders for the planet and the cosmos. The need to prove our superiority over all other creatures have led us to comforts and an easy life while pushing the planet to its brink because of which it might wipe out our breed completely, in order to heal.

In retrospect, if I didn’t have to prove to my parents how capable I was, I may have liked school a lot better. I loved college. I did exceedingly well there. Do you know why? I had taken humanities so my parents had no expectations which they would’ve had, had I got into a professional college. With that burden off my shoulders, I blossomed. I learnt so much. Again, unlike school, the professors don’t care if you attend classes or not. They don’t care what your marks are. They treat you like equals. Guess what! In three years of college, away from my parents for two out of three years, I bunked just two classes and that too on the insistence of my friends for a farewell of some sort, on both occasions. Does that tell you anything? If you let people be, they naturally want to be the best versions of themselves. They want to grow and expand. Okay, I admit, I am a rebel. In fact, to the extent that I might cut my nose to spite my face, just so that I don’t have to obey. Yet, if you let me be, I am reasonable to see what I am expected to do for the larger good and I would do that. If it is true for me, I guarantee, it is true for the most of us.

I then joined the IAF to be a pilot. The burdens I carried on my shoulders were so heavy from all sides that I barely enjoyed what I was doing. I was being asked to prove myself on various levels, every step of the way. Being a tense person, it made matters worse. I barely slept in the initial years. I did not have the maturity to relax and free myself of these silly burdens, of telling myself none of it mattered. There was no one to tell me either, that this was a small part of my life and I should be carefree and just enjoy it; that I had to practice my skills diligently and stay abreast so that I was safe, the aircraft was safe and so that I could carry out tasks efficiently and be an asset to the IAF and not because I had to prove I was worthy. Maybe, that’s what people tried to convey even though they kept saying I had to prove myself. Maybe, I got it all wrong. Sometimes what people say is not what we hear. So many years later I get this wisdom and I wonder if I had this light bulb moment back then, I could’ve done a lot more and enjoyed myself every step of the way and not just when things went well. And yet, that is the way life unfolds. It is because of those experiences that I can think this way and perhaps help those young ones, who even take their own lives just because they felt they weren’t worthy enough and that they hadn’t proved their mettle.

This life is beautiful but our own tribe can be pretty harsh. With the media and social media so rampant, they get into the psyche of the youth- not just the youth actually, anyone who is addicted. There is no empathy. There are no rules. Kindness and compassion, manners and niceties have made way for brutal attacks on people’s personal space. No respect for boundaries. It is jungle law now. Survival of the fittest. Insecurities are so high, that watching someone flourish upsets people, even those who are doing well themselves! Why can’t words be spoken to uplift people? Why can’t we celebrate those who achieve? It is because we look down on those that don’t achieve that people become intolerant of those who do. It isn’t rocket science. It is all related.

In case all this got too much for you, let me sum it up in point form!

1.  All of us are special because we live. Every year on this planet is an achievement in itself.

2.  From a person who does nothing for a living to national heroes, political bigwigs, stars in movies or music industry, great sport persons- WE ARE ALL WORTHY AND HAVE TO PROVE NOTHING. These people became who and what they are because they enjoyed what they did and put their hearts and souls into what they did and not because they wanted to prove to the world that they had great minds.

3.  Even the most famous have died early because they felt unworthy. Their need for external validation was so strong that they overlooked their achievement. If you are going to measure your worth by what you do, what you achieve, the money you make, the looks and the body you have, the cars you own…YOU WILL NOT ENJOY YOUR LIFE.

4.  Parents, teachers, mentors, friends, family and well wishers want the best for you. Take their advice but sift out their expectations. YOUR LIFE IS YOURS TO LIVE. (I am sure my daughter will read this back to me!!)

5.  Life is beautiful. Just live it. Do what makes you happy. Give it your all not because you are expected to but because you want to. Your happiness is contagious. Without realizing it, you will spread joy. If you really want to do something, accept people for who they are. Don’t judge. Be kind. If you have been brought to this world and are living, YOU ARE WORTHY.




  1. Very well written...a different perspective on life, largely agreeable...🙂

  2. I love the unlearning and self-introspection process in your blog. This absolutely is something that I totally believe in. As we know, the flowers that bloom in wilderness are equally beautiful, if not more, than the ones which bloom in the confines of earthen pots.
    There should be no need to prove anything to anyone. The need should be of self-improvement, to learn something new everyday. After all, each day is a blessing.
    I am always so happy after reading your blogs. Today too.
    P. S: I too did so well for myself when I entered collage reasons are same as yours. God bless you

    1. Thank you Anvita. You said it. In fact, that beautiful piece you sent me earlier was brilliant. You always make me super happy too! :)

  3. Beautifully written as always! Brings to mind something I read and sharing it here 👇
    I don't know if I continue, even today, always liking myself. But what I learned to do many years ago was to forgive myself. It is very important for every human being to forgive herself or himself because if you live, you will make mistakes- it is inevitable. But once you do and you see the mistake, then you forgive yourself and say, 'Well, if I'd known better I'd have done better,' that's all. So you say to people who you think you may have injured, 'I'm sorry,' and then you say to yourself, 'I'm sorry.' If we all hold on to the mistake, we can't see our own glory in the mirror because we have the mistake between our faces and the mirror; we can't see what we're capable of being. You can ask forgiveness of others, but in the end the real forgiveness is in one's own self. I think that young men and women are so caught by the way they see themselves. Now mind you. When a larger society sees them as unattractive, as threats, as too black or too white or too poor or too fat or too thin or too sexual or too asexual, that's rough. But you can overcome that. The real difficulty is to overcome how you think about yourself. If we don't have that we never grow, we never learn, and sure as hell we should never teach - Maya Angelou.
    P.S. I too did much better in college than I did in school and for exactly the same reasons as mentioned by you :) So that makes it the three of us for sure.. LoL! When I look back all I can (like they say in Hindi) - Der aaye par Durust aaye! #selfacceptance!

    1. Thank you Toxicheaven!! :) That is a beautiful excerpt. I love Maya Angelou...I haven't read her work but I am floored by her quotes. Self acceptance all the way!


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