Apart from housing a variety of biological microbes within our bodies, we humans are constantly plagued by a million billion emotions. Emotions guided by the intricately carved architecture of synapses and neural networks which enable us to feel and make us sentient.
Emotions make or break us. And nothing gets under our skin quite like self-doubt. It works in extremes, sometimes making us pour our hearts out in rhythmic verses, other times prompting us to paint a canvas angry red, and sometimes it covers us in a sorrowful white shroud.
It arrives softly, driving anxiety up your torso, hiking up your spine and into your head.
Slowly and steadily, like a tortoise pitched against a rabbit, it leaves self-assurance behind, and the tortoise hurtles forward towards an incoherent dissonance.
It makes us buckle under the weight of our own minds.
Imagine it like a house, where the oppressed lives together with the oppressor. But there’s a bizarre singularity to it – the oppression springs from the self and is directed towards the self.
Self-doubt, as I imagine it, is a Medusa-like goddess (not a gorgon), with serpentine hair that can ensnare you at any time, and eyes that can turn flesh to stone. If contained, it can serve as a much-needed balance to other emotions.
But an imbalance can trigger havoc.
It can feel like extremes all at once. First, a smothering dark cloud that disseminates confusion, untethering us from reality, causing tears to streak our cheeks.
Then a wildfire, charring roots and bodies into non-existence, leaving nothing but ash.
Then a salty flood, brought in by a steadily rising tide.
You dust yourself off, trying to salvage what you can of the half-scorched, half-drowned planet of your consciousness. You try to break the endless cycle of self-doubt-inflicted-self-harm.
You attempt to rid yourself of this damage, turn your bottled up emotions into a shovel to dig a grave for the doubt to rest.
You try once-twice-thrice until you realise that escapism isn’t a solution to the rat race – it only leads you into an endless loop of hopelessness.
You take a deep breath. The serpentine tendrils subside. With acceptance, incoherence transforms into coherence.
A rhythmic dissonance sets in.
Rohang Mishal is a student at Goa University and an ambassador for Postcards for Peace.
Featured image credit: Flickr