I was told I was an atrocious actress; by multiple people including close friends and family. I never took offence, I am not one for the dramatic arts and I would much rather be backstage, enjoying the imitation of feelings that were all too real to most. I was flattered perhaps, because I knew that to some extent they were wrong. I had mastered the art of feigning emotions, a life long process of rejecting sentiments that were not cosmetic and surface level. Things that were not too complex to understand. I cried a lot, but for all the wrong reasons; I cried as a reflection of what others felt, a form of assimilation more so than an emotion that came from the heart. A selective circle encompassing two parents were perhaps the only people to see the reality of feelings that were not a mirror image of societal expectations. With this lifestyle I was satisfied, I was happy even, it was a game of deception I played with everyone including myself. My heart was so deeply clogged with superficial things that even the 17 year old body to whom this heart belonged could not figure out what these feelings truly meant.

When we were asked in our free write to write about what was stirring in our hearts I wrote about fear. Much too simplistic perhaps, but the only honest thing I could extract from an organ that seemed only useful on my real-time stage and never behind the scenes. I am afraid of being openhearted. Its an incredibly easy feeling to mimic; an emotion I calculated in my mind to emulate with as much imitated sincerity as I possibly could. To be completely honest however, my guard was never more up than during the entirety of this trip. It was a constant, tiring process; deflecting words that could distract me from the safety of my performance. My reinforcement was affirmation; people believing I was genuine, convincing others that my heart was as clear and as open as the doors the Seva Café. I am terrified; perhaps more than anything else in the world, of being distracted away from this person I have created.

That being said, I am exhausted. That is why I look forward to going home at every second of my time at Andover, and sometimes at every second of my time here. Dropping the shield uncovers a type of vulnerability that I don’t think I am ready for in front of people I am not sure I could trust. My exhaustion at my perpetual performance probably seeped through in my previous blog posts, short gems of honesty I let slip through because I though I could maybe unload the baggage in my heart, little by little, inch by inch. But I am not there yet. What I can say is that I learned; I learned what to do to fully open my heart, I learned what it looks like to have nothing but joy. When I am ready; whenever that may be, I know Ahmedabad is where to look to when my heart decides to be free.