I am extremely sensitive about my relationships. Back in school, my friends and family mattered more than the ranks and grades I was awarded for my consistent performance. I noticed that my academic credentials made everyone happy. That was my cue; I put myself under tremendous pressure to the extent that my grades dropped and I failed in one of the exams. This pushed me into a cycle of self doubt and frustration. Anxiety kicked in at the slightest of discomfort. I built an unhealthy cycle with anxiety in the desperation to make others happy.
After months of not being able to eat or sleep, I broke down sometime towards the final year of my engineering education. I called up my teacher from school and vented out. She advised I drop anything that doesn’t make me happy. I wanted to start afresh. In spite of the knowledge that it is going to upset my parents terribly, I quit engineering and took up a course in literature. This became my escape; friends and faculty there were too kind. Many understood my struggle with anxiety and put me in touch with a counsellor. Gradually, my parents started coming around to accept my decision.
My grandmother had been my rock through it all. Her fondness for cooking drew me into the kitchen. With her encouragement, I took up baking. The business started thriving, but it was a bit too much for the rest of the family. From engineering to arts/literature and now baking, they thought I am lost and wasting time. The anxiety started kicking in again and grew after my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer.
Helping her through, was one of the toughest things I had to do. I secured admission at the best (arguably) culinary school in the world, but I couldn’t leave my grandma when she needed me the most. We lost her last year.
Over the past few months, I have noticed my unhealthy habits and managed to follow a schedule that helps me keep my focus. Baking has and will always be my solace. I have my dark days, but I am learning to see the light. Leaving anxiety behind is going to take a while, but I am developing the patience now.
Life can be as pretty and sweet as cakes, we must build a society sensitive enough to understand and reach out.
All images sourced from bakesalotlady.com
You may also be interested to read about Soumya Tripathi: Living with Thalassemia