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As girl children, we are born into a world that says celebrating others is what womanhood is all about. Put others before you, always. My life was no different. The indoctrination is so deep that the little snatches of “me, myself” that you enjoy like reading a book or wearing something you like or simply wanting to look at the sky and daydream become reasons for being branded as a ‘bad girl’ and fills you up with permanent guilt, enough for a lifetime. Questions of ‘why’ turn a home into a battleground where the enemy, you, wage a lone battle, only to be put down ruthlessly, made to conform. What IS there to celebrate in being me, you are left to wonder.

Some are lucky. They are born into positivity. Others are not so. Negativity swamps them and they look for the proverbial straw to pull themselves out of the mire. I read somewhere that one of the most wonderful things in the world is how a child emotionally crippled (not just a girl child or for being a girl, but all children for various reasons) blossoms into someone normal.  I read this decades later as a grown-up, when on the wrong side of forty and that’s when I understood something. I had always been celebrating myself. In spite of the pessimistic and non-nourishing state I found myself in time and again, the constant reminders that I was not good enough (no, not just because I was a girl child) that sapped my energy levels,  I had somehow got hold of something to celebrate and survive. Instead of wilting, I had blossomed.

What could be that magic ingredient? It seemed to have helped me throughout. Each time life thought it would be fun to see just how I would extricate myself from successive negative conditions that it piled on me, it was there helping me to dust myself off. What could be that something that picked you up each time the world pushed you down with a vengeance? For something there definitely was, that made me stand on my feet, look people in the eye and refuse to be cowed down.

Was it faith in myself? Was it the knowledge that I was right? Was it the fact that I knew with certainty that I have never hurt anyone knowingly? Was it my integrity of which I was aware and terribly proud? Was it my ability to reason and arrive at answers? Could it be my empathy and patience? Is it because I was always just myself? I don’t know. Perhaps it could have been all of them. But the truth remained, that whatever it was, whatever anyone tried (and they have without doubt), though it hurt a lot and made you want to give up many times, it sprung me back on my feet, returned to me the conviction of what/who I am which nobody could shake out of me.

Years have gone by, half a century plus some more. I have realized what that special something in me is, that sees me through, and that is my spirit, the spunk that resides somewhere deep inside me and comes to my aid without fail to face life’s trials and tribulations. It has not let anyone cow or push me under, not permanently. It has helped hold my head high and look people who have wronged me, in the eye. It has stood me in good stead all my life, helping me rise again during the many times I have almost fallen. It has let me be myself without the need for any outside certification or approval to feel good about myself. It has dared me to reject and question. It was the source from which I drew while making a home, bringing up my children the way I believed they should be, with conviction.

My spirit is what made and makes my life a celebration. Momentary lapses happen, when something or someone hurt enough to make you stumble in your stride, for thorns always prick and draw blood, dimming the celebration briefly. But, sooner or later, the knowledge reasserts itself: I am I. None can take that away from me. I celebrate the knowledge I have about myself. I celebrate my indomitable spirit.

This is written for Women’s Web contest Celebrating Myself

Updated to add: This post shares the second place with five other contestants. Results can be seen here