I was attacked on the streets two years ago on September 5, by a stranger whose views towards women were not the best. He spat on the side of my face, l fought back which lead to being further attacked and pushed against the wall. Very derogatory things were said. It is blurry but somehow l escaped. I was shaking while having a panic and anxiety attack on the street.
I was trying to be strong and gather myself to take the hardest shower ever. I kept scrubbing my face and body to get rid of the spit and everything that followed. All I wanted that night was to sit in silence, be allowed to shake, panic, feel anxiety, and maybe if I were lucky enough to hear the words I desperately wanted to hear from someone I deeply cared for, “are you okay?” but instead got everything but that. The night got even worse.
I quickly learned to never put anyone in that position to console you or have expectations. I remember telling myself “I am going to be okay, I am going to be okay” all night. The movement that followed in India brought up unresolved memories that I had to face.
Last year, l survived 2 public gun shootings at a nation-wide sports celebration parade and 1 more again later in the year near the subway station when a young boy pulled out a gun and pointed it at the public but didn’t shoot.
From 2018 till today, here I stand ever so evolved, living my best life and about to share 18 lessons I learned:
- The people who go through the most tend to laugh the hardest because they know the value of wanting to be alive vs just living.
- “I believe you” are the strongest words I have heard.
- Learn self-defence because even if you are with 4 guy friends around you, do not expect them to fight your fight during a crisis.
- Victim blaming is a thing. Surprisingly,by your closest people.
- Forgiveness will set you free even when sorry is not said. The best way to do that is to put yourself in their shoes and understand their conditioning. Most times it is not about you. It is about how their experiences have shaped them and that is the only way they know how to express. Sometimes they have not chosen the right path but free yourself from their doing.
- Do not react
- When someone shows you their true colors the first time, believe them.
- Better to be solid and alone than be lonely in any kind of a relationship.
- My motto in life is “What would a Warrior Goddess do?” and do that in a time when motivation fails me. It works wonders. My mom calls me Manikarnika, the warrior mentality was exposed to me by her.
- Cut off people who lack compassion. Bullying, lies, and cheating comes from insecurity and confusion within the person who did it and that can potentially change but lack of empathy comes from values that are a lot harder to unlearn due to conditioning.
- Be quiet about things but do not suffer in silence.
- During the first gun shooting, I was shaken to the point where my mind started to think I am in a movie and I am filming for the part where my character has to experience this situation for the film to make it more interesting. Since that time, I started to see my life as a movie where I am the lead and I have to feel all the best highs and the worse lows for my movie to succeed.
- Get up because no one is going to do it for you
- I have been told that I am free-spirited and always smiling. It is true, I love life too much. I grew up in a family that believes in finding contentment. Even during a stormy phase, there are always things to be grateful for, give attention to those things! My growth mindset is a product of my childhood which they gave me.
- Do not be the victim of your past because there is so much to look forward to.
- Improv and dancing are healing to my mental health.
- Live in the moment, smile from the heart, and laugh truly.
- Share good vibes and spread good energies because you truly don’t know when you might not be on this Earth anymore.
To anyone who is suffering or has been through a traumatic time in their life, I promise you that you have the inner power and ability to turn your life around and be the best version of yourself. Don’t look back. Choose yourself every day and walk forward with grace. You got this.
xo –Shreya Patel