This is a recent life update. Amidst the whirlwind of emotions, finding the right words seems like catching lightning in a bottle. I have always been the one to share the highs, the adventures, the trips, and the zeal to power through. But now, as I peer into the shadows that have crept into my days, I find myself at a loss. I don’t know where to begin or how to put things into perspective. This is to say that I might be bad at this, and all I ask of you is to bear with me.

So here’s the deal: This post will be dauntingly long. I’m not promising any grand revelations or profound insights. This isn’t going to be a masterpiece of prose. It’s just me, reaching out to anyone who might need to hear that they’re not alone in their struggles. Because sometimes, just knowing that someone else is stumbling through the darkness alongside you can make all the difference.

December brought forth the wrath of everything life had to offer: the chilly unemployment, the windy solitude, the crushing weight of imposter syndrome, and the cold, relentless struggle with body image and an eating disorder. Lately, I have had this epiphany that I have been lonely and empty for quite some time now. The reasons remained elusive; I haven’t figured it out yet.

These issues have always been simmering beneath the surface, but it feels like starting afresh in adulthood has brought them all to a head, like life, on a metaphorical plate of the journey, suddenly vomited its troubles onto my plate all at once. I was fat earlier, but college and friends made it easy. We spent time together, going on road trips and walks, sharing laughs as we strolled through the streets, kicking pebbles, and picking up the nuances of our everyday lives. I never struggled with weight back then. I weigh roughly the same now, yet adulthood has changed my perspective profoundly. Each step feels heavy as the body weight pulls me down. I have stopped buying clothes, as I know ‘L’-sized ones might not fit me anymore. I have stopped going out. I find myself avoiding mirrors, dreading the sight of my own reflection and the excess flesh that seems to haunt me. My friends and my oblivious college life made it easy. It never mattered. It’s a struggle I face daily, grappling with the physical and emotional toll of my weight.

We pondered on how we would pursue our passion and earn shitloads of money, how we would fight, build our future, save for trips, and see the world together. But now, the landscape has shifted. I find myself with nowhere to go, and no one to visit. Everyone is consumed by the relentless pace of life. I still talk to those three friends with whom I have been sharing everything for the past two or three years. Nothing changed in friendship. We just grew up. We still hang out with each other. However, the lens through which I viewed the world had shifted, coloured by the stark realities of adulthood. We can’t stay over at each other’s. We have families to look after, save money, pay back debts and loans, deadlines to attend to, and work enough to keep our jobs.

On those particularly tough days, I contemplate the meaning of it all, just going through the motions without any real sense of purpose, getting up every morning, trying to get through the day, somehow holding back all that is pulling me down, and going back to sleep, hoping that tomorrow gets magically better.

The cherry on top would be these two most incredible, life-altering things that happened in December: having to find a new job and breaking up.

December enveloped me in its icy grip; its harsh, frigid nights felt especially brutal as I had to leave my job and hunt for a new one. The hunt began several weeks before, but it wasn’t until December that I contemplated the burden of unemployment. The situation was very perplexing. A tangled web of concerns involving work-life balance, higher expectations from teammates, wrestling with self-doubt about the future, and growth loomed over me, and I had to move on. Each passing day brought a surge of stress and anxiety, accompanied by relentless questions echoing in my mind. Could I make it? Did I truly possess the skills to deserve another opportunity? Or was my past success merely a stroke of luck? The relentless grip of imposter syndrome left me reeling, my eyes weary, and my head pounding with loud thoughts. The fear gnawed at me—what if this were my only chance?

We are the same, you and I, in the same swamps. Trust me, you’ll get there. If I could make it, you would too. I know things are hard right now, and honestly, though I may not have all the answers, I know this much: the path ahead may be daunting, but you’ll make it through. The swamps are dark, but you’re not alone.

The universe dealt its masterstroke when, amidst the uncertain darkness, the one person I could always confide in decided to leave. I was shut. All I wanted was to sleep, avoid confronting the harsh reality, and not get up. But I had to. I was serving up my notice period. I had to get up. How else do I pay my EMIs if I don’t find a job? The period was very short before she came back, although, for a couple of weeks, she did. But it was the darkest time in recent times. My mind raced with a million thoughts. What about the things that I planned to do with her? The two-bedroom apartment we were supposed to rent in Bangalore, the road trip to Ladakh that we were supposed to go on, and the new car that we wanted to save money for—moving abroad together and finding jobs – all dashed in an instant. It felt like a brutal accident. How do I pick myself up and drive up to the hospital? How do I go on from here, with no job and no one to talk to?

Life kinda changed after December 15th. We got back together when she realized we both wanted the same things. I got a job, a better one, with better pay, and got the rest of the month off. Things started improving. I went back home, spent time with my family, and slept all day. I went back to those streets, with that friend, and ate all I wanted, unbothered, hung out with my friends, drove past those old streets, rolled down the windows, and let the December ember winds hit me. Furthermore, I went past those old college roads, looking at tiny ducklings, stepping out into the real world. Observing the vibrant energy of youth, oblivious to life’s complexities, untethered, eating and laughing, brought a sense of solace. Brooding over all that I had gone through recently, I remembered this scene from The Dark Knight and realized that the night is the darkest just before dawn, and I promise you that dawn is coming.

The universe is oddly funny. January unfolded in vivid, contrasting shades. Life had unexpected plans. While work life went smoothly and was promising, my love life plummeted to unforeseen depths. We met, and she bid adieu. This time, it was the end. She was rigid and determined. Her resolve was unyielding as she uttered, “I’ve fallen out of love.” How does one simply fall out of love? It’s a question that continues to baffle me. Long-distance relationships are inherently challenging, requiring immense love, effort, and dedication to sustain. Any relationship, for that matter, is equally challenging. January left me shattered. I fought hard to get out of this. I tried going on walks and talking to people. Nothing helped. As a man grappling with both the aftermath of a breakup and the desire for self-improvement, I found myself lost in a sea of uncertainty. A fat guy who got dumped, trying to make it, become thinner, and get payback by building up. It didn’t work for me; I couldn’t push myself enough. Life became blank. Those million questions came rushing back. How do you stop talking to somebody you planned your entire life with? This seems like a new life altogether. She said she needed to explore herself, figure out more about her, and find out who she really is, rather than staying my girlfriend. She said she never got a chance to discover more about her.

A part of me wanted what was best for her, even if it meant separating. A part of me understood her motivations and truly wished for her happiness, while another part longed for reconciliation, clinging to hope like a fragile icicle. I had no choice but to agree with her. Secretly wishing that she would do all this while staying together. The dread begins when you are still connected on social media, and you find out that she has moved on. It didn’t even take her a week to go on a date, the very day she landed back after breaking up. The realization that she had been mentally disconnected long before physically severing ties only added to the anguish. The thought that she moved on a while ago, while you were stuck there, dreaming of a life that was never there, now brims up to this mental agony. The dread is when you ponder on all the lies she tells, like how she wanted to live life and not be involved with men for a year or so before finally moving on, and it didn’t take her more than a week to let go and how.

Hope is the most destructive tool. Hope can kill you. Hope builds up when she calls back, wants to talk to you, and tells you she misses you. Hope builds up faith. Faith makes you a fanatic. Hope is that same icicle that now wrecks your heart when she says she wants you to move on, like she did. What does kill hope?

To you, reading this, if you’re facing similar struggles, know that I’m right there with you, navigating these stormy waters as best I can.

It’s February 18th today. I find myself alone in my room, writing this in a familiar place — my chest feeling heavy, lost in depths of despair, grappling with loneliness, wondering what went wrong and what I could have done more of, and burdened by the weight of my own body. Each passing moment feels like a battle, as I wrestle with the question: Where do I go from here? The idea of stepping into the gym beckons, but doubts claw at the edges of my mind. The thought of lacing up my sneakers and embarking on the daily pilgrimage to the gym fills me with a sense of apprehension, each step a painful reminder of my lack of discipline. How do I make friends? Bangalore is a bustling city. My friends do not have time. They are either busy with work, stay far away, or have more important things to deal with. Nobody has time. I tried dating apps for a month, but they didn’t work. The internet made it pretty clear that the crowd wasn’t interested. Will I be forever alone? In a city teeming with life, I find myself adrift, yearning for connection but unable to find a foothold.

As I said, I don’t have a solution. Whatever that has worked for me are:

  • Hobbies and keeping busy: Life goes on. As you tend to work more, follow up on your hobbies, take up singing classes, pick up those boxing lessons that you’ve always marked as no-done on your list, and walk and shop for the shopping list you had, you slowly realize that it isn’t so bad after all. Looking at people from all walks of life, talking to them and living their stories lifts you up.
  • Reading, watching gaming: Those books that are half read, the shows left behind, and the podcasts stopped are yet to be finished. Delving into stories, living lives as mythical new characters, fighting demons in hell, and yearning for the love of your wife like Kratos push up your heart. You feel happy, wanting to eat pizza, chug boba tea, and sleep peacefully.
  • Trips, day outs, and living more: Take out time to live. Do not think; book that solo trip. Order that tandoori chicken and bump up the volume on that stand-up special. Convince friends to build that project together. Take synchronized leaves with friends, and carry out that Goa plan. At the end of the day, you’ll find it easy to fall asleep when you’re tired from the trip, looking at the moon from the beach, and thinking about all that went wrong. You may find a couple of answers written up there, or somewhere beyond the horizon where the water, the sun, and the sky meet.

If you’re still reading this, I thank you from the deepest, rockiest bottom of my heart for staying with me and reading through all my misery. If you’re going through something like this, you are not alone. I am still figuring out how to save money, build discipline to go to the gym, lose weight, and find someone for - life is too beautiful to spend it alone, looking out for a group of friends willing to take me in. I am yet still inside these swamps, trying just to get a breath and not drown and swirl to the depths. I tried and caught a few, barely staying alive. I can assure you, it gets easier as we move forward. The despair doesn’t recede. We become busy and slowly start moving on. We tend to grow around this space. This is what real growth looks like. Walking up someday, not feeling like crying, and actually wanting to look forward to what the day has to offer. Willing enough to go to sleep, peaceful. Starting to live, and not merely exist. We aren’t there yet. We will get there, together.