18 Comments

So interesting to read this perspective, Malavika. As I always tend to spontaneously think of everyone, everywhere, being on the same boat. But now that you make me pay attention, I can see what you mean. We do live in a West centric world, with all its limitations and pitfalls. Europe itself has been at the mercy of the US since the end of WWII and this is something that is not even evident to everyone here. Behaviors, social postures, and values are highly affected by this, not only the economy. But I also see a trend toward a progressive appreciation of the East getting traction. I heard today, for example, that Apple has decided to open its first store in India. I didn't even know they didn't have a store in India; that's crazy. Thank you for writing this very insightful piece!

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I hear you Silvio! I have a more intimate connection with Eastern Europe, and in my experience, there is also a way in which Europe itself looks different as you go West to East, in its attitudes and social postures to the US. :) Is that something you find too?

I think you're right about the increasing appreciation for the East, at least on matters like spirituality and sustainable life choices. But Dior having an India-appreciation show or Apple opening a store here just feels like a belated recognition of the 1% of the Indian market that is wealthy and offers potential for revenues.

Thanks for stopping by to comment, I'm very encouraged by the consistent support from folks like yourself. :)

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This resonates so deeply for me. Prove Yourself Energy exactly describes it. And this paragraph is like having someone reading my mind. "In this contorted tangle of emotions and thoughts, I feel like I am less, but I don’t try to be more. I yearn to be chosen, but without trying hard enough to be seen. I long for friendship, but do not invest deeply enough to invite connection. A recipe from hell to be isolating and isolated." Perhaps many of us who are diving into the public writing pool are using it in the same way as you, adding authenticity to that PYE and hoping to transform it into real relationship and fulfilling connection. Your efforts are working on this side Malavika. Totally appreciate the things you share.

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Apr 19, 2023·edited Apr 19, 2023Author

Thank you Rick. It's such a weird bind to be stuck between those contradictory impulses. Curious how you're navigating it, if you feel like sharing -- maybe in a private chat. For my part, I've just let time do its work while I read the room, let my body feel somatic safety, and then when it clicks, it clicks, without me forcing much. I'm trying to just follow what feels *good.* That's been a nice alternative way to navigate the world not as the "west" and the "east" or as "first world" and "third world", but just human being to human being... with rich inner lives and struggles wherever we come from.

Thank you for reading and being among the few who make me feel I have at least a few true fans! You truly embody the role of one who "en-courages" -- perfect for the Courage Writer brand you carry as well.

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Yes, same here in having to find, over a long period of time, that it's a non-forced embodiment and patient presence that allows me to find my way between the two extremes. I'd suspect that social anxiety leaves everyone who is affected by it feeling as though they are from a "third world" place, not fitting in with the rest. I certainly feel that way a lot myself with western culture, even though I was born and raised with it. It's my pleasure to be reading your stories, discoveries, and insights.

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This is such a deep essay, Malavika. "Prove yourself energy" - that phrase is going to stick with me.

I feel so "seen", discovering parts of my behaviour that I brushed over all my life. It took me a very long time to come to terms with AND.

The West-centric life assumes it is better than, shoving jeans and Pepsi and English across the globe. When you find yourself paying 7GBP for a tumeric latte, you realize that maybe, just maybe, we can be the best of all cultures - old and new - combined.

At first I thought this was a version of imposter syndrome, but your description of the conference visas reminds me that is yet another hurdle above that.

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Hahahah the turmeric latte at 7 pounds always gets me.

I brush so many parts of me over too because it's just easier for me not to deal with their origins and implications. The genre of personal writing has been so useful for me to come to peace with and then liberate all the things about myself that I would rather not admit or even confront as long as I'm co-living with other people. :) I think I was quite moved by the way in which Elena Ferrante does that in the Neapolitan Novels - opening up and unpacking the unsaid and unspoken things we all silently live with. Thank you for your note especially about how this may be a thing over and above the good ol' imposter syndrome.

As always the first comments on a vulnerable essay are the most encouraging. Thank you for popping over to say these very kind words. Appreciate your support and presence here Karena!

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Apr 20, 2023·edited Apr 20, 2023Liked by Malavika Mudit

"But Prove Yourself Energy is the destructive and debilitative version of that desire."

💯 agree! I tell employees: "You're already great. There's nothing left for you to prove. Not to us, to you, or to anyone else on the team."

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Very wise career advice, and what an amazing employer you'd be if you liberate them of the needless PYE! Thanks for stopping by to read and for sharing your nugget of wisdom, Leo!

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Malavika!!

This was a gorgeous essay. I had to reread it a few times because I enjoyed it so much and I’m gonna be coming back to reread it again because I really loved what you expressed here.

I was recently thinking I hadn’t seen your writing hit my inbox in a moment. Lovely to be gifted this.

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Thank you for coming by to check out the scene here Sandra!! I love the idea of words being gorgeous, like I love the idea of the eyes enjoying music.

Thank you for reading and rereading -- it's a strange and humbling feeling to consider the prospect of any work of mine being worthy of a second read. I appreciate your support, my earliest editor and encourager. x

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Words ARE gorgeous, especially yours here! :)

Ahhh yes!! I appreciate your kind words then and now.

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I loved this essay and your reflection here Malavika! The phrase "prove yourself energy" is so good. I've been there and related to so much of your piece. And it's so easy to lose perspective of other people's experiences when I'm so focused on my own, or even if I am trying to be aware of it, you can never truly step into someone's shoes. You've made me so much more aware though of all the little things that can't be seen but can be felt in the tensions between our countries and cultures.

"In this contorted tangle of emotions and thoughts, I feel like I am less, but I don’t try to be more. I yearn to be chosen, but without trying hard enough to be seen. I long for friendship, but do not invest deeply enough to invite connection. A recipe from hell to be isolating and isolated."

You captured this feeling so well! Funny how it can exist without us even noticing it. I want to be more aware of my own "prove yourself energy" and see where it pops up!

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Thank you Michelle! Very thoughtful of you to say that, words do have a way of bridging worlds and expanding our empathy! That said, my own view is there is equal if not greater responsibility at our end to pick ourselves up beyond our colonial heritage and burdens, speaking at least for those who come from the caste and class capital that affords us private, English schooling and multiple educational opportunities of all stripes. No one's coming to save us and no one will. :)

About things that exist within us that we may not notice -- I'm trying to train my awareness towards these things I'd rather not acknowledge. Channelling my inner Ferrante if at all that were possible. The first time I read My Brilliant Friend and saw her delve into jealousy among friends - I felt so seen yet was so bashful to admit that I had any insecurities about being loved by my friends or jealousy about how much they had that I didn't, growing up.

As always, appreciate your support here friend.

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such stunning, beautiful writing ❤️ thank you for letting me into your world and sharing what its like to be you

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Thank you Lola for reading and stopping by, I am grateful for your kind words. Words have a way of bridging worlds. :)

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I love the phrase and the insights! My husband is Honduran and came to the US on scholarship -- he has expressed many of the same thoughts and feelings.

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Bianca, thank you for reading and stopping by. It surprises me to hear so many people have experienced this vis-a-vis the US, but it shouldn't because the bulk of the world's people do not actually live in the US. Remarkable how we can all feel this and yet feel alone in our feeling of it. Yes, the particular experience of being in the US on scholarship is a memory I wont be forgetting for a long time. The "Give Back" emails always get me for that reason. :D

I appreciate your comment and support here.

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