Updated: Sep 7
अदाकारी बड़ा दुख दे रही है, मैं सचमुच मुस्कुराना चाहता हूँ।
Translation: Performance (Pretense) brings me much sadness, I want to smile for real
My brother recently introduced me to the verse of Urdu poet Shaukat Ali Khan AKA Fehmi Badayuni. This one, had me thinking about my own experience with performance and play-acting, as opposed to living the reality of the moment.
One example stands out as a performance that I mastered while growing up
📌 I pretended that I did not want achievement
I know now, that this pretense, was how I coped with fear. The fear that I might not succeed, even if I tried.
Over time, this resulted in unexplored potential and shaky self-confidence. I was far removed from the person I aspired to be and worse, I had bought in to my own performance - I forgot that I did in fact want to achieve.
One thing helped change this:
📌 I learned to admire efforts and striving, over results
When at school, I pretended not to care about test scores. This allowed me to put in very little effort. In my mind, if you gave something a lot of effort, the outcome had better be a success, and I didn’t want to risk falling short.
Consequently, I did not even try.
Ironically, what has become clear is that, all I cared about were the scores. I cared only about the outcome and I gave it the power to define me. High scores meant I was smart. Anything less, I was not.
This changed through sheer dumb luck. Shortly after graduating from college, I had become very interested in tennis, learning to play, attending tournaments and watching every major match on TV.
I learned that to be a champion in the tennis world, one thing you have to be willing to do is fight. Fight for every point like it would win you the match. Fight, no matter what the score. Fight, like you really, truly want to win.
More than the players who won with ease, I began to admire those who displayed some grit - those who put in the same unrelenting effort regardless of whether they were points away from winning or losing the match and regardless of whom they were playing.
I admired that players could lose a tough match one day and be back at another tournament just days later, giving it their all once again.
I admired them for their #courage and their fight. The outcome never mattered (to me, that is :-)).
I took this attitude and applied it to my own life.
With every goal I set and every challenge I faced, I likened it to playing a tennis match and asked myself what kind of player I wanted to be.
This question often shifted my focus - away from an outcome, and towards putting all my efforts into the work of getting there.
Over time, I have found that the pursuit and the striving, as much as the goal itself, is a place of absolute joy.
Do you recognize any performance you may have adopted? How might your life be different, if you let it go?