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Chronicles of Self-Discovery: Inside the ‘Me to Diary’ Odyssey (Part 2)

By December 20, 2023No Comments

This is the second of a two-part series on YUVA’s ‘Me to Diary’ initiative which provides reflective spaces for the youth to explore hidden aspects of their emotional identities. The first part introduced the programme and presented reflections of some of the diarists, and the second part continues with these reflections. 

Names, Narratives, and Nuances – Me To Diary Programme

The next presenter stepped up, a familiar face to the facilitators from their previous endeavour, ‘The Project.’ He began by recounting a conversation with Swapnil, where he had inquired about any upcoming initiatives. Upon learning about ‘Me to Diary’ and its focus on emotions, he was instantly intrigued. “In today’s fast-paced world, genuine conversations about emotions have become a rarity,” he mused, explaining his motivation to join.

He delved into the diverse perspectives he encountered during the sessions. “It was fascinating to see how each topic resonated differently with everyone, leading to a rich tapestry of opinions and insights,” he shared. Among the myriad activities, a few stood out for him: crafting stories and discussing objects tethered to cherished memories.

A particularly poignant moment was the discussion around the significance of one’s name. He spoke fondly of his own, revealing its deep personal resonance. “My name is a beautiful amalgamation of both my parents’ thoughts. It bears a striking resemblance to my mother’s name, a deliberate choice by my father. Every time I hear it, I’m reminded of the love and thoughtfulness that went into choosing it.”

His journey with ‘Me to Diary’ was dotted with memorable moments, from travelling and discovering new places to the unexpected learnings that enriched his perspective. “The experience was beyond anything I had anticipated. He emphasised the uniqueness of the space that ‘Me to Diary’ provided. “Never before had I been part of a platform where I could freely discuss such topics and voice my perspectives.” The program not only deepened his understanding of his own emotions but also equipped him with the skills to navigate and empathise with the emotions of others.

From Serendipity to Self-Discovery

The subsequent presenter began by tracing back his introduction to the ‘Me to Diary’ program. It was a serendipitous discovery, made through a WhatsApp story shared by Asma, an associate with YUVA. This digital breadcrumb led him to the program’s facilitators, Anjali and Swapnil.

He delved into the transformative journey he undertook, highlighting how each session enriched his existing understanding of various topics. Drawing a poignant analogy, he likened life to a bustling railway platform. “It’s teeming with people, yet there’s an underlying silence, a lack of genuine conversation,” he mused. For him, ‘Me to Diary’ bridged this gap, offering a sanctuary where he could converse, connect, and express freely.

While he cherished the program’s essence, he expressed a preference for more offline sessions, feeling they offered a deeper level of connection. “The sessions granted me three invaluable gifts: space, the freedom to opine, and the liberty to express,” he reflected.

However, the journey wasn’t devoid of novel challenges. Penning down his thoughts in a diary was a novel experience for him, and initially, articulating his emotions on paper proved daunting. But as the weeks rolled on, he began to notice subtle shifts in his demeanour. “I’ve always been a straight shooter, often voicing my thoughts without gauging their impact on others. But now, there’s a newfound thoughtfulness in my interactions,” he shared.

Each session, with its unique topic, turned into a mirror, reflecting facets of his life and personality. “Every new topic resonated with some aspect of my life, offering insights and prompting introspection,” he said.

As he concluded, it was evident that ‘Me to Diary’ had been more than just a program for him. It was a journey of self-discovery, introspection, and personal growth.

Beyond Acronyms and Superficiality

The subsequent presenter began with a poignant observation about the modern world’s communication nuances. “In today’s fast-paced digital age, genuine inquiries about one’s well-being have been reduced to acronyms like ‘HYD’ – How You Doing. And the almost robotic response we’ve conditioned ourselves to give is ‘Fine, thank you.’ It’s all so brief, so impersonal.” He expressed a deep appreciation for the ‘Me to Diary’ sessions, where the simple question, “How are you feeling?” felt like a refreshing oasis of genuine concern in a desert of superficial interactions.

He shared his daily ritual of journaling, describing his diary as more than just a book. “For me, my diary is a sanctuary, a confidante. It’s like having a non-judgmental friend who listens intently, offering solace and understanding.” This daily act of introspection, he felt, was instrumental in deepening his self-awareness.

The session on ‘hope’ held a special place in his heart. He was moved by the raw vulnerability participants displayed. Drawing a beautiful analogy, he likened hope to the ‘mogra’ flower at his home. “It’s a tiny, seemingly insignificant bloom. But its fragrance is potent, filling the surroundings with its aroma. Regardless of its environment, it continues to spread its fragrance. To me, the ‘mogra’ epitomises hope.”

He appreciated the program’s approach to emotions, emphasising the idea that emotions shouldn’t be labelled as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Their perception changes based on outcomes and personal experiences. “We often shy away from discussing the most crucial aspects of our lives – our feelings, our expressions. ‘Me to Diary’ provided me with that much-needed platform.”

He concluded his reflections by reciting a heartfelt poem he had penned, leaving the audience deeply moved by his journey and insights.

In the Heart of an Introvert

The next presenter began with a candid admission. “I’ve always been an introvert,” he shared, “Interacting with new people, expressing myself, it’s always been a challenge.” His decision to join ‘Me to Diary’ was fueled by a desire to overcome this inherent shyness and to boost his confidence. “I hoped that by meeting new people and engaging in conversations, I’d find my voice,” he said.

He found solace in the ‘Me to Diary’ sessions, describing them as a haven where he felt safe and encouraged to share his deepest thoughts and emotions. “It was a space devoid of judgement, where every voice, including mine, was valued,” he reflected.

However, the journey wasn’t without its challenges. He humorously mentioned the struggle of waking up early on Sundays and the long travel distances to attend the sessions. But these logistical challenges paled in comparison to the personal growth he experienced.

He emphasised a significant realisation he had during the program. “In the hustle and bustle of life, we often become so engrossed in our work that we neglect our emotions, failing to understand or even acknowledge them.” Through ‘Me to Diary,’ he not only became more attuned to his emotions but also gained a deeper understanding of himself.

From Classroom Bunks to Deep Reflections

The subsequent presenter began by highlighting her favourite session: ‘Hope.’ “That session was a turning point for me,” she shared. “It prompted deep introspection, making me evaluate the hopes I harbour for others and the expectations they might have of me.” 

She confessed that she had always viewed her home as her sole sanctuary, a place where she felt safe and understood. However, the ‘Me to Diary’ sessions expanded that perception. “I realised that safety isn’t just confined to four walls. Spaces like these, where understanding and empathy are paramount, can be just as comforting,” she reflected.

She appreciated the program’s approach to discussions. “In our daily lives, seldom does anyone ask us, ‘What do you think about this?’ or ‘How do you feel about that?’ But here, that’s how every conversation began. It felt empowering to know that my feelings and opinions mattered,” she said.

Sharing a light-hearted anecdote, she chuckled, “You often hear about students bunking lectures for a movie or a day out. But I bunked a lecture to attend a ‘Me to Diary’ session! Taking such a risk, choosing personal growth over academics, was a novel experience for me.”

She concluded by emphasising the personal growth she experienced. “For someone like me, voicing personal thoughts and feelings was a big step. This program gave me the confidence to do just that, and for that, I’m eternally grateful.”

Embracing Second Chances

The final presenter, having been a part of the ‘Me to Diary’ program the previous year as well, began by addressing the challenges she faced during her initial participation. “Last year, due to my health issues, I couldn’t immerse myself fully in the program. The act of writing in the diary, reflecting, and sharing my thoughts took a backseat,” she admitted.

Her initial apprehensions about rejoining the program were evident. “I was uncertain at the start. There were questions about how the new cohort would shape up and whether I’d be able to connect with them,” she shared. However, as the sessions progressed, her doubts gradually faded, replaced by a growing sense of camaraderie and understanding with her fellow participants.

She enthusiastically discussed her favourite sessions, the memories of which were clearly etched in her mind. The passion and fondness with which she spoke about them underscored the program’s impact on her.

Concluding her reflections, she expressed a keen desire to be a part of the ‘Me to Diary’ journey once again. 

Concluding Notes: The Heartfelt Finale of ‘Me to Diary’

The event drew to a close, with Anjali and Swapnil taking centre stage to share the genesis and evolution of the ‘Me to Diary’ program. The core philosophy was simple yet profound: to understand emotions. Encouraged by the success of the first year, they embarked on the program’s second iteration. As Swapnil put it, “Our aim evolved from just understanding emotions to untangling the ways we express them.”

Swapnil emphasised two unwavering principles of ‘Me to Diary.’ First, they never invited expert speakers. “Believing someone can be an expert on emotions is a tall claim,” he remarked. Second, they used self-reflection as a cornerstone, ensuring sessions were framed around it. This approach allowed participants to explore global perceptions of emotions and juxtapose them with their personal feelings.

Anjali then spoke about the meticulous documentation they maintained, envisioning it as a template for future enthusiasts wishing to replicate the program in their communities. “Our dream is to build a community of diarists who take forward the culture of safe and brave spaces, ensuring the essence of ‘Me to Diary’ permeates various spheres,” she said.

Swapnil concluded by expressing gratitude to the cohort. “Your reflective nature and active participation have been the driving force behind these sessions,” he acknowledged. The session drew to a heartfelt close, with each diarist being presented with a certificate commemorating their journey and participation in the ‘Me to Diary’ program. But the most symbolic and thoughtful gift was a diary, a tangible representation of their emotional exploration and a tool for them to continue their introspective journey. As I pen down the concluding line, I’m left with a profound sense of admiration for the ‘Me to Diary’ initiative. It’s not just a program; it’s a journey of emotional exploration and expression, which touches the much neglected area of mental health well-being of the youth in an ascriptive society like India.

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