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  • Aditi Surana

The Semicolon

The ‘Semicolon’ is a slightly neglected punctuation mark. It doesn't have the unyielding finality of a full stop, nor does it show the momentary suspension like a comma. If you think of it carefully a semicolon is both of those and beyond.

I was waiting for a cab at the airport on my way to the silence retreat. The trolley waiting next to me was filled with bags and one of them was on the edge of giving up its balance. Before I knew it, I caught myself in a balancing act of catching one end of the bag that was about to fall. (Moments when you secretly think that Trinity from ‘The Matrix - trilogy’ lies dormant within you.) The other hand or rather the wrist holding the other end of the bag was inked. It had a tattoo of a semicolon.

“Interesting tattoo. What does it signify?” I couldn't hold back my curiosity. “Oh this… this is a symbol for mental health recovery. I am a psychologist.” She said with a beaming smile. “Semicolon means I could have given up on life, but I chose to keep going!”

Has it happened to you? You look at something/ someone while going about a mundane rigmarole in life and know that there is something special at that moment. Some people consider this falling in love, others look at it as finding the next clue in your story and Dr Deepak Chopra defines this as synchronicity. The moment when you simply know something special is about to happen.

The semicolon visited me over and over again in the next 5 days of silence. I couldn’t stop thinking about its poetic correlation with life and the trepidations of the pandemic. You could have chosen to give up so many times. Give in to the pressures, stress and challenges around you. Quit on people you love, on your wellbeing and on life at large. During the pandemic, everything around us stopped like an unexpected, indefinite full stop. Every known door was closed and every supporting pillar had crumpled. And still, you managed to add a comma under that massive full stop. You turned into a semicolon. You chose to keep going.

I have spoken to hundreds of people in these 20 months. I witnessed their struggles, I perceived their anxiety, fears & agony and I was humbled by their willingness to turn every possible stone. The last 6 months of running India’s first mental gym was a series of such transformations each month. As a high-performance coach, I don't know how to take it easy. I chose not to do group modules earlier as I knew I would intimidate people. Honestly speaking in the mental gym, I didn’t pause to worry about it. I designed some tough modules on rejections, triggers and reactions and emotional baggage. I pushed participants in the most uncomfortable crevices of their emotional and mental limitations. I asked them to tighten their seatbelts and keep the parachutes ready. And like a semicolon; they continued. 90% of people continued month after month. I am humbled, honoured and privileged to work with such amazing individuals as their coach.

I have learnt so much from each interaction with them. The minute observations and innumerable questions that they have asked me has led to a new compilation of insights. I am delighted to announce that the co-founder of the mental gym, producer of the Absolutely write podcast & my best friend, Rashi Ganeriwal and I present a brand new daily podcast called ‘Daily mental fit bit’. Come spend 3 minutes a day with me to find hacks and tools to beat your mental monsters like anxiety, overthinking and restless nights.

At the deepest, darkest spot in 2019, when I was battling with anxiety I made a promise to myself. I will find and teach every possible way to be mentally & emotionally fit. The Calm sutra stroke, 21 days of journaling, every podcast episode, each mental gym session and even this newsletter, is my way of fulfilling that promise made to myself. Thank you so much for being part of this journey and trusting the process. You are part of the blessings I count every day. :)

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