I have a confession to make. To all of you who have been reading my articles for quite some time, I would like to inform you that this one is different altogether. I hope that the anecdotes of Kishori, Sari and others have aided you, although by a little, to have an altogether newer perspective of the existence that we live in. But this one is not about Kishori nor is it about Sari or someone else. It is about me and something which I have, which I didn’t even realise, had a label to call out.

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Humans are self-centric. We always think consciously or unconsciously that the world revolves around us and continue to act accordingly. Why wouldn’t we? We have the Axis of the Universe installed in us which is otherwise called the ‘MERU DANDA’ or the spinal cord. It is what forms the basis of what we experience outside as well as inside. I have always kind of been a polymath which helped me to perceive the world holistically taking into consideration all the facets of existence viz, physical, metaphysical and spiritual which help a being to flower to his/her ultimate possibility. As a result, I learnt many things without even realising the implication that it can hold in someone’s life. But since I learnt it without any effort as a child learns to blabber, I thought that the case is the same with everyone around me. The wide range of knowledge and skills that I acquired effortlessly led me to believe that what I had acquired is mundane and thought of people having the exact or more wider range of knowledge than mine. As a result, I deemed myself unfit to teach or preach about all the things that I had acquired all these years as I thought that there is always someone out there who can teach it way better than me and I would do a heavy injustice to the people that I am imparting because they can get a more in-depth knowledge by listening to the actual source out there and who is an expert in that particular field. But guess what? I didn’t even realise the one common feeling, except all the perceived commonalities, that the feeling which I was experiencing is also common, so common that it has a label and that is, IMPOSTOR SYNDROME.

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 For all those who don’t know, Impostor syndrome (IS) refers to an internal experience of believing that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be. While this definition is usually narrowly applied to intelligence and achievement, it has links to perfectionism and the social context. To put it simply, imposter syndrome is the experience of feeling like a phoney—you feel as though at any moment you are going to be found out as a fraud—like you don’t belong where you are, and you only got there through dumb luck. It can affect anyone no matter their social status, work background, skill level, or degree of expertise. I will link an article about it here for those who want to know more.

However, it is not only the impostor syndrome that had grabbed me, a few more were lurking around the corner of ignorance that I so actively embraced. As I delved deeper into myself, I found myself to be cursed. Yes, a curse had taken its effect on me. The curse of knowledge.

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Don’t fret now. It is not that someone had cursed me. Nothing of that sort. The curse of knowledge is a term that is attributed to a kind of cognitive bias in which you know things that the other person does not and you have forgotten what it’s like to not have this knowledge. This makes it harder for you to identify with the other person’s situation and explain things in a manner that is easily understandable to someone who is a novice. When you suffer from the curse of knowledge you assume that other people know the things that you do, and this cognitive bias causes you to believe that people understand you a lot better than they do. This curse has impacted my life a great deal. So much that when I start explaining something to my friends, I tell them to remind me of how much they know about the particular topic. It helps me to keep the effects of the curse in check. I will link the article here for all those who want to dig deeper.

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However, I would also like to admit that although the above things exist in me, they could never take a toll on my mental health. Thanks to all the sadhana that I did. Due to that, the occurrence of questioning the self never arrived. Here is where Devotion or Bhakti played its part. Devotion effortlessly demolished the boundaries of me and the existence which led to a devoid sense of self. When there is not such a strong sense of self, all the other problems that can protrude from it such as self-doubt, self-esteem, self-competence gets taken care of. However, here, I can’t explain to you the phenomenon of the mechanics of devotion. It is something which you have to experience and if you give yourself totally to it, it can do wonders with you which you could not even imagine possible. What these problems did at the most was to put a hindrance for me from going all the way for achieving my goals but no matter the amount of impediment it created,  due to the grace of the Divine, I completed all my goals with great ease. However, realising my problem helped me to understand a few important things:

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1. What is ORDINARY to you can be EXTRAORDINARY to others.

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2. If you ever feel you are in the spotlight, JUST TURN THE SPOTLIGHT OFF by yourself!!!

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 3. And last but not least, you don’t have to be an expert. You can just be a guide and sometimes that is all people need. 

With keeping the above points in mind, I would put my typing to rest and hope that this article would inspire and help many more such like me who might find themselves in a similar situation like mine. And I promise to bring many such facets of life to your awareness which may look ordinary to me but may look extraordinary to you.

Lots of love,

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Subham Kumar Paul

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