Coming from a fairly conservative family, as a young girl, I was always protected growing up. Sure, I had my fair share of rebellions, I did have my ‘wild phase’ where I would listen to Pink Floyd and G’n’R and, now that I remember, a fair share of Pearl Jam as well. I snuck out of home to party, go drinking and smoke in dirty loos. Of course, as is the case with teens, there were boys who were quite friendly, for lack of a better word but, I never did fancy anyone enough to actually do anything about it. Perhaps it came from timidity or the fact that I grew up in a household which gave me not too much female companionship and a very protective dad and growing up with boys just makes you averse to their general presence.
Also, I have this peculiar habit of fitting boys into the molds that exist in my mind – brother-like, cousin(s)-like, dad-like so that I feel comfortable around them because otherwise I feel awkward and unsettled. I don’t exactly know how to interact with boys outside of these relationship molds as I was always sent to girls’ schools, had girl friends and also went to girls’ colleges with brief interludes where I went to a co-ed junior college and consequently, to a co-ed institution for my master’s. It was only briefly during junior college that I had male classmates and I was excruciatingly shy and painfully defensive around all of them.
Looking back, I wish I’d had the courage to go out, speak my mind and perhaps make some friends even though I was protected a lot. However, as mentioned, the spirit to explore was, and is, always alive so, I did do my fair share of rebellious stuff, as mentioned earlier but, now I feel like a lot of it was because I was quite restricted and frankly, repressed beyond endurance. If I had not had an interest in reading extensively, learning as well as debating about culture, society, societal norms and everything under the Sun, I would not have lashed out so but, I have a curious mind and want to experience the world, see new things, learn and grow.
Once I got out of home and went to another city to pursue higher studies, I had to interact more with guys and did manage to make some male acquaintances and did get a bit comfortable around them. Sadly, I met some royal crap during my master’s program and it put me more on guard with regards to boys even more, if that were even possible.
Basically, I just cleaned it up from that point onwards, my relationship with males became strictly professional – work friends, classmates, whatever – I just kept to the facts, did my bit of the assigned task and filtered out everything else. Sure, it made me appear hostile, unfriendly, uppity and really quite unpleasant. Although I thought about it, I just couldn’t bear to make myself vulnerable to any male after the kind of experiences I had in my masters’ program. Add to that, the vestiges of the effects of an overbearing and controlling father, it was quite convincing to keep a large amount of space between myself and well, most folk.
I had actually stopped being myself around people now. I hardly interacted with anyone now, be it at school or otherwise and just stopped trusting anyone new I met. I retreated into the comfort of old friends, and luckily, I had school friends, people I knew from my days when I was unafraid to be ‘Sauby’ to keep me sane. End point being, stuff got deeply weird and painful. Naturally and, may I say, conveniently, I retreated into a shell and have now effectively stayed there for a good amount of time. Now what?