“I thought I had many friends in school, but they always made fun of me, mocked me or teased me. Although I knew they were just kids who wanted a laugh, their jokes made me lose confidence in myself. Being mocked too many times got me to a point where I could hardly make eye contact with my friends. I walked with my head low when I was in public. I was shy and would blush whenever I spoke to someone or stood to answer a question when called on in class. I spent all my school years with a continuously dipping self esteem. So when I got to college, I made up my mind about changing that. I made close friends who helped me up, instead of bringing me down.When I mingled with the people around me and saw them have fun and make jokes, I realised that perhaps it was my own overthinking that had affected me in school.

I had a keen interest in art. I’d download images of cartoon characters and draw them. I learned to paint portraits. And within a year in college, I started taking my interest in art and painting seriously. My art was a huge factor in making me more confident. As I invested in my interests and surrounded myself with supportive friends, I became less shy and more outgoing. I even ran for elections as the Art Club coordinator at my college and won. In this position, I met a lot of new people and learned many new things. I continued painting with help from my seniors who taught me basic skills such as blending colours. Soon, I was able to earn myself some money from selling my paintings at club exhibitions. By the end of my three years in college, I became well-versed in painting on banners and canvas, and making props for hostels.

I haven’t painted in a while because of exams and other obligations after college. But just because I haven’t held a paintbrush in a long time doesn’t mean I’ve lost interest. I just need to find some time. I have faith that I’ll return to it soon. After all, it helped me find myself.”

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