We are living in the 21st century, yet the LGBTQAI+ community still faces a lot of backlashes in society. The struggle of the community is heart-wrenching, and every day is a new battle for them. During my conversation with Smitin, a proud and talented artist who is falling in love with life every day, I realized that each of us has an Ikigai, and to find that we must love ourselves first.
Q) How would you like to introduce yourself to our readers? What defines you the best?
A) As I always say, I feel I am unique like my name. I like to be how I am, I don’t like to hide or show myself as something different. I am a very artistic person and I like to express myself through my art.
Q) You are different from what social norms are. Any childhood incident that made you realized that you are different from your peers or you have a different plan for your life?
A) When I look back at my childhood, I find that I was always like that. It was not at any certain age that I started feeling different. Society expects boys and girls should like certain things, but I never followed that. At that time there was no TV or internet to influence us. I was by default attracted to the artistic things that so-called girls should like and never took interest in anything that boys prefer. During my teenage, I never felt attracted to girls and till that time I thought it was normal, I thought other people might also be feeling the same. I never knew or felt that I was different until I came across the internet. I got my first internet access after the 12th standard and when I started exploring it and reading, I realized that what is happening with me or what I am is not normal. And it was then I come to knew about homosexuality. Till then I didn’t felt like I was different. Obviously, other people used to see me in a different way and I was bullied in school.
Q) When you first came out to your parents, what was their reaction?
A) Actually, it took me a very long time to accept myself, first. I got to know about myself but society considered it wrong, so it took me a long time to accept myself. I accepted myself in 2017 and after that, I started exploring more and more. I started giving hints to my parents and the people around me. But, it was in 2019 when I got into IIT Guwhati for my masters that I got a bigger platform. I interacted with people from all over India and they supported me. And it was at that time when I started coming out to everyone. My parents were never supportive. In my childhood, I was interested in dance and art but they didn’t allow me to pursue it or supported me. They were always against what I wanted to do. So, when I discovered myself, I knew that they would not be supportive. So, I made myself independent. After completing my engineering in 2014, I started working and made myself independent in every sense. After I got to IIT, I told them and I was not expecting any support. I am not living with my parents for the past 7 years and I talk to my mother once in a while. We are not that much connected and it works for me and also for them. So, they are at their place and I am doing what I want to do.
Q) Do you have any regrets in life?
I feel that I should have accepted myself way before. I felt I took a little long time to realize. Yeah, I have done some mistakes. When there is no one to guide you, you feel lost. I have been into depression, had suicidal thoughts. But I feel I did my best to overcome that and right now, I don’t have any such regrets. Yeah, I want to do a lot of things and I hope whatever time I have, I am able to do them.
Q) Any message to our readers or people who are still not able to accept their identity?
A) Don’t lie to yourselves. Sometimes, we get so much fogged up or pressurized by societal expectations whether it’s of parents or friends or other people. We get so much suppressed with insecurity that we lose ourselves. We are not able to find ourselves. My message will be, give time to yourselves. Get into a relationship with yourselves first and you will discover wonders within you. Everyone has some unique potential within themselves and until we keep ourselves suppressed due to other people’s expectations, we won’t be able to discover our true selves. I would like to give advice that gives time to yourself, try to discover yourselves, and think about yourselves. Once you have faith in yourself, you can share the true wonders. Don’t wait for anyone’s permission. If it is correct for you and you like it for yourselves just go for it.
After my conversation with Smitin, I realized that life throws curveballs, but we should love yourselves and have faith in ourselves to tackle those. He is the real inspiration for many of us who are still struggling to love ourselves and come to terms with the uniqueness of our identity.