An actress by profession, Ida Yoana opened the doors to her past and shared her experience with self-transformation when she met our Bangalore-based interviewer Arun. She believes change alone does not help anyone. It makes no difference in a person’s life. On the other hand, acknowledging how things are presently and self-transforming could be an effective solution, she says.
Ida Yoana, 27, Actress, Bangalore
Interviewed By Arun Maharajan
Why did you decide to give us an interview on self-transformation?
Because I see a lot of people around me who want to change things in the society or in themselves. But the universe operates in a way that the more you try to change things, the more they remain the same. For instance, if you ask a child not to do something, that child would want to do the exact same thing. I believe change brings no difference to anybody. On the contrary, as a human being, one should just transform into something new; like it’s a discovery and not just a mere change.
Like, how a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly because a caterpillar doesn’t hate itself for being what it is.
That’s a nice example. A caterpillar just transforms into something very different from itself. As a human being, if I’m a short-tempered person (which I am), I will try to change that about myself. But if I keep telling myself I should not get angry all the time, that’ll just make me angry even more. In the other scenario, I can acknowledge my anger and try to transform it into, say, laughter. I’ll give you another example. To get over stage fear, people attend workshops on personality development or watch some motivational video…
For example, I did scuba diving to get over my fear of water. It just worked partially though.
I’m telling you it doesn’t work (laughs). You can look at it as an opportunity for an adventure rather than getting rid of the fear.
Yes. Because the fear is still in my mind…
Yes, the fear will always be there. You can’t get rid of it. I can never get rid of my anger because it’s an essential part of my identity.
Would you say you have transformed your anger?
Can you recall the journey of transforming your anger?
Earlier, I couldn’t help being angry at things that were not important, especially with my mother. Like, she’d come up to me and tell me about what her relatives gossip about me being in this industry, and then she’d try to change me. My family is not supportive of my profession. Acting is a taboo for them. So, I’d be angry at my mother for even listening to them while they’re speaking ill about me, her own daughter. And that anger would flare up to a point where I wouldn’t talk to her for days. I realized I was angry at my mother because I wanted to change her. Now, if a friend comes up to me and tells me that someone is gossiping about me, I’d joke about it and forget it. So, I transformed this anger with my mother by relating to her as my friend, and those anger outbursts altered into fun conversations. And we both would even end up bad-mouthing the same relative (laughs). Hence, I stopped trying to change my mother and my anger transformed into something else.
I used to pride myself at being honest, to the extent that I was brutally and, sometimes, idiotically honest and hurt others. A year ago, a wise man asked me, “Why do you want to be honest?” I thought about it but didn’t have an answer. That person’s one question actually liberated me and I thought, “So what if I lie?” His question triggered a transformation in me. Was there any such incident in your life that made you transform your anger?
It happened when I attended a personal development course. Before that, I used to be a big-time sympathy seeker because I have been through a really tough time during my childhood. I used to win friends, attention, compassion and love by being open about what I was going through. People have told me if a movie is made on my life, I’ll win an Oscar.
(ALSO READ: The Man Who Bares It All)
Could you share a little bit about your story?
My parents parted ways when I was young. I have two sisters, I’m the second daughter. My grandmother educated us. I was quite independent even as a kid. I used to cook when I was in 3rd grade. It was nice, we were like a women-empowered house until my 10th grade. My mother remarried against the advice of everyone in the family, including mine. The man she married was a far-off cousin of my dad, who belonged to a different religion. Since the day of the marriage I knew our lives had changed for the worse. I was not comfortable sharing my mother’s love with that man. I was really attached to her, you see. That man knew there was rebellion at home, so he wanted to change us. It began with changing our names legally. (My name couldn’t be changed because I had already written my board exams.) He wanted us to follow his religion. I tried reasoning with him that we can’t just give up what we had been practicing since birth, but he didn’t listen. Soon there was a huge war at home. He used to beat us up often, especially me because I used to rebel. He used to have horrible fights with my mom. A lot of shit happened. My mother did not support us. I don’t know what was going on in her mind. Did she regret marrying him? I don’t know. The situation at home was getting worse and despite being a strong girl, there were times when I tried committing suicide. It didn’t work. At the age of 18, I ran away from home. I got a job and had to quit architecture mid-way. Slowly my younger sister followed and we were living on our own. She used to work during the day and attend college in the evening.
What triggered your self-transformation?
During those years, I was forced into attending the personal development course. My aunt, who is like a godmother to me, paid for it. On the second day of the course, I blurted out my entire life to the course leader during one of the breaks. I had tears running down my face, my nose was leaking, my face was fully red, and there was no reaction from him. No sympathy or concern.
And this was the first time you got such a response to your situation…
Yes! I was like, why is this guy not reacting? I got so angry by his reaction that my tears dried up. After I was done speaking, he said, “So what?” How dare he just say those two words? I still remember that day. After that, I washed my face and looked at myself in the mirror and saw that I was glowing. There was no self-pity at that moment. It was as if all my past was taken away by those two words. That was my moment of transformation. I still share what I’ve been through with people but not for sympathy. It is definitely my past but there’s no significance attached to it.
Thanks for sharing that with us. Not many could’ve done that. The last question is not related to your interview topic, but we ask everyone we interview – what does love mean to you?
I’ve never really thought about what is love. I don’t think it can be described or defined. It’s just a way of being. It’s an experience.