Nalin Vyas, who was once a secure hustler, is now scared of fake people because they could sabotage his vulnerable heart. He spoke to our Bangalore-based interviewer, Arun, about how he embraces every emotion that comes his way. Find out what happened in Nalin’s life that changed the very core of his functioning and made him strive for authenticity.
Nalin Vyas, 29, Artist/Entrepreneur, Bangalore
Interviewed By Arun Maharajan
Why did you decide to give us an interview on authenticity?
I feel authenticity is rare nowadays. We are surrounded by people who constantly have a mask on.
What do you think causes people to always have these masks on?
I worked in a corporate for five years. I feel the culture there encourages one to have a mask on at all times. During the week, it damages the soul for the first five days, and for the remaining two, one tries to repair that damage. That cycle goes on for so long that people are eventually walking in disguise and hiding their true self.
What made you realize that?
One particular incident in my life just crushed all the masks I was wearing. I had a shattering breakup. All the loose values and relations, which I thought were important because of peer or work pressure, took a hit. I questioned myself, if my parents or friends or teachers hadn’t influenced me throughout my life, would I have chosen the path that I did?
Do you regret being in that relationship?
I’m grateful for the relationship that we had. It just ended on a very bad note. To be honest, before the breakup, I used to move about like a great hustler who’d keep all the negativity aside and focus on the positives. Nobody in the universe could’ve stopped me from achieving my goals but this one person. (Laughs) And this exact person hit me hard.
I’m glad that it happened though, because it got me out of the little bubble I had created for myself. So, screw positivity, and feel and embrace whatever comes your way.
What happened after you started feeling emotions?
Poetry happened. I was on my way back from a business trip in Saudi Arabia when the breakup happened. With my phone on airport mode, travelling alone, a thought kept resonating in my head which came out as poetry. I was continuously typing on my laptop in the flight with tears rolling down my eyes.
What was that thought about?
It was about how a dream is like your child. Every relationship has dreams too. When a relationship ends, what happens to those dreams? Some of those dreams might have been retained but what about the rest? They died. That’s why that poem is called Woh Sapney Jo Zinda The (the dreams that were alive).
You mentioned that peer and work pressure influence us on a daily basis. How does one reach to that level of authenticity about one’s own emotions as you did?
It comes with a price. I’m known as the ‘intense guy’ among my friends because I embrace my feelings and thoughts. For instance, I came across a beggar on the road the other day who couldn’t afford a blanket for the night, and he was shivering. One way of helping him and calming my conscience was to hand him Rs 10. The second way was, what more could I do about it? That question would give me shivers. It would make me cry that I couldn’t do something to help him. So, the expression of crying instead of looking away is what I mean by embracing it. Let it flow, don’t put a bar on the feeling or on the expression.
Weren’t you afraid the first time you let it flow? If yes, how did you handle it since it comes along with a price?
Yes, I was afraid, and I’m still vulnerable. For some people in my life, my vulnerability seems superficial, whereas it’s inspiring for others. For example, my team at work takes my intensity of emotions as my honesty. However, some friends have stopped talking to me because they feel I yap about poetry whenever I open my mouth.
What’s your biggest fear?
I’m most afraid of fake people because I’m vulnerable. They can hurt me, especially when they’re in my close circle of family and friends. What a person in my circle says and does matters to me. I put my heart on the table and take them at face value.
Do you try and confront your fear, then?
I can’t control someone else’s behavior. I trust till the end, and if I find something doubtful in that trust, I confront people. That’s why I often come out as an insecure person. Which is funny, because I was once known as a guy who was super secure in his relationships.
If you had to advise people on how to find authenticity in their lives, what would it be?
Frankly, I’m struggling with it myself. Fortunately, the people around me, the co-founders in my company, or my partners, my team, all are really genuine. Also, being an extrovert and meeting people from all walks of life has helped me. That serendipity works for me, but everyone has their own process. I’d suggest, go out and show your real self to a few people, if not everyone. It comes at a price of them playing with your authenticity, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
The last question is probably related to your interview topic. But we ask everyone we interview – what does love mean to you?
There are thousands of books and poems and artists who couldn’t answer that question. (Laughs) Love is to care (my sister helped me realize that). Love is not limited to a relationship or a person. Love is warmth.