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Bindi Bottoms
Nitya Student, Bengaluru

"Just because I am 12, doesn’t mean that I follow the latest fad and act peppy under peer pressure even when I am not convinced of something. A few days ago, some of my friends were talking about their housekeepers in a demeaning way. I had a choice, either to be quiet and not face alienation from the group or speak up for what I believe in. I chose the latter. I told my friends how much I love and respect Devi Didi, my caregiver, for her unconditional support to my family. She wakes me up every day, understands my sometimes-crazy mood swings and makes my day go smoothly. Saying this did not establish me as a hero or anything, but overcoming the fear of being judged was a liberating experience.

I get this courage from my mother who always calls a spade a spade. There were times when I was bullied badly by my peers, mostly for my belief system. It would break my heart and I would sulk and bring home the negativity I faced outside. I tried to shut everyone out but my parents never stopped trying to reach out to me. They helped me look within for the tools to handle these situations and the most effective one of them was speaking up for what you believe in.

I have a six-year old sister with auditory processing disorder. There are times when her friends are harsh to her as sometimes she can’t figure out things on her own. If I am around, I stand up for her and ensure that the situation is resolved in a way that allows her friends to understand and empathize with her condition. I might get annoyed with my sister at petty things, the way siblings do, but her emotional well-being becomes my priority when she is in trouble.

I am absolutely okay with having few friends who understand me deeply rather than having a long list of people who barely bother to know anything beyond the brands of my clothes. I am happy to have found this peace. This also frees me to follow my interests. When I paint, I don’t have any theme in mind. I simply play with colors and create. This summer, I went for a theater workshop with senior artists and lived away from home. I learnt the art of thinking in the workshops there. This is coming really handy in staying sane when all around me,t the numbers of likes decide how cool one is. "


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