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I am an anxious person. Period. I think of the most crucial details, several times over until it becomes a calamity in my mind. And over a period of time, I have realised that my grammar got influenced by my mind, where unintentionally my statements became more passive than active. Simple answers became complicated in my head. And that lead to lengthier statements, with lots of maybes, buts and ifs. The phrase, won’t be able to, won’t happen, might not work, became the obvious answers to any discussion, even in a positive, easy going interaction of words. For example — If someone asks me, “will you get me a packet of chips?” My answer- “I’m NOT sure, if I go will go out.” Though, in my head, I know I will most likely go out. Another one — “I cannot go unless I get the visa.” This can be rephrased as — “I can only go if I get the visa.” From two negatives in a statement, I switched to two positives, the sentence holding the same meaning in the end.

I realise this now, that while talking, the instant I say something negative, my brain tells me to rephrase it into a positive one. A bad situation will not worsen by negating its value in a sentence, it might just get better to think it out in a better manner. I call it the “myopic speaking skill” where you short sight the problem which might or might not occur. Eradicating a negative mindset is too strong a step to be taken too quickly, my mind wouldn’t function on it so easily. So I’ll take a small step. I’ll fool my brain into speaking of a possible negative situation, in a general positive sentence. This will be me, wiring my fears as casual conversations. Maybe my English speaking skills will help me become a less anxiety prone human.

Mariyam Raza Haider

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A journalist by training, Mariyam Haider is a writer and performance poet in Singapore.
She is the researcher of the book The Billionaire Raj: A Journey Through India’s New Gilded Age written by James Crabtree.
Her writing has appeared in Hindustan Times, Livemint, Feminism In India, New Asian Writing and Kitaab.

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