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Gauri Nadkarni - Pune, Maharashtra

It is not a story of change but rather a process of discovering myself. To look through the barriers of expectations and demands that blocked my true self. I came as a socially awkward teenager who despised being amongst people. The thought of being surrounded by people and speaking to them was scary. I spent the first three days of the conference crying. But slowly the warmth of the place and its people found a way to thaw my fears. They were not judging me, they were not expecting anything from me. In that warmth I discovered my true self. Before coming here, the purpose of my life was to be ‘a perfect daughter’. I lived my life by that definition. I did what I was expected to, so that no one could point fingers at my mother and criticise her way of raising a child. Little did I realise that I had started having resentments against these people. I thought that they were doing wrong to me and my mother. The Quiet time made me realise that it was me who was giving them that power. My unconditional love began with the acceptance of myself with all my faults and shortcomings. I became honest with myself willing to accept the way I thought rather than the mask I had made for myself.

It took a lot of courage to break free of those shackles and it took immense strength to forgive people that I had allowed to rule my life. It has been a long journey but for every step I have found a friend willing to hold my hand and help me ahead.

What IofC has given me cannot be expressed in words it can just be felt by those around me.

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