• Tanvi Singh

Neoteric Disclaimers

“Mutual fund investments are subject to market risks. Please read all scheme related documents carefully before investing. Blah, blah, blah… Terms and Conditions… Scrolling, scrolling. And, done.”

That’s how I used to read disclaimers, and I don’t think I’m alone.

Nobody takes these words seriously enough; such is the life of disclaimers! Funny enough, it was almost a year ago that I realized that most of us tend to ignore the disclaimers that life gives us time and time again. In true Gen Z style, we let these subtle signs pass through our senses without garnering any kind of effect on us.

The day I realized that ignoring these disclaimers had finally done its job, was a day like any other; before it actually began. There was a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, I was irritable. Angry but sad, emotional yet passive.

Internally I wanted to blame everyone for everything around me because I didn’t know who else to blame. It almost felt like drowning where I desperately wanted to come up for air, but I did not have the energy to shout, or even raise a hand for help.

All the disclaimers I ignored had finally culminated into what they had been trying to warn me about; anxiety. This was my first anxiety attack.

Once I realized what it was, after several more painful and exhausting days of trying to deal with it, I did what came naturally to me; ignorance. I’d always been taught to throw away or hide things which are damaged, broken. So naturally, when it came to my mental health, which was now begging me for help, I did as I felt I needed to: I ignored, suppressed, stowed it away, and threw it as far as I could. In an effort for the feeling to never see the light of the day, and magically the cracks would get repaired, I’d forget about it and move on.

For a few weeks, I even managed to keep these demons at bay, because on the outside I was fine, well, even better than fine. I had a burgeoning social life, a close group of friends, and a sound path towards a career of my own choice with a smattering of activities I enjoyed. However, unsurprisingly enough, in the background, the cracks were expanding, and I was way beyond the point of disclaimers. Worst of all, the shards of pain emanating from these cracks had managed to claw their way into the closest people around, but as broken things are not meant to be displayed, I kept quiet.

Before I knew it, these cracks had given way to utter annihilation, mentally and emotionally, and to say the least, they were just broken pieces. I managed to push away friends and family as I lost all sense of direction. I spent my days crying and screaming. Loathing people and holding the universe responsible for how I felt because I didn’t know it was the broken piece making me feel this way. Negativity became a way of life, and being defensive about it began to come natural to me. It wasn’t just stowed away cracked thing anymore; everything was cracked and broken by then.

As a coping mechanism, I began to look for validation and hope in places where I knew all along that I’d never find it. It gave a momentary sense of belonging, happiness even, but the unraveling led to something worse. Where my already exhausted mind was even more exhausted now, on the brink of not wanting to try again, because just like after losing money in a mutual fund investment, you never want to take a risk again, wishing that if only you’d read the disclaimer, carefully, once.

Was this the time I decided to never invest again? Not at all (well, okay maybe for some time). It just took me courage, and I won’t lie, an umpteen amount of it, to put the broken parts on display, and ask for help. Put a pause on the investment for a while. It didn’t happen in a day, or in a week, it took me a year to even gather the courage to realize it in myself and ask for help. It’s still a work in progress, where there days where the palpitations are bad, panic comes naturally and so do the tears. But the good days are far more in number than the bad ones, and on the bad days I have friends and family to count on.

It’s been more than a year since I went for my first therapy session, and even though it has been a while since, I’ve needed another one, something that I realized through the course of this on-going journey has stuck. Your mental and emotional health is like a mutual fund you invest in, and the market risks include people, career, decisions, relationships and even yourself – exactly what you’re investing for also. Life will always give you disclaimers when there are risks, it will tell you not to invest when a loss is inevitable, but it will never be easy to decipher. The fine print is important because the devil is always in the details. He’s lurking in the tiny text somewhere, banking on the fact that we will ignore to choose his presence. To make sure that doesn’t happen, read all scheme – related documents carefully, trust your intuition. And even if you miss the fine print in the disclaimer, it doesn’t mean you put a stopper on the mutual fund, you take a break. You let the recovery begin, you heal. And this time on, you’re more aware of what you’re investing in.

Image Credit: https://funnyjunk.com/

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