Priyanka Chopra Jonas: Not Completed Yet
She is the multi-award-winning, multi-talented actress, producer, singer and world superstar. But, here, we pull the curtain down to speak candidly about anxiety, vulnerability and the unstoppable force of change …
She doesn’t know if it was an insect, something she ate or anxiety, but one night – when Priyanka Chopra Jonas was only eight years old, having recently started boarding school – she threw up in her bed. Not wanting to disturb the peace, she lay down next to the puddle until, late at night when everyone was asleep, she came out to wash the sheets. She hung them up to dry, slept on an unmade bed, then made her bed again with damp sheets early in the morning, before anyone woke up.
It’s a surprisingly intimate snapshot of the now world famous star, infinitely glamorous and recipient of countless accolades – including Miss World in 2000, a spot on Time magazine’s 2016 list of most influential people, two National Film Awards, two People’s Choice Awards, six IIFA Awards, eight Screen Awards and the Mother Teresa Memorial Award for Social Justice, to name just one selection – but that’s one of the many that she chose to share her memories, Unfinished. As we chat about Zoom, I wonder, is pulling the curtain intimidating? Priyanka laughed in response.
“I was bored with what I read when I wasn’t open,” she says bluntly. “In the end, I think it was very healing for me. I have been a table conversation for the public for a very long time, but then the pandemic came along and I think like everyone else I felt overwhelmed, so when I started writing, it spilled out of me, and I didn’t stop.
While she still doesn’t know what caused her stomach ache that night when she was eight years old, anxiety is something Priyanka has some experience with.
“If I tell someone – friends, family, therapists – about how I feel, it takes away the power of the anxiety.”
“I think we all do, don’t we? ” She thinks. “We internalize feelings, and that’s what turns into anxiety. But, over time, what I’ve learned is that if I tell someone – friends, family, therapists – about how I’m feeling, it takes away the power of the anxiety.
As she reflects on her experiences, Priyanka’s tone is calm, even, and thoughtful.
“I feel like he has a lot more control over me when I’m alone – when I choose to incubate or when I choose to face how I feel about myself, because I’m self-sufficient, self-sufficient; I’m strong, I’m tough, ”she said cheerfully, with a mixture of irony. “When I do this, it’s my pride that stirs the flame of anxiety.
“I realized that I didn’t want to be left alone in my grief,” Priyanka says. “Sadness is seductive. It’s like a warm blanket. But it ends up eating your mind and changing who you are. You become a responsibility for yourself, you cannot go out of your own way. I had anxiety, sure, but now I have the tools in my toolbox to deal with it better than when I was a kid.
Her main tool is conversation, talking to people she trusts about what’s going on inside. But it wasn’t until she was in her thirties that she was able to truly express what she was going through. As Priyanka tells me about the things she does to take care of herself (“A few hours of chatting, being able to laugh, talk about silly things – and doing silly things!”), I resume a vibrant, loving and supportive social life.
But it was not always so. While she raves about the nurturing support of her parents, when she was a young teenager, Priyanka moved to America and faced racial accusations. intimidation while in school – to the point where she had to return to India – and she notes similar experiences as an adult.
Although to a lesser extent, Priyanka recognized the trends when she returned to America to start working as an actress.
“I blamed myself for a very long time, then I reached a point where I realized it wasn’t my fault, and there was nothing I did or was wrong with me. Priyanka says.
A 2014 study from King’s College London found that the mental health effects of childhood bullying are still evident up to 40 years later – but, for Priyanka, it’s a character point . “I think it all really comes down to building a strong relationship with yourself, and then if someone treats you badly, or you don’t get the job, or you have a really shitty day, it doesn’t. doesn’t matter. “
It’s relevant to all of us, but it’s clear to see how resilience is a vital instrument for a woman in Priyanka’s vocation. In her memoir, she recalls a time early in her career when she met a producer who asked her to stand up, turn around, then list all the things she would need to change. in his body before he can become a successful actor – even recommend a surgeon who might make it happen.
It’s a striking and crippling scene, but when I wonder how one even begins to build resilience to this kind of encounter, Priyanka quickly notices that this unique instance is just the product of a much bigger problem.
“Women face criticism of their physical selves on a daily basis – not just by a singular person, but by society. We are constantly being told how we could be better. This is what builds resilience. It’s not one person who’s had a difficult conversation with you, it’s the narrative we all live with, ”says Priyanka. “I could have easily fallen into these insecurities, I just don’t like surgery. I’ve had self-esteem problems, of course I did, but I don’t think you can make him a villain, it’s a bigger narrative.
I throw the idea of ”body neutrality” with Priyanka – the idea of creating a neutral relationship with your body, moving away from negativity, while recognizing that “self-esteem” is not all achievable. time – an approach that seems more forgiving in the face of the forces described by Priyanka.
“It’s a great way to put it, and that’s exactly what I mean,” Priyanka says. “Your body changes forever, your face changes forever – everyone, men and women. We have to wake up in the morning and say, “Well, hey, there you are!” And being able to accept the changes, because the changes will come.
“Change is the most constant thing in life, and it is futile to seek constant happiness, constant success or anything constant, because it will always go and go,” she continues. “I feel like trust isn’t something you need all the time. Confidence should be your best tool. You put it in your backpack and it comes out when you need it. When you don’t need it, it’s OK to be vulnerable, and it’s OK to have all the feelings, and it’s OK to be sad and say to yourself, “I don’t need to. to be confident. I need to let go of the burden of being confident and being vulnerable, ”and allowing you to cry and fail and feel.
“When you come out of that door after you’ve felt it all, that’s when you get your confidence back and show the world what you’re going to do. “
Our time is up, and as I click “Leave Meeting” on our Zoom call, I’m pondering this idea of ”change.” It has now been a year since the lockdown in the UK began and it often feels like time has stood still or our lives have been put on hold. That said, during this time many of us – much like Priyanka – reflected on the things that made us who we are today and the things that bring us comfort, promise, and joy. And there is something to be said for the hope that lies in the fact that our stories are, for now, unfinished.
‘Unfinished’ by Priyanka Chopra Jonas is published by Michael Joseph.
If you are experiencing anxiety or want help building your self-esteem, contact a counselor by visiting annuaire-conseil.org.uk