A Refund Letter Sent Out Too Soon!

A Refund Letter Sent Out Too Soon

In November of 2019, I bought a ticket for the opening night of the Hong Kong International Literary Festival. To be honest, my main reason for going was to see and meet author John Boyne.  Being a recent fan of Mr Boyne, I had read two of his books, and I was in complete awe after reading the first one itself. So, when the news of his event getting cancelled due to a family emergency came in, I was really gutted (along with the rest of HK I’m sure). Now, I came to know about the cancellation an hour before the opening night event and when a friend suggested I could ask for a refund since my reason for going had been only to see him, I thought why not. Wasting no time, I messaged the festival coordinators on their Facebook page, stating my reason for asking for a refund. You might be wondering why I couldn’t have just gone to the festival considering the ticket was a mere $280 HKD. Here’s what you may not know, I suffer…no, wait, let’s try this again. I experience a lot of anxiety in some public situations. 

It wasn’t always like this. In fact, I was what you would call a confident go-getter.  From being the commencement speaker at my graduation, working three jobs through college, impromptu trips to Atlantic city late at night with friends, teaching jewellery design at G.I.A. in New York to kayaking at midnight in the San Juan Islands with my husband, I was doing it all. So, what changed? Well, my confidence through the years has taken a massive hit due to my chronic health issues, mainly my gut problems. And I’m not talking about minor gut problems, but issues that have lasted well over 15 years. From experiencing nausea daily to other symptoms (I’ll spare you the details), I wake up every day, even now reacting to almost anything I eat. My gut immunity is quite low, and I consistently catch infections even though I haven’t eaten out for nearly 2.5 years. These issues as you can well imagine have had a huge impact on my lifestyle, confidence, and self-esteem.  I have very often expressed to people close to me about how I simply do not recognize the person I see in the mirror anymore.

When I bought the ticket to see John Boyne, I was doing what you call “stepping out of my current comfort zone”. My desire to meet him was a strong enough reason to calm my anxieties and enable me to sit by myself in a closed dark room filled with strangers because it’s at events like these that I am in my element. I love literature. I love to read. And I absolutely love meeting authors and getting my books signed by them. In fact, I’m like a kid in a candy store when it comes to books. So, sending the message for the refund was actually a case of me giving myself a way out. I had told myself if John Boyne wasn’t coming, then I didn’t need to push myself. 

The evening of the event, I ate an early dinner as I usually do, gave myself enough time to go through all the mental dialogue I needed to get through, and decided to get ready. I told myself, I had paid for the ticket and had my hair done for the night (can’t waste a good blow-dry) so I would go for just half an hour and exit early. Well, I ended up staying the entire evening and got my books signed by two of the authors present there. My heart didn’t pound, and though I sat close to the exit, I didn’t use it till the evening was over. After a fun and interesting evening, while on my way home, all I could think about was the message I had sent. What would the people concerned think? Was the message rude? Would I get blacklisted? Yes, I do create soap operas in my mind, and in fact, they constantly entertain me. So, when I got home, I sent another message to thank the organisers and told them I had thoroughly enjoyed the evening, and they should ignore my previous message (fat chance of that happening, I knew).  They did send me a polite reply, but I thought I could sense their irritation (or maybe I imagined it). I wish there had been a way to let all the people who had worked so hard for the event know that the refund letter I had sent out a tad too soon had nothing to do with them or the fabulous event they had put together. It had everything to do with me and quite simply my struggle to attend an evening out on my own after a long time.

Thank You

Read more by Shikha S. Lamba


Image Credit : Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

42 thoughts on “A Refund Letter Sent Out Too Soon!”

  1. You’re such a strong person! You overcame your fears and took a step towards self upliftment. As they say, courage is not the absence of fear but the ability and strength we show dealing with those fears and live our lives while having them. That’s exactly how courageous you were that evening! And you might have sat next to the exit but you never used that exit till the evening was over.

    1. Such a profound article! Hits you in the heart! You have a way with words I salute your courage n your situation! Kudos for writing n expressing a bit of yourself n putting it out there!!

  2. Wow Shikha, im so proud of you yet again for overcoming the hurdles in your life especially with your health with so much grace. I can imagine how hard it must have been to share this experience with your readers. Many of us are forced to come close to the exit during certain times in our lives, but it’s those with the kind of strength and endurance you have that decide to not take it no matter how easy or tempting it may seem at the time 🙂 Im sure you will continue to inspire us as always x

  3. For me as a father, your health issues my baby, have been most difficult to accept and deal with. No caring father wants to live and see his child suffer due to ill health or other reasons. Both within the family and outside, the common refrain is that you are the most loving person they know and a sheer joy to have you in their lives. As your father, I can say with all honesty that there has never been a moment in my life when you may have disappointed me in any way. There have been many occasions in my life when I have felt very low and dejected. But then I think of my two daughters, how they handle such situations and I get the resolve to say to myself, this too shall pass. Yes my baby, with your determination to fight all odds for the last so many years, this time too shall pass. God’s blessings always be with you. Papa.

  4. Such an honest article, sharing your issues with everyone. Loved your enterprise and resolve to look beyond your hurdles. Bravo Shikha, so proud of you!

  5. You have given a new definition to FEAR, face everything and relax 👍 super proud of you sis. Courage is contagious, may you continue to shine, be strong and inspire others. God bless you with good health and happiness always 💕

    1. Thank you so much for all your support Nandi. God bless you too and wish you good health and happiness always.

  6. Brilliant piece shikha. It’s your inner strength that will win over all these turbulent patches . You have it in you .. this too shall pass . Wishing you good health and even more power to you girl .

    1. Thank you so much for reading Bobdi, and all your support. Wishing you good health and more power as well 🙂

  7. Well done Shikha ! This couldn’t have been easy for sure – both doing it and then found it again by sharing this publicly ! Strength is yours for sure ! Lol 😂 more powers now coming your way ! Lots of love

  8. It takes courage of a collosal kind to bare one”s deep seated fears and emotions that most of us would mask, hide or bury.
    You have inspired many to talk and share their vulnerable and authentic selves.
    Ever so proud of you and have the highest respect for the values that make you YOU-nique Shikha.
    Warmest wishes, Sonia

    1. Thank you so much Sondi. With support from family and friends, I feel quite ready to share such aspects of my life.

  9. Dearest Shikha, I want you to know I’m proud of you… Both for sharing your story and for moving beyond your stops. I can’t even begin to understand how you feel because I really don’t know but what I can say is that sharing your victories as well as your pain is inspiring. May you have new victories everyday. May you reconnect with the power inside you and overcome your pain. I am cheering for you all along the way … The good , the bad and the ugly. May you and your body return to love. Love and blessings always, Natasha.

    1. Thank you so much Tasha didi. You are instrumental in me finding my strength, please know that 🙂 All my love…always.

  10. Your strength and resilience are inspiring. It takes courage to be vulnerable in print, so I hope you also take great pride in not only attending the book reading alone but in writing these deeply-felt words. Wishing you health, peace and joy.

    1. Maureen, thank you so much for reading 🙂 Wishing you health, peace and joy too. I hope to continue writing like this, which is why the support from fellow writers and friends like you really helps 🙂

  11. Super narration Shikha, your words make us focus on the strength and not what you have been coping up with. That’s the power of your writing.
    Keep sharing your honest stories to inspire all of us, because we all visualise the exits but we don’t need to use them.

    1. Thank you so much for reading N. You are right, there are many kinds of “exits” we consider taking in our lives. Here’s to staying as much as we can without exiting 🙂

  12. Wonderful article, well expressed Shikha. Few people understand that anxiety is real and how it can affect our body. Thank you for talking about openly what otherwise has a lot of stigma attached to it. Hope this encourages others to follow suit.

    1. Thank you so much for reading Neha 🙂 I hope I can do my little part to break the stigma attached to Mental health.

  13. We all have our demons to overcome. You’ve done your bit well. And yes, when you write that mail- hold onto it
    for a day before you press ‘send’. That’s advice I give everyone I work with, VENT but don’t SEND!

  14. So beautiful and it takes a lot of courage to overcome your fears and most of all pen them down and share. Im sure someone is glad you shared and gave someone exactly what they had to read today to overcome their inhibitions!👏👏👏

    1. Shikha, thank you so much for reading and for your kind words 🙂 That was my sole purpose for sharing this piece. I hope it can help someone feel less alone.

  15. That’s a great piece Shikha. This is of course perfectly natural and I believe most of us find ourselves in similar scenarios for different reasons. I’m sorry about your ongoing stomach problems, that sounds very frustrating. I hope you can find some relief or cure for it. I’m really glad you found some enjoyment even though your author didn’t appear. Cheers to you

  16. Brutally honest and forthright article and written so beautifully. Thank you for sharing. We all need to address our challenges and fears head on and your honesty is inspiring. Proud of you.

  17. Wow Shikha!!! I have always remembered you as this strong independent dynamic person.. still awed by your amazing strength to write about your fears. Beautifully written!!

    1. Shradha thank you so much for reading dear 🙂 Really appreciate your comment 🙂 Hope you are keeping well.

  18. Reading it makes an instant connection with you even though we haven’t met. So beautifully written and such authenticity to the article. Love it.

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