I don’t feel like myself.
I’m sitting in the same bed that I grew up sleeping in. I’m home but I’m not me. I feel like I lose a little bit of myself when I come back from a new place. Or maybe the pores of my soul collect the dust from the lands before I part.
I’m conflicted, uncertain and disturbed. scrambling for the familiar, I’m losing count of the things I can call mine.
The internet is full of “trigger” memes that mock the progressing sensitisation of the masses as a fad for “overly touchy liberal hipsters”. The problem is, that it’s all fun and games until you stare into the abyss long enough for it to stare back at you. Then, there’s no going back. You end up choking a little when your friends are laughing at some offensive joke and you just can’t help feeling helpless.
So much of our daily interactions are a reflection of the popular culture we consume through the internet, TV and cinema. So much of this media is also responsible for the way we think, the way we live and the way we treat each other. Little do we acknowledge how the most minuscule choices that we make in our day to day lives are manufactured by the media. The internet has been one of the biggest drivers for movements like the feminist movement and the lGBTQ movement because of the ease with which voices could be collected over the internet. It helps reaching to out those seeking similar minded people all over the world, which not just encourages activism, but also provides a platform for these voices to be heard. However, it’s never as rosy a path as it seems. Once a movement catches on, the internet is filled up with multiple narratives and counter narratives, which is a great healthy way for discourse, but also for the asymmetry of information that creeps in. The consumer of information, be it a news reader with a particular political inclination or a “meninist” meme enthusiast, would mostly be exposed to media (News pieces from preferred online magazines or memes from liked facebook pages) that conform to his/her biases. So it restricts the discourse for the consumer where they only reflect upon half-baked and opinionated information that in turn leads him to form a biased opinion themself.
Those who firmly express their contempt for feminism often are confused or misinformed about the cause itself. It’s often hard to explain to such a person the vision of the movement because of the plethora of interpretations floating that often lead to dilution of concrete definitions. This discrepancy creates a vacuum which is filled in by mockery propagated through comfortably consumable media in form of jokes and memes. This leads individuals internalising this mockery to an extent that we almost end up ignoring them in real life. For example, we all condemn sexism and racism but do end up laughing at sexist/racist jokes ( guilty as charged). But what do you do when you start becoming actively aware of ways in which misogyny is perpetrated?
I just took one course of ‘Gender & Women In Bollywood Cinema’ this semester and it’s almost inevitable to ignore how the shackles of patriarchy still clutch on to us, including the most modern, liberal thinkers of our society (or so they say). How do you start asserting your cause onto those you consider the closest to you all of a sudden, just because you had a series of revelations? How do you make them understand that you standing up against their misogynist comments does not make you “a crazy bitch” who is “probably on her period”? It just makes you assertive. I’ve always been a submissive person who doesn’t really know how to assert herself. But I realize how I have a responsibility to stand up for my ideals and my identity because I’m a part of a bigger battle. I realize that it’s my responsibility to do so because I have the privilege and the agency unlike the millions of oppressed women of my country who aren’t even aware of their basic rights. I realize that I must do it for my sisters who can only wish for a better change and I must do it for my brothers who battle the gender norms that society imposes on them everyday. I must do it for all of us.
Why is it that visual aesthetics are so inseparable from the concept beauty, that more often than not, they dominate the way we perceive a person?
Even though the idea of beauty is subjective in any case, why does our mind create a little bias for those individuals we find visually attractive(by our subjective standards)?
I do not know if my observation stems from the possibility of my own insecurities or whether there is a rational reasoning behind it, but those who are considered beautiful by the standards of society adopt a sense of self-entitlement that dictates the quality of their life. As Madonna said, “A lot of people are afraid to say what they want. That’s why they don’t get what they want” or when Meryl Streep said, “It’s amazing what you can get if you quietly, clearly and authoritatively demand it.” That sense of entitlement to believe that you deserve what you ask for is what I struggle with from time to time. Growing up as a teenager who received a fair share of bullying in school, be it for my weight issues or for having excessive hair on my body, I never completely got over the anxiety of not fitting in. It’s obvious that being bullied for physical appearances comes with blows to your self-confidence, and then opportunities for you to recover from a self-doubting mindset to nurture the other qualities in you. Once you face the scrutiny for your outer shell not conforming to that of an ideal feminine one, you struggle to imitate that holy goddess image handed out to you, and when that fails, you get with it. That’s when you decide to look into the inner shell and hone that instead.
For me, school got over and I found another life. I was lucky to be constantly surrounded by the most wonderful and inspiring people, and opportunities that really helped me explore myself. I grew through all my adventures and found a burning light inside of me. But even today somehow, those nights I go to bed feeling proud of myself, don’t retaliate the ones that my teenage-self spent crying in frustration, confusion and self-loathing.
Although maintaining beauty is way easier now as an adult because I don’t have to face my mom’s constant disapproval to wax my arms or remove my facial hair as was when I was too young to make my body go through the torture, the feeling of disgust for my own body hair still remains. And that sucks, because why do I hate things my body makes for me? Do you see the conflict between trying to be body positive and the reason for contradicting it? I might have a mind that’s expanding and enabling me to achieve things I never imagined, but I will never have porcelain skin, I will never have a skinny frame, I will never conform to society’s idea of beautiful. And honestly, as glorifying as being a non-conformist may be portrayed, it get’s a little kinda-sorta-miserable on the rebellion road sometimes. In those moments it seems easier to just pretty-up somehow and be treated with lesser resistance from around. when you’re easy on the eyes, you have lesser burden to impress someone (given that you want to attract their attention) solely through your wits when your looks are giving you the leverage. It just helps. Do you see what I mean?
“But if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow. And then look: you see the ground fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the colour of gold. Think of how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat…” -The Fox to Little Prince (Chapter twenty-one, The little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupéry)
Amongst the other intricate lessons of life, if there’s one thing that The little Prince has taught me, it’s that there is such cryptic beauty in being tamed by someone, as much as it is in taming them. I for one don’t know if I’ve had a fox of my own, but I’ve had my rose. I’ve had my rose, my lily, my dandelion and even the flowers that bloomed in the lap of wilderness whose sight I never saw again. So now the spring greets me with sweet fragrances instead of allergies.
I’ve never had lovers, just almost lovers that left a taste of unrequited love in my mouth as they kissed me goodbye. Closures only help so much to break the habit of being in love with them, until you see a smile that reminds you of a lost one’s smile and in the next moment bring you such agony when their eyes, nose and being don’t match. It’s almost as if the fate teases the feelings out of you with no outlet to channel them into. What do you do with that love?
I’m so grateful for all the memories I made through my travels or even the unexpected adventures in my mundane institutionalised life. I’m so glad for the music, movies, places and cultures I got exposed to and developed a taste for thanks to the people who introduced me to them. But I can’t help the nostalgia that comes gushing in or the craving for that friend when I encounter a song that we’d danced to like crazy children. The music is still here, but the moment’s passed and they’re gone. Do they even miss me? Do they even remember those moments with me? Am I the only one wearing the leash? Am I the only fox here?
I guess when you’re 20, it gets harder to diagnose a spur of sorrow that makes way into your mind. It’s a little unnerving to give meaning to the ache that makes your chest feel like it’s caving in. I guess it’s because when you’re 20, you’re not hurting because of an innocent heartbreak caused by the neighbourhood boy who never liked you the way you did. Of course, that’d be too stupid right?
You know better. You’ve learn’t through time. You’ve seen how it works and you’re certain you’ve grown above those highschool heartbreaks. Then one day, all your of your dejections trace a way back into your head all at once, and you begin to wonder if the weight of all that you’ve been through is what crushes your chest for that split second. That intriguingly canny classmate in 9th grade who fancied a little more wit than what you possessed, that football wiz kid who thought of you as just another one of the red team girls, that best friend who got way out of your league at some point of your stupid adolescence and finally the boy who just made you question all that you learnt from your previous woes, a few minutes back.
I guess when you’re 20, it’s the forgotten miseries that ooze out, as a shiny new dagger pokes a fresh wound into the soul you thought you had strengthened through these years. It’s a little shameful to see your being come crumbling down when all this while, you boasted of the age maturing you up into a sound, reasonable person.