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“Meta-Questions” on the Road to Self Discovery


Disclaimer: This post was written only so I could process my own situation and channel my inner turmoil into words. These are preliminary, unpolished thoughts. This post is also incomplete in nature and kind off drifts of towards the end. Discretion is advised.

I function through self-discovery: it is very important for me to be in sync with how my mind and body reflects events that happen to me and around me (which is why I need SO much alone-time to sift through my thoughts and feelings). My quest so far has been largely personal- thinking about who I am, how I am seen in the world, how I can make myself better, what are my spiritual non-beliefs and beliefs, how I process information and my environment, what kind of love do I need in my life etc.

But off late I am struggling with something I’d like to call “meta-questions”. I think a part of my training in grad school has been preparing me for this,of course. Over the course of the past year, I have realized how dissatisfied I was in the direction that the world was going in. Simultaneously, I was learning how to fit in, in a very different culture- although I did not initially recognize it. I did undergo my own sort of culture shock. And I was trying to define myself as someone who is seen as “Indian”, thought of herself as global, grew up on values and books that were distinctly “Western” and was living in a culture largely capitalistic in nature. I was thrust into an academic world of critique, without being prepared for how to counter the caustic and biting narrative of how “f***ed we all are”.  Needless to say, there has been more than enough to process and understand in trying to navigate these multiple boundaries and often conflicting roles. Despite all this, I was starting to find a rhythm- a niche of my own, if you will. I was getting comfortable in my skin, in my role as someone between worlds, in my role as someone trying to make the world a better place, whatever that is supposed to mean.And suddenly, everything has changed!!

This is where the “meta-questions” came in. I define “meta-questions” as larger picture questions that feed into who you are as a person but are deeply tied into larger socio-political and economic contexts. I am pretty sure there has been research examining this, if I only had the time or willingness to look it up right now. Since I don’t, this post is likely to be highly intellectually flawed. Feel free to think of it as the random scribblings of a still-evolving grad school student.

In my mind, I see meta-questions (chucking the quotations) as larger-than-life questions, too much for one person to handle individually but nonetheless thrust upon all of us as though we are equipped to take it. We are clearly not. The socio-political environment we function in is too vast, with too many variables for a single person to comprehend in its entirety. But like a butterfly effect, its consequences can crash into us headfirst, leaving us with a mild concussion in the very least (let’s not talk about the worst it can do). Some of us brush aside these meta-questions, choosing to spend our life focusing on some of the more manageable questions (like who do I want to spend the rest of my life with?) or on no questions at all! But others don’t have the choice to ignore these questions- you may stumble into them at some point in your life and wonder how you can function with these larger than life issues nagging in the back of your head.

I have been feeling a little bit of that lately. I find myself thrust into these meta-questions more deeply than I ever was before, simply because the world around me is growing so bat-shit-out-of-sync with the one inside my head. I know that I have to fight it- but it is hard to know how. And that is when it struck me- the first step on the journey of self-discovery is often acceptance. Acceptance of what is happening around you is often misunderstood as surrender to those circumstances- as capitulation, as waving a white flag because your defenses have run dry. But it is not. Acceptance does not mean surrendering your cause. It simply means…seeing it for what it is, even if what it is is unbelievably out of your reach.

In acceptance, you recognize that you are suffering, or that you are fighting without direction, or that you are merely looking for the way UP and out of the water filling your lungs, or that you are puzzled by the world around you in the very least. Accepting may be the underlying foundation on which you build your reconciliation with those dreaded meta-questions. I see this as important to my process- you can argue that there isn’t time to go through all of these steps, and perhaps not! Or perhaps you can plow through them faster than you need to. But in the very least it is important to recognize and accept what is happening before you can fight it.

Okay- I haven’t thought more about this than that. I have lots of questions for myself: what do you do once you accept what is happening? how do you fight it? how do you love and accept yourself in an environment of toxicity that is heading in a direction opposite to the one you would like to see it go? Do you stop caring? Do you numb your emotions, steel your heart and just march forward? Do you challenge the meta-beliefs that cemented your meta-questions? Do you mine into the wisdom of the past, and look for how others’ dealt with them?

Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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MLK and Agape- A Short Message of Love in Troubling Times


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http://metrospirit.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/gandhi-king_web.jpg
Agape means understanding, redeeming good will for all men. It is an overflowing love which is purely spontaneous, unmotivated, groundless, and creative. It is not set in motion by any quality or function of its object… Agape is disinterested love. It is a love in which the individual seeks not his own good, but the good of his neighbor. Agape does not begin by discriminating between worthy and unworthy people, or any qualities people possess. It begins by loving others for their sakes. It is an entirely “neighbor-regarding concern for others,” which discovers the neighbor in every man it meets. Therefore, agape makes no distinction between friends and enemy; it is directed toward both. If one loves an individual merely on account of his friendliness, he loves him for the sake of the benefits to be gained from the friendship, rather than for the friend’s own sake. Consequently, the best way to assure oneself that love is disinterested is to have love for the enemy-neighbor from whom you can expect no good in return, but only hostility and persecution. Source: https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/07/01/martin-luther-king-jr-an-experiment-in-love/

I recently read about the Ancient Greek concept of Agape, which MLK adopted in his pillars of non-violent protest, and have remained rather struck by it. Love for the oppressor exists because the oppressor too is hurting. Violence hurts both sides- the perpetrator and the victim. This love does not mean that you must embrace and love him on a personal basis, but merely that you recognize him as a fellow human.

This philosophy echoes Mahatma Gandhi’s tenet of nonviolence:

Nonviolence is a power which can be wielded equally by all–children, young men and women or grown-up people, provided they have a living faith in the God of Love and have therefore equal love for all mankind. When nonviolence is accepted as the law of life, it must pervade the whole being and not be applied to isolated acts. Source: http://www.mkgandhi.org/nonviolence/phil1.htm

In troubling times, it is good to keep love in our heart- perhaps it is partly a coping mechanism and in that capacity, not everyone will be equally open to it. At any rate, agape does not seem an easy sort of love- compared to the romantic love, or the love for family or friends, or a mother’s love- agape is intensely difficult to achieve when you have been violated and when you think something is unfair.

But agape offers hope because it purifies the mind and body of toxic emotions. Perhaps agape is a cultivated strategy for overcoming grief, hurt, hopelessness, anger and replacing it with “disinterested love”. Perhaps agape is indifference and forgiveness.

I have been trying to practice something close to indifferent forgiveness for years in my life and agape seems like a faint glow of hope in that effort. I know very little about it- but I will strive to learn more. I think we all need agape because responding to hate with hate will not really lead us where we want to go as a ‘civilizing’ species.

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The Art of Being Lost


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We are living in troubling times – or perhaps times have always been troubling but like the crests and troughs of a wave, they are sometimes hidden from us, and at other times visible. What we are seeing around us today in the spewing of hatred, in the putting up of walls, in the creation of remote viciousness from behind our digital havens is sign of cultures that have perhaps been stilled for too long. Hollowed out from within by the artificiality of our daily pursuits for quantity over quality, we are only shells seeking wisdom and love from steel bodies and white screens. A lot is being said today about this emptiness that wafts like the smell of death all around us, and the loneliness it brings. We hold our hearts close, giving it away and snatching it back in the blink of an internet minute because there is too much to want and too much to see and our mind is muddled, living in this thin air world of words on a screen while our bodies are disconnected from one another. It becomes hard to imagine, as we chase currency in a world that has been constructed to enslave us not in real chains but in ambition, temptation, envy and pride, what it would feel like to just be. To lie next to a warm body near a shore with sand between our toes and the sea tickling our skin without feeling the urge to pull away from the moment just so we can be a part of the lives of everyone around the globe through social media.

Enough is being said about this. But not enough is being heard. Deep inside our hearts, we all know that that gnawing sensation, that silent background humming that we ignore everyday is nothing but the dissatisfaction of a life where we fear disconnection, fear silence, fear solitude and peace and endless boredom. Our thumbs start tweaking and we pick our devices, charging and recharging their batteries and our own hearts on artificial fuel instead of emotions and thoughts. Our brains and hearts are starving but in all the motion, the colors and music we can hardly see ourselves dying.

We must remember to not glorify a past where we did not have the ability to know the world the way we do now. But we must remember that our advancements in science and technology are not created in a vacuum- they have very real and tangible consequences that often may not emerge for decades. The imprint of our limited lifestyles is seeping its way into our DNA every day. Sneakily but almost certainly, nature is conditioning us for a life of distance, emotionless distraction, endless discomfort. Perhaps we are taking her (nature) down with us, perhaps she will emerge victorious after a battle fought long and hard against a creation she may have come to regret. Or perhaps, lovingly, she will stamp upon our evolutionary path a code that would enable us to survive as a species. The question then remains- are we content to do just that? Survive?

Perhaps the picture I paint is too pessimistic. Maybe human creativity has the ability to claw its way out of anything- but perhaps that is all it has managed to do. Claw its way out, leaving a blazing trail of destruction behind it. But we need to stop and think- what is this a fight against? Is this merely about survival, is all we want to do is be zombies stomped about by a force that has no ears for our feeble, dying pleas? Do we want to clamber to the red planet on the backs of our brothers and sisters- whether human or non-human? Or is this about something more profound than just being able to breathe everyday, even if what we are breathing in just toxic, cancerous molecules? Is there some meaning- something to be found in protecting, loving, caring for and building up one another? Is there reason to think of ourselves as being just as vulnerable to the hand of fate (or God, or whoever you believe put us here) so as to be born inside our worst nightmare? And if so, isn’t there reason to seek justice- both for ourselves and for these others we so easily overlook every day?

The art of being lost is not an easy one- you feel real feelings and notice the tiny cracks beginning to appear all around you. These cracks become chasms and as the chasms open up, there is nothing but emptiness left to go into. I want us to go towards light, to feel full of emotion- happiness, sadness, pain! Something! Anything! Anything is better than this numb collective trance. Let’s all wake up together and embrace the art of being lost in a confounding universe where we are the only beacon of hope for one another!

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New Year Post!


Happy 2017! The year is still in its infancy and even though I am a little late, I like to believe that all of January is open for wishing people (even though, and let me say it here: it doesn’t really matter!). I often believe that people who like to write love seeing patterns in the way life moves and shifts and folds. Of course, other kinds of people do too but let me stick to writing for my personal purposes.

And so, for me personally, 2016 was a big year. I traveled more than I have ever traveled before- I got to go to Morocco twice! I went deep into the rural heart of India and brushed against a very different way of life there. And I got to visit some new cities in the US. Traveling is an eye-opening experience and I learned a lot from the people I met and the places I visited. I also realized that traveling allows me to become someone I wouldn’t normally be. By displacing me from my comfort zone, it allows me to shed inhibitions and expectations that the structures of daily life impose upon us over time, and I can be a slightly different version of myself. And in the process of course, I do experience long-term change as well. But it isn’t all good- traveling was also harrowing for me. Adjusting and re-adjusting in different cultural environments confuses the brain and the heart and made me feel very vulnerable. I experienced both culture shock, and reverse culture shock. The latter was much stronger when I stepped on Indian soil after a year abroad.

2017 feels different. I feel more grown-up, although I’m still convinced I am faking it. There is more to do- I know more but as is always the case, that always opens my eyes to how little I actually know. I don’t want to take on resolutions but over the past year I have realized that it is possible to change old habits and attitudes- even ones that are ingrained into us, drilled into our very psyche. And so, in 2017 I plan to continue sharpening my critical thinking skills without turning bitter and lonely in this cold, dark world. I want to keep myself alive and open to constant learning and re-learning, even if it comes at the expense of having to shed notions and ideas that I might have grown really close to over the years, if it makes sense to shed them in the light of new information. I am aware that the nature of this goal involves hits and misses due to its vague shape and form, but if pursued long enough, perhaps I will get “better” at it.

If this weird diary-entry bored you, I apologize. I just thought it would be a good idea to spend a (really) short amount of time thinking back and thinking forward on this blog. I will be back again soon!

 

 

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The Swimming


I am anxious, forever rolling
In the sea of endless possibilities
The moment I close my eyes, my head
On a pillow and the lilting music of sleep
Rocking me gently, I am pulled out
By the tide of ‘what ifs?’

What if I never wake up
Never see you again or hear your voice?
What if we become a nameless, faceless love story?
Or worse- the kind that people look back on
And tut-tut to one another and say,
“Isn’t it sad how life gives and takes away?”

I tell myself, so what?
I have survived storms before
The trick is to remember that even when your lungs
Are full of water and your life flashing like a movie
Before your eyes,that nobody outlives death
And to have lived and loved is enough

But even then I cannot help but think
Think about the asteroids waiting to hit us
And the Holocaust becomes a shark lurking toward me
Looking for limbs and dreams to chew upon

It is exhausting and yet- somehow I swim along
Only stopping to marvel at the way my arms and legs
Are cutting into the water, my head barely bobbing above it
I marvel at my ability to swim- adding to the pool of possibilities
The fear that I might just forget, my arms flailing as I fall-
I am after all, always a moment away from drowning.

 

Poems · writing

Learning to Live (Outside My Head)


It isn’t easy- my years of lazy experience
Has made me an outcast who lives inside her head
The thoughts like little mice scurrying
Through the alleyways of my skull
Project as potent, looming shadows; and thicken
Into a cloud above my eyes

All my childhood I was told
To learn to live outside my head
Look at all these men and their flashy toys,
And beg questions off the wind!
Don’t spin strange, lovelorn tales from your bed
That is just what sad little girls do

I was bitter, fighting war on two fronts
On the inside: starved for words, colors, sounds
On the outside: longing for the romance of the woods
And to discover dampened leaf patterns upon its floor
I thought I knew better than to live outside my head

Today I am still learning, wondering:
What is it like to live outside my head?
Is it worth giving up on the kaleidoscope of nightmares
Inside; to feed perhaps my ego on miles of human concrete
And drinking games, and flashy lights, and the smoke from angelic lips

Hello fellow bloggers, followers and anybody else who might chance upon this poem! How have you been? I’ve been gone for a while now! But I always return somehow. That’s the deal. Sometimes I do wonder if one of these days all the little voices dictating stories inside my head will disappear on their own and I will have nothing else to say to blank pieces of paper- or, in most cases nowadays, to the pristine white computer screen. If experience were to be my guide, I would dismiss this thought outright. But my creative wheels do stop spinning, especially when I live in the outside world. It is a challenge- a delicate balance. Would I be willing to risk my sanity for the Great Writing Cause? I wouldn’t say no to that question because a lot of great writing does come from a healthy dose of insanity. But the remaining comes from discipline.

I’ve begun to think a little bit about drafts lately. Everything you see here on this blog is a “first draft” that is produced in one sitting, barely ever corrected for grammatical or spelling errors, let alone revised for flow. That’s what makes the blogging experience so breezy for me: I don’t let my perfectionist tendencies interfere with it because I see it as something limited- a “hobby” I pursue without rhyme or reason. If I were to promise myself a little more ambition in terms of my blog (and believe me, I have tried and always failed), the little voice dictating errors will take over and paralyze me. Anyway, I just started reading a book called Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamon. It got me thinking about the potential of using the 90% weak writing that I put out into the world courtesy of this blog, to mine for the 10% of gold which I assume is hiding within it. That’s where the drafts come in.

Anne talks about short assignments and shitty first drafts that may make absolutely no sense and be so disgustingly repulsive that you might want to throw your laptop right out the window. But she sees benefit and bravery in your attempts to just sit down every day anyway, to push these shitty drafts out of you (almost like you are giving birth to them, which you are) because that’s where the good stuff is going to come from. I think if that is true, then there lies that balance between living inside your head and living outside it that is so essential for creativity.

Sure, I can lock myself up Marquez-style. It would probably drive me insane but perhaps if I am clever enough, it might get me published posthumously. Or I could simply look for a balance between pulling crazy demons out of my hat(rack) and actually polishing them until they shine in the dark and you can see them stand out, maybe even like them just a little bit. Enough to share with friends and family?

I don’t know if any of this makes any sense. But hey, this might just be a shitty first draft with the potential for greatness, right?

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Not a Love Song


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Abstract art gallery- http://www.themarshallgallery.com/2014/08/28/gallery-to-kick-off-new-season-with-abstract-expressionism/

You must be my one solace
Country, company, currency-
These are empty promises!
They will betray me
They will feed me lies and break me
Take me to the morgue
And leave me
Toothless, tongue-less, tear-less
Hurt, broken, suffering
Shrieking laments to the wind

You must be my one solace
Your pretty eyes upon me
Holding me like a baby
Like my mother did; inside me
There’s a cancer only you can kill
You will be a little late
A little torn, a little afraid
It’s okay- look at me!
I’ve lived this day over and over again

Waiting, hand upon heart and
Heart pressed against the door
You have to take me- make me new
Repaint me in your colors
Black or white- I’ll be fine
There’s something wonderful about you
You must be my one solace
Before this madness can consume me

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Heart


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https://in.pinterest.com/pin/376824693796852114/

My thoughts jettison in poetry
In restless shapes and forms
You bewitched me once, you see
An edgy little fawn
And though countless eons passed
Tonight of all the many nights
I tear my paper heart

I picked up my stone-dead feet for you
I stole fingers from a corpse
I learnt to sing falsetto and smile at
the terror in my heart

I know you still remember me
in the gentleness of my prose
You mirror pain you pushed upon
the smattering of my heart

Now all these years hang between us like
A ragged curtain in the wind
I see you through its gaps; counting
the pebbles in my heart

Even as I heal my brain and soul
I see your imprints all over me
Broken beneath my skin I still hide
the pieces of that heart

Tonight of all the many nights
it doesn’t matter that I lived this long
Like all the girls before me who lift
their skirts and push
Blood diamonds into this world
I write poetry in red ink and I
tear my paper heart

Today I confronted stories of people I love- and detected a common pattern of painful submission in the lives of countless girls I know. We are all in our mid-twenties and I was suddenly stuck by the fact that we are all already broken. It isn’t just the curse of a female body to bear the cuts, bruises and tears of  her submission to nature, to man, to birth, to the good and the bad of humanity, it is often her only form of self-identity. When we push other narratives aside and become only victims in our own eyes, we suffer intermittently but sometimes that is indeed the only option we have and it allows us to revel in our femininity.

I wanted to write a poem at the interface of that female gentleness, her subjugation, and her recuperation. Here I try to capture a circular journey where inflicted pain damages body, soul and mind, but generates ‘blood diamonds’- something brutal and valuable that she must incorporate into the rest of her existence, whether or not she wishes to do so. In capturing the ‘you’, I was thinking of man but I also think of patriarchy more broadly, of nature, of the often unspoken and unknown ailments that plague a female body of reproductive age.

Disclaimer: Femininity is a much, much larger than just victimhood, of course, although it is undeniable that a certain part of it does come from the exposure of vulnerability to a harsh world that threatens to destroy it, which does not make it weak or wrong but merely imperfectly placed in its surroundings (this could often mean that the surroundings must be the ones to cave in). Femininity in that case is all-encompassing of anything a woman may self-identify with. I will not take it upon myself to even attempt to describe what it is, but by using it in this sense, I wanted to highlight one of its myriad manifestations.

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Fake it until you make it and just get over it!


Or so I have been told. Is it always applicable? Some days you can be walking down the street, looking normal. But your mind is screaming at you from the inside: “Look at how clumsy you are! Everyone’s making fun of you. Can’t you see their silent smirks, those long side way glances?” And then you feel lost in a sea of people, almost like you’re drowning. You think to yourself, if only you could belong! If only somebody here would stop and listen to you, and talk to you. If only you could hear another voice, just for a little while, talk about something “normal”, something beyond the struggles of justice and equity you are trying to shoulder upon  yourself.

crazy_artist_make_up_by_pixiecold-d5g4zbi
What beautiful art by :

http://pixiecold.deviantart.com/art/Crazy-Artist-Make-Up-329437134

To save you the trouble of analyzing the above paragraph, I will do it myself: I see at least three distinct strands of thought in the “problem statement” above: there’s social anxiety which can eat away at your inside when you’re in public or even with just another person, there’s loneliness because when you’re by yourself it is more comfortable but at some point you crave human contact. And there is the plague of what I would call “critical truth-seeking” where you are trying to seek a truth that isn’t absolute, but will cater to your critique of what you think “ought to be” for the purposes of a just/equitable society that is also sustainable for a number of stakeholders, many of whom have no voice of their own (think non-humans and future generations).

When you carry all of this around with you almost every day, sometimes it is likely to get a lot, leading you to ask yourself- must I continue down this road? I can stop any minute I want and try to seek comfort in something else entirely. There are plenty of other roads I can think of taking: music, writing, blogging and crafts, for instance. But you know you can’t turn your back to something once you have set your eyes on it. This isn’t because you are stubborn (well, maybe just a little bit). It is mostly because this is a quest for something better. And although you know that these kinds of quests are mostly unending- think of the writer’s dilemma, for instance, where the process of producing something worthwhile makes her a better writer so that by the time she lifts pen of paper, she knows that she can write better than that novel she just finished and so she must go on, to the next one- you can’t help it, maybe because you are a little bit addicted but mostly because you wonder, well if not this then what? What in the world is better than the unending adventure of self-discovery and rediscovery? Nothing! And you know it.

So now that we have established that this isn’t a battle you’re ready to desert, where does this leave you? Perhaps what you need to do is fake it until you can make it and pull through. Is this a worthwhile strategy to adopt? I believe it is one of many that can help you ease those knots in your stomach. You must keep doing what you simply have to do, until it becomes easier. But there are hidden dilemmas here: sometimes it can stop you from seeking support. If you’re acting like everything is normal, others around you will just assume that it is. Soon you may find yourself caught in a spiral where you have to maintain the position of “everything is all right” for the sake of everyone but yourself, even though you do not believe in it. On the other hand, admitting that there is a problem , even to the most well-meaning of listeners (your own self, for one) will not automatically lead you to solutions.

I believe a cocktail of solutions is better suited to this purpose. Admit, but to the best kinds of people: yourself, a friend, a parent, a partner. Fake until you make it, with all others: tell yourself how confident, beautiful and smart you are when faced with moments with the potential to break you- you may actually start to believe it, at least enough to pull through with panache. And in the midst of this complex web of self-trickery and truth-telling, remember the following (these are techniques I have learnt from a trustworthy source): observe your thoughts and fears swim by but do not judge yourself (a meditative stance), be respectful and firm to your own values no matter how murky the battleground may seem, and remember to keep practicing the art of self-acceptance!

Disclaimer: None of the above tricks and tips may work for you, or a combination of these with other self-realizations actually just might. None of this is likely to be at all easy. I think the trick is to know that you’re in a battleground and that you won’t give up!

Fact: One in four people in the world are battling their minds everyday!

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Explaining My Silence and Evolution


Art photo - concept of internal struggle and doubt
http://www.123rf.com/photo_27972569_art-photo–concept-of-internal-struggle-and-doubt-image-of-screaming-female-silhouette-breaking-thro.html

I know that I haven’t posted much over the past weeks, and that whenever I have posted, I have mentioned changes- transformation that has been occurring in my body and soul as I traverse through some of the biggest changes of my life.

And this is to be expected- moving to another country will open your eyes in ways nothing else will, but feeding your brain with a host of classes that teach you to think and see the world critically is like adding a kaleidoscope before your eyes which enables you to see colors and patterns you never did before. Along the way, I am cruising towards the mid point of my twenties and finding out in clearer terms what defines me. I know I will always change as I go through life but I also know that whatever happens over the next few years will recreate my personality in fundamental ways that will lay a foundation for the rest of my life.

It can be argued that this personality has already been made. ‘What were you doing for 23 years of your life?’, you could very rightly ask and I would tell you that yes, I was made but in most ways, that making was very unconscious. While I participated in my own making, I did not do it voluntarily or willingly. Now, for the first time- I am on my own and while I know that it is nearly impossible to make yourself entirely by your own design, I have started to believe in my power to fix the things that need fixing and not succumb to the forces around me. There will always be structures and institutions that will rain down upon me in a million ways but I am not entirely powerless. And in this of course, I am more fortunate than the general population ever is. With the recognition of this fortune, I am ever grateful to be powerful and open enough to my own possibilities.

I have spent time these past few months, dwelling on the shortcomings of the world that I have lived with, and why it has made me the way that I am. Along this journey, I am discovering fears that are sometimes almost paralyzing in nature but I have been equally delighted to find my ruptures slowly healing. They crack open into chasms when the times are right but by surrounding myself with the best kind of support system that I could possibly have had, I have been able to keep them at bay. I am moving towards functionality- something I have always struggled with. Mulling over how broken I have felt in the past does not make me feel helpless anymore. It makes me feel grateful to have moved on and empowered to have had the chance to be where I was. I do not think that I am entirely safe- on the contrary, I am more convinced than ever that me and everyone around me is always walking on the thinnest possible line and can tip over any second.

I have been struggling to grapple this- my own mortality, my own transitionality. I don’t feel I will ever be “done”, ever be comfortable enough to feel safe in this inherently broken world, ever be free from the curse of thinking too much about my own “self”, whatever it is, whatever form it will take. I am starting to love life, much as I have often chosen to hate it and myself. I am learning and re-learning what it means to be an imperfect human being in an imperfect world. But because I am gaining, I have more to lose and that makes me fear in a way that I might not have before.

At the same time, I want to teach myself how to be at peace, how to be “in the moment”. With every trip I take to a new place, with every ‘aha’ moment of discovery within my own soul, with every little obstacle that I find myself climbing and sometimes merely crawling over, I tell myself to remember to be happy with where I am. “If I were to die tomorrow,” I say to myself, “I will be happy because despite a multitude of unfulfilled dreams and desires, I have achieved so much more than I would have thought myself capable of a year, two years, three years back.”

With this realization, I remember to push away from this jungle of depressing thoughts that bombard us- we’re not pretty enough, not rich enough, not well-travelled enough, not accomplished enough- this is what the media tells us every day, this what our online accounts tell us every day. We strive, with our Instagram and our Facebook and our Snapchat and our Twitter to create an image of a perfect version of ourselves- a version that is untrue. This version does not contain within it the billions of tousled hair mornings we wake up to. It conceals our bleary, teary-eyes; our sore muscles; our ugly fights; our jealousy, our envy; our sweat and pain and diseases. It is a snapshot out of a hundred billion tiny moments that make up our lives.

I invite all of you in the sincerest possible manner,dear readers, if you’re still reading, to think about pushing away the competition, the pain, the agony- we are all suffering in so many ways and this world continues to push suffering onto us every single day as our ageing bodies struggle to survive. But I want to invite you all to breathe and remember to be human and remember to not give in to the hoax, even as you wish you weren’t a part of it. I want to invite you all to remember what matters to your soul and find the cracks that need fixing and to stare at yourself in the mirror as you are and tell yourself what you really believe is true, underneath all your masks. I want to invite you all to remember the messiness of life.