I have been blessed to have parents who have never stopped me from speaking my mind. Although my family is quite conservative in a lot of ways, they have always treated me like an adult. I grew up believing that even though the earth would not stop spinning because of my opinions, it however, meant something that I expressed them. And then I stepped out into the Real World.
Being an idealist, it took me a while (read two decades) to realise that things were different in the Real World. Here, what women think or say, matters nothing. Here, you are supposed to keep your mouth shut and keep a lid on it. In the Real World, you are supposed to put up pretences and play your role – whichever that may be. Here, nobody gives two hoots about what you think or believe. Here, women are invisible. I trip and scrape my knee or stub my toe often over other people’s prejudices and pre-conceived notions. Here are some lessons I have difficulty learning and how I work around them.
Speaking my mind
Talk to yourself at least once a day. Otherwise you will miss a meeting with an excellent person in this world.– Swami Vivekananda.
My journal is my sacred space. The blank pages are extremely accommodating and benevolent. They listen to all my thoughts and treat them with equanimity. And then, after the venting is done, the pages give me direction. They tell me what to say, do, and how to change my negative thoughts into positive ones. Writing down all the thoughts in my head also is a way of mental decluttering, that I have learned to guard fiercely. It is my escape route. My journal always lends me a ear even when the world doesn’t.
He found something that he wanted, had always wanted and always would want — not to be admired, as he had feared; not to be loved, as he had made himself believe; but to be necessary to people, to be indispensable…very few things matter and nothing matters very much.– F. Scott Fitzgerald.
In the corporate world, the word of caution is to always make yourself indispensable because the moment you are replaceable or your work becomes replicable, you become redundant. But I have found that when it comes to family, it is important to make yourself dispensable.
Sure, we all like being needed but it only makes for more dishes to wash and more homework to oversee. I wish to turn this around and make myself dispensable. But what if I am not needed after all? That leaves me with a lot of free time to pursue the things I want to do and never had time for. Win, Win, right?
Choosing my battles
Imagine there’s no countries. It isn’t hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for. And no religion too. Imagine all the people living life in peace…– John Lennon
I would like to see a world that is full of compassionate, loving people. I would like to see a world that is fair, and equal, and where there is justice for all. I would like to believe that punishment meted out is commensurate to the crime. Alas, there is always a massive chasm between reality and our dreams.
I could be an advocate for peace, an activist for human rights, or even on a lighter note, a decorated officer of the grammar police. I have struggled all my life with picking my battles. I have too many battle scars for me to ignore the burning question – ‘Was it worth it?’ I have always had trouble picking my battles. It is like an itch I can’t stop scratching. When I see something wrong, I find it hard to not speak up! Perhaps I am slightly better than I was yesterday. I am still learning…
Accepting and embracing who I am
I used to think you were a yellow dandelion, but you are all dried up with the puff blown off. But that’s all right. You are who you are like I am who I am… You gotta start from the inside out or else you’ll step on the clean…– Crazy Eyes from Orange is the New Black
There is a mean girl inside my head. It tells me what I am not good at. It points out all my flaws and weaknesses. I continue to struggle with the decades of mean messages that I have received from the outside and inside. It takes a lot of hard work to turn those negative thoughts into positive ones. It takes a lot of positive energy to keep focussing on the goodness in myself. But more than that, it takes a lot of hard work to accept who I am, warts and all.
Work In Progress
So, are there lessons that I can claim to have learned?
I believe that Life is all about learning and growing from the inside out. There are lessons we learn the hard way and there are lessons we never learn. We repeat our mistakes till it becomes a pattern. We can either break the pattern and turn over a new leaf.
Or we can take the pattern and make it into something beautiful. Introspection is the key. We need to keep cleaning the inside first.