Confession of a Second Year Student (Confessions part VII)
Today, as part of my confessions series, I decided to share with you some of the diary entries I wrote throughout my time at university and before. I was thinking that, although journal/diary entries are supposed to be very personal, some of them you might be able to relate to. I believe that while some things are best kept secret, there are some things that simply need to be said/heard. Some of my most private entries were written out of anger or sadness; and there’s nothing more refreshing that to know that everyone feels angry and sad sometimes. It kills a lot of doubts that people have about themselves. Anyway, I am graduating in less than two months and so, I present to you my first Confession of a Second Year Student. I hope that if you stumble upon this post and you are struggling during this time, you aren’t alone.
Written on 2nd October 2011 (probably around 1 am):
“Humans beings are more a mystery to me than the meaning of life.
I watch a lot of movies and it seems to me like the characters in these films are so much easier to figure out. They seem to be the ones who are human, not us. Everyone on earth is so lost, so sad, so troubled, so miserable. The sadness emitted by us human beings appears to be unnervingly contagious. What’s also a mystery to me is how we don’t realise how angry we are. Dear God, I just want to ask you to help the world be a calmer place…Tonight, as I thought, was full of negative energy. I felt like I was in a sauna of emptiness and violence.”
Looking back at this entry, I was clearly in a very bad place. I think I remember why and what happened that day. But, anyway, I had this horrible, pessimistic view on the world. And sometimes I still catch myself so deeply pessimistic; like if I can’t figure out why people do the things they do, or act the way they act, then the world is so horrible because people do bad things that are unexplainable. And I’ve recently come to realize that it’s okay to feel like that and it’s okay to be pessimistic. Just keep your faith strong.
I am Angry: Why do Feminists think that we are Living a Gender Race? (Confessions part VI)
“As we have come to know more of the whole range of different women’s experiences, it has become clear that there are many different ways in which women live through wars: as fighters, community leaders, social oragnisers, workers, farmers, traders, and in many other roles” - A Feminist on the roles of women during wartime.
Conflict is conflict regardless of the ‘positive balance for women’ – war should not be seen as a good means for the empowerment of women even if, academic analysis in particular, evidence shows that this is the case. Feminist study needs to be more understanding of the consequences of war on all of society and not to mention that conflict prevention, and the use of gender studies in conflict prevention, can help to empower women as much as it helps to prevent the incidence of violent conflict/civil war – also, the fact that women can take up many roles, while this is very favourable, means that the burden on women is in fact high. This also does not mean that patriarchal structures in society are completely eradicated. Feminists approach to ‘women in wartime’ needs to be less radical about the position of women and remember that feminist ideology is about human rights and not a gender race for power.
I am angry.
On Finding Yourself and other Cliches (Confessions part V)
Recently I’ve been a total mess (as you can see from Confessions Part I). I’ve been lost, found, up, down, left and right. I’ve been eating and starving and everything in between. Sleepless nights followed by an unprecedented amount of laundry being done at 1 am. And then sleeping for what feels like ages. And I’ve been trying to figure it all out; why is this happening?! Then something fundamental hit me.
I think I finally found out what I need. My medicine, my purpose. But before I tell you what that is, let’s look at all the things we’ve been told so far:
“Life is more about the journey than anything else (enter cliches). Goals, dreams and eventual achievements aren’t the point. The point is the struggle, the smile and everything it takes to get there”. Blah, blah, blah. Pardon me if I sound a little cynical; I do believe in those cliches but…Why is it that there are people out there that are successful, rich, educated, whatever you like, that don’t seem to enjoy life so much? Assuming that those people worked hard - why are there so many unsatisfied and miserable people out there? People that did something and got somewhere that happen to not enjoy it. After much contemplation and a lot of mixed feelings, I think I finally figured it out. And without further ado I will present to you my theory. And that is: Identity.
I’ve been meaning to talk about identity for a while now but I felt like I didn’t understand it enough to write about it. But finally I found out what this whole concept of identity is. You know how - enter next cliche - young people are constantly travelling and running around doing drugs and god know’s what else to ‘find themselves’? Its been portrayed in literature, film, music and pop culture in general. The concept of finding yourself: who are you?
You can achieve the highest levels of wealth, education and social prestige but for some reason you’re a 45 year-old that still acts like the most idiotic individual on earth. You know when you’re at a nice restaurant and the old man sitting at the table across the room somehow thinks that his neon sneakers are the shit but for some reason you just can’t bring yourself to think he’s a cute old man? I am not talking about genuinely eccentric people - as there is a very thin line between being eccentric and being a complete mess - but people who don’t seem to know what they want.
Of course, it is always assumed that successful people are the most balanced and focused, and that might be the case, but sometimes they can strike you as people who aren’t the most genuine. Yeah, they might be smart or hardworking but for some reason that’s not convincing enough. You can’t pin your finger at it exactly - but there’s just something that’s not right about them. And that’s because they aren’t grounded. They aren’t concrete or, to be more precise, they have nothing that keeps them steady. They are pushed around by the whims of others, by what others think is high on their list of priorities, their wants and needs are not constant and most importantly they don’t have rules that guide them.
I think that if you are to ever be satisfied in your life you need to be in control of your life. And this control comes from having your own rules, your own drift, and able to roll on your own terms and in your own way. Regardless of how much money you have, how many homes you own or how many friends you get drunk with, you’ll always be content because you’ll always be confident and in control. You’ll feel like you’re in the driver’s seat in the vehicle that is your life. And no matter how the road turns you can always control the acceleration and the radio. And that will keep you happy and safe.
But the thing is, rules don’t come out of no where. They come from self-understanding. Do you know who you are? Do you believe in something? Well, you’re in luck because it’s knowing one’s self that leads you to grounding fundamental rules in your life. And example would be the arab man that lives in a western country. Yeah he may be secular. Yeah he may be more educated than most of his relatives and might be living a life of freedom and democracy but for some reason something tells him that when his daughter turns 14 he might want to go back. Why would anyone want to go to the humid desert he comes from. Why? Because something tells him that despite the education and the democracy there are values back home that make him who he is. And he might want his tattooed, pierced and dip dyed teenager to experience something more valuable despite the sandy middle eastern monarchies. And regardless of whether you think that his choices are good or bad, it doesn’t matter. He treads confidently in the path he believes in. And that confidence comes from self-understanding.
The old man in neon clad sneakers may be wealthy and healthy but what difference does it make when he has nothing to fall back on when life takes an unsuspecting turn? He’s scared, unhappy, out of control. He’s the yes man, accepting everything that life throws at him without second thought because there’s nothing to ground him and get him to make a confident choice. He lets life and people push him around - accepting everything because self respect isn’t too high on the agenda. Its others that he tries to find safety in, its a pretend type identity that causes him to wear those sneakers.
Do you know who you are? If you don’t, I suggest you go out and find yourself. And if you do find yourself, please let me know because I am trying to find me too. It might take a bit of time but I’m sure there’s light at the end of the tunnel. There always is.
On Why I Don’t Want to Fit In (Confessions part IV)
I recently realized that I’ve been lost for a while. It took me a long time and many deep conversations with the people in my life to realize it. For the last 3 years I’ve been through a roller coaster of events. My life went up and down at a velocity that I can’t even fathom. Some of the things that happened I couldn’t control. However, there was a large number of events that I could have easily avoided. I mean, I know that life is about experiences and about trying out new things etc etc. But the thing is, I get enough of that already, there’s no need to increase the collateral damage. Life throws things at you anyway so why do I make it worse? Why is it that I constantly put myself in awkward social situations? Why do I let people disrespect me? Why is it that sometimes I say things that I shouldn’t and do things that I already know will hurt later?
Don’t get me wrong, a lot of the time I have no idea that what I am doing is going to hurt later. And I do appreciate those experiences because they help me grow. But what about when I deliberately do things that my inner self would frown upon? What’s pushing me to say things I don’t mean or do things I don’t normally do? Why is it that for the last 3 years I’ve accepted more bullshit than ever before? I thought people settled down with age; this is clearly not the case for me.
I have come to realize that at some point, specifically when I moved here to pursue my university degree, I felt the need to fit in. Before that time I never felt the need to fit in because I was in my comfort zone. I was at home where everyone knew my name and who I was and I was perfectly content with everything. But the minute I was removed from my comfort zone I felt the need to fit in. (Now, before I start talking about my experience I would just like to add in that if you ever feel the need to fit in somewhere I don’t recommend it but I totally understand. Its something completely normal. Don’t listen to people when they get all cynical about ‘fitting in’ - everyone wants to feel like they belong sometimes. So don’t feel too bad… you just need to find things that make YOU happy.)
The problem with needing to fit in is that it means that you have to mold yourself in order to fit certain criteria. You try things and do things that you normally wouldn’t because… you want some acceptance. You want people to like you. You want to be part of something or someone. What’s worse is when you don’t even know where you want to fit in, and you just want to fit in for the sake of fitting in. This is the worst kind of trying-to-fit-in because its at that point when you become so confused. You start to act in a million different contradicting ways and you might even try to do things you hate. That’s when the confusion manifests itself in a series of desperate actions and events. Constantly trying to mold yourself to become someone or something is one of the most self-destructive things you could possibly do to yourself. Why? Because you are not only trying to be someone else but you’re forgetting the things that make you happy. The things that make you, you.
And I do admit that I struggled, and I struggled a lot. Actually, come to think of it, I am still struggling. Who am I? Is this me? If it is me then why don’t I like me so much? I should be in love with myself; If this is the real me then I should be happy to be me. But I am not. Therefore, this isn’t the real me. Maybe I should write a post about the things that make me happy just so I can remind myself of all the things that make me, me.
On another note, though, I don’t really mind it. I am glad that the desperation happened. If you’re desperate enough you’ll throw everything you believe out the window but you’ll learn a great lesson; it’s a lesson about how to appreciate who you are, how stupid it is to want to be someone else, and not only to be comfortable in your own skin but to depend on only you to make you happy. So fuck fitting in, celebrate yourself. And most of all, if you already know what you want from life, don’t take that for granted because it’s what will keep you strong no matter what.
To be continued…
The Beauty of Time
Today, a very close friend of mine and I were sitting in my kitchen talking about the future, our hopes, the past and all the disappointing moments we faced growing up. We also discussed all the problems we are facing in our lives at the moment. Most of them don’t have immediate solutions. We concluded that it just takes a bit of waiting. Some time.
Then it dawned on me that each and every one of us is running. Running towards something, whether its a goal, or an expectation, or a person. We are running towards a time span of some sort. Why are we running? I mean, instead of running we should jog. Or walk. Or something. Just slower. We are constantly anxious about something, anxious to get somewhere and be someone. But the beauty of it, the beauty of the turns life takes is in the time span.
For example, I am constantly anxious about my future. I am constantly worried about the next step and anxious about what I am doing next to get that time span to get here faster. But the thing is that I never stop to think that I can’t plan everything. I never stop to realize that throughout my life, all my struggles and achievements, have come about - with hard work as a given of course - in their own time. There’s nothing we can do to make it go any faster. Time is what makes pleasure perfect. It’s what makes pain so painful. It’s the reason we wake up at the same time everyday. It’s the reason we aren’t super-people. And that’s the reason we are human. It’s the finite resource of time.
If we had all the time in the world we would date all the right people and all the wrong people. We would fall an infinite times and get back up infinite times. Nothing will be appreciated. Everything will be taken for granted. If there was 40 hours in a day instead of 24 you would probably procrastinate more than you do now. So basically, life has given us a deadline. A deadline to get your education, to get your shit sorted, to get yourself in shape before every new phase, before every new day. And that is the beauty of it.
And therefore time decides whether you will be in shape for your next job or next relationship. It will determine whether you will be able to find solutions to your problems, it will determine whether you will get on that plane home where you will meet your future boss in time to check in. It will also decide when loved ones are lost and when new ones appear. And it does it all at the right time, in the right place, to make you who you are. You didn’t pass those exams? Well, good, because now you’re somewhere else studying something else that will teach you the importance of hard work. You lost a loved one? Well, good, because now you’re a million times stronger. You didn’t get that job? Well, good, because you weren’t going to like it anyway.
Why are we rushing? anxious? worried? it will all come in time. Appreciate it. Take it in. As long as you do your part, time will do hers. All we can do now is sit back and enjoy the journey and savor every moment of it because there’s no point of being afraid. Time will fix it and that’s the beauty of time.