Dear Son,

If I’m being totally honest, I am terrified of having a son. I don’t think I get men. No wait, I do get men. And when I say I get men, I mean I have put a lot of work into appreciating my sense of self, I really couldn’t care what goes on in a  man’s head in regard to my being. So actually no, I don’t get men. I just know how to use my voice to tell men what I want, to demand respect and to say no to shit. Also, I try to be a really good listener; a skill that I do not think I will ever master, but will never stop trying till my lungs give out. 

It’s boys I don’t get. It’s adolescents whose voices have just broken, and they are getting a little tall and trying to understand how their height and dropped balls factor into their lives. It’s spuds with unformed minds and shaky opinions and wandering eyes and a newly found sense of lust. It’s boys whose groins are just beginning to appreciate the effect of a female ass and hands just itching to touch a pair of breasts. It’s the boy locked in a bathroom with a page torn out of a Victoria’s Secret catalogue and he isn’t quite sure how to use his hands. It’s boys using a shaving razor for the first time, wrecked with insecurities, wondering if the package in his hands is big (enough.) It’s college boys who don’t know how to politely approach a woman. It’s college boys who refuse to invest in soap and maybe even cologne. It’s college boys who walk around campus in bathroom sandals and get offended when a girl won’t look in their direction. Generally, I don’t get boys struggling to be men. Boys who are yet to understand the nobility of their strength, or better yet, what strength there is in nobility. Boys just shuffling around, trying to find a solid place to plant their feet and grow. Boys with ambition but no character, boys with brains but not enough manners, boys with vision but no means. 

And it scares me that someday, I may have to raise that. To be an anchor to my son when he goes through this challenging phase, just trying to find himself. How do I do that? What could I possibly tell him? Because I don’t have much experience with men. I don’t have brothers and I have never really lived with my dad. Sure, my best friend is male, but he’s always been more of a man than a boy. But more than that, I am scared that even after I’ve done my best, even after I’ve spent half my life trying to raise him into as great and as good a man as he could possibly be, he’s going to leave home, and go out into the world and society will ruin him for me. I’m scared that society is going to creep up at him at night, and erase everything I’ve taught him. I’m scared of the perverted fellow intern that will send him nude photos of his ex-girlfriend and more terrified that my son will look. I’m scared that he’ll come back home for Christmas break with sagged jeans and a computer full of pornography and a tongue uttering sexist slurs to his sister. I’m terrified of the war that will go on in me; between his mother who loves him unconditionally and a woman who wants to cuss him out and maybe even disown him.  

So from me, to my future son. I know I’m only twenty one and I know nothing about being a man. But someday you are going to be twenty one, trying to find a job, struggling to be a brother, screwing up at being a boyfriend, learning how to be a friend. This is to tell you that whoever you become, you’ll always be my son. That I might screw up a little bit, but whatever you go through, whatever disappointments life throws at you, whatever victories you achieve, I’ll always be in your corner. That we will grow together and the list I’m about to write will only get wiser.

First of all, I’m totally fine with whatever sexual orientation. I will welcome and love whoever you choose to be your (life) partner. That said, I have a thing against PDA (Public displays of affection) so please keep that to a bare minimum when I’m around. In a nutshell, I won’t care who you fuck, just don’t do it in my presence, or my couch, or my kitchen counter. I’m not saying you shouldn’t experiment, by all means, experiment your heart away.(yeah, that’s a weird thing for a mother to say to a son)It’s just that I’m working so hard at ensuring my house has quality(expensive) stuff, please don’t ruin that for me by the memory of you being “experimental.” You’re my son, I love you, but that’s just gross.

Second, home will always be home. If I mess up everything, I hope you grow up knowing that there is very little that will make you unwelcome.( I should probably say nothing, but who are we kidding, you’re not going to enter my doors if you are a serial killer.) With the exception of immoral careers, I will support you. You don’t have to be a doctor or an engineer. You can be a drummer or a swimmer or a photographer. I’m working hard to ensure that whatever you choose to be, I will have the resources to ensure you are the best at that. If you want to be a musician, I will take you to the best music school, I will buy you whatever instruments you want to play. But even if life doesn’t turn out as I want it to, I hope you know that happiness and fulfilment doesn’t come from material things. I hope you understand that happiness is a choice, and an active one at that. I hope I raise you to understand that true fulfilment only comes from doing the things that you are passionate about, the things that make you happy. And I pray that even if you don’t turn out to be the strongest guy around, you will have the bravery to go after the things that make your soul dance; be it the weird boy in your school or a nerdy programming class. I hope you know not to measure your growth by what is popular and applauded but by what is noble and kind.

I hope I raise you to value your humanity above your masculinity. I want you to understand that it is okay to cry and show emotion. I want you to be the nice guy that opens doors for girls and pulls out chairs for them without expecting favours in return. I want you to be the guy that values friendships (with all genders) and goes out of his way to show it. I want you to be the guy who shows up with pizza and beer at your male friend’s house when he has been dumped and gives your sister flowers when she’s cramping. I hope you don’t grow up measuring your masculinity by mundanities like how many girls you’ve slept with or how good you are at playing FIFA. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with you playing video games. I just don’t want you to be the kind of guy that feels emasculated when a girl beats you at it. I hope you are the kind of guy that loves wholeheartedly even when he’s been hurt before. The kind of guy that buys flowers for his girlfriend’s mum and buys your girlfriend tampons when she can’t leave the house. I’m saying that I hope you turn out to be a good human being; a kind, generous, loving human being. A boy that values nobility over strength. A boy that uses his strength to help elderly people carry bags, and carry children across the road and not to bully the timid guy in class. I want you to be the guy who befriends this timid guy. I want you to understand that if you are stronger than your sister, it is not to intimidate her into doing all the house chores, but to help move the heavy furniture. But more than that, I hope you never outgrow your mother. That you never stop trying to be her friend. 

But more than that, I hope I do not do you the injustice of raising you with a fragile ego. An ego so easily punctured that when a girl says no to lunch, it results to insults and threats. An ego that won’t let you be vulnerable or admit to not knowing something for fear of rejection or ridicule. I hope you know to accept defeat and reach out of your comfort zone. I hope you have a curious mind that will ask questions and learn from your mistakes. I hope you never let failure define you or stop you from gaining new experiences. But I also hope that you have a sense of pride. Not the kind that comes before a fall, but an assuredness in who you are as a person and what you deserve. I hope you know to walk away from toxic relationships. I hope you never let a girl use you just because you may get to sleep with her someday. I hope you never have to beg for respect. I pray you learn to stand up for yourself and settle for nothing less than your worth. I hope you know when to begin a relationship and when to end it. That you will know to tell someone when you are falling in love with them and they make your heart beat faster. That you’ll also know to tell them when you’ve met someone else or the passion has died, or you want different things. Basically, I hope you know to speak your mind and that your words will always be graceful and polite, but firm and clear. I also hope you learn to be on the receiving end of these words. To be composed, understanding and rational even when your heart is breaking. To wish them well and mean it even when you never want to see them again.   

I hope you have good taste in music. Because everyone needs a sound track to their life. Especially when you are Twenty one and girls are ignoring you and school is hard and you’re broke and just barely getting by. I hope you will listen to more than just HipHop. That you’ll listen to soulful music; music that will give you goose bumps and make you want to cry. Music that will make you want to bang your head against a wall and scream when you hate your life. Music that will make you want to heal the world on your good days.

I hope you never lose your child-like sense of wonder. I hope you go for walks and explore the woods beyond our house. I hope you build train sets and castles. I hope you have pillow fights and build forts. I hope you never outgrow you spider man sheets and socks. I hope you never stop watching cartoons.

I pray that you love books. That you will read everything, from restaurant menus to graffiti on buildings. Because books contain more than just words. They contain ideas and dreams. Because a well-read boy is a great conversationalist. And a great conversationalist attracts great, smart girls. Girls that will challenge you and give you great conversation and adventure and with enough experimenting, great sex. Girls that will push you to be the best version of yourself. 

I hope you have a morbid (dark, weird and twisted) sense of humour. That you’ll make puns, lame and nerdy alike. 

I hope that you don’t lose yourself trying to fit in. I hope you know that normal is an illusion. I hope that you’ll always take weird as a complement.

Please be smart. 

I hope this list is good enough. 

Ps. I was going to name you Dilan. But there is this show called Modern Family with a character named Dilan that is very dumb and that ruined that name for me. If at all this is possible, pray that I name you something that won’t be used to taunt you. 
 

What do we want? Control over our own bodies. When do we want it? Now!

My favourite things about people is that we are such paradoxes, or lazy and unmotivated, depending on how you look at it. We say we want to be happy, but stay in unfulfilling jobs and relationships. We say we want to be successful, but do nothing about that idea we had. We want to be respected and appreciated, but do not stand up for ourselves in the face of an injustice. But more than that, we have this immense capacity for compassion, even at the expense of self. There is very little we wouldn’t do for the people we love. This, is simultaneously my favourite and least favourite thing about myself. I don’t like it, because sometimes it gives me an excuse for my laziness and failures. You take a word as ugly as procrastination, over-indulgence, recklessness and you wrap it up in a beautiful word such paradox or a difficult word, say, complex, and just like that, our less proactive moments become palatable. But it also beautiful that I can be mean and kind, I can be selfish and generous, I can be good and bad. I like that my human nature allows me to be everything I want to be, that it doesn’t box me. I believe an understanding of this makes it a lot easier to live in a world that endeavours so much to make extremes out of us. A world that doesn’t seem to place tolerance, understanding and equality as the foundation for all human interactions. A society that has decided that there are certain aspects of femininity that girls and women should be ashamed of.

The hardest thing I have had to do in my life (apart from being a semi-normal human at social interactions) is unlearn the sexist, subjugating ideals I internalised as a child. Even now, I cannot completely say that my outlook on these things is purely based on my understating and appreciation for their necessity and not the vague memory of the careless, misinformed opinion of an ignorant acquaintance, an agreeable parent or a well-meaning grandparent. I cannot tell you how many times my mother remarks about my dressing and it takes all of me to not weep.

Here’s the thing, I generally do not like long clothes. I don’t even know why. I just don’t look at a long skirt and think, “hey, I would like to wear that.” That only happens I see shorts and above the knee dresses and skirts. I think my mother has nightmares about this. So I do her a favour and stick to pants and keep my less than “modest” clothes to when she can’t see me. The problem occurs when I’m home and I do not intend to leave the house and I’m in shorts and a vest. Even when she doesn’t say anything, it says everything. And I know I am not the only girl who goes through this with their mothers and aunts and grandmothers.  I cannot count how many times girls are told to not dress like prostitutes, or wear a longer skirt because short skirts make boys uncomfortable and they might just get this urge to rape you (I hope you guys can hear the sarcasm in my voice because my eyes are rolled all the way to the back of my head) While they do mean well and all they want is an assurance, as feeble as it may be, that we will be safe, the language they use to express this concern is counter-productive and just serves in perpetuating the implication that a woman’s dressing and largely, her body is not under her control. 

See, when you tell a little girl to not dress like a prostitute, you are implying that dressing is an assessment of morality. Which is absurd. As far as I am concerned, the only thing that makes you immoral is doing immoral things; like killing people. And the only thing that makes you a prostitute is getting paid to have sex. And even then, that is a personal choice and it’s none of my business. Even if there was a correlation between dressing and morality, a certain way of dressing does not cause immorality. Correlation is not causation.  As I see it, dressing is about comfort and expression and attractiveness and presentability. Would it not make more sense to tell a girl, “Wear a longer dress because it is chilly outside. Or because you look more attractive or more presentable in that.” And when I say attractive, I do not mean for the sexual gratification of men, I simply looking your best self. And when I say presentable, I mean appropriate; not subject to the judgement of others. Because dressing is never about other people, especially men. Which makes it even more absurd when we make girls feel like their dressing should take men’s comfort into consideration. Not only is it an appropriation of the rape culture of victim shaming, it is also dehumanising and sexually objectifying. As Chimamanda Ngozi put it, we are teaching our girls that they are mere props in managing men’s sexual appetites.  We are teaching them that they are only avenues of blame should the said management of men’s appetites not work and we end up with a rape victim.  We are teaching them to value themselves less; to put a man’s comfort above their own.

I am all for decency. But decency should never be used as a justification to undervalue others. To shame them for the things that they love. We cannot want to control how women view and treat their bodies and hide under the guise of decency, at the very same time shaming victims of rape and sexual assault and blaming it on a supposed indecency. A case example, a guy who sags doesn’t get little more than a few scornful looks but a girl who wears a short dress gets a myriad of things, starting from insults to rape threats. Why do we treat women’s bodies as some sort of abomination? Why do we shame them for letting someone see them? More importantly, why do people who are not the women themselves even get to have a say? We make our girls think that their naked bodies is something that should make them uncomfortable, something they should be ashamed of. Is it not enough that women already have to try to attain these impossible standards of beauty imposed upon us? I understand and support the concept of healthy living and having a body that doesn’t weigh you down. What I do not support is that the toned thighs and flat stomach and clear face should only be for the guy(s) you are intimate with. It’s everywhere; from status updates on Facebook to anecdotes on WhatsApp groups. Women are constantly told to cover up, that there are some parts of their bodies are only meant to be seen by certain men. So we are telling women to do the hard work and get a nice body, but not allowing them to flaunt it? I’m not saying that people should walk around naked, I’m saying that the decision to not walk around naked, should be left to the women to make. My point is, women looking good naked shouldn’t be about the guy she’s having sex with. It should be about promoting a healthy perception of self, about women loving their bodies; loving their reflection in the mirror. It should be about women feeling beautiful, for themselves.  Also, if we are going to treat naked bodies as taboo, let’s do it for all genders.  Let’s raise hell when men are shirtless all over the place as they always are. 

But above all else, women are sexual human beings. There shouldn’t be shame in this. We need to  be open and honest about sex. I’ve always thought of it as a pity, that I have never been able to tell at what point exactly I developed a healthy opinion about sex. It means, I don’t remember an authority figure being open and honest with me about sex. For most of my pre-teen years, I thought talking to a boy would get me pregnant. I remember when I was ten, my social studies teacher decided to talk to us about sex. Actually it wasn’t so much a talk as it was a reprimand after he asked the girls who are not virgins to raise up their hands and everyone was too confused to raise up their hands. I have never understood why a teacher would find it appropriate to ask ten year old girls in a mixed classroom about their virgin status. I remember feeling attacked and exposed and later on swearing to never have sex until I was married. 

While waiting till marriage to have sex is a beautiful decision, it is not a decision that should be made after a tirade. It should be based on information and experience. Choosing to not wait, is also a valid decision. It is not right that we tell girls shit like, “being a virgin is the best gift you can give your husband on your wedding night.” It is not right that we make girls feel like losing their virginity before marriage is a failure on their part.  It is not fair that the same standards and embarrassments are not imposed on men. What we should teach girls is that sex is beautiful and sacred it should be between consenting people. We should tell them that it would be easier if they were adults and are better equipped to deal with its consequences. But more than that we should make them understand that losing your virginity doesn’t define them. It doesn’t make them whores. It doesn’t strip them off their dignity and make them less worthy of respect.  But they should know it matters because it’s fucking personal and as my roommate says, “it should be with a friend. Someone you are comfortable with. Someone you aren’t scared to say no to.”

Can we just let women issues be decided by women? Can we not make it about men? And can we not shame women for being women?    

    

A little forwardness, that’s all I ask. 

I have this admiration for people, especially women, who are forward.  I mean forward about sex.  I guess it is because I struggle so much with social interactions, to be able to walk up to someone and go, “hey, I wanna have sex with you” feels like a stunt out of a super hero movie. Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way saying random people should walk up to random people and request a dalliance. Depending on who and how you do it, it could be sexual harassment. And that’s not my brand. I’m all for people respecting each other, I’m all for consent if anything sexual is to happen. What I am saying is, if in this lifetime, or the next, but preferably this one, I am able to comfortably express my sexual needs to a man, without hearing society’s voice and judgement in my head labelling me a slut and a freak, it won’t matter much if I achieve little else,I will definitely go down in my books as the most phenomenal woman to ever traverse this planet. And just so you know, that book has the likes of Maya Angelou and Audrey Hepburn in it, so it’s no small feat.  

As a child, I unfortunately internalised the prettiness of a woman’s silence. We are taught from a young age as women that we are supposed to be seen, not heard. We are to do our hair, smile and look pretty. We are supposed to evoke desire, but not express it. Men are to find us attractive by the broadness of our hips, our inviting smiles, the glow of our skin and not by the contents of our brains or the words out our mouths. We are taught to let men hit on us, and only encourage the ones that actually do. Don’t flirt too much, don’t show too much skin, don’t laugh too loud. It’s desperate and it turns off men. We are not allowed to be picky, or even go out of our way to attract the kind of men we want. All we have to do is keep the man that wants us. So we have to cook and manage the house and raise the children, but more than that, make sure our men don’t stray. Because a man cheating on a woman, is somehow a reflection on her; the blandness of her food or her unwillingness to try certain positions in bed. Which is ironic, because we live in a society that deems it perfectly okay for people (read men) to use phrases like, “good dick will hypnotise a woman” but an abomination for women to applaud their sex game. It is understandable for a woman to stick by a less than average guy, because he gives her good dick, but incomprehensible for a man to stay with a woman because of the sex. She has to be a slut, if sex is the best thing she brings to the table.

So while, this is not the 1950’s and I cannot deny that men understand the essence of a modern-day woman. The woman who won’t do your chores and suck your dick (metaphorically speaking), but will give you great conversation and pay half the bills. Society still struggles with the concept of a woman being able to express her sexuality. We still tell little girls, to let the boy text you first, let him kiss you first, let him ask for sex. And even then, don’t put out on the first date, play hard to get, don’t make him think you are available, he might mistake you for a whore. We teach our boys to categorise the women in their lives. The kind they’ll just have fun with and the kind they’ll marry. We make our girls feel like they have to choose, will you be the fun girl or the wife? Will you be the booty call or the mother of his children? Why can’t girls have it all? Because I want it all. I don’t mean the booty calls and giving lap dances to strangers at a party. I don’t do that. But that decision doesn’t come out of judgement for people who do, it is out of an understanding of the mechanics of my soul. I am not a casual sex kind of person. I am not saying we have to be in a relationship, I am saying I want to have an emotional understanding of my sexual partner. And that is the only place that kind of decision should come from. It should be from an awareness of self and not because people told you that you have be a certain way, that you can’t do certain things because of your gender.

Because beneath my cynicism, I still believe in fairy tales. Well, sort of. I believe in finding the love of your life and marrying them and not getting divorced. I believe in making relationships work and not giving up on people. I believe in marrying your best friend (or at the very least a friend) and being there till death do you part. It could be the dumbest of my dreams, but it is the greatest of my hopes. I just want someone I’ll make puns with. I just want a friend I’ll be sexually attracted to for a really long time, eternity if I had it my way. But in the meantime, I also want to have fun. I want intimate dinners and poetry by a fireplace. I want Coldplay concerts and bitter-sweet goodbye kisses from an exotic man I just met on a trip; the inevitability of the end of an affair and the relief that my sins will stay with him. I want star-crossed love and blurred lines with a friend.  I want sexual innuendo and geek talk. I want to be able to wear sweatpants and mini-skirts just because I feel like it. I don’t want to be asked if I am not worried that sweatpants dull of my femininity. I want to be able to wear a short dress without being asked who I am trynna look good for. I want to be able to wear shorts to class and not have to worry about the lecturer misjudging the content of my character.  I just want to be able to be comfortable in my sexuality. I just want people to understand that I own my sexuality and whatever I do with it, or how I choose to express it is not a statement on my morality or intelligence or humanity.  And if I can get at least one person to see things this way, then my work will be done. Because to me, there’s more to feminism than ending rape and equal pay for women. My favourite bits are the ones that make women comfortable in their skin, the parts that allow women to stand tall and unapologetic for wearing their skin as they see fit. The kind that makes us realise that the quality of our lives should never be determined by society’s willingness to allow it. 

On change.

The year was two thousand and fifteen. Young, ignorant me was excited about the new year. I truly believed it was going to be my best year yet. I really did. It makes me laugh(and sometimes cry) to think about now naively optimistic I was. I guess I just needed the hopeful illusion. Two Thousand and Fourteen had been an awful year. As it turned out, 2015 wasn’t that different anyway, at least not the first quarter. The prominent memory about this time is we were almost homeless, my roommates and I that is. We had to move out of our residence at the time, and we had no prospects of finding another place to live. Also, we were doing exams and we were as broke as it gets(or at least I was) Looking back, being almost homeless was a good thing for us. We really needed to move out of that place. The environment was toxic, both physically and mentally. We were out of Our league, We were spending way too much money and for some weird reason all our relationships were falling apart. I can confidently say, my roommates and I cried ourselves to sleep more often than we care to admit. Even so, moving out wasn’t that easy, change never is. I remember when we finally moved out and because it was to a different building, structured differently, we had to switch the curtains. Just the mere thought of having different curtains in my room, upset me more than it should. It was a while before I grudgingly admitted that we had done the right thing by moving.

Like I said, change is not easy. I guess we get so used to having things a certain way, as harmful as those things may be, that we dare not try to make things better. Change comes with unknown variables and with the unknown comes this paralyzing fear. You know what they say, better the devil you know than the angel you don’t know. And for the most part, it is understandable, I could say acceptable to some extent. It is okay to be scared. As long as you know, and are preparing to face that fear someday. What isn’t acceptable, is how we let this fear of change rule our lives. How we stay in a state of destructive inertia, we let ourselves hurt, how we slowly kill ourselves just because we are afraid to venture into the unknown. How we feed our bad habits, excuse others for theirs and pretend that we have forgiven ourselves for being so cowardly. If there is one thing that is common to all human beings, it is that we are capable of change. We owe it to ourselves to change, to grow, to discover the better versions of ourselves.

And it is on this premise that I am basing my dissatisfaction and disappointment in myself and others close to me(or everyone) for the times I have not been my best self. For the times I have procrastinated, for the times I have indulged my self-destructive thoughts, for the times I have used my humanity and my room for error to excuse my bad behavior, for the times I fell back into old habits, for the times I have let my ego get the better of me, for the times I have been as human as I could be. But more importantly, I am annoyed at the times I let people take advantage of me, for the times I let people hurt me, for the times I have forgiven people, or held my tongue and given them another chance simply because I understood where they were coming from, or that they didn’t mean to. This is also about the times I have been the offending party but still felt entitled to some forgiveness simply I was hurting. This is to say that hurting others isn’t okay just because you are hurt, or you have been hurt. Because we are capable of being better, because the goal in life is to be better.

Here’s the thing. We are all a little damaged. Nobody was raised by perfect parents. Hell, some people aren’t even raised by their parents. More often than not, the people that raise us, also break us a little bit, knowingly or not. We internalize things, we take up their bad habits, we accept the lies they tell as truths, and we never quite forgive them for the careless utterance that broke our spirit a little bit. As we grow up, we learn that we have to unlearn some of the things they taught us, Or at the very least, put it in context. The people raised in abusive homes have to learn that it is not okay and it is never an excuse to be abusive. The people raised by neglectful drunks learn that you can’t go through life evading your responsibilities and drowning your sorrows in alcohol. Even those brought up in seemingly perfect homes find the need to discard or at least change some ideologies they were raised up with. If not for anything, then for the fact that the passing of time necessitates a change. So while some people are more damaged than others, and some people need more time to change, it is never okay to use your damage as an excuse for the less than noble things you will do. Nobody should have to endure and constantly forgive your mistakes just because someone made you like that, or because you have always been like that. If you can be better, you should be better.

I have been told on numerous occasions that I should develop a sense of humour. What stands out about these instances is the people who told me that usually said it after they cracked a rape joke, or said something misogynistic and I wasn’t amused. I used to get so worked up when people tell me that because for starters, I have a sense of humour. I will laugh at anything. I just saw this text post about this vegetarian who climbed Everest to prove that vegetarians aren’t weak but she ended up dying. People were commenting things like,”Lettuce pray” and “rest in peas” and I laughed so hard. Don’t judge me. I have a heart. And a weakness for puns. Also, I do not have anything against vegetarians. It takes courage and strength to be so healthy. My point is, I have a sense of humour, dark as it may sometimes be. What I don’t like about these people who tell me to lighten up is their argument that “boys will always be boys.” It is essentially saying that boys will always be sexist, violent people. And that is not true. Did you know that there was once a convention in the middle ages where the table legs had to be covered because boys found them sexually attractive? I guess the table legs resembled women legs, but still. All I am saying is, if boys can learn not to feel a sexual attraction when they look at table legs, then they can unlearn the sexist ideologies that they have internalized. Boys Can Change. Girls can change. Everyone can be better. So let’s be better.

we live,we learn.

I think it was Ernest Hemingway that once said, “I have never met a happy thinker.” And boy, he couldn’t have been any more correct. Now I am not saying I am a sad thinker, but I will say this, my life would be a lot more easier if I thought about things just a little bit less. Anyway, I have been watching a lot of Elementary lately. I just love Sherlock Holmes’ character. He is so awkward and clueless, it is just so damn sexy. So those of you who are familiar with the “legend” of Sherlock Holmes know he has issues with drugs, you know, heroine and the likes. Now, Sherlock is a genius in the science of deduction thanks to his extraordinary senses. He has the ability to spot and connect mundane or even related events in a way that most people, or anyone at all, cannot comprehend. But that right there is his undoing. So while his gift has helped him as a detective and has resulted in saving countless lives, he is also acutely aware of just how rotten the world is. A case example would be he is scared of flying. Because while most people see and trust a qualified pilot, he sees the tinge of nervousness in his demeanor. And if the pilot is nervous, what has he done about it? Has he taken a drink to calm him down? Is he nervous due to a problem at home? Will that be a distraction? I know, sounds like paranoia, but you get my point. Sherlock even once said he wonders how differently his life would have been if he was born at a different time. When it was a lot quieter out there. When there was less evil in the world. Would he have turned to drugs to dull his senses? That maybe he wouldn’t have ended up an addict.

And that in a way is my problem. I sort of live inside my head. It started as a way to escape reality, but right now it has become a habit. A habit I am not really willing to break. I think I find it easier to be a little oblivious. It makes me a little less susceptible to taking crap from people. To put it mildly, I am an obsessive thinker. And I am in no way comparing myself to Ernest Hemingway or Sherlock Holmes, but I do have moments when I am washing dishes, listening to music and I have a flash of an unpleasant memory and then I spiral out. I end up going through all the different probabilities, the things I should have done differently, what I should have said, places I shouldn’t have been, the person I sometimes wish I was. And yes, eventually I manage to talk out of it, because at the end of the day it is the present that matters, that I am better now. Even so, those five minutes of intense what-ifs have still ruined my day. I don’t think there is a remedy to that. I have accepted that I will never be able to take things lightly, not entirely. That I will occasionally have my intense moments, that those moments will make me feel depressed but that is just who I am. There is not much point in trying to change that. That despite of my somewhat self-destructing state of mind, I am okay. Hell, I am great.

And that is what I am trying to say. We are who we are. And as long as we are human, we are bound to have moments when we are not comfortable with who we are. Some moments take minutes others last a lifetime. Some are for mundane reasons like a pimple on your face and others are for reasons that only our souls could ever be able to hold. And as long as we are alive, these moments will fluctuate. Some will get harder, others will get easier. That more often than not, things will not work out the way you want them to. That life will always surprise you. Sometimes with birthday parties or a thoughtful gift from a friend. And other times with a fist in your heart, moments that will just knock the wind out of your system. But amidst all these, you will be fine. You will grow. You will change your mind. You break the promises you made to yourself as a kid, you quit medical school, your childhood friend dies, you try different things, you meander, you get lost. That amidst all the noise and confusion, you find a quiet place in your head, or your friend’s kitchen counter. You find yourself, be it between the pages of a book or the words of a character in a movie. And maybe, you find someone who takes an interest; others go with you, others stay and wait for you to come back. And while you do, you find joy and laughter and tears. You find friendship and heartbreak. You find your favorite song. And speaking of songs, I have had Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars” on repeat for like most of today. I don’t know why. Maybe I miss 2007. I feel like I was a lot smarter back then, or maybe things were just easier. There is this line in that song. “I don’t know where, I am confused about how as well. Just know that these things will never change for us.” And I guess that is all I am trying to say, we all eventually get there. We all eventually find our souls. And if we are lucky enough, we find someone to share that with, even if it is just for a heartbeat.

YOU WHO FOCUS ON FIFTEEN-SIXTEENTHS OF A MAN.

So, it is no secret I love comedy series. There is this comedy TV series titled “Happy Endings.” I think I mostly like it because it is such a simple show. You know, you don’t have to think when watching it. It is not like The Big Bang Theory where they are always talking about a scientific concept, or Two and a Half Men where everything had sexual innuendo. Don’t get me wrong, I love Chuck Lorre. He is a comedic genius. But if you ever need to just sit, stare at your screen and get entertained, Happy Endings is the series to watch. So one of the characters, Dave, in this series discovers he is one-sixteenth Navajo (a Native American tribe). in one episode, the characters are having an all American thanksgiving. So Dave decides to integrate the Navajo culture to this thanksgiving. How? By adding clams to the menu. So he sets to go get clams but he is a very gullible person so he ends up losing his car and all his money before he even gets to the store. So when he finally gets to the store, seeing as he has no conventional form of currency, he has to appeal to the store keeper’s emotions by getting into how his people (the Navajos) had to endure all types of tribulations just to get to the first thanksgiving. But the storekeeper is really confused, like, “You’re white.” To which Dave replies, “you who focus on fifteen-sixteenths of a man.” I don’t know why, but that statement has stuck with me.

So I have been a little ticked off lately. Why? First, I am suffering from an acute shortage of hard copy material to read. Because yeah, I am one of those people who still prefer physical books. There is something about turning actual, tangible pages that is just immensely therapeutic. I like to think of it as a metaphor of sorts. A sense of closure, if you may. Plus I also feel like downloading books in a sense just compromises the material, not to mention illegal most of the time. Second, I have been forced to rely on blogs and Instagram captions for my reading material. I mean I love reading people’s blogs. I have to, especially since I need you guys to love reading my blog. But I just miss books. Plus, I feel like the universe has been aligning a series of slightly annoying posts for me to find. Get this, over the last few days, I have run into a lot of pasts and articles referencing Jhene Aiko’s line in Post To be, “you gotta eat the booty like groceries.” What annoys me about this is most of this people probably haven’t listened to any other of Jhene Aiko’s songs. Because if they have, they would know there is a lot more to her music than “eating the booty like groceries.” And I guess it just bugs me that she has been singing about peace and love and souls and weed for years only for her most famous line to be “you gotta eat the booty like groceries.” Because if you ask me, she is the very definition of soul. And I realize Adele just made the world emotionally unstable. But I also know it is one thing to appeal to people’s emotions and another to appeal to someone’s individuality, their spirituality, who they are as a person. And I feel like Jhene Aiko does that. She is like a singing Kendrick Lamar.

So why am I bringing this up now? It is the holidays and a lot of us are home. And maybe it is just me, but home is a little boxing. Sure, for the first few days it is fun and nostalgic and comfortable. But after a few days, you have done all the catching up you needed to do and all the excitement sort of just dies down. It is especially harder for me because I grew up a quiet withdrawn kid. And overtime, I think my family mistook that for a shy, weak personality. And maybe I was. But I have grown up and I think I can say I am very opinionated and I feel very strongly about things. I am not particularly shy, I just like keeping to myself. I don’t have a weak personality. If you ask me, I have a strong personality in my own way, it is just not loud and in your face. So every time I come home, I feel like my family expects me to fit into this image they have of me in their head. I think they expect me to be the person they think they know. And that is mind-numbingly exasperating and somewhat hurtful. And so my point is, human beings are complex and layered. There is so much to people that what we used to know about them. And I think the world, or at least this coming year, would be slightly better if we understood that. If we made an active effort to understand people, not as what we want them to be, but as who they really are, who they are becoming.

Being Twenty

Can I just say, I did not look forward to turning twenty. I mean, as long as I had “teen” in my age’s spelling, I had the right to feel like someone’s baby. which I guess was somewhat comforting because I have never really felt like anyone’s baby. The thought of turning twenty gave me anxiety, butterflies in my stomach, not the beautiful kind. I wanted to throw up just thinking about it. why? Maybe it is because of how old twenty feels. Or maybe it is because of how I have been conditioned to think that I had to get my life together in my twenties. Basically, turning twenty came with so much pressure and for someone who trips while wearing flat shoes at least thrice in a day, turning twenty just didn’t settle nicely with me. The only good thing about turning twenty was that it gave me an excuse to spend money I didn’t have and perhaps write about how uneasy I was. But that was eight months ago. Anyway, I finally got down to it.

Being twenty has been the most beautiful tragedy of my life. As Taylor Swift put it, “we are happy, free,confused and lonely in the best ways. It’s miserable and magical.” Miserable and magical. I cannot think of a more accurate description for these past eight months. Let’s start with the magical bits. While I haven’t had anything grand happen, I have heard many little triumphs and special moments. Like amazing conversations with strangers on Instagram and rib cracking comedy series. And I realize it is a little sad that these are the things I find special. Yeah, my life sucks like that. But really, this is the year that I have learnt to love my own company and even more importantly, my relationship with my best friend has just gotten to another level. You know it is no longer a teenage-go-to-the-movies-do-stupid-things-kind of friendship. It is more of a conscious understanding that life is getting hard and I may not be able to see you as often as I would like to, but it doesn’t matter from which galaxy you are, I am going to be here just loving and supporting the crap out of you. And life could not have given me a better idiot to suffer through life with. And for that, twenty has been magical.

But it has also been miserable. For starters, it is the year I have second guessed everything right from the size of my breasts to my career options. We are raised a certain way, made to believe certain things are important, others irrelevant. We are expected to get certain grades, attend certain schools, take certain courses. We are taught to love and admire certain people, distance ourselves from others. But this is the year all that has been jumbled up. This is the year I have learnt that there is so much more to people than what our parents think of them, their sexual orientation, their bad habits and addictions. This is the year I have learnt that just because someone loves you, it doesn’t mean they know what is best for you. This is the year I have made some painful realizations like just because you love someone, doesn’t mean you have to be in good terms with them. I have learnt to be rational and make decisions with my head and stick by them no matter how many nights i cry over those decisions. It is the year I have learnt to fight for what i want. to say no mean it even if I feel guilty about it. I have learnt to be a little selfish and put myself first. I have learnt that just because I like a guy doesn’t mean I have to be with them. If they are bad for me, I have to find a way to get over them. I could go on and on. but my point is, while these things seem like good things, the process of learning these lessons was pure and utter misery.

But I do no want to bore you with lessons. Because as I said I haven’t enjoyed learning these lessons. What I enjoyed however as the illusion that turning twenty would change my fortunes. I thought twenty was the year i would get to do something more with my writing. Something more than just posting my somewhat uncensored thoughts on a blog. I thought it was the year I’d learn to love the course I take in school. And on nights more delusional than others, I thought I was the year I got a boyfriend. Scratch that. Let’s call it present admirer. Let me explain that. I am not really into this thing people do and call relationships. Because everything is way too casual. And I have accepted that I won’t find the relationship I want from a college boy. because I want consistency and assurance and friendship. I want a guy who wants to hear my thoughts and basically just love me for my intelligence above anything else. So no, I didn’t really want a boyfriend, but I wanted to feel wanted. I wanted at the very least, someone to ferociously hit on me. Someone to make saying no, a little hard. But instead I got perverts on the street crudely telling me I have nice breasts, I got random waiters telling me I have kissable lips, I got chauvinists telling me I’m too intimidating as a woman, I got acquaintances telling me I have a scary aura and strangers telling me I have piercing eyes.

So while I expected so much out of twenty, all i became was a woman wishing I had smaller breasts, a woman scared to put on lipstick a woman scared to wear feminine clothes. Twenty in a way has made me want to disappear. Because somewhere along these eight months, a thought has managed to creep and settle at the back of my mind, slowly growing into an insecurity; that maybe I’m not that good a writer, that bright a student or that attractive a woman. That perhaps after all, I am just as average as everyone else. But maybe that is the beauty of being twenty. I will probably cry myself to sleep today, but I might wake up with vigour and an incredible love of life tomorrow. Maybe.

solitude

I read somewhere that solitude isn’t the absence of love, but its complement. Depending on how you look at it, this could be true or false. According to me though, this is true. I think the greatest and most difficult love affair is with ourselves. I mean, who can confidently say that they love who they are at all times? And it has taken me twenty years to get comfortable in my skin. And even now, I wouldn’t say I am an expert at it. I mean, I still have moments when I look in the mirror and I am like, “who is that??” a case example would be my relationship with my hair. I have typical African hair. To say the least, it is not very easy to maintain. That is why, it is always braided. But you see the bad thing about braiding your hair constantly is that your hairline recedes greatly. So I recently undid my hair, and yeah, my hairline is saddening. So I decided I would just keep an afro for a while, let the edges grow back. And most of the time, it is great, because my head feels so much lighter. The problem is, I am so used to how I look with braids it has become an essential part of my image perception. So every once in a while I look in the mirror and a part of me just feels less prettier, less attractive and so for the next ten minutes or so I have to remind myself that beauty is skin deep and there is very little the amount of hair on your head does to improve that.

And that is just an example, the least of my insecurities. I mean, I would love to sit here and put myself on some pedestal, but I’m human and I have spent a great deal of these past few years working on accepting my flaws and all, so I’ll just be candid about it. I have spent a lot of time by myself these past year and I have come to appreciate the value of solitude. I mean, it wasn’t easy, there are nights I wanted to jump out my window. There are nights I was so miserable, so much so, I would get so worked up by how silent my phone is. Like, why is nobody texting me? I won’t lie, I hated being alone. Because I am the type of person who ruminates over things. So every time I was alone I would overthink things, creating problems that aren’t really there and before I know it, I am on the bathroom floor crying my lungs out. And I knew I had to work through this. Because for eighteen years of my life, I had been a loner, a quiet, behind the scenes introvert. It wasn’t fair that I was letting a couple of hurts get to me and change me, and completely alter my usual headspace. I knew I liked being alone, I just needed to find a way not feel lonely.

And so I tried and experimented on so many things. At first it was spoken word videos on the internet, then writing a blog post daily. These were good, because I picked up on writing, which is the only thing on this planet I can confidently say I am passionate about. But when you were in the state I was in, a hobby wasn’t going to cut it, I needed an addiction. I needed something so intensely distracting, it would keep me from thinking entirely. And so gradually I watched myself do something I swore I would never do; self-medicate with alcohol. At first it was fun. It was fun being tipsy and light headed and not caring about the next moment. Problem is, I am student with responsibilities. I had to be sober for most of the week. And when I am sober, I am going to think about the things I do not want to think about, the things that made me drink, and how bad a decision that was and I am going to beat myself up about it till the next time I can drink. So in a nutshell, I wasn’t getting better. I was just getting myself more miserable. So anyway, I kept going like this for a while, until one night I sort of overindulged. And when I say sort of, I mean I had a nasty hangover for two days straight. It was the worst two days of my life.

But these two days got me thinking. What was I doing with my life? I mean, my life didn’t suck so bad, so why was I self-destructing? I mean, here I was, throwing up every hour, struggling to hold my hair, fighting this overwhelming urge to cry, for god knows what reason, by myself. Where was everyone I had been drinking with the previous night? I was by myself. And that was a revolution of sorts. I realized that I have to be my own best friend, my most fanatic fan. I had to learn to love my own company. Because at the end of the day, it’s just me. And I later came to realize the best way to fall in love with yourself is to spend time with yourself. So yeah, this embarrassingly personal story is my way of saying that solitude is the greatest gift you could give yourself. Learn who you are without someone else. Learn to feel whole by yourself. Learn to love yourself. Because that is the only way you can get to have a meaningful relationship with someone else. Because when you understand that you are a complete being, and you do not need someone else to validate or love you, that you are all you ever need, you view people differently. You know that loving someone else is just sharing who you are with them and that you do not have to accept mediocrity, or half-baked intentions in the name of love.

So while I still over-think things, I have learnt to live with my thoughts. Hell I even spare time to think. To get in touch with myself. Because I realize the only journey that truly matters, is the journey back to myself. And while our purpose on earth as humans might be to make a difference, change a life, save a soul, sometimes it is okay to only save your soul.

Best friends forever??

So I just found my ten year old sister making a card for her best friend. It had this BFF acronym splashed all over it.  I think it’s cute; cute as hell. You get? Because hell is not cute.
*high-fives my left hand with my right hand*
*has a sheepish green on my face*
*cries myself to sleep for being so lame*
So, BFF, huh? First, this is one of the cheesiest things I have heard in my life. Do not get me wrong, I believe in the concept of having a favourite friend. I think everyone needs a best friend. I just do not believe in forever. Especially not when it involves another human being with free will, ambition, direction, life.
Maybe I am just cynical but I do not believe anyone can get forever with anyone. Come on, what is this, the notebook? And that scares me.  Because my sister is ten. I remember being ten. Ten is the year I became who I am now. We had just moved into a different town. I had no friends. I only had my sister, whom we spent more time fighting than being each other’s support systems. But my sister is good with people, so, she didn’t really need me. Ten is the year my childhood ended. Ten is the year I became a loner.  Ten is the year I began to prefer books and music over people. Ten is the year I taught myself to look hostile. Ten is the year that I learnt to ignore people, tune people out. Ten is the year I taught myself to be self-sufficient. Ten is the year I lost the person I occasionally try to be. Ten is the year that broke me. Ten is the year I broke myself. For my sister, ten is just another blissful year in her childhood. Another year to laugh and make memories. I will admit, I am kind of jealous.
And maybe that is why it is so hard to watch her have such faith in people. Because I lost my faith in people when I was her age. Because I learnt of impermanence and the human capability to break their promises when I was her age. Because I stopped believing in forever when I was her age. Because I know that a few years down the line (god forbid), she won’t be bffs with whoever this card is for. And that is the hardest thing one can ever live through. Severed relationships. Because people don’t always keep their word. They stab you in the back, they move away, they die. But the worst kind is those friendships that just fizzle and die. No major fight. No nothing. You just talk less and less until one day you see them across the street and they are just total strangers. And you rack your brains for something to tell them, and a tense wave is all you can manage. It is things like these that put a fist through your heart. And in some ways, I feel like she is setting herself up for heartache and there is not a damn thing I can do about it. And that is the second hardest thing I am going to have to live through.

tut

do you my friend, do you.

So I have been thinking a lot about fitting in. and can I just say, I am feeling pretty darn proud of myself. I can finally say I have gotten to a point, at least mentally, where I do not care about fitting in. About what’s cool and what isn’t. About what everyone is doing on a Friday night. I just don’t care. And if that isn’t growth, I don’t know what is. Why am I making a big deal out of this? Because these past few months have been a little rough. Let’s just say some things happened and some parts of me started feeling like I should be more like everybody else. Stupid, huh? I think so too. And yes, I want to sit here and pretend I am one of those people who don’t have issues like these, I certainly want to pretend that lame issues like these do not get to me, but I would be lying. And the good god knows I do not want to lie about the biggest lesson I have learnt in my life. And that would be; do not ever let anyone tell you, or worse make you feel like who you are is not good enough. Trite I know, but it is so important.

See, I know what’s it’s like to be different. And I just don’t mean different, I mean awkward, strange, quiet, interested in all the wrong things, insane, too emotional, incapable of getting along with more than a handful of people, not even the ones that mattered. And I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture by now. And I cannot tell you how many times I have felt like a failure, a disgrace to humanity. I cannot tell you how many times I have felt like a disappointment. I cannot tell you how many times I have been in a room of people and all I could see in their eyes is their inability to comprehend how someone mechanical like me could even exist. So I guess it goes without saying that I am not much of a conversationalist. And who could blame them? I am the kind of person who walks into a room full of people and it doesn’t occur to me that I should greet them. I am the kind of person who sees someone I know across the road and looks away, hoping they go away. I am the kind of person who will turn right around and go the other way just because I do not want to run into some old classmates. And yeah, for the first fifteen years or so of my life, I did not know that was wrong. Anyway a few lectures from my aunts, and I am kind of working through it. Because yeah, courtesy is an elementary part of being human. I get that.

What I do not get is these past few months. Because I swear to god, I have tried to be normal. I have said hi to people I didn’t know. I have let my friend’s friends hug me, because apparently, hugs are not intimate things as I thought. It doesn’t matter if you’ve just met someone, you have to be polite and hug them even though most of them are perverts who just want to feel you up. And yeah, I also learnt you are not supposed to take offence when they do that unless you want to come off as a bitchy prude. Seriously, bitchy prude? How do these two words even fit in the same sentence? I have also learnt that you are expected to go to some party just because some people you just met know this host. And what’s worse, you are expected to get drunk, and give some random guy a lap dance, then pass out on a stranger’s bed. Speaking of beds and strangers, am I the only one who thinks beds are sacredly personal and only a selected few are allowed to sleep in yours? And I also learnt that if you do not do any of these things, you are just not fun. And what’s worse, is people judge you, and they don’t care to know past your name. Which is probably a good thing because what would I tell them even if they bothered. That I think fun is a personal concept. And for me, my ultimate idea of fun is just me in the house, listening to my music, drinking my tea, reading my books, watching my comedies? And don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with drinking. What is wrong is writing some people off because they like to do it in the house, with friends they can make fun of and roommates they can tell dumb jokes to. What I am trying to say is that we are into different things and I for one would love it if just once, somebody understood that. Because I am tired and pissed as hell of being judged and misunderstood. Because, yeah, it hurts.

But all the ranting aside, I’m just going say this, do you my friend, do you. Do not ever let anyone tell you that it is socially unacceptable to break dance in the middle of the road even though you are horrible at it. Unless you might cause an accident, then don’t do it. Do not ever let anyone tell you that speaking to yourself makes you look crazy because guess what, we all are crazy anyway, at least you are embracing it. And more importantly, never surround yourself with people who make you feel imperfect, like you need to work on yourself, like you need to do the things they do to be complete. Please, do not ever change for anyone. Unless that someone is you. Because as far as I am concerned, the only thing that’s wrong and socially unacceptable is intentionally hurting someone else. And that’s my golden rule, never ever intentionally hurt someone else. And if you ever do, as you will, apologize and do everything in your power to make it up to them. That being said, be your different self and watch everyone else a few years later try to get there. Because that’s the thing with life, people spend a lot of their years trying to fit in and then one morning they wake up and realize that living life by some set of standards is just bounding and not fun anymore. And then they spend the rest of their lives trying to be different. And that’s where we weirdos win in life.