I am writing after a hiatus of a year. I love writing; it’s like talking to an old friend who is also a terrific listener. It makes me vulnerable, and feel strong at the same time. I feel alive. My head buzzes with ideas, possibilities. It makes me think. Why then, did I not write for a year?
My fears took over me. However, the process had started well before a year ago.
Someone I was madly in love with left the country without a single word. I started questioning the gift of intuition I thought I had (I thought he had feelings for me too). I thought I was taking the world too seriously, and reading way too much between the lines. Besides, my idea of an idealistic love story was killed. The second time.
True love comes quietly, without banners and flashing lights. If you hear bells, get your ears checked. – Erich Segal
I lost my job. The org I worked for was racist, sexist, and smelled of frat culture. My manager was an outright racist woman. I got no credit for any cool projects I worked on while a white boy got applauded for all it. How can a brown girl ever write a better code and find a better solution than a white boy? When I demanded feedback and concrete reasons, they had none. I told them their reasons made zero sense to me, and just walked out, not knowing what and where my future lay. I knew I was one of their best employees, but they did not. Knowing you are good is not enough. Your humility still makes you question your worth. More so if you are a woman. The org is on the last straw before it shuts down for good (I had predicted the dates for that too). There is solace in knowing that it was indeed operating poorly. Even then, my self-doubt does not go away. And that is exactly how racism, and sexism work.
Oprah Winfrey had said that Excellence is the best deterrent to racism or sexism. There are two problems with this. 1) It is not always true – excellence won’t be the best deterrent if you just happen to be in the wrong group/society/clan. 2) You cannot be mediocre and a person of color, or a woman and still hold a normal job. But it would be perfectly fine for someone white, and even better male.
I found a new job, but I lost my visa status. This was unexpected, and I had to pack all my life in ten days, and leave, not knowing again what and where my future lay. I went back to live with my parents. I thought at least I would get to spend some quality time with my family, after about four years. Three months living with parents, especially with my dad, just brought out more PTSD shit, things I had rebelled against growing up. Childhood and teenage fears started raising their heads. Besides, I was livid because of all the sexism in the society around me.
The thing that gets us through childhood is the thing that hobbles us as adults – someone
I am not afraid of knowing less, or making a mistake. I am afraid of not knowing if I know less, or am making a mistake and getting punished for it. My fear is losing my independence. My biggest fear is being in a bad place, and not being able to do anything to get out of there. I refuse to be a victim, and my fear is being one. This fear crippled me, to the point where I became constantly anxious, watchful, and my health now requires immediate attention from me.
I learned that I need to listen to what my body is trying to tell me. I need to let myself be vulnerable. I need not always be strong. I need to surround myself with people who believe in me. If someone questions your ability, ask them for feedback. If they do not give you any feedback, they either do not have the courage to give it to you, or they are bigoted/jealous. Find out if you are falling in a pattern. I know I lack some things too. I have learned to face things that I have been avoiding for years. I am working on them, and pushing myself hard to face the realities, to change what I can about myself. Things like being more assertive (doing what you want is not being assertive), communicating my problems clearly(I thought being open and honest was good enough), keeping an open mind (I thought I was open-minded, but there’s a long way to go), not ignoring my health (I am 31 now and I can’t run to save my life). I need to get back to painting (still scares me). I have got to travel (another solo trip on its way).
Writing today is one of the stepping stones towards this journey.
The fearless are merely fearless. People who act in spite of their fear are truly brave. – James A. Lafond-Lewis