When I was raised in the 50s I was told that sex outside of marriage was a sin and that it would ruin my reputation and that I would forever be banished from polite society as a fallen woman. Sex was for procreation and that was it. Sixteen years of catholic education really did […]the “talk” . . . then and now
I am giving the permission to the Universe to make the way and allow me to reinvent myself; I am giving myself the permission to reinvent myself, this time with more wisdom.
It is something that I’ve been fighting for quite some time. I realised how many preconceived ideas I had about everything I thought I should be or become. Since I am quite stubborn and try my hardest to reach my goals (often against the odds/ the perpetual need to swim against the current), it has been quite challenging for me to allow myself the flexibility of changing long term goals to ever-changing and ever-evolving circumstances, understanding and beliefs.
Now, I’m not trying to advocate for anyone to change their long term goals and stop striving for them. Far from it. I actually really admire people who are passionate and work hard towards their long term goals. Those people may have sound their calling early on.
But there are some people like me who have been thrown into so many situations before finding their “calling”. I am actually still wondering what my calling truly is. But right now, I am focusing on everything that feels right. Truly listening to my own intuition and authenticity. Hopefully, this is how I’ll stumble over my best assets and abilities, and use them to fulfill a bigger purpose.
Looking back, I truly have no regret. All experiences, good or bad, shaped me into the person that I am today. Yes, it’s been hard way too often, and heart breaking in way too many instances, but by the end of the day, the stubborn me wouldn’t have moved to seek better and more authentic if it wasn’t for all those challenges.
2020 stripped off me everything that wasn’t authentically me. Many of which were actually surprising. But by the end of the day, I am much more at peace with who I am and who I am becoming.
I am consciously choosing to let go of every internal barriers preventing me from reinventing myself into a better person, even if it has to include challenging my core beliefs.
I am a woman,
born female, and I am very much a female walking body.
I cannot do anything without being objectified,
it became my reality!
A reality I cannot run away from…
I carry in my every cell all the shame and hurt of the millions of women before and presently around me.
Sister, how many times have we been told to hush and put more clothes on to make ourselves be respected?
But have you seen all the clothes worn by the rape victims?
Some of them were even in diapers, for heaven’s sake!
Am I going too far?
How many times have women worn pant suits to conform in a room full of men and still got disrespected?
We are inviting predators by existing!
That’s how they make us feel.
But we’ve grown with ideologies that made us hate our bodies and our very essence more than we could ever think of celebrating them.
It’s almost like our society tried its hardest to suppress the female sexuality.
I’ve seen women who own their sexuality… They walk with such freedom.
Is this what this patriarchal society is so scared of?
Of a free woman?
It’s okay to feel aroused when you see someone attractive.
It’s never okay to be disrespectful.
I look at those women with envy,
Because I wish I could break free of my mental prison preventing me from unleashing my sensuality and the Goddess living inside of me.
I can feel it deep inside of me that She, the Goddess, possesses the very essence of my femininity and the key to me finding pleasure in the very core of my existence.
How did sexuality become so taboo?
It is the expression of the very essence of what made our very own existence possible;
The sacred union of the Shiva-Shakti, the union of the divine masculine and the divine feminine.
The expression of female sexuality scares!
It disturbs the oppression built in this patriarchal society.
How dare we, women, have the guts to challenge and disturb the status quo.
“Why make the comfortable uncomfortable, women?”, you said.
It was only comfortable to you.
You’ve been taking pleasure from our body for so long and prevented us from enjoying ours guilt-free.
We suppressed the very essence of who we are to make you happy.
What about our happiness?
Why is the expression of our female sexuality scary?
Me posting the photo of the drawing of a naked woman is not “asking for it”.
Asking for what exactly?
All I ask is to be RESPECTful towards women, and to embody CONSENT as part of who we are.
Written by: Urvashi Appiah
Art by: Lilli Hill
Short note: I was triggered tonight by an uninvited debate on why sharing the picture in the featured picture drawn by Lilli Hill made me look like a cheap and easy girl. There is so much more express about this subject! But I will leave it to that today. I am pro-choice, pro-consent, and pro-respect! And yes! Respect and Consent goes both ways. We are all responsible to make this work.
There are so many lessons that the series of recent events, especially the theft of my bag and the passing of my grand-mother, taught me. It is the little things that we miss the most.
Having lost all my pictures in the past year (because silly me didn’t have backup for a whole year), I went through a turmoil of emotions trying to rationalise and make peace with that happened to me. Thefts happen all the time (not that I support it), and no one is immune to it. But it was a big blow on me because I lost all the content of my bag and especially my phone. All of which happened when I was unemployed and running out of my savings.
The passing of my grandma was especially hard for me and I am still grieving. All of these events kicked me into a self reflective phase and I realised how much that it is actually the little things that matter the most: the sweet forehead kisses, the hugs, that cup of tea prepared by our favourite person, the small comforting touch, the little rites, the words of encouragements, the trust and faith our special ones bestow on us, to name a few.
We are all leaving behind every material things we have acquired during our lifetime, and often pictures alone fail to convey all of what a person is to us. Truth is, I have been focusing on living in the present more than taking pictures to look at later, and I am grateful I took this decision a few years ago. Because the best moments we miss the most are often those we fail to capture on camera. These moments cannot be lost because they are engraved in my heart, even if one day my memory fails me.
Maybe I don’t want to get any better because I don’t know how it feels like to be any different.
The unknown is scary.
The absence of my pain and suffering sounds scary.
I can’t recall living without them.
They have become part of me.
My pain and suffering have paradoxically become my comfort zone.
Who am I without my pain and suffering?
I often hide them so well, you would think I am this jolly person.
I isolate when you tell me to be any different.
My pain and suffering has become part of my identity.
Stop telling me to change!
You make me angry!
Did I ever ask you to be any different? Never!
It’s your fault!
You can’t accept me for who I am!
You are the problem!
I am walking away…
At least in my solitude I know I can be understood.
I refuse to see you again!
We’ve all known someone who plainly refuses to let go of everything that are detrimental to them and which make them suffer. We probably are or have been this person as well. Maybe we all resist certain healing because we are afraid of the unknown.
I have been trying to depict in this poem the roller-coaster ride we sometimes go through when we resist letting go of something that causes us great suffering. We often try to live in denial, negotiate, feel angry and misunderstood, and end up avoiding people who care about us the most when we are not ready to heal.
I’ve had my fair share of failures… and I assume that you may have had yours too. This is how we learn through life, don’t we?
I introspect often and a lot, and I have been revisiting my failures in the past few years. Failures can be our biggest stepping stones towards growth.
I have been committing myself to convert my failures after failures into lessons after lessons. Because by the end of the day, this is the wisest choice we can make. The person I had to forgive the most was none other than myself for all the failures I have been through, whether it was my fault or circumstances that were not within my control.
There is this misconception that people who have had some successes have a good life or are lucky. But few actually acknowledge the amount of energy, hard work, heartbreak, and disappointments one had to put in and go through for every win. There is so much is going on behind the scenes.
I wish you a lot of courage to turn your failures into lessons learned and opportunities for growth too!
If there is one positive thing that happened during my grandmother’s death ceremonies, it is that it allowed me to reconnect with my Hindu roots. My family was very lucky to have found a pandit (Hindu priest) who was not afraid of questions and who knew his texts.
I will always say that I was born a Hindu and it is part of my identity. But I have never been truly religious. Being Hindu for me was more about the culture that came with it. Although I did some digging on my own, because I didn’t trust what was taught to me by the elders or acquaintances, I didn’t dig in enough because the motivation has never truly been there. But since having a conversation with this pandit, even my self-proclaimed atheist 16 year old sister started digging for more information on Hinduism. Even though I did have more knowledge on Hinduism, I found myself digging more as well.
The science enthusiasts, my sister and I, have started researching things in parallel and realised how much science there is in Hinduism teachings. Hinduism at the very basis wasn’t supposed to be merely tagged as a religion. The scientific depth and wisdom from the texts have allowed both my sister and I to dive into deep conversations about the mystery of life.
Are you a Hindu as well? Please share with me your experiences and knowledge, I would love to read them!
Are you from a different background? I would love to hear from you too! I am looking forward to your lived stories!
I have been one of those unlucky ones who have been working in toxic work environments back to back. As a result, I experienced some severe symptoms of burnouts which manifested as both physical and mental health problems. Burnouts, by definition, is a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion resulting from being exposed to an excessive level of stress for an extended period of time.
Some of the symptoms I have personally experienced included irregular sleeping patterns, frequent nightmares, indigestion issues (stomach and intestinal problems), frequent headaches, constant pessimism, fluctuations in your blood pressure, panic attacks, anxiety, mood swings (inability to self-regulate emotions), chronic/constant fatigue, lack of motivation, difficulties to concentrate and lost of creativity.
Some root causes which may lead to burn out include unfairness/unfair treatments at work, unsupportive bosses/managers, no proper job description, unclear guidelines/no guideline/lack of clarity, passive aggressive and demeaning comments/personal attacks, unreasonable deadlines, inability to communicate and find solutions to solving internal organisational problems, no work-life balance, and so on.
You may be one to understand and voice out about toxic or counter-productive dynamics within the organisation you are working in, but if the problems are not tackled as a collective, it is very likely that you will be the one who will feel alienated.
However, as there is always a lesson or several lessons to learn during any circumstances. Those are the few things that I learned:
- how important it is to prioritise my health
- how to select my workplaces/jobs (even though it is hard to find suitable jobs and be selective, especially at the beginning of one’s career)
- how to set better boundaries
- how to have a better self-care routine
- when to let go
I am far from having mastered the above lessons, but I know I am a work in progress and that makes me content that I am not at square one. Work-life balance is very difficult to achieve and maintain. So, it is important to remind ourselves often that our well-being matters. After leaving all those toxic environments, I have experienced an improvement in my health holistically. Some of the symptoms disappeared almost magically instantly and others took weeks or months to completely be flushed out of my system.
The burnouts stole from me moments of joy from my personal life. I have lost precious moments with my loved ones, including myself. The pain, the disconnection and the lost of interest in all the things we used to love is not worth staying in toxic work environments. I was so stubborn and determined to make it work that it took a blow to my health for me to say “enough is enough”.
We are resilient beings! This is why it is important to audit our life. If something isn’t working for us, we should move! We aren’t trees.
By the end of the day, the choice remains ours. What would you do if your work environment is toxic for you? Please share with me your own experience with burnouts and toxic work environments. I look forward to hearing from you!
I am one of those odd ones with a piece of paper that certify that I gained a certain level of knowledge in a certain field. But in my close knit family, I am the only one with a degree so far. If you are in a similar situation, I think you may also be able to relate to my story.
The number of times I will hear that I may have wasted my time pursuing further education is unbelievable. Not only did I “waste my time”, but I also chose to have a degree in PSYCHOLOGY! (which is, in other words, an even bigger waste of time according to some.)
Although I do have supportive people around me, I am also very often misunderstood by them. The level of frustration I go through in trying to explain myself in difficult times (loss of employment, unfulfilling jobs, being over-qualified or under-qualified, losing confidence in the field, being underpaid, you name it!) often becomes unbearable. On one hand, expectations are high because you have more knowledge (you should get better jobs!), and on the other hand getting employed and staying employed is becoming more and more challenging in this fast paced and ever-changing world.
As if acquiring new knowledge that challenges old beliefs wasn’t enough, we now have to face the challenges of different world views which may often end up contradicting each other. I am far from saying that our close ones are not right at all. But the world is constantly changing and the challenges are constantly increasing and changing forms.
I am one of those odd ones with a degree who is often misunderstood by my close ones.
Are you an odd one with a degree too? Please share with me your experiences. I would love to hear/read them!
Grief, as I experienced, is not linear.
It’s a rollercoaster.
So let me laugh when I feel like laughing;
Let me celebrate when I feel like celebrating;
Let me cry when I feel like crying;
Let me be sad when I feel sad;
Let me be neutral when I feel neutral.
Do not expect me to act a certain way at a certain time.
My grief and your grief, even though may be directed in the same direction, are completely different experiences.
It is what it is.
My experiences and my meanings are not necessarily your experiences and your meanings.
Grief, as I experienced, is my own way of adapting to a loss, to a change.
It does not need to make sense to you.
It just is what it is.
It just needs to be acknowledged.
Acknowledge and let it flow.
For a complex feeling like grief can only kill those still alive if stuck in boxes of what it is supposed to be or look like.
Grief, as i experienced, is our own personal journey.
Breath, acknowledge and let it flow.
My grandmother left her physical body less than a week ago. I wrote this because people keep expecting my grief to look a certain way. And to be honest, I’ve started grieving for months before her last breath. Seeing her in extreme pain was more painful than losing her. When I went to crosscheck if she really departed, the body didn’t feel like my beloved grandma anymore. It was just a body left behind. Like one of my closest friend said: she may have left us physically, but part of her remain in each one of us who were closed to her. She’s always in my heart and forever part of me ❤
I still miss her daily, but everyday is a different experience. She was a strong woman with a great sense of humour, so I smile while thinking about her. I cry because there are plenty of things I wish we could celebrate together in the future. But I am glad I was able to tell her how much I love her every day before her passing. It’s a privilege denied to many.
I know that she is now in a better place. I love you forever, grandma ❤