Really wanted to type this out yesterday afternoon; doing it before the moment completely disappears. #GirlsAndGuys
I was working with a few teenagers yesterday, the mid teens. Confident, expressive; the girl has the same naive, optimistic enthusiasm as I did as a young girl. The guys are silent, they have the smirk; typically boyish. They all speak when asked, they communicate, they all come forward and express.
On one question, the girl answers. I can almost hear myself speaking.
I resist getting carried away and ask the boys, “That’s how a girl would think. I have been working for so long, but I still hear the guys comment on my thoughts and drive it home that – ladkiyan aise he hoti hai (girls are just like that) I want to know your thoughts.” The guys dint seem to take my word too seriously, the girl related and said “yes! I so agree! :D”
The guy spoke, sharing his thoughts. And then the other added.
I realized a few things yesterday..
Girls believe. I guess it’s just there in our basic set up! We’re naive, we’re optimistic, we’re hopeful. And we aspire and we make our aspirations true. That’s how we achieve whatever we achieve. That’s the way we succeed.
We might never really know the world in its harsh terms; because we don’t look at it like that. We look at it believing that it’s beautiful, and, what is not right, can be fixed; and we attempt and make our journey.
Boys have a more practical approach. They don’t show too much emotion. They want to make a difference too, but they’d try to understand what people would respond to. They will try to understand ‘what’ the path ahead could be like and based on their own understanding, they will take their steps. They look beyond; they predict the hurdles and then walk. They aspire and they succeed; on the way they look at life.
To a large extent, we are who we were in our teenage. The core remains.
I didn’t feel much different from the people they were. I am a good number of years older, but I could relate. I could recollect my days and see that I was indeed, one of them. I was just like the girl. I had just the same equation with the people around me.
I perhaps, should NOT have made the comment on ‘Girls and Guys’; because what I saw there was something very obvious and precious too.
There was no discrimination.
Yes, I did make that comment. But I looked at them and realized I was wrong.
Men and women are different but they do share an honest relationship and a harmonious co-existence. It is there. I just loved the vibes I got from the teenagers. They accept each other.
More importantly, they respect each other.
It’s there in the upbringing; it’s there in the schooling, it’s there in the culture.
The elders in the room hand me my cup of tea.
I am sipping it as I hear them speak some more.
I am thinking how thankful I feel to them, for bringing me back to myself; in some ways.
One day, many years back, I graduated from school and stepped into the ‘world’ being an individual like them. One day, many years back, I was a person of these realities. One day, many years ago, I accepted myself the way I am and only strived to be better.
I had never faced discrimination.
But as an adult, I feel differently. I work in various circles owing to the ‘multiple areas of work’ that I indulge in.
I find myself, many a times, amongst men, who look at women ‘just as women’.
I used to cringe, I used to argue, but I was quickly labeled as “woman empowerment leader”.
Then I began to accept them, THIS discrimination as it is.
In accepting discrimination, I have accepted ‘them’, but become distant from myself.
Because there are two schools of thought:
One that looks at individuals and the other that looks at ‘men and women’.
If I accept the ‘men and women’ ideology, any woman will always be a misfit.
What is needed is not a focus on ‘women’, but a focus on individuality.
For the past few months, I have felt suffocated; and only my work has kept me going.
For weeks I think this thought has nagged me. But I wasn’t able to figure out, until I met the young adults yesterday.
If it wasn’t for close friends, my business partner and the theatre that I love, I think I wouldn’t have remained sane. And please note; I never discussed this with them. They kept me sane through conversations and connections that were beyond these thoughts, beyond this discrimination.
It never happened to me before, but then, ‘never’ always has a beginning.
For weeks I have heard women being humored, I have myself been termed ‘dumb’ for speaking up on things that matter to me or for sharing my interests, I have been labeled ‘blocked’ when I have had a different set of opinions than those proposed to me.
And I have constantly felt suffocated – for the very fact that I was NOT blocked to these ‘suggestions’. I was open to them. And being so ‘reachable’ has only made me more vulnerable to hurt and abuse.
As I sip the cup of tea, I say, “Criticism is fine. But only as long as it is constructive.”
And everyone in the room looks at me, wondering what I’d just said.
I just smile and add a few sentences to make my statement seem coherent. I get up to leave and profusely let the kids know that I enjoyed interacting with them.
As I reach my car, I see a text on my phone.
The previous night I had opened up to a friend about the way I was feeling; a series of mixed experiences and emotions. This morning, she added an after – thought to our conversation. She said:
You can NOT allow this. Because the more you let it happen to you, the more you will de-value yourself. Disrespect cannot have consent.
I reverse the car and start driving back home. Disrespect cannot have consent.
I wonder when I began to need such words to heal disillusionment. Something tugs at the cords of my heart; sometimes we silence ourselves for the relationships we value. But are they worth it at the cost of our self-esteem? But I take a breath of relief in realizing I still have the sixteen year old alive in me. And a sign of relief, that I can still write. So what if this is the first ‘real’ post since December :p So what if it’s taken me 7 months to be able to write? So what if some time has passed? I still hope to make it. And I will revive that naïve, and innocent enthusiasm to do so.
Sharing here, a picture with my friends from a group trip we did a while ago. They would perhaps kill me for sharing such a picture where we all look crazy 😀 but… I think the emotion is significant.
So… if you’re reading this post, and if you liked what you’ve read here, please get in touch 🙂
Drop a comment or send me a mail or connect with me on twitter or facebook. I will feel encouraged and much more alive.
Thank you for reading,
With love and wishes for healing anything that plunges at the cords of your heart,