That Girl

This post is inspired and based on the spoken word poem by Daysha Edewi (click here to watch)I Am Not That Girl, because I think it’s a conversation we need to have.

December has not been easy for me so far, for various reasons I’ll reserve for a future post, but I’ve been coming across this theme so often that I feel like the universe just wants me to address it already. Earlier this month, I myself was drenched in the swampy marsh of what it means to be pretty and have constant male attention, either of which has never been my forte. So when I’m looking at my whatsapp messages with at least 10 pictures of my friend with her new boyfriend that she just sent me, or listening to another friend describe how she’s in the middle of the Twilight Saga New Moon with two guys doing all sorts of things to win her over, I cannot help but ask why am I never on the other end of that conversation? What is wrong with me? Am I not womanly enough?

The answer in all truth is that I’m not. I’m really crappy being a girl, and I am by no way depreciating myself when I say that. I hate wearing high heels because I find them uncomfortable as hell given the broadness of my feet. I would choose sneakers and ugly but comfortable boots over anything. I cannot wear my nails too long or braid my hair. There’s a greater chance of me carrying a book in my bag rather than a bottle of moisturizer or hand cream. Some days I venture out into the world in my oversized hoodie because I just too tired to care how I look. I’m the only girl I know who didn’t depend on a boyfriend or prospective specimen to watch the latest episodes of her favourite tv show. If they could, they would have taken my girl card away ages ago, but that’s just who I am and I’m teaching myself to be unapologetic about it. I’m a few sizes above the norm for a pretty girl, I weigh a lot more than a pretty girl should, my face is too big, I’m clumsy as hell and I have the appetite of an elephant. And I’m learning to not be bothered by comments people make regarding all that.

More often than not I end up hating myself for all this, but it’s like the marching scene in Dead Poet’s Society: I too am a slave to the human need of acceptance. And this need has turned into an unresolved issue, I’ve realized, because I was the odd duck out for all the years of my college and I was quite alone throughout that. So it’s taking me a while to root this problem out and accept that I don’t really need anyone else to accept me. I’ve come a long was since those horrific days and I still have miles to go, but I’m hanging on.

But what I’ve learnt is that although I’m quite different from all the girls around me, I’m not alone. The poem I mentioned is full of comments from women all over the world who feel the same way, some with problems even more complex than mine. And every time I doubt myself, I look for similar posts and go straight to the comments section and it always makes me breathe a little easier and lifts a little of that tightness I feel in the pit of my stomach thinking about it.

I don’t really mean to tear down girls who are amazing at fitting in all the check boxes of womanly standards. If that’s what makes you happy, more power to you. I’ve learnt that it won’t make me happy, that my standards of beauty are too different from everyone else’s. I feel that if you stare at a superficially beautiful thing for long enough, you get used to it and soon it fades to being mundane if it’s hollow, if that superficiality is all that it has to offer. For me, it’s the intrinsic values that matter the most, that inspire me, that make me feel something. It’s strength in the face of difficulties, it’s kindness, compassion, gratitude, intelligence and pure intentions. It’s peace. It’s calmness. It’s doing the right thing, and doing it for the right reasons.

So if you’re like me, thinking about how different you are from everyone around you, thinking why is that you never seem to have guys professing their undying love for you, and you ask yourself the question, “What is wrong with me”, I’ll answer that question for you.

Nothing is wrong with you.

To quote the Dead Poet’s Society,

We all have a great need for acceptance.  But you must trust that your beliefs are unique, your own, even though others may think them odd or unpopular, even though the herd may go, “That’s baaaaad.” Robert Frost said, “Two roads diverged in a wood and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

© That Girl in the Fray, 2017. All rights reserved.

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I’m Caught in the Red but I’m Fading to Grey

A constant reminder that nothing stays the same,

but nothing ever really changes.

WordPress just reminded me that 4 years ago today, I started my blog in my college library, depressed, alone, fading, in need of hope and light.

This blog has been more than a friend to me. It has been a space to feel safe, to let out my fears and cries without judgment, to learn about myself and the way I write. It has helped me speak to people I may never meet from countries I may never travel to. Sometimes the echoes have brought back words, kind and tough that have helped me realize that no matter how much I feel the contrary is true, I am not alone.

So this calls for generic introspection.

What have I learnt over these last 4 years?

What has happened to me since?

Am I still the same person who started this blog?

What am I going to do?

Do birds fly to the moon?

 

(I’m not mainstream enough to be interviewed, so I’m going to go ahead and pretend this is what anyone would want to know.)

The textbook fairy-tale answer would be that my life has completely turned around, that life has magically fixed itself in these past 4 years, because 4 years is a really long time for a person to sort themselves out.

Bullshit.

Like Gemma Hayes’ beautiful lyrics quoted by me in the beginning of this post, I am both red and grey.  My life has changed but it’s still the same. I’m still as lost as I was, as alone as I was, as depressed as I was, although in different and more complex ways than before. All my old problems have sorted themselves out, but I’ve got new ones in their wake. More challenging ones, I would delude myself into saying mainly because I can’t see the solution yet.

As to what I have learnt in these past 4 years, it mostly consists of learning about myself. I have learnt to fight and lick my wounds, to bear pain and to build fire-proof shields. But I have also learnt to put my shield down and face the beauty with the pain, a decision I’m still in a debate about (with myself, if that wasn’t clear enough).

I’ve stopped praying for someone to come rescue me. Instead I’m learning (still) to equip myself to do that, to be my own hero. And I fall and stumble as I did before, even more so now that before. Which is to be expected if you walk faster than you did before, if you cover more ground than you did in the times ago.

It hurts, I’m not going to lie. It makes me wishes I was done already. It makes me sting others in my wake. But I don’t think I really have a choice anymore.

The only way I can go is forward, the only direction I can fall is down.

So that is what we are going to do for the next 4 years.

 

Thank you for being a part of this blog and a part of my world.

All my love,

That Girl in the Fray.

 

© That Girl in the Fray, 2017. All rights reserved.

Dear Chester

 

This is my second attempt at this. When I tried writing this before, I was so overwhelmed and out of words that this post turned out to be a mesh and I dumped it in my drafts folder until I could muster the strength to revisit it.

I don’t want to reiterate how amazing and talented Chester was and how much he influenced the world; that has been said before along with numerous things and I’m not going to get into any of it. Despite the title and the tags, this post is about me.

I’ve been depressed throughout most of my teenage and adult life. And as any book or movie about teenage depression will tell you, I have contemplated killing myself on numerous occasions. I remember the one time I even attempted it; I walked on the ledge of the roof of my house with my eyes closed, praying to God to kill me, because I was too chicken to do it myself. And I’m thankful I was.

The things that happened to me were neither too tragic nor too painful if you compare it to the sorrows enveloping the rest of the world. But they were too much for me to handle; they seemed like the end of the world to me and I just wanted the pain to end. The thing about depression is that it gives you a tunnel vision; your view of the world shrinks and it is as if you are in solitary confinement in a tiny cell, thinking you matter to no one and, in fact, the world would be a better place without you because no one cares. You start finding reasons why everyone hates you, adding to your own resentment and the million reasons you hate yourself. It’s a deep maze there seems to be no way out of. I’ve been there, stuck in the middle of it, with darkness engulfing every inch of my body while my screams drowned in the bottomless void of my soul. And I got out of it. It is this experience that has defined me for rest of my life, because I knew if I could come out of this hell, I could pretty much handle life.

Music helped me a lot. Numb by Linkin Park kept me alive and breathing. Every time I sang along to it, at the top of my voice, I felt my pain mattered. That I mattered. That I wasn’t alone in going through this. Iridescent got me through some horrible times as well, as I tried to hold on to hope and let go of my pain, failures and tears. As it did hundreds who swear by the band and its epicness. Leave Out All the Rest, In the End, What I’ve Done, Crawl and dozens of other songs defined a whole generation. It made us who we are.

The reason why I’m so broken by Chester’s death is that he died because of the same thing he saved me from. And no one could help him out of it, like he helped me. It is the irony of this twisted fate that brings me to the brink of tears every time I think about it. It’s wrong and it hurts.

Music and words helped me get out of my labyrinth and it has made me all the more strong. It has made me independent and suppressed my need to depend on other people in times when I’m going through things. Which has in turn improved my relationships because I’m not let down by them anymore; I have no expectations because I know I’m enough for me. I still feel a little unhinged at times and I’m still on the path of discovering who I am but I’m happy with where I am in life. All because I didn’t end my life on the ledge that day. I have a goal and I’m trying my best to work a path towards it, failing and flailing all along the way. I still get depressed at times, but I know how to pull myself out of it now.

If you think that you don’t matter, you are wrong. Talk to someone if you’re going through something that is too much for you to handle. Get help. Read as much as you can about people who are going through the same things. Meditate. Let go of the pain. Let it rebuild you from the core. Listening to music. Read books that speak to your soul. Paint. Dance. Sing. Do whatever that makes you feel alive. You don’t really need to care about the rest of the world. All you need to do is repair your soul, because you are made of the same cosmic dust that floats through the sun and stars.

You are the sun and stars.

You are strong enough.

I will miss Chester with all my heart. He saved my life and I will forever love him for it.

© That Girl in the Fray, 2017. All rights reserved.

To every girl who’s liked a guy who hasn’t liked her back

Having spent hours trying to convince a friend going through the same ailment, I speak to you oh mighty creatures of the fairer sex. Your predicament is not an easy one; so first of all, accept my virtual hug. Your troubles may seem like the mountains and the hills, but there are few things in life that a hug at the right time can’t fix.

Now, imbibe everything I say: You are beautiful. You have a wonderful soul. You belong to the gender of Athena, the goddess of war and intellect and you cannot let the fact that you are pining over a guy let you forget that. You are an individual, with your unique sets of rainbows and thorns. Do not regret any of it. You should be your own person, and if some random guy doesn’t like you back, it says more about his own self rather than you. Not every person on this planet can read the Iliad, let alone understand or like it. Does that make the Iliad a waste of ink and paper? Does that diminish its literary marvel in any way?

You must love your own self before you expect someone else to. The contours and caresses of your soul demand that kind of appreciation, for they are you! Do not be the damsel in distress, for I say this out of experience that outside the realm of fiction, only you can save yourself. Find the strength; you possess the universe.

You may think he’s the only one you could ever love. You may believe that if he doesn’t like you, you may not be worth liking. You may not be able to stop thinking about him, day and night and day. But all of this is but a breeze blowing against you as you walk in the sand, and what you can’t see is that there is an ocean that awaits you.