Breeze

Broke the world in half, hit rock bottom face first

tried and tried and tried to check all of the boxes to be simple, but complex person

to fit the contradictory mould we have created for ourselves.

You draw and paint and write and sing and dance

to show the fire in your heart

to show the passion in your expression

to show the uniqueness that is you.

Not realising there is only of you, and so many of us.

You have let 150 characters rule your life

perfected that question, you know which one

“describe yourself in three, five, words”

Innovative. Creative. Collaborative.

All the while your fiery hearts beats to the rhythms of

Insecure. Repressed. Lonely.

So you draw and paint and write and sing and dance. Hold your tongue. Fake it till you make it. Pretend and you will really feel that way.

9 ways to increase your confidence.

12 ways to love yourself again.

But none of those instructions tell you that out of everything your genes could have been, you were designed.

You’re artisan.

You’re custom-made,

or whatever the buzz word for that is these days.

You’re in war against yourself.

You’re in war against yourself while everyone else is fighting against you as well.

Hold your tongue.

Stand up straight.

Is that what you’re wearing?

What would Jesus say?

What would Beyonce do?

It’s okay to not know what you want to do. But you’re not allowed to do things we’ve labeled uncool. But if you do

we will either bully you

or on the rare occasion

call you

Courage.

Maybe Brave.

But what if

you didn’t hold your tongue?

What if you started to

fight for yourself?

Don’t worry.

You’ll never run out of enemies.

You’ll never run out of

people who want to fight against you.

That fire you mistook for passion will die so you won’t be raging hot. You’ll be the breeze that you

needed

all

along

just

to

exist

with

a

little

peace.

Another dreaded question

There are many dreaded questions, spanning from your classic lover’s turmoil of “do you still love me?” to a phone call that starts off eerily silent and the receiver just asks “what happened?”

But there’s one question that came up time and time again over the last few weeks, and I have had to laugh it off, because I still have not come up with an appropriate response. Mainly because I feel any answer would create a unwanted certainty, or at best, a white lie with transformation capabilities. The question arose ever since I spread the news of my departure from London. The question generally takes the form of, “When will you be back next?” but sometimes, it is phrased as “When will we see each other again?”

I say it’s a dreaded question because I have no answer. There are perhaps a small handful of people I will see again in the next few years, but the sad truth, the majority of those people and I will never cross paths again. That was the end of an experience for both parties. With their own undecided futures, they ask so hopefully when I would be back, as if they were certain of their time in the city. The only life lesson you will never need to learn about cities like London and Hong Kong is that “staying the same” means something entirely different. The truth is, nothing is ever the same. In these cities, people glide in and out of your life like sneezes. Annoyingly present one minute… only to disappear and be forgotten in another.

Then, of course, there’s the soft call of death when older relatives ask you the same question. The reminder that all your pessimism is in fact, lethal to yourself and those around you, and that is probably why you spew bullshit about never seeing the majority of your friends in a city you could call home given different circumstances. And that is why you concoct lies about the uncertainty of the future and the vagueness of our lives and experiences, because putting in the effort to go and see someone would show that you care.

And we all know that we only start showing care on our deathbeds, when our loved ones have been misplaced from our lives for far too long at that point.

Secrets

I have a friend who is a professor at a community college. An ex-coach of several all-girls teams, who now focuses on mental and physical health along with other aspects of the human condition. She’s got a flawless score on ratemyprofessor.com and is loved by all, hated by none. This coach has dedicated her life to setting her students up for future success and stability all by assigning them far too much work that focuses on reflecting on their lives and experiences. She’s been doing this for over 20 years now and each and every year, her class has countless students on the waiting list, ready to do whatever it takes to get into one of her classes.

And every year when classes start up again, she tells me how affected she is by the experiences of their students, how surprised she is by what they are willing to share under the veil anonymity, how it seems like life never even gave some students a chance, how she hates the fact that so many perpetrators got away because her students were too afraid to ask for help and kept their sometimes vile experiences a secret buried deep inside them.

Today, she told me a story of a young girl in her class, who identified herself as someone who trusts too quickly, which leads her to get hurt just as fast as well. The student wrote about her old personality, comparing it to her new one which is steeped in anger and violence. All because she had trusted a boyfriend, who later drugged her and raped her. She woke up covered in blood, along with the realisation that she could not trust anybody in her life. Out of shame and disgust, she kept her story a secret, until this teacher came along, and the student wrote out her soul on a piece of paper. She wrote about the fact that she has taught herself to no longer trust anyone. She has taught herself to be strong in the way of reacting with anger and violence during unwanted, albeit sometimes harmless encounters – like someone touching her arm by accident. This young girl’s shame has mirrored every experience she has had since this crime was committed onto her body, soul and mind. In fact, all of this young girl’s future experiences will be a reflection of her rape. She has never gotten help, she has never told anyone. She has never had the chance to be a victim and see her criminal be punished for his actions. She may never get closure of knowing that she has not done anything wrong by trusting another human being.

Her previous of faith and trust in humanity is not a weakness, but a strength. Her previous understanding that her trust in people was possibly her greatest strength. The fact that she placed trust in another human was also not a mistake, but a show of courage and strength that she truly believes that as humans, we can expect each other to not intentionally hurt one another. Perhaps if we had managed to create a world and society where she felt right in the knowledge that having this happen to her meant that she would not be criticised or shunned or need to feel ashamed, but use her strength to bring down her rapist. If anyone deserves to feel weak, hurt and ashamed it is her rapist, because in an ideal situation, as a society, we would have created an environment where he is punished for his vile crime, where he has full understanding of the fact that no one, except him, is in the wrong and that his punishment would be an accurate representation of the trauma he forced onto somebody else. His punishment might have never made her pain go away, but it would have reiterated the fact that she is safe, that she has the support of her entire world, and that there was no way in hell anyone would be critical of her traumatic experience.

Her secret has shaped her current life, and will continue to shape her future. No matter what words come out of her teacher, no matter how hard she is urged to seek help and discuss her problems, she will live with the knowledge that her rapist has walked away from a truly heinous crime.

We can have an argument and yell at each other about how not ALL humans should be trusted, and that MOST men are in fact, not rapists. But all the MOSTs and the ALLs and the MANYs are just veils to cover up the dirty grime that live beneath the surface. Every use of MOST men or MANY women is ignoring the ones that do perpetuate violence, rape and anguish onto others. Looking at the whole picture means recognising the discrepancies in how we choose to avoid the negative, how we avoid the small corners of distress so we don’t have to deal with it. Looking at a whole picture does not mean ignoring the sum of its parts.

Until the next rant.

Letting go

It starts with that one extra cigarette, sitting on your window sill, staring out into the clouds, the rain, the sun, the blue skies, whatever you’ve got, you just stare. Why lie about it anymore? It was never going to happen. You go round and round, in neat circles, in messy unspoken words, every possible scenario already played out in your head. There is nothing new left there. Nothing except your constantly oblique eyebrows that are now giving you a headache. The smoke collects around your lips, clouding your lungs and mind at the same time, every drag closing you up some more. 

One last cigarette. Can you look at yourself for more than a second in the mirror? Probably not. You just stare at the love handles, the imagined wrinkle, those weak knees and you’re pretty sure your feet aren’t the same size. Your breasts are too small, too big, too average, too normal. Your hair is too damp, too wet, too long and too short, all at the same time. You glance away, wrap yourself in a towel as you swear you’ll never leave the house showing those knees again. 

You refuse to let go. Because why would you? 

Another cigarette, you have nothing better to do. That five seconds of fresh air stabbing your throat or an explosion you can’t explain, your head dizzying. There’s clearly something in the air. A swift crack of the lighter later, you take your third first drag at which point you remember all the words he had said about your smoking. “You are killing yourself.” Why couldn’t you see that? Have you any regard for your health? He’d tell you to stop. He’d not say a word, he wouldn’t even look at you while you smoked, but your cheeky grin would stay. Oh, the disapproval cracked you up, didn’t it? Just the thought that someone, however important, could tell you to do something. But the funniest part was that they expected you to follow along, stub out the cigarette. Don’t they know it’s the only time you can breathe? What happened to him? What happened to you? How did you get here? You’ll start wondering where he is, who he’s with, if he’s happy, because after all, that’s all you ever wanted. You realised you had expectations of him. It scared you off miles away, all because you couldn’t, you wouldn’t talk. Everything is fine, you’d say. He got tired of waiting, tired of being rejected and abandoned. It was best for him anyway. But you can’t let go, can you? 

You look around your room, jump off the window sill and onto the floor. Just staring at the emptiness in your room, the meaningless clutter that you wouldn’t miss for a second. All the to-do lists but no photos, all the lamps, but none of the lightbulbs work. You take a peek at the lists, decide that’s for another day.