I Feel Alive, I Can Breathe

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Different isn’t bad; it is just not the same.
Anne With An E (Netflix Series)

From what you wear, to what you do, to how you lead your life, everything is entirely up to you because your life and your choices are nobody else’s business. Welcome to Australia! This everyone-minding-their-own-business attitude of the Australians is what has taught me enough about myself within these past six months! Alien concept for some of us, huh? 
Why does society want us to strictly adhere to its own standards? Why does it look down upon those who fail to measure up to its short yardstick? Who is this society, anyway? Who is paying them for being the moral police? I do understand that the purpose of norms is to provide a stable and predictable social life to regulate our role of conduct. But, wait! Have we even achieved that? Norms have a positive effect that can bolster society’s foundations keep rebellious elements under check, but on the opposite end of the spectrum, stability and predictability restrict the creative process and conformity forces us to find faults in others by belittling them just to feed our own egos. And man, we love it! 
Pin a rose on your nose, stick some hay on your neck and you will make no heads turn in Melbourne – who has the time to look around? They all have their own lives!
Encountering unsolicited evaluation throughout our lifetime keeps narrowing our critical and analytical abilities and inhibits open mindedness, and the power to gain new insights and to unlock true knowledge – all of which are qualities that shape you as a unique individual. People who want to feel that they belong, begin (from a budding age) to change themselves to fit a human standard they don’t naturally belong to. I have done that; you must have done that too. Would that be the cause of general frustration we often see around us? 
Once you enter a society in which there is complete fearlessness of judgment, you are astonished by rediscovering your true self, and reconnecting with the long-lost version within you. I am currently going through this incredible journey of rediscovering who I am. The resulting feeling of liberation makes me feel like I have gained new wings to fly! Wings that existed even before but I had no consciousness of it. 
In the non-judgmental Australian society, positive attributes such as individuality and creativity are encouraged; every person is treated as a distinct individual having their own set of thoughts, opinions, and ideas even if they are in direct conflict with cultures. Everyone is allowed to be themselves - hence, whoever I meet and hit a conversation with seem so diverse, so dynamic. 

...But what happens when you take away a person’s individuality? They resemble manufactured products whose sole purpose in life is to mimic each other in order to earn validation from other people. In this drive to get mainstream acceptance, we begin to lose our identities and unique flairs to the overpowering conveyor belt in a factory that churns out millions of others like us into the real world. What good is a world full of identical people? I stand to be different from those other items on the belt! I stand to be ‘me’ – whether that makes you itch your rear or jump down on your head, I no care!
It is true that life is stuck in the ever-turning wheel of living and dying. Everything is a cycle, a pattern to be mimicked. But what if I told you that there is a way to break free of this ‘wheel’? What if there is more to life than the box that we are confined to from the moment we are born?
Conformity stops us from asking these questions and restricts our learning to within the limits of what we are taught. The morality of how we live is just a construct of the human mind because there is absolutely no singular way to live life…there are as many ways as there are people in the world. Each individual is special and can live differently bringing its own particular kind of beauty and uniqueness to the world. Creativity is a prized asset for the simple reason that it transcends orthodoxy, having the power to bring wealth, fame and status. Creativity is how nations prosper!  
Six months back I said to myself, ‘This could be my another shot at life…let’s be me’. To start afresh I began to be more childlike…picking up from the start!!! Observe children and their behavior; see how they live, how they create, how they curiously ask questions and even the way they run – so fearlessly, so naturally. Sure they have frequent mood swings and act like complete buffoons every now and then, but their complete abandonment of the trivialities of life makes the spectacle pure and enlightening. Don’t constrain yourself with what others expect you to do. Imagine that you are living beyond societal limitations, you will see a world of opportunities unfold. Sure a lot of our ‘childlike’ thoughts will end up in the trashcan, but some of them will stand out from the lackluster backdrop and help us carve out our own unique legacies.
Those who fail to find their own creativity are forever doomed to cherry-pick labels for each other, judging others who aren’t rinsing and repeating whatever is considered to be the gold standard for life. Those who choose to stray from the standard are ostracized and alienated. Isn’t being different what makes you who you areDoesn’t it mean you’re learning more than most other people? In what world could that go wrong? 
If you feel trapped, learn to break free! Life is not a one size fits all glove; it is meant to be lived in your own unique way. Be spontaneous! Indulge in life with complete fearlessness – be inspired, be fascinated! In a society full of vanilla ice-cream (my favorite, though), be a flavour instead and top yourself with a cherry and some sprinkles - hell, be a sundae! or a 'mondae'! Be your own taste, be your own design. 
If fear of criticism is what always held me back from being me, then I shall delight in becoming an idiot in the eyes of the insane. What is the worst that can happen once I start being myself? 

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  1. It is a shame, and not just in Australia, that people are more comfortable being a label instead of being themselves. I have a daughter who seems more comfortable being like her friends instead of being herself, and it breaks my heart.

    1. I know - it is just the way we are shaped to become. We wish to seek validation from the society and in this we tend to lose ourselves.

  2. So much pressure to be accepted by the mainstream! I needed to read this, thank you.

  3. What a great advice! It's so good to be true to yourself.

  4. This is such a thought provoking post indeed. It is wonderful to fully live in a world where you can be yourself. I think that might be every persons ultimate goal in life!

    1. I totally agree with you :) It is wonderful to find yourself and be able to stick to your true self. Thanks !

  5. i think its so important to be your own unique self! love this

    1. Yes, it’s very important to be yourself - it gives you the ultimate happiness.

  6. I could relate so much with it.
    I also wish to be original me, and whenever I can I do live myself my way too, but sadly can’t be so always.
    Generally, we grow up listening things like: “log kya kahen ge”. Perhaps from there we make up this mind that our life is to be judged by others and vice-versa. It’s therefore really tough to be yourself, but a real pleasure whenever you’re able to do that.
    Happy for your self discovery ����

    1. Yes, that's the sad truth - our minds (even before they fully grow) are learned to fear the dreadful 'log kiya kahen gai'. It is so upsetting to think that we all lose our individual selves in this dreadful narrative of the society we are made to be fearful of. And yes the pressure is too much to take. If we always try to be ourselves, we will be cornered and become a social outcast.

      Thank you for reading and sharing your valuable feedback, sir.


Amna's Goodreads Bookshelf

To Kill a Mockingbird
Animal Farm
Of Mice and Men
The Alchemist
Me Talk Pretty One Day
Romeo and Juliet
Lord of the Flies
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Odyssey
A Tale of Two Cities
Moby-Dick; or, The Whale
Les Misérables
Eat, Pray, Love
The Poisonwood Bible
The Joy Luck Club
The Memory Keeper's Daughter
Under the Tuscan Sun

Amna Tariq Shah's favorite books »