Cyberpunk Logs #03: Skins

Sable and Jordan have an odd relationship.

Jordan is slightly older, laconic, and always hooded. From the whispers that travel underground, Jordan’s family were victims of the Halogen Cleansing, the series of attacks which was designed to eradicate the poor. Jordan survived with almost nothing left of his skin, severe internal hemorrhage and is forever trapped in the bubble of gases that are slowly, potently decomposing his chemically volatile body into dead stable forms.

Sable is young and wild and fierce and stereotypical of everything that a rich teenager must represent in her society. Sable does not know enough about the ways of the world to know what it’s like to live without a skin and inhale semi-toxic air that hurts the lungs for it is as laden with metal as though gears are rumbling through the human anatomy in every single breath. She lives in the rare colonies where expensive clean air is pumped through.

Jordan speaks through a nuclear hazards mask, one which he inherited from his grandfather. Even though he lives in areas where the air has only toxic metal, he insists on wearing this unnecessary bulky mask to cover his face. Perhaps Jordan needs a mask only to filter the excess chlorine still trapped in his body. Perhaps Jordan needs to mask to prove how tough he is without protection. Perhaps it is an adolescent expression of another rebellion.

Ever since Jordan has taken her to visit the underground colonies, Sable has taken to wearing a half-mask too. Healthy nutritious skin is an obvious sign of wealth waiting to be stolen from. Half-masks scream aloud of narcotics addicts. Sable talks a lot of uncultured trash behind her mask, which makes her dialect sound foreign, muffled and trying too hard to belong to a ghetto culture which is born from her wealth. She has learned to interpret Jordan’s silences long enough to know when he disapproves, but she is too headstrong and too aware of the economic disparity between them to let his disapproval affect her.

Sable and Jordan are not friends. They are not even trapped in that naive hormonal attachment that claim the youth and mimics itself to be a real relationship in disguise. When a significant portion of human emotions has been replaced with pseudo-mechanized circuitry, love is hard to define. Sable is very proud of her capability to interact with the citizens of the underground. But she is far more proud of her wealth. It is not her fault. It is only human to relish the things that are given to us by nature, complete and untarnished: like the human body and the human mind. Sure, Sable has a few prosthetic augmentations, but they are so clean and small and expensively crafted that they do not override most of her natural body. Sable wonders if Jordan’s clothes are the physical skeleton providing structure to his devastated body. She does not care to find out.

Sable claims that she is not naive, and will therefore choose to experience the ways of the world by tasting narcotics. As a spoiled client, she will have only the best and it was this wish of hers that brought her to meet Jordan. Even today in the underground colonies, there are whispers of how efficient and reliable he is. Jordan has no ethical or moral objections to his choice of a career. After all, this is the way of life in the underground colonies and he is a survivor, he has no choice but to make the best of his opportunities. Their alliance, if such an awkward relation can be called such, was formalized when Sable used her money to purchase Jordan’s services for the entirety of his lifetime. It surprised no one that Jordan agreed. Why should he complain when he can be dependent on a source of wealth for the rest of his life?

Now years have passed, and Jordan has learned to differentiate his client’s interests. Sable is impatient. She is easily bored. She is not afraid to bargain for what she thinks is right, even if it means contact with some of the filthiest half-metal cyborgs that live in the underground. Jordan does not care to stop her habit, because the commission he earns on the side is enough to keep his body together from day to day. Jordan knows that Sable is inexperienced in the matter, so he is largely responsible for defining her addictions. Sable thinks Jordan is stupid for being so loyal. If they were swapped, she thinks she would have already swindled her client. Perhaps that is just untamed bragging that comes from the half-mask. Jordan is sure that Sable is not capable of betraying him. After all, there are dealers in the underground who are quick to pounce upon foreign accents within their dialects and who would not be so forthright in their dealings.

There was one momentary glitch in their now alliance of three years, which changed everything.

It is one of the rare instances in which Jordan has sampled the product and he and Sable are both intoxicated. Jordan has done something quite unprecedented of his shadow-like personality. He has touched Sable’s exposed face. Sable is perhaps too chemically driven to the point where she does not remember her exact response, but she is very surprised that Jordan’s finger registered to her natural human skin as a valid touch. She always assumed he didn’t have any fingers. Perhaps the narcotics have even ruined the self-control he had over his vocalizer, because Jordan casually mentions through his mostly silent mask that she has a beautiful face.

Sable noticed the sudden growth of intimacy and her chemically-fueled mind dares to contemplate a sexual liaison. But maybe not. After all, he didn’t even have a face and he was her slave. She, a healthy jaded rich young girl had several other options available to her. Nevertheless, she is surprised. She reaches out to touch his hand, unaware that he has a second dose hidden up his sleeve. When Sable’s fragile white fingers began to tinge green, Jordan realizes that she was already on two doses and his stealth third dose was about to kill her. His task is made easier than he once thought and the years he has spent in biding his time might climax to this very moment. Not for the first time, Sable is completely vulnerable. Yet for the first time, Jordan is about to break protocol.

She is gasping for breath rather helplessly, and like the traditional romantic hero of the ancient worlds, Jordan picks up his helpless charge and brings her to an underground facility nearby. Sable is still conscious of her tactile sensations and she remarks that Jordan was far more corporal than she realized. Sable remarks that she will double his pay and the services offered to him if he can save her life. Jordan, perhaps on whom the chemical is wearing off, reverts back to his silence and says nothing. Sable thinks that he is carefully lifting off the half-mask because he wants to be able to hear her better.

Sable is unconscious when Jordan gets her to an underground facility familiar to him. He enlists the aid of a doctor who had once saved his life. For the first time since he survived the Halogen Cleansing, he can feel the remains of his body coursing through with chlorine-contaminated adrenaline.  He is a survivor. He has to make do with the opportunities provided to him. Sable is someone whom he has been cultivating for years. He has been consistent with his behavior to her throughout until this moment. But now it is time for her to prove her worth. She is now an addict of her own choices and Jordan will not let such a healthy body go to waste at the expense of amusing a jaded mind.

Jordan is patient. Sable is naive. Jordan is still alive. Sable is nearing death, for reasons that may or may not be her own fault. The doctor doesn’t ask very many questions. He knows that narcotics cannot affect a person who is so chemically volatile that he risks contaminating his own blood every day. Sable has passed out, still grasping for hope that this is the last time she will take an overdose, and perhaps she will find enough wealth to cover up the consequences of her mistakes. But the doctor, as per Jordan’s orders, does nothing. He is patient just like Jordan. He is waiting for the same thing that Jordan is.

He is waiting for Sable to die.

Jordan is immediately prepared for surgery, and the preparations are not exquisite. Perhaps they are not even safe, but they are immediate and efficient because that is how an underground of a dystopia learns to operate. Sable has stopped breathing now, but her body is still healthy enough to be cultivated. Jordan is bound to the next table. All of his masks are coming off now.

“Are you ready for this Jordan?” asks the doctor customarily. It is an unnecessary question because Jordan has been ready since the first time he has laid eyes on Sable. Jordan does not remember the next few hours or so. He is roused by the doctor after the surgery is complete and injected with enough pain-suppressants to combat the volatile fusion of his body. The doctor hands him a mirror to view his own handiwork.

Sable’s face smiles into the mirror as Jordan is pleased. He is even amazed at his fingers, which are delicate and fragile. He is too taken with the power to express himself to listen to the doctor’s feats of extracting the existing implants in Sable’s body for re-use. He has finally rewarded his ruined body.

Jordan finally feels like he has found his own skin.

How I (am trying to) rebuild myself: Self-awareness

As promised in my previous post, I would write about how I’ve been working on myself. Since this is very person specific, and I usually write very personal things on this blog, I’m just going to ramble on and hope you find something remotely meaningful in all of this.

Firstly, I’ve been putting off embarking on this journey for quite a while. It happens at the end of every year. I always look back and wonder, “Oh my goodness, I’ve changed so much since last year.” When I say things like that, I sort of re-affirm a very stupid postulate in my head that I have arrived at the peak of my transformations and emerged as a final product. Philosophically, I’m aware that no human being at any stage in their lives is a final product, but somehow I always delude myself by saying “Look, I’m at least past the manufacturing stage”.  So this year, in order to make some serious improvements to that, I’ve come to accept that yes, a lot has happened the past year and perhaps something comparable if not more will continue to happen next year and the years after. This leads me to self-awareness aspect 1.

Aspect 1: I don’t adapt to change as easily as I think I do. This is okay, as long as I’m not deluding myself into believing that the change has already happened. Being slow > being completely ignorant.

Aspect 2 (technically, Sub-aspect 1):  I am a shameless expert at deluding myself. Need to stop that on an objective level.

This year started off with a day that was just like any other day, except everyone felt suddenly festive and had holidays. Some childish part of me used to give into the hype about New Years and literally wait, Cinderella-style, for some miracle to occur when the clock struck midnight. Perhaps the biggest personal miracle of them all was to realize that it was literally just the same as any other day. This means that every day is equivalent to a new day and therefore I can apply all the hype about fresh beginnings to every new day as well.

Aspect 3: I can use my self-deluding skills to convince myself of positive things.

In the midst of all the festivities going on, something rather awful happened. For the first time in my life, I got a C+ in a core class that I enjoyed. The class for which I got the C+ was on C++, so the grade appeared to be some sort of parody of itself. This rocked my GPA somewhat hard. It rocked my emotional stability somewhat harder. How am I supposed to celebrate and be merry with this sort of cloud looming over my head? I was waiting for the disappointment and the latent depression to take over, until I realized something important. I got that C+ because I was so busy worrying about my GPA. Well, the worst happened. My GPA has sunk to 3.15. The worry that had sapped off so much of my joy and energy finally materialized and……I’m still alive, the world is okay and spinning on it’s axis and to be honest, the damage is quite minimal and more importantly recoverable.

Aspect 4: I have an extremely awful habit of worrying and corroding my self-esteem based on (future) events that I cannot control. Now that I’m standing in the midst of the metaphoric rubble, I realize that failure, at this level, is not quite bad as I thought it would be. I may still get a job. I may still be able to graduate. I may still be/aspire to be a good, loving, kind human being.

I was talking to my father (literally, the best friend and coach and everything-awesome-in-a-human-form-that-cannot-be-captured-in-my-Mom) about it. This is what he said, “You don’t take a class hoping to get a good grade out of it. You take a class hoping to truly understand the content matter that has been presented in it.” I have to love what I’m doing. To be honest, I do love what I’m doing, except intangible worries of the future make me so anxious that I am borderline dysfunctional.

Aspect 5: I cannot control people. I can control how much I interact with them and what those interactions should be like, but beyond a point I am free to exercise my independence and not worry about ruffling anybody’s feathers.

This comes from a long history of being a people-pleaser. Now I’m not going to say that it is altogether a trash-worthy philosophy, because I still believe in people being kind and nice and courteous and respectful of their fellow humans whom they share this Earth with. BUT if they don’t know their boundaries, it is only right to you and to that other person that you take the initiative to specify the boundaries of the interaction. I still love making people happy and I’m not ashamed of it. But I don’t have to force myself to interact with the kind of people who literally set off my internal alarms.

I’ve been trying to put Aspect 5 into practice even before the new year, and its worked out very well. I hope to keep it this way.

Aspect 6: I do not eat to feed my body. I eat to feed my brain and the ancillary systems, which happen to be my body. So, if I respect my brain and its operations, I have to give due respect to the other things that make it functional and effective. I openly promise (in writing, mind you), that I will not brag about having slept for less than 5 hours every night. I will also not brag about my terrible, terrible food habits.  (Updates are in progress. I promise. In writing. Fingers uncrossed.)

During midterms, my body is composed of 50% blood and 50% this.  Image credits: www.starbucksmelody.com

During midterms, my body is composed of 50% blood and 50% this.
Image credits: http://www.starbucksmelody.com

Not going to begin on the “Body = temple” cliche here, but you know what I’m talking about. I’m almost 19/20 years old and it’s high time I take responsibility for what my hands put into my mouth, under action from my brain which clearly has other priorities besides health. I have been hitting the gym and waking up with all sorts of aches and pains, but that’s okay. A warrior must always train herself in other techniques as well. I can’t be expected to survive college if I lack physical endurance.

Aspect 7: (This one is rather hard.) I would like to be able to respect myself better. I have come a long way from salvaging my self-esteem, but I don’t feel fully confident with myself yet. I don’t expect to achieve this within the year, but through emotional de-cluttering, I’ve become a lot more happier with myself. I try not to think about issues which make me question my self-worth, because if I don’t have to deal with it up-front on a daily basis, it’s not worth my time.

For example, my obsession with superficiality and “not being pretty enough”. I don’t mean to sound like I’m flattering myself here, but I’ve received several compliments and opinions and arrived at the conclusion that I am actually quite okay. Most people say that I look “sweet/pretty”, so they can’t all be telling me the same lie. But here’s where the game takes a level upgrade. Their opinions (or even my own on this subject) honestly don’t matter anymore. I have never claimed to be Head Authority of Pretty, nor am I aspiring to be one. The people who are around me don’t care, so I should stop poking and nettling myself with saying that I’m not good at being something that’s very unnecessary to my existence by default.

I am going to sign off now, because I think I’ve said most of what I wanted to say. I know this list is not complete, and I hope that as the year passes by, I’ll be able to report a happier progress on these issues. Also, to my readers, thank you for reading as always. Please feel free to drop off feedback. Super Happy New Year to you! More importantly, if you have any resolutions/changes/goals, good luck to your success on them. Goodnight!

On judging and being judged

Judgement (Image Credits: thetarotdieter.blogspot.com)

(Image Credits: thetarotdieter.blogspot.com)

I’ve spent a large portion of my adolescence watching and discovering other people. I think one of the sole reasons that I am an extrovert is that I tend to absorb a lot of the world that is around me, visually and aurally. Given my compulsion to over-analyze details about my life and a pseudo-flimsy self-esteem, I think this bad habit was something I indulged in with unhealthy frequency.

It’s odd how I suppress all these internal realizations as I am a very transparent extrovert. I have difficulties lying or deceiving. This is not due to some obligatory moral ethos holding me back. I am simply unable to fake it. It can be construed as a good or a bad thing. Good in that, I am intrinsically honest. Bad, in that, it allows other people to manipulate me rather easily. One of the easiest ways I used to get embroiled in high-school battles was because someone would approach me, pretend to care about me, tell me of their emotional problems and expect me to agree with them. I’ll admit that I gave in to that all too easily. Empathy seemed like the only route for friendship to a lonely person.

Despite all my transparency, I could not openly express anger or spite as well I needed to. Through some force of personal grooming, I would isolate myself and let the negativity fester inside me till it had permanently stained the memory of that event.

For all my aggression, I mutely accepted the world’s rubbish by excusing them as immaturities. It dawned on me that at some level this was intentional. People did want to hurt me for no fault of my own. Or perhaps some perceived fault of my own. But despite that, I tried not to let these instances cloud my general opinion about that person. I make mistakes, too. It’s only right that I forgive someone else’s.

Except that’s not how the world always works. Positive slogans that claim, “Treat others as you would like to be treated” are not often followed by people. You do not get treated by others the way you treat them. Some will treat you like princesses even on the days when life seems gloomy. Some will spite you no matter what. Some will merely smile back politely and make small talk as you wait next to them in the elevator. I learned that everyone, under the external layer of politeness, was judging me, evaluating me, closing off parts of themselves to me, categorizing me into some stereotype or niche in their head. For some people, this first impression process is cast in stone, with others, the labels change with time.

I’m not going to be very self-righteous and say that I don’t judge people, because I do. There used to be a point when I wanted to make friends with everyone so badly that I didn’t set up any stereotypes in my head at all. I wanted to know people for the actual real people they are, not what they represent. This liberal outlook was rewarded with coming across some very unhappy people all the more willing to siphon off their negativity onto me. But, like chasing all the good things of life, I persisted.

I am lucky that this trait has survived with me. In some way, how a person presents themselves to another person does influence my understanding of them somewhat. One of my prime judgmental criteria lies in how people talk about things around them. Are you constantly complaining? Are you using way too many superlative objects for mundane things about life? What are you passionate about? Those are the things that I will notice about you. If you show passion and dedication, or appear knowledgeable about a subject of your choice, you have endeared yourself to me. I may not necessarily agree with your opinion, but I will appreciate the loyalty with which you stick to it.

After high school, as I started meeting more of the world, I realized that there were other criteria as well. People liked me because I was skinny. People did not like me that I wasn’t pretty enough for their attention. People did not like me because I wasn’t fair enough or something. I still don’t quite understand how you can judge a human being based on their physical appearance, because I don’t they can help it. You are born and have grown the way your genetic structure and health habits have led you to. But pessimism, optimism, sarcasm and the like are all cultivated, by the person’s own choice, so everything about that is under their control.

I got into an argument with a friend once. She claimed that she would date only guys who fulfilled a certain physical criteria, as in tall, well-built, fit, etc. It sounded (and still sounds) rather shallow to me. She justified by saying that a well-maintained body shows some dedication and passion. Her stance was that a guy who knows how to look after himself is equally well capable of looking after her, if she should choose to be in a relationship with him. Physical maintenance seemed to be a way of showing how much a guy was willing to invest into well-being. While I cannot disagree that health is important, I still cannot reconcile that to the idea that all fit people must “look” a certain way. You can be fit and not be skinny. You can be fit and not have a six-pack.More so, she then turned the argument and asked me whether I didn’t estimate the dating potential of a guy through his looks. I didn’t and I’m proud to say that I still don’t. I may casually notice aesthetics, but even that is at an arm’s length. I start observing about you the instant you start talking. That tells me not just of a guy’s dating potential, but also of his friend potential.

The reason why I was compelled to write this rather rant-like post is because I have this acquaintance, who judges people and proclaims it proudly. We call each other our friends, but more often that not, he is brusque and nasty. More so, he isn’t afraid of dealing it out to me. Through the last few months, when my self-esteem was convalescing, I’ve shrugged it off. But now I have this instinct to hand my opinion of him on a platter. I try to tell myself that I am more mature than he is and that I shouldn’t let it bother me so much. He is not necessarily a bad person, and maybe I’m simply overreacting to his twisted humor, but somehow, I don’t think that I should accept his bad treatment. Pardon me, I seem to be reverting back to the behavioral cycle I referred to in the beginning. I think I’m just going to avoid him, minimize contact so I don’t have to invest mental energy in worrying about whether I have evaded his scathing criticisms.

Which brings me back to judging. Why should you judge someone? After all, do they not deserve an opportunity to feel special in their own right? Some people say that judging is a defense mechanism. Somehow by categorizing someone else in their head as something demeaning, awful or caricatured, people try to boost their own self-esteem. Blame it on my naiveté, but I honestly didn’t know that could be true. Until I heard a story from another friend who told me that the guy she liked rejected her because she was “too chubby” and then went on to gloat about it. I’m not here to evaluate whether or not my friend is chubby or isn’t or maybe she has self-esteem issues or whatever. But I do blame this guy for having such a shallow criterion. Are you really going to abandon a girl, walk out of her life, break her heart into possibly irretrievable pieces the day her clothing size grows by one unit? I realize I may come across as slightly sexist with the number of male antagonists in this piece, but I know that this sort of opinion is not just limited to gender, age, shape or any demographic.

There are many ways to shrug off the feeling of being judged. Usually, the most effective method is to ignore. I’m sure there are several others, but learning to ignore is the most effective tool I’ve cultivated thus far. Don’t worry future self (and readers), someday, we’re gonna be above these nagging doubts that keep trying to claw us down.

Naked Gossip

Our society judges women for what they wear. Especially back home, girls do feel threatened by the fact that people will evaluate them and critique them for what they choose to wear. This short story, presented entirely in dialog form shows a different perspective. It also tries to bring out one of my least favorite modes of transmission of information: word of mouth. The dialog shapes the character of the central person entirely.

Modesty and other crafted opinions Image Credits: http://melzika.deviantart.com/art/Fabric-Portrait-214598450 by Melzika on dA

Modesty and other crafted opinions
Image Credits: http://melzika.deviantart.com/art/Fabric-Portrait-214598450 by Melzika on dA

“Have you seen that girl?”

“The snobby one?”

“Yeah…. Is she new to school? ”

“No. No. She used to be that little mouse at the back of the class. The quiet one, remember? ”

“REALLY?! Is that her?!”

“Yeah!  Did you see how she came to school today?”

“I did. You have no idea how surprised I was to actually find her wearing clothes! ”

“I know, right?  What does she think of herself?”

“Why would she even do something so outrageous?”

“It’s like she’s pretending that her body is so unique that she’s got something to hide.”

“You should have seen the way all the boys in class were staring at her.They were all murmuring about why she needs to cover her body, especially with something as opaque as fabric.”

“I bet that’s why she did it, that attention seeker.”

“But still, you know, wearing clothes is pretty ghastly.”

“She must be really desperate if she wants boys to look at her when she’s clothed.”

“Thank goodness we don’t need to deprive ourselves of natural sunlight just to have friends.”

“Apparently, one of the teachers reported her.”

“I heard. I am not surprised. Wearing clothes? Come on. That kind of thing ages our skin. Imagine having it chafe across your body every time you move.”

“Ew. I wonder how she deals with it.”

“I guess maybe the attention makes up for it.”

“But it’s such a pretty pathetic plea, you know?  Oh, please look at me because I’m depriving myself of natural nutrients and unnecessarily irritating my skin. I’m such a martyr. Please like me.”

“That’s disgusting.”

“Anyway, so one of the teachers pulled her aside and asked her why she was being so inappropriate.”

“And then?”

“And she was all, oh, this is my body. I live in a free world, so I can do whatever I want to my body and so on.”

“Rubbish. She just wants people to notice her. And talk about her.”

“Oh my goodness, yes!  Some of the junior school kids were running away from her.”

“You know that other shy kid, who used to sit next to her and we all assumed he liked her? ”

“What about him?”

“Yeah, so he was so stunned by her “clothed” look…”

“Honestly, nobody in the world could have imagined her capable of such a thing. But go on.”

“He was so stunned that he actually tied a wristband to show off to her that he wasn’t afraid of wearing fabric.”

“I’m don’t know whether that’s funny, ridiculous, weird or all three! ”

“Freaks, the entire lot. You know what happened next?”

“No. Tell me.”

“So, he tried to approach her when she was clothed, and she just turned around and said, ‘Oh you think you’re cool just by copying my style?’ ”

“What?! Nobody in the world would want to copy her style!”

“I thought he didn’t either. He apparently threw the fabric away, shortly after. I don’t think he has spoken to her since.”

“Well, I mean, you approach a lunatic who wears clothes, you probably deserve to be snubbed. At least now he can go befriend normal people.”

“It was pretty mean of her, though. Treating him like that. I mean just because you wear clothes doesn’t give you the right to treat everyone else like filth, especially since he was one of the few who talked to her even when she didn’t wear them.”
“I guess his company wasn’t enough, so she had to go all out and do something completely bold.”

“Ugh. Then she becomes a snob, as if being an outcast is the coolest thing that happened to her.”

“Given her life, it probably is.”

“Can you imagine her sleeping with them on? ”

“No way. I’m pretty sure she takes them off once she’s back home. Her skin would itch terribly. Besides, I’m sure her family wouldn’t be okay with it.”

“I heard her boasting that she didn’t even take them off when she went back home.”

“Lies. As if her family would let her.”

“They apparently don’t care.”

“I’m pretty sure that’s just tall talk. She comes from a pretty conservative family, you know?  The last thing they’d want to discover is their daughter wearing clothes.”

“Clothes? Really?! I mean they look so ugly. They hide the natural beauty of her shape.”

“You’re assuming she had any to begin with.”

“True that . If she did, she wouldn’t need to hide it with clothes.”

“Can we please avoid her, the next time we see her?”

“Absolutely. I don’t want to talk to desperate people.”

“Me neither. Especially not those who need to seem appealing by covering themselves up.”

I’m being judged by people for clothing myself, and yet is the skin in itself not a fabric of it’s own right? Can the soul be prevented from wearing what the heart adorns it with?

Gossip

The following is a guest post from a very insightful friend of mine. He has recently graduated from high school, and this post with it’s beautiful literary  structure and fresh earnest voice, seems to capture succinctly some of life’s lessons that he has learned and would like to share. May I present Gossip by Siddhant Dubey.

Let's talk about gossip. Image credits: http://idilsalihakuntuz.deviantart.com/art/gossip-60888863

Let’s talk about gossip. Image credits: http://idilsalihakuntuz.deviantart.com/art/gossip-60888863

GOSSIP.

Is it a noun, or a verb, or both?

Is it futile, or can it stir oceans?

Is it a whisper, or is it a war cry?

GOSSIP. GOSSIP. GOSSIP.

It’s all we do.

It’s all we’re capable of.

It’s all that’s engineered within us.

We can’t help ourselves.

We can’t help ourselves at all.

We need to know what he did a moment ago.

We need to know what she did ten years ago.

We constantly: Need. To. Know.

It’s a joke for some – an ordeal to engage in.

It makes others take their lives.

It ‘livens’ up a conversation.

It gashes someone’s self-esteem.

It generates laughter.

It disintegrates dignity.

It’s a quick exchange of opinions and statements.

It’s incessant.

It’s cruel.

It’s a burden that will explode if we don’t pass it on.

It’s the same burden that will destroy someone’s pride and possibly their life.

It can make you cry.

It can make you scream.

It can make you regret.

It can make you scheme.

It can make you shatter.

It can make you howl.

It can make you shiver.

It can make you scowl.

THE BEST WAY TO DEAL WITH IT IS TO IGNORE IT. Yes?

ABSOLUTELY.

THE BEST WAY TO DEAL WITH IT IS TO DISPOSE IT. Yes?

COMPLETELY.

THE BEST WAY TO DEAL WITH IT IS TO GENERATE IT OR PASS IT ON. Yes?

NO. HAVE YOU HEARD OF THE WORD ‘DISGUSTING’? THAT’S WHAT YOU ARE.

Some people don’t bother – The best option to keep.

Some people falter – Stop it, you’re not that weak.

Some people dismiss – that’s the way to be.

Some people cause – You have no right to be bleak.

__________________________________________________________________

Thousands of people kill themselves out of depression, out of being the centerpiece of judgment, out of not living up to expectations and out of sheer morbidity caused by the comments generated on their race, gender, sexuality, and other things that serve no basis for judgment.

GOSSIP IS A WEAPON.

It must be handled with care.

Disposed off when received.

Unloaded when aimed.

Enucleated before the intention of being made.

I gossip too. But with so many people taking their lives because of not fitting in or being accepted, it sucks that I’m contributing to even a fraction of pain in this world.

This is going to sound sappy to you (it most certainly should not, though) but you have to pledge with me:

I will not judge from this day onwards – be it on the basis of race, sexuality, gender or ability. I will not engage in incessant talk about other people and most definitely will not continue a piece of hurtful information for the sake of ‘fun’, ‘fitting in’ or even under ‘peer pressure’. I will not succumb to it.

Trust me, the world will be so much better when everyone stops gossiping. But this thought and idea has to take birth by itself, inside of you. Just regarding this and stopping at that will not do.

I do not know how many of you have heard of Amanda Todd and the terrible life she suffered. But if you have time, please look it up and empathise with the fact that there are so many people like her who need help and don’t know what to do except give up entirely. All of you who say “suicide is for the weak” are shallow-hearted fools who cannot, for the love of this world, see that suicide is a terrible, terrible act that anyone can succumb to when situations and people in their lives lash back on them with hatred.

I will also take a moment to talk about body image.

Being overweight myself, I know what it’s like to be conscious of body image.

It makes you feel awkward and uneasy and terrible.

There are people around us who may seem confident and poised, but that may not always be the case.

And so that gives you no right to comment on anyone’s body image.

Bulimia is just one of the very few social and emotional issues that we come across and disregard as “gross” or “disgusting”, but we need to understand that people are driven to this because of other people’s comments and expectations and that is the most unfair thing I’ve ever come across.

No one should ever be able to dictate over someone else’s body image.

Everyone’s aim should be to get healthy. Not to get skinny or be pretty.

Lastly, to everyone who’s having problems right now, be it regarding body image or sexuality or acceptance or anything at all, please consider talking to your parents about it. They may not seem like it, but they know their stuff, and they will understand. Your close friends (trustworthy ones) are also worth confiding in. For everyone who feels like that isn’t an option, feel free to drop me a message. Because no one deserves anything like this happening to them. Don’t let this emotion of self-doubt hover over you, because that’s not going to do you any good.

Thank you.

– Siddhant Dubey

Shapes

 

Worries about shape and why it's hard to ignore them.  Image credits: http://aleeshii-chic.deviantart.com/art/Insecure-191976627

Worries about shape and why it’s hard to ignore them.
Image credits: http://aleeshii-chic.deviantart.com/art/Insecure-191976627

 

Most of the teenagers I’ve met have had some form of insecurity issues manifesting themselves in an obsessive concern over their shape and/or size. I’ve been meeting a few of my friends, whom I haven’t seen for over a year, and almost undoubtedly the first thing they notice is my shape. “Oh you’re so slim!” or something equivalent. I don’t really understand why this obsession with physical dimensions. After all, it seems to be a rather shallow way of evaluating a person. To be fair, I haven’t ever been on the other side of the spectrum. As in, I’ve never known what it’s like to be not “slim”, so I perhaps cannot claim that the discrimination they feel is imaginary. Most people would say that being called slim is something to be accepted as a compliment. Yet calling someone anything else is supposed to be an implied insult. If I am to be biased against a particular shape, then why should I not extend that bias to other shapes? Isn’t it also offensive, at some level, to call people slim? Personally, I find myself getting a little judgmental of people who compliment me on being skinny. The very fact that they notice my shape, and notice it enough to remark about it, makes me lose some respect for them. I am more than just the organic tissue that binds me. Which brings me back to wonder why people are perpetually obsessed with it, anyway.

The media, which heavily influences our lives in several insidious ways, has always been featuring their perception of the common people to a certain standard of what they should look like. I won’t deny it, I used to be one of those people too, marveling at the awe of their apparently flawless physical appearance. As someone who was tired of being an awkward wallflower, I couldn’t help but childishly envy them for being the center of such attention and supposed adoration. For a while, I even (stupidly) tried to become like that. Once again, the trustworthy network of friends and the deluge on information available via the media provided me with several alternatives on how to look a more socially acceptable version of aesthetically pleasing.

I used to stay a near constant shape as I would eat little and exercise little, my metabolism at some equilibrium. Because I expended so little physical energy, I rarely felt hungry. Until I realized that by not exploring the full culinary diversity at my availability I was going to be depriving my growing body of some very important nutrients. Even then, this realization could not promote me to eat better. That was when I started to exercise. It started with walks and then with runs and so on. My stamina was unsurprisingly poor, and after the first few times I physically exerted myself I found that I grew ravenously hungry. I started to feel more energized and I realized that I had expanded my tummy’s capacity for food. Although I knew that exercise was good for the health and all of that, somehow I had never really bothered to get into it. Strangely enough, I even discovered that exercise made me happy. While exercising, I would come across people who would say, “Oh, you’re so slim already. Why do you need to exercise?” It struck me that most people turned to physical activity only to try to shrink their current frames, which did not necessarily imply better health. People had just come to equate being slim with being healthy, and I couldn’t see how the two connected at all.

What struck me as even more puzzling was that people would hit the gym as a part of their efforts to get into a relationship. It just seemed illogical how a change in waistline would affect how endearing you were. And if it did, then that person was too shallow to deserve affection anyway. But there were people who testified to it’s marvelous effects, and there were several others who made the object of their affection the sole motivation to expand their own life-spans. I can only admire their determination and hope that the person whose appreciation they crave is worth it.

Then came the wave in the opposite direction. The media had, in an effort to garner more credible support, now begun to glorify the feminine shapes that were not size zero. Being curvy was the new in thing. Personally, I felt that this would reduce the social pressure on people to become thinner. I could not have been more wrong. It really annoyed me that even to this shape there was a maximum upper bound you could not cross. If anything, this new public favorite shape seemed to be more restrictive, as it came with a lower limit as well. Once again, a different section of society was under public scrutiny, fueling everyone’s inadequacy. When people aspired to be thin, they weren’t thin enough and now that everyone wanted curvy, you couldn’t be curvy enough.Several people, mostly my peers, now expressed concern at my previously hailed “slim” shape, and (with their best intentions at heart, I assume) advised me to “eat whatever/ eat more”. My parents still maintained that a growing girl needed her nutrients, and they didn’t really care whether that would affect my physical dimensions or not.

We can continue to blame the media for influencing the young “wrongly”, but since we are incapable of effecting rapid changes on a system that’s so all-pervasive, I think the change has to start within oneself. If you feel that you are influenced, then only you have the power to learn to be indifferent. This is not just about shape, but about any of the existing stereotypes that society holds us up to. When we start to feel scrutinized for every minute thing we do/say/appear as, we invite criticism. More often than not, at that age bracket, criticism can be misinterpreted in many different ways, some that are quite damaging and lasting.

That was when I realized one of the most fundamental things about myself. No matter what I did, due to some constancy of my metabolism, I was unable to affect a very large change in my shape. My metabolism kept my shape constant while regulating my dietary needs. It took me a while to conclude that my body is the functional tool with which I am expected to manage this world. If I unnecessarily tried to morph it into something that wasn’t part of the default design, I would lose some property that nature had eventually crafted into me for my benefit. I realized that this acceptance is usually easier said than done, and I have several friends who have overcome their personal demons and managed to deal with their food disorders. But to make these mental changes possible, the human body needs enough fuel to go on, and by reducing that, I figured I was reducing my capacity to make that mental transformation.