Living: An illusion…

From sipping our morning coffee to packing our bags when the clock strikes 5, from stuffing ourselves with  pizzas and burgers to cooking ourselves cheese omelettes when home alone!

Life is hectic, ruthless & sometimes very boring.

fem_profile_illusion1

The day starts & ends with a ludicrously boring routine. Apart from enjoying a few snacks here & there, rubbing our shoulders with a few friends & a couple of minutes break from work, we have nothing more interesting to brag about!

We try to depict our lives to be as fantastic & glamorous as a Hollywood celebrity on Facebook…as literate & thought provoking as Ghazali on Twitter,  but our reality won’t change by what we pretend to be like!

From meeting friends to going out on dinners, we’re not living rather just creating an illusion that we live. We pretend to have the best brands, extravagant colognes & exquisite meals, but what we forget is the original ‘us’ which existed before we started living a fake life! Continue reading

Breaking through the classes!

A friend was hesitant in asking his parents to come for his graduation night. When I inquired, though he didn’t state it explicitly but I could sense that he was not comfortable with the idea of his parents coming to the campus in a rikshaw.

I remembered how he used to be like when we met on our first day at college. Modestly dressed, very sober, solely interested in studying and walked his way to the campus every day. Now, four years after our orientation, he was a completely different person. He was dressed in a torn pair of jeans, more interested in attending concerts than classes, cautious about his hairstyle and ashamed of the fact that he belonged to a lower middle class family.

We all talk about poverty and the bourgeoisie enjoying their luxuries at their expense. But we tend to ignore the lower middle class; the class which forms the major chunk of this developing country.

Let me paint a picture of how this class generally looks like. Mostly a man/guardian of the family who is employed on an average below managerial post is the sole bread earner. While they can’t afford the S3s or iPhones, they do embark upon a few recreational spots now and then to appease their enjoyment cravings. They generally lack the capacity to afford a car and a bike so bus or rickshaw is the general mode of transportation. Two or more children, monetary issues, quarrels over food and fight for the TV remote are the general topics of discussion.

Widespread and forming the majority, this class has a pervasive cultural similarity. We identify their men by a shalwar kamiz, non-fancy moustache, a tinge of village accent, not so fluent in English, their religious conservatism and superstitions about norms. Women are simple mostly draped in a chadar and shy especially in cross gender communication .Their lifestyle, problems, rituals and even their ways of expressions are similar to each other.

It’s all settled and happy go lucky until an individual from a middle class background tries to enter the elitist culture or at least vows to mingle in that class? At that time its not only him trying to enter a forbidden territory rather it’s a fight of the two mindsets.

When two mindsets are at war with each other, one is bound to lose. The aam admi (middle class man) initially tries to maintain the decorum and conforms to the values taught by his ambiance. But gradually the glittery, luxurious and seemingly blissful life of the elites attracts him.

He starts comparing; his lifetime ayashi (enjoyment) was to have a chicken piece at dinner while the elites enjoy lavish four course meals every day. He fantasizes about partying, long drives and then comes a point where his values start transforming into inferiority complex. Why can’t he afford to live enjoy lifestyle? Did God prefer them over him? All questions but no answers!

Now, he endeavors to transform his personality to at least partially become a part of the enchanting privileged class. The initial changes begin from changing his dressing; shalwar kamiz to a hip jeans and a levi’s t-shirt even if its exorbitant & unaffordable. Then he works on his accent, from following seasons to practicing alone, he tries to twist and turn his tongue in U.S. mode. This transformation is like at first he crumbled & bogged down to pieces, and now the reconstruction is in process.

With the new persona he tries to be a part of the ‘enchanting ones’. Its out of question whether they accept him or not. They might accept him, he might become a part of ‘the class’. Leaving behind his personal and monetary constraints, he might actually attain a position amongst them.

But the saddening part here is that he lost his individuality. He lost what he actually was, his values, lifestyle and self concept, everything diminished under the peer and class pressure.

Teen Years & Perception of Life

We all know the basics of socialization, observation and learning. Almost every literate person either knows the technical terms or at least understands the phenomenon. Socialization contributes the most to the personality development of any individual.

‘Personality’ i.e. the amalgamation of core values we internally follow and the ones we externally project. Both types of values can be different or the same, but mostly the ideal is somewhere in between.

According to Erickson these core values/schemas are developed and fashioned, according to the given circumstances, throughout one’s life. But the most important period of this value formation is the in between the age of 14-19. Yes! This is the time when you develop your perception towards the world. You learn to get outside your limitations, comfort zone is no more an issue and you yearn to conquer the peer groups around you with your budding talents. The quest for an ideal and relatable peer group is the critical part of this phase. The camouflage of childhood and introversion is something which ought to be broken at this turning point of your life.

These “early teens”, aren’t we all too naïve to understand the implications attached with the actions of this age? We don’t realize that the values we observe, the friends we make, the distress we face and the attention bouts of our teen years will be cardinal in shaping the basic contours of our life.

These contours of your thoughts impact each and every move of your life as they become a part of your schema. A group of friends you couldn’t fit in? A competition you lost due to your under confidence or may be the excruciating comments you got at your dressing sense?  All of this has an impact. Though it could be the opposite but it’s the painful experience which lingers throughout your life. Becoming a part of schema implies that as your core value it will be the basis of your every decision.

Hence, Erickson made this theory to emphasize the past’s impact on future and got all the appreciation in the world. But he forgot to explain that is there a way to undo your negative perceptions?  You can’t spend your life in misery just because you were all fat and unacceptable at the age of 18? You can’t be forever alone if you didn’t have friends in your teens. Nobody is ready to accept a pessimistic perception for eternity just because of some mishaps, few appalling memories or even slightly lonely experiences!

Are memories reversible? I don’t think so, but I can propose a solution to replace old perceptions with new ones. The solution is difficult, as perceptions formed over a long period of time can gradually become a part of your innate being. But the process can be inverted only if one tries to overcome those memories by making new ones. My point here is that you can undo the perception by developing a new and more pervasive one.

For instance, you were mocked and underestimated due to any reason in your early teen. Therefore, you established that ‘people will always ridicule me and underestimate my abilities’. Now, to break away from this basic thought you need to re-establish this perception. Stand up for your rights and keep on standing until you achieve the reward you believe you deserved. You may be broken sometimes, torn again by the society or discouraged by your own ego. But be staunch and this will terminate your old self image, the notion of underestimation will be modified in your life at least.

This process is harsh and you may face resistance not only externally but also internally. But this demonstration of will power can lead to satisfaction and contentment for the rest of your life.

So, next time when a sad memory flashes before your eyes or your subconscious tries to bring you down, don’t surrender rather reinstate!

 

Is this the real YOU?

During my exams last semester, one day while cramming my notes I looked at myself in the mirror. I saw a blunt, outspoken, straightforward girl with a damn care attitude, but with this look came a thought, a thought which clutched my mind and I just couldn’t get out of the strong grip! The thought was not so outrageous rather it was just a simple query i.e.

“Is this the real me?”

Yes! It wasn’t the real me. I’m not a person with a damn care attitude towards life, I care about small things; things like what would I do in the quiz if I don’t study? Or what shall I buy for my mother from the small sum of money I saved from my pocket money. I was a nerd; a nerd who studied hard day and night to get good grades and pretended to be cool. A cool girl who didn’t study at all and still somehow got good marks!
But who was I hiding from, why did I never tell anyone that how much I studied or why I wanted to mask my concentration in studies from others? What is a COOL personality? Who defined those terms?
Let’s take a look into it from the perspective of a normal teenager who doesn’t know what’s in and what’s out!
We go into the university with high spirits, aspiring dreams, passion and zest to be something big someday. The ambience that seems so conciliatory the first day gradually throws back our deficiencies upon us. We are never appreciated for what we are rather always pointed out the way we should be.
The various definitions get their ways into our heads like whose Cool, Hot, Geek, Funky or a Rock star. A few things necessary to get into “The Elites” are not the money rather there is a whole recipe to be a part of the mighty agenda! The recipe includes a variety of compulsory ingredients like designer clothes (If you don’t have them at least pretend), English with an accent, a few top class gossiping qualities, highly artificial attitude and oh yes! You should be humble and sympathetic to those who are not the “Elites”.
To get into the circle of the Elites, all the girls and guys tighten their belts after few weeks of the university to gather the ingredients. They get on the nerves of their parents whose old mind thoughts become mind-boggling now. Girls go on a diet to get in their perfect skirt and the guys pretend to smoke even if they don’t know how to!

But has someone ever thought why do we have to fit in the already settled parameters for being the “Hottest”, in fact what is the Hottest or the Coolest? What is it for?
No, it’s not for success. Neither does it fulfill the aspirations that were bubbling in the students when they joined in nor does it actually make them different from what they are in real. It’s just a mask we use, which in terms of psychology will be defined as “Relational violence”. In literary terms it’s violence done by females to suppress the aggression within them but I believe it’s rather a term for both genders who participate evenly in this ruthless brutality of dividing people into classes.

What could be worse than changing yourself for the sake of something which doesn’t even exist?

Are we so superficial that vague gushes of artificiality carry away our persona? We; the greatest creation of God can change it’s thoughts, beliefs and forget his/her own identity for the sake of being a center of attention?
We see girls dying of Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia, young teens dying drunk due to speedy road accidents, smoking as a sacred ritual for the sake of attention and an addiction to lose weight, parents’ presence seen as a source of embarrassment in the “IN” circle and young teens sneaking out to make gf/bfs to check if they are in demand or not. The values with which we lived for years suddenly become lame in front of the individualistic approaches? Is appreciating those, who gave you birth, strength and support, not worthwhile enough to waste time on? Why do we change our paths from the library to the café for being eminent? Why do we make fun of those who wear glasses or are not close to a perfect figure? Why a big car and late night partying is becoming an obsession rather than recreation? All we need to do is think!

Think with the brain that the Almighty Allah gave us, ponder upon what we actually are and realize that we are not what the world defines us as, we are what our mind shapes us as. The world is making its progress to a dangerous end where people pursue the legendary trail without even questioning it for a moment. But I think it’s high time that instead of making movies like mean girls, teeny toons, never been kissed etc.. We focus on throwing away those fake, lame beliefs, which forge young people and overshadow their true brilliance.

Its time!