-ther

We are different yet somehow the same, predictable while completely unknown, we see ourselves in each other despite foggy mirrors, there must be something inside that we identify with, something that calls us home in each other only to make us homesick by the time we meet, we are sick of each other with no where else to go, and those that take their own leave are grieved for a while before we focus on ourselves again, we are all so special yet extremely unsensational, our lack of individuality causing projections of inferiority toward each other, only to gather by the fire when it’s cold at night to sing togetherness to life.


Who are we to each other, and do we belong together? Who is to say what’s right and wrong when we’re replicas of each other, you, myself in the future and me, yourself from the past. And us in the present is a ball of confusion, wondering how we got here, easily forgetting that one leg was yours and the other was mine, we walked here together. And we’ll lay in bed together too, the one that we made, with our full and divided attention, and we’ll tug the cover from each other as dawn turns into dusk, opening our eyes to the foggiest silhouettes and reflections of each other, with fear and recognition hanging in the morning air.


Reading this back, I can see how it may be interpreted as a take on a toxic relationship. This is partially correct, but I would like you to scale it up. It is about the dysfunctionality of the human race – something cliche but eternally true. We have the Conservatives and the Labour party, Democrats and Rebublicans, pro-life and pro-choice, capitalists and the loosely opposing socialists and communists. Funnily enough, despite their differences, none can exist without the other. Humans disagree with eachother all the time, yet we are extremely codependent. We love and hate ourselves simultaneously. It’s like we were born with an autoimmune disease where discontent continually ferments on the inside. Yet, it is chronic and can never be fully cured, only managed. We can’t live with ourselves niether can we live without. This is interesting.

The invasion of the Capitol in DC made me think about a lot yesterday and this is one thing that came out of it. Yet, in hard times I always feel a small degree of safety, somehow. Not as if harm will never reach me, but more that there’s something inside me that will keep me truly protected. I think that’s God. I will never stop being passionate though, or unfalteringly aware of the dangers around me as I live with humans just like myself, who spew love and hate both inwards and outwards as long as there is breath in their lungs.

Why You Should Trust Every Process

all processes are worth trusting, even the ones where everything feels like it’s going wrong because you messed up… This is for the times when life replaces peace with fear in your heart.

***

The way the past makes me feel has changed a lot over time. Many things I regretted and hated myself for no longer stir up those same emotions inside me. Now, I feel more gratitude, relief, happiness…

Hindsight is a blessing, a beautiful thing. It’s taught me to trust every process that I go through because I may eventually understand why they happened, and realise that it was best for them to have gone the way they did.   

I want you to have this perspective too, if you don’t. Bear with me as I give an example.

Backstory

Parts of my primary school went under reconstruction when I was in year 6. Although summer came before the work was complete, I found myself watching the builders during playtime, so intrigued by their work and how they brought the structure to life. By year 8, this obsession with buildings transformed into a love for architecture. I got so excited at the sight of skyscrapers in Canary wharf, beautifully designed homes on Grand Designs, and renovations on Homes Under The Hammer. I’d decided to become an architect!

But fast forward to sixth form, my love for the career faded away as I constantly failed the subjects that I needed for an architecture undergrad. Besides that, I had no portfolio of work for my applications because I was and still am terrible at drawing (lol); it never excited me. Though I was in denial about it for a while, I finally accepted that my dream was no longer adding up; it wasn’t true to me anymore.

On the phone to a few universities during year 12 exam season, I was reminded that besides 3 A’s, I need a portfolio of my work to gain admission to an architecture course. I looked over at my bed, knowing that I didn’t have what they were asking for – questioning the genuineness of what I’d hoped towards for so long.

Yet on that very bed sat a notebook that I’d been writing in for a while. It held thoughts, flash fiction, and ideas for novels and writing that I wanted to develop. Like an epiphany, it came to me that I’d been working on my portfolio all along – just for the wrong subject. Later that day, I decided to study English literature at university, and soon after I made it a joint honours with creative writing. That was May 2016. In July 2020, I graduated with a 1st in English with Creative Writing.

What’s my point? (TLDR)

The focus of this story is not the outcome, but the process I went through to get there. The day I made those phone calls, I was anxious. It felt like I had been setting myself up to fail all this time, and this was the finale. Unable to see how my life was going to get better from that point onwards, the situation felt bigger than me and I was beating myself up for not realising my truth earlier.

But too often we forget that life plans to work itself out in its own timing, and we should have faith in this fact. If I could, I would tell my 16-year-old self that my life is not over because I changed my mind about my career path. I’d also add that this process is worth trusting. Realising and accepting my love for writing and absence of such for architecture that day steered me down the correct path at the exact time it was supposed to.

Perceiving ups and downs

I refer to this time in my life because it reminds me that all processes are worth trusting, even the ones where everything feels like it’s going wrong because you messed up – and it did feel that way. This is for the times when life replaces peace with fear in your heart.

No story is without ups and downs. And when we retell them, we speak about the downs knowing that things worked out eventually. Even if they didn’t, they are part of a bigger story that we haven’t finished writing yet.

The value of hindsight

You should trust every process, failure, success, misunderstanding, miscalculation, mistake, the lot, at any stage you encounter them. Believe that they are part of a longer story that is yet to be complete. Zoom out and consider what this could mean in the bigger picture: something beautiful and worthwhile!

It’s time to use hindsight to our advantage when we are in the thick of turmoil. If we know that things can turn out okay in the end because hindsight has taught us so with our past experiences, we can use this knowledge to calm ourselves in the midst of the storm.

We can use it to our advantage and trust every process from now on, believing that things are working out the way that they should; they have done so in the past, and we must have faith that they will continue like this.

Try to accept uncertain times as pivotal segments of your story. I believe that this mindset helps to calm anxiety and fear in moments of overwhelm, reminding us that trusting all processes is the key we need to hold on tight and live through them, fearlessly.

Until next time!

The Art of Trying

…life can pull you in different directions all at once, yet still be guiding you down the right path.

***

Why I am writing this

It’s been a difficult year for most of us, and I feel the need to reemphasise the importance of balance.

In some situations we are helpless; our options for solution are minimal and there’s little we can do to make our problems go away. This is the anthem of a pandemic. Although we have modern medicine and precautions such as quarantine and social distancing, no one can grind a such a crisis to an instant halt.

On the other hand, there are situations where all we need to do is apply ourselves and focus in order to see the change we desire. Yes, you are stuck at home or out of a job, but one day of trying hard to complete an application may be all you need to make the most of what you have during this time.

Not necessarily out of a rut, but building something special inside of it.

The Least

When there is something you want to achieve and there are obstacles to pass over in pursuit of it, trying is the least you could do. That is, for example, starting one part of an application, drafting that email, talking to that person, or simply accepting something to be true.

If someone were to ask, “Well, have you even researched what it takes to [insert interest]?” Your answer should be yes. Because if it weren’t, an immediate response could be, “Trying is the least you could do. You could at least read about what it takes to [insert interest]”. So apply that to what you desire, and start trying. That’s your first step.

The Most

Meanwhile, there remain situations in life where all efforts lead to dead ends. Sometimes you do nothing but push yourself towards a goal, only to look up and find yourself exactly where you started. In this situation, trying is both the most you can do, and all that you’ve been doing. All that’s required of you now is to keep up this effort. In the midst of such, consider other approaches, for considering itself could be another form of trying the most.

I have been passionate about balance since I realised that life can pull you in different directions all at once, yet still be guiding you down the right path. To begin trying in areas of your life where it’s the least you can do, and to remain trying in others where it’s the most you can do is a great way to understand the importance of balance. Neither side of the scale should be heavier than the other.

From now on it will be my goal to aim for, and maintain equilibrium.

What Does Revolution Mean To You?

I am increasingly willing to accept that I may be the tiniest cog in the works… Perhaps it’s best to find peace with this. It will not make me stop striving for change, but it will take the focus off my own requirements and put them all on the issue at hand, where it belongs.

***

Hello, Hello, Hello!

I haven’t written a post in a while, and a lot has happened in the world since. That’s the go-to reintroduction in any space during the enigma that is 2020. Of course, you aren’t relying on me to give my perspective on recent events but I shall give it nonetheless!

Welcome to somevariables.

This post will cover 4 topics: Social Media, Revolution (a comeback), Education (+reading) and Passion. Yay, exciting! Let’s get into it.

Social Media

We know that it’s a double-edged sword. Through our usage we have the power to build up and tear down, and doing so has come with more ease than ever before. For example we saw the power of social media in the past few weeks with the ENDSARS protests in Nigeria and the awareness raised about coltan mining in Congo with the hashtag #CongoIsBleeding. These are things that were happening in the world which social media brought to our attention, specifically filling in the gaps that broadcast and print news companies left wide open. That’s what hashtags are all about and we are grateful for it.

I had a change of heart during the week because I held an underdeveloped opinion that social media activism is hardly activism. By that I meant sharing posts, using hashtags, expressing rage, and doing nothing else. But I read a tweet that shut me up, as it explained that we only found out about these horrible occurrences through social media itself, so it is clearly an effective tool towards justice and liberation. Why not carry it on?

The main qualm that remains for me is the extent to which we as a collective, with the same hopes of liberation in mind, believe that social media is the liberator. We all know that there is more to be done.

Raising awareness on social media platforms is the first step; it’s a method by which those in power can be pressured by tangible, acute and inescapable civil unrest, and make a move in the correct direction to fix the problem (though they scarcely do so, unfortunately).

But beyond raising awareness is actual change. This puts pressure on the literal movement of obstacles, which is not as easy as we would like it to be. Especially when the powers that should not be (I like that, learnt it from a flat earther documentary. I am not a flat earther though.) benefit from these obstacles being in place. Such a sticky situation leads me to my next point.

Revolution

Many people think they will see change now. Yet as time goes by it feels like we must accept that we might not see the change. Emphasis on the we, because I have heard people say that they don’t want to be fighting for the same causes that they are now when they’re old. But we can see that happening in this moment. Angela Davis has as much to say about Black Radical Unity & Power now as she did during the USA’s Civil Rights Movement.

How okay are you with change not happening in your lifetime? (see my poem, What Do You Think?) Will you accept that it could instead happen in someone else’s, or do you feel a right to experience that right now? This is not to be negative, as we have seen a lot of positive change in our years. However, changes on the macro scale such as poverty, corruption and racism seem to have roots that run so deep, that it will take generations to finally topple those hateful trees over.

I believe that the passion for a cause erases temporal desires. Yes things are urgent, but regardless of the timescale, it is something one should be timelessly passionate about.

I am increasingly willing to accept that I may be the tiniest cog in the works, or the faintest breath in the wind that makes the butterfly flap its wings. Perhaps it’s best to find peace with this. It will not make me stop striving for change, but it will take the focus off my own requirements and put them all on the issue at hand, where it belongs.

Do you agree? Let’s see how this approach holds up.

Education

I am reminded of the Toni Morrison quote where she said, “When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.”

I can relate this to education and reading. A lot of us have more knowledge than we give credit to, and therefore a lot more power than we feel at liberty to utilise. How amazing would it be if we always shared what we just learnt and spoke openly about the answers we have just been given? If some knowledge has freed you, it should not stop with you. You should free others with that same knowledge. This in my opinion contributes towards collectivism in the best way. In summary, it’s an “everybody eats” mentality and I am here for it.

Of course, sometimes sharing knowledge requires you to read the room first, but you’re smart enough to do that. Do not underestimate the potential you have to make a difficult concept more understandable because of how you, as an individual, will frame your sentences. There is a lot of power in your hands and no one holds that power like you do. Mix that with what you have just learnt, and that right there is unique and relevant teaching!

Reading

Along those lines, reading is also important. If there’s anything I learnt from the BLM movement earlier this year, it’s that fact checking what you read on social media is very important. Many terrible things are true, but the last thing I want is to spread fake news. I hate to write about it but it’s very relevant. Simply ensuring that what you are sharing is factual will go a long way. And developing your own opinion and perspective is more so important.

For example, sanctions. After the Lekki toll gate massacre on October 20th, there was a petition circulated to demand for the UK to impose sanctions on the Nigerian government. I wasn’t too sure of what sanctions would do, and any involvement from the west sounded fishy to me. So I did some reading and spoke to someone who knows more about this topic than I do. I then decided that signing the petition would not be the best idea, even though most people were pushing it.

Grassroots change is what we need. Not western intervention.

Rather than regurgitating popular opinion in the midst of rage and unrest, it is still important to check exactly what platform you are standing on and what you are promoting. We learnt this at school – sources, evidence, footnotes, comprehension… Let’s try to maintain these skills in the midst of social justice, where it matters the most.

Passion

This is a semi-tangent. But life has sparked a lot of curiosity in me lately, and my answers reside in books. I want to read so much more than I currently am – both fiction and non-fiction. I believe that claiming a passion (in this case, reading) should lead you to spending as much time on it as you can; perhaps even pressuring yourself (healthily) to keep on doing it, and get better at it.

I want to know more so I need to read more. Can you fill that sentence in for yourself?

Here are 4 books/essays on my own reading list:

*

That will be all. Long winded, but compensatory in light of my absence! I hope this got you thinking about something.

This week I also realised that you should run with all of your ideas. No matter how small or irrelevant they seem. See what sticks – work on them until they become relevant, or until they evolve into something beyond your imagination.

Until text time.

What makes your heart leap?

PASSION AND HOBBIES DO NOT HAVE TO BE OVERT AND TANGIBLE THINGS. THEY CAN BE THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS THAT MAKE YOU FEEL AT PEACE, EVEN IF IT ONLY LASTS FOR A SHORT WHILE. THERE COULD BE MUCH MORE THAT YOU’RE INTERESTED IN THAN YOU GIVE YOURSELF CREDIT FOR.

***

Last week, I was having a conversation about passion, and how we try to understand people that claim they’re not passionate about anything. My friend said something along the lines of, ‘think about what makes your heart leap’. And that stuck with me.

I think about my interests all the time as one of my main focuses is to turn them (and my hobbies) into a career, in order to enjoy my life in a way that sustains me. However this question made me look at passion in a very different and refreshing way.

I understand that many people want to have a passion, but perhaps there are stories behind why it lacks in their life. For example, their creativity being stamped out by parents, depression taking over, failure, etc.

Something better

So I think that considering what makes your heart leap is a better place to start. Words like “passionate” and “hobbies” feel so rich and loaded sometimes. Perhaps words like “interest” and “like” are better. Let’s start small.

Now, I know that “what makes your heart leap?” is loaded in itself – it’s descriptive and metaphorical to an extent (some things really make your heart skip a beat), but I believe that when considered, something that makes your heart leap can be as simple as the following:

  •  Going outside when the rain has stopped because the air is fresh
  • The smell of food you like
  • The person you’re in love with
  • The thought of your past, and how you have improved over time
  • Thinking about and planning your future
  • Talking to someone who actually listens to and understand you

The list can go on and on. Passion and hobbies do not have to be overt and tangible things. They can be thoughts and feelings that make you feel at peace, even if it only lasts for a short while. There could be much more that you’re interested in than you give yourself credit for.

My answer

What makes my heart leap is looking at plants and the sky. I’m not even the best at plant upkeep – I just appreciate the parallels between plants and humans, and it feels special to hold a plant in my hand – as if I’m holding myself. The sky makes my heart leap because it scales my world down for me and takes me past immediate worries. It’s free art that I can capture and look at without limits and reservations. It is harmless.

Though you can note plants and the sky as my passion, I think they fit more correctly into the list of things that make my heart leap. And what I do with that information is down to me. I don’t even need to have much of knowledge about these things or turn them into something productive. I just like and appreciate them. If I wanted, I could use them as inspiration for a novel I will write in the future for example, or I could let it them spark research into the outdoors – I could learn the science of the sky and consider how to live a life that harms as few tress as possible.

Now you

There is so much attention to be paid to what you are interested in, what you get excited about, what makes you feel a bit happier when you are down…

I know that depression makes it hard to see these things sometimes. And when you’re in it, you can only hope that you’ll feel something ever again. But I know that there are things that everyone likes. And whatever yours may be, perhaps you just pay little attention to it because it feels so small and insignificant.

But it matters. Pay attention to yourself, and your heart. Appreciate what makes you feel good and hold it close to yourself. Likewise, be okay with these things growing and changing into things you could never imagine. Notice and sustain the leaping of your heart. Identify what makes it leap and keep it as a piece of paradise close to yourself.

To conclude

I am reminded of a poem that I read on the tube, from A Portable Paradise by Roger Robinson:

And if I speak of Paradise,
then I’m speaking of my grandmother
who told me to carry it always
on my person, concealed, so
no one else would know but me.
That way they can’t steal it, she’d say.
And if life puts you under pressure,
trace its ridges in your pocket,
smell its piney scent on your handkerchief,
hum its anthem under your breath.
And if your stresses are sustained and daily,
get yourself to an empty room – be it hotel,
hostel or hovel – find a lamp
and empty your paradise onto a desk:
your white sands, green hills and fresh fish.
Shine the lamp on it like the fresh hope
of morning, and keep staring at it till you sleep.

What makes your heart leap?

Dangerous Daydreaming

And to daydream to the same extent that I did when I was younger is to push the fulfilment of my dreams forward – to place the responsibility of a good life on a future self that does not yet exist.

***

I spend a lot of time in my head and I accept that sometimes I overdo it. So I let things spill over to my diary, just to funnel my thoughts somehow – testing and assessing them all, making sure that they’re not destructive – and if they are, trying my best to diffuse them.

But sometimes that isn’t enough. I don’t open up too often because I don’t enjoy vulnerability, and I hate to jeopardise perceptions of the people around me, considering that these people sometimes have an influence on how I feel, and have a part to play in the negative emotions that I experience.

So, when thinking, writing, and speaking aren’t enough, I consider daydreaming. And I indulge in it!

Yes, daydreaming happens in your head too. However, it’s a different part of the head altogether as here, you infuse real life with fantasy and consider what could be if reality wasn’t something to consider. I daydream to motivate myself, to procrastinate and to pass time.

However, like all things in life, and like everything I have written here so far, daydreaming requires balance. Sometimes I get in too deep and waking up to reality can be just as harsh as the phrase suggests. To reside in the clouds is to keep in close proximity to paradise, where hardship and difficulty are far away.

But an integral part of growing up is realising that you can only stay up there for so long. I may have been daydreaming about the future for my whole life up until this point. But now, I am coming to understand that this is the future. And to daydream to the same extent that I did when I was younger is to push the fulfilment of my dreams forward – to place the responsibility of a good life on a future self that does not yet exist.

It can be dangerous to perceive your dreams as so far away, especially when it causes you to overlook the resources you currently have before you, that can make these things come true.

Rather than wishing and hoping, it’s time to start actualising and doing. Maintain the comfort and paradise that daydreams give to you, but leave the nest more often, and replicate your future and your dreams outside of your daydreamed safety bubble.

Understand that your life can be all that you dream for it to be when you learn to appreciate your reality and work hard for your desires. Acknowledge how passive daydreams can be, and consider the stark difference between yours and your reality. Then try to close the gap.

Yes, escapism is rehabilitating. But transforming that escapism into authentic living is far more exciting.

Focusing on God

The mind is strong and we possess certain degrees of self-actualisation. But nothing beats God.

***

“When considering myself in the grand scheme of things, many worries fade away. The significance of my relevance and validity dwindle when I eventually see the forest for the trees; when I look past small details that grab my attention more than they should. Because when my present moment is my be-all and end-all, I find it really hard to breathe.”

It’s important to look at what is inside you – how it relates to you, how you can make it better, and whether it’s hindering or helping you somehow. But it’s equally as important to look outside of yourself and into things that also matter. Emphasis on the also, absence of an instead. It’s possible for you to matter while you focus on other pressing issues in life.

But beyond that, there is a greater and ultimate importance in focusing on the only thing that created and understands everything, which is God himself. I find peace so quickly when I remember that I have God, the One who created me and the other things I choose to focus on, on my side.

When I was in school, I put it down to a simple analogy. If a classmate and I are revising for a difficult test on a topic that we know we’re not good at, and they don’t have a belief in God or any higher being for that matter, they are relying on themselves and their own strength to help them with the test. Whereas I, with the same lack of self-belief, can put my trust in something bigger and better than myself – I have something else on my side when my human efforts fail.

That’s the foundation for my belief in God. The presence of that extra something is what makes up the 100% I need to approach something with confidence. And sometimes I can’t even bring 1% to the table.

But I digress.

This is all to stress the importance of focusing on something bigger and more powerful than yourself when life becomes overwhelming. The mind is strong and we possess certain degrees of self-actualisation. But nothing beats God.

And all too conveniently, when life brings difficulty and pressure, (sometimes self-imposed), I forget to focus on God – this greater and more capable being.

But when I finally ask myself how focused I am on His undeniable strength and capability, the answer is often very little. So, I shift my focus back to God and the pressure for me to perform fades away because I know He will complete it for me. And there is no need to prove myself to Him anyway.

What this means

So, to refer to what I wrote at the beginning, the small details of life are simply my own resources, and the bigger picture is God. There are benefits to focusing on the grand scheme of things rather than finnicky details, because the control that God has over every situation makes fretting about them pointless.

This can relate to the current desires that I know aren’t a matter of life and death; I consider them in the grand scheme of things and come to realise that they really don’t matter. People won’t care too much about what I’m doing – and if they do, it will hardly affect me. Besides that, my focus on God sets my thoughts in a more wholesome direction.

When sprinting you look ahead so as to not lose focus or slow down. Likewise, in life, I look to God to keep heart and know that everything in life will be okay. He is watching and guiding me, so worry (although natural) is something for me to give less power to. All power goes to God.

Philippians 4:6 (NIV)Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Why I Sleep Unsatisfied

The world has its own way of establishing balance in so many areas of life. It’s only right to apply those to my own.

***

Since finishing university, I have had many days where I go to bed feeling unaccomplished because there hasn’t been much for me to plan and achieve.

So to give my days purpose, I started writing to-do lists. I knew that such structure would direct my days and steer me towards productivity. But over time they’ve become debilitating.

It seems that I’ve created new pressures in my life that eventually make me feel like I haven’t achieved much if my list isn’t complete by the end of the day. I go to bed feeling unproductive and like I have failed – I take structure too far.

I have embraced the idea of obligation-free living more than I have actually lived it. It’s like looking out of the window and never going outside.

I’m still saving shows and YouTube videos to indulge in when I feel like I’ve done enough work to deserve it and I’m starting to see the danger in this.

What doesn’t help is the fact that being obligation-free means that my life is largely in my hands now, and I need to make moves that will help my future – more freelance writing, improving my online presence, and applying for schemes that will help me in whatever way they can.

There is a necessary balance to find between self-given obligations such as this and relaxing. It’s about time that I start searching.

Balance – that’s what life is all about, and that’s what I have boiled many thoughts down to lately. I’ve written before that the grass is only greener on the other side for a season. Good times come and go – so do periods of obligation. The world has its own way of establishing balance in so many areas of life. It’s only right to apply those to my own.

There’s a lot I want to do and I know I can achieve it. But it won’t be achieved if it’s all I think about – I’ll get tired of myself and question the point of it all.

I’m not sure how close I am to finding balance in my life but I believe that accepting the fact that I need it is a step in the right direction.

TL;DR: Diary entry from 08/06/2020

“I have been bad at not pressuring myself while in lockdown. I still feel pressing needs and I am creating obligations because I struggle to feel productive without them. But in the end, it cripples me and makes me wonder what I’ve achieved, if anything.

I don’t know. The need to do better has dictated my life and I’ve been cool with it. I guess it’s not always good though.”

Exhuming My Bookworm

… there is a divine being involved, who knows the true intentions of every unknowing action we make.

***

After three years of denial and excuses, I found my inner bookworm again.

I’d been waiting for a desire to get back into reading and it appeared unexpectedly. Though I started and stopped the novel months ago, I finished it in under a week!

My degree meant that I was reading books all the time, so reading for pleasure took a back seat (until it fell out of the car) because I always had something else that I was obligated to read for the sake of my grades.

I pushed the genuine enjoyment of novels that I wanted to read into the far future. This tells me that we often look forward to a time where we can experience something that pleasures us, guilt-free. And oftentimes we hold back on such indulgence because it never feels like the right time.

BUT HELLO, NEWSFLASH! IT WILL NEVER FEEL LIKE THE “RIGHT TIME”!

 

Because, sometimes you just do things or make random decisions that take you to unimaginable places. This can’t even be premeditated.

Last week I learnt that there are no bodies I can’t exhume and no passions that I must lie to rest completely. As long as I apply myself correctly once things happen to be going in a desirable direction, I will be able to get back into whatever my younger self was interested in, regardless of my age.

And you can take that argument as far as you like – that’s your business!

This isn’t even to say that you should just stop overthinking and just start what you want to do. Because I could’ve simply decided to pick up the novel and force myself to finish reading it, but that failed countless times in the past.

It wasn’t motivation, determination or the desire to prove something to myself that led me to reading and finishing the novel. I just picked it up because I couldn’t sleep and expected it to send me to sleep. But life took me in a completely different direction.

Sometimes, you pull yourself together so unexpectedly, and it inspires you more than the other things you have planned to help you achieve just that.

Trust every process and take nothing for granted. Be kind to yourself (something I definitely need to work on) and accept that life is scarcely planned – there is a divine being involved, who knows the true intentions of every unknowing action we make.

*

The book I read was Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. 10/10. Would recommend.

I believe that if you can’t think of a way to improve something, then it deserves full ratings. After all, how much life will you live until you give something full marks?

It’s good to feel like any experience was the best and totally unbeatable. If anything, it deepens your appreciation for anything else that you see as perfect in the aftermath.

 

Whew, this week (and the future)

“The UK will no longer be permitted to distract me from its own sins with a bloodied, rotting finger that points at the USA’s injustice.”
***
It’s been a long time coming, and it’s not over yet. This post is a lengthy summary of my thoughts this week in relation to the Black Lives Matter movement: Responsibility & Sacrifice, Silence, Performatism, Education, Revolution and of course, Racism.

 

Responsibility & Sacrifice

I’ve felt this overwhelming sense of responsibility, particularly on the front of social media – regardless of condition, to sacrifice my comfort of retweeting funny things and instead fill the TL with news and facts. To sacrifice my comfort of sharing aesthetic Instagram stories and direct people to petitions and learning resources. In other words, there has been a loud sense of “I don’t care if you don’t feel like posting. Post because you need to spread awareness and fight. And if you don’t post, I’ll assume that you don’t care.”

I understand the approach and in many contexts I agree. However, some people aren’t posting or being visibly active because they’re spending time learning and processing. But, for some that’s not good enough. It’s a sliding scale.

The cards that we have been dealt as black people currently require us to teach ourselves and inform others. We can take rightful breaks but after a while we need to “show that we care again”. The process is tiring but true – we have equal shares in victimhood and activism.

 

Silence

Silence is complicity at times. But for many Black people, silence is complicated. We are “silent” because we are overwhelmed. We are “silent” because we are protecting our mental health. We are “silent” because we don’t know what to say anymore. We are “silent” because we are in mourning. We are “silent”, but only online – offline, we are doing what we are able to to change things and will keep doing so once everyone else moves on. – Yomi Adegoke.

Silence is complex and no true indicator of someone’s mental state. Especially the cohort of victims themselves.

There is a (often self-imposed) pressure to show that the visible part of your existence gives a damn about racism. However, not everybody is keen on, or fond of displaying their outrage or desire for change online. Perhaps less people are looking at you than you believe, but you don’t want to be called out for no action.

Speaking to a friend earlier this week, we agreed on the question of “but who is actually checking for you?” i.e., you may feel like you need to post because you don’t want to be called out, but who is calling you out anyway?

Now, I won’t deny that I did see people calling out others (non-Black people, colourists, coons…). However, if you know that you are genuinely feeling something about this, sometimes having a conversation is enough. If you feel like that’s not enough and you still need to post, I could say ‘you do you.’

But, I could also say that your actions are performative because your self-assurance with your concern for the issue isn’t enough for you.

 

Performatism

This week marks the most I have ever heard this word in any given timeframe. Here are some short thoughts I’d been writing:

  • I need to police my potential performatism. I want to continue learning organically in a time where no one has the patience for that, myself included. I begin to wonder if I knew enough in the first place.
  • I want to do my part with learning about Black British history. The UK is no longer permitted to distract me from its own sins with a bloodied, rotting finger that points at the USA’s injustice.
  • Sharing things on social media has led me to question if I am sharing because I genuinely want people to know things, or because it is required of me and I’ll look bad otherwise. Am I proving myself to others, or to myself? Perhaps the need to ‘prove’ is the main issue.
  • You’re right and wrong to everyone and to no one.
  • In awareness and awakening, we make mistakes. Have mercy on such people because no one is totally righteous.
  • I have a strong desire to learn all that my brain can take, remember it, and inject it into trains of thought and conversations where necessary. But I fear the tiredness and anger that comes with learning about Black history.

A post I saw this week was titled, “Performative Allyship is Triggering”.                                                        No further comments – welcome to 2020.

 

Education

On Wednesday, someone responded to my anger with claims that their anger for Nigeria’s corruptive downfall is three times mine concerning current social justice. It frustrated me as I felt like I hadn’t learnt enough to justify my argument.

I wished I did. And that’s what’s important – the self-driven desire to learn.

However, there is a danger with learning so much during this social climate. It is the chance of a repetition of a traumatic school experience; learning under pressure in order to perform.

In this case, performance isn’t necessarily performative, but rather baby activism and doing your part; informing yourself and contributing to the conversation with knowledge rather than ignorance. Not feeling dumb.

This process of learning should not feel forceful. I was educating myself organically in the past and this sudden rush of education has been a lot to handle. Nonetheless, I’ve still learnt a lot. I just want to return to the self-imposed methods of learning that I was using before.

Note to myself and to you: Do not be angry with yourself for not knowing much about Black (British) History. Do not be frustrated if you understand the why of systematic racism more than the how. Do not be frustrated if you stutter in an argument and have gaps in your knowledge. You may not remember everything you teach yourself and that is fine. The reason for your self-education is a result of un- and miseducation. Therefore you need to be patient with yourself as you smooth over these cracks.

As pressing and revolutionary as everything feels right now, this type of learning is non-linear, so remove the pressure to know and remember everything instantly.

 

Revolution

We must be sure to not romanticise anything that is going on now.

Black people standing together is a sign of unity. Unity is beautiful but the source of pain is not – it’s ugly. Do not romanticise the revolution because it is not pretty. Do not synonymise the revolution with beauty because that is a separate term.

The revolution is a definer, not something to be defined. It is a separate entity. People don’t know a revolution when they see one but they need to be more perceptive now.

Do not be frustrated when the hashtag stops trending. Change doesn’t occur overnight. The revolution did not just begin, neither is it near the end. This is a just a part of it.

Simultaneously, privileged groups need to be knocked at the knees and brought to the same level as the underprivileged in order to hear their stories and primarily experience the same revolution in their minds that will manifest itself in the flesh.

Gil Scott-Heron said it best in his explanation of his poem and song, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised:

 

 

Racism

One problem is that white people are looking for concrete proof of racism: facts, receipts, evidence… when really society has evolved past that now. Racism has its ear to the ground and is aware of how to get to Black people in such a way that allows denial.

As vulgar as it is, calling a Black person a nigger nowadays will spark rage but not rallies. Rather, killing a Black person as a police officer will spark a rally because it is proof of systematic racism. That’s the bigger monster we face today. Receipts of prejudice and discrimination cannot always be given to the privileged groups asking for it because a lot of the time, the racism is coded.

To be racist is to also be apathetic, to close your eyes to the systems that make it difficult for Black people to exist freely without a target on their backs. If you’re waiting for a white person to scream ‘nigger’ as the only receipt of racism, you need to wake up and realise there is a greater depth than that now.

Until you acknowledge that, you’ll be living as if the world is prejudice-free while a white police officer kneels on a Black man’s neck until he kills him.

 

“Not all (insert cohort) are bad!”

Fury arises at the sight of sweeping generalisations and assumptions but such behaviour is what caused the current condition of the Black man; the assumption that all are criminals, savage, rapists, illiterate, etc, and the assumption that Africa itself was a Tabula Rasa.

No batch is free of bad apples, but racists, colonisers and imperialists didn’t key into that knowledge when constructing their damaging systems. They made sweeping assumptions. E.g.: all Black people are bad. So let’s make it harder for them to get jobs.

Assumption and its aftershocks systematically chip away at the livelihood of Africa and its diaspora to this day.

So don’t be furious when people make sweeping generalisations about the police and white people. Without such, no one will pay attention to the batch, talk less of the bad apples.

FACTS: No Justice, no Peace. Speak Truth to Power. I will never stop supporting and perpetuating these phrases. They are timelessly relevant.