Community

I have been reading a book about Gurkha soldiers in Afghanistan. To be honest law enforcement and the army have always been jobs I could see myself doing. Unfortunately, I am short and quite bad at sports. Frankly, I am much more dangerous to others when speaking, rather than when welding a weapon.

These guys are the best of the best, Nepalese soldiers fighting in the British army. It’s been like this for two hundred years. The soldiers come from all over Nepal, including rural areas. The man who wrote the book used to be a hill boy. When he was young he used to live in his grandparent’s house. His grandfather had a lot of brothers who married and also lived there. They were about thirty people, living in six rooms.

When I was a young girl, my mother used to tell me cautionary tales about people who had to share their house with ten people or families of seven who only had one room to live in. This was to make me feel grateful for what we had, because she knew we had so much, though my childish eyes did not see it that way. It seemed horrible. Ten people sharing the same room. It was too much for me to share a room with my sister, let a lone eight more people. Most days I would agree, that would be my perfect description of hell. But the way he talks about it, with the non-complacent tone of an expert soldier, it made me realize that this is what a community of people is.

It might seem to me, to us, young people that living in closed quarters with others is suffocating, but we never think of the benefits. In today’s urban world we are each on our own. Young people leave the home built by their parents in hopes of a brighter future. We end up in big cities, with large populations of isolated individuals. We develop facades, masks we put on when we leave the house because other people don’t care about our growing feelings of uncertainty and fear. They are too busy nursing their own.

People evolved as parts of groups, each person finding their own role and being part of a whole. This is why corporations today have team building exercises and activities for their employees. We work better as a group if we each know where we stand and if we feel good about that position. It makes us productive. The main dilemma of the twenty-first century youth, or millennial as we’ve been named, is that we’ve been taught to be individuals. So many of us want to shine in their own spotlight as the queen bee with a crew of anonymous worker bees around us. Being one part of a whole doesn’t allow that.

We sacrifice the support we are genetically programmed to receive in order to prove to ourselves that we are better than others, that we don’t need help in figuring out life. I am very much guilty of doing this. Only yesterday I refused my mum’s reassurance that if I need money, I can always ask her. I turned the offer down like she was offering me poisoned cookies. I want to be my own person and be independent. Financial independence is as important to me as emotional independence is and there are a lot of times when I struggle with both. I am capable enough to keep down a job that covers my expenses, but I can’t save up much, at least not as much as I would like. Emotionally I am distressed much more often than I let on. I have doubts about my future, I am haunted by the most annoying of questions- what am I doing with my life?

In the past year I have worked quite closely with people in my age group who are more or less in the same situation. The same issues arise in their minds as well. What are we doing with our lives? I was talking the other day with one of the girls about child birth and motherhood. It seems we both struggle with the same doubts- am I fit to be a mother; will I be capable of loving my child unconditionally; will I resent it because I will have to make sacrifices in my career and  life is so much more complicated with the responsibility of bringing up a person? A few weeks ago I was talking with another one of my colleagues about my anxiety at the thought that I feel like I am not doing anything relevant with my time. Turns out, he is thinking the same thing about his own choices.

Growing up I had a small circle of friends and we discussed concerns like these quite rarely. We were teenagers and thinking of these kinds of things did not seem as important then. We still had so much time. To find that other people my age are fighting these demons quiets mine. They are not entirely defeated, but easier to live with. I am gathering courage and making plans to defeat them and enjoy as much as possible out of life.

One more thing, though. I would still like to experience the complete trust that those soldiers have in each other.

Triumph

Life is full of ups and downs. At least for me it is, I don’t know about other people that much. I always struggle with myself, but I have come a great way. A lot of times I used to feel tense on the inside because I didn’t know how to behave. I literally did not know how to react to people and situations around me. My default reaction was anger or violence and it obviously put people off. So I didn’t know what reaction would bring people closer.

As I grew up, going to school made me anxious. I had a couple of friends at home who were neighbors, but they went to other schools. I had to make all new friends and failed miserably. For eight years I barely connected to the people I spent five-six hours a day with. I was most comfortable in my seat during breaks or on the edge of large groups if they made us go outside. I was struggling not to be seen because being seen meant being judged and rejected. I am, to this day horrified of rejection, but I have learned to deal with it a lot better as with pretty much everything else.

After eight years of being an outsider, you can imagine how happy I was when it was finally time to change school. In Romania the school system is made out of three cycles of four. We have four years of primary school and four years of middle school are usually attended at the same institution, unless you move town, school or in some villages they only have the first four years. The last four years are attended at a different institution where you apply and get in depending on your grades. I made it into the high school and class of choice (yay!).

I was 14 and after such a long time being ostracized, I didn’t really care about being included anymore. To my surprise this actually helped me integrate into the class. Turns out not caring if people like you makes people like you. Weird. By this time I had had one or two disappointing experiences with friends outside of school and didn’t really trust people, a trait I still share with my teenage self, but I didn’t feel anymore like the weird kid trying to look as much as possible like the paint on the walls so people can’t see me. I started reading a lot and got smarter, my English got better so the Internet opened up to me and I actually had a really good friend who I could talk to about my family life.

When I was eleven, my mum moved to Italy so she could work there because she could get paid a lot better. My sister and I were left with my father who I never really connected with. I was a mama’s girl and my dad was becoming more and more of a religious nut and an alcoholic. I tried to spend as much time as possible ignoring him. We used to see mum only for two- four weeks a year. In rest we talked on the phone. She moved back home a few weeks ago. I am twenty-four now.

(Don’t mind me, I’m just tearing up a bit)

Finishing high school and getting into university was my way to freedom. I didn’t get into medical school the way I wanted and my mum advised me to enroll in a cheap, private law school. I only went for one semester. The literature was killing me. It was a depressing period, but I decided I would move cities and start reading for bachelor degree in English, choosing a minor in Chinese. And so I did. It took me a while, I got to spend nine beautiful months in China, I failed exams, read a lot, crammed even more, but I am about to take my final exams for my bachelor degree.

I have come a long way in my interactions with people. At the moment I work in a call center, talking to people a lot of the day, and I even enjoy most of it. I still get blind-sighted sometimes by people being hypocrites and selfish, but I am learning to let go of the anger it causes. That will hurt only me. And each day I manage to be my natural self feels good. It does indeed feel like a triumph.

Triumph

via Daily Prompt: Triumph

Silvy

I’be been reading Sylvia Plath lately because I’m writing my graduation thesis about her. I like her prose a lot, but her poetry is a more difficult topic. In prose her language floats and it sometimes feels a lot like poetry but with less decoding needed.

The poetry is very personal to her. I’ve read 2 or 3 biographies about her life to be able to understand it. I’ve especially grown to like ‘Electra on Azalea Path’ and ‘The Jailer’. Electra is about her father and his death. She expresses her wish to take her mother’s place as his mourner because she never did it properly, Sylvia believed. Aurelia Plath, Sylvia’s mother did not want to cry in front of her young children so Sylvia believed she did not feel bad about her husband’s passing. You can’t hide from the things you fear, it seems. Aurelia’s remembered having anxiety whenever she saw her mother cry and in an attempt to shield her children from grief, she caused (at least in Sylvia’s case) severe internal damage.

‘The Jailer’ poses a more complicated issue, at least for me. In this poem the voice of the speaker accuses someone of being her captor and rapist. She accuses him of fooling her with ‘fakery’ and starving her, feeding her only lies. The poem is most probably addressed to Ted Hughes, her husband who had cheated on her. They had two young children together and Sylvia found out that he was cheating when she answered a phone call from his lover that she was not supposed to. The accusations of rape, I believe come from her feeling that she did not know who her husband really was. In her letters to her mother and in her journal, Sylvia always praised Ted. She seemed to be quite happy that she had found someone who she considered was her superior. The fact that he turned out to be someone else, someone who let her down meant that Sylvia didn’t give her consent to him, but to the man she thought he was. The betrayal she felt is obvious. It should be mentioned that the two married approximately 4 months after they met, so I suspect neither one of them knew the other too well.

During her life she struggled a lot. Her internal conflicts were strong and abundant. The good daughter who wanted to help her single mother trying to raise two children versus the hurt daughter who felt her father was taken away from her too soon and that was somehow her mother’s fault. The good student versus the adventurous youth. The writer versus the nurturing wife and mother. She wanted it all, no giving up, only hard work.