This series explores my life living with Fibromyalgia and PTSD. New chapters will be added every month on the second week. Hope you enjoy!
Next chapter is called “Black Magic”, stay tuned for updates!
This series explores my life living with Fibromyalgia and PTSD. New chapters will be added every month on the second week. Hope you enjoy!
Next chapter is called “Black Magic”, stay tuned for updates!
I’m really excited to announce that I’m selling my comics as a printed in zine at the Canzine 2021 fest!
If you would like to support my art and everything I do, checkout my work!
The printed edition includes extra special updates and comics!! I hope you all like it,again thank you for your kind support i appreciate you all. the zines are only only gonna be sold for this week through this site so grab one if you can!
This is one of those books that gives you an immediate knee jerk reaction. In my case, the first few pages led me to throwing clothes around my room. I punched my desk chair until my knuckles turned red, flipped my room until my joints hurt and couldn’t look back at the book for days.
That might sound as if the book was terrible, quite the contrary. The book made me uncomfortable about a truth I didn’t want to face, a reality I wanted to ignore. Precisely by making me uncomfortable I could see misogyny for what it is; injustice.
Ok, so what is the book about? Soraya Chemaly, the author is a professional journalist who wanted to answer a fundamental question: why are emotions gendered? Why is anger associated with masculinity and why is sadness associated with femininity? The answer to the question, of course, is misogyny. By gendering emotions and socially conditioning certain emotions to be validated, the exploitation of women occurs. Chemaly offers tons of research and citations to prove her point, that taking the gender out of emotions can fundamentally change society for the better, in that case, sisters let’s get angry.
Most women feel angry in private and interpersonal relationships yet, they prioritize their relationships over expressing emotions. The feminine habit of prioritizing the needs of others and putting others at ease, puts us at a disadvantage. This social conditioning of putting others at ease is due to threat of male violence. This quote sums it up precisely, “Ignoring anger makes us careless with ourselves and allows society to be careless of us” (pg 6). When we don’t fight for our reproductive freedom, sexual assault and open the discussion of our pain, no one will hear us.
Chemaly also interestingly mentions a study that found that men are not the angry sex, according to various studies, women experience anger more intensely and for longer periods then men. For women, the only way to express anger is through passive aggressiveness AKA ‘mean girl’. “Gendered ideas about anger makes us question ourselves, doubt our feelings, set aside our needs and renounce our own capacity for moral conviction” (pg 6). Isn’t that so true? People constantly refer to mothers as strongest beings alive but also degrade our femininity with slurs and catchphrases.
Studies show that social inequality triggers a feedback loop of anguish, self-esteem and how a community responds to them. Young girls face a lot of resistance by adults and classmates when they express distress and rage, often being silenced or mocked. In a 2017 study, girls who approach puberty and do not express anger began displaying signs of mental distress, self-harm and hyper vigilance. In another study of 15 000 students, girls are 3 times as likely to physically harm themselves based on self-disgust, sense of worthlessness and unexpressed rage (153). The inability to articulate anger is a component of depression and anxiety. Self-silencing is a central aspect of depression.
Unaddressed anger affects our neurological, hormonal, adrenal and vascular systems, which is often unaddressed in the treatment of pain. According to statistics women are more likely to experience acute chronic pain then men. If we don’t express our emotions, our body expresses it for us.
Women’s stories are not told from their perspective throughout history. This erasure of women’s voices is form of injustice.for generations, This is called epistemic injustice, this form of injustice has 2 characteristics; (1) women’s voices are considered untrustworthy and silencing anyone who speaks on their behalf, and (2) hermeneutical injustice= those who’ve experienced this form of injustice have no framework for understanding what is happening to them. When society looks away from injustice, it prepares the individual to adapt to the situation rather then fight. Silence is violence, people.
This is the chapter that left me completely enraged, where a roaring hot flames of bottled emotions erupted and tore my room apart. Here is the paragraph, it’s too good not to add to this review;
”If you ask the average person, “Are women human?” A predictable response is ridicule, followed by the accusation that you are stupid…But it’s a legitimate question, because many of us perceive women as existing in a luminal state of humanity. It is a legitimate question because women’s bodies are treated in ways that belie our equality. It’s virtually impossible to go through a day without images of girls’ and women’s shellacked, shaved, tied-up, emancipated, and often, if you pause to seriously look, mutilated bodies invading your imagination. Our bodies are used to market everything from toys and clothing, to food and games. Women pose as tables for people to eat off of, chairs for people to sit on, and bicycles for people to ride. And that’s all before the mindlessly sexist and racist fetishizing of mainstream pornography, which in most popular forms eroticizes violence. Often women’s bodies appear with no heads. No head, no brain. No head, no mouth. No brain, no mouth, no objections.” (30-31)
Are you angry yet? Because I am. The problem you’ll soon face, is that anger is not long lasting and will eventually disappear. If women want to be angry we need to be self aware and have a better lasting emotion to propel change in society. Garza an activist who started the “black lives matter” statement says, “ Anger at injustice is one part that motivates me. But it is not a sustainable emotion in and of itself. It has to be transformed into a deep love for the possibility of who we can be” (251).
As you can tell I love this book a lot. Later on, Chemaly goes on to explain how to cultivate a more self aware anger but you’ll have to read the book yourself. If you’re not convinced that women’s pain and anguish is real, look at the citations yourself of 300 sources and convince me.
Otherwise, let’s make emotions gender neutral!
During this time of self-isolation, it has been increasingly hard to not be online all the time. Social media feeds are filled with death, grim news and political banter. Like many I just avoid social media because the anxiety is overwhelming. Increasingly as I scroll through Facebook, YouTube or any other site, I am bombarded with corporations stating that they are taking action, that they care about us. I think not. More then anything, it’s corporation’s attempt to capitalize on this opportunity to seem relatable and empathetic. Spamming us with ads to take the attention away from other issues and make profit.
Jenny Odell’s book discusses the attention economy, meaning how corporations use the internet to sell us things, stealing our attention from other ideas outside of the consumerist and hyper-monetized world we live in. While reading the book I felt more contemplative then I ever have before; in the life I live in, the environment I co-exist with and the actions that I have a responsibility for. Jenny Odell’s How To Do Nothing, is not a call for laziness rather a resistance effort to withstand the capitalist power system, it’s best described as an anarchist philosophy book. The book’s purpose is to encourage us to do activities that cannot be monetized by the capitalist system.
One small criticism I’ve had, is that Odell comes from the art field and name drops various artists throughout the book. It can come off as scholarly because there are so many references and citations throughout the book. Therefore for those who are not artists it can challenging to read at times, because its seems really wordy and academic.
One of the prime reasons I picked up this book was to challenge myself to see my self-worth in a different light. Modern technology and the economy asks us to post on social media frequently and live in “die or grind” routine that I’ve had difficulty attaining. Like many folks, I’ve believed that my whole worth as human being based on how much money I make or how famous I became. Yet I found myself confused with the absurd expectations that I would have to meet in order to achieve it. It felt like reaching for an impossible fruit where the tree kept moving further and further away.
So what does the book tell us to do? To run away and create a community free from politics? Or become a square like everyone else? The author instead encourages us to balance both worlds. One where we individually think for ourselves and the other, in which we are committed to permanent refusal. “Standing apart represents the moment in which the desperate desire to leave matures into a commitment to live in permanent refusal, where one already is, and to meet others in a common space of refusal” (p.62). This is explored by indicating individualism as well as refusing common status quo with others. To commit to permanent refusal is to believe that normal customs of social behaviour are unnecessary and strange. It’s all about asking questions and realizing that the life we have is not the only way to live.
When I read this portion of the book I found myself asking, “what normal behaviour do I practice that is actually ridiculous?” In my case, I have the tendency to stare at my phone on the bus simply because everyone else is. I don’t even have internet data, yet I still stare at my phone, practicing mimicry in real time. This is one example of many behaviours we do in public places without questioning why. We must ask questions, challenge assumptions and recognize that a lot of common behaviours don’t make sense. When we come from a critical and empathetic perspective we can challenge the power systems of racism, ableism and discrimination in all its forms.
Additionally, one idea I found extremely thought provoking while reading the book, was when it says; “when we immerse ourselves in social media and news cycle, you are marinating yourself in conventional wisdom. In other people’s reality; for other, not for yourself. You are creating a cacophony in which it is impossible to hear your own voice, whether it is yourself you’re thinking about or anything else” (p. 60). I’ve never found a more truer statement about the internet landscape where you consume other peoples’ opinions about things. It’s fascinating but slowly you began to find it impossible to extract your own opinion from others, even when you’re trying to meet your own standards.
The internet is trying to steal our attention away, when we are aware of certain ideas we then act on those ideas. So when we take our attention from corporation’s idea of us through AI and algorithms, to being aware of our reality outside capitalist interests, we are challenging the status quo. Odell asks us to make time for activity that is not capital-driven, rather driven by a value that money cannot buy. This requires us to change our pattern of attention to different things, that is how to do nothing.
One of things social media works is by simplifying problems into reactionary content; which can be liked, subscribed and shared by. Life is complicated and multifaceted. To challenge these corporate design mechanisms, we need to gain context of our surroundings. This means to actively research the history, the land and culture of the place you inhabit. When I read this, I was disappointed. Canada seems devoid of history, the land has difficulty growing plants, it’s winter half the time and everyone walks around with cold shoulder of their shared British heritage. To actively learn about the history of the place I live in, is going to be hard. Not because there aren’t information rather it’s hard work, that is not rewardable. The journey to understanding the history of the land is beneficial because it can teach me to live in harmony with my environment rather then against it. To view my reality engaged not with meme knowledge rather to see the historical legacy of the land I walk upon as a responsibility to care for it for the generations to come. I will challenge myself to learn about the history of the location I live in and be aware of the reality in which coexist with humans, animals and the land. I’m going to at least try.
When you’re on the internet 24/7, you cannot help but feel the sense of dread and nihilism. That life could never be perfect and that all our actions are useless against the big corporations. The book aims to challenge us outside of that philosophy, rather “We can all instead dwell in a chaotic universe, and decide that it is good and worthwhile to prevent significant destruction to other valuable members of the universe through agency and choice that seem inevitable.” We must actively save our animal brethren even if it can be challenging at times. We must have a commitment to our community in whichever we choose but one of refusal to the corporations that seek to intimidate us in their variety of ways.
Through philosophy, research and scholarly work, Odell challenges the capitalist economy for these troubling times. To do nothing is a resistance. An action that requires us to witness the world in all its plurality. We should not encourage diversity simply for photo ops and social media likes. We should encourage diversity outside the capitalist system that seeks to ruin all we have.
You should all read this book, read it slowly, it’s a lot of philosophy!
It all started when I was young, like any other kid I would throw a tantrum over random things. My family taught that me that anger is never justified, they ignored my anguish or never took me seriously no matter how right I was. So I grew up with that idea, that anger must be silenced and repressed. The idea stuck with me because I was surrounded by people who made fun of me whenever I was upset, as if it’s a joke. It was hilarious for them to watch a young kid screaming and crying about something they wanted. It made me so upset. Often, I can hear the ringing of their laughter in my nightmares.
The idea of religion plays a role as well. The idea of evilness and the obsession with sin, as if we need to always be super vigilant of our own behaviour lest we harm people. We are taught to believe that if we did all the right things, the world would work in our favour. I wanted to be a good reasonable person. Not someone who complained all the time. Not someone who lashed out at people for no reason. I believed that rage led to harm and I didn’t want to hurt anyone. This repression of anger instead led me to consistently be angry with myself resulting in extreme self-loathing. I couldn’t let a single emotion engulf me into losing everything I owned, like those action thrillers. Where a man seeks revenge on the death of his wife and he just starts killing everybody. I wanted God on my side so if I refused to be angry, then maybe I could get to heaven.
Internally, I also was a afraid to witness the pain in my soul. That if I was honest, the truth would ignite excruciating truths I did not want to live knowing about. I was terrified of what my anguish would lead me. I didn’t want to be vulnerable. I didn’t want to be free.
I was so afraid of my emotions, I caged it in like an animal. I tamed it, starved it and tried to rip it away from me. I called it “monster” and it vaguely looked like a homunculus from Fullmetal Alchemist. No matter the discipline, the anger would erupt at random times. Reminding me that I was in fact demonic. To control that, I quickly learned to ‘shut down’, teaching myself to feel nothing at all. Close the doors to all feelings, the shutdown leads to a depression episode where I couldn’t get out of bed.
Repressed anger can exacerbate into addictions, traumas, mental illnesses..etc. Our fear of our own anger is based on the fear of chaos. It is society’s nature to maintain a level of tolerance and not express extreme injustice when its right in front of our eyes. It is our adoration for rules and order, that we learn to discipline ourselves to frightening level. A society that values the docile and submissive, it’s a way of subjugation. To further understand this concept, check out Michel Foucalt’s work.
It took me a long time to understand that the ideas of absolute good and absolute evil are puritanical in nature. That absolutes cannot possibly exist, everything is in fact exists in a spectrum. I had to actively unlearn these misconceptions. Anger is not the sole motivation for violence, it could be grief or other unprocessed emotions that expresses itself as violence. That’s why it was significant step for me to read about other religions’ notion of morality. That took time, patience and a lot of processing. I had to unlearn that I wasn’t a monster for expressing, that all those jokes people made about me when I was young was because my facial expressions are funny.
Every story you’ve ever learned can be unlearned. The unlearning process is harrowing, a journey of one existential crisis after another. Where I questioned every idea, belief or value I’ve ever put your faith in. That’s the thing, it’s painful and exhausting. Yes, it feels like hell. The rage I repressed for years, emotions as much as I wanted to hide them, they will never truly go away. A turning point came when I realized that anger was justified, I realized that I am worthy of being my own advocate, standing up for myself when no one else does.
I wish I could tell you that I’ve got it all figured out and that I freely express my emotions without warrant. No I don’t. Shame and fear is hard to work through. I do know that I’m afraid of my own anger. Does that mean I have a punching bag in my room? Yes. Does that mean I occasionally destroy things? Yes. Does that mean I’m going to unleash harm on everyone I know? Yes, but I have the integrity to apologize later.
No longer should I fear a feeling, rather experience life in all its brilliance in our short mortal lives. Scream the madness, the insanity and rip off that cloak of shame. Never could I have believed that my years of repression have lead my emotions to incubate into a full-blooded dragon.
Let me ask you one last question, why do you let shame control YOU?
Note: This series that will explore the many routes I’ve taken to understand myself. A lot of these will explore trauma so I will include content warnings throughout this series. This is one of the ways I’ve discovered a part of myself, that does not mean this route is for everyone.
Sometimes, you come across a comment that leaves you speechless. Your angry that anyone could say it to you, but you are too shocked to respond.
“You’re kind of boring at parties, you know that?”
It was a late night, and I stared at her deeply offended. Yet I couldn’t make myself argue as these words triggered an array of memories floating in midair. I couldn’t be boring. No way.
When you’re young, you have this thrilling belief that you’re special. You’re unique and gorgeous, other people just don’t see it. Your body is full of unearthed crystals and diamonds encrusted within you, some people will see it, most won’t. It makes sense to you. The people who treated you badly, just don’t know anything, so their criticisms don’t really matter.
Over time, life gets to you. It tells you that your irrational, ridiculous and a waste of space. You’re now falling through the cracks. No, you want people to like you. You want to matter. To matter you must want other peoples’ attention. Maybe then, your reality will be confirmed by others.
You start to become a people-pleaser.
That’s exactly what happened to me. At age 10, I realized other people’s opinions did matter.
So, I changed how I dressed.
I perfected my English.
I started reading self-help books in middle school.
I did whatever made me the most likable…it also made me the most forgettable.
After all that work of crafting a likable persona, my friends kept ghosting me. Whenever I spoke, they kept ignoring me and taking advantage of my kindness. I kept being walked over so many times, when finally, the killing blow, when people betrayed me. I did my best to laugh other people’s jokes and make sense of their strange lives, but instead I became a bug in the wall. I was barely in their consciousness. I was a memory of faded lines blurring into the background. So, when they hurt me, they could barely recognize the screams erupting from my throat. They never knew me…I didn’t even know myself.
When I became a people-pleaser, I didn’t even know what I wanted. I no longer knew what makes me, me. I’ve been mimicking other peoples’ behavior until I forgot that I ate myself, wasted my energy to the point I don’t notice someone had been abusing me until years later.
I became boring. I was uninteresting. The first time I heard someone call me that, I was offended. I was hurt that anyone would think me that way. I thought I was interesting; I just kept my thoughts secret, which I thought put me in the higher moral ground compared to others. In all honesty, I kept secrets because I was afraid of what people will think, but at the same time thinking my secrets were special. It’s all a little counter intuitive.
One of the reasons I stopped blogging because I didn’t want to waste other peoples’ time with my stories, thinking that my perspective was irrelevant. That I should only spend time on things that mattered to others, and then maybe I’ll matter, then maybe I’ll have a purpose.
Much later, I realized something. Even if I said the truth or lies, people will ignore me. So why not I do whatever I want? I’m losing whether I express anything or not. So, might as well be honest.
So I write blogs for the sake of writing. Not upholding other opinions to matter. Because I matter just the way I am, frustrated, sad and trying not to sob all the time.
If that makes me bland, I accept it in all its glory.
Note: This series that will explore the many routes I’ve taken to understand myself. A lot of these will explore trauma so I will include content warnings throughout this series. This is one of the ways I’ve discovered a part of myself, that does not mean this route is for everyone. Sorry for not posting last week, had many personal issues. Whoops!
As a 20 something year old, I watch as my friends began transform the minute, they leave their family homes. Like a turn on switch, young adults go on this journey of going to college, renting their first homes, learning to live on their own and finding out who they are without constraints. What comes later is that sinking disappointment that one cannot truly escape their family, it’s in their genetics and upbringing. A string that ties us back to our families no matter where we are, a string that can go back generations.
The first time I came across intergenerational trauma was from the historical legacy of residential schools where indigenous children were kidnapped from their families into church-run boarding schools where they were abused and tortured. That generation passed on that trauma to their children and their grandchildren after them. I am not indigenous I don’t share this experience, but unfortunately, I do have this type of trauma if I look a bit closer.
Through my decolonial research it became important to look at my own history. The easiest way would have been to send my DNA to ancestry.com or 23andme but I did not care what percentage of German I am. After all, these nationalities mean nothing to me. What I really cared for was what my ancestors were like. The only way to learn this information is to pester as many family members as I can.
Content Warning= child abuse, grief
Here are some things I’ve learned, firstly there is common thread in both sides of my family of mothers dying in childbirth and the fathers remarrying. My maternal grandmother’s mother died after giving birth to her youngest daughter. So, my great grandfather married another woman who abused the children. This made my grandmother abuse her own children. Later, when my mom had children, she decided to break that cycle of abuse (mainly because of child abuse laws in Canada but whatever). Despite this, my mother’s relationship with my siblings and I are distant because her relationship with her mother wasn’t well so how could expect herself to be better. Not all stepmothers are like this of course, in the case of my paternal great grandmother she had profound influence in educating her stepchildren. Out of the 6 children she raised, 4 of them are highly educated engineers.
Another thing I learned is a common belief system in my family which is paranoia. It’s something I’ve only noticed recently due to certain events that occurred that made it all too clear. Where shall I begin?
Content Warning= torture, terrorism, decolonization
I have a great grandfather who made a terrible mistake. A politician in the 1970s who allied with the wrong side of history, he was anti-British and anti-partition. When the independence war broke out, he was in favor of unity rather than fragmentation. Later, he was imprisoned and killed. In history books, he is called a terrorist, a man who allegedly tortured fighters in his home, a man who tore his family apart, a man who impacts me though I’ve never met him. I am a descendant of Fazlul Quader Chowdhury.
His legacy left me in the sidelines as the family home was raided, as family members were exiled out of the country and deep insecurity of being related to such a person. His actions fail to explain the nation building project of Bangladesh, therefore he’s evil and so is any family who honors his memory.
What is this man’s impact on me? My family in Canada have often been isolated from our ethnic community because we are related to this man. He wasn’t a nationalist therefore my family is not either. We don’t go to independence parties and events for that reason alone. We inherited a paranoia about what others will think if they know and sense of wanting so hard to maintain the reputation. We are good people. We really are. We are also paranoid that you could destroy us with only a few words. Frankly, we are not close with any of the family friends who share our ethnicity.
Additionally, there are so many family members I’ve never met because they hate my side of the family because they hate my great grandfather. I will probably never meet them because they don’t like my parents.
For me it was the question of criminality that came to mind. Did my great grandfather actually have a torture chamber in his home? Am I related to criminal responsible for torture? Does the blood in my veins give me the hereditary characteristics of one who could cause so much harm? Am I evil then?
Then the thought came, that most people have criminals in their family because criminals have families. Just because I’m related to someone, does not mean I’m automatically also a criminal. I didn’t even know the guy! I see his pictures; he doesn’t even look anything like me!
Intergenerational trauma is these horrible questions that can lead to unsettling answers. Everyone has intergenerational trauma and in turn everyone has intergenerational legacies. Each of us will find evil people and good people in our ancestry. If anyone tells you they only have good ancestors, they are lying.
Our families are a significant part of our lives, whether it is by the way we look, our health, our social relationships and the way we view the world. It is important on our journey to self-discovery to find out what traumas affect us and where they come from. We all end up carrying a burden we didn’t realize was there, and when we do acknowledge it, life can get just a little easier.
Next week I’ll write about having a criminal in the family and how it affects social relations. Have a great week!
“All personality tests in the world won’t mean anything to you if you’re not honest with yourself about your own personality and the personalities of those around you.” -Anne Bogel, Reading People
We’ve all come across personality tests at some point, whether it be BuzzFeed quizzes or memes, personality tests fit a niche for people. A niche focused on understanding ourselves and also the people around us. A valid criticism people throw at personality tests is that they are unreliable and have no scientific basis. Yes, unfortunately most them are not credible through the scientific research method but that doesn’t mean it is not useful.
In this post, I’ll be revisiting, and grading personality tests based on how insightful (1/5 stars) and how useful (1/5 stars) they are. Insightful points will be based on whether I learned something new about myself and others. Usefulness will be tested on whether I was able to use to knowledge to change how interacted with others in life. After that I’ll calculate the results and give a letter grade. It is important to note most of this is my opinion about how useful these tests have been for me in my life, so let’s begin!
This is by far the most popular personality test and has a big following on the internet. Created by a mother and daughter duo who wanted to make a personality test, aimed at helping woman choose what type of employment would suit their needs. The test is based on Carl Jung’s work on cognitive functions and archetypes. The result from the test is a 4-letter abbreviation that ranks the dominant traits to the least dominant traits that affect how a person makes decisions. You can take the test yourself here and the good explanation of the result here.
My result= INFJ (The Defender/ The Advocate)
Summarized in one sentence= INFJs are gentle, caring, complex and highly intuitive individuals. Artistic and creative, they live in a world of hidden meanings and possibilities.
OVERALL GRADE= C+
I came across this test on YouTube and the creation of test is based loosely on the Christian concept of the 7 deadly sins. the contemporary Enneagram test is from the teachings of Oscar Ichazo and Claudio Naranjo. It’s a test that results in a number from 1 to 9 that primarily focuses on what one desires in life, ego fixations, holy ideas, passions, and virtues. Basically, it reveals your greatest flaw and how it affects you. It also explains how your number type behaves like a different number when you’re stressed or when you’re relaxed. Take the test here.
My Result= Type 9 wing 1 (The Peacemaker/ Mediator)
Summarized in one sentence= Your greatest flaw is being complacent, conflict-avoidant and prioritizing other peoples’ needs over your own.
OVERALL GRADE= D
This is not personality test, but it can be used as a tool to understand yourself and others. Astrology natal chart informs about one’s personality and experiences in life. It is based on the location of where the stars and planets were at the time of your birth and has pagan origins. So basically, there is no questionnaire all you do is put your time of birth, date and location, then voila you get this strange looking chart to analyze. It’s wonderfully complicated, so I would recommend checking out a book rather then websites, this one.
My result= Sun in Sagittarius
Moon in Gemini
Rising in Scorpio
I remember when I first came across this quiz and took it, I got so offended with the result that I never looked back at it. Over the years I’ve grown a sudden appreciation for this quiz, especially how relevant it is to my life. The Highly Sensitive Person quiz is quiz that aims to help people who have the character trait of being highly sensitive. Researched and scientifically proven by Dr. Elaine Aron it described how 30% of the population in the USA have a trait that makes them experience the world with high intensity. They often hate loud noises, strong smells and cry very easily. They are simply sensitive to the world around them because they experience stimuli differently.
Result= High to moderate Highly Sensitive
Personality tests are so interesting. There are so many it’s hard to discuss them all in one single post. I’ve learned interesting things about each of the results. A common thread among them is that I’m obsessed with perfection, interested in the supernatural and I’m a complicated person, which sums me up in a sentence.
Depending on who you are and what you are looking for, personality tests can be a useful tool to remind you of how different people are. That others see and value the world in different ways. We are unique not because of the way we look, but by the way we perceive the world around us.
A question that begins to a rise from these tests is, why? Why are we so interested in individuality and personality? Is really that important to understand ourselves outside of external factors?
Well, I’ll be attempting to answer that question, next week in Intergenerational Trauma.
Note: This series that will explore the many routes I’ve taken to understand myself. A lot of these will explore trauma so I will include content warnings throughout this series. This is one of the ways I’ve discovered a part of myself, that deos not mean this route is for everyone.
If you do not question the powerful and how they’ve convinced you of lies, are you truly objective of your reality?
Before we begin my story, what is decolonization? In the briefest of phrases it’s the critique of the power system that has existed for the last 500 years. Especially how the British, French, Spanish and Portuguese Empires have controlled most of the world and convinced us there is only one way to view reality, the dominant one. Decolonial theory asks us to look at the loser’s side of history, that their perspective is just as important as the dominant one. I will include links here, here here and here for more info.
Now that we got that out of the way, the story begins like no other when I came face to face with racism. I’ve always known I was a weirdo yet I never felt keen that people disrespected me because of the way I looked. After all Canada is a multicultural place, if only I knew that wasn’t promise this place is actually that safe.
It all started in first year of university, I decided fresh from high school that I wanted to change the world, and what better program for that then political science. Boy, was I in for a roller coaster ride, because that year there was a sudden spike of Muslim extremist terrorism in Europe and USA. i wearing the hijab was propelled towards a conversation i did not understand. Why are people side eyeing me in class expecting me to defend extremism? Why are muslims so terrible? And why am I feeling so afraid in my own class?
On top of all this I had a course discussing the most influential political philosophers, which included racists like John Locke and Freidrich Nietzsche. I kept asking myself over and over. Why am I here? Am I allowed in university if it kept reminding me that I am an inferior race and of a backwards culture?
Feeling sad, I turned to my friends for help only to have felt a sting of betrayal when they did not see what I was seeing. They could not feel what I was feeling. I realized that I was a fool, how could I not have seen this coming? How could I have been so naive as to believe I was equal in the power systems of the world?
Well if I have been ignorant, it was time to get educated. So I started reading books and articles online by muslim authors about extremism. It opened my mind, made me sob uncontrollably and made me question everything.
Why was I practicing this religion anyway? Why have blindly followed everything my parents have told me, without questioning if it was a lie?
Content warning= discussion on existential crisis, Islamophobia and physical assault
It was a nice summer day in 2017 and I had just left the dentist feeling frustrated. Not only did I have deal with my chronic illness but also deal with random ghost pains from my wisdom teeth removal. Exasperated with the dentist’s lack of advice I headed towards the bus stop. I saw the bus slowly rev to a stop in front of the shelter. I gripped my purse tightly and ran for the back doors.
I made it just in time and on my way in I elbowed a man. I didn’t think much of it as I tried to catch my breath. As the man slipped behind me, he grabbed my hijab and tugged. I felt my head bend back and I turned around. The door had closed and I watched the man’s figure slowly disappear in the distance.
“The girl got grabbed! Someone grabbed her scarf!” Someone yelled from the back. The rest of the passengers stared at me, I quickly looked away. Breathing heavily, “this is not happening to me. This is not happening to me,but the lady said it was real…” I thought as I quickly tugged my hijab into place.
“Are you okay?” The woman who shouted asked me. I said yes, but I was lying. How could I trust any stranger if there are just as likely to hurt me too? I turned away huddling near the door as my heart raced. The bus paused at the next Stop and a man headed towards me, I jumped scared, scared that he would attack me too. He was only trying to leave through the door I was standing near.
Slowly I decided to sit down as the tears began falling from my eyes and my heart thudded against my ears. More woman came to ask how I was and I lied every single time, I just wanted to go home and be safe behind my bedroom walls.
Finally with all the bravery I could muster I thanked the woman who shouted and she said “I’m sorry.” I was not sure what she was upset about but I didn’t care as I dashed quickly home.
I told 4 people about what happened. One believed. The other said I was depressing them. The last two said I should be grateful that it didn’t leave a mark.
It did leave a mark. I didn’t go outside for 6 months. The rare times that I did go out, I was constantly hyper vigilant, looking behind me repeatedly and jumping in fright whenever anyone stood behind me. I was terrified. Additionally, this happened during the time when the hijab hoaxes were prevalent. No wonder why no one took me seriously.
In that time, a vivid memory I had buried for years resurfaced. That this wasn’t the first time I had been grabbed by man without my consent. Months before I had decided confidently that I would wear the hijab to my family, I was assaulted by my high school teacher.
At the young age of 14 I wore the hijab, not for God, not for Islam; I wore it hoping it would protect me from creepy men. That I would be respected if I changed my clothing to be modest. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Then, have I lied to myself these past few years? Yes I have. Then have I lied to myself about other things? My gut nodded in agreement.
Well shit. It’s time for an existential crisis.
I spent that period of deep paranoia questioning everything and everyone. I would read news everyday about race and gender. I would watch video essays about various topics from LGBTQ+, black lives matter and indigenous issues. I would cry and sob every week when a new realization hit me like a dagger to my throat. I am not who I thought I was and I am not like what other people think I am either. I just am.
Not only was I ignorant, I was ignorant of my own decisions. If that was the case it’s time to get educated.
Firstly I borrowed books on the patriarchy and Islam. Then I read as many articles online about what people actually thought of muslims. Then I realized that wasn’t enough, so I took as many actions as I could:
1) Learn about indigenous and polytheistic religions= I’ve always grown up with the belief that who believe in multiple gods and worship objects are silly. It’s time I convince myself otherwise so I took 2 university courses to open my mind.
2) Reading decolonial literature= I couldn’t understand decolonization and its affect on every aspect knowledge if I hadn’t picked up Edward Said’s Orientalism or learn about Franz Fanon’s work. Without realizing how the powerful convinced us of our own inferiority, our history and internalized racism, I cant critique the powerful.
3) Finding my ancestors= if I was to feel worthy I needed to find cool people in history who share my ethnicity. Particularly I was focused on finding woman who share my feminist and anti-colonial perspective. And I found them! They exist! I might write a blog post about them soon.
4) Engaging in decolonial art= as much as we want to believe art is limitless, there are some art that are taken more seriously then others, especially those created by European and Americans. So I’ve picked up art books from around the world. Went to local zine fairs and art fairs. I prefer music myself, here are some of my favorite songs, Asa’s Jailer and A Tribe Called Red’s How I Feel.
Decolonization is a process in unlearning the ideas you’ve believed to be solid. I have long way to go to understanding the world around me. I am not done exploring. I have so much to learn about myself and how the world interacts with me. I didn’t make up racism, sexism and Islamophobia, these are ideas and experiences that have affected me. I could not understand myself if I didn’t acknowledge how others see me.
Come join me on my journey as I discuss the various ways I’ve explored myself.
Next week I’ll explore something a little less serious, Personality Tests.