I recently helped out a few juniors in college with an event they were organising. One of the things required of me was to travel in a car full of 17 year olds for about 15 mins. By the time I got out, I was surprised to see that my hair hadn’t turned grey in the meantime.
I’d decided not to write a post on the movie. Everybody else in the world was doing it, and I thought my contribution would just be another drop in the ocean. What changed my mind was the fact that I was getting goosebumps whenever I talked about the movie, even three weeks after I watched it.
The movie, in itself, is great. DC have finally managed to get humour in a superhero movie right, and the visuals are fantastic. One scene, especially, where she steps out into No Man’s Land, is reminiscent of Jon Snow riding out in the Battle of the Bastards, which means it’s very, very cool. I was so glad they got this movie right, because if they hadn’t, Hollywood would have used it as an excuse to not give women superhero roles or women directors big budget movies for the next 20 years. Now, they really have no excuse.
I had never given any thought to the lack of proper women superheroes in movies. I knew underrepresentation was and is an issue, but I relegated it to being a #firstworldproblem. I underestimated the impact a female superhero would make on me.
The male gaze in Wonder Woman was jarring by its absence. Simply the lack of shots panning from Diana’s legs to her breasts meant that I could look at her as a person, not as a body. I was more interested in her motives and her strength because the director looked at her outfit and saw armour, not a skin show. The woman in the film was unapologetically powerful, much more than the men surrounding her. She did not try to hide the fact that she was better. She did not try to make the men like her. She took charge, and used her entire potential, without fitting into a mould. And yet, she liked ice-cream and snow and dancing. She cared about the villagers she had saved and loved Steve Trevor, with all his faults. She was a woman. Every aspect of a woman.
I came out of the theatre crying. No wonder boys and men are so self-confident everyday. They watch superhero versions of themselves all the time. I came out of the movie theatre READY TO TAKE ON ANYTHING. I laughed at the paltry rain holding me back from travelling home. Diana wouldn’t stop at rain. Diana wouldn’t stop at traffic.
Three weeks later, I’ve found myself changed. Whenever I’m interrupted by a man trying to explain to me what I’m saying, I see Antiope shaking her head at me. Whenever I feel tired and unable to go on, I see Diana, smiling, confident, ready to take on the world. I have found Antiope in me. I’ve found Diana in me.
The 12th std CBSE board results came out yesterday. For people who don’t know, they’re for a national test that high school final year students in India have to take to pass out of high school. Initially, your performance in the CBSE boards used to decide into what colleges you got admission. In recent years, its importance has waned with the advent of national entrance tests for pretty much every professional course. However, it still is the first truly big test that a student has to take and a very big deal in a high schooler’s life.
It is also, unfortunately, a matter of social pride (or shame) for the parents. Taking the tests that span over the entire month of April is hard enough for the kid, without his or her parents’ ego being attached to whether their child does better than Mrs Sharma’s kid.
What ensues is more anxiety and stress than any 18 yr old should ever have to face.
A common cause for concern is the pressure from parents to do well in the national board examinations, especially for Class XII, before finishing school. As scores in these exams often determine college admissions and subsequent employment opportunities, students aged 16-18 are often subjected to undue pressure at home to succeed. When they don’t, suicide becomes a way out. In 2013 alone, 2,471 suicides were attributed to “failure in examination”.
I did well in my board exams, but I had to face the failure of not getting through the medical entrance test. It’s the same kind of pressure, even more, amplified in Kota. Fours years on, let me tell you: it does not matter. Not a single person in the last four years has asked me my CBSE marks, or even my rank in the medical entrance test. The thing about the Indian education system is that it’s a great equaliser in a beautiful, fucked up way. Simply because of our population structure and size, there is intense competition to get in. But once you’re in a professional college, a topper and a passer are equally unequipped to deal with actual life. What matters is your work ethic and your good humour.
So, if you did well in your boards this year: Congratulations. Enjoy the moment. Just remember that you WILL NOT get these kinds of marks in professional college. Ever.
If you thought you did well when the results first came out but now too many relatives have asked you “Aga marka kuthe gele? Ajun ka nahi milale? (Why didn’t you get more?)”: Hang in there. You’ll be fine. Also, sometimes, if your parents think you could’ve done better, it’s because of their belief in your potential, not their disappointment in your reality.
If you haven’t done as well as you’d hoped: Calm down. I know it sounds like a cliche, but it’s not the end of the world. I know you don’t feel like facing their disappointed faces, their tears. I’ve been there. But please understand that there’s more to life than marks. Please understand that your parents understand that too. A failure is an amazing learning opportunity. Use it as such. If you’re worried about disappointing your parents, remember that a rash decision is going to sadden them a hundred times more than bad marks. Everyone in the world continues to disappoint their parents much beyond high school. And your parents will still love you after every let-down.
If you’re a parent with a child in any of the above categories: Please make sure that your child feels loved at this point. I know that as Indian parent, you have trouble with differentiating between negative reinforcement and punishment; your child is feeling like shit anyway, they don’t need more reasons to be stressed. Help them look at themselves and the future in a better, more productive light. Your child is old enough to go out in the big outside world, but not old enough to deal with it. I know that the last few years have been teenage hell for you, but your child is more like you than you or the child knows. Please, be a friend. Be a parent.
I have been going through a down patch in my anxiety and depression over the last couple of months. The trough began around January. I don’t think it was triggered by anything. I rather think that I’d been so immersed, so busy in studying for and giving my university exams that after they ended in January, my mind chose to fill up the sudden free time with its old enemy. They do say that an idle mind is a devil’s workshop. I could feel it coming on slowly, but I couldn’t fight it. The more depressed I got, the less I wanted to talk about it. It became more and more of a struggle to want to get out of my room, to interact with the people around me, to seek help.
I wasn’t severely depressed; I wasn’t suicidal. I got up in the morning every day; I went to college. I talked to my friends and family. I’m a private person anyway, but my depressed self went out of her way to assure people that everything was alright. To stop them from asking too many questions. You guys, it is so easy to smile and lie to your nearest and dearest. It is so easy to maintain a facade of overt contentment. You laugh at a few jokes here and there and you smile widely when someone asks how you’re doing. My introversion and depression were stopping me from talking about my introversion and depression.
When I got up in the morning, I’d already decided that the day wouldn’t be worth it. That I wasn’t worth it. That meant that even though I went about my daily life, I wasn’t engaged in any of it. There were a few small points of joy, sure, but I was approaching everything I did with the belief that I was wasting my time. That obviously meant that I wasn’t doing as good a job as I could be. Especially as a student, I wasn’t learning and absorbing enough because I didn’t think I could ever do it. When I opened a book, I’d already told myself that there was no way I could ever understand or remember any of it. It was all so pointless to me that it became pointless by my apathy and disinvolvement. That, in turn, reinforced and worsened my conviction that what I do day to day is worthless; that there is nothing being gained by me getting out of bed.
Thankfully, even at my lowest point, I don’t go as low as I used to a couple years ago. Nowadays, all it takes is a gentle push to get me on the road to recovery. My mother noticed. It is difficult for her to say the word ‘depression’ when it comes to me, but she noticed that I was having ‘the same old problems’. She gave me a stern talking-to, and it was exactly what I needed. At this stage in my depression cycle, I think handholding and mollycoddling wouldn’t have helped me as much as her “how dare you treat yourself like that” speech. I could feel my psyche being whipped back into shape.
I’m better now, which is why I can write this. But I’m sure that sometime in the future, I will be low again. And I’m writing this so that the future low me can read this and help herself out of it. So that she can tell herself that, even if she doesn’t feel like it at that point, talking freely to people is much easier and more therapeutic than she thinks. This is my catharsis.
I wouldn’t call myself commitment-phobic. I was in a fairly long term relationship till about 2 years back. It’s just that I enjoy being single and not having to deal with someone else’s problems too much to even consider being in a relationship right now. Does that make sense? It does to Karen.
I can’t find the original artist of this comic. If you know who it is, please tell me so I can credit them!
I’m thinking of writing an infrequently recurring series of posts where I answer ten questions about myself truthfully. I was inspired by this wonderful blog, so I came up with (by which I mean: stole from various parts of the internet) a few random questions that I’d like to ask other people too. Even though I prefer to keep this whole shindig anonymous, I feel like anyone who knows me will instantly recognize this blog as my work. I’ve opened myself up to this blog in ways I never do in the real world; anonymity is my security blanket. However, I do enjoy sharing bits and pieces of myself, and I genuinely enjoyed answering these questions. So, without further ado:
Do you remember your dreams?
I do remember quite a few of my dreams. A few of my dreams are recurring, so by the third or fourth time I can predict what’s going to happen whilst I’m in the dream. Most of the recurring dreams are quite scary, sadly, but they lose their edge after a few times. I channel those dreams into stories sometimes.
Do you believe in love at first sight?
I believe in like at first sight and lust at first sight. I think love is too complicated a concept to happen in an instant. I prefer love to grow and mature until I can trust it to last.
Do you sing in the shower?
I don’t! I’m usually concentrating on getting as clean as possible without wasting time or water. I do sing when I’m alone in my room, though. I also hum at inappropriate times.
How many rings before you answer the phone?
As few as possible. I get very nervous if my phone starts ringing and I can’t pick it up straight away. This is compounded by the fact that I always have to choose the funniest, weirdest ringtones and message tones. I enjoy them when I’m alone but I can’t let my phone ring for too long in public. This is why my phone is on silent most of the time.
Do you like to dance?
I am extremely uncomfortable dancing in front of people, so- no. I’m very ungainly and clumsy with the lower half of my body. I used to have friends who loved dancing, and when we went out I used to sit at the table watching over all the purses and wallets while they danced. My version of dancing is shimmying my shoulders and tapping my feet to ‘Uptown Funk’ or ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’ while being inevitably seated.
Do you take shampoos and conditioners from hotels?
Nope. They never have good stuff anyway. The shampoos especially dry my hair out like nobody’s business. I’ll tell you what I do steal- sewing kits. They’re compact and useful.
If you had treasure, where would you hide it?
Probably somewhere in plain sight. People never look at the extremely obvious or forgettable places. For example, if Voldemort had chosen less conspicuous objects for his Horcruxes, Dumbledore and the trio wouldn’t have stood a chance. Anyway, I could never plan anything even mildly contrived.
What profession did you want to be as a kid?
A fashion designer, a makeup artist, an English teacher, an art historian, a veterinarian, a doctor.
What is something you have tried, but will never do again?
I once drank a liter of Long Island Iced Tea in one swig as a bet. It was very, very strong. I don’t remember much of what happened later.
If you could jump into a pool full of something, what would it be?
Clear water beads. Can you imagine?
Is there any specific question that I should answer next time?