My current views on feminismI use current because my perspectives on various concepts and issues are always evolving. It is no different with feminism. During my time in university, I was very passionate about studying theories related to inter-sectional feminism and dove deep into several academic approaches to feminism. To sum it up, I was surrounded by many like minded people and there were no reasons for me to explain why I believed in the cause. It was simple — equal opportunity irrespective of your sex. I believed in that, and still do.
Then, I moved on to the real world. I met a particular person who has made such a profound impact to my existence today. He is a feminist by definition and nature but never attached himself to the label. In fact, he refuses to attach himself to any labels at all because of his devotion to the highest ideal — which to him was his Sikh faith and lifestyle. Coming from a person who had always known herself through the labels she identified with, this was a challenge to me at first. Resistance towards anyone who did not abide to my ‘list’ was a given but throughout this period, I had an inkling in my gut that said, “He’s right. Labels only push and segregate.” Yet, I chose to refuse such an instinct and demanded for him to identify himself as a feminist eventhough he believes in equal opportunities irrespective of sex. It was divine will, if you can call it that for me to have some time to myself to think this through. This doesn’t just apply to my self identification with the word ‘feminist’ but it applied to every role which I thought to be my true self. I realised that this was in fact an awakening. An awakening to realise that the labels we identify with only fuel our sense of ego and nothing else. Embodying the concept of One, in all that we do; engaging in an equal relationship, building a home and a career in line with the understanding of Oneness is my current aspiration and of course, this abides with feminism, human rights and justice.
But I think many people, myself included, forget to look at the other as ourselves in the midst of rage and resistance which could be the reason why such issues are making its way in almost every news outlet, every day. We want to identify ourselves and others through labels because well, that’s easy and you don’t really need to figure things much. Here’s a label and here are all the attached notions and stereotypes you confine yourself and others to. People are complex beings, and life in itself, have much more to gift us than labels. I would say that it is the nature of language that separates us from all things existing today and that creates all the noise which we are going through both internally and externally in today’s world.
My prayer for us all is for us to bring stillness into our lives amidst fulfilling our purposes in whatever that we are destined to do. My prayer is for us to look at the Other, and say “I recognise the Universe in you.” My prayer is for us to go beyond the labels we attach ourselves to, to push the boundaries these labels bring and to know that there is no need to see everything as black and white; grey is a nice colour too. My prayer is for us to be kind to ourselves no matter how long it takes for us to come through every hurdle we face as an individual, and as a community.
2. My achievements? Well, I wouldn’t call them as achievements but I do recognise them as key stones in my journey. (I imagine myself walking on a stoned pathway to the Beyond and every hurdle I face comes in the form of a stone, haha.)
My greatest achievement is being aware that achievements aren’t everything. All my life, I fell into the traps of recognition and chasing success because I initially thought that that would bring about happiness. I did many things that one could say would make me happy for a lifetime — great school records, aced my degree, pretty reputable in the face of different communities but it wasn’t until I began my fellowship with Teach for Malaysia, I realised how foolish I was to think so highly of myself. I used to parade around thinking, I’m doing a great deed here y’all. Helping out some underprivileged kids, making a change to an extremely bureaucratic education system and then, I’m going to be on Oprah. Ha! Well, it broke me, in many pieces and I still haven’t put myself back together. At least, that’s what my Critic in my head is telling me. I used to want to fix myself the moment I knew something switched off in the inside. A constant discomfort that took over me every day especially when I chose to resist that feeling. Things get worse when you resist and it took a very long time for me to accept the emotions I was feeling. I know now that I don’t have to rush to put the pieces back again. Trusting the process, as they say. I realised that there is so much more than Me, Myself and I. I know now for sure that Labels, Expectations And All That They Bring are nothing but chasers of Time and Contentment. For an entire year, I lived in the state of darkness. Not letting in anything but the voices in my head to rule me. “Your job is terrible. You deserve it.” “What are you even doing with your life? You could be doing A, B and C instead, this!?”, “No one cares or loves you. You don’t deserve it anyway because look at you, …” and I could go on. This experience has broken me to the baseline and allowed for me to start over – unlearn everything I thought I knew, everything I expected for life to turn out for me and it’s a pretty painful process. But my dear friend reminded me, “As it took that many years of your life to build such powerhouses of expectations and labels, it shall take more time for you to burn it into the ground and be okay with ash all around you. And there won’t be any need to do anything about it because you know, you are in the play of a much Bigger Game than your Mind.”