There are so many habits I am articulating and unlearning in this lockdown. All the creative reflection and reading has given me some perspective.
If you would ask me whether I had the fear of missing out or FOMO, I would say— no! I don’t. I am an introvert. I anyway avoid obligatory social dates or even office meetings if I can skip them. Obviously, it hurts me in the long run maybe. But I am genuinely not curious about what they talk in the first place. I know the socializing is important, and I do it if I must. But I would always rather waste my own time in a way I choose. Even if it is sleeping or singing my heart out or play a dumb game.
Recently, I have realised I had a different kind of FOMO. It is about missing out on the thoughts of people, or their growth. I could not let myself unfollow painful people because I respected them. I could not let myself cut off people who thought that I was not as smart, or too emotional and demonstrated their patronising behaviour towards me. I would be beholden to them and wanted to learn so much from them. Even if it was just their out-of-context status or retweets or recommendations. I felt that their thoughts, speech and writing helped me grow. If I let them go, I would be stagnant. I truly believed that.
I used to cow down to arguments of you should experience it first and then argue. Obviously, the imposter syndrome also prevails where I always think I don’t know as much and should not speak authoritatively. I found myself stupid in comparison to their genius and courage. I found my courage and genius reckless and trite.
There have been some instances where I was forced to cut people off. I have realised I have still grown! Despite them. It is possible! The instinct to learn has been with me with or without a personified teacher or mentor or genius friend. Thank god for books and the internet. The kindness of authors and curators. I mean, there is more than enough in this world. I am enough too.
It took me some time but I’ve found “intelligent” people toxic and rigid and less playful. What’s the point of your genius, if you remain unhappy? I genuinely find myself indulging myself and my stupid parts without feeling ashamed of not being a person with perfect politics. I have internalised now that the purpose of revolutionary theory is not to invoke guilt, but empower and inspire change. It is not directed against individuals, but the structure. The will to change is of the community, and not the individual responsibility of the person. I find a lot of kindness and forgiveness in thinking this way. It helps me not rant out against a person, but a prevalent toxic concept.
I am still learning. But this feels healthier and happier. I can think aloud without feeling conscious of perfection. I can create without guilt. I am coming up with ways I can contribute to movements, instead of feeling out of place in them.
With love, one day, liberation,
PS: Again, I have one Pakistani Youtuber-Communist-Teacher-Singer Taimur Rahman to credit this radical shift within me. His lectures have helped me think of the politics of current times with the help of theory. He is also generous with his knowledge. His optimism even in dark times makes me feel that hope is the point of life, the centre of continued struggle. But I also don’t put him on a pedestal like I did before. He is inspired some form of independent thinking but I couldn’t tell you how. I guess, just by existing and doing and creating. I feel like I aspire to that now. I feel he has embodied Amedkar’s “Educate-Agitate-Organize” and it rings as a mantra in my head now.
Anyway, grateful to kind, light, great teachers! 🙂