Fear of missing out

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,

tame shewolf.

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! 🙂

Imposter Syndrome and me

Impostor syndrome is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.

I don’t know why I feel so under-confident sometimes. As if, my experiences are not my own. Like, I am not supposed to be where I am. When I am actually somewhere non-stimulating, I keep trying to get out of that space. I‌ have been thinking about why I feel so disconnected and like a fraud all the time. What could be the psychological root for this?

As a teacher

Currently, I am working in an ideal job. It is all that I‌ have been wishing for– Teaching late teens, about politics and sociology, well-paying and yet not working 5 days a week. It is literally what I‌ have been screaming into the void, “why can’t you give me all this?”. (you= void) The void said, “here, everything you wish for, but only for six months.” Kill me. I‌ cherish every moment of being well-paid.

When I am at this job, or prepping for the lectures, I feel that ‌I am faking it. I am the best person to be teaching Marxism. I am the best person to be teaching to be the go-to person for politics and sociology.‌ I‌ have not put in my time. I have not put in the readings. Someone else must have read thousand more things, or could point out more nuances that I could. Someone else doesn’t have to prep this much maybe.

I‌ know. I know. Rationally, I know that this job is me putting in the time. I know that I do already have a good base for this, and I am passionate about it. But, still, the people ‌I‌ look upto were better off when they were 27. They were more ambitious about growing in academia, that I‌ seem to be. Am I copping out when I reject the academia machine, or am I really rebelling on my own terms? What a loser.

As a writer

Since the pace of my blogging has reduced, I‌ keep thinking about how I have lost my voice. I‌ no longer create intentional art. It is always this stream of consciousness vomit. I am tired of my angst, my self-righteousness, and my pain. Haven’t I looked at all these facets in all its depth already? Am I‌ not bored of myself and my patterns? What do I want to say?‌‌‌ Why do I‌ write, other than just using it as a healing tool? Why can’t I‌ write for fun, when people can doodle for fun? When I show up at the keyboard, why can’t I play? Writing for me is treating myself. Definitely. I like the dim light and music that I put on in the evenings to get myself in the zone to right. I forget what the point was other than fossilize traces of me. What do I want to remember? I‌ am not ambitious, wrt external measures of success, but I‌ do have many creative ambitions that I‌ don’t really show up for.

I know. I‌ know. I remember that what got me interested with blogging was a really cool confessional blogger. But then, she went on to write fiction. And‌ I‌ am here, with ideas rotting in my notes section. I cannot summon the energy and discipline it needs to show up for oneself. Oh, you want me to write some piece for your brand, I will do that. I have to do it for myself?‌‌ Maybe next time. I‌ rest on the laurel of having great ideas with a writer’s block. What a loser.

As a political person

I have a debilitating imposter syndrome when I participate in political protests, or even try to write about political stuff. Who do I talk to and how?‌ I‌ must read more to be ready because I am always not ready. I‌ think of all the things I will have to lose if I am on this path– being stupid happy with my apolitical friends;, and being stupid, period. I think of all the things I will have to have already– clarity and tenacity. But here I am, standing as an audience to the suffering of the world.

I know. I‌ know. I am in the world that is burning and I can speak from my own social location. However, there remains a feeling of taking up space where someone else could have been and said it and done it better. I don’t end up saying anything at all. Sigh, what a loser.

As a lover

Oh ho, this imposter syndrome, you guys… it is an unreal, out of body experience. (Welcome to my over-confessional stupid blog.) When I‌ am in love in commitment, I feel like– it is just a phase that I am going through. This cannot be it.‌‌ Is this it? And all such self-doubt.‌‌ I worry about whether I am all present in the love. Could someone else love my partner the way they wanted to be cared for and loved? But when I am out of love, I am pining about hazy details. Did I ever love them truly? Did they even love me?‌‌ And all such pain. Isn’t pain more real than love after all?

I‌ know. I know. This is life. These are all our psychological patterns and I am untangling them one by one.‌ If only I could build a monument to all the people I‌ have ever loved. I‌ have actually; maybe not as grandiose as a monument, but then a small tiny shrine, definitely. And when I did try to speak of my madness to my friends, well one of them did say– What a loser.

Maybe it is all about that. Me watching myself from the outside, and being a harsh to myself. How do I‌ get back in my body?

I‌ am grateful, don’t get me wrong, but I am such a drifter. My soul is barely tied to my body, and it feels miserable.

Edit: Midnight Aha moment- I have to confront the inner glorified self that is being a critical bitch.