There is beauty in teenage angst 

Nobody understands me.

Easily the mantra of every angst-ridden teenager.

Nobody understands me.

The declaration that plagued me and probably every single teenager who has ever stormed off in a snit.

Nobody understands me.

False.

Possibly the most life-altering thing I have ever learnt is that nothing I have ever felt before is unique to me: it has at some point been felt by someone else.

I learnt this the first time I read Plath.

Comforting, but also terrifying because life then becomes a game of combinations and permutations, the same old human experiences in jumbled up chronology, with a myriad of filters and geotags slapped onto them. Perhaps all you are is yet another notch on the bedpost of life.

Nobody Everybody understands me.

The former seems preferable.

To someone whose priority in life is individuality, this universal camaraderie is terrifying. Being alone, though painful, conjures up singular and original. Being part of this transcendental humanity, though comforting, conjures up hackneyed and ordinary.

To my younger self: there is beauty in teenage angst. 

A confident voice inside your head– you are alone because you are special.

The voice changes– you are not alone so neither are you special. 

Today I’m telling myself: you are not alone, neither are you special, but that sure as hell isn’t going to stop you from being.

Glasses

Some nights I leave them off so that the streetlamp starts to look like the moon and distant lights like the stars. I leave them off so that edges are softer, so when I brush against them, I’m less likely to bleed. Without them I don’t see the grills on my window- only the wide open sky. When I run my fingers over my face and look in the mirror, I look ethereal, fresh, alive. I leave them off so I don’t see disappointed glances or smiles marked “Fragile!”. People wear their hearts on their sleeves, but I prefer not to see. Through my imperfect eyes, flaws seem like a work of fiction. I throw them down, crush them beneath my heel. I will not see, I will not feel.

A Worthy Comparison

She warms with a smile, and scorches with a touch. Unfathomably larger-than-life, her presence is so impossibly significant that nobody can ever dream up a storyline where she doesn’t take centre stage. She may someday vanish, but like the sun leaves its light for the moon to shine back to the world, she too will leave her legacy to shine upon every dark alleyway.

So the next time you are looking for a metaphor to pair her up with, don’t undermine her with something dim and ineffectual. Match everything that she is and everything that she will be with a metaphor worthy of it.

She lights up every pavement, but leaves behind only ash and dust.

Call her sunshine. Call her blowtorch.

The Basis of Our Beliefs

The truth is, humans are all just stumbling around in this debased world trying to find a way to make ourselves feel better; to feel good; to feel justified. And this is the basis on which we build our value systems.

We prioritise traits we think we possess because that means we are doing something right. It speaks for our place in the world and that we are basically winning at life.

Humans tend to exploit our best individual characteristics and try to mould the world in a way that gets us the best deal. This is the same in every other systemic problem- the ones propagating inequality are always the ones with the better lot.

We need to understand that with every belief that you propagate, there’s a flip side. With every person who says that intelligence is crucial and that human life should be measured by the quality of one’s ideas and thoughts, there is someone struggling over grammar, thinking there is no way he could ever be spectacular. With every person who thinks attractiveness is of paramount importance, there is someone with road maps on her thighs, not having the courage to pursue the life she deserves.

Attributes like intelligence and beauty should be admired, not pursued to the point of insanity. Ticking hourglass bodies waiting to shatter into a million starving girls, and ink-stains seeping into bloodstreams turning people into meaningless equations and scientific formulas shouldn’t be categories you fall into to have a fulfilling life. Life goes on if you’re not smart. Life goes on if you’re not attractive.

The only quality we should all strive towards in unison is kindness. Being accepting and loving towards all the different kinds of people that make up this strange world is the belief system that we should all subscribe to.

My body is my masterpiece.

Recently, I’ve been holed up in my room a lot, and skipping mirrors because I don’t want to lapse into another bout of pity and misery.

But about five minutes ago, I had an epiphany (it’s really not that groundbreaking but I think it’s the first time I have fully accepted it)

I may not be pretty, but that doesn’t decrease my worth as a person. At all. So what if I’m not pretty? I’m not saying that being attractive is a bad thing, but it’s just one aspect of who you are as a person.

I’m strong. I’m independent, passionate, opinionated and empathetic.

I am also stubborn, self-pitying, fatalistic and self-righteous.

I am not pretty.

How is it fair of me to accept the good things about me and reject the bad? My good balances out the bad; yin and yang. I have to come to terms with the fact that my faults and my strengths come together to form a wholesome me. And it’s my duty to love all of it.

I don’t criticise myself for not being able to dance well. Or not being able to paint. In the same way, I can’t criticise myself for not being pretty. It’s so silly to think that you are inferior because your face isn’t symmetrical or because your love handles offer maybe too much love.

My body is made up of pieces of my history. My parents, my brother, my grandparents, my great-grandparents… Every callous in my hands is from something I have achieved. My dark circles show that I am working hard to secure my future, to be given a chance to do what I love and contribute what I can to this mad world. Every bit of stretched skin shows that I like food and I’m not ashamed of it. How can I hate this body when it’s the map of my life, when it’s a compilation of my stories? My body is my first novel, my first masterpiece.

My chromosomes have combined beautifully to create me, this laughing, breathing, babbling me. They have fallen together exactly as they were meant to, and I am exactly as I am meant to be.

“Your body is made of the same elements that lionesses are built from. Three quarters of you is the same kind of water that beats rocks to rubble, wears stones away. Your DNA translates into the same twenty amino acids that wolf genes code for. When you look in the mirror and feel weak, remember, the air you breathe in fuels forest fires capable of destroying everything they touch. On the days you feel ugly, remember: diamonds are only carbon. You are so much more.”

The Kind of Parent I Want To Be.

I will marvel every day at the miracle that I’ve made, with the perfect eyes, the perfect smile, the perfect little fingernails. I will listen to my kids tell me about their screw-ups, their mistakes, their flaws because they know that in spite of all this, I will still love them eternally. I will embarrass them in front of their friends, just because it would be so much fun. My children will come running to me with every problem they have, knowing that I’ll always have sound advice and a warm hug. I will remember, even then, that the world has enough criticism to offer. I will remember that as a mother it is not my job to restrict them or to shield them, but to let them know that even if every person in the world has a comment to cut them down, I will be there to build them back up. They may have a thousand arrows aimed at them, but not a single one will be from me. I will be their heroine and stand up for them when they are treated unfairly. I will walk away when someone pinpoints the faults of my children, and I will bring them with me. I will see the shining star in them so when people push them into the ground, I can pick them up and piece them back into the sky. I will be their biggest supporter, their biggest fan; I will be the most positive review they get. I will go down to their every recital, their every chess match, their every sports game and glow with pride as I see them throwing themselves into something that they love. I will scoff at other kids as I look at my own, because no child will ever match up to mine. I will keep every doodle, every present, every card. My lap will be their favourite pillow and my embrace their biggest comfort. When my children come home with tears in their eyes and a failed exam script in their hands, I will bring them outside, set the papers aflame and watch as the ashes waft away. I will slip chocolate into their bags, and whisper poetry into their ears. I will know the names of their friends, their crushes, their loves and their heartbreaks. I will be the first one to teach my son to be a gentleman, and my daughter to never dumb herself down for a boy. I will comb their hair, and dab vanilla behind their ears. I will come up with revenge plots after the failed love affairs. When my daughter is sad after she went up a jeans size, I will tell her that she has way too much beauty for her skin to hold. When my son is upset that his face isn’t perfectly symmetrical, I will tell him that he defies all laws of nature because nothing could possibly be this exquisite. I will never expect my child to be anything other than what they are, because they will always be precious to me.

And most importantly, I will let them know that I started loving them way before they were born, and that I will continue loving them even after I’m long gone.

Looking for Love

Just the other day I had a thought: Someday (hopefully) I’ll be able to look at a boy. He’ll just be there, laughing or talking or eating or sleeping and I’m going to be able to think to myself wow here is someone who is mine. I’ll look at him in wonder because after all the missed hurdles and disappearing doors, we’ve finally found each other. I’ll be looking at him with an expression of awe on my face, and he’ll turn to look at me with a quizzical expression and I’ll just smile and lope my arm through his and lean on his shoulder and think of all the lonely nights which have led up to this. He’ll smile and shake his head slightly. Sometime later, maybe a few days or a few weeks or months, I’ll turn to see the exact same expression blooming on his face, and I’ll smile too.

Fifteen

Every once in a while, you suffer through fifteen minutes of overwhelming sadness. You sift through every fond memory you hold. Your heart swells with affection, you’re willing to forget all the bad things that conspired, just so you could have the good. Just a hint, just a splash. Just something to remind you of the good days gone by. Your breathing starts to quicken, your heart constricts and tears well up in your eyes of their own volition. You lie awake, aching, thinking of all the ways you could apologise, if the other person is hurting just as much. You wonder if it was your fault, you wonder if it even matters. You convince yourself that you’re too mature for this kind of petty  fights, you convince yourself that you can be the bigger person. You slip up and send the text, you slip up and take a look at photos and saved text messages. You slip up, and fool yourself into thinking that all it takes is one call to fix everything, to clear everything up. You hold back. You cry. You blink. You survive the fifteen minutes. Everything’s back to normal and you sigh, dreading the next time these ephemeral fifteen minutes come again.