Journal Entry: What They Forget to Tell You About Growing Up

'and here you are living, despite it all' - Rupi Kaur

I’m at an age where the whole world expects you to know where you stand and what you’re doing. We’re all so convinced that at this point in time we’re supposed to be able to envision our futures – we’re supposed to know what every single move we’ve made, up until this point is leading up to, as if we’re all pre-programmed to be something, someone… anyone.

Except you can’t just be ’anyone’. You’re supposed be someone – we’re supposed to be the generation that makes a difference, that changes things, that turns on the light switch and suddenly in a God-like form we’ll scream ‘let there be light’ at the top of our lungs whilst moving our fingertips along to the sound of corporate greed.

I mean, we’re literally conditioned to believe that we were placed on this planet to specialise in one area of reality, and somehow, just somehow somewhere along the way we’ll make the world a better place, but I mean… how? How do we do that? We were never given blueprints or a 60 day plan. 

I think when the older generation discuss the younger generation in a negative light they forget who created us, they forget what we were raised on – it’s not merely “bad blood”, it’s their blood. Maybe we are the selfish youth, with God-like complexes knee deep in pharmaceuticals and glued to technology. But, really, who’s fault is that? This generation was ‘created’, we didn’t just ‘appear’, creating this generation was a process that didn’t happen overnight. So, dear older generation, in order to criticise our generation you must be willing to take responsibility for sitting back and allowing us to happen.

DSCF0831xxBut here we are, alive and ready to roar, frightened but fearless – Generation Z. We are a generation of frightened, frightened children learning how to go from “I want to grow up to be…” to “what on earth am I doing?!” and hopefully to “this is my next step”.

I think it’s important to realise that it is okay, to not be at ‘this is my next step’ just yet. Life does not have a time limit, it happens and all there is to do is go with the flow, move along when the tide draws you in, follow the flow of traffic and never, ever, let on that you are somewhat scared and terribly confused but just keep going, keep moving, and never look back.

I think the most important thing to remember is that life does not stop for anybody and so if you feel stuck – move… push forward and don’t look back.  Keep moving, push until you get there, remain frightened.

This is your superpower.  You are your own hero.

A ship at harbour is safe, but that’s not what ships are for.’ – William G.T. Shedd.

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Misogynies: Women and The Earth Go Through A Lot

And most importantly don’t betray yourself. Not for a relationship. Not for status. Not for power. Not for money. Not to fit into a stereotype. Not to look a certain way. Not for approval.

The difficulties of being a woman, include the pervasiveness of your own personal space, it requires sharing your existence with the rest of the world. The female body has indirectly been stripped of autonomy and labelled as public property through hyper-sexualisation, however the impact of this has little power until the experience plays out in front of you. My own experience in which my space was invaded, in which my discomfort was unaccounted for, in which I as a thinking individual didn’t really matter, but the display of my body did… that is when I experience the power of patriarchy.

There was no ‘demeaning’ display of ‘too much’ skin (unless you have issues with turtle necks, in which case I apologise for allowing the top inch of my neck to peak out), no eye contact made… in fact, it was day-light when I was stalked, cornered and told explicitly the ways in which my body appealed to the male gaze, in highly sexual, highly vulgar, highly demeaning and pervasive terms. My discomfort although quite apparent through the look of disgust and confusion etched across my face was not enough to prevent this man from staring me down as placed himself in front of me. His need to place his own … over my comfort, is one of the many examples in which men are taught and conditioned to believe that their own desires weight greater than a woman’s sense of comfort.

This is just on experience of many, with the recent media attention upon the pro-rape, anti-feminism, pro-misogyny (…the list goes on) ‘activist’ Roosh V who put together an international rally/demonstration advocating the legalisation of rape within the private realm. Previous extremist movements regarding the position of women within our society, are largely a response to growing recognition of women’s rights movements and the increasing strength of both liberal and intersectional feminist action. My right to carry myself in whichever form I feel comfortable is deemed offensive to those who view women as children who must be told what they should (or better yet, shouldn’t) do with their bodies. In fact, it shouldn’t matter what I was wearing, it shouldn’t matter how I was walking, it shouldn’t matter… all that should matter is that my basic rights were revoked, and that there was lack of respect for my comfort, rather I was dehumanised and objectified with a single glance and the utterance of vulgar sentences. The sad truth is that the attempted liberation of women is receiving hostile backlash in the form of counter movements, of increased sexual assault and violence in the name of repressing such liberation.

So the next time, a woman steps back when you approach her… or seems hesitant in her interaction with you… when she discusses her liberation as a woman with both excitement and fear… remember that experience is life’s greatest lesson, and fear is taught.

Photographer: Kidst Ayalew