Musings about Normalcy
It’s been a long time that I’ve been thinking about writing this. It’s always so exciting to talk about (“Yeahhh! I’m gonna write a blog! share my thoughts! It’ll be witty and funny and super interesting. Yeahhh, I’m gonna write a blog!”), but then you sit down and try to write something and it’s so terrifying! What if I sound like an idiot? Who even wants to read my thoughts?!?
I have a tendency to make up fantastical plans in my head of ideas and things I want to do. Most of the time, those ideas end up staying inside my head; they slowly wither and die. I would like this idea to live. Maybe it will be nice to have a place to document events and conversations that are thought provoking. Hopefully someone will read it, have something to add or share and I will learn something, maybe no one will read it or maybe a lot of people will read it and think I am completely delusional. All those options (and any others that exist) are all satisfactory to me.
So, I’m writing a blog :)
My name is Raafia Jessa. I am 29 years old. Since this is an introduction, a commonly expected “next thing” I’m supposed to say are my affiliations: occupation, geographic origin, religious association, place of current residence, relationship status etc. etc. Obviously this is a generalization, but it seems to me that the flow of a lot of conversations is usually: “Hey (name of person), nice to meet you. What do you do?”
One of the main reasons for wanting to write this blog is these kinds of conversations: Whether conscious or not, we seem to have a tendency to think of ourselves as fitting into categories that we use to define ourselves to others.
So, rather than telling you my affiliations, I would first like to tell you my background and why these conversations about “self” have become increasingly important: I was born in Pakistan, raised in Canada, and went to university in Texas; thirds of my life spent in vastly different environments and cultures. The rules I learnt as a child in Karachi, the rules I rebelled against as a teenager in Toronto and the rules that I applied to myself as a “young adult” in Houston have nothing in common. Yet, it seems, no matter where in the consumer world you are, some ideologies are exactly the same: go to school, get married, find a job, have a nice home, have children, get a promotion, etc. If one of these elements is perhaps missing, something is “wrong”.
Let’s call it a “checklist of life”. Things we are taught to desire and spend our lives trying to attain. A short while ago, I was doing pretty well on this checklist: I put myself through school, had a good job, a nice apartment, plenty of friends. It all fit really nicely on the checklist, but to be completely honest, I was quite unhappy.
If I were to analyze the situation now:
1. I don’t have a regular job. “Creative Freelancer” could be a potential name for what I do.
2. I don’t have a home. The past year or so, I haven’t lived in a place for more than 4 months.
3. I don’t own furniture. All my possessions fit into two carry-on sized bags (besides a lot of boxes of art and books gathering dust in my parents’ basement)
In reference to the “checklist of life”, maybe I’m not doing so well. But, that nagging unhappiness that was present in my past life seems to have disappeared. The anxiety that was ever-present to fill a particular mold is gone; it has been replaced with a strange calmness. If things suck, at least it will be a result of my own decisions rather than decisions prescribed to me by society.
Everyone who hears about this way of living has an opinion: the general consensus is that either this lifestyle is really inspirational or completely insane. I don’t think either of those descriptions are correct. I don’t think I am either inspirational or insane (okay, maybe a little insane), rather I think I am part of a growing community that has had enough. If we are all told that we are “individuals” then should we not have the ability to choose how we live? If we call ourselves individuals, and think we make choices based on our personal preferences, why is it that if someone decides to live outside the “normal”, it is either insane or inspirational? Isn’t it just another choice like figuring out which brand of bananas I want to buy?
I would like this blog to be a discussion of these kinds of thoughts: the choices that we make in this commercial world, why we make these choices and how life can be more than a checklist that we follow. Whether we acknowledge it or not, life is complete chaos. The only thing that seems to matter is your intention.
I intend to write this blog in the hope that it will start some sort of interesting discourse and be a source of learning. Hopefully, the next few posts will be about people/events/conversations that have somehow affected my life, even if it’s in the smallest way.
If you are interested in this discussion about normalcy, please contact me.
Let’s talk about the choices we make, let’s start thinking of ourselves as more than just the boxes we fit into.
Let’s help each other grow as individuals :)