It’s been over a year since I wrote on here last. I believe the last time I wrote was when I was still living in Paris, trying to understand who I was in relation to the French culture, the Parisian culture, a culture that I thought for the longest time I felt that I belonged to. I continue to question if that’s even the case anymore. I’m still trying to figure that out. (Then again, I’m not sure that I belong to any culture, really).
Here it is, over a year later, and I finally found some inspiration to write again, well at least to ramble again. I still don’t know what I want to do with this blog or even if I want to keep it. All I know is that I’m 27 years old, on the verge of finishing my Masters (a long 3 and half year journey by the the time I will have finished), and I still feel just as lost as when I began, but in a different way.
I will finish my Masters finally (fingers crossed) in August, God willing that I pass my exams. And it’s exactly in preparation for my exams that I come back to this place, writing again, feeling surprisingly inspired. I haven’t felt this inspired in months. Wracked with constant stress and anxiety to manage my varying jobs, my school work, my relationships, and just my overall realization that I will have to find a place to settle eventually, and eventually meaning here soon. My life of transitions is coming to an end, and I feel caught between a rock and a hard place (to be cliché). I loved my life of transitions. I met so many people, did so many things, changed as a person (for the better and for the worse), and discovered so many parts of this world and who I am that I’m terrified of leaving that life, because I live on the thrill of constantly discovering.
However, on the other hand of that is the fact that I’ve never been in one place for too long. I haven’t been able to make proper relationships and build a proper life for myself. I’ve invested in the wrong relationships, had my heart broken by many (both romantic and friendships alike), questioned my entire being (still doing so), and felt like I don’t know myself at all (still feel that way sometimes). And I think that’s what has me so anxious and terrified and nervous and confused and feeling sad and sometimes empty: I have to start making decisions about my life soon. And that’s what taking these exams in August represents. It’s not necessarily the material (though there is a great amount of it and that in and of itself does make me feel incredibly anxious), but it’s the fact that for so long I’ve been able to plan for the next transition. I’ve been building my life around transitions and now that that life is almost over, I feel confused, like I don’t know what to do with myself. As if I don’t know who I am without building my life around the transitions and big life leaps that I’ve built my entire self-identity around.
Who am I now? What am I now? I’m 27. I’m not getting any younger. Where do I go from here?
In preparation for my exams, one of my professors gave me some advice that I felt strange about at first, admittedly. She told me to get curious. Get creative about how I approach all these works that I have to read and comprehend and analyze. Get curious. How do you even go about getting curious? She told me that a first great step is to just lay everything out that I have to read, to touch it, not necessarily read it or if I do read it, I shouldn’t necessarily always read it methodically. “Just pick them up, touch them, flip to a random page and start reading. Get curious.” What a strange concept. But I thought “hey, anything to get my anxiety brain to calm the fuck down.” So, I did exactly that. I laid everything out. Books are open, notes are out. I haven’t put anything away for days. Things are in multiple rooms, spread across different tables, even floors. Seeing everything out has become so much about my everyday that my fear of it is finally starting to dwindle, which is how I found myself reading non-stop for 2 and a half hours straight this morning, being curious. I didn’t want to stop reading. I wanted to keep going. I wanted to know more. To learn more. To see more. To understand more. I wanted to be curious.
And that’s how I came to this place, writing, because I’ve been inspired for the first time in over a year to actually write something.
The work that I chose to read today is L’Éloge de la créolité (In praise of Creoleness). One of my major focuses for my Masters is post-colonial francophone literature, and within that, a major theme is that of identity. How do previous French colonies and colonized peoples define themselves and their identities. I’ve always wondered what drew me the most to these works of literature and literary/societal critique, but feeling the way that I’ve been feeling over the last couple of years, it has become obvious: as someone who has been struggling with my own identity, learning about others who have experienced the same and the way they view and critique the world has captured my attention.
My sense (or lackthereof) has also been closely tied to the constant shit show the world has become as of late. I used to be so passionate about helping others and doing good for the world. Recently, I’ve started losing faith in humanity, in the goodness of the world, and in the benefit of me giving a shit of trying to do better for the world. Never would I ever think that identity would be closely related to this idea of interacting and being/doing good for the world. And this is something that has become quite pertinent, not only in my own personal life but also in the lives of those being greatly affected by the societal and political climate as of late. I think there is a huge part of me that feels a sense of loss and deep depression and anxiety, not only because of my own personal problems (much like everyone has) but also because of the negativity that is the current state of affairs, the reverse of advancements in the recognition of the beauty of the human condition in all of its shapes, sizes, backgrounds, languages, religions, sexes, and sexual orientations. I have realized that not only do I feel hopeless in my own personal life but I’ve started to become hopeless in the face of the world itself. And that, that sense of hopelessness on both sides of life, well, it’s left me feeling lost and sometimes feeling quite empty.
But I digress. Today, I got curious, and my curiosity led me to read this in L’Éloge de la créolité: “Car nous savons que chaque culture n’est jamais un achèvement mais une dynamique constante chercheuse de questions inédites, de possibilités neuves, qui ne domine pas mais qui entre en relation, qui ne pille pas mais qui échange. Qui respecte. C’est une folie occidentale qui a brisé ce naturel. Signe clinique: les colonisations.”
Rough translation (and I apologize to my translator friends, as translation is not my focus and this is quite rough): “Because we know that each culture is never complete but a constant dynamic seeker of unprecedented questions, of novel possibilities, who never dominates but enters into a relation, that never pillages but exchanges. That respects. It is Western madness that breaks this nature. Clinical symbol: colonizations.”
Well if that isn’t a giant reminder and curious wake up to remind me of what is important in living, in discovering the world, in working towards finishing my Masters so that I can go on to become a part of the world in the best way possible, then I don’t know what is. This quote reminded me that despite what is happening right now, both in my own mental world and in society/culture right now, I still have the capacity to change it, to be curious, to continually change and be better. I have the capacity to do this by being in relations with others, despite my fear of being vulnerable and being constantly disappointed and hurt, despite the current culture, especially in the United States, that seems to represent a cultural and societal colonization.
It’s a wake up call for me. I’ve been behind my walls of anxiety and depression for so long barred up by forcibly consuming myself with school and work that I’ve forgotten who I am and forgotten that people are not all like my past terrible relationships (of varying kinds), shitty presidents, and arrogant WASPs (for those of you who don’t know what that stands for, it means White-Anglo-Saxon-Protestants – it’s more used to describe people of such background that feels it is their duty to forcibly instill their WASPiness onto people different than them, not necessarily people who pertain to the group of “white protestants”). People are still good at heart (mostly). We are all just a little lost. I have to break out of my walls and my bars and take a leap, get curious, and start trusting, not only myself, but also others, again. Because honestly, people will always suck and people will always fail me, and I will always fail myself. That doesn’t mean that I have to completely hole myself up in this dark cave that I’ve carved out for myself over these past 3 and half years. (Disclaimer: That all sounds really depressing. I do still find joys in life most of the time but there is this dark part of me that does still exist. The skeptical and cynical side of me).
I hope that, if you are in your own cave too, that you’ll somehow remember that your curiosity in other people and in your own life is valuable, worthy of being chased, and beautiful too.
So, I hope that you will be inspired, too, beauties.