Of Privileges and Expectations

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a privilege is a right or benefit that is given to some people and not others while expectation is a belief that something will happen or is likely to happen.

Privilege is seen as a horrible thing right now, which it is. Expectations would lead to disappointment, which is kind of true.

In my opinion, the two goes hand in hand. Having certain privileges entails certain expectations. And I hate both with a vengeance that most people do not know but may have noticed somewhat.

I do know that having a privilege is a blessing. It’s not something that everyone has, that’s the very definition of the word. It is unfair, society tells us. It is truly unfair, for others have to toil while others already have them in the first place. It is unfair when both person almost similar in personality, in effort, in everything except certain situations have to experience different things. Having a privilege means you’re expected to be successful in whatever way you were lucky to be born with. “Oh! You’re a daughter of a businessman? You should already have knowledge of becoming one!”. A ridiculous statement but you can hear this in different conversations, some subtle, some explicit, in different ways of saying.

I am privileged, I knew that since I was a kid, and I disliked it. Why should I have this when others don’t have what I have. Do I even deserve this? I was just a kid lucky enough to be born in a well-off family. I already knew that. I worked hard and tried my best to do what I have to do and that was to be a proper student and an obedient daughter. I tried to apply everything I learned and I took every lesson to heart that most of my friends would tell me I take things too seriously but it was my way of keeping my earn, of trying to help the world and getting rid of that privilege in my own way by doing my job. I would help when asked to help because it was my way of giving back, even if I knew in reality it does something so small it amounts to nothing. I’m idealistic, not naive. At least I tried, is what I would tell myself, to keep from killing a part of myself.

I grew up and entered high school where I somehow learned in an environment without the expectation of doing well because of my name, a privilege. That was a first. No one to expect a single thing from me because I was the first one in my family to enter the high school. It was refreshing and nice. I only had to deal with the privilege of having everything I need to study and live comfortably. Sounds arrogant right? Did I ask to be born this way? Did the others who were born in a different capabilities, different area, different family, different social status, ask to be born that way? Does everybody know the struggles that everyone has to live with? It is often said that Allah (SWT) does not burden a person beyond his capacity.

College happened. The university I went to is the premiere university of the country that I live in. I foolishly thought it was a privilege for me to enter into it, not because of the university’s difficult entrance exam, not because of their excellence, but because of my family’s capability to send me to a good school and training since I was a kid. There were unspoken expectations that went with my privilege. My siblings already went there, how could I not, there must be something wrong with me if I didn’t pass. It is a state university, our education was subsidized by the government. Students and other activist would often protest, education is a right not a privilege. It is a right, but the reality is higher education became a privilege which is unfair to everyone. I tried to ignore and just continued on studying, because I knew not to waste the opportunities given to us. We were expected to give back to the country, and we will someday, and in our own different ways right now.

And then law school happened. Certain privileges and expectations became more glaringly obvious. It was only then I realized how truly blessed I was to enter my undergraduate university when I met different people, who were so amazed by the fact that I went to there. I thought nothing of going there, because it was a privilege I took for granted, and I thought it was only expected of me to go there. Not everyone can afford to go law school, not everyone has the support of the family to pursue such field much like medicine. I knew that, I knew it was selfish of me to chase after it because of my personal reasons but I still did. But not many understand or realize the expectations that came with my decision to push with it, expectations not only from myself, not only from my family but also from the school and from everyone else who knows where I stand.

My dislike turned into hatred and I tried hard not to use what others would deem as a privilege as much as possible, it bolstered my desire for independence, and I hated expectations to the point that I turned to self-sabotage and impression management to prevent anyone from expecting things. Stupid right? How will my not using my privilege be of use to anyone unless I transfer it to them. How will destroying myself help anybody. How can I even disown myself from what I was born with without destroying relationships.

I just did not want anyone saying to me, that I got where I am solely because I am privileged, even if it is true, even if it is undeniable. I did not want anyone saying to me that I did not even try, to stop what I perceived as an injustice, an inequality, because it hurts. I tried, I worked somehow, I did what I could considering whatever issues and illness I have to struggle with that is considered by others as first world problems. I’m idealistic, not naive. I tried to kill the idealistic side, it almost died, but I realized I want to keep it, I’m fighting hard to keep it in this society.

Privilege and expectations take away the sweetness and pureness of hard work, it demotivates people, makes people arrogant, makes people self-absorbed. That is why, I admire honest and hardworking people so much, who did what they have to do properly to get where they are right now.

One day, some day, the system, the society that has perpetrated the toxic inequality and injustice will go down. Nobody will have the excuse of having or not having a privilege, there will only be honest to goodness effort and hard work. No more expectations, only goals.

Until then, there’s only prayer and hard work. Ora et Labora. Because Allah is Mercy, He is also Justice, and He can do things which we cannot do, but we have to do our part.

Contrary to popular belief, I’m idealistic, not naive. Let’s make this work step by step.

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Confessions of a girl being haunted

Ever since I was a kid, I have always been followed by the ghosts of my mistakes. They rarely go away. So I made a lot of steps in order to escape them.

I would try to get rid of them first, by saying sorry, by identifying what I did wrong, by promising I won’t do it again. I’ll be better, I promise, just stop bothering me please, just stop whispering in my heart.

I would then try my best to avoid them. I’m not a perfectionist merely for the sake of being one. Making no mistakes means there’s no new ghost to haunt you.

I would also avoid activities that make them appear, like being a burden, asking help from people, failing subjects, disappointing people,  hurting people, getting things that I want, being selfish, disturbing others. Every activity that I need to do is scrutinized, on whether or not I will be chased by guilt after I do this or that, whether or not I could handle the ghost that would appear. Sometimes I’d realize that they appear with people. So yes my aversion to people might be contributed to the things that are haunting me.

Most of the time I would and could just ignore them, because denial is the name of the game for survival, and I would go on my merry way while pretending there is nothing whispering in my ears that I don’t deserve anything, don’t deserve to live, that the world is practically better off without me existing, that I’m too much of a burden, do something about it.

I can convince them into keeping quiet by praying. Other times, I also have a baseball bat ready, because I beat up the metaphorical ghosts to shut them up because I can’t think. It’s crowding my mind, hush I’ll handle you after all these things. Which is maybe why it irks me when an outsider tries to correct me, even though I know they only have good intentions, and even if it is for my own good, because it’s harder to convince them, and I can’t beat them until they shut up unlike the ghosts always staying beside me, residing in me. It takes too much energy when you’re already fighting something inside, so I’ll just nod blankly and say yes, yes I know. The voice inside my head already told me so, please tell me something I don’t know.

So when I was given a chance to chase after another dream, the ghost I aptly called accounting (I confess to killing that dream because I couldn’t, wouldn’t let anyone take it away from me, only I can take it. Bwahahaha. No. Seriously. I did kill it voluntarily). It almost fooled me into killing another one. But I told myself no, no more ghosts, no more dream killing. Stop bothering me.

Unfortunately when I decided to chase after the new dream, a new ghost appeared and started whispering things like I am such a burden to everyone around me, how weak I am that I had to ask help from other people to get what I want, how stupid I was to not prepare beforehand when I already knew what I needed, what should have been done, how useless that I don’t have my own income to support myself, questioning me whether it’s all worth it, whether I am worth it.

With my trusty bat and skills in denial, such ghosts will have to be ignored until they go away and/or are exorcised. So pardon me if I seem spaced out or loopy, it would be just one of my ghosts bothering me.

I’m fine even if I’m kinda not fine inside. I’ll be fine as always. Nobody can see what’s inside anyway, except maybe for those who have x-ray vision.

Before anyone calls an exorcist or a psychologist out of concern for my well-being, please don’t worry. God already has me. There is no power nor might except Allah. 🙂

 

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Clumsy

I thought I’d try writing short stories again. So I did. Plus I wanted to let things out.

“I trip. But I always get up. I don’t understand why people think tripping is a big deal. Unless you trip down a flight of stairs and end up in a hospital, that’s another matter. I would trip from time to time, because I’m only human, a clumsy one but I’m human. Normal people trip right? It just so happens that I fall too often, but I always get up. I always try to get up. I may lie down for a moments, just to get my bearing, but I always get up,” said a girl with a short hair who was lying down on the grass on her back.

“You’ve been lying there for more than thirty minutes,” a boy replied while rummaging around his bag looking for something. “You have to get up sooner or later.”

“I’m just feeling the grass, plus I’m just tired, I thought I could take a lil nap. Is there something wrong with that?” she haughtily said while using her arm to cover her eyes from the glaring sunlight. “And don’t you remember the time I fell in front of the class because of stupid gravity, I got back right up.”

“. . . .” the boy was speechless, not knowing what to say to her or how to even react at her seemingly pointless statements and unusual actions.

“What. I have the right to enjoy the greenery. Plus I was the one who tripped and scraped my knees. Not you,” said the girl, not moving an inch from her position.

“Get up, your knees are bleeding,” the boy offered the girl a hand which she hesitantly took. “Come on, up you go,” he pulled the girl up easily and the girl stood.

“Yeah yeah, but I told you, I always get up, I’ve been doing it on my own all this time,” the girl happily exclaimed as she dusted her clothes.

“Hmm, right. Here. Clean those wounds,” the boy offered the girl a first-aid kit, he was oblivious to the growing turmoil inside the girl.

“Why won’t you understand?” the girl suddenly whispered to herself, not taking the offered object from the boy’s hand.

“I always get up, no matter how many times I fall, no matter how much I just wanted to stay there. I always get up.” the girl repeated out loud, as if to prove to herself and to everybody else something which only she knows.

“We’ve established that, yes. You just tripped and got up again, which is what people do when they fall. So what’s the big deal?”

“It’s not just. . .you. . ” the girl spluttered and realized it was another lost cause. The girl took a deep breath.

“You know what, it’s nothing. Overthinking and things. I’m sorry for acting strange. I’m fine,” she said with a big smile, taking the first-aid kit from his hands with her own shaky ones, both of them noticing it but neither acknowledged. “Thanks.”

I Wish to Live in a Vacuum

I wish to live in a vacuum, a place where I cannot be affected by things, a place where I cannot affect other things, a place where I alone am responsible for my own actions, a place where my actions cannot affect anybody aside from myself, a place where no one will judge me, except me, except the person who saw all that I’ve been through and will understand what it took to make my decisions. A place where I can freely cry, scream, laugh and feel with reckless abandon, without being judged as crazy, without people telling you to stop, that’s not normal, you’re overreacting, get a grip, you’re weak, hide it, keep it, nobody is supposed to see that, such a place I want live in. It gets exhausting to live in this world right now, you know?

At a young age I’ve been told countless of times, to stop crying, it doesn’t do anything, it’s useless, it makes things worse, it makes you uglier. Yeah ok, so I stopped. I tried and stopped crying, as much as possible, as quietly as possible. And when people ask me how to be cold, how to be apathetic like me, I hear a bottle slowly cracking. And when other people catch me at unfortunate times when I try to properly feel my emotions and rearrange myself, and they ask me to stop, I hear the bottle crack further, and it scares me, scares me so much that it will fully break without any chance of repair.

Hell no, that’s not allowed. That’s not possible. You’re not allowed to crack. No. No. No. Not again. Be perfect. Be fucking perfect and smile.

They want you to lie about your feelings. So yes, yes you’re ok, you’re ok, you’re ok. Lie about it to the point you don’t know what’s real anymore. Lie until it becomes the truth. They’ll never know anyway. You’re fine, you’ll be fine.

Does this vacuum exist? Does a place like that really exists?

It does, thank God it does. Literally thank God because such place belong in the Here After, the next world, the final destination, heaven, Jannah Al-Firdaus. And no matter how much I want to go there right now, because it really is suffocating to be living right now, I can’t, you can’t, it’s not yet our time. And when you try to go there improperly, you’ll end up in Hell. So joke’s on you, trying to escape one hell only to arrive at another.

But all is not lost.

So here’s a cute quote that I’m guessing came from Hallmark because it’s on my bookmark. “Hope is not pretending that there’s never any sorrow. It’s the knowledge that our troubles will be overcome tomorrow. It’s the inner strength we call on to sustain us now and then, till our problems lie behind us and we’re happy once again.”

And here’s a little prayer, something to hold on, something to hope with.

“No one of you should wish for death because of some harm that has befallen him, but if he must do that then let him say: ‘O Allaah, keep me alive so long as life is good for me, and cause me to die when death is good for me.’” – Bukhari

Silly wishes can be overcome by sincere prayers.

Do I still wish to live in a vacuum? Maybe. But I know there’s something better, so I pray for that something better.