This topic is very broad and complex and shouldn’t be taken lightly, however my discussion of it is more personal. I am not a conservative person, nor have I ever been, but unfortunately I live in a highly conservative society. The way I was brought up, conflicts with my own views as well as the shared views of the society. I won’t go into detail, but what you need to know is that has led to an inner struggle; a struggle that I’m having a hard time overcome and that is consuming.
Freud claims that people internalize societal values that repress them. That the true source of repression is external, but internalizing it is the way to insure its effectiveness. I happen to agree with that notion. People imprison themselves within themselves, because of values they may not even believe in. This guilt eats away at a person, leaving them hollow. This form of socialization results in generations of blinded people; people who don’t understand the real meaning of what they have been taught until they start questioning it, and by then it’s usually too late. Altering a person’s belief system takes great effort and convincing, however it happens quite often. This brainwashing procedure turns people into ghosts; nameless, faceless beings that are worth nothing. But what I’m talking about isn’t that, what I’m saying is to teach people and have them think for themselves that is what’s difficult.
Questioning beliefs, values and customs is really what inner conflict is about. But that is seen even more, when the values of different cultures start to blend with one another, when logic and rationality conflict with norms and customs; leaving a person torn. Blind faith is easy, believing without comprehending is simple. Analyzing what you were taught to believe isn’t. I hate when someone tells me that something is right or wrong without giving me a reason. It drives me crazy and I consider it an insult to my intelligence. Right and wrong are subjective. Even the worst crime of all is up for debate. Taking a person’s life intentionally is the worst thing anyone can possibly do, however killing a killer is not. That is just a basic example of what I’m trying to say. Thus nothing is concrete and nothing is eternal. Everything changes. But does that change leave people more lost, or does it provide answers? Should one be submissive to societal values and customs or challenge their beliefs and try to understand them? How far does choice really go? Does this fight come to an end?
Sometimes I wish I could just scream, in the hopes that it would bring me some relief!
Fear is one of the most powerful tools of manipulation and repression in existence. As any successful tyrant would know, the best way to control people is to make them afraid. There are two kinds of fear: external (mostly punishment: fines, prison…etc.) and internal. External fear is pretty straight forward and isn’t as effective as one would imagine. It’s when that external fear becomes internalized that it turns problematic. Because it’s the internal fear that truly represses and paralyzes a person. The fear that a person is socialized to believe in, the fear that is created through past experiences and the fear that a person forces on him/herself. No amount of external fear can ever be more powerful than that. The key to abuse fear is to make it a norm and to make a part of a person’s life.
But much like any other extreme emotion (love, hate, anger…etc.) fear is usually irrational. Fear of the unknown, of failure, of the future, of love, of rejection, of commitment, of getting hurt, of being alone, of people’s judgment, of taking risk…etc. none of them are sound reasons why a person would oppress themselves. However they all become obstacles that obstruct one’s life from moving forward. Why am I talking about this? Because I know a lot about internal fear, I would much rather not say how. It takes guts to confront your fears, but most people wonder if they should? The answer is: yes. That being said, even if one knows that; a lot of people are cowards and choose not to confront them.
Living in fear is not a life, no matter what people might say. In cultures where people are raised to believe that they need to live within rigid boundaries, fear is quite common. But when does fear become too much? There is a fine line between propriety and suffocation. My heart is racing and my hands continue to shake as I write this, not because of the words that I’m typing, but for reasons that I will not be discussing (and coffee). Here’s my question to you: Is living in fear worth it?
Feel free to respond, this question is not entirely rhetorical.
Today I’m going to be completely honest with you; something I haven’t done before. Not to say that there wasn’t truth in my previous entries, but today I’ve decided to be more open. For most of my life I’ve felt that being alone was the worst thing in the world. However as I grew up, I came to realize that it might not be such a bad thing. When you’re alone no one can possibly hurt or disappoint you, but more importantly you can never hurt, disappoint or lose anyone. I know that loneliness leads to many psychological diseases; but there are times, when being alone is just easier.
I feel that I’ve been fucking up my own life. I’m usually quite organized, but when it comes to my personal life somehow I’ve managed to make one colossal mistake after the next. It’s possible that subconsciously I’ve been pushing people away on purpose. I’ve always been defensive, for reasons I won’t get into, and now I doing it for no reason. I’m being bitchy to my friends and family for the slightest irritation. Today I hurt a friend of mine and I don’t think he’ll forgive me. I crossed a line, it was unnecessary, idiotic and inexcusable but I did it anyway. I went out to dinner with two close friends and my sister. I was really looking forward to it and it was going great until that point. I was so frustrated and upset that I ended up leaving early. Being alone makes me secure, because I know that there is no one for me to disappoint, not even myself.
Have you ever wished that you could go back in time and change something? If you could change this one day or one incident, maybe not even drastically, your life would never be the same. Maybe you wanted to say goodbye to a person you lost, or reverse a mistake you knew you shouldn’t have made or cease an opportunity that you allowed to pass by.
I have had many chances in my life, and I’ll probably have many more. However I don’t always make use of those chances, I let them pass me by either out of fear, indifference at the time, or not seeing what is right in front of my eyes. Lately there have been a few of moments in my life I’ve been recalling and hoping for a different outcome. But obviously that can never happen; because once a moment has passed its passed forever.
For the past couple of days I’ve been replaying one particular memory over and over again. As if I’m trying both to hold on to it as well as change it. As if I’m forcing my mind to distort the memory, so it would appear the way I want it to appear. I’ve been holding on to one moment of spontaneity that made me feel so alive. I’m trying to recreate that feeling as well as alter the memory slightly. I didn’t take full advantage of a situation, on purpose and for a good reason, however every time I look back at it all I see is what I didn’t do. It irritates me that I’m obsessed by it and it irritates me even more that I didn’t seize that moment.
As I’m writing this, I can see the scene before my eyes. It’s taunting me, because I won’t be able to feel that way right now or anytime soon. So I keep replaying what I want to see and stopping before the part I regret. Don’t ask me what is that moment, how it made me feel or why is it significant. All these questions are irrelevant. But I would like you to think of this, if there is one moment in your life you would like to relive which would it be? And have you ever felt the need to replay a certain memory in order to try and reconsider it?
Most of the decisions I’ve made regarding my education were made for the wrong reasons. Around the time you become a teenager, you are fed this notion that you have to take specific classes, in order to choose a major that will land you the best job; putting into consideration that the definition of a good job actually means a more lucrative job. I’m sorry to say I bought it, believing that the only way to get a “good” job is to have a “prestigious” major; regardless of what really makes you happy or what you’re truly passionate about.
As a freshman in college I chose the wrong major, which I then changed, due to this particular mind-set and I’ve regretted it ever since. It made me feel like a failure, not to mention it destroyed my grades and my self-esteem. This brings me to my second point: grades, the merit you are given for conforming to the traditional outlook on learning. Grades have become like a game to me. Each assignment is worth a certain percentage of my grade in a particular class, and all the classes added up make your overall grade, therefore each assignment is worth a certain number of points and the more points you achieve the higher your chances to make it to the next level. It has all turned into a game, the excessive need to earn grades, and to get a degree have overshadowed the real reason why one goes to college, to learn. Then again students don’t really choose what they want to learn.
It is true one chooses their major, supposedly based on their interests; however you don’t actually choose what to learn. I just watched a movie called Accepted, which is about a boy who gets rejected by every university he applies to, so he decides to create his own university. And in it, students are given the chance to create their own curriculum and choose what they what to learn. I realize of course that this is completely unorthodox and unfeasible, however learning something because you really want to learn it, is the only way it will actually be of any value to you. I recently read a history book, because I wanted to read it, not because it was assigned to me or because I was required to read it, but because I really wanted to. I’m not particularly fond of sitting in a classroom while listening to someone talk about a topic I may not even be interested in, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like learning. I love learning new things; I would just prefer doing it on my own terms.
Today is the day that every Egyptian is celebrating throughout the country, the day when the people had a voice, the day that restored dignity to every Egyptian, the day that lead to a vicious dictator being dethroned. A year ago today Egyptians were fighting for their rights and their freedom, but now they are celebrating a victory while voicing their concerns and demands. Even though the country hasn’t been in its best shape this past year, the historical achievement that took place was to an extent worth it. But let us really review the events of the past year: 18 days of protests leading to the death of hundreds and the stepping down of the president, Strikes, protests and the destruction of public property and historical artifacts, an increase in inflation and unemployment rates, lack of security but on the upside fair parliamentary elections. The Egyptians were celebrating their victory today; I, on the other hand, was celebrating something completely different.
Twenty years ago I was born on, what is now, a historical day. So rather than celebrating the revolution, I celebrated ,my birthday. Last year I spent my birthday with my best friend, in my living room eating pizza and cheesecake while watching the news and tweeting. It was a very memorable birthday to be completely honest, but that wasn’t how I had planned on spending it. This year I celebrated my birthday with a group of my friends last Thursday; definitely an improvement from last year. I made sure that I have it earlier so my birthday doesn’t get ruined two years in a row.
Today I had the mouth-watering cheesecake that I had last year and spent my official birthday with my mom and my sister. Even though this year I actually had a birthday celebration nothing will ever top my 19th birthday. It was a unique and highly memorable experience, which made me feel a part of something bigger than me; something great. It made me feel that I was a part of history.
People are born free. As they grow up they become restricted by duties, obligations, the law and societal norms. As people grow up they are required to take on more responsibilities that will undoubtedly restrict their actions. That is the natural order of life; a fact that every person learns to accept with age. The law is the most formal restriction known to man. It is set by the government of any state as guidelines to maintain stability in the state. No laws will lead to anarchy, which will inevitably lead to chaos. The laws however do not direct a person’s morals, his ability to differentiate between right or wrong; God gave each of us a conscience for that. One’s conscience is one’s inner judge. People with no conscience, can feel no guilt and have no remorse for their actions, , have the law to answer to. That is not to say that everyone else isn’t subject to the law. I am merely saying that those people in particular will only be answering to the law, because their inner judge does not exist.
All of this however is not the real topic I would like to discuss. There is another factor that judges people and restricts their behavior and that is society; societal norms and values that are imbedded in every culture. In some cultures, like the one I live in for example, they are not only restrictive but oppressive. Of all of the restrictions mentioned above this, in my opinion, is the worst, because it is done by people who have no right to restrict anyone but themselves. These norms are taught to a child at a young age, and as he/she grows up he/she is expected to live by those norms and values as well as conform to the society’s believes; whether that person likes it or not. It is ok if that person believes in those values and acts based on such beliefs.
The problem however occurs when that person doesn’t. You can say, why not rebel? The answer: rebellion has a lot of consequences, including being criticized and judged. In such an oppressive social system any word that is said or any action that is done may, unfortunately, have a negative connotation. Every person around you sets him/herself as a judge, which can easily make life suffocating and intolerable. Therefore the best way a person can be freed, is if he/she were released from the chains of the oppressive society. But if the people are oppressing each other there is no hope for freedom for anyone in such a culture.