(reposted from Facebook)
For the phone calls and messages and emails.
There was such an unexpectedly overwhelming amount of responses to my last post that I wanted to really put effort into addressing them.
Firstly, I’m not depressed, I promise! Admittedly, that post was written at a bit of an emotional low, but emotions are fleeting, fickle, and can be stabilized with some good ol’ rationality and open-hearted conversation.
Secondly, I always have been, and always will be, so eternally grateful to those who stand in solidarity. From the incredible people in my IDS program, to those who I’ve met through Oxfam, to the globally minded individuals littered throughout every facet of society – my spirits aren’t crushed because I know I am not truly alone in my unfettered passion for a better world.
I had an informational interview once with Oxfam Canada’s ED Robert Fox, and asked him what it was that allowed him to maintain hope while facing issues of seemingly insurmountable poverty. He noted the incremental yet still significant changes he witnessed in the communities he was working with. What stuck with me most was when he said that some people don’t have the luxury to give up, they have to survive. And that hit me. It is a luxury to be apathetic, enjoying the winnings of life’s lottery being born into a peaceful time in an affluent place. I’m all for gratitude-inspired happiness, but there seems to be an intrinsic obligation to care for those who aren’t as lucky, because that’s all it came down to at our conception – luck.
Thirdly, part of my last post’s sentiments was a result of an academic existential crisis. To provide more context, part of what triggered the emotional reaction was coming out of my class, where we’re studying the utter shithole of a global recession we are currently in. Without delving into the incredibly complex economic issues (in which my still-naive mind is scratching the surface), I’ll just say that it feels like we are trapped in this perverse capitalist system which is inherently self-destructive yet the only thing preventing its utter collapse is a continual feeding of its own manufactured lies. That class reminded me of this highly recommended TedTalk: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZsp_EdO2Xk
The reason I said existential crisis is because it brought my mind back to my chosen field of study, Development Studies, an oft critiqued field with shadows of neo-colonialism. A professor once said that when studying a field like development, if you don’t have an existential crisis once in a while, you’re not doing it right. It makes me wonder sometimes what I’m trying to do learning about issues abroad and advocating for local, grassroots development, while sitting in the comfort of my home on my expensive laptop. I have been seriously considering switching my focus to the world of international finance lately but can’t quite tear myself away from the selfish desire to travel abroad through my co-op program.
And boy it is selfish, to have the incredible opportunity to be immersed in an entirely new culture imposing my ideas and my supposedly superior Western education.
All I ever wanted was to be useful.
Last, back to loneliness.
They say, home is where the heart is.
But my heart sometimes extends so far beyond these borders to places I’ve never been to people I’ve never met, it’s completely and utterly irrational.
I lose sight of the present, the here, the now.
I have taken for granted the people around me, my closest friends, my family.
My mom used to lecture me with stories of her church friends who went off to volunteer in ‘developing countries’ for years, leaving behind a broken family with misbehaved children who grew up with mommy-issues and a father, struggling to support his wife’s charitable endeavors. It’s funny when parents try to influence you, because she made me realize I probably shouldn’t ever have kids.
Sometimes, my subconscious is so laden with judgement that I systematically alienate myself as my reclusive alter-ego emerges.
The Louis Vuitton bag flashes in the corner of my eye, while sporting quite possibly the world’s cutest Michael Kors belt I have ever seen, and my instinctual reaction is to think of all that could have been done with the money if it were diverted to something which I, high and mighty me, deemed more worthy. I’d trade my 20 pairs of shoes for just one anti-retroviral any day.
Tired of explaining, usually, I don’t even try.
For they’re just words meant to convey an experience — but just because someone can comprehend the sentiment, does’t mean they can understand, empathize, and feel the emotion.
And although I know there are so many incredible people out there who are similarly minded, I think the most painful thing is when those closest to you don’t understand.
And a part of you wishes there was that someone who would jump on a plane with you on that service trip (academic critique aside), no hesitation, because they genuinely felt and understood why.
But instead it has been me breaking down, my vulnerabilities and innermost thoughts on display, to loving but worry-laden consolation hugs.
And in that moment, it feels lonely.