Who are you when there isn’t anyone around to recognise you? Do you know this person? Even if it is but a few brief moments (and it can’t be anything but that because other people have a way of fixing us into specific contexts). Say you’re in a new place, waiting for someone who hasn’t yet shown up. No one knows you. Nobody looks at you or talks to you. You can be and are being ANY PERSON. You start to relax into the ambiguous ether of no labels, no definitions, no judgements, no decisions, no frames, no scripts. Savour that moment. It’s what liberation feels like.
I experienced such a moment three years ago when I was waiting for a friend. I knew the minute she arrived, we’d launch into a vigorous conversation, deep in ideas and rich in nuance. We’d play out dramas and they’d all be great. I paused, taking in a slow breath I realised I may not remember to, once she was in the picture. And I noticed the bird on the wall. And that it matched the flowers on my top. That friend isn’t in the picture anymore and neither are the things we used to bond on. But this moment has stayed.
I’ve played with identities my whole life, most recently and deeply as IdeaSmith, a largely online and occasionally onstage avatar. Each time it began in a place of ANY PERSON. My first blog was even called “A faceless voice. Just a statistic.” Much came from this. Sometimes I find myself weighed down, trapped by the burdens of identity. Then I remember I’ve always got wings. I just need a minute outside the labels.
The universe makes room for us in so many ways we never even notice. It recognises us before our identifiers and our stories. It’s all good. There’s room for you even if you don’t know who you are.
If you don’t like being followed, though, location-based apps and the virtual rewards they offer are not for you. Blogger Ramya Pandyan (right) aka Ideasmithy (http:// ideasmithy.wordpress.com) joined Foursquare in 2010, but deleted her account within a week. “During that time, I must have ‘checked in’ twice,” says the 31 year-old who found the format “engaging and attractive, the way Twitter was, when it first made an appearance”.
“It was a deliberate decision to delete my account. I realised that I could soon be drawn into frequent usage and I didn’t want this level of information about me to be in the public domain. For instance, my favourite haunts, where I was, for how long and how often. I value my privacy and the freedom that the Internet offers me.
Keeping the balance between accessibility and privacy is really tricky. Twitter and Facebook fell in my permissible range while Foursquare didn’t,” says Pandyan.
Ask her why she didn’t forsake the location-based app instead of deleting her account on it, and she says, “It would have been risky to leave the account unused, especially if an option to tag other people came into existence. Other people would be able to point out my location even if I didn’t.”
I must add, reading what the Junejas had to say on this was like facing temptation all over again! I was an avid ZyngaGamer after all so I’m a natural target for any community-based online activity. But I’ll stick to my stand and keep off the lure of mayorship for now!
Short and possibly repetitive, it looks like the rest of Reverb10 is going to be. After all, I guess how many introspective questions can there be for an aspiring writer?
December 18 – Try.
What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn’t go for it?
(Author: Kaileen Elise)
I’ve wanted to live in my own place for years now. I first tried it five years back, a little after I had finished my education and started working. My office was clean across town, took about 90 minutes to commute to and another 90 back home at the end of the day. Most of my colleagues were from out of town and rented flats close to office. I figured out an arrangement with a colleague who I got along with. We even went looking for places together and found a few we liked. And then I broke the news to my family. It was a mess.
In sum, it didn’t work out and resulted in my spending more and more time in commuting and m office hours getting extended too which meant I had practically no time or energy left to do anything else. I didn’t really spend much time in the house either and I hated feeling like a prisoner trapped between four walls, only exchanging one controlled environment for another at the start and then the end of each day.
Five years later, things have changed in more ways than one. The financial implications of moving out are scary. On the other hand, it looks a lot more possible now than it ever was. I’ve crossed the magical 30 mark and hopefully laid to rest notions of my whole life being within the largely male-dominated control of other people.
I am a neat person though I don’t know how tidy I’ll be able to keep my own house. I’m generally well-organized, reasonably independent but I don’t know how self-sufficient I’ll be in reality. I’d love to find out. Maybe next year will be it.
Freedom! Freedom from schedules, from having to be nice to people I think are lower on the evolution scale than amoeba only because it’s ‘professional’, freedom from having to answer to the very constrained, tight-fitting notion of what a good Tamilian girl should be like. This has been a year of breaking ground and breaking barriers. It’s been a year of upheavals and fights and anger and tears. But it has been a year of breaking free.
I appreciate it by enjoying every guilt-free, let-it-hit-me minute of it. From reading to singing to cooking to eating what I like, when I like to dressing as madly as I care to going out with whoever I want to, it’s a heady ride. The way to appreciate wings is by flying. The only way to pay for a good moment is to enjoy it. And I’m jolly well doing it all!
A dozen Reverb10 prompts later, I decide to go with brevity. Freedom but in short. So my posts are going to (try to) be quick bites and not twenty-course meals with seconds. Here goes the first.
December 13 – Action
When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step?
(Author: Scott Belsky)
I’m full of ideas. I’m IdeaSmith, after all (duh..). Actions? No, I’m not too bad in that areas either (sure, hate me, I’m wonderful!). It’s the sustaining them that I find difficult (okay, are you happy now?).
Lists have been my personal penicillin, wheel-style revelation. They help me keep my harum-scarum self organized. They remind of things that tend to slip out. And they’re like the lovely security deposit of ideas I have when I’m running dry. So the answer is, when I have an idea, I usually make a list (haven’t you noticed even this exercise is in a list?). I break the idea into broad zones/aspects, I detail tasks, I note down people to be connected with and what I need from them. List-making is usually an exhaustive exercise but it has the wonderful gift of making everything and anything seem manageable.
Oh, I forgot to add – crossing off things on the list is an integral part of enjoyment of the list. And that’s done and as short as I can get on the first try!
I went on just one date in February. It felt familiar but not identical. I had had a date a lot like this one, over 12 years ago. It was with someone with a very similar background to this date. Back then, we’d spoken about our respective careers, the books we both loved. We’d drunk […]
I LOVED a haircut I had last year. This helped me tide over my uncertainty about a new stylist. When I went back for a trim, somehow things turned out differently. She was so upset, I didn’t get angry. I could see it was an honest mistake. It’s easy to forget styling is an art […]
Women. We are fed a steady diet of messages that other women are the enemy, that women can’t be friends, that women’s relationships with each other can only revolve around a man (Hello Anjali-Tina-Anjali of KKHH). The world looks at us as objects to be exploited and maximised for use. And we’re encouraged to suffer […]
This label is burden. I see a look in my eyes, a look I’ve seen on the faces of divorcees, of women who have been beaten up who’ve moved on, in the fleeting expressions of successful women, old women. Because women only achieve success with age. And success necessarily means surviving very bad men. It […]
I used to think of myself as ‘one of the boys‘, because I didn’t identify with how femininity was practised around me. I wanted to own my intelligence, my independence and strength the way I saw only boys do. I walked, talked and dressed in a close approximation of my male peers – dirty jeans, […]