By: Konijja Jaannah
2020: The Year of the Pandemic.
My life’s perception changed. When I started to see the truth, the real truth of life. What it meant. What it meant for you to live here. What we know subconsciously, but what nobody tells us.
We are taught to not trust strangers, those who are our guardianships are those who are related to us or have been appointed to be our guardians. And at one point, I believed it. I believed that a normal familial environment is your home, a place of safety. But I am a woman. I am first a woman before I am anything else before I am a daughter, sister, friend, or romantic interest. I am a woman. I am a woman who went through physical growth, I am now a woman with shaped and widened hips, rounder and bigger breasts, and a curved butt. And as a woman living in this jaded and unfortunate society with big breasts, these two-ballooned tissue fat have changed the precedent of my life. I am no longer safe in my environment. I say as a woman, yet there is a grey area because even as a girl you are exposed to the dangers of people, you have terribly pained events inflicted on you by people around you because of your autonomy, and the physical body you wear. Thus, it begs the question of what does safety mean for females? Every woman I know (me included) has stories of assault that have been done by the people around them rather than the strangers in passing. So, what does anything we are taught mean?
“To survive, mammals must determine friend from foe, evaluate whether the environment is safe, and communicate with their social unit.”
The gradual growth of transforming from a girl to a woman will inevitably expose you to more misfortunes as you exist in this society. For me, the realisation occurred when living with my grandma in the summer of 2020, keeping her company in her empty home as she battles her elderly age of illness and loneliness. Before the pandemic, men were too busy with capitalism and laboured work to notice females other than their wives until their world halted. They had nowhere to go and are now stuck with their wives who nagged, and the light bickering turned into heated and daily arguments. Their shadowed nature leaked, leaked, leaked until it spilt onto you. A 22-year-old girl who had fluctuated due to eating healthier and better, who had stronger bones which led her to have fatter tissues in her chest became the fallen target. You have become the prey, and the attacker is the one who is ‘meant’ to protect you, that is ‘meant’ to keep you safe. He briefly touches the top of your butt but, watches, and watches, and watches your changed bodily chest.
“The perception of safety determined whether the behaviour will be prosocial (i.e., social engagement) or defensive.”
I found the meaning of life in 2022. After I graduated in Psychology that year, I felt loneliness, and it was a strange emotion because I am so comfortable with being alone, solitude is my second skin. I did wonder where did the loneliness stem from, and it was the thought that nobody cares, there is nobody really here for you, and nobody really sees you. There is no capacity for care, they cannot pick you up, and they cannot save you. They cannot stop the growing pains and the traumatic sting that befriends you, they cannot do a thing for you. In this fast-growing society, they have to think for themselves, and have their own healing to do. It is the realisation that it is you that will have to save yourself, you must find the light yourself, to find strength and escape. Nobody can do it for you.
Dealing with the muddy stuff and the shadow of the person I have become, made me ask what did this life mean? What does it mean to live amongst all these jaded folks who are also going through the darkness? What I have learnt in the midst of keeping myself afloat, and emulating anti-social behaviour with a splash of avoidance behaviour is that we are alone. We are not alone technically as we are 8 billion people living in this world, but in actuality we are alone. Of course, you have family, friends, and lovers, but they don’t owe you anything at all. They will have limited ability to help you. You are the one who has to save yourself. I didn’t know how significant the notion of feeling safe was until I lost the essence, the notion, of the person’s presence who enveloped me with safety. Where once upon a boy from many years ago kept me safe until it didn’t come to me anymore. It’s blocked energy.
The truth? For one to feel safe is everything. It is the mere essence that allows our mental, spiritual, and physical being to flourish and that feeling cannot be given by anybody else. I came across this passage in a book about enlightenment written by Osho: “People don’t want to be responsible; they are afraid of responsibility. They want someone else to take care of them; they always need guardians. These are the people who are getting neurotic because the guardians are no longer there. In fact, they were never there; you believed in them and they were there only because you believed in them. Now the belief has disappeared, they have also disappeared. They were created by your belief.” Reading this, thinking about our conditioned state makes me understand how immobile the system of our society is. The norms, values, and social constructs that we believe in don’t essentially mean anything.
I discovered the power of aloneness at a very young age, but it has a new meaning now. It is my safety, defence, and ailment. I wish people were enlightened by aloneness. It is a known fact that we are social beings, we need the feel of community and people to thrive and connect. That being said, we should be comfortable with solitude too. It is you who has to move to the light, to the healing. And as I seek to be safe, I have found hope to be my vessel, to be my will to live. It is an addicting sensation that makes you feel excited about the future despite, the plot twists of your life. And hope is what I swathe myself in as I wait to be admitted to the school(s) within the city of New York for MFA Creative Writing (Fiction). It is the city that made me feel the most alive, made me fall in love with the people and culture, and made me feel the most at peace within their community. It revived the feeling to live. To hope is to live. To hope is to give me a reason to live and hope has given me a choice to seek safety. Because feeling safe is all that we have.
PORGES, S.W. (2003), Social Engagement and Attachment. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1008: 31-47. https://doi.org/10.1196/annals.1301.004
Enlightenment Is Your Nature: The Fundamental Difference Between Psychology, Therapy, and Meditation. (2017). United Kingdom: Watkins Media.