Of Infuriation

I always identified myself as a happy person. And I was, truly. Think of songs like Drops of Jupiter, which describe girls with happy smiles, not a care in the world, bursting into dances, hair flying with ease in the summer. The songs about laughs that make you smile, so infectious that you just cannot be grumpy around these people. Think Colbie Caillat, beach movies and young love. Things that can brighten your day by just thinking about them. I saw these movies, heard their music and strived to be that girl. And for the most part – it was easy, it came naturally to me. I think I did actually become that girl.

But then something along the way changed. Do not roll your eyes, this is not a post about teenager angst. Yes, we all change as we grow up. Maybe because we deal with more intense stuff, or maybe because we envision the worst. Most of us become this way- a little less happy, a lot more guarded as we grow up. I guess you could categorise this as the same story.

My story is a little more different. I’ve become a very angry person. The worst kind, at that. I’m the person who internalises their anger. I do not yell at unsuspecting friends for no reason, nor do I shout out at family when they ask me something. I’m the kind that clenches my teeth and then realises that someday they’re all going to turn to powder. I’m the kind who slowly, has become a recluse because whatever anyone says just manages to piss me off. I’ve become the person who would not believe in the problems you have and you rant to me about, because I believe I have the biggest problems in the world. But when I think why am I possibly so angry? What could be the reason? There really is not anything out there. Sure, I’ve had my issues with boys, maybe grades, sometimes even friends. People have disappointed me, but hasn’t that been the case with everyone?

What is it that changes us completely, from the fibre of our being? Not a temporary sadness, but just constant bitterness. A state of being, that we do not recognise ourselves? As you meld away from what you used to be, something that defined you everyday, each day and become the complete opposite of that. There has to be some reason to that, surely? It cannot be so easy to change 21 years of actions and reactions?

I find myself being curious about the when more than the what and the why. I have reasons in my head as to why I’m angry, and that’s a story for another time. But when? At what point did I become someone so different? Was it a gradual change that I’m just realising now? Or did I wake up one day and had all this anger inside of me? Moreover, how long does this last? Is this a phase, or is this who I’m going to be now? Someone who is bitter at 21. Not a very exciting thing to look forward to.

Maybe (Hopefully) we work out our issues. Maybe we don’t. Maybe this is who I’m going to be. The truth is, I’m not really going to ever know. And that, that uncertainty really scares the shit out of me. But hey, someday I might just hear Drops of Jupiter again, and think that the song is definitely about me and dance to the beautiful music that Train produces.

Why should I care as an Indian millennial woman?

Yesterday, for the first time in the last six months of my work life, I went late to work. The US elections were a nail biting start to the day. I waited till 10 am to focus completely on the elections, snatching TV from my business channel obsessed mother, just so I could follow CNN. It was at this point that the crushing Florida defeat was announced. When I finally did reach work, I was refreshing Politico every five minutes. It was essential to do so, because at this point Trump was at the 266 mark. And then, the 101st time I refreshed, I saw the verdict. 276. It was there, in black and white for every one to see. I ran up from my desk to stare at the TV screen in the pantry, just waiting – waiting for Trump to gloat.

I didn’t see his speech. I stormed out of the room when my colleagues started discussing the elections. I didn’t understand why I felt so passionate about it. Historically, it has been proven that Republicans are good for India. Trump, especially is a supporter of India. He does love all “Hindus and Indians” after all. I thought of the various reasons this made me so angry – Hillary Clinton came with her own set of issues, it should not be surprising that there was intense distrust among people. Sure, Trump is racist – his ideas of immigrants and walls definitely put me off. I felt bad for Obama, for all he has done for universal healthcare and for LGBTQ rights. My heart wept for them all. But this was bigger than feeling bad. I was angry. I was frustrated. I wanted to lash out.

Huge disclaimer here: I am a political science student, I can be pretentious if I choose to, I have the millennial confused Centre-Left leanings. So yes, I would be affected as an inquisitive person or as a student of the subject. But it was more than that, for sure. And then I realised it – as I saw Hillary’s concession speech. I was feeling attacked, personally. I don’t think Hilary lost because she was a woman. I think she lost because of who she is as a person and being a woman. It frustrated me to read comments about her private email server and not as much about walls and Mexicans and gays and abortions. I felt personally attacked when I read comments by Republicans talking about the manic look in her eyes. They think she was too keen. She was too ambitious.

How dare she, right? How dare the most qualified woman to stand for office, with decades of experience and years of educational training in the field think that she deserves the position? Why should she be sure of holding one of the most coveted (debatable) offices in the world? I live in a country where the most powerful women politicians have to be Mummy or Didi to gain respect. We have had a woman president already, and it’s a fact that most women wish to forget (never forgive). Hillary lost because she was a go-getter. She knew she deserved something and she admitted that she did. She was unapologetic. She came across as too knowledgeable.

You should have an opinion, but not be too assertive. It is something you hear everyday. And in so many ways, this is worse than blatant sexism. It is not easily identifiable and it is something that is forgotten easily. It is systemic. It starts as a college student sitting for best paying placements when your male friends joke- asking you why you need a firm with the highest salary. It builds up to women in the workplace who are shamed for working 12 hours a day or being a partner because they networked too much or got too many clients. It goes on to the most well-deserving person when they stand for public office.

It does discourage me as a millennial woman. I feel bad for all the first time voters in America who cannot believe the verdict. I wonder what the point is of being unapologetic of who you are. It confuses me what society perceives me as. It disappoints me that it is 2016 and the term development clearly still connotes economic progress. But then I read this:  “And to all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.” – and it ignites a passion that I thought I’d lost.

Never be jaded. Be ambitious. Be keen. Be driven. Be assertive. Be unapologetic. Believe in what you deserve. And someday, the world will accept these to be good things, even though you are a woman.