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Personal Writing Resolutions

Lockdown Diaries: The Marvel of Washing Up

When all is said and done there will be serious questions about various governments handling of the pandemic. Some choices – Eat Out to Help Out – will hopefully be roundly criticised. Others – spacing out the vaccination schedule – I hope will be viewed in the context of gambles that sometimes must be taken.

In the meantime though we have to each learn to bear with it in the best way we can. For me this means getting involved again with community work – this time through the fantastic London Renters Union who are in the process of setting up a full branch in my borough of Tower Hamlets. Definitely join them if you rent in the capital! For others I know this has been done with bread baking, or DIY.

I am learning to find pleasure in smaller things these days. Washing up dishes to the sounds of the Talking Heads. Among Us games with friends spread across the globe. A fluffy cat whose joy in life is staring out my bedroom window at the comings and goings of Whitechapel.

I haven’t written a New Years blog for a while now. In a way this is because everything globally always seems so much, and I get trapped in wanting to explain the world before I talk about myself. Consider this as a late one and an incomplete one. 2020 was a strain, but as always things blossom in the midst of shit. I know more about myself and I know more about where I want to take myself.

I started this blog back in 2015 after finally deciding to leave a stressful job and move into the political field. It’s been interesting ever since, but I’m reminded how much more faith I have in myself these days. It creeps up, ever so slowly altering within yourself until one day you take for granted that it has always been there. Prospects which seems so alien and out of reach back then are now simply lists of accomplishments.

Years might just be the way we make sense of time, but I like their opportunity for reflection. 2021 might have the same flavour as the year before but it is a stretch I am excited about. There is a fire that has been lit, cultivated by quiet reflection, and I am ready to do more of what I enjoy and prioritise that over others expectations. I have plans I am building, not quite ready to be revealed yet, but I look forward to sharing them when they are.

In the meantime I’ll be singing along with “This Must Be The Place” while I rinse out my cafetiere.

Categories
Personal Writing Resolutions

The Year of Consequence (and 2018, the Year to Come)

Someone recently said to me that 2017 wasn’t actually the year that everything went haywire – that was the year before. 2017 is the year we had to live with the tumultuous votes we made before it started. And, like with the realm of politics, for me 2017 has also been the year of decisions coming home to roost.

The consequences of 2016 linger. Both the good and bad have set the world on a course I’m not sure I can fully appreciate just yet. 2018 will perhaps be the climatic third act, the soothing of the horrors, where we recognise the error of our ways. The pessimist in me says that things always continue much the same, sometimes better, generally worse, and relying on fables of how things ought to turn out is really an excuse to not try too hard to change anything.

For myself, the consequences of 2016 have manifested in a way that makes 2018 feel like the ‘make it or break it year’. In March I applied to my Masters course – now I have an M.A. in Politics and Society and the beginnings of another language. My elegant new fuck-it attitude, inspired by spectacularly and permanently breaking up a close friendship due to an email in November 2016, meant I pursued a meaningful thesis topic rather than something bland and easier to sell to relatives. I ummed and ahhed over it, until my thesis supervisor simply said “Rushaa, you know what you want to do” and that was enough permission to throw myself into something I consider one of the best pieces of work I’ve ever written.

For so long consequence and failure seemed synonyms in my mind. Consequence has such a gravity to it that I could only envision it as something I did ending badly. I spent a lot of my time and energy dealing with an impostor syndrome that permeated every inch of my life. My anxieties of not being good enough have roots in many places; I tend to find it hard to trust that those close to me aren’t lying that I have talent. This is partially why I enjoy and thrive in academic spaces, as praise there seems more legitimate.

This is perhaps also why 2017 and dealing with what it caused, failures included, has been so good for me. Fuck-it attitudes work out temporarily, but it can’t be denied that they’re also deeply tied to the idea that you’re not actually valuable enough to need to worry about the consequences. These past few months I’ve been looking over the small choices I made in 2016 that have been positive, and then picking others to make now in order to best set 2018 up as a year where I can continue trying to accept appreciation without greeting it with scepticism.

Achievements in a capitalist system are always so tied to production that it can be hard to recognise internal growth as a success in itself. Status is earned in how many pounds we pull in, and how many people know our name. I am not saying I am now immune to this (far from it – I have been feeling stagnant because I am missing that social validation from a monthly salary) but I want to give space to feel proud of how different I’ve become and how willing I am to be weak, vulnerable, and most importantly let myself risk feeling resented or pitied for the chance to articulate my feelings.

The first post I ever wrote for this blog was supposed to change everything. It was freshly 2015 and I wanted to do something great with my life, aware that much of that motivation stemmed from a desire for external praise. The next year I was tempered, coming to the conclusion that life is actually about the minutiae of changes you make day-to-day that gradually lead to a wholesale transformation. Last year I just wanted to deal with political chaos by helping others and pretend that I didn’t also need help myself.

2018 will be about carrying a new confidence built from internal validation. I know that it will be messy but I am hoping that – just as 2016’s impact still lingers – my intentional interventions will reverberate across next year.