I looked around my class. I saw people; I could see through them as I looked closer. Having known all these people for years now, the best I could still do was judge superficially and hope to be right, sometimes more often than not, hope to be wrong.

I looked at this guy. The only two mistakes he had ever made were that he was good at math and he thought his parents knew what’s best for him. All through school, all he did was hang on to the fact that at least he was going to be smart. Hardly a fact.  

Characteristic of the black and white extremist society we live in, maybe not explicitly, but he was told that you could only be good at one thing if you want to make it; even trying anything else was unheard of. That’s a stupid gamble if you ask me because you dare not be wrong. Again, maybe not explicitly, he bought this argument and didn’t take part in any sport, grew fat with time, obviously got glasses, and kept his jokes to himself. I know he kept his jokes to himself because of that one day in 8th grade when he said something, and people did laugh but, at him. Nerds can’t attempt humour, obviously, irrespective of whether it turns out to be funny or not. Nothing explicitly said, of course. Yet everything subconsciously believed yet consciously denied. 

Characteristic of the insecure society we’re all born into, empathy is secondary, secondary to our need to establish that we’re better, thereby secondary to hatred. So we pounce on external vulnerability and failure then feel bad later. We dare not acknowledge the need for an apology because that in itself is vulnerability, weak. He pretty much kept to himself after that. Apparently, you can’t really be popular or even a social person if you want to make it as an intellectual. It’s pretty ironic that you have to be this stupid to be smart. 

There was this other girl who sat way behind him, a guarded extrovert not to mention really attractive; most of what she did also stemmed from her clinging on to the fact that there was some appeal that received frequent validation. Ironically being popular doesn’t really mean you have many “friends”; who would’ve thought. 

Someone said that the first step towards removing a problem is to acknowledge it exists, yet talking about your problems is considered, I don’t know, homosexual for some reason. No one really knows a lot about her, a lot of people speak to her, yet I doubt they ever “talk.” 

We really do not question the existence of the boundaries set on ourselves, boundaries that are set on us, by us. We don’t even argue why we do what we do; we tell ourselves that happiness is on the other side. Then we wait and continue waiting, eventually settling for some weird form of happiness-if you want to call it that. You’re only allowed happiness after this form is validated; the more the validation, the bigger your smile is allowed to be. We never sit back and argue whether this checkpoint of validation even exists, whether it should. It takes a good amount of intoxication to let go a bit, to make the checkpoint silently disappear and confront vulnerability, ironically making us “homosexual. ” 

“Imagine being drunk all the time.” 

What if you did not have to be intoxicated? Being a bad dancer should not have to stop you, even without the alcohol. In the end, we do stuff because a lot of people do it, and in this hierarchical chain of happiness, at the very top, sit those who don’t look around, neither up nor down, but look inside. They realize something that we don’t, that happiness is personal and that the world is for you; you are not for the world. Justification for this prejudice comes either from the fact that we’ve unfortunately settled for this bargained version of happiness; or justification by saying it’s for love and that our happiness is intertwined with that of a loved one. We continue to smile for them without really questioning how genuine this co-dependence even is. What even is love if not a further impetus to your happiness? If not, it’s not love. 

Then there’s me. 

I sit,  judge, analyze, and dig deep. Then do nothing.

I know what I feel, why I feel and whether I even should feel. Then do nothing. 

Fear of failure, fear of someone exploiting your vulnerability gets to the best of us even though we realize that courage is the only way out of this loop. In our heads, we blow meaningless threats out of proportion and exaggerate how big of a deal courage even is.

Staying ignorant is soothing at first, yet it creeps up. 

Confrontation is mortifying at first, yet it dies out. 

Courage is the only way out. 

I know all this, yet I think.

I know that I want to, yet all I do is think.

Graphics by: Ankitha Nayak

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