Happy independence day!
This day and the term independence has always held a special place for me. Yes, I am referring to the patriotic feelings and thinking about the feelings that our freedom fighters had, to fight for the country’s freedom from the colonialism of the British.
But, I feel the same feelings of urgency for:
1. Feeling safe as a woman in the country.
2. Feeling safe as a woman, or rather a person, when my parents, my sister and my boyfriend talk about my work and qualifications to people.
3. Feeling safe as a woman, for having whatever body shape I have, and not being reduced or made to feel small because of it.
4. Feeling safe and accepted for the thoughts and opinions I carry, even though it doesn’t fall in the bracket of what’s common and should be said and accepted.
5. Feeling safe and acknowledged for my contribution to people’s mental health and well-being. Rather than my ideas, methods and views being taken by people who use the comfortable influence they have, to gain popularity for it!
6. Feeling safe and proud of people about knowing me through me, and not the basis of people who gossip about me. They don’t know who I am and they are so confused about me that they speak lies.
7. Helping feel people feel safe, if they feel connected to me or my thoughts. My thoughts tend to encourage people to have their own opinions and use critical thinking.
8. Feeling safe, when people get to know, how much I have done, put in and fought for normalising mental health.
I stand for an education which believes it is important to tell to people, help them learn, rather than beating them down with statements of mere acceptance of mental health. You have to understand where they are coming from.
9. Feel safe when as a woman, I stand as more knowledgable than a man or a senior. Yes, I have such accomplishments.
And, I have teachers who feel jealous and misguide people about me… even insult me on the day I was supposed to get an award for my contribution. No one informed me.
In fact, when I asked them, their reply was, “Do you really think you deserve it? You are in second year, only third year people get awards.”
The other one went on to say that my admission in NIMHANS (national institute of mental health and neurosciences), Bengaluru, was secured via bribing the admin, so juniors shouldn’t speak to me.
They also said that my initiative, Psy-Fi, is waste of time and one should only focus on degrees like M.Phil, which makes psychologists seem more acceptable.
These teachers insulted my sister, because she was my sister! And then they tell me to believe in the education system…
10. Feel safe and not lose friends because you don’t want to cook, but build nations. Trust me, there are a lot of people who talk of women empowerment, but they have left me because I’m an empowered woman.
11. Feeling safe and talking healthy about topics which need attention. By talking about taboo topics, I am not asking for sex.
12. Feeling safe and heard when I write lot of emails to people and organisations, to consider me for a job opening, but without an influential person being the mediator.
13. Feeling safe while using social media. I don’t want to feel frustrated about people doing the same things as me and have people who support them just because they speak a sugarcoated language and I stand alone. My family is my only support.
14. Feeling safe and accepted for dating a younger man of my choice, who makes me feel comfortable and not exploited. He makes me feel like: “Jigyasa, you are meant for a bigger purpose.”
15. Feeling safe and accepted as a trainer/teacher. I have done so much for free. I have helped students build and hold on to their opinions. I have made them feel like I have their back.
17. Finally, feeling safe and not receiving rubbish, free lectures on how I’ll look better and beautiful if I reduce weight. I don’t want to be asked about kitchen sets or to learn about them. I don’t want to be judged for wearing mostly Indian clothes… sarees in particular!
Can you imagine this: my boyfriend’s friend spoke to him to leave me, because I was “dominant”. I don’t do “housework” and he likes doing that.
Also, I was helping him with the idea of exploring what he likes than what’s been imposed on him, because, that’s how I discovered myself!
I was also molested by my school’s dance teacher’s assistant, because I wanted to get through the dance group of the school. I wanted to get through because I knew dance and not because I was slim or beautiful. He exploited the insecurities of a young girl in the seventh standard.
18. To feel safe and accepted as a person suffering from ADHD; and to not be called out for it, by colleagues, psychiatrists, guides etc. Because, when you have ADHD, you have an area of interest where you feel hyper focused about and have continuous thoughts running around it.
The list is never ending. People feel like you are okay and take you for granted. Sometimes, you feel intimidated and give your thoughts straight up. They can end up insulting you. This happened with me.
While I was doing my fellowship on mental health education from NIMHANS, I took some classes to mentor them on larger issues.
But since I was occupied with other things too, I was telling a specific group to slow things down when they speak about mental health. They took offence to it.
Because they were psychiatrists, they went to my guide and said that, “Jigyasa is unfit for the course and she has ADHD” and other unbearable things. Does this make it easier to approach a professional for treatment?
19. To feel acknowledged for one’s ideas and work. My colleagues filled my guides ears about me, took all my proposed ideas in their hands, because I was getting a lot of appreciation for my work.
I was treated in a worse manner after this. I was called out and insulted in many ways. And, the result? The conference we had was an idea that was close to my heart and my scientific presentation blew people away.
My knowledge and ideas got quoted by members of the press on Twitter.
20. To feel confident and sure of oneself, as a person with opinions, functional mental health and physical health. I want to be able to follow my passions, even if they sound irrelevant and absurd to others.