I spent my first 24 hours in Paris trying to nurse a migraine. These migraines are now a common pattern for me – they represent an accumulation of bad decisions for myself.
I used to blame a lot of external conditions for my health issues. Work was stressful, people were draining me, my country has too many people, etc. They were largely true when I was disempowered, when I was locked into an environment where I couldn’t see any choices. But the more self-empowered I have become, the more I realized that I was still stuck in these invisible chains because I was still making poor choices for myself, as if I was not in a position to make better ones. I was living in my own mental prison that was a result of my past conditioning, and it didn’t matter where I was in the present. I could be surrounded by miles of space metaphorically, but I could not move out of a 10 feet square.
I have a lot of privilege relatively speaking, compared to a lot of women in this world. I am bilingual and educated, I have opportunities to work in an industry that is seeing unparalleled success (whatever that means), I am free to be physically mobile, I don’t have to wear anything over my face or fear genital mutilation and nobody can force me into a marriage.
There are a lot of choices I can make for myself. But there is no point if I cannot see them. The same goes for anybody else. Life is there for me to savor, but I’m stuck in old systems of fear. What do I do with a myriad of choices? Do I take the ones recommended by traditional conventions, or do I make up my own way? It no longer seems logical to me to be doing whatever everyone else is doing because I now realize I can do almost anything I want.
We seem to forget that power is not only measured by money. I think everybody derives power from different sources, and for me, nothing is more powerful than autonomy, even if it is the autonomy to decide by which means we suffer. I can decide now to go live on the streets and starve – it is my own conscious choice and I can decide I prefer starving to feeling the weight of a salaried tech worker.
I am beginning to realize choices have to be made from a position of conscious self-empowerment, even if I do decide to devote my life to the service of humanity, it has to be my choice, not because of moral obligation or responsibility. In times of pain and difficulty, it is not morals per se that will make the difference, but to me, it is love. Morals can be subjected to time and culture, but love is love.
I can be doing the “right” thing – analyze where can I make the biggest impact and devote the rest of my life to making that impact. But my point of view has shifted – I am doubtful people can be capable of reaching the their greatest potential and maximizing their impact if they are not capable of love – for themselves and for the world. In not realizing ourselves, we are depriving the world of what we can truly give.
I, can barely look myself in the mirror. I have been so focused on doing what I think is right for the world, but I have neglected to do what is right for me. That does not allow me to be fully present and participatory – how can I ever be, if there is so much self-resentment and self-inflicted limitations with everything I do?
With the pervasive belief I am less, I have allowed myself to be tampered with, misused, abused, drained.
I am experiencing a lot of anger now, and I am not sure if it makes it better or worse, that I am mostly angry with myself for not believing I can be free, equal, and capable of having power over myself.