Overcoming My Fears

I named this blog, “The Confined Nomad” for a reason. My heart thirsts for adventure but there was a part of me which was afraid of venturing beyond the confines of my comfort zone. I use the past tense because although I haven’t been completely cured of my fear, I’ve improved a lot. And I’ve improved due to my own hard work and initiative.

When I decided that I was definitely going to travel one day, I realized that I’d have to go through a number of changes. I could save the money and plan the itinerary but all that would just go to waste if I bailed out on myself at the last minute, something which I have a tendency of doing when the going gets tough and I know that I’m the only person depending on myself. Who cares if I let myself down? I did apparently. I was tired of letting myself down. I had a lot of issues to overcome which I ranted about over here.

I was frustrated with myself and my parents for raising me to be this way. I agonized about my inability to navigate the streets of my hometown and to use public transportation.

I’m 21 years old and can barely navigate the streets of my own borough without some guidance. I don’t understand how public transportation works in this country but anytime I ask my parents or anyone else for that matter, they just give me an incredulous look and a complicated though poorly detailed explanation of how it all works. I’ve resorted to searching online for information, but again, there’s nothing suitable for my inexperienced mind. Of course the assumption probably is that there aren’t stupid people like me out there who don’t even know how to take a taxi or a bus so why make a site outlining how these things are done?

I am happy to report that after spending my vacation working at the heart of my hometown, I now have a grasp of the streets and public transportation. The key to learning is exploring, observing and paying attention to where you are going. Anytime me and one of my co-workers ventured out into the streets I tried to pay attention to where we were going and I am proud to say that I can now manipulate my way through those backroads and even if I do get lost I know for a fact that I won’t get into a panic and start experiencing heart palpitations. I’ll just keep walking and keep track of where I am going until I see something familiar and figure it all out. However, I know how to get to the most important places and where the most important taxi stands are. As for taxis, they aren’t hard to get. You just have to be a pedestrian and taxis will stop next to you to find out if you want a ride. They want your money so they aren’t going to play hard to get. Taking a bus isn’t rocket science either. In an emergency I can do these things!

I know I’m 21 and if I want to go out, I should damn well just go. But I’m scared about what’s out there. Sheltering your kids from all apparent dangers is only a good idea up to a point. The world outside their protective bubble becomes an unknown creature to them, one who with time becomes gradually scarier anytime you insist that the world outside the bubble must not be explored without guidance. Because they are never forced to face the unknown, the myth is never disproved and lives on as a source of much fear. I’m scared of just getting dressed one day and taking a taxi to the mall and just walking around and checking out the stores. I’m scared of exploring alone. I’m afraid I’ll look stupid and that everyone will know that I’ve never been out alone when they see that look of cluelessness about me. Hell, I’m afraid of just taking the taxi. Now that I’ve outlined all my fears they don’t seem so very unconquerable to me. Still, it will be a while yet before I suddenly decide that I’ve had enough and march out into the unknown regardless of the obstacles that wait in store for me. At the moment, I feel myself brimming with frustration and the need to escape, but I’m still not at the “I’ve had enough!” stage. I can still satiate my needs with some angry writing. But there’ll surely come a point when writing or reading, or any of the other shit I do to make myself feel better, won’t help anymore. Hopefully it will be soon.

This semester when school started, I ventured to parts of campus where I’d never gone before because I was too intimidated to go to these places due to the people I might encounter there. A lot of my former classmates hang out in these parts of campus and I preferred not seeing any of them. Well I barely encountered any of them and I shouldn’t be afraid of bumping into any of them. I am as human as they are and I have every right to go wherever I want to. Social anxiety can be such a crippling thing.

I also started hanging out by myself in the library and in a few of these student places and it was great. I thought I’d never be able to do something like that outside of my home but I was wrong. I can do it and it does wonders for your soul. It’s a truly liberating thing to know that people aren’t judging your every move and if there are people doing that, so what? It isn’t going to kill you. You just don’t have to care. You also have to not be afraid of looking stupid. If you’re going to avoid leaving your comfort zone because you’re afraid of looking stupid, then you’re going to be stuck in your shell twiddling your thumbs until a sympathetic soul comes along and asks you if you’re alright. Sometimes you just have to force yourself to do the thing that you’re afraid of doing to prove to yourself that it isn’t so bad after all.

Speaking of which, I did another thing which I didn’t think I was capable of doing. A kind blogger read my post about being afraid of everything and she advised me to find my wings in small ways.

I decided that going to a big supermarket about a mile away from campus would be a nice way to find my wings. The city in which my campus is located is really not a place I thought I’d explore in a million years but I made up my mind to do it. I’d go that supermarket and buy some cookies. I had some misgivings about going there. I documented the whole thing, hahaha.

Expedition tomorrow. The objective is to buy some nice pastries. Will I get hit by a bus? It is likely. Will someone yell at me? Most definitely. But a sheltered girl has got to learn somehow! I haven’t thought this through enough. Sure I’ve been on google maps perusing the streets adjacent to campus. Sure I’ve been planning this for months. But it still feels like an unattainable goal and as if though I haven’t planned enough for this moment when I venture out into the world by myself. I have never crossed a busy street by myself. This is all kinds of pathetic, I know, you don’t have to tell me. Tomorrow will be my first time. Hope I don’t get lost. Fingers crossed.

As you can see, I was very close to not going after all but that Thursday morning I locked my bag in my locker and took off on a determined path outside the gates of my campus.

Expedition was successful. I got myself some cookies and chicken puffs and diet coke for my mum who must never know about my reckless adventure into the unknown. It was a bit scary but once you start, you just keep going and don’t turn back until the mission is complete. I saw lots of things, and people were nice to me. The world isn’t as horrible as I once thought it was! I only almost got hit by a car once which is great considering the number of times it could have happened. When crossing the street, there are so many variables to consider that it can be quite bewildering at times. But let me get back to the people are nice part – a couple of truck drivers stopped for me to cross the road, truck drivers who I had come to believe were all obnoxious assholes.

You grow up thinking the world is a scary place and you grow up being afraid of looking stupid. But the truth is that while there ARE mean people in the world, there are also nice people and mostly people who just don’t care. Did I look stupid to the cute trucker guy? Sure I did, maybe that’s why he stopped for me to cross when he really didn’t have to. Sometimes the stupid, bewildered expression on your face can work in your favour. I looked stupid many other times and people didn’t really notice for the most part because they were just carrying on with their lives as usual. When I had left the grocery, my destination, and was ready to cross the street again, a nice old man noticed I had stepped up close to him to see when would be a good time to cross. He thus instructed me when would be a good time to cross the street. He didn’t have to do that. He was just being nice. He didn’t even wait for me to say thanks properly.

Aside from all that street crossing craziness, I noticed my surroundings a lot. It was nice. Lots of pet shops. A plant place with gorgeous orchids. An art store. People are polite. They tell you good morning. This shouldn’t be a surprise but it was nice to be greeted with good morning instead of catcalls. I should have been more responsive to the people but I don’t think it mattered much to them and my mind was focused on how I was going to cross that street close to the university.

Thankfully it all worked out. I made it back. The cookies were delicious although the chicken puffs made me a bit nauseous. I have my period today and yesterday I was feeling so tired so maybe that had something to do with it.

I’m glad I pushed myself to do this because I don’t think I’ll ever be afraid of venturing outside the confines of my comfort zone again.

I’m probably in the top ten most sheltered people in the world but slowly and surely I’m overcoming those fears.

Hating myself right about now

I usually try not to post entries on this blog where I talk about what I did today and what’s been bothering me lately and which friend I’d like to kill but it makes this blog seem so inauthentic as if though all I ever think about is feminism and whatever else I talk about on here. The truth is that I worry a lot about what’s going to happen to me and where I’m going to end up and if I’m just going to keep making stupid excuses for myself every time I try to do something new and then fail at it and say bullshit like, it’s the experience that counts! I mean, yeah gaining new experiences is always a good thing but sometimes I desperately want things to go according to the way I envisioned it in my mind. Sometimes I want to actually succeed at things. Hell, I want to succeed all the time but each time plans fall through due to my own inadequacies and indiscipline, I say crap like maybe it’s just better this way. I don’t want to do that anymore. It makes avoidable fuck ups seem OK and excusable and the best thing that could have happened in the grand scheme of things. I want to work hard and get the results I want. I just want to accomplish goals again and to get that feeling of accomplishment and success when you do. You don’t feel that way when things just happen to you.

A question of shaving one’s pubes

I’d like to know: are there any women out there who shave their pubic hair for the sole purpose of their own self-fulfilment? Or is it something that you just do for the guys in your lives? Or do you do it because people say a hairy vulva is gross and disgusting? Or is it just the normal thing to do? What is the reason?

I’ve done it a couple of times and on both occasions, I regretted it afterwards. The first time I did it, I was about eleven years old. The hairs had only started growing out and I think it freaked me out and I may have done it in an attempt to revert back to prepubescence. I don’t know. I was a silly child. It fucking itched like hell though.

The second time I did it was because I realized that people thought a girl with pubes was disgusting and hilarious. I saw cartoons online with cruel depictions of women with pubes. I read exaggerated descriptions of women who didn’t shave and the adjectives used were so hurtful. Naturally, I thought my body was weird and I sought to rectify the problem at the earliest opportunity. Again, I didn’t do it properly, i.e. if there is a proper way of doing this shit, and again it itched like hell. The pubes also grew back rapidly, much faster than leg hair, and the resulting texture was extremely coarse because of how thick pubic hair strands are. I decided after that, that shaving just wasn’t worth the trouble no matter how fucking gross people said it was. It was just too much work for too little rewards. And plus it itched like crazy and the texture of the pubes growing back out the next day crawled my blood.

In order to maintain a hairless vulva, one would have to do it pretty often and I’m guessing one would have to take her time doing it so that she wouldn’t hurt herself. Is it worth the time and effort? Are you really doing it for you? And it doesn’t even feel good. Aesthetically, I don’t like how it looks. I guess some women would probably think it looks cool. To me it looks somewhat childlike but more like a plucked chicken or something. I prefer the hair any day. Not that I care too much. I don’t adore my pubes, but I don’t hate them either. I’m pretty indifferent to them actually, however their absence freaks me out. But they do serve a purpose. I think they prevent dust and other foreign particles from getting up there and they keep periods from spilling all over the place. Well that’s what my PE teacher told us. I don’t know how true that is. I’ve never ever actually been shaven while I had a period. But think about it. Hominoids gradually evolved to become less hairy than our primate ancestors. They lost much of their hair from all over their bodies, save for the head, armpits and genitals, over time. Maybe the reason why natural selection hasn’t done away with our pubes is because they do serve a purpose.

Anyway, I’m not at all judging anyone. I’m not in a position to judge others seeing that I do some pretty questionable things myself. But I will say that body hair on women, particularly pubic hair, is NOT unclean, weird or disgusting. It grows on all women and evolution left it there for a reason so please don’t let that be the reason why you trouble yourself with removing your pubes and please don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

I’ll get into the implications of porn culture and beauty expectations some other time.

What IBTP taught me

I’m sad that Twisty has stopped writing IBTP. This was the blog that taught me about 80% of what I know about feminism. This was the blog that caused me to shift from the liberal school of thought to the radical school of thought. This blog really opened my eyes and made me see things that had never occurred to me before. It made me sceptical about everything and the category, “men hate you,” made me see the truth about men and what they really think about us. This blog changed my entire view of the world and myself and the word, “choice.”

I read the blog so often, (a few times a day), that eventually I developed my own feminist voice and could put into words things that bothered the fuck out of me. I could opine on things before they were even written about on the blog. When they did appear, I often had similar well thought out opinions like the other feminists who commented, which brings me to the discussions on this blog – I learned so much from them. I learned about the lives of other women from different walks of life and different social backgrounds. I grew more sympathetic to mothers. I became exposed to perspectives of what it was like to live in utter poverty with no safety net below you. I came to understand racism and privilege. I realized that marriage can never, ever have a fairytale ending, something which still pains me to accept to this day.

This blog helped me develop my understanding and voice. I have a lot yet to learn but I’ve learned a hell of a lot from this blog. I’m sad that Twisty isn’t going to write it anymore. As she stated, she was starting to repeat herself, and a lot of things still haven’t changed. I guess it’s time for her to start enjoying her own life, full time. Writing about patriarchy is a depressing endeavour especially when many of the oppressed are aware of their oppression and the systems which keep them in place, but still participate in their own oppression. I speak of myself of course and my inability to stop fussing over my looks among other male-serving things.

I will forever be grateful for what Twisty did for feminism. The fact that she has moved on to other things has made me realize that it’s not OK for me to continue with the way I’ve been going, using the excuse of, “I’m young,” to justify my stupid choices. The world isn’t going to change if we continue perpetuating crap even though we know it’s crap. She’s still writing, but I will miss her funny take on misogyny and society’s acceptance of it.

We all need to continue what Twisty started and we all need to start practising what we preach and we can’t all wait till we’re post-menopausal to do it. We have to start NOW.

Choosing the Right Handbag for your Body Type

I’m thinking about buying myself some suitable version of the handbag to throw all my shit in but I don’t want to waste my money on something which turns out to fall short of my needs and expectations i.e. it must be able to carry all of my shit and must fit comfortably on my shoulder. I can’t emphasize more how important comfort is to me. Then it also has to be durable, not too large, not too small, not too brightly coloured so that if it gets dirty, it isn’t so obvious. So I just did a Google search of “choosing the right handbag for your needs.” The first two sites which came up were entitled, “Choosing the Right Handbag for your Body Type.” These were two independent sites and were obviously directed towards females whose first priority when it comes to any functional tool or item is obviously its aesthetics and how it will look on them. The third site was directed towards the males and the contents of it were essentially about choosing the right bag for a man’s various needs. They mentioned style as well but the function of the bag and the things it was suitable for carrying were the most important aspects of the selection process.

A handbag can “make or break” an outfit, apparently.

This is how it is. Women are encouraged to focus on the aesthetics of an item and how it looks on them rather than what the item can do for them in terms of function and comfort. This is how we are portrayed and brought up. We spend a large chunk of our time focusing on our faces, clothes and hair instead of thinking about what we can do as people, as instruments of change. We invest large portions of our time thinking about how sexy and beautiful we can be instead of thinking about how amazing we can be in terms of what we can do for ourselves, others and the world.

Men meanwhile are encouraged to focus on the functions and uses of an item, with the appearance of it being an afterthought or not mentioned at all (with the exception of their stupid cars – *eyeroll*). This is also how they are encouraged to see themselves. As children and then as adults, their capabilities and talents are treated as the most important parts of them. Their physical aptitude at outdoor activities are celebrated. Their intelligence is praised. Their much celebrated ability to achieve goals which have nothing to do with how they look also happens to be a legitimate and wonderful means of personal fulfilment and joy. Their physical appearance is for the most part an afterthought or at least, isn’t treated with the same level of importance as their other more useful traits. The opposite is true for women.

Women are brainwashed by society and the media and fucking relatives, to chase after beauty and sexiness in the quest for fulfilment, an endeavour which is sure to fail since the moment you have the audacity to feel content with your appearance, another advertisement or magazine cover knocks on your door to remind you that you do indeed still fall short in some way. That is, if you still value your appearance as an important aspect of yourself. If you don’t, then beauty standards shouldn’t have an effect on you. But it’s a difficult thing to detach yourself from when your appearance has become a significant part of your identity. We are taught to seek fulfilment in something which can never bring us happiness.

So it’s handbags, clothes (which are often impractical and uncomfortable), shoes, hairstyles and sadly even our bodies. We are trained to focus on the insignificant parts of them rather than the most important part of them – their uses to us.

[Image obtained from here.]

So why do I want to escape, anyway?

I’m 21 years old and can barely navigate the streets of my own borough without some guidance. I don’t understand how public transportation works in this country but anytime I ask my parents or anyone else for that matter, they just give me an incredulous look and a complicated though poorly detailed explanation of how it all works. I’ve resorted to searching online for information, but again, there’s nothing suitable for my inexperienced mind. Of course the assumption probably is that there aren’t stupid people like me out there who don’t even know how to take a taxi or a bus so why make a site outlining how these things are done?

As you can probably tell, I’m pretty sheltered. My parents have handled or at least assisted me in handling all of my shit since I was a very little girl. I forced myself to start taking responsibility for my life when I was about 16 though and have faced a lot of tough situations alone even though my parents offered to stick by me through it all and I’ve strictly handled all of my university issues from the day I started (which is pretty normal for most people, I know, but it was a big step for me). But when it comes to going places, I’ve never had to depend on public transportation. My father has always driven me to any place that I’ve needed to go. Note the word “needed”. If I want to go somewhere, there’s a 90% chance that my desires will be ignored. With these odds in mind, I simply don’t ask anymore. Also, it should be noted that I can’t drive, although I’m halfway to finally getting my license. It’s really fucking frustrating knowing that each weekend I spend at home in my room, a world out there rushes on in all its glory with opportunities for adventure at every corner while I sit on my bed in front of my laptop.

I know I’m 21 and if I want to go out, I should damn well just go. But despite my frustration, I’m scared about what’s out there. Sheltering your kids from all apparent dangers is only a good idea up to a point. The world outside their protective bubble becomes an unknown creature to them, one who with time becomes gradually scarier anytime you insist that the world outside the bubble must not be explored without guidance. Because they are never forced to face the unknown, the myth is never disproved and lives on as a source of much fear. I’m scared of just getting dressed one day and taking a taxi to the mall and just walking around and checking out the stores. I’m scared of exploring alone. I’m afraid I’ll look stupid and that everyone will know that I’ve never been out alone when they see that look of cluelessness about me. Hell, I’m afraid of just taking the taxi. Now that I’ve outlined all my fears they don’t seem so very unconquerable to me. Still, it will be a while yet before I suddenly decide that I’ve had enough and march out into the unknown regardless of the obstacles that wait in store for me. At the moment, I feel myself brimming with frustration and the need to escape, but I’m still not at the “I’ve had enough!” stage. I can still satiate my needs with some angry writing. But there’ll surely come a point when writing or reading, or any of the other shit I do to make myself feel better, won’t help anymore. Hopefully it will be soon.

This is part of the reason why I want to do something extreme, why I just want to hop on a plane to the middle of nowhere and to explore and have drinks and nice discussions with the people that live there. I have some serious compensating to do for the experiences I missed while being protected from whateverthefuck is out there. But it’s not a good enough reason to want to travel alone. There are other ways I can fix myself and help myself develop into a person who, if placed in the middle of the capital city, can survive. Backpacking through South America and South Asia are still very much a part of my life’s “to do” list but I want to make sure that I do these things for the right reasons and not as an antidote for my fear. I don’t want to spend my time in these places conquering my fear. There are a hell of a lot of other things I want to do instead of that and not in addition to that since the conquering of fear is pretty much a full time objective. I have to fix my fear while I’m here.

I was just looking for an image to add to this post but instead found this nice quote,

The cave you fear to enter, holds the treasure you seek – Joseph Campbell

That’s something for me to keep in mind.