Friday, April 17, 2015

"I Am Human; Nothing Human Is Alien To Me"

Being a student who has received  many lessons from English teachers about the beauty of open interpretation of literature and speech, I understand that each person's interpretation of this quote will be slightly unique from the next. However, as with every piece of wisdom, I believe there is a certain theme that we can all gather from this quote. I hope that in reading my interpretation, you find some similarity between it and your own.

Fortunately, this quote came to me at the appropriate hour. A little dramatic you may say, but I promise, I couldn't have found this quote at a better point in my life. To me, the phrase "I am Human; Nothing Human is Alien to Me" is  a quote that conveys both a tone of  triumph and vulnerability. In the sense of triumph, one may proclaim "I am human; nothing human is alien to me" as a sort of declaration of ownership rights to the fundamental joys that every human is entitled to: happiness, peace, success, victory.

From this perspective, I see these words being uttered by one who is ready with arms open to embrace these joys, as if they are saying, I am a human, being happy is a feeling humans experience, and thus, happiness will not be alien to me. I am a human, being successful is an opportunity other humans have pursued, success will not be alien to me. I am human, peace is an attribute many humans have managed to acquire, peace will not be alien to me. I am capable of finding happiness, succeeding, and living at peace with myself and my surroundings because other humans have done it before.

However, on the other hand, I perceive this quote through a lense tinted with vulnerability. I guess these contrasting perspectives are merely amplifications of life's  characteristics: in life, sometimes we succeed, and sometimes... we don't. Thus, from this second perspective, I see this phrase being uttered in humility. For instance, I remember that after receiving a somewhat mediocre score on my Ochem exam, I repeated this phrase to myself: 'I am human; nothing human is alien to me' as I asked myself how I could have missed that many points. Failure, defeat, and disappointment are all attributes of life we as humans will experience. Therefore failure will not be alien to me for I too, like everyone else, will fail at something. 

For some reason, however, though I appreciate both perspectives of this quote, I find myself always going full circle: interpreting a situation through the first perspective, then the second, and then the first again. May be it might be my 'glass is half full' the sun is always shining personality. Or maybe, just maybe, the fact that we are human, and are all entitled to this human experience is an assurance that , though we may experience setbacks in life, we can all live a life we deem, at the end of its duration, to be victorious?

I am human; nothing human is alien to me. Many before me have succeeded at the very goals I am currently pursuing.  No doubt, none of these people were born experts in the field they succeeded in. Yet still, they succeeded. Thus, I say, if they can do it, so can I.

I am human and nothing human is alien to me.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Independence and the Woman

Often times when the words 'independent' and 'woman' are mentioned in the same sentence, many assume that it is in the context of a woman liberating herself from a man. Throughout my life, the phrase "Independent woman who doesn't need a man" has been used at times as a source of inspiration or reassurance. And no doubt, sometimes independence does mean liberating one's self from relationships that are toxic or unnecessary. However, I think it is important in today's society that when discussing independence and the woman, we acknowledge that independence for the woman can take on other forms. How about independence from low self esteem or socially constructed ideals?

Being in university for the past two years has been a learning experience that has transcended the walls of the classroom. It is safe to say that in the past 2 years, I have thought more about who and what I want to be as a person than ever before. Maybe, these moments of intense introspection are a result of the hour long social psychology classes I am taking, or the frequent meetings I have with advisors to plan my  course schedules. Regardless, I am grateful for these moments but have to admit, coming into one's own is not as easy as many powerful women have made it look in the past. 

You may be wondering, dear reader, why I choose to write about independence and the woman today. Well to be honest, its a topic I've been mulling over for sometime now. The truth is that as I am growing, I am beginning to witness the negatives that can result when a woman fails to liberate herself from pressures which are unhealthy. 

For instance, consider insecurities. The truth is, at a point in our lives, we all struggle with one insecurity or another. Be it our discontentment with a character or physical trait, we become our own worst critics. However, when we fail to realize that these small quirks and differences can be the very gems that make us unique, we carry these insecurities into adulthood. We fail to pursue daring career positions because we fear that _________________ makes us not qualified for the job, we begin to gossip and bring down other female colleagues because of jealousy, we  enter into relationships because they offer the 'approval' we fail to give ourselves etc. 

So, on the other hand, what if these small quirks do need improvement? Then improve them, we should! Enrolling in classes that enlighten us, pursuing hobbies that make us feel fulfilled or seeking out professional help are all steps that we can take that signify maturity and independence. 

We are each endowed with a uniqueness that adds dimension to our world. Succumbing to negative pressures or failing to be the best we can be is a disservice to the beautiful souls inside each and every one of us! Imagine how productive and beautiful our communities can be if we each chose to let our lights shine, and help others do the same! 

Happy Tuesday dear reader, and Happy Women's History Month to All!