Saturday, April 26, 2014

Nothing to lose

There are times in life when you take in a lot of garbage. And then comes a day when nothing really happens, but a small something tips you over. You realize that you have had it, and you are done taking in all the garbage. I think I reached that point recently.

It happened the same day I wrote my earlier post. I was walking back to my office, and the wind was strong. It was raining as well, and thankfully, I had my umbrella with me. I have very fond memories of this umbrella because I bought it on a rainy day during my trip to Europe. So it is a souvenir. Anyway. The wind was strong (Nebraska is infamous for that), and my umbrella kept turning the wrong way. There was no point in carrying it if I was getting wet anyway. So I tried to close it.

At that point, my finger got stuck in the umbrella, tearing a little bit of flesh and drawing a few drops of blood. I find the sight of blood very repulsive, and as I looked at my finger in horror, something in me flipped. Tears started rolling down my cheeks, mingling with the rain, as a bunch of school kids on an educational excursion walked by me. These were not tears of sadness or fear, these were tears of anger pent up for a while. The umbrella incident was totally random, but it invoked a strong sense of anger in me, because it was symbolic of the helpless situation I was in. And I realized, I don’t want to be helpless anymore. I don’t want to feel like a victim, because I have not done anything that should make me feel like a victim. I am done being in this toxic situation that I am in.

And suddenly, in my head, I heard my own voice. Screw you job! Screw you visa! Screw you insecurity. I don’t have to take this. I don’t have to live in a country where I am perennially afraid of the insecurities. I don’t want a colleague suggesting me ever again, even jokingly, that I should have tried hooking up with a citizen, like many people wanting to stay here do. I am done. I am so done with this life. It is no better than being made to feel like an outcast, being asked to sit separately, like the British did to the Indians pre-independence, or higher caste people did to lower caste people.

The epiphany of “screw you” perhaps came from self-worth, and gave me more strength than anything had given me in the last few months. I have a PhD (I am told that less than 1% people have a PhD, but in America or around the world, I do not know). I am in good health. I can speak in English. I can learn. I can relocate anywhere in the world. I can do math. I can think. I have the energy. I have the courage and determination to do what it takes. I can take risks. Most importantly, I am alive. Why am I forgetting all my blessings? Why am I constantly trying to fit in? When I moved to the US eight years ago, I had nothing. And I had nothing to lose. But now, what do I lose if I don’t find a job? Absolutely nothing. I just go somewhere else, and take my skills and ideas with me. I haven’t spent a single day for the last few years when I have not worried about a visa. No self-respecting academic should ever fear that. Because wherever I go next, I take my brains, and my ideas with me. I realized that a high school dropout is perhaps more fearless than I am, armed with fancy degrees and all.

This realization gave me a lot of strength. Often under duress, we tend to think that we are helpless. We are not. This will be my chance to reinvent myself, create my future, and start a new chapter in life. I am looking for a job, but I already have enough work to sustain me for a while. Then what am I so scared of?

When I get a job, this post will be shelved as one of those inspiring notes written during crisis. If I do not, these will become words that will dissipate into nothingness. In either case, I will have nothing to lose. And that thought that I have nothing to lose is empowering in itself.



Mishti said...

These words of yours are eternally inspiring, Sunshine :-)

Am proud of you and am inspired by your strength and belief. Go for your life, live it fully! Yes, we all are born naken...we never have anything to lose. Like you said, we re-invent ourselves, for good.

Keep it up!!
God bless you.
Stay blessed.

SAS God said...

So many years on, it's still good to see you blogging. We, me and a friend, are big fans.

Please excuse my ridiculous name. Apparently, I'm very good in SAS.

sunshine said...

Mishti, thank you. :)

SAS God, what an unusual name. I feel like calling myself an SPSS Goddess now. :)

Richa Chauhan said...

"I have not done anything that should make me feel like a victim"

Pure helplessness and then picking up the pieces and getting back again!!
Gem it is :)!

I could connect with many things, including SAS & SPSS :P ,(being a statistician) !!