The Value of Life

Sonder
n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own”

Every time I look up at the night sky I am enveloped in a feeling of insignificance. My own existence feels comparable to the tiny nature of the stars speckling the sky. It reminds me of how big the universe is. There are over seven billion people on this Earth. Now take into consideration the shear number of humans that precede and succeed your own time on Earth. What makes your existence special? Nothing.

Though it sounds nihilistic, I think there’s an alternate perspective to this. Even if in the grand scheme of things we are nothing, we are still significant in our own universe. You are important to yourself and those around you. You need to give your life value for it to have value.

Even if you don’t matter a thousand years down the road, your existence can still be valuable. Experience everything around you, indulge in human emotions and pursue your passions. Make your life a memorable one and you will find it’s value.

Just my philosophy.

Parenting: Emotional Abuse

Telling your child that you don’t love them, that they won’t go far in life, that they’re ugly, or that you’ll kill yourself if they keep acting a certain way is nothing short of abuse.

Emotional abuse is something that I am all too familiar with. I told myself, as a teen, that I was over everything I had been through as a child. I rationalized that my young self had deserved all of it and that, in fact I was probably exaggerating. It has taken me more than ten years but I finally realize that it wasn’t okay.

Flash forward to high school when I got into my first serious relationship. It was only after things got sour that I realized how emotionally unstable I am. These were the effects of the emotional abuse. I can’t trust someone who claims to love me. I can’t deal with feeling unimportant (even for a day) because I’m scared it means they’re going to leave. I doubt endlessly. I can’t handle criticism. I can’t function in a relationship.

Emotional abuse sinks into your heart and tarnishes your ability to function as a human. It’s hard to get past. As someone that dealt with it, I can’t help but reach out to others that have as well. I want you to know that you’re worth it. Who ever abused you must have had their own emotional problems. If it was your parent (as it was mine), they were wrong and they shouldn’t have treated you like that.

To parents that do it to their kids: you’ll ruin their social skills and self-esteem entirely. It’ll take years for them to even get past it. And who knows if they’ll ever truly do so. You brought your child into the world and it’s now your job to take care of them – which doesn’t just mean financially.

I know that Eastern culture often allows treating your children in a certain manner. My family is very cultural in the Indian sense. In these households, emotional abuse, among other emotional and mental issues, is taboo to speak of. Parents can sometimes act without a filter when their children don’t meet their expectations – physically, mentally or in any other way. What ever the reason, there is no excuse for emotionally abusing another human being. This applies to all sorts of relationships but particularly parent-child ones. These relationships are the molds for relationships later on in life. You could change the entire course of your loved one’s life just by treating them right.

Again, for anyone going through emotional abuse, please learn to value yourself. You are worth something. Let go of who ever is hurting you. You don’t deserve it.

Double Standards on Virginity

In eastern cultures, non-virgin females are often considered inadequate for marriage. However, there is a double standard for virginity because men can be non-virgins, even if it is not ideal. It’s just the way that these societies work. As a westerner, I have often taken our sex education and access to various birth-control methods for granted.

In a country such as Canada, I could only assume that being a non-virgin before marriage wouldn’t matter too much unless you were marrying a very religious individual. More and more, however, I’m hearing males assess females for “wifey material.” The essential meaning behind this is whether or not a female exhibits the adequate qualities of a good potential wife. As bothersome as this can be to me, I can learn to accept it. It’s natural selection, females pick out the male most suited for giving birth to their offspring and men are doing the same (or something along these lines…).

The one thing that really bugs me is that virginity and sexual innocence are associated with a female that is “wifey material.” A girl that is sexually promiscuous or at all experienced is more likely to be considered as just a potential”girlfriend” or “friends with benefits.” I can’t help but feel a certain sense of anger at this.

First off, one’s virginity is in no way associated to their quality as a wife. In fact, I could argue that depending on the circumstances, a female that has lost her virginity could exhibit essential qualities for a good partner. For example, a female that has lost her virginity to someone she was in a serious relationship with could be considered a loyal and committed partner.

Secondly, it’s atrocious that such a double standard exists in a society such as our own. I agree that I do see this viewpoint far more in males of Eastern backgrounds, particularly from Muslim males. I’ve heard a lot of Muslim non-virgin males stating that they still expect a virgin wife. I find it slightly revolting that they will chase girls that they deem unfit for marrying because of their sexual appeal, and then have particular other girls set aside in their mind as their “wifey material.”

In my head all of this just does not make sense. I might be a little bias though. Perhaps as someone from a Muslim family I just feel frightened that a potential repercussion of losing my virginity (even if to someone I love) is being deemed as an unsuitable wife for someone else in the future.

Isn’t it frightening how something like your sexual past (even if limited) can dictate another person or society’s entire view of you?

Online Dating

Have you ever literally dove off the deep end? The notion of jumping from a couple of meters above the safety of the ground into a vast body of water reflects the transition from dating in school to dating in the real world.

There’s so much taboo around online dating. Finding out that a couple met online often results in a slight sense of disappointment – where’s the great love story, you wonder. Dating online, however, has all of the elements of great love. You’re taking a leap of faith and placing yourself out there.

I think the problem sparks from high school. Though high school had the problem of labels and cliques, it also provided an optimal opportunity to meet other individuals. It offered a social network in which you saw individuals saw each other on a constant basis at a place that was the focus of their lives (school). You were able to develop a relationship daily and build forth from there. Things didn’t change when you got to university or college (perhaps it got a little bit harder but it was still relatively the same story). Because of this, individuals that were fortunate enough to meet their loves in these places are unable to understand the problems associated with dating after school.

In the the real world the the tables turn and meeting others relies on you. The variety increases but the opportunity to build on your relationships vastly decreases. You only catch a glimpse of an individual’s personality because you won’t collaborate with them on a daily basis. The number of individuals that have found partners is only increasing from there. So what does that leave you with but a truly limited, and constantly decreasing, pool of single individuals?

Both settings are so different. Jumping from one to the next is a tricky task. Dating in the real world can be a real pain and a lot of people criticize those that use online dating tools. But you know what? Here’s to you! Here’s to you for taking the chance when your environment wasn’t helping you in the realm of love.

Depression Amongst Youth

More and more I hear stories of teenagers and those in their early twenties going through periods of depression. It’s gotten to the point where hearing that someone is contemplating their desire to live is alarming but not particularly special. At first I hadn’t realized how big of an issue this was.

As someone that has gone through phases of cutting and  contemplating suicide, I’ve always been understanding of individuals with suicidal thoughts. I rationalize their self-infliction decisions and sympathize with them. It’s interesting how many of my close friends (and the students living in my residence) have announced such suicidal feelings. But it occurs to me that there are individuals that are not like this. Individuals that might have problems but aren’t on the extreme end of sadness. At some point these individuals were in the majority. However it has nearly become a social norm to have gone through a phase of depression (or to constantly be facing depression). What does that say about this generation?

I wonder how do we attack this issue. How do we fix depression if so many teenagers are feeling it? Is it because of the pressures placed on us by society and ourselves? Is it because we’ve been stripped of our ignorance and exposed to too much through media and technology?  Is it something deeper rooted in this generation or is this a timeless problem?

Emotional Stability and Abuse

Problems with emotions and the mind are often trivialized due to their abstract nature. When it comes to dating however, mental health and emotional stability are very significant to the relationship. In my past experience, I’ve found that emotional stability – at least in one of the partners – is vital. Starting off in a relationship already emotionally weak is not ideal and can result in the worsening of the issue.

As someone that grew up being pushed down by her own parent, I often find myself barricading my emotions from others. I don’t want to open up because once I do, I feel vulnerable. This was the mentality I had when I went into my first real relationship. It took a lot of time but I finally opened up to my ex. He was also in the same boat,  but we managed to open up to one another. They say it is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all but I wonder if that’s true. When you’re close to someone, you learn so much about them and you can hurt them more than anybody.

With my ex, we learned a lot about each other and we started relying on each other for happiness since we could not find it ourselves. When things became rocky, our arguments turned to personal attacks. We wanted so badly to keep the opposite person around that we broke them to hang on to them. To feel better about ourselves at times even.

I understand though that in the heat of the moment, you never realize what you’re saying. And when the storm has passed, you’re left with nothing but hurt and resentment. Once it all finally ended, I realized how screwed over we had left each other.

What I take from this is the age old lesson my parents taught me: you should wait to seriously date. It’s not about age, it’s about maturity. We were both so emotionally wounded to begin with that things could only go south from there. Using someone as a crutch for your own happiness leaves a lot of responsibility on that individual and can result in the development of an unhealthy bond.

You really do need to love yourself to be able to be in a relationship. I urge you, if you are relying on someone right now or are emotionally hurt, please learn to love yourself. Please learn to be happy with yourself because it’s only then that you’ll be able to healthily love another.

To Rebound, or not to Rebound, that is the Question.

Some say that “hooking up” with another individual is the best way to get out of a break up slump. The problem with this is that a lot of individuals aren’t okay with having sex – or other intimate activities – with random individuals.

So the next options might be to start emotional or benefits-based relationships as a form of rebounding. At first, I considered this path after my recent break-up, as a lot of people – and websites – recommend it. However, after a more than awkward attempt, I realized I wasn’t right for that sort of a thing. I decided to just focus on myself for now.

As fate had it though, the one time I wasn’t looking for someone, someone walked into my life. It was great right from the beginning – he was just the guy to make me smile again. But then I realized problems were bubbling – trust issues, high expectations from the start, etc. – that I couldn’t discuss but felt. The worst part is that if this was at any other time in my life I would probably end up in a good relationship with this  guy. It’s just such terrible timing. Though I don’t know where it’s going to go from here, it really opened my eyes.

 

Problems with rebounding:

  1. You’re extra vulnerable right after a break up.  You’ll already have had your heart broken and relying on someone to fix that just isn’t fair on that other individual. If they end up hurting you again, it’ll hurt twice as bad and it might leave you scarred.
  2. After your breakup, you might have unfair expectations of this next partnership. You might expect them to live up to what you had with your ex at some point (or everything you missed out on). As you’ll be starting fresh, things will go differently and on an entirely different pace from before. You can’t leave yourself comparing constantly or else you face being perpetually disappointed.
  3. The personal issues. This could mean trust, low self-esteem, or any other personal issue that might have developed or been amplified throughout the course of your past relationship. You’re going to carry these issues over into the next relationship and cause a big mess for the both of you. It might actually inhibit your ability to form a new relationship and, in turn, magnify these personal problems even further.
  4. You might lose an excellent potential partner. As you’ll be extra vulnerable and emotional, you might just ruin your actual chances with a great person. Perhaps if you wait until you heal, you’ll be in a better state of mind to actually go about starting a relationship.

Though I know that some use rebound sex to get them back on their feet, others can’t come to do that. But if a rebound relationship, or friendship-with-benefits is on your mind, then I think it’d be wiser to opt out. Focus on yourself, allow yourself to heal and then plunge back in.