008: I think I'm growing up

*stage whisper* vulnerabilityyyyyy

God, I hate the phrase ‘adult-ing.’ What better way to convey the total inadequacy of human progress by turning a natural life phase into a verb. To take something inevitable, perhaps even pleasurable, and infantilizing it as if we have a choice. I get it: the tasks of adulthood — taxes, eating properly, going to bed sober and on time — feel restrictive, or frightening even, after the relative hedonism of youth. Maybe I’m just ‘adult-ing’ here but I don’t know if this word does its user base any favours, beyond providing a semantic shield for avoiding what will come.

Hello. I’m an adult now. May tore me up. It made me realize many things I’d been avoiding, but specifically: how much I’d been avoiding myself! How bizarre after spending my teens and 20s drenched in narcissism as many of us naturally do while learning to ‘adult.’ I guess it’s no different from babies who celebrate their second year of life outside the womb by screaming a very dissociative “ME!!!!” But I think that in asserting yourself there’s also a process of negation. I’ve started thinking about what I’ve pushed aside in order to ‘assert’ ‘my’ ‘needs.’ Assertion is a form of personal fanaticism, that doesn’t have to necessarily be destructive, but can be when paired with extreme narcissism and presumed list of desires and demands.

I’m not speaking to specific context here: there are myriad reasons why I (and many other people who are systemically oppressed or marginalized) feel that at times I have to be more assertive and tussle for whatever material needs might gratify my internal equilibrium. But how much of those needs are informed by desires that aren’t necessarily our own? What desires have we absorbed from our parents, our culture? What desires have formed in reaction to our fears? What does it means to assert needs that have been manufactured in response to the fear of growing up?

Because we don’t actually need very much. And I guess what I’m trying to say is that in focusing attention on our external selves, and how other people or organizations or items can reinforce or strip away that selfhood, we lose sight of what is within our control. The needs we might fulfill without anyone or anything else.

Don’t worry! I know how this sounds. Do you know what I did in May?! In addition to doing a lot of yoga, I went on a silent meditation hike, did a sound bath, and also went to a chakra reader/acupuncturist (Thx Rina!). Oh, also, one morning after yoga I took a long, hot bath instead of waiting until night time. A TRUE LIFE HACK. I realize that in disclosing all of this, approximately 50% of you will close this tab and go back to your lives, but what I wanted to insist by sharing those details is that all of these various activities gave me permission to focus on myself, my emotional state, body awareness, and internal cosmos. It turns out there’s a lot of information there that I spent a long time not paying attention to because of the ways that emotions, body-mind connection, and sitting still are codified in the world. Codified as non-productive, as retrograde/traditional/pseudoscience/too feminine, or self-indulgent and woo woo.

No wonder so many of us — with all of our multifarious identities, including cis/str8 men who are taught to actively ignore all the stuff that’s happening inside — are out here repetitively, defensively asserting ourselves like we’re Draymond Green. (Had to get one in, sorry).

So what would happen if we made care for ourselves, which is not the same as #selfcare, a priority, instead of something to fight for only when we’re in crisis? If you, like me didn’t grow up with a lot of leisure or money (a.k.a. time) to sit quietly, to escape, to start or end your day slowly and in deep thought, how can you begin to reclaim some of that loss in a way that doesn’t also ask you to put your energy and body on the line? How can ‘adult-ing’ be regenerative? How can it bring us closer to our friends, family members, and colleagues? How can ‘adult-ing’ be pleasurable even?

Lots of love and Raptors in six,

Anupa

Related: In March I went to Calgary to interview the queen of knowledge of self, Lido Pimienta. When she talks about protecting your energy, your cultural power, your personhood — I felt that.