The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
I discovered the narrative of learning and unlearning in my initial days of college. Being in the debating society, uncovering so many facets of oppression made the entire narrative both a comfort and a constant struggle in the true spirit of a paradox. At one level, we always have the assurance that the social layers we have been brought up with can be unlearned for us to stand our ground and let go of the unnecessary pressure. On the flip side, as liberating it is for many of us to be privy to such incredible information and curate platforms for others to get access to, it can be overwhelming, frustrating and the core pressure of doing it right can always get in the way. More importantly, not all the information can resonate with each individual which is where it mainly starts. Acknowledging that we don’t have to take the word for every argument that is a counter-narrative to elements of our current struggles as it might not individually work for everyone. This is the part where we also reassess and redefine the idea of a community.
While this is a lifelong process and we will find our niche in this realm every now and then and be very sure of things, at a broader level to make it easier, reevaluating the very idea of a community can ease off the pressure on folks. This is to say, that although we create communities to help people feel together, the generalized misconceptions and norms can do more harm than good. The learning and growth become extremely stagnated and rigid in a scenario like that and most individuals, though may intuitively know what works best for them may feel more vulnerable as they are not backed by their communities. It is a dual process wherein both the people and community constantly strive for change. This happens when weightage is given to diversity, inclusivity, and individuality within a group. That’s when we shift the paradigm and create more room for conversations that we aren’t used to and discovery that we will have access to because, at the end of the day, it gets lonely when your ideas are not reciprocated and the rigidity makes it all the more difficult to go through the process of finally letting go of those layers and finding what works best for you. This really is an anecdote to justice as the people and community complement each other along the way and while this sounds idealistic, advocating for inclusivity in all spaces is where a major percentage of the work starts and things become clearer and begin to make more sense.
Unlearning and learning are important in every area of life be it social conditioning, talking about tabooed topics like money, mental health, prevalent hustle culture, relationships, and pretty much everything. What we need, however, is to address the core of what can lead to the process since the process is likely to be subjectively messy and hefty at times which is completely okay. The most important thing is that people get the necessary support and backing when they go ahead with something that they uncover and the truth is, we can start by being those people for individuals who have something different to bring to the table. It can range from not wanting to settle down as a woman or a non-profit that helps the mistreated communities from the grass-root level and literally anything under the sun. I truly believe that the work starts from within and it has the potential to go a long way.
Be your own advocate and that of others. Don’t wait for things to be normalized, instead find your version of normal displaying powerfully that it can happen anywhere and everywhere. While this may be too good to be true, we really need more of it to end our own endless cycles of suffering. It may be a long journey but you have what it takes. More like, you are what it takes!