Struggling with self-worth in many ways has become a constant and I happen to be no exception to that. Our generation relies on achievements and surroundings to determine the core aspects of our worth and when hit with a low, we find ourselves caught up in the loop of it. With personal struggles in this realm ranging from experiences of bullying to being made to feel inferior on many grounds, I have come to the important realization of reaffirming my worth with respect to my activism. Being patronized and condescended makes you feel levels of intimidation when faced with life and makes you internalize many of those aspects as you navigate through life being a lesser version of yourself owing to your conditioning. Many people like me care deeply about the broken systems and the impact it has on marginalized groups. We find ourselves agitated with those who patronize groups of people who belong to the marginalized communities as we find ourselves questioning every element of the oppressors and uncover so many narratives that led us to feel inadequate be it patriarchy, classism, or capitalism, to name a few. These do not dictate the essence of one’s worth but reflect on the functioning of those who profit off of communities by making them question their humanity and constantly generate feelings of inadequacy within them. While we acknowledge all of these elements and these facades that cover up for the privileged sections’ oppressive regimes, we carry a huge chunk of conditioning with ourselves that makes us question our worth when in reality, it is just one of the many toxic manifestations of this world.
Whether it is letting productivity question your value as an individual or the color of your skin deciding your position in the world, when we are faced with such toxic mentalities, it is hard not to take it personally. Here’s what I have learned from this. If you advocate for others for the micro-aggressions the privileged inflict on them, you have to learn to advocate for yourself regularly. Nobody teaches us this as our conditioning fools us to believe otherwise. The same rage and tenderness are important for yourself and we all have to help each other out in this aspect. This isn’t to be outrage every time someone objectively crosses all boundaries but also when something trivial happens and we are asked to brush it aside. Activism is antithetical to being selfless. It is about being ruthlessly selfish about what matters in life and that starts with working on yourself. It is decoding all problematic aspects to make yourself and the world feel a lot safer than we actually do.
Moreover, this broad-spectrum becomes clearer when we look at activism through a day to day lens. This is to say that it is not just about going for a protest when something massive happens but focusing on the day to day elements that speak of oppression and understanding that within your little pocket of the world. Being a college student, I have been a part of multiple networks and clubs. I have seen/faced psychological bullying that came from a place of a stereotypical mindset of people who otherwise claim to be woke on their social media handles. Although a lot of this behavior is unnecessary, it taught me the importance of using activism as a tool to advocate for yourself in these little spheres because this is what will amount to the results we wish to see in the long run. It is always about those little spaces where we can create change and this is not simply about fighting for that kind of perspective but acknowledging your value and rights when faced with adverse situations like this.
The word activism triggers a lot of people but there is far more to it than most people realize. It is an essential safety blanket that gets us going, teaches us things that we will never be taught in a million years, and gives people hope.