I remember the day I came outside a programming lab crying my eyes out. I was studying nearly two years worth of engineering courses that second year because technically, it was my first. The dilemma? How to apply knowledge faster than I was gaining it.
The darling professor, a kind withered soul, looked at my sorry state with genuine sympathy. ‘…because you are a girl ,’ he sighed. I looked at him in teary disbelief. Surely this Hogwarts-worthy professor wasn’t sexist? He pointed at the male dominated class behind us, working in pain-free harmony. ‘They can make do with information as is. Girls, well they are more thorough by nature. They need to know before they do. ’ I remember warming up to his words in that cold alleyway, grateful to be understood. Here was a professor who knew women and engineering down to their complex details. He was a man to be respected.
My mother says I am 100% sincere about whatever I set my mind to. She too, understands me, and what’s more, comes up with kind excuses to back me up. Recently and reluctantly, I have come to accept this ‘excuse’ as the closest explanation I could find for the perpetual state of guilt that comes with being Me. I feel like I need to be ‘sincere’ towards everything in life which I obviously fail to fulfil. I mean, can I even? Can you? I live life overdoing at unnecessary costs or underdoing at guilt-ridden haste. Neither approach does me any good. When I overdo, I invest more than I can give. When I underdo, I feel like I ain’t good enough, even if I manage to tick enough number of boxes. I am my own enemy. Aren’t all women?
Sincerity doesn’t guarantee success or excellence. Not everything I do is A class. Nor is my need to be sincere at what I do fuelled by a need to be Mrs. Perfect. Rather, what makes me tick lies in the somewhat old-fashioned belief that it’s our responsibility to do the things we do to the best of our abilities. That this world needs compassionate people who choose to be as much as they could be, and not anything less. These are childhood beliefs, based on the ideal that the world was ideal too. I grew up to realize that this world is fickle and fucked up and my belief flimsy and fragile. I resorted to the sort of ignorant person who refuses to read the papers or watch the news because it hurt. Murders, rapes, wars, I try to shut it out as much as I can. I am stuck inside a mould that counted on an ideal world and it hurts to be told of its non ideal stories. Maybe I choose to stay trapped and ignorant just so that I can protect that naïve belief I hold of owing it to something, someone, the best of me.
It’s not easy to break away from old habits but these past few weeks I have been trying to reinvent myself. Forcing my mould and my patterns to change. When setting out for a significant task, instead of taking a step back to gauge the bigger picture, I try to go ahead and start ‘doing’. Ignore all the nagging thoughts and nervous voices that beg to be addressed before I make my moves. At times it makes me feel dodgy – like I was leaping before I was looking, doing before I was knowing, failing because I wasn’t exhausting every last drop of energy I had. But it’s getting me forward and I am happy to take efficiency over diligence. I mean who the hell deserves my 100% anyway? The number of tasks I need to juggle in a day are way too many and I am way too saturated to invest my best. And lets face it. If I am one ingredient short for the recipe I dug up or 1 reference short of the 50 I need for my report, the world cannot fuck up more than it already has. Being sufficiently sincere works – nothing in life is 100%. So why should I be? Adulthood needs you to be sufficient, not sincere, efficient, not perfect.