The last year has been intense for so many people around the world, I don’t want to elaborate or rake up the past year that was. With 2021 truly came true beginnings and challenges and with the present challenging us more than ever with the fear and paranoia around us, I decided to take baby steps into travelling, albeit with a lot of caution.
So in the last three months or so, I gingerly took steps to exploring places outside my city, Hyderabad, discovering old forts and landscapes which pre Wuhan Virus, I wouldn’t have even bat an eyelid on it. It was beautiful, challenging and exhausting.
Then I took the next step of travelling for a meditation workshop that confronted me with lots of stuff, which I needed in every way and the next was to naturally go to where I call home- The Himalayas. It seemed natural, instinctive and it felt so right.
Being away from any contact and not maintaining a social code since the past one year meant that I completely forgot about society and it’s limitations, about how it categorises and stereotypes each and everyone.
Let me stop here and tell you what it means. When I crossed 35 I had to cut through societal norms, in each and every way, to fight back whether it was my relationship status, marital status or biological status of being a mother or not. I refused to get cowed down by anything, it was a long battle, more coming from my gender. Once I turned 40, the scrutiny happened more.
Let me tell you, ‘Love yourself’ ‘be kind to yourself’ is very hard to follow while the entire world tells you otherwise. I came back in contact with a world that didn’t change with the virus, didn’t teach them to value life, people or accept as who they are. Even when I did stuff which was different from women in my age, I was categorised and slotted.
I still remember 3 years ago being asked by a lady on a trek, ‘ So what does your husband think of leaving him and your kid while you trek’ not even asking if I had all the above just because I was closer to her age and her perception of me was just that.
I run a lot and I don’t look like a lithe runner, most of the trekkers are very young and skinny and I don’t fit in that category nor I fit in a category where a man in his 60s comes on a trek as an experienced one. In many ways, in almost everything I do, I am slotted in only one category – a middle aged woman.
Why am I saying this? Let me address the elephant in the room. It truly bothers me, hurts me too, to know that with all the advancement of human technology, with the money and privilege to buy and think, to believe we live in a much smaller world, where your age, your gender, your race truly doesn’t matter, yet it all matters. It points at me on my face.
Honestly the only thing that doesn’t seem to judge me are the mountains which accepts me as I am, which sees me the way I see myself a.k.a a young woman who has so much to do and explore before she leaves this world.
So what am I in this world? A big misfit among the misfits because I don’t fit in there too. I was a misfit when I did ironman triathlons, when I taught Yoga, worked in my professional corporate career, running a cafe, or trekking where size matters and age matters there too.
So to all those people regardless of gender who are in ‘my age’ category and who are ridiculed, made the butt of jokes calling you Aunty, Uncle, Whatnot, remember you are not alone.
We live in a thoroughly’Ageist’ society where creams and lotions and surgeries are being invented day by day for ‘youthful’ skin, decades ‘younger body’, where a compliment is ‘ My god, she looks 25’ or ‘ I didn’t know you had a kid, you look so young’.
And then there is me, and there are people like me who don’t want to look 25, 20, nothing, I want to look my age, I proudly wear my slowly forming wrinkles and crows feet, show my tanned dark hands from working hard outdoors and not really worried about my size as a runner, Trekker or a swimmer.
And as for the rest who don’t fall into our category, be sensitive, be kind, be aware, know that we came this far by being ourselves, and we can be your friend and maybe share our experiences. Because, one day you will get there too. Time waits for no one.
Being a misfit in a world of misfits is much harder than you think because I am fighting a battle against every stereotype assigned to me and all I ask for is compassion and equality. God knows, we all need it in our present situation, don’t we?