Reclaim yourself
By:Datuk Beatrice Nirmala

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson, American philosopher

I knew I was meant for much greater things when I was a kid. Much much greater things – like colossal sized, global recognition, queen of the universe, earth shattering, rebuilding a new world order kind of greater things. I felt that in me, in an undercurrent beneath my skin, in my bones…but I was insulated for a thousand miles from that whisper of a feeling, by the crushing reality that surrounded me.

The reality that I was born to ‘nobodies’ and very poor nobodies who did not have the ability to carve a niche for themselves in “The World”. Nobodies who believed they were nobodies and raised me to be another nobody. Any grand idea I had of who I might have become were squashed from very early on with a myriad of excuses – most especially that I was a girl and I had to know my place.

I was of Indian origin in Malaysia and I had to know my place. I was from a lower middle income family and I had to know my place. I was not so smart and I had to know my place. I was supposed to listen to relatives, priests, academics, politicians, any authorities except me.

I was supposed to be my last counsel. My voice did not matter, my instinct did not matter, my life did not matter in the grander scheme of life and we are born to play insignificant roles that only were significant in the context of how we impacted society and authorities and people around us.

Or so we were raised to believe. Because if we thought differently, we were laughed at. ‘Who do you think you are’ is the unspoken elephant in the room that we stumble over or come crashing into. So we conform to being cogs in a giant wheel, and we become submissive to the system that tells us how to think, feel, react and live.

Then we are shown billionaires and celebrities and politicians who live fantastic super wealthy, super successful and super famous lives and we are told to aspire to be like them. But 99 percent of us will never be like them.

Billionaires breed billionaires and these billionaires choose the politicians they want and the celebrities who become their spokespersons and so the families that have ruled the world for hundreds of years will continue to do so. They have always run the system and will continue to do so.

We are told to contribute to the system, but we will never be masters of the system. The system is there to keep us in a continuous state of consumers and producers. We produce children to feed the system and we have our roles to pay the multiple taxes to keep the system energised.

We consume whatever we are told we need to consume with great urgency – face creams to make you stop having wrinkles, foods that will make you better, slimmer, healthier, smarter etc, cars, houses and trinkets that will help you show off that you have arrived, drugs and surgeries to keep you alive from perceived, imagined and sometimes real problems and the list of wants never seem to end.

We are given illusions of freedom and free will but it is all actually tied to the rulebooks. And the rulebooks rule us. It’s impossible not to obey it because we are trained our whole lives to do nothing else but obey it. It’s all we know. We are not aware of a life beyond it – even if we can comprehend it, it’s just a fantasy – a dream we hitch our station wagons to while we play out the roles assigned to us.

But what if we throw away the rulebook? What if we say no?

The only way to be free is to live your life according to your terms. The land is free, the air is free, the water is free, the trees are free and you – you were born to be free. You were not born to be a commodity owned by the state, regulated in every possible way until you don’t even own your own body, mind and soul. You are free to be whatever you choose to be, and live however you choose to be. The only thing that stops you now is a need to conform to society.

Shrug off that need for validation, and you have freed yourself. Shrug off that fear of not belonging to your small little society and you belong to the universe instead. Dream big, unlearn whatever you were taught and go make your vision happen. Don’t be afraid to be different.

We stopped being free humans and became controlled and owned commodities when we stopped asking questions for ourselves and allowed others to think for ourselves – thus replacing free will, self-belief and independence.

Reclaim yourself!

The views expressed here are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the views of New Sarawak Tribune. Feedback can reach the writer at 

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New Sarawak Tribune is a Sarawakian news portal that highlights Sarawak-centric news and other stories of relevance to Sarawak.

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