Where the Truth Lies

In today’s world of glamorization and exaggeration, in which truth is concealed, it is easy to feel like you are the only person struggling in life. In reality, though, all of Earth’s 7.3 billion people are currently going through something difficult in their lives  – whether it be related to family, money, food, or even clean air.

Whether we are speaking of industrialized countries or Third World nations, humans have learned to put a brave face forward that somewhat translates into ‘I am all right.’ To illustrate this, let us imagine having an aerial view of New York City’s streets on a Monday morning. You would notice the elderly, men, women and children bustling and scurrying from one place to another. Rarely would these pedestrians expect to be stopped by someone and be asked how their morning is going. Even if such an exceptional incident took place, one would be bewildered and immediately judge the kind person to be bizarre. Why is it frowned upon if you express a warm smile to a stranger walking past you on the sidewalk? Or why do people seem surprised if a youngster gives their seat up to a pregnant woman on the subway? The sole purpose of such kind acts is to induce familiarity and comfort into a rather cold and sheltered world.

We wonder why peace and genuine kindness are fading from our society, but what we fail to realize is that we ourselves are the perpetrators of this. We are constantly advocating for truth in all affairs, yet we ourselves are pressuring one another to conceal the truth. Oh, the irony that lives in us!

The main point of society teaching us to present a false representation of reality, is so that every one of us can develop a sense of belonging. For example, if you pretend that your relationship is not rocky, you are the average happy couple. If you pretend that your significant other and children are perfect, then you are the average All-American family living the American dream. if you pretend that you immediately received a job offer after college, then you are a successful post-graduate. These are all labels that we feel compelled to belong to: happy family, happy marriage, happy couple, happy graduate … just happy all the time. This is simply incorrect. If there is one thing that we have learned from the years we’ve lived, it is that life is not intended to be bump-free. It’s the crashing waves, tumultuous peaks, and thorny bushes that will ultimately direct us towards the road of peace. Nirvana.

In short, when we say that society is teaching us to filter and glamorize the truth, we need to realize that we are the society. Hence, a change must come from within ourselves. If one soul decides to break free from this culture of homogeneity, that free spirit will be contagious. Soon enough, a ripple of change will pervade the whole sea. 

It’s okay to cry from all of life’s stress – no one will judge you. In fact, every one of us is yearning for someone to show vulnerability, because that is what life is about. If you glamorize your life, you are not creating a sense of ‘fitting in,’ but rather, are building a cold wall around you that no other person can relate to. On that note,
when life presents you with lemons, don’t make lemonade, but show their pure acidity to the world.

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Just One Look

A look speaks more truth than what our mouths desire to say.

It was one sunny October afternoon, as I was lazily waiting at a bus stand and aimlessly gazing at all the cars that whizzed past me. I couldn’t help but notice a young woman also waiting at a bus stand parallel to where I was standing. Her head hung low, allowing her pretty brown hair to fall against her cheeks. Unlike me, the busy streets around her did not seem to budge or interest her at all. A few minutes later, a young man was walking toward her bus stop. He also had his head bowed down, busily tapping away on his phone. He then looked up and noticed the young woman, and immediately, he started to adjust his scarf around his neck. I chuckled. It was one look, and only one, and this young man wanted to make a good impression in front of the young woman. As the man neared the stand, the girl looked up and noticed the handsome fellow. She then straightened her back, pushed back her shoulders and fixed the collars on her leather jacket. I chuckled again – I was getting excited, merely because you don’t get to witness a connection like this at a bus stop in a busy city. Imagine explaining to your kids: “and that is how I met your dad, sweetie – we shared a look at a bus stand, and I knew he was the one right then and there.” All jokes aside – as this cheesy scene was playing in front of my eyes, I couldn’t help but be awed by the fact that two complete strangers can feel compelled to leave a lasting impression on each other, even if they may never see each other again. It only took one look.

On another day, I was sitting in the waiting room of a clinic. Children’s toys were strewn everywhere, toddlers were running around half-naked, and babies were crying restlessly. There was one child who was particularly playful and loud – I wasn’t bothered one bit, but several other adults threw irritated glances at the child’s mother. Even though I have no children of my own, I felt sympathetic towards the mother – just because a child is having fun doesn’t mean that he is misbehaving or that is being poorly disciplined. Hence, to show empathy, I looked at the mother and expressed a warm smile, with a small nod. In human definition, it means “don’t worry, you’re not a bad parent.” Immediately, the mother’s face lightened up and she returned a thankful smile. It only took one meaningful look and an encouraging smile to show empathy and love to a stranger that needed it.

A look can change everything – it can heal people, transform situations, allow relationships to blossom, and turn a frown into a smile.

All it takes is just one look.

The Duvet

“Never judge a book by its cover.”

We have all been taught this infamous phrase by our loved ones at some point in time, whether it be by our parents, grand-parents, or friends. However, even though we have been equipped with this advice ever since our adolescence, it is only much later on in life does one truly grasp the meaning and essence of that life lesson. It is only much later on that one is able to distinguish a book from its cover, and truly understand that what the cover portrays is not what the book’s tale narrates .

What is a ‘cover?’ In simple terms, a cover is a mass or means of protecting one’s raw self from a foreign world. A cover can be anything, vaguely varying from a duvet to a pseudonym. Using a duvet as an example, the literal use of this comforting white fabric is to protect one’s bare skin and body from the cold’s icy, unbearable grip. Ultimately, a duvet tenderly nestles the naked skin in a safe haven.

We presently live in a world and age in which we have learned to use a duvet beyond its intended purpose. Ultimately, every one of us has woven a personal duvet to clothe ourselves with to shield us from the cold energy present in this world. Every morning, we carefully put on our invisible duvet before stepping out of our home to enter into the world. After our worldly tasks and responsibilities are completed, we head back to our home and breathe a sigh of relief as we take off our duvet for the day.

This duvet, while it may protect one from perceived harm, cannot depict the beautiful life story of every human being who dons it.

More heartbreaking than this is the fact that we live in a world where it is customary to judge a person by their invisible duvet. Many walk past each other, plastering labels on one another based on the duvets they are donning. We live in a time in which it is considered to be bizarre if a stranger offers a heartwarming smile as you briskly make your way through a crowd. We have made it a habit, or a rule, to be uniform. Silent.

However, there are a few who comprehend the ‘duvet.’ These brave souls walk through the crowd and care to peak through our duvet cover to hear the life story we are silently dying to tell.

I long and hope for a day when we all, as a society, can fling our fictional duvets into non-existence. A day when we can celebrate our raw naked selves. A day when we can sit around a campfire, recount our trials and triumphs, and show each other our battle scars. A day when the concept of imperfection is accepted.

I dream for a day when, finally, a book is no longer confined to its cover, and steps out into the world to narrate its beautiful story fearlessly.