I’ve often wondered about the word art. What does this short collection of three letters strive to convey? Its utterance is quick, yet trying to comprehend its meaning can bring about an effect of going for the intangible – almost something otherworldly.
Art. It’s definitely the outcome of an action – or actions. A genuine outcome can peel off each layer of superficiality of its maker. It can fling every perceived notion about themselves away. The rose-coloured glasses come off and one has to face hard facts about the self and the world.
It’s quite an experience, one which arose for me from a very specific set of actions: moving out.
It might seem like hopscotching around instability to a fault, but I’ve moved out a lot; the reasons being either that I wanted to grow in more ways and dabble in new areas, or that things just didn’t work out someplace that I was at the time.
I moved out from pursuing a profession in the same field as my graduation degree, and then I moved out from one kind of writing (website content) to another kind (educational counselling content) to yet something else (essays for magazines). Each time, I’ve encountered something new about myself and the world, about my own repressed traumas and those of others around me, or about what can pass as acceptable work interaction and what calls for a resolution – and if that does not materialise, then I put my art to practice and move out.
Moving out was specially empowering when I left my parents’ house to stay on my own in the same city. It took time and planning, and when it finally transpired it was a milestone not only to achieve the outward impression of personal independence, but a clarion call to wedge away from tremendous emotional abuse. The latter is a whip for controlling, and those who use it to lash disregard the fact that there is a living entity at the receiving end. More often than not, it is parents who are the bearers of this tool to establish ultimate control, thus breaking their children more than making them. Mine is a good old anecdote of the ‘privileged household hush-hush.’
My parents’ house is a hand-me-down 2 BHK from my grandparents that my father jingoistically proclaims ownership over and chest-thumps about browbeating me, my mother and my sister to uphold his ‘rules’. My mother makes no decisions whatsoever without my father’s approval and expects her daughters to follow suit. Moving out was choosing to live with dignity, to work on unlearning several self-sabotaging beliefs and to stride towards nurturing an unapologetic life. It peeled away and discarded the layer of adherence to abusive situations, not just at the home front but that at work and relationships.
I could be accused of running away, especially by a majority of the parental generation who fall short when it comes to understanding the instigations behind moving out. Most of us have been taught to make things work – at home and at work – even if it means to forego our self-respect and diminish our self-esteem as today’s twenty-somethings. Wading through toxic interpersonal relationships at work is endlessly glorified as resilience, and domestic bullying is the hard sell for tough love. Anyone choosing to deviate from the norm of sticking around in such environments is the fabled ‘black sheep’; the ingrate.
Moving out has helped me transcend at least a few of the limitations that the patriarchal society imposes to discourage digressing. The act of moving out is far too underrated when it comes to re-establishing happiness, peace, and self-confidence that have been crushed by the surroundings one might be in. Speaking from experience, reasoning with perpetrators is not an option most of the time. In turn, you’re likely to face denial and be accused of being over dramatic or perceiving things wrongly. It’s a vicious circle.
A quote by Zadie Smith, one of my favourite authors, from her novel White Teeth, often nudges me when I second-guess my choices of moving out.
“You are never stronger…than when you land on the other side of despair.”
Each time I’ve moved out, I’ve moved in with facing my own strengths and flaws. I’ve moved in with chasing my goals but making the whole thing fun. I’ve moved in with valuing interpersonal relationships as long as there’s mutual respect. I’ve moved in with new interests and the space to nourish them.
The feeling after moving out is indeed transcendental – almost like creating a piece of art.
Sayli dabbles in all jobs that she has an itch of a skill to fulfill and is presently working as part of a film crew, but she finally comes home to her desk to write.
Featured image credit: Pariplab Chakraborty