*) Note : I wrote this poem to remembering my best friend who passed away in the beginning of June 2020. Actually, today is her birthday. Since I miss her a lot, but can’t congratulate her anymore, I decided to write this poem.
Today, I can’t talk Doesn’t mean I lose my words in arranging my stories just a piece of wound I can’t tell appearing on the surface making a new scars Oh, this blood! dripping on the paper that I used to write a poem tonight
What do you do when negative emotions, like sadness, anger, fear, anxiety, disgusted, etc hits you? What’d you say to people you care about, when they tell you their problems? Do you show them an empathy or toxic positivity?
We might not realize that we can be victim or culprit of toxic positivity at the same time. So, what’s toxic positivity?
Toxic positivity can be defined as excessive and inneffective overgeneralization of a happy, optimistic state across all situation
To give you an easier explanation (I hope), I’ll show you some example below.
Your friend has broke up with her boyfriend. She’s really heartbroken. She’s crying out loud and needs someone to talk to. Then she came to you and told you her problems. As a response, you told her some “encouragement words” ,such as :
” Be positive” “Look on the bright side” “Don’t give up” “Everything’s gonna be alright” “Moving on” (etc)
(In Bahasa, you often say, “sabar ya..”, “semangat ya..”, “jangan nyerah”, “udah ikhlasin aja” etc)
You told your best friend that you’re defamed by your coworker. It really damaged your reputation that you’ve developed for many years. And your boss was starting to lose his trust in you. Then, your best friend compared your problem with hers or others. She compared which one is more pathetic. She compared who suffers more between you and her or others. In the other hand, she just talked about herself, didn’t pay attention of what you’re saying.
If you have experienced those kind of situation, well, that’s toxic positivity. For situation 1, your friend become the victim of toxic postivity. And you become the one who throws toxic positivity. Meanwhile situation 2 is the opposite of situation 1.
There’re some characteristics of toxic positivity.
Denial. Toxic positivity is fake positivity. It makes people deny and pretend to be happy just to cover their negative emotions. They’ll refuse to be honest to their true emotions and feelings.
Unrealistic. Toxic positivity puts us as if we always have to be happy and positive. Life is up and down. Our life is not always at the top. We can’t always laugh. Sometimes we can cry. The encouragemnt words like I told you in situation 1, look good and motivating. But, it’s kinda problematic and unrealistic. Why? Some of you might disagree with me. Some of you might answer, “I just try to motivate his/her, so he/she can forget his/her problems. Where’s the mistake?”. Well, I suggest you to read it till the end cause the answer will be revealed (implicitly) on the next part.
Comparing who suffers more. Like the example on situation 2, toxic positivity thinks others problem is nothing compare to our problems.
So, what should we do to avoid toxic positivity?
Admitting and understanding your negative emotions. Negative emotions are normal. You don’t need to hide your true emotions by smiling or pretending that you’re okay. Cause it’s okay to not be fine (sometimes).
Releasing your true emotions. If you’re sad after breaking up, you can cry. If someone treats you like a shit, you can angry. When you’ll have a presentation on annual meeting, it’s normal if you’re nervous, especially if it’s your first time. Why do we have to hide it? Why do we have to lie, like everything is okay? Hiding your emotions will damage your mental health in long term.
Learning to control your emotions.Controlling emotions is different from hiding emotions. If you want learn how to control your emotions, you should admit and know first, what kind of emotions do you feel, what do you want. And you won’t ever know your emotions well, if the things you do is denial.
Be a good listener. Don’t interupt someone who tells you her/his problem. Listen and pay attention to what they’re talking about. That’s the reason why God gives us 2 ears and 1 mouth.
Don’t compare who suffers more. Our problem might be the same. But, our strength in facing the problem might be different. What you think is easy, can be difficult for others and vice versa.
Giving the right response. I know it’s hard to give the right response and honestly, I often act like Ms.Know-It-All to them (I’m so sorry T_T). So, what’d you say? You can show them that you care about their condition by saying, :
“I’m deeply sorry to hear that” “I know it’s really hard for you” “If I were you, I’d feel the same” (etc.)
Or… you can give physical touch if necessary (and if he/she doesn’t mind about it), like patting his/her shoulder, hugs, etc. Then, you can offer him/her to talk (or even crying) more till he/she feels better and satisfied. If he/she asks you for an advice, please, do it wisely. If he/she doesn’t ask, please, don’t be Mr/Mrs/Ms Know-It-All (Tbh, it’s the hardest part I should change from myself). Cause sometimes someone only needs to be heard, not asking for advice.
Wearinglonghijab (for Muslim women) : *being labeled as more religious rather than women who wear shorter hijab*
Wearingniqab (for Muslim women) : *being labeled as terrorist
Wearingrevealingclothes : *being labeled as a bitch* -___-
(For this part, I take an example of what have happened (usually) in Indonesia. So, it might be different from your country)
Thick : “youlookugly! youshoulddiet!” (I have a close friend. She has big body. But, her friends, including me, hope that she won’t do (extreme) diet cause she’s already beautiful even with her thick body)
Thin : “doyoureallyhaveboobsandbutt?” (If you ask me this kind of question, let me slap your face with clog)
Loves pink, wears skirt/dress, plays barbie doll, watches romance movie, wears high heels, loves shopping etc : “ew..toogirly! notcool” (Tomboy girl feels more superior than girly girl)
Loves black (dark colours), wears jeans, wears sneakers, football lovers, listens to dead metal/punk/rock music etc : “areyoureallyawoman?”
Being gentle, innocent, lady-like, elegant : *being labeled as weak, not independent, cry-baby, inferior, submissive, can’t stand up for herself*
Being bold, fierce, brave, independent : “men will be afraid of you. so, please, act like a lady” (Sir/Ma’am, I don’t behave to attract men’s impression cause I’m not an attention seeker)
Workingmom : “You’resoselfishandmaterialistic“
Stay–at–HomeMom : “Youwasteyourdegreeandachievementjusttostayathome” (Although you have good carreer, you still have responsibilty to take care of your husband and children)
Single : “Whenwillyougetmarried?” (Fyi :If you’re Indonesian woman, at least 25 years old, but you haven’t introduced anyone yet as your boyfriend or future husband to your family, then this question will haunt you like a nightmare)
Married : “whenwillyouhaveachild?”
Married + 1child : “whenwillyourson/daughterhassibling?” (Meanwhile their baby is still a month)
Conclusion : Honestly, we live in society which everything is rated based on men’s point of view. Meanwhile, we also live in society which women ‘kill’ each other. We can’t please everyone. So, no need to think that much about what they’re saying. You can disagree of others opinion, but, don’t throw a hate comment. You can have your own standard, but, don’t push others to follow your standard. You can have your own preference, but, don’t push others to follow your preference. Because it might not fit in/doesn’t work on someone who has different culture, habit, social status, religion and so on.
*) notes :
Hijab : a veil worn by Muslim women in the presence of any male outside of their immadiate family, which usually covers the head and chest
Niqab : a garment of clothing that covers the face, except eyes, worn by some Muslim women as a part of particular interpretation of hijab.
Ironically, those statements are spoken by women too (mostly).
Ok, let me tell you something.
Womenmustbesmartandwell–educated. A well-educated person is different from a person who’s attended school and got academic degree. Degree and diploma are just signal that you’ve attended, then graduated from school or university. But, they’re not necessarily show how well-educated you are.
Have you ever known someone who’s not attended school or university, but, her/his knowledge is no joke? Have you ever known someone who’s decided to drop out of school/university, but being successful at very young age? Well, I don’t tell you that school isn’t important. I just want to emphasize that one of characteristics every well-educated people have, are never stop learning from anyone or anything. School, university or whatever you said, is not the only place to study. Every place in this whole world is our school and everyone is our teacher.
Let’s back to the topic!
Smart women always know how to handle and overcome the problem. They know how to put themselves in every place, time and situation. Being smart women have nothing to do with their life choices as a working mom or stay at home mom.
Now, imagine if your husband asks you for your consideration or advice on important and serious thing, then what’d you say to him? Please, don’t say that you’d answer, “up to you”. Becausemenwillbeannoyedifyoualwaysanswer “uptoyou” oneverythingtheyask.
Imagine if your children come to you with their innocent yet unpredictable questions, then, how could you explain to them (especially if your children are still underage)? In Islamic beliefs, a mother is the first madrasa for her children. So, howcouldamothereducateherchildren, ifshehasnoknowledgeatall?
There’snothingwrongwithsmartwomenaslongastheystayhumblewiththeirsmartness. So, women should care about their brain and attitude too. Not only their beauty, make up or fashion. And if you have a boyfriend or crush who can’t appreciate your smartness (for example), I’dsaythatit’stimetofindanothermancausehedoesn’tdeserveyou.
In Indonesia, we always celebrate Kartini’s Day every April 21st. I know it’s so late, but, it’s okay to write this topic today. As long as there’re women who are discriminated, labelled or stigmatized, I have the right to speak up anything about it. Anytime, anywhere.
First, Idon’twanttoclaimmyselfasafeminist. Because I think I can speak up anything I care/interest/know about without labelling myself. And I won’t force you to agree with what I write here.
Ok, then. Back to the title.
Womanis amulti–rolecreature. They can be daughter, sister, wife, mother, member of society, citizen of country even a leader of the group/organization/institution/country. Womanisamulti–taskingpersontoo. Have you ever seen a woman who’s doing chores while holding her baby? That’s one of a proof.
Today, women have the same opportunity to get better education and pursue their career. Then, the debate between working mom vs stay at home mom appears on public.
Working mom often assume that stay at home mom waste their knowledges, talents, degrees, achievements, opportunities etc. Meanwhile stay at home mom assume that working mom are too ambitious, selfish and not taking care of their families well. Sometimes, stay at home mom use religious dogma (Iwon’tmention certainreligionherecauseIdon’twanttostereotypingthem) to offend working mom. Meanwhile working mom, sometimes, use feminism issues to strike back.
Like I said before, woman is a multi-role creature. Women have the right to choose what’s the best for their life and future. Whether they choose to be working mom or stay at home mom, they could have gone through an uneasy inner conflict. We might not know how hard the pressure they’re received from family or society.
So, if you’re lucky enough to be surrounded by supportive people and enviroment (parents, siblings, partner, friends, etc), that’s great. But, how about them, who are raised in very conservative family and society?
What is loyality for? If I have to sacrifice my health (both physically and mentally).
What is loyality for? If it makes me “far away” from my family and friends. (Remember, I use ” ” on the word far away).
What is loyality for? If I have to sacrifice my time to rest (my body has its limit. So, if my body is tired, it means I need to take a rest. Honestly, I need to understand what my body wants from me).
What is loyality for? If it makes me “far away” from God? (I need my time to pray regularly)
Sorry, if I’m so selfish. But, I can turn to be selfish when I’m too exhausted of everything or everyone around me.
My head feels heavier Is it gain some weigh? Or do I carry too much numbers? A stack of data Analyze and Forecasr Deadline and presentation
Higher pressure Suddenly everyone gets fussy Top manager give pressure to middle manager Middle manager give pressure to supervisor Supervisor give pressure to the staffs Then, who’s the staff putting pressure on?
I nag to myself, “why are you so dumb and weak?” I push her to the edge She doesn’t accept it I’m angry
So, should I press myself to reach a maximum point?
An euphoria disappeared slowly My steps went so far Those memories that left behind Our conversations in every corner of this place Burst out into laughter The textbooks that we read The difficult terms I didn’t understand The theories, laws, code of ethics, formulas, methods were enough to burn my brain
We won’t stay here forever We have to go even though to the different direction Our graduations weren’t the end It’s just our starting point
If I stop writing My head will explode Because of too much thoughts
If I stop writing My heart will break into pieces Because I can’t take my emotions out
If I stop writing My day will be worse than ever Because there’s no place to escape anymore
If I stop writing It won’t affect your life But, it’ll affect my condition You won’t lose anything But, it’ll be the biggest lost for me
Yogyakarta, November 17th, 2019-06.38 p.m.
*) Notes : I made this poem as a reminder for me when I had to struggle with mood swing, laziness, procrastination, boredom and writer’s block. When I was in those conditions or when I didn’t get enough recognition, I felt like,”should I stop? should I give up?” But, I realized what’s my intention in writing. So, whatever happens, I shouldn’t stop writing. Well, Is there any condition that makes you want to stop writing? How do you get over it? Let me know your stories.