Stand up. Speak up. Show up.
[I wrote this in 2019. That was the year when I stopped waiting for ‘someone else’ to do what had to be done. Looking back, I have continued to redeem that pledge I made to myself.]
Last year, on my birthday, I promised myself that I would accomplish three things before I completed another revolution around the sun. I decided that I would learn a new language, get my Open Water certification and start on and complete one large craft project. I failed miserably in two, and barely made much headway with the third.
After struggling to fit the Open Water certification into my schedule, I put it aside for another day. I do still hope to get it someday, but when that will be, I cannot tell. [2022: paused indefinitely, but not yet abandoned.]
The crafting project didn’t ever go beyond the planning stage, though I did put in some effort into learning new techniques which I might apply in the future. [2022: I am not sure I even remember what the project was, though I still have stashes of craft supplies.]
For a couple of weeks, my Urdu lessons progressed well, till I reached a stage when I could make out parts of words in hoardings. But then the complexity got to me, and I stopped. Not gave up, not yet. But put on indefinitely pause. [2022: I made progress here.]
I should be disappointed because I fared so badly on all the three big tasks I set for myself; yet I am not. Because though I missed on on these smaller things, I did well on the Big Thing. The thing that I had chosen as the cornerstone of my life sometime during the course of the year-
‘Stand Up. Speak Up. Show Up.’
It was not easy. At times, it was actually pretty hard.
To stand up for what you know is right, even though almost everyone around you thinks otherwise. To risk antagonising family and friends who are living in a dimension very different from your own. To not let yourself be bullied into silence to keep relationships intact.
To speak up is hard, when yours is a lonely voice. Staying silent is tempting when you know the hate that will be heaped on you for opening your mouth. Even if you know you are right, it is easy and tempting to attempt to negotiate an uneasy peace by staying silent..
To show up even when you believe that your presence doesn’t make a difference. To stand with a group of strangers holding a placard, to address that letter which may or may not be read, to speak to a stranger and try to convince them of what you are protesting for.
When your life is packed tight, and you don’t have the energy to ‘stand up, speak up, show up’, you can convince yourself that you are doing ‘enough’. That signing a petition on change(dot)org, or liking a post on Facebook is sufficient. That someone else can fight the battle you are too tired to take on. That you don’t have to be there doing everything.
But no matter what you do, it is never enough. Because there is so much to be done. So many battles to be fought, just to hold on to our heritage and ensure equal opportunities for all. Those battles will be fought. Because they must.
I am happy that to the best of my ability, I did stand up, speak up, show up. I could have done more, but at least I did as much as I could. And it counts for something. While I go around the sun again, I want to continue doing just that.
I also want to make more time for people; the people who matter, and the ones who need me. I want to spend more time with beauty; natural and man made. I want to continue living in joy.
And somewhere in all that, I hope I am also able to achieve the three things I promised myself last year.