Do you ever have those moments when something is happening around you –a comment, an action, a depiction, any something, really — and you are so surprised or perturbed or shocked by that thing that Bohemian Rhapsody automatically starts playing in your head and you can’t help but wonder if this is real life or if it’s just fantasy? Feel like you’re caught in a landslide, no escape from reality?
I don’t know if this has happened to you recently, but if it has, my friend, then this is the post for you.
I’ve definitely had those moments at least two times over the past few weeks, which I define as follows: when I hear or see something that I don’t agree with but can’t find the words or just don’t feel safe enough to speak. Usually this occurs when I hear something that feels problematic to me, but I can’t articulate my thoughts in a way so that someone else can see where I’m coming from, and results in me not speaking up and continuing to go about my business.
Queue Queen in my head, and I end up usually not bringing anything up and making a Jim Halpert-esque face to the invisible camera in the corner.
Okay, so quick tangent: I’ve been anticipating the deadline for writing my post for the WILL to Lead blog for the past coming weeks, and I’ve been feeling pretty confident about it. I’d talk about my personal experiences at UC, throw in a paragraph about what WILL means to me, add a classic Akshayaa pun or two, give a quick shout-out to the Social Change Model, and bam! I’d have a concrete contribution to mark my membership in the group, a succinct and humorous expression of my feminist ideals, and a way to track my growth all in one neat blog post.
Naturally, it hasn’t been that easy. I read and re-read the posts of fellow WILL members and feel so proud of them for their courageous and thoughtful words, and I sit in front of my computer for that same inspiration to pop into my head. And as I sit here with no idea about to write my post on, a miracle suddenly occurs, and the sweet, sweet tunes of Queen makes its way into my eardrums and I realize:
Whoa. I’m not having that many Bohemian Rhapsody Moments anymore.
I start going through my journal and start reflecting on my interactions since I’ve joined WILL, and I discover that the number of times I’ve been at a loss for words or have just given up on my thoughts and opinions has significantly decreased, and I’m getting better at speaking up for what I believe to be equitable and just. In WILL, we learn about the Social Change Model during the first few weeks, and I can feel myself actively engaging with certain tenets of the model. I’ve been able to develop awareness of my passions, identity and values while learning about those facets of the people around me in the WILL community, and every meeting I feel closer to a community of leaders who grow together by actively listening to each other and engaging in the mission of the group.
Most importantly, I’m learning what congruence means to me. I’m figuring out how to take my thoughts and implement them into my words and actions, and I owe a lot of the credit to my talented, compassionate and inspiring peers in WILL, who have advised me to write out my thoughts and expressed the importance of taking care of oneself and challenged me to live a more authentic and full life. The number of incidences where I feel helpless or unsure and have to resort to wondering if this is really the reality we live in is dwindling because I am learning to engage with my peers and challenge the systems of power and privilege that surround us.
The way the wind blows does matter to me, Freddie Mercury, and I no longer feel like I cannot contribute at a systemic level to improving the lives and experiences of those around me.
Bohemian Rhapsody’s still playing in the background as I type this (I’m at the Scaramouch! Scaramouch! part and I’m feeling real pumped) and I can finally change the title of this post from “I don’t know what to write about and I think it’s because I don’t know myself at all”, because I realize now that that’s not the case. I do know myself, and I know that I’m continuing to learn, and I couldn’t think of a better place to share that growth than in the WILL community.
Akshayaa Venkatakrishnan is a 1st year WILLer studying Neuroscience. She dreams of starting a feminist cover band and aspires to be an activist in health care.