So our annual exams finally ended today – even though we still have our Psychology practical on 28th – and my Psychology paper went really great – better than I’d expected in fact, because I was so worried about it yesterday that I couldn’t think properly. The practical doesn’t require much preparation, so until the results are out and we are informed when the next session (last year of school!) begins, I’m completely free to do whatever I want to do.
I have several things planned, of course. My top priority is to work on my stories – edit them and see which of them work and which don’t, and then send them out. On Sunday, I received another rejection from one of the magazines I’d sent my story to, and although I filed it into my ‘Rejections’ folder, my rejection count standing at 2, I did feel a bit disappointed to see it. However, a second later I told myself that this was another reason to work hard at my writing. And I’ve decided to officially make it a goal to receive hundred rejections this year. Having concrete goals is more motivating and makes it easier to work on them.
Besides writing, I’ve also got to do a lot of reading. No one’s compelling me to, but I’ve got around eight to nine unread books on my shelf since around nine months now and it’s about time I finally read them. I’m currently reading a collection, 50 Greatest Short Stories published by Rupa and Neil Gaiman‘s The View From the Cheap Seats (reviews coming within this week), and I have a couple of more short story collections; Ruskin Bond’s journal on nature; Little Women; and Jenny Lawson’s Furiously Happy, among other books. I cannot wait to read them all.
Today I also started preparing for my writing internship with Indians 4 Social Change. We were asked to list three topics we wanted to write about and the editors will choose one from them for each intern and we will then work on our assigned topics. I chose feminism, disabilities and mental health, and adoption. I want to write about a lot of social issues – the environment, LGBT people, caste-based discrimination, etc., but except for feminism, I chose my topics because these are so rarely discussed. I have a lot to say about feminism and adoption and people with disabilities, but my knowledge about mental illnesses is very limited. You can say I know next to nothing about it. It is such a vast topic, and I only realized how important it is to talk about it when we briefly discussed anxiety, depression and PTSD in our Psychology class. We will be studying these topics in detail in 12th standard, and I’m really looking forward to it. It is also one of the reasons I’m considering – though not as seriously as writing – pursuing a career in Psychology. I cannot be a psychiatrist because I’m a humanities student and haven’t studied Science since after 8th standard, but I think I could help even as a psychologist. I don’t know though – my teacher tells me that I need at least six to eight years of study to become a professional psychologist, and as much as I’d like to help people, I also want to study Creative Writing in college and write for literary magazines and publish my own short story and essay collections some day. Maybe I’ll study Psychology after I’ve settled down as a writer and take it as a minor in college, and write about mental health awareness.
Talking about mental illness, I also wrote a long entry a few days ago about how I’m actually afraid to write about it. I’m very young and as far as I remember I haven’t seen or known anyone who’s suffering any kind of mental illness. These are very sensitive issues to talk about, especially when you yourself haven’t been there. I follow a few bloggers who write about their struggles with depression and anxiety, and I’ve realized that every person’s struggle with mental illness is different. The one thing common among those I follow is the fact that they continue to be hopeful about the future and are constantly engaged in improving their lives. I love to see the optimistic tones in their posts; it makes me feel happy for them, even though I know none of them personally, and I hope they all win their battles. Although, with the way they’re dealing with it, it looks like they already have.
I’m afraid to write about mental illnesses because I don’t know enough and I’m afraid I’ll get things wrong and hurt someone. I want to know more about it; I want to study these issues so that if anyone around me ever needs help, I can be there for them. The pieces I’ll be writing as a part of my internship will be journalistic and not personal reflections, but I still want to get my facts right. I started researching the state of mental health treatments in India today and will do so in the coming week until I’m informed about which topic I’m supposed to write about. There is so much to learn and explore.
Yesterday, I was quite stressed not only because I was afraid I was unprepared for my exam, but also because most weather reports this year have been saying only one thing: the year 2016, January 2017, this Sunday that went by, were the hottest ever recorded. I’ve been worrying about global warming ever since as I kid I realized how serious it was, and things have only been getting worse. Ten years ago, encyclopedias told me the end of the world was billions of years away. Now reports tell me we would soon be having an average daily temperature of 45 degrees Celsius. The Arctic is melting; forests are receding because man wants money; Donald Trump doesn’t even acknowledge that climate change is an issue. There are so many proofs of it staring us in our faces and yet I cannot see anyone doing anything. People are writing books and articles about it, scientists are reporting how the situation is getting worse every year, but no one is doing anything to end these problems. We’ve got to look at the root causes and start from there.
Reports on the condition of the environment unsettle me as much as my loneliness does and sometimes I even feel like shouting at all adults for making the world so weak just for the sake of profit. I’m tired of reading about the effects of global warming. For once, I want to read about how we’re slowly winning in our fight against it. I’m doing my bit – using public transport and not wasting anything, be it food or electricity – and hanging onto the hope that in the time that we still have, we will take matters into our hands and the future will not look as hopeless as it does now.
I’m hanging onto hope.
And onto writing and books and pets and flowers.
With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy? – Oscar Wilde