Dinner table conversations at home are often unpleasant. It significantly revolves around how incompetent or inexperienced I am compared to other people of my age. I realized I wasn’t worthy enough to be a boy of my age.
Back in school, I was asked to man up whenever I went to seek help during distressing times. I learned that I should pretend to be fine when I am hurt, deep within.
One day I was shamed for not winning at a competition. I had to digest the fact that defeat was never an option in my life.
There are instances when I preferred to remain silent after listening to triggering statements or derogatory opinions. All credits to my conflict phobia.
Finally, I learned to tune myself with the norms and rules of society so that I could fit in and get some kind of validation for my existence, and this was when stoicism entered like a dreaded monster, extending its bloody hands to cover my mouth and cloud my emotions.
According to Greek philosophy, stoicism refers to the teachings or the ethics designed to lead a happy, virtuous, and wise life. It is regarded as a powerful tool for those in pursuit of perseverance, self-discipline, and master, or in simpler terms, it taught people to be free from any kind of passion, and unmoved by grief or joy. History’s great minds believed in stoicism and sought them out.
Even though the core idea of stoicism is lucid and relevant, the modern version of it seems hyper-polluted.
Society’s paradigm is quite a complex subject. As you grow up, you are expected to be the ideal man or woman who is capable of handling responsibilities without any flaws and mold into perfect shapes and sizes to please the people around us. And, this is where the misappropriation begins. You tend to suppress your agonies and hardships without any display of emotions, just so that you can avoid getting called ‘the fussy one’ and when you fail or break down, you silence yourself with phrases like Do not give up, Keep calm and move on when in reality, it just starts to snowball and multiply your miseries.
The societal norms which define the dichotomy between genders have posed an unspeakable threat to the modern world. At places where patriarchy reigns, you can find a crisis of affection, especially in males. They have no female companionships except for the ones at their home, thereby tricking boys to signal their masculinity. They tend to follow the same rituals for generations unless cooped.
I too am emotionally sterile at times. I constantly worry about the visceral way I cringe when I talk on video calls. I waste my time significantly in “What others might think about me?”, unaware that this very notion has the potential to cripple my existence one day. No wonder, Gen-Z has mistaken the word depression for sadness, failing to realize the existence of a thin line between both. There are days when I feel that I missed a great number of opportunities to express myself, cry, voice out my opinions, vent out my feelings. Maybe I was just afraid of grief, which might make me look weak in front of other people.
It is exhausting to keep up to the expectations of people around us, especially at times when you are grappling with your internal self. It is worthless to bottle up your emotions and choke yourself with unforeseen consequences. We as humans have the power to express our inner self, vent out our opinions. It has a cathartic effect.
Stoicism is brutal. It is capable of taking a toll on one’s mental health. You may opt for silence, but the echoes inside will remain and thrive, to haunt you forever.