I often think back to the fourteen-year old me. Fourteen-year old me who probably didn’t even know the meaning of activism. Young, naïve fourteen-year old me leading her cushy life, in a bubble of blissful ignorance.
“Those activist types...aren’t they those super angry people who keep shouting and protesting over everything for no reason? They really need to learn to calm down.”
And that’s exactly the kind of stupid things you say when you’ve been brought up in a middle class, upper-caste, Hindu family with no reason to question the natural order of things. I was happy in my little bubble. But you see, that’s the thing about bubbles- one pin is all you need to burst it. And like the iridescent bubble that so often shifts its hues, that one pop made me shift my perspective.
“Wait…my entire life has been governed by the oppressive patriarchy? The LGBTQ+ community doesn’t even receive basic dignity? HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT WHAT CLIMATE CHANGE IS DOING TO EARTH??”
No wonder those ‘activist types’ were so angry all the time. I was surprised that more people weren’t as angry about these pressing issues more often, or that neither my school nor my family ever taught me to pay more attention to what was happening around me. Were they not seeing what I was?
And there it was- the answer. They weren’t seeing what I was… because nobody taught them to. Just like mine, their elders never taught them to challenge their own beliefs- they were taught to be grateful for what they had, to drown out the noise of the oppressed with the music of their privilege. They never had access to resources like the internet, and hence they never received their defining bubble pop.
So that’s where I began my relationship with activism. Activism to me didn’t mean worthless anger anymore, rather it became a constructive tool to make the world a better place. Activism to me meant having difficult conversations with friends and family, to be that person who called them out on their seemingly harmless jokes, to use social media to enlighten myself and those around me, to share and sign petitions, to donate to good causes when I could, to break away from the cycle of apathy and express myself.
I now look at seventeen-year old me. Seventeen-year old me, who is, by no means, a perfectly aware person, but is constantly striving to be. Older, informed seventeen- year old me who is constantly uncomfortable with the amount of privilege she was born with, and is trying to channel it to be useful to this world.
Being young and dependent on adults, whose views often clash with the cause you’re trying to stand up for, often results in limited options to participate in activism. You can’t attend protests or talk to lawmakers, so it often seems futile to try. But being silent is being complicit. Activism is not contained to one standard box- it can take different forms in different people. All it takes is a little courage and realization.
And who knows? Your activism could be what it takes to pop someone else’s bubble.
Author ~ Divya Agarwal
Editor ~ Manas Mehta