Self-Censorship

It’s 3 AM in the morning. There she was lying on her, suddenly awakened by feeling of anxiousness. She wondered why? Was it the horrendous meeting with her colleagues at office in the morning? Was it the constant bickering with her partner that evening? Was it something else? She couldn’t point out exactly what’s troubling her in the middle of night, when she is supposed to be deep asleep. She has been having these anxieties more often these days. Every time she decided to shove these away to a corner of her mind and get on with her life. But today, the feelings were too strong that she decided to take a shot and see if she could put at least today’s anxieties to rest.

She acknowledged couple of things. One – she doesn’t take her work too seriously. She sees it as a means to an end. She is not in the elite club of people who live to work. So her office meetings shouldn’t be the reason. Next she is very well aware that her bickering with partner is not a thing in itself, rather it is the manifestation of her anxieties. Her partner is an understanding personality. So she ruled that out as well. Now she has to figure out what exactly it was.

Out of the blue it hit her. It is an article that she read the other day. The article was about Self-Censorship. She works in a corporate firm, which pays her enough and she has a nice family. Then why should such an article worry her? The word Self-Censorship was something she never associated with herself. The article explained the perils of doing so Censorship : Curbing of Freedom of Speech; Threatening of individual liberty; Letting go of the powerful people by not holding them accountable; Homogenization of thought among the public.

She wondered how someone could censor something as precious as his/her own thoughts.Until she read the article she thought about herself, as someone who rarely had second thoughts about sharing her opinion on social media or with friends and family. She thought of herself as a responsible citizen and that she stood for what is right.

But then it dawned on her slowly. She realized she in fact did censor her thoughts, especially the political ones. She kept quiet when she was in a politically charged situation. She had so much to say, but she rarely said anything meaningful. She tried to diffuse the heated environment with some mundane jokes about her partner. She thought 1000 times about sharing a video, which spoke about the life of being a minority in a majoritarian country, on social media. She came from privileged class. She never experienced what it was to be in minority, (though being a woman has its own problems), yet she knew to an extent what it’s to be live in a minority, through articles and her friends’ experience. However, the video took her by surprise. It was so distressing to watch it, that her first instinct was to share it. But something held her back. She decided it is prudent to not share. This is only one such recent instance

On other instances, she would sugar coat her thoughts to such an extent that her thoughts’ potent would almost be neutered. Or she would go round and round and round when expressing some political opinion that by that time people receive the opinion they would have gone asleep. She used to think all her behavior as being prudent or taking care of not to hurt others. Though these may be true to an extent, but what she actually was doing is censoring herself. The irony was that she used to encourage everyone around her to be more open and express their thoughts freely.

She understood that by self-censoring her thoughts, she is no different from a person, who doesn’t express his/her thoughts. It is not just this mere realization that made her anxious. But it was the dissonance between who she thought herself to be a person and who she actually is. She had always believed to live in harmony with her thoughts, but never imagined that she would be just like the million others who live such a dissonant life. Good thing for most of those people is that they don’t find out about their dissonance. But somehow the dissonance nagged her & her subconscious mind shone the light on it to her. It’s one thing to figure out that there is a dissonance, it’s entirely a different thing to resolve it.

She either has to stop pretending herself as a person living with harmony of her thoughts or she has to act in a way that could have major consequences. This potential decision that she had to make, made her even more anxious. Luckily for her the mundane meetings scheduled for the next day came to mind and once again helped her move on. But now that she understood that there is a conflict between her perceived self and real self, it is going to be even harder for her to not have many more anxious nights.

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