The anxiety that creeps in

Dear Helsinki,

It has been a long time since I have written to you and I wish I could tell you nothing has happened, but in fact a lot of events have taken place since I penned you a letter and now I am wondering from where I should start. In fact I have tried to scribble you something and every single time I say the same thing and then I give up, because there is so much to tell and I have absolutely no idea where to begin so I concede and do nothing. But if I continue like this, we will never be what we used to be so please forgive me if I sound rude and just tell you everything in the most rudimental manner possible.

My university studies are not going as they were supposed to advance — I just dropped out of from one of my compulsory courses, because I never attended the lectures. I also did not start my graduate seminar, because I was not bothered to sit down and decide what the topic of my thesis topic should be so rather than attempting to pick a topic that interests me enough, I decided there is no point. The same thing happened with one of my compulsory course. I have absolutely no idea what it entails and I heard from many of my friends it is an easy course to pass if you are willing to go through the boring lectures, but I could not bring myself to wake up every Tuesday and Thursday morning at 7.30am to attend a series of lectures that had no bearing for my future, well besides the fact that I had to attend the class to get my degree.

A month ago I got a call from the parliament. They wished to interview me for a job that I had applied to and although I had given up on the hope of ever getting it, I got enormously excited about it. The interview was a failure and a few weeks later I found out I did not get it, because supposedly they picked a person whose life situation matched better with the demands of the job. I had absolutely no idea what it meant, but it was the first rejection I had received since applying to high schools and I wish it had not brought back all the miserable memories from the period, but it did. Everyone had told me I would be accepted to my first choice, but ultimately I failed to gain an admission. I do not think I ever recovered from it and it still bothers me.

You may ask what does it matter if one says no and you are right, it should not. After the rejection in my middle school I did succeed and got a scholarship to study at one of the most prestigious high schools in the world, but the thing is that I never stopped competing against myself. In the final year of high school I had to apply to colleges and even with poor SAT-scores I managed to secure a spot at one of the most credited liberal arts colleges in the United States with a full scholarship, but guess what, I did not get into one college that was nowhere near the top rankings and I could not help thinking what is wrong with me. I accepted the spot at the college, but as you know, I dropped out quite soon to pursue my love and I thought that at this point I have lost all my credibility and there was no one that would offer me what my college had given me, but six months later I was accepted to a Dutch college, once again with a full scholarship that covered even my rent, and all that was in my mind how bad were the other people if they were able to offer me the scholarship. Afterwards I got an internship opportunity at an embassy, government think-tank and Amnesty International and none of the achievements made me feel good — and then I got the rejection from the parliament and I crashed.

I have never been quite happy with myself. I have always required external validation, but nothing is sufficient. Probably had I gotten a yes from the parliament I would had thought how bad were the other applicants if I was able to get the position, that very same lurking thought that visits me every single time when receive external validation. I never think that I was in fact the best of everyone; I just give the credit to the fact that I was the least worst of all the possible options.

The rejection I got from the parliament was one of the firsts in a really long time and it has affected me much more than I had ever imagined. Since that I have put my life on hold and not progressed with anything in my life. And I know it should be all right to take a pause, but everything else around me keeps going on at an insane pace and I cannot help but feel that I am lagging behind when what I need the most is just to sit down and think of nothing. But it is not just possible. Not the way I would need a break.

I wish I could tell you not to worry about me, that I would pick up the pieces and everything will be fine. I probably will, this is not the first time I have been disappointed at my self but what about others who just cannot find the strength in themselves to find the courage and fight against the norms that the society places upon us?

And what about me, my Helsinki?
What happens when I get too tired?

Stories that restore your faith in humanity

Dear Helsinki,

This morning I woke up to the sound of your tears landing on the roof. I have never seen you as sad I have witnessed you this summer, but you never tell me what is wrong because you do not wish to distress me with what you think are trivial issues. You not telling me what makes you experience this lugubrious colour does not prevent me from feeling concerned for you, my darling. I care for you and I will always worry about you because in the grand scheme of things you are the only who has been there my entire life, even through the most abominable moments where I mistreated you. You never left me and you keep telling me you will never leave me, that you will always love me no matter how apart we would be. And I believe you.

Your melancholia was contagious and I am also wistful, wandering aimlessly in my mind. Irrational thoughts spiced with gloomy despair have gathered in my head to compete in the world championships but the opening ceremony has been delayed, because I am struggling to give in to the solicitous sorrow. I am not too sure how long I can resist any longer and perhaps that is the reason I write you this letter; I have been thinking about writing about love and compassion of strangers for so long, but there is always something else that requires my attention so I never got around it. I did not want to think of too much about the morose speculation that seems to have made a reservation in mind for this week, so I think right now is the perfect time to tell you a couple of moments that have strengthened my faith in humanity and made the world look so much more beautiful than she already is. To remind you of it. And to remind myself.

I do not think I told you but I work two jobs presently. The mornings I spend in the office working on human rights reports among other administrative and office work that requires little interaction with the people. After seven hours there I go to my father’s shop to do three hour shift; my dad has traveled to India and my mother is unable to stand in the shop for twelve hours every day so I agreed to help them out for three weeks my dad is absent. And I have come to enjoy so immensely because of the few customers that come every night.

We are complete strangers, but yet we ask how we have been doing during the day and get to know about each other’s life, work and even love. It is a wonderful feeling to learn about them; we have never asked names and we will probably never meet outside of the shop, but we have established a special relationship despite the limited space of our interaction. I cannot explain it well. But I am always learning something new about the few customers who spend just a minute longer to learn about me. And that, perhaps oddly, brings joy to me.

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I wrote you some time ago about the kindness of people who were unknown to me, but here are three other stories that have impacted me greatly. There are many more, perhaps even more groundbreaking than the ones I am about to share with you but at the moment these are the tales I keep closest to my heart. I hope you can tell me about your buoyant encounters with strangers because I am certain we all have experienced them. No matter how small the deed, moments like these nurture our souls with the magnanimous love that in the sullen times remind us of how amazing the world is. I think hearing your stories would give me strength to evict the morose speculation in my mind. But here are mine, my dearest. Continue reading

Love that the world loaths

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Dear Helsinki,

Several years I have been fighting for my rights to be recognised. The language of human and fundamental rights have become an integral characteristic in the way I speak to decision-makers, general public and other stakeholders about legalising the love my heart longs for, desperately. I quote significant individuals who have come out in support of the battle I am struggling with, I refer to the international human rights instruments that protect all humans from oppression and discrimination and I compare the situation to other states which have made remarkable advancements. But this time Helsinki, I no longer wish to convince the rest of the world with abstract notions of love, rights and equality. I want to tell you my story. And I wish you to help me understand what it is about my feelings that still today make most of the world shiver with disgust.

I met a man in India a few weeks back. We started conversing on Grindr, an application for gay men to meet each other, and that alone felt strange as I never have a conversation on it. I use it for my own amusement and maybe three or four times a year I actually respond to someone, but his message and profile sparked my interest instantly that I responded without thinking the possible consequences.

We sent each other long messages, getting to know each other and soon enough I discovered myself having a chat with him every single time I had access to Internet. I would stay up until 3am every night, just talking about our lives, dreams that kept us going on, people that we had loved in the past and TV-shows that entertained us. It was effortless as if you had been discussing with a person who had known you the entire lifetime. Without realising I had let all my guards down with him, I had allowed him to enter my life and to access all parts of it without a hint of caution. My heart had not experienced such a magnitude of attraction and desire in years and she yearned to have more of the infatuation.

He had asked me a few times if I was able to visit Chandigarh, the city where he lived. I had been planning to travel there before we had started to talk, but then I realised it was four hour drive down to the mountains and as I was with my family my freedom was constrained. My lungs were thirsty to see him and the crippling thought of not seeing paralysed my entire body. Just a week before I was leaving the town, he found a compromise that worked for both of us: we would meet in Solan that was two hour ride away for both of us and have a coffee there. It was not much, but it was all we could have and I was willing to take it even though I was certain that the moment that meeting was over, the yearning for him would intensify conspicuously. Continue reading

Maybe one day, Brussels

Dear Brussels,
I am in the plane right now on my way back to Helsinki and although it has been just a couple of minutes since I departed from your arms, I just had to write you right now.

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I survived; the feeling of being in front of an audience and discussing integration of migrants in the European Union while strangers carefully listen to the words my mouth forms was terrifying. I was the last panelist so as speaker after another finished their presentation, I experienced the uncomfortable sensation of panic in my heart and all I wanted at that moment was to run out of the conference room and escape the entire situation. I looked at the exit door and toyed with the idea of how the moderator would explain the situation to the audience and people watching the discussion online. More irrational thoughts poured into my dwelling mind as my turn came closer. I could hear my lungs grasping for outdoor air. My hands began to tremble nervously. Continue reading

The greatest hits of March 2015

Dear Helsinki,

For several years I have had this plan to keep track on the music I listened to the most each month. As you know I am a snob when it comes to music and also a bit addicted to my last.fm profile, which has kept record on all the tracks I have played for over ten years. I do not think I could ever date anyone who did not share my obscurely good taste on music and I do swipe right every time I notice the guy has more than 20 common artists likes regardless of his looks… though, they always tend to be very good-looking.

So now I have decided to start my project and write you each month about the bands I have listened to the most. I know you reluctantly let me be in charge of the music when we are together, but hey keep an open mind. You never know what you may discover!

TOP PLAYED BANDS IN MARCH 2015

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