I used to think you had to be a player to succeed. I used to think you had to calculate sometimes, tolerate, keep quiet, turn a blind eye. I used to remove my piercing before entering an office, cover tattoos at job interviews, keep my mouth shut while bosses threw phones to the floor in a fit of rage, instead of holding the hands that I love, I used to clench mine in my pockets. In short – I was wrong.
They teach you ever since you are a child that you do not answer back to the elderly, but must show respect. Nobody teaches you how to always say what you think while respecting the other. They teach you to put up silently even with what is wrong, but nobody teaches you that what is wrong cannot be changed by putting up with it but through conversation. They first teach you to keep you head low, and only after that how to use it. I used to mistake silent acceptance for going against oneself, turning a blind eye for closing your eyes before the evil, keeping quiet for biting your tongue. I was wrong first, and it was only later that I learned.
All that time something was burning inside me, making my temples throb in the moments of injustice, drying up my throat in the moments of helplessness but it also gave me strength to raise my voice finally, even though I had been trained to keep quiet. It must have been my inner being that refused to play those games. It realised those games always turned against you. This is why I always stayed in those dishonourable circumstances and relationships long enough to figure out what it was all about and short enough to avoid becoming like them.
Now I see, as the years go by, the game gets more devious. Manipulators try to convince you that keeping quiet about the truth is not a lie, non-believers tell you to trade your faith for a dinner, opportunists to curb your passions and do the work that brings benefits, money worshippers to sell your invaluable talents at their estimated price, and capitalism to sell your last principle in exchange for a thicker wallet. Those who are without love convince you that love does not exist nowadays, and those who live solely at the expense of others convince you that there is only interest.
It is too noisy outside. People are loud. Everybody knows everything, they talk at the same time and their mouths are full of words. There is too much to hear, and too little is true. Under the pretext of giving advice, a whole army of the obedient but alienated is being recruited. It seems that people like that because being only guided by what other people say is the line of least resistance. When you follow advice, everything appears to be clear, it seems obvious, but there is a snag if you follow bad examples.
However, it is too quiet inside. It has become empty. It echoes. People have stopped listening to the whispers of their conscience, have stopped understanding their feelings, have stopped following their intuition. They have killed their compassion by silencing it. It is hard to sound out your dreams, it is hard to believe them, because our conscience never screams in our face the way people outside do. It whispers. That is why it is always easier to look around than inside ourselves, although we are closest to our inner beings. It is emotional short-sightedness when we see fragmented pieces in the distance and follow their trace not knowing what is inside ourselves.
I have stopped trying to tailor my outward being to other people’s expectations, and have learned never to betray my inner being for the sake of other people’s expectations. I have become faithful to it and have learned to listen to it. On the territory of my world, there is only one rule – remain true to the essence of your being and your principles even if it means having nothing. Because having everything without being yourself to enjoy it is Nothing. Because only those people who never stray away from themselves know how to be close to others. And that is Something. And that is Everything and Everything means the world to me.
Translated from the Serbian by Svetlana Milivojević-Petrović
This post is also available in: Serbian