Coming out of My Cage and I’ve Been Doing Just Fine

 My hair curled up.

 I’m not sure what this means, if it means anything. I mean I have naturally curly hair to begin with, but it hasn’t all been so nicely conformed to a set of taut curls in a while. Is it a coincidence it happened right after my recent mental breakdown? I don’t know, but the speculation is interesting. 

But talking about conformity (even I rolled my eyes), I’ve been doing that lately, and let me tell you: it ain’t all that bad. I go to yoga now. In case you haven’t noticed me running to the gym every evening, I do yoga. I’m a yogi. I love going to the classes. And I actually prefer taking it with others. Have you ever seen me this relaxed, balanced and flexible? That’s yoga.

This is a lot to take in, especially for me, who has detested the human condition for its social interdependence and common behavior since I was in the womb (I’m the fourth child in my family, I couldn’t even have that all to myself!). I never subscribed to a belief, and I’m not foolish enough to say I’ve escaped ideology, but I’ve always subconsciously resisted it. Now, I have a costar account and actually take people’s recommendations for music and books. I went from frequenting the party of one in my bed to actively attending spaces with walkers—I mean, other people. And you wanna know something? I’ve been enjoying it.

This is not to say I’ve never put myself out there and explored such hubs of culture and social happenings, but I’ve never been much enthused before. I went to a live show recently where the band was playing all instrumentals and the existentialist in me wondered for half a minute, “Why am I here? Why are any of us here?” But that thought quickly dissolved as I looked around the room full of people and this eclectic energy as if we were all tuned in to one key, subject to every string of their guitars, as if there was a message being spoken to us. I looked around at the sea of swaying hips and shoulders and thought maybe there was, maybe the message was different for everyone, but the language was all the same. There is something sublime about the way music can speak to us all.

I felt a similar sentiment in yoga the other day as I came up from Svanasana to Bharmanasana. As I was looking around the room full of cattle uniformly being directed to extend our spines at a pacing of three breaths in and six breaths out, I had a moment of awe at the thought of bodies and souls coming together in an effort to better ourselves, but all individually. The path we take is one, but the destinations are ever reaching in various directions. I wondered why I never liked yoga this much before, why I never would have fathomed taking a group exercise class or anything of the sort before. Then I wondered about all my recent changes and started reflectively asking myself why I do any of the things I do now and how do I like them.

But the answer to that occured to me in a different yoga class: I had been resisting acceptance. Now, I have the instructor of that class to credit for this epiphany. She was teaching us Yin Yoga, which is a slowed-down version of yoga, and I, with my restless mind and reckless mannerisms, had trouble maintaining the zen pace. As an explanation that I felt was extremely targeted toward me, she told our class that we may be facing challenges with Yin due to our resistance to acceptance. And that blew the mind of the emo, angsty little nonconformist that lives on in me, and I realized, that is what had changed.  

I grew to not only like, but feel comfort in regular degular shmegular activities that may or may not include people. What’s the harm in that? I started a class project last week, voluntarily, with someone else, and I actually felt better about it! Last month I wrote a story defending popular culture: I’ve become an everyday chump! 

But the one thing that’s to be said of all this is that no matter how introverted you are, it is important to have the right people surround you, to go to spaces where you feel you thrive. Our lives are made up by the people in them, (literally, I mean is your reality even real if no one else is there to verify?) and you’re only as good as the people around you, so it’s imperative to take stock of who you’ve got in your circle and whether you’re fully enjoying the spaces you fill no matter where you go. I can say that the few gems I keep close, ground me and foster a space for me to be myself. I’ve been seeing a lot of people tweaking out lately, as we are heading toward that prime season of darkness like sheep to the slaughter, but I offer the advice of asking yourself some of these questions, and acting accordingly.  

So, did this turn into another column about living in the moment and having the right people around you? Yes, because every time you see my name in the byline, just know it’s going to be a vibecheck.

Mahnoor Ali
About Mahnoor Ali 31 Articles
Mahnoor Ali is a fourth-year English major with a concentration in creative writing and a minor in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. This is her third semester with the The Oracle. Previously, she has worked as Assistant Copy Editor and Features Editor. Her favorite stories to both read and write about are Culture, Entertainment, Lifestyle, and Columns, with an appreciation for News and social issues.