The Downside

By Jeanice Logan. Jeanice, 17, is a student at Lakshmi Girls' Hindu College. She lives in Chaguanas, Trinidad and Tobago. Please read her article and leave your thoughts and comments below.

Steve Jobs, known for his internationally acclaimed technologically based Apple products, stated “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And more important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” Mr. Jobs was regarded as an innovative entrepreneur whose own inspirational journey to the top is reflected in his statement. I wish to explore how his previously stated quotation extends to individuals living with social anxiety, those fazed by unrealistic expectations as well as recovering kidnapped victims.

Firstly, social anxiety is the fear of scrutinization, evaluation and negative judgment in social situations leading to withdrawal from interaction and public involvement. It transcends behavioral inhibition and highly correlates with emotional and physical factors. Individuals living with social anxiety experience heightened and excessive anxiousness often accompanied by visible nervousness, blushing and incessant perspiration. Social anxiety, attributed to inheritance and environmental factors, may trigger Body Dysmorphic Disorder and Depression. How does a socially anxious person find his/her “inner voice” while preoccupied with the weight of words that have been spoken or pondered on? In most cases, the “noise of others’ opinions” may be a perceived notion nurtured by irrational and unreasonable worrying. Nevertheless, if this continues, the ideological liberties of those affected will continue to be restricted. It is therefore essential to seek help. According to an epidemiological report by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 36% of people living with social phobia seek help after undergoing symptoms for over ten years. Social anxiety is fully treatable through active behavioral therapy groups and medication; however, it requires courage and patience to be effective. Through therapeutic treatment, determination and support, time will heal all and unearth the once repressed “heart and intuition” needed to explore desirable endeavors.

Secondly, unrealistic expectations, though part of the human experience, are unhealthy and tend to degrade relationships. It affects familial ties, romantic relationships and even professional linkages. Clinical psychologist, Selena C. Snow noted that unrealistic expectations are hazardous and paves the way for inevitable failure. Is it courageous or rebellious for a young woman to follow her heart through her vocal chords despite countless law school entry forms thrown her way? Perhaps it is disobedience for a happier outcome? Many marriages end in an attempt to maintain the honeymoon aspect throughout the “ever after” period. Experts often lose optimism and interest after unaccomplished efforts never reflect their “eureka” moment. Unrealistic expectations, though unavoidable, can be relinquished through communication, compassion and reality. The generational gap can be bridged effectively through civil and open communication wherein parents are given the opportunity to listen to their children’s inner voice and share their own to guide children using common experiences. Couples distressed by an unfruitful marriage must empathize with each other and attain a level of compromise despite the opinions of those absent from the relationship. Professionals must redirect aspirations to a more attainable and realistic degree which can be accomplished through diligence, courage in admitting responsibilities for mistakes and intuition.

Thirdly, captivity and enslavement can be traced to the biblical era and still continues today in various forms and fashion. Historically, prisoners were kept mainly for labour whereas now, captives are taken due to their culture, religion and the economic interests of their captors. This violation of the basic human right to freedom has bludgeoned the inner voices and valor of these victims through abuse and the imposition of inferiority. Is it remotely possible for victims of unlawful imprisonment to find their inner voices after years of subordination? Yes. Can one even muster the courage to move forward from such a horrendous chapter in life? Yes. Is heart and intuition sufficient? No. Moving on is never an easy process but it is a process nonetheless, slowly but surely. It requires professional help; (counseling), stability, support and in many cases; to be reacquainted with normalcy. In 2014, 276 girls from Chibok, Nigeria were kidnapped by the extremist group, Boko Haram and 21 of the girls were released in 2016 with another 83 freed in 2017, according to CNN. The journey to recover the girls’ “inner voices” has been initiated through governmental action that keeps them together in a facility with professionals equipped with the expertise needed to reintegrate the girls back into society. This is a notable example of how the “inner voice” and purpose can be rediscovered even after trauma. Agnes Gabani, a 19 year old victim of Boko Haram has declared “I want to be a doctor in the future. Many people are dying and I want to help them to survive.” These young women are also stigmatized as “brides of Boko Haram”, however, it has not drowned their reignited voices nor discouraged them from moving forward.

In conclusion, the assessment of Mr. Jobs statement (in relation to social anxiety, unrealistic expectations and bondage) generally reflects the “easier said than done” proverb and introduces the issue of heart vs. mind. The matter of heart versus mind must be readjusted to focus on an optimistic outcome for all parties involved. It is simply negligent to advise someone to follow their heart without knowledge on the circumstances surrounding their state of being; such advice can cause destruction to said individual and/ or others involved. Finally, every obstacle encountered can be surpassed using the wits of the mind and the willpower that comes with the heart.

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