RAMONA WORKSHOPS: PERIOD WITCHES

Growing Up in Istanbul

Writing and Artwork by Lara Ozansoy

I live in Istanbul, a city I adore. My family raised me right in the middle of this city, so I experienced a ‘’teen-lifetime’’ here. My art teacher once asked me to reflect on the place I live in in an essay, which I was going to submit as part of  my college application. It didn’t take long to finish that piece; it was a mess. Buildings, trees, clothes, towers, history, animals, and even the materials I used were a mess; but most importantly the people were the mess. The college loved the piece and a professor asked me about the city in my interview: ‘’Was it easy to find your true self in this mess?’’. Well, dear professor I tried to impress you, but now I’m 20 and I’m still trying to find myself in this mess.

Every day I get lost. It is not about the true self anymore. I am a person who has a problematic past, like any person. Growing up was never easy. It took me a lot of time to become  the person I am right now, and the place I live had the greatest affect on me. Instincts matter here in the wilderness. Even though I am learning and supporting feminism each and everyday, this is not about feminism. It is about the society, which puts more pressure on people when growing up.

When I look at myself, I see a woman who is brave, crazy, different, and fun. I definitely am in love with that woman, yet I always have seen another woman in there. An insecure, fragile, sad, and aggressive woman. These two women have always been at war with each other, trying to prove which one of them is going to control my body. I was bullied and harassed by others of my own gender, people who I call friends. I have always been criticised for my weight, height, and hair, and was made to believe by others that I’m stupid and always doing the wrong thing. I made myself believe that I didn’t deserve the life I’m living, and I deserved all the pain.

The woman here, attacks others by instinct. There is a pleasure to being someone’s favourite, even though they get attacked by that someone. For example, imagine a woman having low income, who is interested in a man for his money. (Believe me, this is real. We even have TV shows for matchmaking poor women with rich men, and attending women are aware of the fact that they are being used for ratings). This woman risks everything to use the man’s money, even though he hurts her. The irony is that this is being taught to us in society. You can work in your dream job and earn a lot of money, but some other man out there is earning much more money than you, and you know what you should do? Marry him. (Oh and don’t forget to lose weight and look good; but not too good so that your marriage can look conservative and innocent). This is not what is all about with the woman, there are crazy things going on in this wilderness; but it takes a lot of time and energy to write memoirs more about my hometown, which now makes me scared to go out.

Remember my college application? I couldn’t get into that college, I got into another local college here, luckily studying the same major, art. The college here picked students to study ESL (English as a Second Language) classes in the US. Well, my English was good; but my lust to get away was in a bad situation. I went to New York. Man, I must say it is a whole new world; but somehow it also felt so familiar. Not from the movies, but I had ‘’the instinct’’. When I stepped out of the bus, and tried to walk across the road, I jaywalked. I am not bragging; I am pointing out the undeveloped instinct I got used to in another city. Istanbul is just another city like New York, a mess. A mess that makes you fall in love with it, and a mess that makes you sick of it everyday.

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