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If someone feels upset, sad or angry because you want to study further, take up a job and live your life on your terms without being a slave to abled adults, it is their problem and not yours.
You have started to hear those dreadful words now that you are 13… “No matter how much you study, finally you only have to cook and clean.”
I know you are a teen and you are very nervous. Since the day there was this natural change in your body and you started getting your regular periods, you have been told to behave and live your life in a certain way and give up your freedom. No cycling, no behaving like a tomboy, and no going out without an escort.
This too shall pass. You are going to learn things differently in the future. I know because I have been there and done that.
All the things that Grandma is telling you that will happen to you “if you do not give up your freedom to live your life your way” is not true. The threats of rape which they said happened to girls who lived freely, which gave you nightmares will not happen because of you. If at all it happens, it will be because of who they are and not because of you.
Do not doubt your self-worth due to the words of others. When they all are gone, you are going to stand strong fighting the odds against you and successfully overcoming them. All that talk is not predictions, but just guesswork.
You feel that it is suffocating to fit into the role of the girl who is obeying elders, dressing up in what is “appropriate” according to their view, learning to do chores, following the laws of the religion you were born into, not talking to boys, and marrying someone your parents choose for you and giving up your studies to become a housewife.
Grudgingly, but inevitably, you are going to fall into many of those traps. The worst trap is the one where you give up your studies and settle down and as a wife and daughter in law, to become a caretaker for many adults around you.
Do not despair of giving up your studies because there will come a time in your life when you will realize the true worth of everything and everyone around you.
Nothing that happens to you is completely bad, not even the cancer that you go through. It all happens for a reason. Though you may feel life has been unfair to you, it will not be the case in future. A special girl with her special needs is going to push you to come out of traps you have fallen into so that you will one day become a financially independent woman, living the life you dreamed of.
All those rough phases of life are going to polish you to increase your shine. Embrace them and your right to the #freedomtodream with a brave heart.
You are going to trust the wrong people, you are going to make mistakes, you are going to change to be someone so that others can be happy. But it will not last long.
Eventually you will realise that it is not wrong on your part to dream of being who you feel you should be. If someone feels upset, sad or angry because you want to study further, take up a job and live your life on your terms without being a slave to abled adults, it is their problem and not yours. You are not responsible for anyone’s happiness.
You are the person you are going to be with forever, so it is important you take care of your health both physical and emotional, wealth and happiness. I know at this stage wealth takes the backseat, but it will play a big role in how you will be controlled by your husband in your future. Life will teach you the lesson that financial independence brings in a huge change in your life. You will be able to choose your clothes you wear, the house you live in, the bed you sleep, and the food you eat. You will never know the value of simple things in life, until you lose it.
I know it doesn’t make much sense now, does it? You will have to go through years of losing the ability to make choices to realise how much this means.
Beware of the word ‘Permission’. It is not as innocent and simple as it sounds.
When you start seeking permissions for doing things from those who have no right to give permission for certain things, life is going to be hell for you. Permission is denied for everything that makes you feel good.
You will realise this when the doctor will say to you that “we need the permission of your husband to fix your surgery to remove the cancerous tumour.” So, if the husband refuses to give his permission, will the wife be allowed to die of cancer?
That will be the day for you to know how futile all this drama surrounding the permission has been. The words, responsibility, decency, permission, duty, and many more have been remodeled to fit in the needs of a particular family or a specific person.
Unfortunately, those who talk a lot about those words (and give you or withhold their ‘permission’) are never going to take it upon themselves to perform their duties, seek permission, take responsibility, or behave decently. You should become aware of this gaslighting and its effect on people. It is a key to your happiness and peace.
You will start small in your career without ‘seeking permission’ from anyone because you need the money to take care of yourself and your children.
The permission that was denied to you to work outside, especially around men is not going to take care of you. You were told only ‘bad women’ work outside the home…. and you did not have ‘permission’ to become a bad woman. But waiting for permission did not help you in any way to take care of yourself when your husband disappeared from your life for two whole years after you went through cancer.
Once you start doing what you want to do or have to do without waiting for anyone’s permission, life will change. Once you have taken that step, there will be no looking back again. So, you will know that sometimes, bad things happen for a reason.
The best thing would have been for you to never give up your education for the sake of getting married. You would have done great with your career if you had started early rather than starting after the life lessons. But then, who knows, you may regret not getting married. So, it looks like you have to learn your lessons and pursue your career with the surety which comes only after your experiences with life.
Someday, you will dream big of bringing about a change not just in your life, but in our society. No matter how small, you will dream of creating an environment where pre-schoolers will experience inclusivity. Bringing up a daughter with special needs, fighting for her rights and dignity in life, you will have realized that younger children are more adaptable to inclusiveness than the regular norm of 6 years.
You will not just build a good career for yourself, but launch your own entrepreneurial venture in a special school that will give a greater purpose to your life. It is never too late to start all over again and become successful and happy. You will get the freedom to be you. Nothing is going to stop you! Just hold on and never give up.
Remember when you are feeling low – Tough times don’t last, tough people do. You’ll get there.
Your older self, Farida
This August, we have working women writing a deeply personal letter to their younger selves – from the time they were teenagers or college students or young adults just stepping out into a career, and later too when they came up against problems – telling them that they should embrace their #freedomtodream and how this will take them on their journey to get to where they now find themselves.
If you are a working woman and want to write a similar letter to your younger self, log in to your author dashboard or register here as an author, and upload your piece with #FreedomToDream or #FreedomToBeMe in the title. We’d love to hear from you.
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I am Farida Rizwan, 55, Counselor and Psychotherapist working as Senior Curriculum Developer with Chimple Learning. I am ardent blogger @www.chaptersfrommylife.com and share my life experiences of surviving breast cancer 3rd stage for read more...
Women's Web is an open platform that publishes a diversity of views, individual posts do not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions at all times.
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"I chose to go out into the remote, wild, unknown, and make it home," says entrepreneur Kiranjeet Ahluwalia Chaturvedi, who owns Birdsong & Beyond.
The story of my mountain home Birdsong & Beyond started taking shape in 2009, on the internet, the way many stories do these days.
My childhood fascination for a life in the Himalayas led to an internship with a central Himalayan NGO instead of a much prized corporate assignment. But when they offered me a full-time job, I refused. I was overcome by fear and a lack of confidence.
My other longings pulled me away – the longing to fit in, to earn validation from others. By my mid-30s, with all the trappings of a middle-class urban life in place, the call of the snows couldn’t be ignored anymore. So I got to work on it with clearer intentions and a stronger sense of what I needed for myself, and why.
Many Indian elderly are firm believers in enslaving a daughter-in-law in the name of tradition which is actually a tradition of oppression and not of religious faith.
Albeit, the popular culture has interpreted scriptures as suggesting that Kanyadaan is the supreme form of donation given to someone, the connotation that the word donation alludes to definitely objectifies the girl.
Even when the exegesis justify the act of giving away the daughter, considering it a ritual to mark the initiation of the daughter into her husband’s gotra and her becoming the part of his family tree.
There is no denial of the fact that this initiation is not required on the part of the groom thereby formally denoting the end of the filial ties with the daughter as it was popularly instructed to the bride during the Vidai ceremonies:
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