My Dear Niece, It’s Crucial To Establish A Solid Career Before Considering Marriage

Value your heritage, society’s fabric, and your familial traditions, but never let them constrain you. Make your dreams a reality; use your voice.

Dear Precious Niece,

Hugs.

As I write to you, my thoughts return to the vibrant colors and narrow lanes of our homeland, India. I grew up under the same sky, amid rich traditions, yet often constrained by conservative beliefs about what a girl should be.

Don’t let anyone or anything limit you

You, my girl, are growing in a land of contrasts, where ancient wisdom meets modern aspirations, where voices of change often struggle against age-old beliefs. The challenges, unspoken expectations, and silent pressures you face are like the heavy summer heat.

Remember, society’s definition of a girl’s path in India is not your only option. I broke free from these constraints, and so can you. It’s a difficult journey, but it empowers you to redefine your destiny. Phrases like “Log kya kahenge?” (What will people say?) have limited many girls’ dreams in India. The most important voice is your own. Your dreams, ambitions, and choices are yours alone.

Never neglect your education. It might be tempting to prioritize fun, friends, and leisure, but you’ll regret neglecting studies later. Education is your most powerful weapon. It’s not just about books and exams, but understanding your worth, rights, and potential. Embrace it as your guiding light.

Do you remember Anu, your cousin who gave up on her studies?

Anu stopped studying after 6th grade, was enticed by the novelty of television. Her parents didn’t enforce education, partly due to financial constraints, though her brothers continued their studies. Her mother got a free maid in Anu. At eleven, no child prefers routine and school over fun. Anu’s choice led her to miss out on education.

At sixteen, realizing her younger brother was heading to college while she had stopped schooling, it was too late for her. She struggled to catch up academically, hindered by financial limitations and her role as the family’s maid. Her parents focused on marrying her off. Anu developed an inferiority complex and spent her days doing household chores and eventually that became her destiny. Unlike Anu, her younger sister insisted on education, learning from Anu’s experience.

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Anu, now married at twenty-four, lives with regret, realizing her missed potential. Don’t repeat that.

So, never underestimate education. It is the one thing that remains with you, guiding you. It’s your golden key, unlocking worlds and giving you wings. It’s not just about academics, but about understanding life, empathy, and curiosity.

When you feel alone against the tide, remember the stories of Indian women who have broken barriers in science, arts, politics, and more. They had dreams and doubts but persevered. You are part of this legacy.

Honouring your heritage is good, but not being enslaved by it

Value your heritage, society’s fabric, and your familial traditions, but never let them constrain you. Our culture, akin to a banyan tree, is deeply rooted yet ever-evolving. Embrace your role in shaping its inclusive and beautiful future. Stand against harmful customs disguised as traditions.

Remember Jaya, Malti Aunty’s daughter? Jaya, during her final year in Computer Science, found herself ensnared by the very traditions she honored, wedded off in their name. Her parents believed that her overseas groom would support her educational aspirations, paving her way into the global computer job market. Alas, this promise dissolved under the weight of his familial obligations.

Consumed by the dowry demands for his sisters and the financial burdens of his parents, the husband relegated Jaya’s ambitions to the shadows. Jaya became a silent spectator, her education and dreams slipping like sand through her fingers. Conversations about further education or career prospects were consistently thwarted by financial constraints. Visa complications in a foreign land further stifled her opportunities, leaving her aspirations unfulfilled.

One day Jaya’s husband confronted her, “Why pursue education or a job after marriage, especially when you’re already fulfilling important responsibilities and have all you need in life?”

Jaya’s story is a poignant reminder of the dangers of blindly adhering to misguided traditions. Yes, Jaya had it all, yet she yearned for independence, financial security, her own house, and the freedom to live life her way.

Let these two examples be a warning for you

Dear girl, prioritize establishing a solid career before considering marriage.

Education is merely a stepping stone; the key is effectively utilizing it to advance your life, career, and achieve your dreams. Remember, it’s okay to have opinions and make your own choices—it’s your life. Anu’s experience, where she became dependent and unhappy due to poor choices, leading her family to distance themselves, should serve as a cautionary tale.

“It was Anu’s choice to not go to school,” said her parents one day. ​​Anu’s parents never admitted to the fact that the education of their sons was more important to them, who would become their Budhape ki lathi when they got old. While reducing Anu’s role to a mere responsibility, destined to be married off.

Ye to larki hai, paraya dhan hai, dusre ghar jana hai ek din. Blah-blah blah! Esko padha kar kya karna.” (She is a girl, what use is an education for her?) Never fall in this vicious trap, because your life is precious to you.

And Jaya! What can I say about Jaya’s life? Everyone blames Jaya for not being persistent and pursuing her career. Her parents always keep reiterating to Jaya, “We provided you with an education and supported you until your final year of graduation, even ensuring your marriage to a well-educated partner. Why then, did you not pursue your career with greater passion? Why were you unable to persuade your husband to support your career ambitions? The responsibility lies with you, not others.”

Her husband too blamed Jaya for not having a career, and said, “I’m not your father and hence not responsible for your education or job search; that’s not my role. I have my own challenges to deal with, and you never sought my help.”

My dear girl, you know what? Jaya struggled to make everyone understand her family dynamics in her in-laws house. She feared that pursuing her education would cause complaints, and lacked the courage to express herself. Unfortunately, Jaya’s critical error was marrying before securing a job. She should not have left India for a foreign country without establishing her career at home first.

So resist the burden of “sanskaar” that society places of girls

So dear girl, resist the pressure of conforming to the traditional ‘Sanskari Beti’ role. Have guts. Prioritize completing your education and achieving financial independence before considering marriage. Your opinions on your life and wellbeing matter. Express your preferences boldly; your voice is crucial, now more than ever. In Indian society that often silences women, speaking up against wrongs can be daunting, but your voice is a powerful tool. When it comes to your future, whether in education or career, think of it as a blank canvas. You might face pressure to follow predefined paths, but remember, this canvas is yours to paint with your choices and dreams. Communicate with me, your family, about your aspirations. We may not grasp them immediately, but we love you and will support your pursuit of happiness and fulfillment.

You will encounter challenges that may seem overwhelming. I too felt like surrendering when I faced them. However, it’s normal to feel this way. The key is to rise each day and persist.

You are stronger than you feel

Throughout your journey, allies will emerge from unforeseen places. Actively seek them – friends, mentors, teachers – those who recognize and nurture your potential, individuals who support your dreams and stand with you through challenges. They form your tribe and will be your steadfast support.

In turn, be that supportive figure for others. Empowerment expands as it’s shared. Remember, asking for help is okay. It’s a misconception that we must face everything alone. Seeking assistance shows strength, not weakness.

Lastly, my dear, never underestimate the power of compassion and empathy, both towards others and yourself. Treat yourself with kindness in times of doubt and strength. As you grow, remember you’re not only pursuing your dreams but also those of generations of women in India who dared to dream big. Carry their legacy with pride and grace. In difficult moments, draw inspiration from trailblazers like the Rani of Jhansi, Kalpana Chawla, and Indra Nooyi, who have each paved the way in their fields. You are part of this remarkable legacy.

With all my heart, I believe in you. You are not alone. Together, we are the change.

With love and solidarity,

Your Aunty.

Image source: Photo by Angshu Purkait on Unsplash.

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About the Author

Sharda Mishra

I am a photographer and an avid reader. I am not a writer but I like to give words to my emotions. I love to cook and hike. I believe in humor and its impact read more...

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