control

You’re never in control … until this happens

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It started as a random thought.

There was no obvious reason why this particular thought entered my head. But once it was there, it wouldn’t leave.

So I sat with it. Gave it time. Allowed it to simmer so I could understand its origins.

It didn’t take me long. Thoughts like this seem to have an inevitable trigger.

Mother.

“She doesn’t ask about my job,” I thought to myself.

But that wasn’t the surprise. Since most people’s families don’t know what they do for a living.

Do yours?

Do they take an active interest in what you do professionally?

When you see them, are details asked about your day in the office and how that tough conversation with a colleague went last week? Are they interested?

Thought not.

That’s why they’re family.

It’s the same with mine.

But there’s more to it.

It isn’t that my vocation isn’t important. It is.

But it just isn’t important enough.

Nothing’s important enough. Not compared to that other thing. That thing that came to me in the thought that I now not-so-randomly had.

And the thought was this:

I could have all the accolades in the world. I could travel, create a global company, rule a country, do meaningful charity work and still make it home in time to clean and cook dinner.

But all that? Wouldn’t get 10% of the praise that having a man in my life does.

 

Let that sink in for a moment.

 

What I do professionally, and in my personal time, could change the lives of thousands of people. I could find the cure for a disease or go down in history as the first brown woman to fly solo to the moon.

But none of that would count.

Not compared to: “Mum, I’m engaged,” or “Mum, I’m getting married.”

As if having a life partner is akin to achieving the impossible. It hasn’t been done before. It’s an historical milestone.

But it doesn’t end there.

Because once the marriage has happened and the lives are still being saved. The moon is still being visited solo. And the country’s still being run. The expectations then change.

Now it’s time you had a child.

Then said child eventually comes along in all his newness and wonder. He’s celebrated.

Parties are thrown. Gifts are purchased. Congrats are shared and hearts are full.

Compare that to: “Mum, I’ve been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize”, which is met with: “Hmm … Oh look, he’s drooling! Quick! Get a camera so we can take a picture!”

And once an heir to the thrown is produced, the expectation starts that he needs a playmate.

Shouldn’t you buy a house rather than rent it?

I really wish you’d start taking better care of yourself. You’ve put some unsightly weight on around your hips. It’s been there for far too long.

And on and on it goes.

 

It. Doesn’t. Fucking. End.

 

Not only is professional achievement not enough. The rest is never enough.

Not for them.

They don’t pay attention to what you’re proud of. They magnify attention to what you ‘should’ be doing and pile on the pressure to achieve it.

And once you have, the dust settles for the best part of three seconds, and they’re at it again.

With the expectations. The small digs. The judgement.

It doesn’t end.

So … what can you do?

In the face of your professional achievements being ignored and your personal life being dictated? What can you do to get them off your back?

There’s only one thing for it.

Get a fake passport, have your face surgically altered, change your name and make a dash for the nearest remote village with zero internet connection and a friendly goat named Zuma.

That’s one option.

The other?

Thank them for their concern and then get on with your life.

They want what they think is best for you. They’re family. They’ll do that (in whatever warped way they choose).

But your role isn’t to find ways to appease them.

It’s to find ways to appease yourself.

Because the one thing worse than feeling controlled by their expectations? Is hating yourself for allowing the control to happen in the first place.

 

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honesty kills parents

Honesty Will Kill Your Parents … Lie to Them

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Do you remember the Where’s Wally? books?

In the US, they were called Where’s Waldo? but the books were the same.

This young boy in colourful attire, who was supposedly lost in a sea of people, that you had to find.

He was dressed to stand out, but managed to blend in. Encouraged to be visible but expertly did the opposite. Such talent.

Being different was celebrated. We weren’t appalled by him – we went searching for him. That ‘s the game we played together.

When my niece was a baby, we used to watch this show called Blue Cow. It was about …

… wait for it … Read More

If you don’t wear a headscarf

If you don’t wear a headscarf, Satan pees on your head

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Remember when you were a child and some random teacher told you: Careful, your face might freeze like that?

And you were totally confused by what it meant?

Couldn’t see the logic in it?

But were too afraid to ask how such freezing would actually happen?

That’s pretty much your entire life when you grow up in a South-Asian household.

Multiple times daily, your head’s filled with cautionary tales packed with manipulative motivation, designed to mold and viciously stuff your behaviour into the box your parents want you to fit in.

Today, let’s lay it all out in the open. Get it out of our collective systems. Laugh at the ridiculousness of it all.

Here’s everything I was wrongly advised as a child – what can you add? Read More

family

What’s The Meaning of Family?

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“Where’s my brother?” I asked him.

“Um .. I dunno” he replied. He was four. Making it to two-syllable words was a major achievement on any given day.

Your brother’s in school. So where do you think mine is?” I pushed.

In your house”. It made sense to him. He looked at me in anticipation of getting the answer correct.

I pointed over at the man at the end of the garden. “That’s my brother over there,” I confirmed.

“No! He’s my dad!” he laughed, at the ridiculousness of my statement.

“Yes, he’s your dad. And he’s my brother. He’s both those people.”

** Silence ** Read More

Relatives back home

What if I don’t care about my relatives ‘back home’?

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“When I see my dad cry, I feel helpless and sad for him. But when I think about my grandma that died … I feel numb”

 

She got the call at 2am. She was in Toronto on business. The news was unexpected.

Grandma died,’ her sister wept to her on the phone. ‘Dad’s in pieces. Get the next flight home.’

So that’s what she did. Her manager understood. The client was more than sympathetic.

But she? She was numb.

She should be feeling something, right? Read More

self respect

A high level of self-respect leaves you chasing nothing

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When I was at school, I didn’t have a group I hung out with.

I wasn’t a loner by any stretch (too damn talkative for that).

I just didn’t … fit in. With any group. At all.

So I floated from one to the other, making friends with some of the kids as I went.

When I was at university, the same thing happened.

I was close to some students, and we studied together. With others, I went to the movies on a Thursday night. The rest were students I saw in class.

It was like that when I graduated and started working in offices. And when I moved to new cities. And when I started my business.

But it wasn’t like that consistently. Read More

stranger

I feel like a stranger in my own country

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Horrified. Betrayed. Shocked. Enraged. Completely mortified

Just a few of the emotions I felt for Britain last week. Like I was a stranger to it.

My country … one that has come so far, had taken ten steps backwards in one very relevant vote.

Politics isn’t a topic we discuss ‘round these parts.

Usually it’s something that simmers in the background and we pay little attention to it.

But today? Today politics is more than significant. Read More

when you grow up

What do you want to be when you grow up?

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A kid lacking ambition is … weird.

They present a special kind of challenge. One of: What do we do with this one? She clearly lacks direction.

Like she’s meant to have her role in the world defined and decided by age 9.

But when your parents are South-Asian, expectations of you as a child are very different to what’s typical in the west. Read More