Monthly Archives: October 2015

Where do I belong?

So a lot has been happening in my life over the past few weeks. So much change. I’m yet to figure out if it’s a good or bad thing. But I realised I feel like I’m at some kind of loss. Maybe a crossroad in my life?

I’m at the turning point in my career… looking for the next suitable opportunity. I’m a single, Bangladeshi, muslim girl on the wrong side of 25. I don’t have any significant debt. I don’t have a partner. I’m mortgage free and not trapped in a contract in my London flat. I have nothing tying me down… except this invisible pressure.

Pressure that I’ve put on myself to prove that I can achieve anything I put my mind to. Pressure to show people that I’m doing extremely well. Pressure from my parents to save money for my imaginary wedding, find a husband and settle down. Pressure to get serious about religion and become a better muslim. Does this list ever end?

But all I can think about these days is how I want to escape. Don’t get me wrong, I love my life in London. It wasn’t where I was born or grew up, but it’s always felt like home. It’s where I’ve always felt like I belonged. It’s where I’m most comfortable, it’s where I can breathe this fresh (but somewhat polluted) air of freedom.

Yet, I feel like I need a break. For a very long time now, I’ve wanted to have the opportunity to live and work abroad. It’s my dream, it’s all I want in life right now. But I know that’s unrealistic, and it makes me feel sad. I mean, you just have to read my list of pressures above to figure out why.

My parents would go mental and summon me to move back home. They will demand I sort my life out and get married in the next few months. They will treat me like I’m incapable of making my own life decisions. I will regress back to being that angsty teenager, fighting for my rights. In the end, I will be the one losing out, and risk having the freedom I have in London yanked away from me.

It’s so hard to explain this to people outside of the culture. These people will tell me that I shouldn’t be listening to my parents and should do what makes me happy. And that my parents can’t tell me what I can or cannot do. I really wish it was that simple. There will always be consequences and the possibility of them disowning me (if I really pushed it that far). And I know this may sound absurd, but it’s not easy to not care about what your parents think. There’s always this feeling of wanting their approval of the choices you make in life. It’s a losing battle in my case.

I spoke about it with my siblings today, about how I feel like it’s the right time in my life to give living and working abroad a shot… and they just laughed in my face. Like ‘oh here we go again…’, which actually hurt my feelings. They think I’m ridiculous because I work too much and am nowhere near close to finding someone, let alone get married. They think I’m silly for having these hopes and dreams and that I should focus on settling down. I really felt let down; I feel alone.

So why is it, that despite being in a good, commitment free life, I feel like I’m at a loss? Why is the good always overshadowed by this pressure hanging over my head? Why do I care this much about what others think? Why did I ever think that the people who are meant to be my nearest and dearest, would actually care about my feelings?

There’s nothing stopping me from taking a leap, yet I can’t move. I have all of these questions that I can’t seem to find answers to.

Tagged , , ,

Travel or plan an imaginary wedding?

I’m sure this sounds like an odd title for a blog post, but it’s seriously one of the biggest stresses of my life. When I was at college many moons ago, I realised how big the world was out there. That’s when I developed this curiosity and caught the travel bug. My closest friends were either going on group holidays or taking a gap year before going to university. It was an alien concept to me. Don’t get me wrong, I have actually left the country before. I had visited Bangladesh precisely 9 times at this point in my life. Oh and not forgetting a day trip to France when I was in high school. Very adventurous, I know.

But when my friends came back from their travels with the most colourful and amazing stories, I couldn’t help but feel jealous. I wanted what they just had. But the idea of me, a young Bangladeshi girl, going on holiday or travelling with friends, was just absurd. But a girl can dream, right?

Well that wasn’t good enough for me. I had to make this happen somehow. So I hatched a plan with my best friend who is the most awesome person I know, and that’s a fact. She’s strong and independent, but caring and thoughtful at the same time. And she doesn’t give a crap about ‘what people will say’. She knew how much I wanted to travel, and having experienced a gap year herself, she was the one who passed this travel bug onto me. So we decided we will go on a big holiday after we graduated from university.

Now the tough part was convincing my parents. I’m not sure if you know this, but a lot of the time, some parents will say ‘yeah okay, we’ll see when the time comes’ just to shut you up. And this was probably the first time my dad regretted saying that, because I didn’t let it go. As mentioned before in my earlier blog posts, I have worked all the hours under the sun since the age of 16. I had a part time job in retail for 5 years and then did some temping after finishing uni. And I managed to save a bit of money for my holiday. When graduation came around, I brought the topic up again and reminded my dad that we had discussed the possibility of me going on this holiday after I graduated. I was ready with my reasons and prepared to fight my case. I told him how hard I’d worked for 4 years at university and just really wanted this once in a lifetime opportunity to go on holiday, as a reward, with my best friend who they knew and could trust. She had already travelled the world on her own and I have saved up money for the flights and costs. They really had no way to get out of this.

When I look back, I really have to respect my parents for letting me do this and I’m truly grateful to them. It can’t have been easy letting their single, 22 year old daughter wander around the world. But also, they really didn’t have a choice because I went ahead and booked my tickets. I know, what a rebel! I wanted this more than life itself. It’s so strange reflecting on something that happened 5 years ago and just looking at how far I’ve come.

It came with all these conditions and promises on how it was going to be the first and last time I do something like this, etc. I just nodded yes to everything. Little did they (and I) know that this was only just the beginning…

Since 2010, I have been on holiday 12 times. And I have to say, it has enriched my life and made me so happy beyond belief. There’s just something so magical about escaping reality and exploring another country, culture and the world in general. Every year since my first trip away from my family, I’ve been fortunate enough to visit so many wonderful places, which has broadened my mind and opened my heart to beautiful things. I have learnt a lot and it has shaped me into the person I am today. I am always on the lookout for my next escape… but this is always against my parents wishes.

They detest me going on holiday. They see it as a way of losing their ‘control’ on me and they’re always saying it’s a waste of money. They constantly argue, asking me what’s the point in working if you’re going to wash all your earnings down the drain? They just don’t understand how important it is to me.

Funnily enough, that’s not the case when they want to go to Bangladesh or Dubai, because apparently that’s different. Over the last year or so, travelling has become even tougher as they continue to put the pressure of marriage on me. They want me to save for my (imaginary) wedding, even though I don’t have a partner, therefore I’m not actually getting married. This would sound ridiculous to anyone else outside of the culture. So every time I book a holiday, I torment myself with what my parents will say this time. And when I call them to tell them that I’m going away, I get a huge lecture down the phone, about how I don’t care about anyone other than myself. That I’ve never given them any money, but spend it all on holidays instead, which is not true whatsoever. It hurts hearing this emotional blackmail every… single… time.

But I know how lucky I am. Firstly because I have fought for my right to have a career, move out of home and have a great quality of life. But also because I work damn hard and save my money to spend it on things that I love, travel being one of them. Girls my age are generally married off with a mortgage and kids by now, and although I do want to get married, all the other stuff can wait for a while in my opinion. I don’t want to live a life full of regrets and what ifs.

How do you feel about this? Do you agree with my view on this situation? I would love to know.

Tagged , , , , , ,