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.

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4 thoughts on “Where do I belong?

  1. Shaz says:

    The reason you feel the way you do is because that’s how you’ve been raised. I’m Bengali and my parents are very traditional, and when I do something that I know is not their cultural norm I’m made to feel as though I’m corrupt. South Asian parents don’t really know the meaning of unconditional love, but there must come a point in your life where you need to let go of what others want for you and focus on what you want for you. Muslim people seem to think you only become an adult when you marry and that marriage is about procreation only. Work on giving up caring what others think and focus on the positives that you are trying to achieve, it’s definitely difficult but it’s something that you will make peace with in time. If you don’t live your life your way and give in to what they want, you will live the rest of your life in regret.

    • Hi Shaz, thanks for your lovely comment. I know exactly what you mean. I do often find myself in a bind, not knowing how much I should let others dictate my life. But having already taken 4 years to do what I want to do, to live the life that the Western world deems as normal but the Bangladeshi culture doesn’t, it’s now come to the point where I think making a move abroad would tip my parents over the edge. There isn’t a clear or easy answer to this.

  2. Hey my blog is similar to yours- have a read 🙂
    I completely get you- it’s like this pressure the second you hit your 20s. Every conversation is ‘Have you found anyone? Are you married?’. My married friends are now having babies and I still haven’t found the one!

    • Hey, I had a brief look at your blog, wow, you have been through quite a rollercoaster. I know it’s easy to get obsessed with finding someone because of the pressure, but just make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons and because you want to, not because you have to. I am at the point in my life where I’m happy with what I have achieved and know where I want my career to head. And it’s made me realise the type of person I will truly be happy with. If I had jumped into finding someone just to please my parents, I would not have figured out what truly makes me happy. The truth is, they care about your future, but not necessarily your happiness, so you need to make sure you look out for yourself.

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