Tag Archives: single muslim

Marriage Pressure: The bubble has burst

When things are going a bit too smoothly with my parents, I am always anxious rather than happy. It’s really sad, but it’s the truth. I always go on about the calm before the storm, and the storm has well and truly arrived.

During this lockdown period in the UK, I hadn’t been able to see my family. I’ve lived a fairly independent life since moving to London many years ago, so I wasn’t too bothered about it. And besides, I spoke to them on the phone or video called them all the time anyway. But as uncertainty grew around the world, it really did bring people together. All of a sudden my weekly calls home turned into pretty much daily calls, which is completely unheard of from me. I slowly started to get closer to my mum and we’d have long conversations on the phone, discussing the local situation and also what we’re cooking and eating from the only food available in our local supermarkets. It sound’s odd, but I started to tell her more about my day-to-day life, even about boring and useless stuff.

You may not know this but I’ve never been close to my parents. They only know the absolute basic things about me and I never embellish on details. Then I got a bit lax, forgetting that we weren’t in ‘normal’ times and not realising that it will come back to bite me in the arse one day.

Fast forward to a few days after Eid, I’m feeling good and happy because life was slowly going back to some level of lockdown normality now that Ramadan was over. But then all of a sudden, I get a call from my mum in the middle of the day. This never happens as we only speak in the evenings, so I was worried something was wrong. I pick up feeling apprehensive, and oh boy was I right to be feeling that way.

I was verbally attacked and it came out of nowhere. It started with asking how I am and what I’m doing, and I innocently boasted about my lie-in that morning (the first one in months after some restless nights) and how I was making lunch when she called. And all of a sudden she turned on me.

She threw questions at me like ‘what are you doing with your life? When are you going to get married? Do you not care about your future – look at how old you are! Don’t you know how stressed we are because of you?’

I was silent. How do you even respond to that? You have to know when to pick and choose your battles in life. I was taken aback and upset, and could have easily responded aggressively, but I chose to stay quiet, which only encouraged her to keep going on. She emphasised my faults and flaws, and told me that she will happily get my younger siblings married off before me. For those who aren’t familiar with the Bengali culture, although it can be different for guys and girls, in general people tend to get married in age order.

This wasn’t a completely new ‘conversation’ for me though. Sadly I’ve heard this all before, but this time it stung me a little harder for some reason. Maybe because I knew she had a point… what was I doing with my life? I’m not even against marriage – I do want to get married. But if you read my previous post, you’ll see I hadn’t been in a good place until recently. Maybe that’s why it hurt – she threw the things I’d told her over the last few months in my face and used it against me to point out that I’m living a selfish life, i.e. just living a normal life like everyone else except for the fact I’m not married yet.

The icing on the cake, and the cherry on top too, was the point where she threatened me. ‘Either find someone soon or we will find someone and you have to marry that person no matter what – you have no choice’.

Ummm… okay mum, whatever you say.

At that moment I was ready to hang up the phone. But being the respectful Bangladeshi daughter I’ve been brought up to be, of course I couldn’t do that. I just grit my teeth and said nothing. I felt a different level of sadness and disappointment, rather than anger. It’s taken many years to build respect and an understanding with my mum. I’d say 10+ years of trying to be treated like an adult, an equal. Also broaden her mind and change her old school way of thinking and that backwards mentality towards the role of woman in society. And we really had made some incredible progress. But it just took two seconds for her to wipe it all away and revert back to being that small minded person she once was.

I don’t know what I was expecting to be honest with you. I knew it was all too good to be true. The calmness, no drama, feeling happy and content with the state of our relationship. I felt stupid for letting my guard down. Why did I voluntarily invite her into my day-to-day life? Just so she could compile a list and throw it back in my face someday?

I know it might seem like I’m overreacting, but only I am to blame for getting carried away with wanting to build a nice, healthy relationship with my parents. Don’t get me wrong, we don’t have a bad one, just not a close one. Over the lockdown period, whilst everyone went home to be with family and shared more about their life online, it made me realise how different my life and relationship is with my family. I always say we’re a tight knit family… but are we really?

In all honesty, I do get where my mum is coming from. It’s a place of frustration, but also fear. I know she’s thinking about me and my future, but she just doesn’t know how to express it in a non-offensive and not so hurtful way. Of course I understand the stress they must feel to have an unmarried daughter in her 30’s showing no signs of moving onto the ‘next stage’ of her life. I’m sure it’s even more frustrating for them because they aren’t in control of my life. I moved out of home in my early 20’s, and nearly 9 years on, I’m still not married. But the thing is, I have made progress in my life, a lot of it actually. I’ve gained a huge amount of experience and built a career. I’ve travelled the world and learnt so much from all the people I’ve met along the way; I’ve grown as a person. But sadly, this isn’t enough in the Bangladeshi society. Unless you follow that typical path set by others, you’re not seen to be on the right course in life.

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Important things in life

I started writing a post in May 2019, but then my life took a turn and I never finished it. So another year on, I want to pick it up again and give you a life update of some sort.

I’m sorry to anyone who’s been following my journey for a good couple of years and also to the few that reached out for an update – I didn’t mean to disappear this long. Time really does fly by, whether you’re having fun or not. I can’t believe my last post was nearly 2 years ago… what have I been doing?

Once I brought myself back from the deep, dark hole that I was in a couple of years ago, my life really did turn around. I was in a really bad place and I’d hit rock bottom. And I think I’m only able to talk about it comfortably now because I’m not there anymore (rock bottom, that is). Do you know the feeling of despair? To have no hope and be at a complete loss? I truly hope you don’t, because it really is the worst thing to experience in your life. I was feeling extremely sad and so alone, I couldn’t bring myself to talk to anyone about it; I couldn’t see a way out.

I was really struggling work-wise and it wasn’t looking good. I feared I might even have to move back home, which for anyone who knows me, knows that’s literally the worst thing that could ever happen to me. I was filled with anxiety, I closed myself off from the world. But all of a sudden, I felt like someone threw me a lifeline out of nowhere. I managed to get myself a really good job, with an incredible boss and team. I started to feel respected and valued again and my self-esteem grew little by little. I honestly can’t begin to tell you how low my confidence was… I couldn’t believe how these people were hanging onto every piece of advice I gave or recommendations I made. It’s crazy how things can change in a blink of an eye. But it also made me appreciate things in my life so much more.

You get to a point in your life when you realise what’s really important to you, and it can hit you really hard in the feels. I don’t know if it’s just my age or what, but I’ve realised that I tend to draw more meaning from things I come across in my daily life now too. But my experience of hitting rock bottom allowed me to be more grateful for what I have, especially for the things I’d probably taken for granted before. I also became closer with my extended family. Life is funny like that; it takes a major life event to make us hold our loved ones closer.

As I was reading my old posts, I realised I’ve been talking about the same thing for years. Reading my post about insecurities from 2016 really surprised me. I don’t even remember writing all that, but I’m glad I did, because some things have certainly changed for the better and I’d really like to update you on that. I mentioned 4 main things – career, money, confidence and appearance.

Let me start off by saying that I am still not married. But this is mainly because I’ve been going through some things that pushed marriage right to the bottom of my priority list (as always). Although, I am also a couple of years older now, so it’s not a good look for me really… but here we are as some things never change. I do still want to get married, but I’m also incredibly freaked out about the whole process of looking for a partner. I don’t know if I can put myself through it.

However, I can happily tell you that my career is on the up and I am really content with where I am right now. The world may be falling apart around me (literally with the pandemic in full force), but my interesting and secure job is still in tact and I feel loved and valued by my work family (although I’m not so sure about my actual family…).

Money wise, alhamdulillah I am doing well now. It wasn’t looking good over the last few years because of my job being all over the place, but I’m in a really good place now. I might not have the money to even think about throwing a wedding, but I’m not struggling either. I’ve also been incredibly lucky to have gone on several amazing holidays where I was able to enjoy myself to the fullest without worrying about money at all. Oh how things have changed!

My confidence however is questionable… some days I feel like a strong, independent woman who has the world well in her grasp. But other days I feel pretty worthless. It’s just one of those things I have to continue to work on and it really can change daily.

But ultimately, the one thing that hasn’t changed is my feelings towards my appearance. My appearance has changed in the sense that I am certainly a bit older. But how has it been 4 years and I still haven’t done anything about this – especially how I feel about it anyway! I think I’m very good at ignoring the problem sometimes (read: most of the time). It’s easier to pretend you’re too busy, than to actually look the problem in the face. I know what I need to do, but I just don’t want to do it. Life is hard already, why would I make it harder for myself?

Sadly the world continues to move on whether you’re ready to do the same or not. My younger cousins are all steadily getting married off one by one, and as always, I am full of dread and anxiety thinking about what that means for me. But am I doing anything about it? The answer is a big fat NO.

So really and truly, have I made much progress since my last post…? No, not that much. Damn, other than feeling old as hell, I am still running away from responsibilities. Can’t I just remain in my content, oblivious bubble for a little bit longer?

You just wait until my mum is back on my case! She’s been too quiet, and too good to me, for far too long. We haven’t had any family drama in a while, so this news of another cousin getting married (who is 7 years younger than me) is about to kick things off nicely. Battle mode: ON.

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Emotional Rollercoaster

I feel like I’ve been going through an emotional rollercoaster recently, but his won’t be news to any of those who have been following my blog. I’m not usually very aware of how particular incidents or events have affected me, but it’s something that’s becoming more and more apparent to me.

In recent months, I’ve noticed just how easily I get emotional, whether that’s watching powerful or meaningful videos and movies, or reading a book. There was a point I had to stop reading, because I would connect to it in such a deep level that I couldn’t get myself out of that headspace for a very long time. Have you ever had that? Where you become obsessed with the characters and their lives?

I recently read a book which had this type of affect on me and I wanted to mention it here because I think it’s something that many of the followers of this blog can relate to. It’s a book called ‘Sofia Khan is NOT obliged’ by Ayisha Malik. It’s about the life of a single 30 year old Pakistani muslim girl who, like many of us, is constantly under that pressures of marriage from family and friends. Even though she’s not Bengali, I found it so relatable to my own life because of the cultural similarities. The culture may be different, but the pressure is the same.

It’s such a good read, at first I was able to read a chapter or two and get on with things, but then I was hooked and couldn’t put it down. 6 hours later, I had finished the whole book. I had laughed hysterically, and cried even more than I could have imagined. I don’t know if it’s because of how I’ve been feeling lately, but it really struck a chord with me. I won’t ruin the book for people who are going to read it, but one theme that was hugely evident throughout, was the incessant pestering of people who kept asking her when was she going to settle down and get married. It was even doing my head in and I wanted to reach out to those people and shake them to make them stop.

I’ve just got back from a well needed mini-break with my best friend. I’ve not been in a good place and this trip felt like it came at just the right time when I was about to crumble. I explored a new city, fell in love with it’s beauty, absorbed it’s culture and history and let go of all my worries for a few days. It was only the second day into my 4-day trip that I realised just how wound up and stressed out I had been. And although I knew this was what my soul needed, just before I went away, I had an encounter with my mum.

I’ve mentioned before how hard it is for me to talk to my parents about the topic of travelling. So when I called my mum to tell her I’m going away for a few days, she completely lost it. She went into me like this was her last opportunity to do so in her life. She brought up everything I’d ever done in my life that she disapproved of. How disappointing I am as a daughter. How she can’t show her face in the community because she’s too embarrassed that she has a single daughter who shows no sign of getting married anytime soon. She said I’m not young anymore, I can’t afford to be picky. She gave me a warning, and said that she is no longer going to care if my younger siblings end up getting married before me. In fact, she said she was going to encourage it. It was like as if she was doing this to spite me. She said my dad should have never let me leave home because then none of this would’ve been a problem. How things would’ve been better if I hadn’t had that taste of freedom…

It hurt, a lot. I wanted to shout back and say ‘do you even know what you’re talking about? You blind woman, can you not see anything past the ridiculous need to be pretentious and impress these people, who do not care about anyone but themselves?’. Does she even think about how I would’ve been feeling and what that may have led me to do? By moving away, I took back control of my sanity and developed the will to live a good life. I didn’t go down any dodgy paths or do anything that would’ve reflected badly on them and my upbringing…

But I stayed quiet, which spurred her on to continue with more. I cried silently, it was just painful to listen to. I kept thinking ‘why don’t I just hang up?’. But that would be asking for more trouble. I became numb. I didn’t sleep all night. I went on this holiday with a sad and heavy heart.

This is what my life is like. I know this pattern particularly well. The calm before the storm, the destruction and devastation. Then the task of picking up the pieces and putting things back to together with the hope that it won’t happen again. Or that next time I’ll be better prepared or at least have made some progress. But then it happens all over again, and a little piece of me gets lost in the sadness somewhere.

In my opinion, Sofia Khan in the book was very lucky to have parents who, despite being a pain and putting on the pressure, understood the importance of education and wanting their daughter to be happy. I don’t think my parents put happiness before pride and honour. Actually, I know they don’t. They aren’t evil people, but they are so blinded by culture and society, they don’t know what is more important anymore.

The old me would’ve shouted back to be heard, but the me now is staying quiet and waiting for the storm to blow over….until next time.

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Muslim Blind Date – #Fail

I’ve been a little quiet on here for a while, but I’ve had so many people ask me about this date I made such a big fuss about. So I thought I better update those who wanted to know.

Well… this blind date didn’t actually end up happening. It just wasn’t meant to be. After finally co-ordinating diaries via this mutual friend, the guy had to ‘postpone’ due to a last minute family commitment. Whether this was a legitimate reason or not? I have no idea, although I’m going with the latter. But as this was so close to the end of the year, I think everyone just got busy and forgot, as did I.

We never got around to rescheduling it, and I felt a little disheartened (although I must admit I was quite relieved at the time). How do I go back and say ‘Oh hey, remember that date that never happened? We should really make it happen now’? I just don’t think I can, as it’s a little embarrassing, so I just left it.

I haven’t felt like I have missed out or anything, I haven’t even had a chance to deeply think about it. I can’t believe how fast life zooms past you in London. We’re already nearly 3 whole months into the new year and I feel like I haven’t done anything I planned to do yet! I’m always busy doing one thing or another, or busy with work and career progression. Where is the time to date? Someone please tell me!

But at the same time, is this only applicable for those who live in London? Non-Londoners… do you also see it the way I do?

I know dating is meant to be made a priority if you really want something to happen, but do I want something to happen right now? I’m not convinced just yet. It doesn’t mean that I never want it to happen, but maybe not right now.

On another note, I got a sneaky secret squirrel type of call from my sibling today, who had overheard a conversation between my parents. My freshie brother-in-law came to my mum with what I call an ’empty proposal’.

Some guy he knows has a cousin who is on a student visa and they are looking to get him married. So what does my bro-in-law do? Oh he brings this ‘proposal’ (if you can even call it that) to my mum, despite knowing I have made it so damn clear that I don’t want to marry someone from ‘back home’. I outlined my reasons in one of my previous posts about the pressures of marriage if you are interested to find out why.

I know that at the end of the day, this isn’t going to happen. And that’s because this isn’t what I want in life, and I’m a pretty strong-willed person. I’m dreading the day I go home and they confront me with this discussion, so I’m already psyching myself up for it (as well as getting very mad whilst imagining them in front of me and already playing out the argument)!

I think the thing that upsets me the most is that I genuinely thought I had made progress here. I have had many awkward deep and meaningful, and quite frankly, honest conversations with my mum about marriage. What I want, what I don’t want and why. But she is so consumed with the obsession to get me married before I die of old age, that she conveniently forgot all of this. It’s like 2 steps forward, 10 steps back.

And worst of all? They know NOTHING about this guy. His background, his own family, what he does/studies, if he and I would be compatible, etc. The list is endless! All they know is that he is somehow related to this other guy… and that is it.

WOW. It really makes me feel special, knowing that they have such a low criteria for my future partner, because frankly, in their eyes, anyone will do right now – anyone who will have me.

I’m just sad that they didn’t once think about my happiness. This sucks. I have no idea how this story will end; all I know is that I’m in for a long and bumpy ride and will fight till the end. Whether I win or lose… stay tuned folks!

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Muslim Blind Date – The Introduction

So fast forwarding 2 years from when I started this blog, a lot has happened. The London life zoomed past me without me even realising that all of this time had passed.

So I am no longer in my early or mid-twenties, which is very upsetting. So as you can imagine, the pressure of marriage is pretty high right now. I tiptoe around the subject, especially around my parents. They don’t even care about all the other things I’ve achieved in my life since I moved to London, because that’s not important in their eyes.

Last summer (or was it the year before that? I can’t remember to be honest) I gave into this pressure and signed up to an online dating site for Muslims. It was pure torture. The whole thing made me feel uncomfortable and caused me so much stress. But I’ll save that story for another blog post – it seriously needs it! After that experience, I felt like I had been put off the online dating scene for a while. It just wasn’t for me at that point in my life. I kept this quiet from my mum as well – I didn’t want to give her any ideas! But the downside was that my mum thought I was sitting here idle thumbed with no care in the world about finding a suitable partner to marry.

So the pressure got more intense and my mum used every opportunity she got to lecture me. You know the usual – hurting the family reputation by being an unmarried single girl living away from home; being a burden on parents (even though I didn’t rely on them for anything), stopping them from fulfilling their duties, not saving money for my imaginary wedding, oh and that I was causing her to develop some kind of depression because of all the stress she was putting on herself. Quite lovely eh?

I’ve been able to somehow ignore all of this for a while, because… London happens! But then the other day, I got the most random message. Out of the blue, an ex-colleague asked me how I felt about going on a blind date with her Bangladeshi friend, who I knew absolutely nothing about. I’m not going to lie, I did freak out a little… or a lot. I have never dated before, let alone go on a blind date! How do they even come about? Well… apparently like this!

I messaged my closest friends and they all freaked out too – more out of excitement rather than panic, unlike me. Whilst I got a brief description of the guy (his age, background, hobbies, etc), I freaked out even more. I was scared more than anything else – this was a world that was completely alien to me. My friends were telling me to just do it, what’s the worst that could happen? And I knew they were right; there was no pressure on me to actually marry the guy – just to meet him. So after a day of panicking, I plucked up the courage and gave the go ahead, so she messaged her guy friend who got back to her pretty much straight away and was up for meeting me.

OH MY GOD.

I had so many questions going through my mind… Did I really want to do this? Will this guy like me? What does he know about me? What even happens on dates – is it like the movies? What do we talk about? How do I dress? Where do we meet? And most importantly, how the hell am I expected to greet this person?

I think out of all the questions, the last one is the one that’s stressing me out the most. If I was meeting a friend, I would greet them with a big fat hug or squeeze. But what about when it’s practically a complete stranger – a Muslim male who could potentially become ‘somebody’ to me – how do I make a good first impression? Do I shake his hands? Do I go in for a gentle hug? Or do I just do an awkward on the spot wave and say hi? What am I supposed to do!?

I meet new people in my job every single day and have to be able to do a pitch on the spot – that seems so much easier to me now compared to this!

So my friend asked the guy to choose where to meet and I was asked to suggest a weekend when I am free. And now I just have to get myself there, looking half decent, to be wooed or to woo the guy myself. This sounds like hard work and I am freaking out. It’s not even the thought of keeping a steady stream of conversation going, because my friends and I know very well that I could talk for England. But it’s everything else that goes with it.

I don’t fit the typical Bangladeshi girl mould – I am not that pretty, or skinny, or really religious and I don’t wear a headscarf. I’m sure I could add so many other expectations to this list. But with this being a blind date, this poor guy doesn’t even know any of this. When I shared these thoughts and feelings with my friends, they just didn’t get it. Instead they got annoyed with me for thinking and saying such things about myself because apparently I’m an incredible person. But they are my friends, they have to say these things. I am a realist and not delusional, so I do tell it as it is.

I have no idea how to cope with these nerves or this weird type of stress. It’s so strange to me… Somebody help me!

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Never Good Enough – Part 2 My Reality

Continuing from Part 1 of this story where I was talking about Cultural Expectations, I wanted to tell you about the point in my story where my life changed forever.

Eventually when I hit the age where my parents started to think about my marriage prospects, that’s when the drama started.

My dad never wanted me to go to university. In fact, he told me to just get a job, because after all, people only went to university so that they could get a job afterwards, so that was the same thing apparently. This made me even more determined to go to university, especially as that’s what everyone else  was doing and I wanted to show him that I could do this too. He wasn’t happy with my choice because he didn’t feel that the subject I wanted to study was worth going to university for – Business. Of course, if I wanted to be a doctor, that would’ve been a whole different story.

He then gave me an ultimatum – study close to home and commute, or I don’t go at all. I don’t know how, but once again, I was clever enough to put a ‘get-out clause’ in this agreement which he would come to regret later.

I completed university with a placement year working (and living) in London – my get-out clause. Getting that wasn’t easy either, I still can’t believe I did it. But it turned out that this was the point where my life changed forever and I started to realise there was more to life than I knew. I was able to support myself completely knowing that I didn’t have to rely on my parents; I had freedom and breathing space; I matured and made friends with people from all walks of life; I took on great responsibilities at work and excelled. But most importantly, I became a strong independent woman (cue Destiny’s Child)!

This was when I realised I wanted more from life. Don’t get me wrong, I never forgot my roots or did anything during that time to disrespect my parents or tarnish their reputation. But I just wasn’t willing to settle for a mundane life back home with my parents without goals and aspirations to have a better life. My mission after university was to find a job in London and move out. I did not want to be stuck in a small town full of narrow-minded people. But once again, my dad was not happy about this. He couldn’t understand why I couldn’t find (and didn’t want to) work in our town. Little did he know that I had not applied for a single job in the surrounding area. I also didn’t sit at home and do nothing over this period either, I worked full-time, either by doing all the overtime I could get at the retail job I’d had for 5 years, or by temping for an agency.

Then trouble started to brew. There were a few girls around my age in our community, all a year or so younger than me, who started to receive marriage proposals and eventually ended up getting married in the space of about 3 months between each other. My parents started to worry as I was older and yet unmarried (even though I was still only 22 at this point). This frustrated me a lot because I knew I was nothing like them. They’d barely made it to college, let alone university. None of them had even worked a day in their lives, sitting at home like princesses, whereas I had done all of this. I felt outraged that my parents were putting me in the same box as these girls and comparing me to them. I also felt insulted that they didn’t take my career aspirations seriously. Any time these topics came up, they’d upset me so much to the point I could not argue with them and just wanted to burst into tears.

Then one day, my younger siblings and I came home to find my parents sitting in the living room together which rarely happened because of my dads working schedule. Little did I know that they were planning to have ‘the talk’ with me. My dad asked one of my siblings ‘So, when are we going to Bangladesh?’. To which the response was ‘Errr… never’. Then he said ‘Oh but *Culture Clash* is going’. I looked at him and said ‘What?’. He said ‘Yeah, we’re going’. I turned to him and said ‘No, I don’t think so. And even if you tried, there is no way you could force me to get on that plane’. What you may not know is that when parents want to take you ‘back home’ at this age, it generally is with the intention to get you married off.

At this point he started to get annoyed, but this is when my mum took over, waiting in the sidelines ready to (verbally) attack me. She basically told me how I am not getting any younger and that if I had any chance of getting married it would have to be soon before I got too old. May I remind you that I was still only 22 years old at this point. I couldn’t understand why all of a sudden they were getting all hot tempered about this – what had brought this on? Then it got really sour. She said that I wasn’t pretty or skinny enough to be picky…

Yes, you read that right.

I know I shouldn’t have been shocked, after all, they are my parents and they have never hidden the fact that they don’t think I’m pretty like my older sibling, who by the way is 3 years older than me and got married at the age of 21 to a freshy which was completely by choice, no forcing whatsoever.

I have to admit, they really got me where it hurt. If that wasn’t bad enough, when I decided to speak up for myself, the most hurtful things were said to me in return. I told them that I did not want the life of my older sibling, who clearly wasn’t happy and struggling to make ends meet. To which she replied that my happiness wasn’t important… their’s was.

Yes, you read that right too.

She went on about how marriage isn’t about being happy, it’s about compromising. I just couldn’t believe what my ears were hearing – how could my own mother say these things to me? How can a mother not want her own child’s happiness? How have these people got so blinded by this ridiculous culture that they don’t realise how absurd those words coming out of their mouth sounded? I was in disbelief.

That night I cried myself to sleep. I felt numb. It’s at that point when I decided enough was enough. If they didn’t care about my happiness, then I would have to find my own happiness away from them. I got myself an interview in London the following week, I was so distraught with everything going round in my head that I was barely able to prepare for my interview. So I did all of that on my train journey up to London using my smartphone and a notepad. I was so nervous going in, but then something came over me and I had an incredible interview… and I got offered the job within half an hour of leaving the place.

I couldn’t believe it. I took the job of course! In a space of a few days, my life had turned around and I could finally get off this roller-coaster of emotions.

And I have never looked back since. Moving to London just over 3 years ago was the best thing that has ever happened to me and this was only possible because I fought for my happiness. And even though my parents and I still have so many differences and issues, in a weird way, I am closer to them now than when I was living at home. There is always drama going on, but my thinking now is that I need to pick and choose my battles wisely, ideally one at a time, because that is the only way I can make change happen.

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Pressures of Marriage

I’m feeling a little bit emotional today so I thought the best way to express this was to write about it.

Being a single Muslim girl of a certain age is tough, and there aren’t many people who know about it. I’ve mentioned in my previous blog post that in the Bangladeshi culture, the expected age bracket for a girl to get married is between 18 – 25, the average being around 21 years old.

Now that I’m well past the average and getting closer to the end of that age bracket, the pressure is on all of a sudden. Don’t get me wrong, the pressure was always there, but the intensity not so much. It’s got to the point where I’m losing sleep at night way too often to be healthy.

It frustrates me because despite me belonging to the generation who speaks up for their rights, my parents and people of their generation are struggling to accept these changes, at no fault of their own to be honest. They have grown up with a different ‘norm’ than me and they also have their own pressures thrust upon them by the society they live in and elders in the generations above them.

But where is that middle ground of understanding? How much effort and heartache must one undertake in order to not only be heard, but be listened to?

If I’m completely honest with you, I’m in a predicament. I feel like I’m ready for marriage, it’s something that I’ve been prepared for and accepted as normal in our culture at my age. But at the same time, in the western world that we live in, you can still be considered as too young to get married at this age. We’re told that we have so much more we can achieve before we get tied down into serious responsibilities. Whether that’s further education, travelling or getting yourself in a good position on the career ladder.

I also know that life can be lonely sometimes without a companion to share it with. I’ve been very fortunate enough for the opportunity to move to London to pursue a career, but that didn’t happen that easily may I add. I struggled a lot to convince my parents to allow me to do this and had to fight for my rights for a better life, but that’s a whole different story.

Now that I’ve been able to enjoy this little bit of freedom and breathing space for just over a year, it’s time to get serious. I am blessed to have a caring family, amazing friends and people around me who have made such a big impact on my life over the last year. And I would not be the person I am today without them. But I also know that at times I feel something lacking in my life and I long to share my love and care for someone else too. 

Let me just tell you now, the search for a partner (for life) is not easy. I know it’s a commonly shared feeling, but it’s 100 times harder when you don’t have that self confidence to put yourself out there and also have to consider a restricting criteria. I just don’t know what to do.

I’ve grown up seeing my dad in the food trade where he hardly had time for his family. And despite my mother being a housewife, she barely ever got to spend any time with him either. He worked 7 days a week to makes ends meet and provide for not only his family here, but also for his brother’s family in Bangladesh. I don’t want to marry someone who is in a similar situation; there are too many people like this out there. That’s not what I call a life.

On the other hand, there are also so many people on restricted Visas living in this country, whether they’re a student or working in a restaurant who are looking to marry to get that red passport. I most definitely do not want to get involved in that situation either. 

But with my parents knowing and living in a community consisting of these types of people, the search for ‘the one’ is made 1000 times harder. They have specifically told me that I can only marry someone who is Bangladeshi Muslim. This limits the pool of people available in ‘the one’ pool.

My criteria for the person I hope to marry is that he is a British born Muslim and educated to university level with a decent enough job which isn’t in the food trade industry. Am I asking for too much?

One of my good older friends who I have known since I was a child sent me such a lovely encouraging message today that it brought a tear to my eye. She said:

“Since I have met you, even when you were that shy little girl, I knew you would go far & even remember telling you this because I see an incredibly strong, beautiful individual full of love & life and whoever has the kismet to share their life with you better hold on tight because you will show him what life is really all about. I know you will do it all and be happier than a lot of people. You have to believe it too.”

Now, if that’s not the most beautiful thing you have ever heard, then I don’t know what is. Once again, I am grateful for such wonderful people in my life who keep me going even when the times are tough. Hopefully one day I will look back at all this heartache and smile at how my life turned around.

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