The Brown Girl Struggles of Learning to No Longer Adjust. – Natasha Rani

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The Brown Girl Struggles of Learning to No Longer Adjust. – Natasha Rani

I’ve struggled to put into words the amount of times I have unknowingly adjusted, in situations where I’m often left feeling uncomfortable. I’ve struggled to understand why my whole life has been dictated by invisible timelines and set expectations. No one has physically given me a rule book of ‘How to live life like a South-Asian girl’, (mainly because it’d be so long and forever changing that no one could ever keep up).

And yet, each time I find myself challenging my gut feeling, biting my tongue or adjusting my ‘true self’ to the people in the room, I must remind myself of the words I’ve consistently heard whilst facing issues and growing up. The gospel sung from Auntie’s mouths. The fact that I, as a daughter and female, must learn to adjust.

I must adjust when people come into my home and threaten the peace within my household. I must serve them like 5 star guests, because you best believe that the talk between aunties is more toxic than a negative Trip Advisor review.I must learn how to do things within my own house, but understand that this must be unlearned, when I marry and become inferior in my new home. I will be expected to learn things “their way,” because as a bride, I must fit the role of a chef, cleaner, secretary, mother and wife, because it’s common knowledge that I must learn to adjust.

My career will forever be the centre of auntie’s conversations and my roti will be judged like an episode of GBBO. I will be expected to serve my husband food, despite the fact that he has the most capable hands, which are most often ‘exercised’ on his PS5. My samosa filling will never be quite right but the saltiness must never show on my face. God forbid, I challenge someone on their opinion, (I mean, sometimes I think the world would be happier if us brown women didn’t have an opinion),because brown women should not appear as opinionated, strong or independent, because let’s be real, the world has taught us to be dependent on men.

I will be expected to be the backbone of my family but I must never take credit. I must mirror the millions of strong women before me, and work full time whilst holding down a household. I mean, how many women do you know that have fit the roles of both mum and dad?

I will never be quite enough and everything will be a reflection of my upbringing, and a reminder that I have come from another family. If I arrive late to a gathering, it’ll be a result of my parents failing to teach me time management. If I cannot navigate an oven made for a high tech genius, it’ll be “her mother never taught her how to cook.” I must accept that I will never be quite up to scratch of those around me, and put up with the constant comparisons to other daughter in laws, (who unfortunately for me), learnt how to adjust.

I must push aside my own mental health and accept the degrading comments of a community that has made minimal effort to understand it. I must hold back a laugh (and to be honest, often a cry),when people actually believe that having anxiety is a choice, because they are too ignorant to accept the realities that they may have contributed towards it.

I must listen to the conversations about women who are at the peak of their careers, owning their own homes and businesses, and yet being slated because they are still unmarried. All because they have decided to live their lives on different timelines to previous generations. I must listen to their expectations when the bar is set so high, that even the tallest person in the room, (who apparently couldn’t even get a rishta because of her height), can’t quite reach it.

We as women are not counsellors here to fix past trauma, or adopt the broken relationships a family may have. We are not here to parent your sons or to put up with behaviours that are unacceptable. We are allowed to build relationships based on our own judgements and create bonds with people who reflect love and light. Our soul purpose does not start and end with marriage, and it most definitely is not defined by anyone else other than ourselves.

As a South-Asian woman, we are expected to quite frankly, have our shit together. We are expected to cater to the world, adjust and live up to expectations. And yet, when was the last time we asked ourselves if people actually lived up to ours? Do they live up to our expectations of kindness? Our expectations of caring? Our expectations of what family and friends should be? Have they adjusted to life around us?

Life is about balance and I believe that respect is a two way thing, and of course there is a level of adjustment required at every stage of life. Yet, we have to remind people that we can happily learn new skills and new experiences, but we cannot be forced to live and fit an invisible mould that is ‘one size fits all.’ We have the power to adapt, embrace and thrive on journeys when we are met half way.

Ultimately, flowers do not bloom when they are in the wrong environment.

The most important thing about being a woman, whether you are getting married, starting a family, doing your exams, remaining single, getting divorced, building an empire, (shotting tequila rose on a Friday night),or basically whatever the hell you please, is that you understand that you have a choice. It’s so easy to be afraid of the next stage of life, when in fact you should be proud of the potential you have to offer the world.

So the next time someone says something that generalises us all, question it. The next time you are made to feel as though you are not enough, use your voice to try and prevent it from happening again. The next time you are forced to adjust, and fear making a situation awkward by disagreeing, think about how growth occurs when we are mostuncomfortable.

Remember that we have the brains to do things differently, the ideas to create and the voices to change the way that things have always been. Ultimately, we should be commended for pushing aside our comfort zones and continuing to smash through glass ceilings, whilst wearing the shoes of millions of women who were forced to adjust in situations that caused them doubt and unease.

As a woman, there is so much power within us that should be respected, appreciated and spoken about with love and admiration. Our ability to be good daughters, wives and mothers, does not depend on our ability to adjust to someone else’s idea of ‘normal’.

“Belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.” –Brené Brown

Natasha Rani  | @Therightsideoftwenty

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