The story of every Asian: you have to get married

Hindu wedding couple

When it comes to graduation for many of us Asian girls it’s both a blessing and a curse. Our three-six years of hard work and labour are finally paying off, we no longer have to write another exam, we can finally find a job and start earning money instead of waiting every semester for our loans to drops. But, it also means that we are to brace ourselves for the inevitable: our parent’s trying to get us married.

I was rather fortunate in this sense; questions of my marriage did not come forth until I actually had a job. Some of my friends were not so fortunate; some were getting pressured to accept or consider proposals before they even finished their final year. Girls seem to reach a particular age after which they are constantly bombarded with questions from aunties about the absence of a Thaali around their neck/ ring on their fingers.

I understand that for some people the next step after education is getting married and that’s fine. It’s what they want. But, I finished university when I was 23 years and I already felt that I was ‘behind’ with my ambitions. Marriage wasn’t really on my list. Even now, I’m not ready: I am not financially secure, I can barely cook and I love food (so that’s a problem).

Truthfully though the proposals and questions about getting married aren’t really what make me angry. It is this: as an Asian girl I am often told that I have to get married because I can’t live alone. I feel that as a women I am undermined. I am told that I am unable to be happy or secure on my own. I am told that marriage is a necessity. But what I fail to understand is why?

Is it because marriage provides financial security?
Yes, perhaps when my parents were younger women were dependent on others and a marriage provided them with security as many of them didn’t work. But now things have changed, we are educated to be independent. We are encouraged to learn to support ourselves and stand on our own feet.

Is it to have children?
There’s adoptions and even IVF, you no longer need a partner to have a child.

What exactly is the reason that I must get married? We need to stop forcing the idea of marriage as a necessity. We need to stop pressuring people to get married like they have an expiry date to get hitched and be happy.

One day I would like to get married, for love. I mean I’ve been planning my wedding since I was 13 – I’m not really against it. I’ll get married because I want to, not because I have to, and I’m sure that most of Asian girls who are often pressured with married feel the same.

Me time is so underrated

IMG_9755

This picture was taken at Battersea Park, somewhere I have explored on my own but obviously this picture was not taken when I was alone. It looks like I’m being all reflective and thoughtful on my own so let’s pretend it fits.

Though-out my years (I make myself sound old) I have changed my view on ‘me time’ dramatically. When I was younger, I had a lot of ‘me time’, predominately reading, drawing and getting on with my academic learning. As someone who struggled with anxiety being alone was sometimes the easiest option. Getting close to people was scary.  This kind of ‘me time’ I would not say was healthy at all, it was driven by fear not a love for my own company.

A few years later I then did a complete 180, I became so dependent on people. I was always speaking to someone. People became a distraction from the negative thoughts I was prone to when alone. Even after I started to be a more positive and mindful person, that dependence that I had grown accustomed to stayed. It was a habit.

The concept of going for a coffee or seeing a film alone was bizarre. If I was going out, it was to see someone. I mean why would you do those activities on your own? What was there to enjoy? Even if I wanted to really go somewhere or see something I wouldn’t if no one else would come with me. I wouldn’t want to be alone and have that experience alone. Isn’t that crazy? But I think it’s something that many people probably feel. I have met people who have wanted to go somewhere, try something, travel somewhere but didn’t because they couldn’t find someone to go with.

I decided to change that part of me.

2016-08-06 16.56.09

Caramel Creme with Shia, on a stroll through Greenwich!

I started to go places and explore things on my own. I started small: grabbing a coffee on my own, then sitting in a coffee shop to working there on my own. Next I started shopping on my own. This was truly an eye opener because it allowed me try new things, things that I would have felt uncomfortable trying with others because it may have been ‘judged’. I could take my time to explore stores I liked which sometimes isn’t to the taste of my friends. I could experiment with my style and find myself without the input of others and this has really helped me to find my style (something I am still doing).

I then started to write lists of places I wanted to see and started to explore them on my own. There were a lot of parks and art galleries. Most of my friends aren’t the type to travel and spend hours at museums but I find it quite peaceful to go there and sketch. V&A is one of my favourite places in London and was conveniently quite close to my university.

Whilst at first I had to force myself to try doing things on my own, I found that I ended up rather enjoying my own company. I discovered that you could still enjoy places even if you weren’t with other people. I still love socialising; catching up with people and trying new things, but the point is that I am not afraid like I once was of doing any of it on my own.

This whole process has been a long journey (we’re talking at least 8 years) but one through which I have learnt many things:

  1. I have come to appreciate my quirks and accept myself
  2. It has helped me in my commitment to love myself
  3. It has allowed me to explore new things and meet new people
  4. It gives me time to reflect and work on myself and my goals

Essentially, I think everyone should learn to love ‘me time’ – it’s really helped me. And everyone who feels judged for doing things on their own – be that sipping tea in a Coffee shop, going to the movies or reading a book quietly under tree – it’s completely healthy.

Discovery at Harrow – The Chocolate Room

On a cold Sunday I was looking for a place to have a quick coffee while waiting to be picked up by my friend. I searched for the nearest Starbucks to me and made my way when I came across a little café, I was intrigued.

From the minute I went in I fell in love – probably because of all the cute bitesize chocolates. My favourite: vanilla cupcake! Though the pistachio was pretty good as well.


The best part of place, was how the tea was brewed! I was expecting your usual: here’s the hot water, your almond milk and here’s your Earl Grey tea bag. BUT NO!
The waiter bought over:
– loose tea with water in a little container
– a timer (so I could keep an eye on brewing time)
– a glass cup and a tiny milk jug

My childish side of me got excited by how the tea of poured into the cup though:

Honestly, a good vibe, lovely service and a 1/2 minute walk from Harrow on the hill 🙂

xp

Being comfortable in your body

f831f43a-4e6e-4ca7-966b-298c7b22df6b-7635-00000654b9fb500c_tmp

During my visit to Budapest, I went to the thermal baths. Me and the girls threw on our bikinis and stepped into the warm water. After our amazing soak, we hit the showers remaining in our bathing suits, whilst there was an older woman who so confidently walked around utterly naked. She did not care about how she looked or what others thought about it. I was in awe. I mean I don’t aspire to be naked in front of people, but do aspire to be as confident with my body as she was.

Don’t get me wrong I’m actually really comfortable in my own body. But much like many girls, I used to be very self conscious. I used to really hate my disproportionate body (I’m bottom heavy) and the scars all over my body. I remember a time I used to hate being in a swimming suit or even showing my legs in a dress/shorts.

But over the years I’ve grown to change the way I see myself. I’ve accepted that my legs are bigger than my upper body, but my waist is absolutely tiny and I love that! I’ve learnt to dress in a way that compliments my body shape and that helps me feel more confident. I’ve come to like my scars – they add character to the canvas (body).

I’ve come to realise that being skinny isn’t something to aspire to, being healthy is. When I cut out crap food and started working out, my body toned up but more importantly I had more energy and I felt great.

Last week, I was completely comfortable walking around in my swim suit in front of loads of people, something that a few years ago would be unthinkable.

Budapest: Schzenyi Baths – amazing place!

Boys and girls: there is no ‘perfect body.’ We are all built differently and we should not be concerned about what other people will think of our bodies. 9/10 times the people you think will be judging you are just as concerned about how you will judge them.

As my friend would say: this is the era for celebrating all shapes, sizes and colour! So let’s rejoice in our differences 🙂

xo

 

The inconsiderate kid on the train 

There’s a boy on the train sitting opposite me on the dlr. He’s got his massive raksake on the seat beside him and everyone around us are standing up. Tired Londoners who also have an early morning. What an inconsiderate little kid. He’s avoiding eye contact with everyone so that no-one asks him to give up his seat. Anyone experienced this?

A girl on crutches walks in – I wonder if he’d move his gigantic bag now?

The boy suddenly got up and ran up to the girl grabbed her hand and helped her to the seat he’d been sitting down on. He gave her the rucksack and let her mum sit down next to her. He smiled and said he’d be standing ‘over there mum’. The mum replied, ‘Thanks Liam!’

Me: fuck. Sorry!!

Moral of the story: everyone has there own reason. Everyone’s going through stuff we do not know about. So let’s stop judging people. If anyone had asked the boy I’m sure he would have explained.

Hope you’re having a good day Liam. You’re a good kid!

This is a true story!

Xo

Budapest: travelling with social anxiety

img_2478

If you’ve met me, odds are that you would say that I’m a social person, but did you know that I have social anxiety?

To most people going away on holiday with friends is exciting and it really was for me, until a few days before I was set to go to Budapest. The truth is when we had to check in – PANIC! I really wanted to cancel my tickets, stay at home and paint. For me it was not the thought of going to a different country (I love travelling) or even flying. It was spending time with people that was overwhelming. It wasn’t that I was spending time with people I didn’t like or even strangers. I was going with people I have known for years and my friends who up until that moment I was excited to see.

I have often had these moments. It is the reason why I sometimes cancel plans or make excuses to leave early. I am yet to fully understand why it comes but when it does the single thought that runs through my head is, ‘I can’t do it.’ Most days I am completely fine, but there are days that I cannot be around people (anyone)/ am unable to hold or start conversations (with anyone).

During my panic about Budapest, a friend of mine reminded me of my resolution to open myself up to new experiences. So instead of cancelling my tickets, I got on a plane.

Looking back now, I’m really glad that for the first time I didn’t cave and cancel – I really fell in love with the city and want to spend more time there. Lots of architecture, thermal baths, themed cafes and it’s not a busy city.

I did have a lot of anxiety on the first day, it was hard, but I still explored the city and I appreciated the beauty of it. It’s difficult to talk to people when my anxiety is so high but I am proud that I didn’t run away from conversation, or from meeting new people.


Vintage Garden – great food, great company and cute deco. Loved this place! Order the Oreo and blueberry cheesecake if you go! 
ParliamentView walking up the castle.

Day 2 was a lot easier. My anxiety went down so I was able to relax and I enjoy my company and absolutely loved my time at the thermal baths. The strange thing I have always found about my anxiety is that it isn’t constant.

Social anxiety is incredibly overlooked, which is why I decided to write about it. I have only ever met one other person who has it, but I imagine that other people do experience it, it’s just scary to admit it (I was really hesitant to post this). So to anyone who experiences it, you are not the only one who has these moments. I know how hard it is, but from someone who has been working on managing their anxiety: don’t let it stop you from meeting new people or having new experiences.

For those who want to see some more awesome places in Budapest:


Fisherman’s Bastion – view from the city is amazing at sunset
St.Steven’s Basilica – go up to the top and see the view. Students take your card you get a discount. Free to go in, money to go up. Szechenyi Bath – thermal baths. Advice: you want two towels. One that you take around with you and one that you use after to shower. Don’t take your phone with you unless it’s waterproof. Take flipflops.

Other things: walk around it’s all pretty close together and there are loads of really cool cafes so stay away from the Costa/ Starbucks that you can get anywhere. Everyone there seems to know English, but they love it when you speak some Hungarian even if what you say doesn’t fully make sense.

xo

Feeling like a jack of all trades

img_2316

Throughout my life I have dipped my toes into a number of things: violin, piano, karate, kick boxing, writing novels etc. None of which lasted more than a year and I’ve often wondered whether it is that I cannot commit, get bored easily or lack talent. It’s not so much a problem when it’s a hobby but when it happened in your career as well, that’s when it gets a bit scary. I did medicine for a year, that didn’t work out. I’ve never held a retail job for more than 3 months and I’ve never spent longer than a year in a corporate job.

A while back I spoke of feeling ‘unsuccessful,’ I was comparing myself to others who had it all figured out: gone into a field, stuck through it, through their jobs and are rising higher in their field and getting great pay whilst I still wasn’t in a job that I felt was right.

But I had one of my revelation moments. It is OKAY to take your time to discover yourself and your passions.

I did a year of Medicine and it didn’t work, but I did get through statistics and really liked it. My 17 year old self made a mistake in pursuing Medicine because I was told it was better even though Maths was evidently what I was not only good at but what I liked.

I’ve tried performing arts: dancing, singing, playing instruments (desperate to find something I was ‘good’ at). I was never good at any them but then I didn’t have the passion to become better in them. But ART I loved. Over the years I have relentlessly pushed myself as an artist to try new mediums, use new tools and become better as a portrait artist. I am no professional, but every year I have become better.

colsqualLast two jokers should be the other way around!

All the things that I have done have developed me and given me skills that I can transfer to things I do love. One of my best friends wrote a blog flagging the importance of transferable skills and I reflecting on my own experiences, all my experiences all taught me something. I may no longer be fully involved in wedding plannin but it taught me how to build something from nothing, to build relationships and solve problems quickly. Retail taught me to talk to absolute strangers. iEnergy taught me about being socially conscious. My current job helped me decide where I wanted to build my career.

Today, I’m building my own clothing line, have an exciting job lined up and am still pouring my soul into painting to be better! The network I’ve grown, the experiences I’ve gained and the passions I’ve found have all got me here. I may not be ‘there’ yet but I am well on my way to being ‘SUCCESSFUL’!

Life is honestly about finding what you love and discovering what drives you. The problem is that we all assume that everyone expects us to have our life together and it puts pressure on us. At 17 we are expected to decide what we want to do for the rest of our lives. We come out of university and we are expected to know what we want to do and get a job straight away. Some people know right from the beginning what they love and want to do and that that’s fine, but some of us don’t and that’s okay well. We’ve just taken different paths.

I suppose what I am trying to say is that it’s okay to not have your life completely figured out. That doesn’t mean sit at home doing nothing, but to pursue opportunities and not be afraid to try new things. They may not be for you. You might not be good at it. But we are not all good at everything, we can’t be.

I believe that when we find something we love we will be motivated to be better, we will push ourselves even when the going gets tough. So breathe, you’ll get there as long as you don’t give up!

xo