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First Post

It’s about time that I stop letting shame & guilt hold me back from sharing my stories– not just the lessons and click bait positive learnings I got from them, but in sharing my actual experiences. In the things that I have gone through and how I used them to shape myself into the kind of person I am today.

For a long time I didn’t want to share my own personal stories because I felt like I was being too much, doing too much, looking into things too deeply. That I wasn’t relevant enough, my own experiences weren’t valid and credible enough.

And the root of these perhaps was that I didn’t feel credible.

And I can understand why– growing up the way that I did in a South Asian immigrant household (my parents are immigrants from Bangladesh)– I was taught that my voice wasn’t important and my voice didn’t matter. I was always taught to defer to my parents, the adults, and that I had to obey them and assume their thinkings and life outlooks if I wanted to be successful and a good daughter.

And so when I was 16 years old and realized that I actually didn’t want to be a doctor and that perhaps I wanted to be a doctor instead, I made the “mistake” of voicing it to my father, who sarcastically said “okay” and then proceeded to give me that disappointed, critical and judgmental look as he said that “colleges are going to say this girl doesn’t know what she’s talking about”. I cannot remember a whole lot about what happened directly after that, but I remember that as things always did when he got upset, that I was framed as the problem for not doing what he wanted. Or more specifically, for not being what he wanted.

Up until that point, I had never questioned his paths and visions for me. And after if I expressed something different, I would be ignored and he would proceed to make decisions for me and I knew better than to question them.

I have other stories like this one to share and I will in future posts, but I want to ease myself into it as I reclaim my voice and am intentional where I, while not absolving my parents of their responsibility for making the mistakes that they made, do not villainize them and still recognize the roles that privilege, culture, their own trauma and cultural and systems of oppression contributed to the dynamics that they had with me. I recognize that I have the privilege to learn and unlearn toxic mentalities that they did not have, especially at my young age.

Regardless, the lesson I want to share in this post was that reclaiming my voice is such an integral thing for reclaiming ownership of my own identity. And while I had reclaimed many aspects of my identity that were suppressed by the shame and guilt my upbringing had instilled in me, I experienced a lot of hesitance at sharing my stories because I felt like I was doing something wrong.

I felt like I was betraying my parents and making them look bad, or that I was over-exaggerating things or being ungrateful perhaps and being too sensitive and taking things too personally. The programming that I was blowing things out of proportion and remembering things wrong was holding me back.

But I had to realize that I wasn’t doing something wrong. I wasn’t being “too” sensitive for being upset that I wasn’t getting my needs met and because I wasn’t being respected and treated the way I deserved to be treated, with safety, kindness and room to be myself.

I had to realize that that the Shame & Guilt were trying to protect me from the consequences I used to face for expressing myself in an environment where it was not just unwelcome, but discouraged and met often with punishment.

My stories are valid. My experiences and my feelings are valid, even other people don’t understand them. Even if my parents didn’t understand them, and regardless of whether they currently do or not.

In validating myself, I reclaimed my self trust. And in trusting myself, I felt valid in expressing myself, knowing that I have valuable things to say and share and help other people feel less alone.

Instead of seeing as my voice as “Bad” and therefore unworthy of being heard, I had to honor its owner (me).

I did not deserve to be punished for standing up for myself. I did not deserve to be punished simply for having healthy, passionate desires that did not align with my parents’ visions. I did not deserve to internally hate myself to keep myself safe from the silent treatment, anger, control, judgment and mental violations of my parents.

I deserved to love my voice and nurture my ideas, openly, freely and joyfully. I deserved to really enjoy being seen and heard and to be present and authentic with putting myself out there instead of shrinking myself to make sure my parents didn’t take notice of me so that I could be examined and analyzed like an experiment they were trying to manipulate to get their desired outcome.

I deserved to feel safe to be confident– not just perform confidence so that I looked impressive to the people that my parents were trying to impress, whether it was colleges or aunties and uncles of the Bengali communities we were in.

I deserved to fall in love with perceiving myself, with being myself, with genuinely connecting with people as my genuine self instead of trying to constantly perform to bring honor to my parents as their trophy daughter.

I deserved to be free– especially in my own mind. To not be gatekept from my own mind out of coercion to follow my parents’ desired career paths and personality blueprint for me.

And so here I write– and in my videos I share– the journeys in which I learned and unlearned. In which I exited the suffocating homes I was pressured to find refuge in, making my way back to my soul where my true home always was.

And in order to understand what is/was right for me, and in order to help other people feel know that they are not alone, I have to be honest– I have to talk about the good AND the bad. The pleasure AND the pain.

I have to be honest about the things that were NOT right in order to pinpoint what was wrong, and so that we could be in grateful comparison of what IS right.

Of the better that is possible.

I kept trying to share my lessons without my stories, hoping to productively bypass the non-essentail “negativity”. I knew toxic positivity was bad, but I didn’t realize I was engaing in it through this kind of bypassing. I was so cautious of trauma dumping that I wanted to avoid talking about trauma and hard things at all.

But talking about my trauma and non-traumatic hard things I went through that shaped who I am today (not because of the events themselves but because of how I empowered myself in my authenticity & self worth to overcome them) creates a deeper level of understanding and connection. You see how different books would be if you just omitted all the hard parts, fluffily condensing the journeys into a few sentences of inspirational quotes without context.

Context is important. The journey itself is important.

And even though it might be hard, I look forward to finally talking about the parts of my own stories in ways that heal and empower me and will do the same for others.

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