I know that a majority of my published posts are on positivity, happiness and inspiration, but let’s be honest- nobody’s life is free of troubles, everyone makes mistakes, and no one is happy and positive all of the time. Despite what is often portrayed on the internet and on social media, I am no different than anyone else in that I have experienced my fair share of feeling upset, anxious, or simply just in a negative head-space. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that lately, more than ever before, I just have not felt 100% free to be myself. My Self who, at the core, is someone who lives freely and full of faith. Writing in my journal and on this blog is the one place I feel completely at home and where I will always remain real and raw and uncensored. I have always put a lot of pressure on myself to be and live in a certain way that is in accordance with society’s expectations, even whilst balancing that with being myself & doing what I want. But receiving equal pressure & even higher expectations from others can even take a toll on the strongest of us.
First there is the obvious pressure that comes from society:
“Work hard, but not too much. Play hard, but not too often. Be educated, but accept what your textbooks say without question. Make more money, but don’t spend it too much. Be open-minded. But also be strong-willed. Buy a bigger house. But don’t have any debt. Give your children freedom. But if they make a wrong decision then it’s clearly your fault so you need to become better at parenting.”
There is then the added pressure of being a woman:
“A woman should know how to cook. A woman should dress properly, not too revealing, but just enough to still look attractive. A woman should definitely never let herself gain weight and work hard to lose that weight & hide her stretchmarks immediately after childbirth. A woman should remain more patient than her male counterpart and never talk back. A woman should never curse and always use manners. How could a woman possibly think it’s okay to be confident without removing any sort of facial or body hair that she was born with?!”
It’s undeniable that family & friends also contribute their opinions:
“Do your homework before watching TV. How could you watch TV without cleaning your room? Help more around the house. Go to your room. Always answer your phone. Don’t be on your phone too much. Be there for your friends. But if they’re not there for you then don’t get mad. Choose the decor and furniture you like. Make sure everyone else also likes it. Drink more water. But don’t keep your water with you. Rinse, wash, & hand-dry all the dishes immediately after each meal; do it quickly but don’t run the water too fast or too slow; then hang the cloth on the left when it’s wet, but hang it on the right if it’s not wet enough; place the pan on the left side of the dishwasher but if there’s two pans then place it on the right! Use ketchup instead of hot sauce. Cut the onions. But don’t use the cutting board. Put your chips in a ziploc bag. But don’t put the ziploc bag on the bottom shelf. Eat the bread, because it’s going bad. But not if there’s rice because that will go bad first. But really, don’t eat either and just eat more fruit. Tie your hair. Don’t leave your straightener out. Put your clothes on a hanger. But use matching hangers. Place the bed sheet on top of the comforter. Unless there’s a guest, in which case you should put the comforter on top of the sheet. Clean the bathroom twice a week but sweep the kitchen three times a day. Put your bags in the closet. But put some of the bags in the attic. Feel loved by those who never show it. Sleep earlier, wake up earlier, do more around the house, but also do more in your career, but also make sure you put your kids first because if you don’t do any of these correctly then you clearly lack common sense and need serious help.”
And of course, the greatest pressure of all, to think & feel good:
“Think positive. But accept the negative. Just let it go. Inspire yourself. Meditate. But not for too long. Take care of yourself. But don’t spend money on it. Just try your best. Don’t complain. Be grateful. Give back. Write about it. Pray about it. Cry about it. But not more than once. Stay strong. But be vulnerable. Ignore it. But consider it. Fake it ’til you make it. Try your best. Distract yourself. Be yourself. But not completely. Laugh it off. But be responsible. Live free. But follow all the rules. Be in the moment. But plan for the future. Have no expectations. But try daily to meet others’ expectations. Always have faith. Talk about it. But patiently, and not too loudly, in the right wording, at the right timing, and only to the right person- if they don’t have any other issues of their own- and make sure you don’t complain too much or offend anyone. Don’t care what others think. As long as you make sure they think you’re an acceptable member of society. Just change your thinking. Because if you don’t feel good then you’re the one to blame for it because you’re clearly not strong enough to control your emotions.”
The thing is, even when I’m upset or sad or anxious, someone will find some flaw in my mindset or suggest I change my thinking when sometimes it’s actually the situation itself which has led me to the mindset I’m in. Even if I openly talk about all the stressors in my life, there will be someone who claims I’m ungrateful or greedy. Even when I take time to myself to resolve things on my own to avoid being a burden to anyone else, there will be someone who sees it as lazy or selfish or not productive enough if it keeps me from my other responsibilities. Even if I do change certain parts of my thinking or behavior to please someone else, there will always be someone who thinks it’s not enough or not good enough or will raise their standards or find something else they’re not happy or satisfied with. No matter what you do, people will have their opinion of you, so you think you might as well stop trying to please others & just live for yourself….And even then, you’ll find someone who will claim it’s a sign of weakness to give up and it’s selfish to live for yourself. And amidst all of this chaos, if you happen to make the mistake of feeling misunderstood or alone, you’ll find someone who will claim that you are the one who does not know how to properly balance life and handle stress and dwell on the bad too long.
That being said, I have only one fundamental belief on how I think people should live their lives: People should do whatever they want as long as they are not, in any way, hurting or impeding on the rights of anyone else.
“Live and let live because when you judge someone, it doesn’t define them -it defines you- and it leaves no time to love them.”
It’s true that everyone has problems, and that is a part of life. But the most absolute basic human right, the freedom to be yourself- without being judged- should never be one of them.
So what is the solution to feeling better? Figuring out why I don’t feel good in the first place. I actually watched a video recently on why people are unhappy, and the results are consensual: All unhappiness comes from having expectations. Some expectations can come from your imagination, so if something in reality isn’t quite like what you thought in your head, then you will be disappointed. Other expectations come from those around you. You could want a million dollars, but if everyone around you has ten million dollars, then you will undoubtedly become unhappy with what you have. And the rest of our expectations come from our past, so you don’t live up to the standards you’ve set for yourself previously, then you will be unhappy that you are worse off than you once were- even if you’re still perfectly well off by any other standards.
This applies to me, easily. I left my entire life & family to move here for another life & family. The expectations I had in my imagination were unrealistic because this change comes with other people who have their own way of doing things and their own opinions and expectations of me, and it is never easy for people of such different generations, cultures, lifestyles and mindsets to live together. The expectations I had from those around me is also unfair, because most of the people who I know did not move to a new city nor live with a joint family, so it’s not logical to assume that I wouldn’t have any additional challenges in my own situation. And the rest of my expectations come from my past, in the life I used to live. I have always lived independently in the way that I wanted, but even our first argument after marriage was about my feeling like I have no control over where I live or how I live or even over small things such as curtain choice! This can only be resolved with patience, because it is literally impossible to re-create the amazing life I had overnight in a brand new situation. Besides, the goal here isn’t to make a life that was just like the one I had; it’s to make one that is different and better and that requires time, effort, energy, persistence, and a lot of patience. While I understand this very well and remain quite open-minded to the expectations of others, I am a twenty-eight year old woman who does not need to be told how to live every detail of my life such as when to change my name and, other than perhaps learning to cook traditional Pakistani dishes, there is nothing I am not perfectly capable of doing myself. So, you can see how it would be frustrating to constantly be told what to do and how to do it “correctly” to prove myself to someone else, while also believing that I have the freedom to do what I want.
Aside from the obvious adjustment issues into a new lifestyle and the pressure to meet the expectations that come with it, there are plenty of other things on my mind. For one, I simply don’t feel like myself, free to be how I usually am, without fear of being judged, and full of undying faith in every breath. When I am put down in any way, I want to remain confident enough in myself to know at that time that it’s not true and not second-guess myself. I don’t feel as generally healthy or energized as I usually do, I feel the pressure to look a certain way, and something, perhaps the Houston water, is messing with my hair & skin because it’s never been quite as harsh as it is now- plus, I am getting stress zits from the lack of control and freedom in my own home. I’ve been missing my dad a lot lately, which is something that can definitely never be changed. I guilt myself to the most extreme level possible for leaving my mother all alone in the world, knowing that she needs me more than anyone else in the world. And my heart shatters into tiny little pieces every time I think of my baby sister who deals with so many struggles and knowing that I cannot be a part of her daily life. I miss the days when I was little and I went to pray with my family at least every week, the times I most easily felt a genuine joy. I miss spending every weekend with my cousins and I miss my best friends who I saw on a regular basis and often were closer to me than my own blood. [Oh, what I wouldn’t give to have all my loved ones in one city, as I dream of my own home full of sunlight, where love is craved like cigarettes]! I want so badly to either attain or let go of the expectations I’ve held in my heart for so long to unfairly place the responsibility of curing my loneliness on another person- I want to truly give more, expect less, and feel the joy that comes only from living life in this way. I want to find a balance in being myself but also fulfilling my responsibilities, but I want to do it without creating conflict or hurting anyone, and I hate that the only thing I can really control is myself. I want to be able to share my opinions openly and feel that they are valued and considered and just as meaningful as those of any other person, and not feel like I have to fight so hard to be heard. I want to serve others via a nursing job in which I am able to use my intellect and my passion to its fullest capacity, and meet new people with whom I have a genuine and lasting connection. I feel detached from a comfortable light that is home, like I am going through the motions and drowning in an unfamiliar world out of my control. I really, really want to feel strong in my faith, live totally freely, and feel understood instead of constantly judged, or simply train my brain to not care what people think as long as I do my best. Thing is, I know what I am capable of and that my best is really high up there; I just wish I didn’t have to work so hard every day at it, or be quite so hard on myself all the time. I wish that I could stop my mind from wandering to past conflicts and creating unhappiness in the moment, or from wandering to future worries and creating anxiety in the moment. I want to live simply but some days, like today, my brain makes life much more complicated than it needs to be, and doesn’t laugh nearly as much as I think everyone deserves to every day.
I end this post in full knowledge that I have gone off on an incredibly long tangent and somewhat unnecessary rant, and had zero inhibitions today on what I am sharing, as I sometimes feel the need to do in fear of what others may think. Just to be clear, nothing mentioned in this post is meant to undermine all that I am so grateful for, because even at a time like this, of such frustration when my mind has gotten the best of me, I am vividly aware that my blessings from the Universe immeasurably outnumber my problems- an idle mind is dangerous & tonight, I didn’t try to stop it. I do truly believe happiness is a habit and that happy people are just the ones who know how to make the best of the hand they’re dealt; tomorrow is a new day and I have the faith and resources to turn it all around. Sometimes though, a girls just gotta let out all the negative energy & just sit with it until it passes and space can be created for positivity to enter, so it would be appreciated if this rather long and negative late-night rant is taken as just that. And excuse me if my post is not as well-organized or creatively expressed as it has the potential to be, but perfection is not of this world and I am not sorry for being human.