As a twenty-three year old, having lived a totally unexpected life as compared to an ordinary Pakistani girl coming from a Muslim household, I find myself to have been lucky.
Lucky to have left the so-called ‘comfort’ of my home and come all the way to a foreign country, not knowing the language and fighting the stereotypes everyday that are attached to my identity.
I am talking about the stereotypes at home. In my country. Fighting misogyny. A girl must listen to her father. A girl must not earn, she must manage the house. A girl must bear children and take care of them. A girl must never be exposed to the outside world. A girl must listen to her family. A girl must be introduced to countless men in the matchmaking process, only to be married by the time she is 25. A place where they grow you up to be ‘independent’ and to be able to ‘stand on your own two feet’ or ‘have pride in being a woman’ only to find out that the basic requirement for a man to be married to you is to have a pocket full of cash. I didn’t work so hard to be that girl.
Fighting against all these and many more norms is one of the few things I find privilege in. Yes, I feel lucky to have the courage because unlike me, so many more give in to the pressures and the loop just continues on and on.
We make many choices, as humans. The choice to leave home was the biggest one for me. To step into a world of the unknown. Meeting new people from different cultures, adapting to a whole new one which I still am getting used to. Choosing to stay here and not go back home. That is me, stepping outside of my comfort zone.
These choices lead us to different paths and faraway places and yet in the resemblance of being diaspora in unfamiliar places we find ourselves in others. For some of you, it might be choosing to learn a language that has brought you to meet many different people.
We have a common ground, you and me. We have the wisdom of knowing what lies outside of the comfort of accepting tiny imperfections within ourselves. That takes confidence! I say that is a privilege to have. To have courage to broaden our horizons through something as small as learning to say ‘Hello’ to a fellow being in another language.