Like many Indian girls, I was countless times told, by my grandmother and mother, to be ‘sushil’ – which translated into the rules about how I needed to listen to elders; how I had to follow all social rules and make everyone happy; how I had to make life decisions keeping my family in mind! But sadly, these laws didn’t apply to my brothers at all. Because, while I was shamed for being stubborn, my brothers were celebrated for the same.
When I stood for my wishes and dreams, I was called stubborn; but when my brothers did, they were labeled as strong-willed. I was expected to make all my life decisions as per my family, but my family would uproot themselves in a moment so that my brothers’ dreams don’t suffer!
When I stood for myself for not getting married before completing my education, I was labelled as Ziddi while my brothers were applauded for the same decision. Rather they were called focused and career-oriented.
When I wasn’t allowed to go to the US even after earning a scholarship for higher education, I realized that the biggest mistake that a woman makes is to confine herself to the idea of being ‘sushil’ or ‘sanskaari’; the biggest mistake that we make is to listen to the society rather than listening to our own heart; the biggest mistake that we make is to be scared of the label of being called ‘stubborn’.
In a patriarchal society, a woman doesn’t need to be ‘sushil’ but stubborn; We need to strive hard to stand for ourselves, follow our dreams, and live life on our own terms. While society may label us rebel, besharam, selfish or stubborn, we should take pride in those labels. Because society uses these labels to make us their slaves; it uses these labels to make us selfless so that society can enjoy and we can suffer!
It took me almost 28 years to realize that neither my parents nor my brothers would stand for my dreams and my happiness. If I want to pursue my dreams, I have to take a stand against my own family. And, with all my courage I did it. I went to the US to complete my higher education. Frankly, I have no regrets of being labeled as rebel, besharam, selfish or stubborn anymore! I don’t want to be sushil or sanskaari! I have one life to live and fulfill my dreams!
While society celebrates and promotes men’s activities, actions and achievements to live life on their own terms, it shames women for doing the same! Don’t make the same mistake that our earlier generation of women did! Live life on your own terms and don’t strive to be sushil. Be stubborn and live your own life!