The Reality of Dreams

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When I was younger I had a dream that I would move out, live life, travel the world and be independent. How wrong I was.

It’s easy to watch a movie, read a book or even hear a friend talk about dilemmas and think/advise- why do you not just go for it, sure you’ll will disappoint someone but it’s your life and as long as you’re not hurting anyone why not live the way that makes you happy? But when the tables are turned it’s never that easy.

A South Asians families expectations of their daughter:

  1. Get consistent A*s in all subjects (Art and Physical Education excluded) preferably getting 100%. Even if you get 98% they will question where the remaining 2% went.
  2. Be a good and obedient daughter. That means no unnecessary hanging out with friends and definitely NO boys that are friend or otherwise. If you get caught with a male friend all hell will break loose, because it is assumed that you are dating every guy you are in contact with…
  3. Get into a top ranked uni to study an important subject like MEDICINE or LAW, no airy fairy subjects like Literature or Animation.
  4. Learn to be a South Asian master chef before getting married.
  5. Get hitched. Be a great daughter-in law and wife, a chef, a career woman until you have 3 kids and then be a stay at home mum.
  6. BE PERFECT. FULL STOP. Anything less then perfect automatically reflects badly on you, on your family, on your upbringing and so on and so forth!

Being a South Asian girl born and raised in London the things that I want and the culture that I come from are constantly conflicting. Wanting to spend time for yourself is not really an option. Going on a journey of self discovery to figure out who you are and what you want from life is absolutely absurd. There is the set list of how things should pan out and it ends with marriage!

Don’t get me wrong, there are many aspects of my culture I find amazing, but some of the fundamental ones that affect my life directly make be feel utterly caged. It is hard to break free of the shackles of family and cultural-expectation. Those who do live life as they want are often ostracised by family and the community (depending on the kind of family you come from). I assume it would be like living in Victorian Britain. To rebel against these expectations, if you’re family are not more liberal or supporting in the first place, will open you up to a barrage of constant criticism. Coming from a family who prefer to shun those who ‘transgress’ cultural norms and boundaries, it is extremely difficult to pursue my dreams. My culture stresses the importance of family. When making a life decision not taking your families hopes, wishes and thoughts into consideration above your own is considered an act utmost selfishness. People who live in similar situations to mine will understand the difficulty of breaking away and trying to live your own life before marriage, because lets face it for South Asians the position of wife is a full time job. There is no life real time to yourself, education, work and then marriage for girls. As soon as you have a stable job it is timed to get hitched! That is the order, a social and cultural obligation that I am expected to fulfill. And to want anything different to this is completely ridiculous!

I love my family and I know that they sincerely believe this is the best and respectable route to take in life.

Just like a bird in the cage, my family and culture keeps me from pursuing certain things and living a completely independent life. Should I wish to fly towards my dreams the door is always open, it’s just about altering my state of mind and fight for what I want. I deliberately took a year of before doing my masters, much to the dismay of my parents, and have decided to take a route into teaching which will take another two, maybe three years.  In the mean time my parents will be forced to stop their London-wide search for eligible Asian bachelors to set me up with. Ha!

*Taking control of my life*

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Make-up Mix-up

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My dad and I went to do some shopping on Oxford Street this weekend, whilst I was browsing a rack of jackets I see my dad being approached by an old lady near the payment counter and ‘bit-and-pieces’ stand about 5 feet away from where I stood.

Old lady picks up a big blusher brush from the sales section, turn around and asks my Dad: “What is this used for?”
My Dad picks up one of the the big blusher brushes too, examines it very carefully and answers very truthfully: “You use it to clean your face.”
The old lady picks up two and takes it to the counter. I know I should have run across the store and stopped her but I just could not stop laughing.

My dad’s still non the wiser and the poor old lady is probably using it to scrub her face…

Breaking the Cultural Taboo

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‘What?! He’s not South Asian?! You’re parents are going to kill you!! How are you going to tell them?!’

My boyfriend is African/Middle Eastern. We have been together a little over three and a half years and we are still learning new things about each other because of the different backgrounds we come from. I’m not saying things are rosy twenty-four/seven, that would just be absurd. We have our ups-and-downs like any other couple in a long-term committed relationship. But ultimately our differences keep things interesting!

The best thing about being in a relationship with someone who is not from your own country is that things are always exciting and new. You continue to learn and view the world slightly differently as well as allowing someone else a glimpse into your world. Cultures, traditions, faiths, religions and beliefs all play a central role in shaping the person you are, the person you become, and the fundamental point in which these beliefs are either accepted or rejected  starts with family. Personally I have never felt comfortable dating guys from my own country nor any other South Asian country. It’s not because they’ve all crawled out from under a rock somewhere, there are a lot of very good looking and decent South Asian men. It is because all South-Asians feel like family to me, which makes it extremely hard for me to actually feel attracted to them.

For South Asian girls, such as myself, the idea of dating first of all is a no-no, secondly dating a guy outside of your own country is considered taboo and something that is kept hushed. For example, to stress the scale of the inability to accept such a union, if a South Asian girl wanted to marry a guy from another South Asian country (Bangladesh/India/Pakistan) there would be a huge fuss. Be prepared for a lot of shouting, tears, argument, threats, plates being broken, bags being packed depending on the type of family you come from. South Asian countries all have similar fundamental cultures and tradition regardless of whether you are Muslim, Hindu or Christian. Damn it, the women wear red and are adorned in gold on their big day, we take a lot from each others cultures, the language is more or less similar and we all love curry and naan! So why the big commotion? If South-Asians can scarcely accept inter-marriages with an individual form another South-Asian country imagine how they would react to someone who isn’t even from the continent! As I have reiterated in previous posts, not all families are like this but the majority are!

[Not] looking forward to breaking this bombshell to my parents when technically I shouldn’t even be dating let alone be involved in a committed relationship! That’s my parents arranged marriage plans out the window! Oh well!

The Liebster Award

Yay! I have been nominated for The Liebster Award by a fellow blogger. Thank you so much arie-bea! Make sure to check out, follow, like and comment on her amazing beauty, style and lifestyle blog.

Up until 5 minutes ago I had no idea what the Liebster Award was, but I was excited nonetheless to win my 1st blog award! I didn’t even know there were awards for blogs! I confess I am a blog/social media noob (I think that’s a gamer term but I feel it fits in this situation)!

I found a very helpful explanation on LORRAINE REGULY’S LIFE blog: ‘The Liebster award was created to recognize and/or discover new bloggers and welcome them to the blogosphere.’

Rules:

1) Thank the person who nominated you! Link their blog to your post.

2) Copy and Paste the Liebster Award in your post.

3) Nominate 10 other bloggers with 200 or less followers.

4) Answer the questions given to you and create a new set of questions for those you nominate.

5) Notify your nominee’s via a comment on one of their posts.

Without further ado I shall answer Arie’s questions:

  1. Favourite brand of makeup: My favourite brand of makeup is Belle Pierre foundation in Cinnamon because the mineral product only has 3 ingredients and is amazing for your skin. I have very sensitive skin with some products leaving me looking like a tomato the next day and this does not affect my skin in any way! Plus it makes you look so so natural and flawless!
  2. 3 things that make me happy: Friends and family (I’m sure I can combine that into one?), good food and great books!
  3. 3 things that make me sad: Finishing a good book (I get overly attached to the characters!), old people (weird, I know!) and when things I do aren’t perfect (I’m a perfectionist! I’m not just saying that to make myself look good, it is a real problem! The littlest things bother me until I set them straight).
  4. Dream destination: No specific destination, I want to travel the world one day!
  5. Favourite part about Autumn/Fall: Getting to wear warm snuggly clothes and spending time drinking hot chocolates at coffee shops!
  6. Favourite store: Asos, because they always have great sales on on so many different brands!
  7. Animal: I would be an eagle because I would have the freedom to fly anywhere I wanted!
  8. Favourite drink at Starbucks: All time favourite is a Mocha Frappe with cream when the weathers hot. When the weather starts to cool I love a Hazelnut Hot Chocolate or a Cinnamon Chai Latte!
  9. Dream profession/job: A job that will allow me to travel as well as help people and make a difference.
  10. One person I can’t live without: Can it be two? My boyfriend and my best friend!

My Questions:

  1. If you could have any superpower what would it be (pick one) and why?
  2. What is your favourite coffee shop beverage?
  3. When you were a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
  4. Would you rather have a crazy night out with a group or have a quiet one with a few good friends?
  5. Do you have a nickname? If so do you prefer it more than your actual name?
  6. If you had three wishes from a not-so-tricky genie, what would you wish for?
  7. Where would your dream holiday/vacation be?
  8. What languages do you speak and which ones would you like to learn?
  9. What is your favourite part about Autumn/Fall?
  10. How would you like to live your life, dream job or otherwise?

My Nominees: 

  1. The Year in London
  2. arie-bea
  3. Indian Love Story
  4. One Woman
  5. More Than Beer and Waffles
  6. Red Velvet Ratatouille
  7. by Jimmy
  8. Girls In White Dresses
  9. erinlouisehunt.
  10. Mara Eastern’s Personal Blog

How to Fake Confidence

‘Believe you can and you’re halfway there’- it really does work! Believe you can and it is possible to conquer anything! Half of what you want to portray is in your mindset the other half is acting it out. As cliche as it sounds, believing you can do something means you are more likely to achieve your goals because your positive thinking will allow you to progress. Scared of heights? Tell yourself you can do it and go skydiving! If you believe in yourself and in your abilities other will also.

We grow up thinking that figures of authority in our lives are naturally confident, our teachers, bosses and those in management. But confidence is something that is gained over time and regardless of how many times an individual has done something, feeling nervous is natural (believe me because I have had lecturers admit this during presentation preparation sessions!). There will always be hiccups along the way, it’s all about moving past those incidences and learning from them. Everything in life is an experience that makes you stronger and better and allows you to understand and progress.

These are my essential ‘Faking Confidence’ rules:

1. Smile: An easy and friendly smile indicates that you are comfortable with your surroundings and the people in it. It puts yourself at ease and others around you. You instantly look approachable!

2. Make Eye Contact: This is very important! Too little eye contact and you can look fidgety and uncomfortable, too much and you can come across intense and slightly demented. Try to maintain an appropriate level of eye contact as this radiates confidence and control in any situation.

3. Open Body Language: Try not to fold your arms too much, you’re body language should always be open. According to psychiatrists crossing your arms is indicative of protective or defensive behavior. I recently got complimented on my open body language by a fellow interviewee after a group interview. What I usually do is when speaking to a group of people I use my hands animatedly to give off an air of comfort and confidence. Not too much hand waving though, you don’t want to look like you’re trying to swat a fly. When walking, look up, never down, and stride evenly and confidently with your shoulders back. Sit or stand straight and face the people/person you are talking to so it does not appear as though you are shying away.

Good old socially-awkward Sheldon shows us how not to act (unless drunken pervert high on crack is what you are going for):

4. Speak Clearly and Decisively: Do not mumble or ramble! Think about what you are going to say beforehand, rambling only accentuates the fact that you are feeling nervous. Stay cool and collected and remember to breathe! If you’re in a high pressure situation like an interview or a presentation, breathing regularly and evenly will help stop your voice from shaking. Most importantly try to stay calm so you don’t freeze up!

5. Look the Part: Most importantly looking the part adds to an individuals confidence. If you feel you look good/presentable then you will definitely exude confidence. It’s good to invest in a wardrobe that fits your body shape/type for different occasions. You don’t have to spend hundreds of pounds on designer outfits to look good! Dress well and pick items that suit you where ever you shop. Having fewer key pieces of clothing bodes better than having a wardrobe full of bits and bobs that most likely will never be worn!

So go forth into the world and fake some confidence!

Down a Rabbit-Hole into Starbucks

Down a Rabbit-hole into Starbucks

I absolutely adore the coffeehouses of Central London. I love to watch the hustle and bustle of city life from the comfort of my warm, if slightly worn, armchair inside the relaxed atmosphere of the shop whilst sipping on an iced Mocha Frappe (with cream of course). Alice stumbled upon a tea-party in Wonderland at the end of her rabbit-hole, I discovered the wonders of Starbucks! It is the most obvious hide-away from a busy lifestyle and the cold Autumn/Winter days! Is it weird that I love to drink Frappes even during cold weather?

When the weather gets a little chilly and it starts to get dark early my boyfriend and I like to spend the majority of our time sitting at a Starbucks talking, laughing and relaxing. Give us a cosy little corner near the big glass windows Starbucks is well known for and we’ll be there until closing time!

Autumn- New Beginnings?

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I know technically there is still a week left until Autumn, but the change in weather makes me want to pull out my woolly scarves! For the first time in my life September represents the end of an academic year. I complete my Masters at the end of this week *yay*! I’m in my early 20’s and starting to feel the panic of stepping into the unknown that is adult life and leaving education and the care free student living that comes along with it behind. So where to from here?

Don’t get me wrong, I am not a complete novice at living as a self-sufficient ‘adult’. I have had a taste of the ‘adult’ lifestyle in the year I took out after completing my undergrad and before staring my postgrad. Suffice to say, after a month in a full-time nine-to-five job (along with working three evening a week volunteering as an English and Maths tutor and part-time weekends in a retail outlet in busy Central London) I was knackered but satisfied. As much as I love working and keeping busy, I do ask myself ‘when do I get time to myself’? Even when you’re not at work you are working, meeting deadlines and completing tasks. It’s almost heart-breaking to see your social life board a one-way train to oblivion whilst you mournfully stare after the departing train with your nose pressed up against the window.

‘Let me know when your entire life goes up in smoke: then it’s time for a promotion.’- The Devil Wears Prada (2006).

The MA gave me one last opportunity to be carefree and so I took it!

It is absolutely shocking how living gets very very expensive very very fast once you cease to be a student. There are suddenly endless things that need paying from tax and rent to helping out with a million-and-one bills, travel (good-bye student discount!) and of course paying for your own personal upkeep. But the plus side to this is that you feel like an individual in charge of your own life. Yes, of course you miss the care free days of being a student when all you had to worry about was planning your next budget trip with your friends, and a fish-finger sandwich was considered a meal. But the transition from student to adult is not a bad one (once you get over a huge chunk of your salary disappearing every week/month), I guess it’s all about finding a job that will inspire and motivate you as well as discovering the right balance between work and play.

Let the job-hunt commence!