i don’t mind.

We hear the phrase, ‘be mindful of others’ regularly. Especially with social media consuming our lives, we consistently hear people say, ‘pay attention to your surroundings, be present, be aware, be mindful.’

Growing up, my parents really wanted to embed mindfulness in to us kids. To be quite honest, it’s all they cared about. If we were sitting and someone (mainly elder) was standing, we should be mindful and offer our seat. If someone came to visit, I should be mindful and offer water, or chai. If someone was complaining about a situation we should be mindful and offer help. To constantly be aware of others needs. Growing up, my sister would jokingly refer to our mother as a social worker. Despite having three kids, she took on tasks for people like it was her job. Both my parents really. They were so kind to open their doors and have people stay if they ever needed a room or food. Literally anyone could call my parents for help, and you’d never hear a no. Never.

I am truly grateful to have witnessed such kind, extremely giving, and mindful parents. They not only taught us to be respectful to others but to always show compassion to those in need. And they really taught us to be attentive to not only others’ experiences but their feelings especially.

Desis are ALL about emotions. I mean just watch any Bollywood movie and see how we like to pull at peoples heart strings with emotional blackmail… err situations. Being mindful isn’t a dreadful thing. It’s a wonderful attribute but is there such a thing to be too mindful? I genuinely don’t think I have EVER made a life altering decision without listing the pro’s and con’s of how OTHERS might feel (and when I say others, I mainly mean my parents.) Sure, I’ve been selfish and did things I wanted but I also drove myself pretty crazy up until I made that decision.

I find my mindfulness has spread to other areas of my life. With friendships, with work. I have a hard time saying ‘No.’ Because, again my parents taught us to always be mindful of  people’s feelings.  I don’t quite know how my parents provided for three kids and were able to take on more than their share – because I find myself struggling. On one hand I want to be able to make everyone around me ‘happy’ (I say happy but I know it’s nearly impossible to make everyone happy – a general consensus if you will) but on the other hand it can take a huge toll on one’s sanity.

My friends who are amazing wives struggle between what their husbands want, what her parents want, and what her in-laws expect from her. She’s busy in her own life and of course has a voice but is also extremely mindful of keeping the harmony. I often listen to their struggles, pause and ask, “and what do you want?” The most daunting question of all time. We’re so wrapped up in trying to balance the beam. I truly believe they forget what they even want to begin with. I don’t want to make the bold statement that more often than not, women are asked to be more mindful than men, but in this case I’ll say it.

I once read a story that really resonated with me for many different reasons. A couple gets married and they make a pact for the first couple of weeks they won’t let anyone bother them no matter what. The guys parents come and they ask each other do we let them in and break the pact? The guy says it’ll be okay, they’ll be fine. The following week the girl’s parents are at the door. And of course not wanting to break the pact she convinces herself that it’s okay, they’ll understand. After a couple of minutes, she can’t take it, she tells her husband we should let them in, what if it’s something important? She opens the door. Fast forward a couple of years they have a son and then a girl. On the arrival of their daughter, the husband began to cry and the wife jokingly asked why are you crying? And he replied, “because the one who’s going to open the door for us, is here.”

I know plenty of guys who are mindful. I know plenty of women who are not. But there is something about this story that really resonates with me. The girl felt so many emotions upon opening that door. Firstly, to not want to disappoint her husband if she did open the door or feel guilty if she didn’t open the door for her parents. I often find myself at a similar crossroad. When my co workers say no to my boss for an extra task, I start to think of the all reasons why I should take the task. Mindfulness. It pops up everywhere.

For once, I’d like to be mindless. To solely make a decision based on my needs, only. We often spend our adult life fixing what our childhood broke and I’m not sure which part is more broken now.

My parents raised humanitarians, and as grateful as I am to them, I’m also upset they set me up for failure for my own sanity. The world wasn’t raised the same. The guilt that consumes me when I don’t fulfill a task that’s asked of me, will be the death of me. Many would say, this is a personal problem, and that’s feasible. Nevertheless, how is one to turn off being mindful? That’s just it though, there is nothing noble about not giving grace. It could be I’ve been on the right side all along, although for the sake of my sanity (and others like me) it’s time to fathom that No is a full a sentence and completely okay to use every once and awhile.

I do mind.

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QTDNA: questions that don’t need answers.

This blog post comes from an extremely vulnerable place, and I give this topic a lot of thought – unintentionally mostly and some days intentionally. Perhaps, with wedding season in full effect or the fact I will be turning 30 this year, everyone has one burning question for me, “so when are you getting married?” And although, MOST of the time I think it comes from a good place, lets talk about WHY this question is heartless and others like it.

First off, why things aren’t happening in someone’s life, such as, “you’ve been married for one year, now it’s time for children,” is NOT your concern. Then after one has their first child, it instantly becomes about having your second… “what are you waiting for?” Basically the questions never end. People have already jumped onto the next hurdle and you’re still trying to relish in the first one.

Is there a race I am unaware of? What do we get if we cross the finish line the fastest? And it’s not just annoying aunties anymore, in fact it seems to me EVERYONE is extremely curious. Married friends and family members who just can’t seem to understand why you aren’t leaping to the finish line. I’m not even going to talk about the turtle and the hare, because we all know the cliche story, but in this case, is anyone really winning if they cross the finish line the quickest?

Listen, getting married isn’t the issue, or you reminding me that I am single. Yes, I am single and despite my disposition on marriage, when you bring up such topics with people, it can feed some undesired emotion that you didn’t even know existed. Especially with bearing children, or anything really. You have NO idea how bad this person might want the exact thing you are suggesting, and to brutally remind them of their struggles is not okay.

I’m a secure person. Certain comments always throw me off such as, “but you’re so pretty how are you single?” This is NOT a compliment by any means. We are ALL well aware (I hope) that finding a partner has nothing to do with your looks, and to normalize this in any way, speaks volumes about our society.

Let’s take this thought a little deeper. I often have really close friends or family members say, “you’re so amazing, how is that you haven’t found someone?” This is a nice claim, but let me tell what’s wrong with it. You hear it so much you truthfully start to think, “damn I am amazing why am I single? Essentially, what the world is telling you is, “you have to be doing something wrong.”  But that’s just it, relationships are not that black and white, nor is the process that simple. We’re so used to delivering cliche remarks, I honestly think people don’t even comprehend how these statements can resonate.

My mother always says, “tume apne bare mein, badi galth famiyan hain,” a famous urdu saying which translates to, “you have A LOT of misconceptions about yourself.” Basically, I ain’t shit (thank you Ruby for always keeping me humble, it is SO NEEDED.) And that’s my problem with those sorts of compliments, it cultivates this idea that we DESERVE a significant other. Look, we don’t deserve anything, you have to work hard at anything and everything you want or need in this life, and that is especially true with people. Also, because I know some really horrible people married, so personality does not dictate whether or not you get married, it’s determined by MANY other factors, clearly.

Additionally, there are those who give their unwarranted advice. Now advice can be fundamental, but to start off with accusatory remarks such as, ‘don’t be so picky, be open minded’ or ‘just be straight-forward and approach the guy yourself’ are not intelligent ways to grab my attention. In my mind I’m thinking, have you met me?? Do I need to spell it out for the guy… but that is an entirely different topic altogether.

My favorite remark thus far has been, “you’re too strong willed.” (insert eye roll emoji.) To blame the very person of why something isn’t happening, is telling the person – ‘its your own fault.’ Don’t get me wrong, I am self aware of all my faults and I am all for constructive criticism but for all one knows, that person has tried everything in their power, and you think you’re being helpful by offering unsolicited opinions? It’s cruel to be honest. In order to be an effective communicator you must embody empathy, and as a human race, we seem to be losing that daily.

I love those who advocate for marriage. They get all cliche on me and say, oh it’ll happen when you least expect it. I’m sorry, are you telling me you didn’t know you were going decide a huge life factor and it *gasps* just happened? You’re trying to tell me that you put no effort or time into something SO monumental, as society teaches us… and it just happened? That entire proposal you elaborated on instagram just happened? Please, stop with this carefree facade. Its demeaning. Relationships are meaningful and they don’t JUST HAPPEN. They take time and patience and sure, for some it is through family and the time is put in differently, but it doesn’t JUST HAPPEN. This a very careful thought out act. I for one, put thought into EVERYTHING I do, and even if meeting someone is the unexpected part, everything that follows is CAREFULLY THOUGHT OUT. So please stop telling single folk, it just happened – I know what you mean, I do, but it is not the same thing, and we have stop perpetuating these false concepts.

If you are not ready to have an in depth conversation about the PROCESS, then don’t proceed with unnecessary suggestions or comments. It is not small talk, it is literally stupid talk. No, I am not bitter, nor am I sad that my timeline hasn’t aligned with your expectations. I have no desire to constantly indulge in the reality that is MY LIFE, I do that enough with my mother, thanks. I am already quite aware what is and isn’t my life.

SO PLEASE STOP:

Asking my married friends why they aren’t having children. (Or why they aren’t as eager as YOU are for their second.)

Telling people what they MIGHT be doing wrong in finding a significant other.

Inquiring about why someone didn’t finish or start med school (God forbid someone doesn’t want to be a doctor.)

Reminding people (or in this case specifically, me) that they are single.

Maybe, just maybe we prefer it that way and if they don’t maybe they have blind faith, that when it supposed to happen, it will. I’ll leave you with my favorite hadith because it is reminder to us all to be sensitive to others and their personal lives:

“Know that if the whole community were to gather together to benefit you with anything, it would benefit you only with something that Allah had already prescribed for you, and that if they gather together to harm you with anything, they would harm you only with something Allah had already prescribed for you. The pens have been lifted and the pages have dried.”

 

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