Be successful – but not too successful: every women’s challenge 

On my way to the train station, I was chatting to my taxi driver – as you do. He was lovely, telling me about his family and such – as they do. The conversation was going great until he said “Women are not made to be earning too much money. They can’t handle it. When they become too successful they change.”

Now my company have been drilling professionalism into me over the last two weeks. So surprisingly my first reaction was not to go off on one. Instead I forced a chuckle and said “let’s agree to disagree” and gently got him to understand that it most probably the man who is seeing things that are not there, feeling insecure and how this is all part of patriarchal society which forces men to believe that a women’s success is a sign of their own weakness.
This whole topic came up because we were talking about how the more and more successful a women gets, the harder it is to find a viable partner. Men feel very threatened by successful women. At 23, with a Masters from a globally leading university, and on a very cosy salary (thanks to my employment in a corporate company – leading in it’s field, alhamdulliah), I know I’m very much more successful than many men my age – or even a few years older than me.

And that’s terrifying.

Just because I am smart and determined, I’ve already knocked out a whole section of men who won’t even consider me. The already small pool of men already shrinking. And to be honest, I know that’s a blessing because who wants to be with someone who’s manhood is that fickle.

But it’s still terrifying. I am very comfortable being independent and even though I’d like a partner, marriage is something I aspire to because I know if I don’t then my mum and siblings will face a load of crap. And so I worry about growing old and being single.

I wonder how I would grow my daughter up. At what age would you remind your daughter that setting her up not to fail may be the very thing that makes her fail? Fail in finding a partner that is – which apparently is the only sign of success. Because you could have stopped studying after GCSEs and got married and never worked a day of your life (and good for you if that’s what makes you happy) – and in many people’s eyes you’ll be more successful than I am. You’re a mother, a wife – a proper women. And then you get the super women, those who have studied – even become a doctor perhaps – but have now given that up to look after their husband and children (and again, good for you if that makes you happy). She maintains the house and her husband, and that makes her a success. Look at what she sacrificed to be a proper women! 

We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you would threaten the man. Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. Now marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support but why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same? We raise girls to see each other as competitors not for jobs or accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing, but for the attention of men. – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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When they move on 

The jerk when I see you with her is something I’m not prepared for. I don’t love you. That I know is true. But seeing you with her brings up the butterflies and warmth from when I was her.

And the pain, the tear and the anger.

And the anger lingers. How dare you be happy when you tore me up and left me so empty, broken and unhappy.

You’re smiling and travelling. And I’m doing the same. But I expected me leaving you to leave you as empty, broken and unhappy. I did not expect you to pick up the pieces as I have. I did not think you could move on without me.

I feel a build up of almost hate. Like I don’t want you to be happy. But I’m not a hateful person. “Of course I want you to be happy” I tell myself. And it would break my heart to see you suffering – despite the suffering you caused me.

I suppose I just didn’t think you could be. I expected you to come back – try and come back, beg even – believe that your life would be nothing without me. And yes I would have said no. And you know this. But seeing you move on makes me feel so useless. Like I didn’t even matter. Like I’m replaceable.

JezWeCan

I have always voted Labour. Even before I could vote – I knew would vote Labour. I am the daughter of immigrants, live in a council estate and have strong social politics – Labour should be the party for me.

Except it hasn’t been. And unlike my parents who will vote Labour no matter what they do, second generation voters are likely to vote differently. I even know some who vote Conservative (*boo hiss*). Point being, they can’t get away with their so centre Left – almost going Right politics.

The introduction of tuition fees. The Iraq war. The War or Terror and PREVENT. All of these things happened under a Labour government.

And now I find myself resenting the party. Me – someone who is politically active and happy to sign up as a member – reluctant because none of them come close to my views.

But today is different. I sit here holding my breath waiting for Jeremy Corbyn to be announced as the new Labour Leader.

The media have had a lot of fun, making him sound ridiculous and the unserious candidate. But what they have actively ignored is the tide change. People are waking up to these MPs who talk the talk to get voted in yet then go and vote in the opposite way or abstain. Who say they stand for anti-austerity but then vote for cuts. Who vote through racist laws. Who clearly care more about their career than the lives of the most vulnerable in this Great Kingdom.

People who never would have gone out to a protest have taken to the streets. People who didn’t even know parties had leader elections are paying out of their own pocket to join the party so they can vote. People who said they’d never come back to Labour are giving them another chance.

And this brings us to Jeremy – the only candidate who can keep the momentum going. Being consistent, voting in the ways he says his beliefs are, right from the beginning of his career.


People say he is the candidate for the rich, those who can afford to be idealistic. I can afford no such luxuries and neither can the bubble of activists I surround myself with.

What we can’t afford is another 8 years of more cuts, more wars, more bullying. What we can’t afford is a party who is meant to be opposing but agrees even when the bills are against their core values. We need hope, we need action and we need change. And Jeremy is the only chance of that.

So I sit here holding my breath.

Dear ex-fiancée

I knew you were wrong for me right at the start. As soon as I said yes. The first time, seven years ago. When I said yes to you asking me out over the phone. You didn’t even give me the respect then to ask me face to face. No romantic gestures, not even your whole heart.
And I regret it. I regret all those nights wasted talking to you, hearing your tales even though I knew they were lies. I regret all those days I lied to my friends and families, missing out on meals with them so I could see you. I regret all the times I let you see me and touch me in ways no one else had. I regret baring the deepest secrets only for you to manipulate and twist my words. I regret the tears flown and the compromises made even when I knew I was right and you were wrong. There are so many things I regret. Seven years of regret.

I wish I did not keep coming back to you. Time and time again. Even though I knew you were twisted and twisting me. You did not make me grow but rather tried to contain and control me. I wonder still how much further I would have flown if you had not clipped me.

But through all that regret, I am grateful. Grateful for the lessons learnt, for the support my family provided me, and the resilience I grew to adopt. And most of all, I am so grateful I did not marry you.

I don’t thank you for those. Those were all me. But I forgive you. I know you’re suffering something deeper which means you don’t know how to love without taking, how to respect without hurting or how to talk without lying.

Do you regret? Do you regret flirting with her which then turned into full on cheating? Do you regret just not telling me at the start rather than continuing for four years? Do you regret all the times you didn’t trust me, even though I’ve always been nothing my faithful to you – perhaps a little naive? Do you regret hurting my family in the process?

I am better than you in every sense of the word. I see that now, though I didn’t see it then. Education, work, looks, friends, faith, passion. Is that why you were always so insecure? Do you regret not fighting harder to keep me?

I just hope you regret what you did to me so that no one else has to go through the same.

This post was prompted by the word ‘regret’ – as part of the one word inspiration challenge suggested by Writing 101. What do you regret from a past relationship?

Pet Peeves: a list

I am an avid list maker. You may have noticed this is my previous posts such as the one about my brother, the one about my first date or the one about white people. I even considered listing the posts that contained lists in them but I don’t think anyone is that passionate about lists. I make lists daily – my to do list, my order of things to wear this week to work list, my what to write on this blog list. Lists make me feel organised. So I have no qualms with today’s writing 101 challenge of making a list. I was recently speaking to my sister about pet peeves* so here are mine –

  1. When people don’t shut the lid to the toothpaste and leave it on the sink. It’s not that hard people – a simple extension of the arm will return all back to normal
  2. People brushing their teeth near me, or hearing the sound of teeth brushing. This literally makes my skin crawl. I can’t watch toothpaste commercials, can’t share a bathroom and need to close my eyes when we go to residentials where we all need to share one large bathroom with several sinks. It makes me shudder just thinking about it.
  3. Those squirty anti-bacterial gels. All they do is dry out your hands. Yes they may kill a few bacteria but I’m sure your stomach or even your saliva would have managed that. It doesn’t kill off the germs that actually do you harm – all a ploy to trick our nation of clean freaks.
  4. Public beef on Facebook. If you’ve got an issue with someone, call them, see them, text them – anything but write a barely disguised status on Facebook which they respond to on their own status. And for God’s sake – do not tag others in so they can see/comment. I’ll be honest – with friends who are all atleast in their early 20s, this is not something I witness anymore. But I know it happens in other friend circles and makes me shake my head in dispair (and pity to be honest).
  5. People saying or doing something racist and then denying it or using the “I have a friend of that colour/creed” as a justification. It literally makes my blood boil.

So those are my top 5. What’s your pet peeve? 

* pet peeves are things or habits other people do that you find extremely irritating. 

**I usually have quotes and gifs/memes on all my posts but with my new job I’m having to post from my phone. Will edit when I have the time. 

I write

I write.

I write because the words I want to say remain jumbled in my mind, the voices repeating themselves again and again – so loudly yet remaining silent. Taunting me with the “you should have said this” and “you could have responded with that”. Hindsight. I want to feel the joy when I say it like I meant it and you get it like I intended it and we connect – even just for a little while.

I write so my heart aches less and to fill the void in my soul. To release build up of pain and bottling of frustration. I want to feed the juices that run through me, feel the buzz, rejoice in the energy.

I write to hide from my world. The judging eyes and piercing lips that with just a few sounds can crush my spirit. I want to feel unchained and winged. To say what I want without the fear of politics or religion or love getting in the way.

I write to be the many sides of me. To be more than my big brain or small body. I want to be multi-dimensional and fluid. The happy, the angry, the strong, the lonely.

I write because I can. Because I can’t say. Because you don’t see. Because we don’t listen.

Living in the city 

A few days ago we got lucky with some X Factor tickets! It was for the 6 chair challenge – boys and groups category (my fav). I don’t really watch X Factor anymore, and haven’t been for a few years. It’s just the same old same old and the winners usually do way worse than the runner ups – the winner’s curse. But these are free tickets and I wasn’t going to let those go! We were so excited to be there and the vibe was awesome. The actual performances were pretty disappointing – the boys especially. And there was a few controversies but I won’t spoil it for anyone (if anyone still watches). It was a fun evening out.

Yet it significantly overrun so we realised the trains would only take us so far. Thankfully they did take us back into East London so it was only a short bus journey back.

That reminded me of how thankful I am to be living in London. Sure they call New York the city that never sleeps. And sure London does get rather tired – the tube stops running just past midnight (and those plans of night lines look like they’re not happening) and streets go mighty quite. But buses run all night, street lights shine bright and cars still zoom by. It certainly makes me appreciate living in a busy city.

Do you prefer living in a busy city, suburbs or further out? 

Dear future me 

In just a few days I will enter a world I don’t know. The corporate world. And I’m terrified. Frightened of the place, the people, the money, but more so of what I could become. So here’s a reminder to future me, for the times the present me is not so familiar anymore.

Be You

You’re adaptable. You’ve been able to fit in your whole life, being in but feeling out. But you’ve found who you are now. Know the world you’re entering and know that it is not you. So when you’re trying to mix in, don’t forget how happy you felt to find your cause and faith, how much you care and how important your values are to you. Continue reading

Let’s get talking: Sexual Harrassment

Trigger warning: sexual harassment and rape

My sister messaged me yesterday. She’s currently away visiting some family for the holidays. She messaged me to ask “did mama [what we call mum’s brothers] touch you when you visited?” And I immediately knew what she was referring to. Yes, yes he did. He would rub my back, touching my bra strap and once “accidentally” groped my breast. I thanked my lucky stars that my sister felt comfortable enough to ask me. When this happened to me, I did not feel like anyone would believe me so kept it to myself. I encouraged her to tell my mum and she did. And now she’s safe.

I couldn’t help but cry. Cry in relief that she had someone she could come to. Cry in anger that I didn’t have anyone – not just in this case but for the duration of eleven years I endured sexual assault from someone else because I didn’t have anyone I could turn to.  Continue reading