(stop chasing the wrong kind of growth)

These days I write on Facebook, opting for lengthy statuses instead of this blog. I don’t know why – perhaps I do not want to hide behind a pseudonym anymore; perhaps I simply no longer care (enough) what others think (or not) of me. And maybe – maybe – I think this is important enough that I want to write it under my full name; this is my story.

I wrote this last week – just before New Year:

Because of my cousin’s wedding last weekend, that night, Dad said, “I wonder if someone will come for my daughter… will there be one?” I’d initially laughed, hearing that. “I’m okay,” I said, only for him to continue inquiring, “Is there no one in Miri?” “Nope. But really, I’m okay. Different priorities in life, that’s all.” Later on in our conversation though, he advised me not to set my standards too high.

“Be humble-” 

“I am! I try.”

“-and just be friends with everyone.”

“I am… but I can’t stop people from having what I’ve since coined a ‘Stanford pedestal’ perception of me – too strong-minded, too independent, too ‘up there’… They don’t know what to do with me. But why is it my fault? It’s not about standard but self-worth. It took years and a lot of hard work to be the person I am today; why do I need to shorthand myself in order to be liked?” This question again. I’ve asked this, still am, probably my entire life by now. 

I totally understand where he is coming from, especially when I read the subtle tone and weariness in his voice; worry. I think my father, just like any loving father out there, wants his daughters to be cherished and loved – to be taken care of after he’s passed. “So I know you’re in safe hands,” takes dual meaning in this context. 

But I wish he realizes or if he is already aware, remembers, that a woman is also perfectly capable of taking care of herself. “You can trust me,” I wanted to tell my father then, but held back out of consideration for his feelings. I sometimes wonder if he feels guilty for raising me ‘too strong’ – for encouraging the unraveling of the mind (and thus world) and to do away with (societal, cultural) boxes and chains? I think human nature (‘fitrah‘) is such that we are always wanting and inclined to fill the gap in our hearts – the desire to love and be loved is present even in the hardest of hearts – and I completely understand where he is coming from, but I also know my ground. I’m okay – I really am. Because what I want above all for myself and in my life is not this that he wishes for me -and this too, is okay. 

I am in safe hands -mine.

— a conversation that has haunted me for a week


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