Self Respect and Battling "Log Kya Kahenge" (What will people say)

Monday, November 9, 2020


Sometimes, it is important to take things a little too seriously when navigating the quirks of life and  when the people around us are always reminding us that this life is no joke. Focus now, work now, marry now, the list is endless. Some of us are unable to enjoy the small moments in life because of the bigger problems we may face on a daily basis. We all have our whims and desires that are an offshoot of the personalities we desperately attempt to nurture in order to show and become who we are. Nevertheless, our culture and religion play a huge role in molding us and can define our tastes, subconsciously sometimes. From an early age, we begin to gauge our worth by what others think of us and behave according to what will make those around us happy. There are many people we encounter who influence us in our lives, directly or indirectly. They will have an impact on our decisions and the way we handle ourselves in situations in a subtle manner that builds over time. 

    Our parents are our nurtures and caretakers from the moment we enter this world until they take their final breaths. We look up to them for everything and imitate their behaviours so that we can become functioning members of society and learn how to interact with others around us. They teach us what is good and bad according to their beliefs and experiences. They become our first point of reference when we make decisions and lay our own foundations. Their influence on our actions and desires is inevitable and built into our system whether we like it or not. They hold the very fabric of our being in their hands and they have the power to shape us to their desires and wishes to a significant degree. Sometimes, their insecurities and worries become our own burdens because we watch them fighting their demons and internalize them so we begin fighting them too. Everything depends on our relationship with them. In my personal experience, our mothers can become entrapped in a cycle they have been a part of since their own childhoods. Submission holds more value in our society than outspoken and bolder behaviour. It still is a man's world in their eyes and the easiest way to survive and navigate it is by causing as little trouble as possible by diminishing our existence around the male figures. Although this is widely changing, there is a lot of pushback from women who are the mother's of sons. They want their sons to continue to enjoy the luxury of their privilege even though they know how painful it is to be the unwelcomed member of a family. This discord continues to breed the unhealthy lifestyle and integrate it in the next generation which grow up observing the toxic dynamics found within their homes. 

    The arranged marriage system does not work for all of us and sometimes we need to resort to the dating system to find our life partners. There is no reason to judge someone's journey without having lived in their shoes from the beginning to the end. Religion can dictate and provide guidelines but it does not give individuals the right to provide judgement. Even in this day and age, divorce can limit potential marriage proposals in such a way that it leaves countless girls single and alone. I do not agree with dismissing their loneliness and difficult situation as a "trial from God." Or sometimes, some women may choose to wait until they are stable in their careers or undergo very stressful situation with which they may need to cope with until they are mentally ready to consider marriage again. Whatever the reason, it is their personal struggle and there should be no interference from those around her. They are already in a stressful situation and do not need to be reminded daily by the aunties around them who will hound and corner them just to ask "beta shaadi kab kerogi, itni dair nahi kero" (child, when will you marry don't delay so much)? Not only is this unhelpful, but also creates an embarrassing and awkward situation for the woman. These women do not define your worth in any shape or form. They are only heckling you for their own gossip and entertainment purposes. This understandably can become a cause of tension at home because our parents can feel trapped in a toxic system in which they need to survive. Nevertheless, marriage is a lengthy commitment and still demands some form of attraction and compatibility in order to flourish. The man should not be the only one allowed to have demands in what he looks for in a partner. Even if love languages differ, if both parties accept those differences then they can move forward with their relationship. 

    Our husbands become our partners and constant companions in this life. But they are meant to stand by our side and support us just as we in turn support them. It is important to hold your ground for your beliefs, rights, and goals. You are both individual entities who are working in parallel with each other to accomplish dreams and divide responsibility. This is not a one way street with uneven distribution of work. Sometimes in our communities, when the woman enters into her husband's world, her priorities and decisions come in last. Another expectation laid on her is that her first and foremost responsibility is to take care of all the household chores and childbearing and then, if she has time, then she can consider having a career, hobbies or social life. The husband only needs to focus on his career and in his spare time, help with disciplining the children. This is certainly not true in all cases but a lot of women tackle these issues every day. This is unfair. There is a way to divide responsibility so that both can can balance their chores and take care of the children. Men should learn how to live on their own and take care of themselves where they learn how to cook, clean, do laundry while working full time. This helps them understand and appreciate the amount of work that goes into running a home. The work will only increase after marriage and while the couple learns each other's habits and focuses on their bond, managing everything together will help reinforce the relationship as well. Even after marriage, consent is vital. 

    And finally, the ones we sometimes don't remember may have one of the biggest impact on our lives are our friends. We hold their words near and dear to us and their opinions can really affect the way we perceive events and people. They can influence, sometimes in an indirect manner, what we choose, what we like, and how we behave. We hold them as our equals and those closest to us because they know our deepest secrets, regrets, losses, and victories. In some cases, they know more about who we are than we do ourselves more than our spouses and parents. Unfortunately, this relationship can become painful and break when the trust is unevenly split. If only one side is always giving or opening up while the other continues a pretense, this will end in a heartbreaking manner for the one giving their everything in the friendship. The separation and breakup of a close or best friend can be even more painful than breaking up with someone who we intend to marry and this is because friendships are also meant to last a lifetime and continue on longer than many romantic relationships. Who we consider our soulmates may not always be the one we share our beds with. Some people enter our lives to ride on the kindness and empathy of those souls that are always willing to give more than they take. For whatever reason, the main purpose of such people entering our life is to teach us a lesson that not everyone who comes our way will have our best interest at heart and due to their own demons, may be here for a temporary solace until they can move on and clamp themselves on someone else. 

    It is important to acknowledge those around us who we love and can influence us because from there you can begin to notice if someone truly has your best interest at heart. If your gut tells you otherwise, it is a good idea to listen to it and communicate your concerns clearly. When we are kids, we cannot stand up to our elders in defiance and fight for our opinions the way we can as adults. It can take a lot of healing and inner work in order to be able to stand up to those we love and ask for our rights. Taking a stand can also have unwanted consequences because we risk breaking our bonds with them. It is a matter of what is important and what we are willing to sacrifice. As women, we end up sacrificing for the sake of our parents, our husbands, and our children. Some of these compromises are inevitable, but some situations are worth taking a stand for. Your self respect, freedom, and right to have a choice are integral because you are the foundation for the future generation of children. You and your husband will help teach the boys the importance of the females in their lives and in society. I understand there are guidelines and rules imparted on us from our religious beliefs and old traditions which dictate the way we conduct ourselves. But one universal rule is the freedom of human rights and equality. Nobody should become the slave of system that reduces a certain group of people into being lesser than the other whether that is within a family unit or society as a whole. Everyone deserves to follow their desires if they are not hurting anyone. Sometimes, we need to take these issues seriously and not treat them as jokes passed down from one generation to another. Sometimes, we need to become the black sheep so that our present and our offspring's futures can be a little easier because of the battles we fought. 

Until Next Time,

Photo by Vivek Kumar on Unsplash


  1. Thank you for shedding light on such a deep and sensitive topic of log kya kahenge. Your thoughts and opinions really enlightened me and certainly put things in perspective. Amazing post and true capture of my inner sentiments. Please continue sharing though provoking concepts which will raise us emotionally

  2. Really interesting topic. Thanks for sharing your insights and teaching me something I didn't know before.

  3. Couldn't agree more with the points you've made in this post. It's very important to stay aware and ease the anxiety around it.

    1. Yes, thank you! We are living in challenging times and anything we can do to make life just a little bit easier will help us get through another day.


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