They sat in despair as the doctor confirmed what they had been fearing.
“It’s a girl.”
Despite my inauspicious welcome into the world, I love being Pakistani American. I love everything from long Ramadan nights with family to wearing colorful bangles with intricate henna designs down my arms. Pakistani culture and values were heavily incorporated in my upbringing. But while I hold these traditions and ideas very close to my heart, I do recognize faults in my roots.
Being a Pakistani girl, I was taught to value marriage above my own goals. My gender limited my potential and my strength; I was made weaker than I am. Instilled in my mind was the ultimate purpose of finding a rich high-class husband who would be able to support me and my subsequent children. Without a husband, I was only half a person, lost and without purpose.
I watched my mother sacrifice her career, time and happiness for her family. I always felt guilty and beholden for everything she had done for me, and as much as I appreciated it, I wished she would break free and live her best life. My mother giving up her life and revolving it around mine set the expectation that I would one day do the same for my husband and children.
I often found myself pondering what my husband would be like. I prayed that he would share the same liberal mindset as me and would let me advance my career and education. School was serious for me and became the validation that I was just as capable of success as a man.
But my happiness was supposed to reside with one person: my future husband. I realized there was no way for me to be happy with my life because my life did not belong to me. In a lucid moment I was able to grasp my self-worth. There was nothing in my way of happiness and success other than society, which is a fragment of rules meant to be broken.
I sought acceptance from my people, acceptance of my independence in making my mark on the world, acceptance for living my life for me.
But I failed to find my place in the world, my mindset was too liberal for Pakistan and my culture and traditions were not accepted in Western society. I struggled seeking approval for a person I had yet to become.
My parents are the most important people in the world to me, and their acceptance of me is imperative, but I have realized that I can be accepted while following my dreams. Pakistani society might not be ready for girls to start putting themselves before their husbands, but in order to bring that change people have to take the first step.
I want to take the step no matter how steep, I want to carve a path for all little girls in my position so that they do not have to write their essays about their inevitable marriage. I want little girls to worry about what they will leave behind in this world, I want them to focus on what makes them happy rather than on what makes the world happy.
There are times where I am still unsure of my identity and I know that by furthering my education I will be able to learn more about myself personally and professionally. I hope to figure out my place and to use it to leave behind a positive impact on the world.