Things I Wish I Practiced When I Was 18, Growing Up In Indian Society

Patriarchy is deep-rooted in Indian society and it has affected my life to a great extent. I was not exposed to the real world until I left home for college. My hostel life failed to provide me (and all the other girls living on campus), the exposure required to develop the life skills needed to be successful in the real world. The curfew time for girls was too restrictive and the list of “what not to wear on campus” too long. This restricted way of life undermined my confidence and personality. As a result, when I graduated I was not as prepared as my male batch mates, who were way more confident and had seen the world more than me. Unfortunately, this situation holds true for most girls in the country.

One way forward is to try and change people around us. This is a time-consuming process and requires a concerted effort by a large group of people. Another solution is to try to change things for yourself. Based on my experiences, the following are some practices that young Indian women should start adopting early in their lives to lead a happy life:

  1. Reason and question everything you are told: Mental conditioning begins at home when we are young. Many of us are told we should be good at house chores first and then spend time at math problems. The bitter truth is that not all that we are told is true or in our best interest. Find out factual data and logic behind what you are being told and do not accept it at its face value. Accept only what is reasonable and discard the rest.
  2. Our society along with the education system does not allow equal exposure to boys and girls. Due to this, we are less prepared for the world as compared to our guy friends. Acknowledging this will mentally prepare you to challenge yourself and build confidence to make mistakes. Develop a mentality to fail fast, learn, and move on.
  3. Aim to be financially independent. Many of us are made to believe that this is not important since a man will take care of us. We have to understand that being financially independent is the first step towards being independent and leading a life on our own terms. Make education your top priority and do not be complacent. Strive to get better every day.
  4. Find ways to say “No” effectively. Whether it’s to your mom, partner, or manager. We are conditioned to not be confident enough to say no. This is an important statement that you will need to use a lot in your life. Get comfortable with it.
  5. Set clear expectations with everyone in your life. Our society continuously imposes its expectations on us. Try to understand which ones do not make sense to you and find an effective way to continuously clarify them with others. It might not be received well initially but practicing this every day will slowly bring the change you want to see in your life.

While it is easy to write down the above points, it is extremely difficult to practice them in real life. It can strain relationships, upset your close ones, or make you the black sheep of your family. But in the long run, they will make you happier and help you live a fulfilling life. Cheers!

Software Engineer at AirAsia