Growing up in a religious family is not easy. Especially if you are born in America. Your perspective on things changes. It gets different from your parents and family POV. Growing up here wasn’t always easy then again I had friends; who were my family. Now, I didn’t always know what family meant. What did it mean to have a family? Or what it felt like to have a family? For me, it was always, you have to obey the family members. You have to do what they like. To make them happy. To think about their respect that they have in society.
Eighth grade was beginning of changing everything for me because since then I stopped pretending to be someone else. It felt as if I’m free from prison. I wanted to experience things. To do things. To have a job. To go out with friends. To be with someone romantically, to know how it feels but I couldn’t do it. Why? Because my family is religious. I had to follow their beliefs. Their culture. I had to follow something I didn’t believe in. I never told anyone about the way I felt because I thought I’m wrong. I’m stupid. I’m crazy for thinking like this. For feeling like this but in high school, everything changed.
I used to be a quiet girl because I was always afraid to talk. Afraid of being judged. Afraid of letting out my feelings but then they came in my life. I never felt happy as I did with them. The friends I met. There was marvely. She was very cheerful and never scared to talk to anyone. I loved that about her. There was Errol. He never cared what he said as long as what he said made the other person smile. There was Daniel. He had the worse anger issues ever but after he met marvely, that changed. He adored her so much. There was Danny. He never talked with many people around but he was fun to hang around with people he knew then there was Fatima. She wasn’t quiet but she wasn’t loud either. She was from the same culture as me but her parents gave her freedom and things she deserved. I finally met the guy I felt something romantic for. Then I met his mom. I felt like she was a mom I never had. I wished I had. I knew them online and it was okay because it just made me realized I can be who I want to be.
I opened up to them the way I didn’t do to anyone. They didn’t judge me. They didn’t laugh at me. They didn’t leave me. They supported me. They made sure I was happy. For the first time, I knew what having a family meant and for the first time, I finally understood, a family doesn’t have to be your blood. You make your own family and I knew, this was it. This was my family.
© 2020 Maheen Balouch