I Married a Man Who Didn’t Know My Name
When I was born my parents naively named me Ameeta. It means limitless and yet for the first two decades of my life, I felt imprisoned and limited by the role I had to play in my family. ⛓
As a second-generation immigrant girl of educated Indian parents growing up in England, the general consensus of cultural expectations was that I would be given a prestigious school education, go to university, then enter an arranged marriage where I would be a doting and dutiful daughter-in-law.
I was raised from young to understand that I belonged to another family and that my parents were mere guardians who made sure I was a well-rounded suitable marriage prospect.
This is the context in which I was raised and the reason why, when I was 7 years old, my sister and I were “packed off” to a boarding school in India. 💼
I remember my seven-year-old self not truly understanding why I was in India and instead feeling like my parents had abandoned me in a country that I had never visited before and where I didn’t speak the language.
For the first five years in India, I didn’t have a sense of belonging. But even though I didn’t like it to begin with, eventually my school became my haven.🤗.
It was a space where I could be myself. 🤗
A place where flocks of girls could fly in whatever way we chose and perch comfortably on our lofty ideals. 🦉
We preened our beliefs according to a bird’s eye perspective rather than blindly basing them on the narrow perspective of traditions found at home.
😁Because our parents weren’t with us, we didn’t have to worry about the expectations of what we had to be.
But then like all birds we realised our migration was near.
At 17, it became apparent that in two years, we were to fly to university and then make out final nests in arranged marriages.
🧱The weight of understanding the person I must be rather than be the person I felt I truly was, set me off in panic. How could I accept another person’s family when I hadn’t lived with my own family beyond 3 holidays in nearly 10 years? 👨👩👧👧
✒ So even though I loved being at boarding school and the freedom it gave me to naturally grow my curiosity and independent thinking, I decided that the best and most logical thing to do would be to leave my school and friends so I could learn to compromise and manage a future life in a family I had not yet met.
So, I wrote to my parents and I explained that I wanted to come home to prepare for my destiny, and thus, for the first time, abandoned myself.
My father fought me on coming home but finally caved.
But once I got home, he STILL persisted on ADVISING me to do ‘A’ level physics instead of mathematics even though I’d made a bonfire 🔥 of my ‘O’ Level physics textbooks📚 and excelled in mathematics.
😩I was worn-out from rebelling and gave in… thus abandoning myself again!
Predictably, I failed Physics. 🤯
Holding my A level results, I realized that my father truly didn’t know what was good for me and that all my attempts to placate him had only made my life harder for myself.
It was the last time I limited myself.
🏛Without telling my father I ignored his choice of course -Speech Therapy–and applied for a Computer Science away from home.
I remember arriving at my university student house and one of my new housemates introducing himself and asking me “What’s your name?”
“My name is…”
In that moment, I remembered a blissful short week that I had spent on a school trip while studying for my A-levels. Browsing a carousel of name magnets in a card shop, I had spontaneously decided to adopt the name “Amy” and announced to all of my friends that they should call me such.
😍The memory of the exhilaration I felt in that short week of claiming my own identity—one not burdened by the expectations I had always felt—filled me up again.
💡In that moment, at 19 years old, I chose to do it again more PERMANENTLY.
😊I smiled and responded to the boy, “My name is AMY.”
And just like that I was able to RESET my life. AMY was free of all expectations. She didn’t have to think about marriage or any other pre-plans at all.
😊Thrilled with this newfound freedom, I made up my mind not to blindly continue with any choices that I would follow if I was at home.
I didn’t go home fortnightly as I was supposed to. I had both female AND male friends which I wasn’t supposed to.
I even traded in my vegetarian diet for a meat-eating one.
It was surreal and yet so REAL.
It was like tasting and digesting life for the first time.
There was NO GOING BACK.
😊With little resistance and great curiosity in most things I found I integrated quickly into university life.
😊I became confident of myself as I ‘trial and errored’ everything.
😊No one had any expectations of me so there was no pressure to be anything but ME at all times.
I was happy like I had been at boarding school…
Until I realised that although I had chosen my university, my course, and even my name, I still wasn’t really in charge.
🤖I was still operating under the assumption that I would eventually abandon myself in the future.
😔That this was all temporary.
😔That at some point, I would abandon my values and Amy would return to being Ameeta – my destiny.
😔A destiny like that of other Indian girls, where we were to be university educated but in ALL SITUATIONS our elders still knew what was best for us. That is, UNTIL we were married and handed over to our husband and in-laws.
😮Then of course, THEY would know best for us.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I hated the idea of arranged marriages.
❣The problem was that I had unexpectedly I’d fallen in love with someone; someone who was NOT from my caste, religion or even ethnicity.
❣He was an Anglo Saxon!
😨I didn’t fear my father’s anger, but I just didn’t want him to be abandon me for choosing a different life for me and not the life, he had meticulously planned.
Where in your life have you hesitated to choose what’s right for you in favour of keeping others happy only because you didn’t want to be responsible for hurting them or because you didn’t want to be abandoned?
😨I was scared that not only could I lose my family and if things didn’t work out with my boyfriend, I could be left with no one.
⚠I felt like I was in a situation where either
I had to ABANDON MYSELF again
I left myself vulnerable to being abandoned by MY family AND/OR my boyfriend.
There was no way I was going to abandon myself again – that was too painful to even fathom – so even though it meant that my father would stop speaking to me for a full year, I continued to choose myself.
I chose to move in with my boyfriend’s family when I finished my studies. I chose to accept my boyfriend’s proposal. Even though my father refused to come to my wedding, I chose to celebrate our love with the friends and family who did support me.
😲Much to my surprise that day, my father did end up appearing at my wedding, though my surprise was nothing compared to my husband’s shock when he discovered that his bride’s real name was AMEETA and not AMY. 😲😲
😲Especially as it was, him who four years earlier, let the ‘genie out of the bottle’ by asking “What’s your name?” 🧞♂️
🌞Now my reality is that I am married to someone I love and am carving out my own destiny choice by choice. As for my father, once he got over the shock… he too eventually ‘fell in love’ with my husband and it all worked out well.
🌞What that has taught me, is that when I take ownership of my own life experience instead of forsaking it to honour the desires/expectations of others, I create a life that I could never have imagined when I was young.
🌞It turns out, choosing to be myself all the time, was the right thing to do.
And that’s why I’m now on a mission to help others who are tired of living someone else’s life. To help them find who they really are buried under all the expectations, labels and stories they’ve told themselves so they can reconnect to their joyful true self. To help them nurture their curiosity so they can creatively find new opportunities, fun and purpose in ANY circumstance.
For my circumstance does not dictate my fate. And yours don’t either.
My destiny was to be Ameeta, but I have always been Amy.
Who are you meant to be?
🔥If you believe in a world where everyone can BLAZE their own TRAIL regardless of others’ expectations, comment BLAZE below so we can forge ahead together!