Malyha Mannan

Tue Mar 16 2021 04:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)

44271MMa

Get good grades, attend a great college, earn a professional degree—preferably in the medical field, marry within the same culture and religion, and have children—one boy and one girl.

This is the destiny written for many South Asian women. I lived my entire life based on this checklist and was taught that it would make me ‘happy.’ I relied on these societal expectations. In December 2019, at 30-years-old, I was admitted into an emergency room because of a panic attack. It felt like my life was spiraling out of control and I didn’t know why. After doing what I was told, I had the ‘perfect life.’ So why was I so unhappy?

I came to America as a child to get a better education. I had a pretty awful childhood growing up with my aunt and uncle while my parents lived in Bangladesh. Despite the rough upbringing, I buried my past and was determined to create a better future. During my last year of pharmacy school, my parents pressured me to get married. I wanted to make them happy because they sacrificed so much for me. I dated my ex-husband during my last year of school. I wasn't in love, but at 23, I got married to make my parents happy. I just wanted to complete the checklist. By 29, I had a three-year-old son and a one-year-old daughter, had a great job, and lived in a beautiful home. It was all ideal, except that I dreaded waking up every morning. I realized that I had spent my whole life trying to make everyone around me happy.

At 30, I made the difficult decision to go through a divorce. I felt alone, depressed, scared, and like I had completely lost myself. I had no idea how I was going to be a single mom. I was alienated from most of my family and friends. I had hit the lowest point of my life.

Miraculously, I did pick up the pieces because my mom didn’t raise a quitter. I found my true self again, the person I had buried a long time ago. Most importantly, I am happy for the first time in a very, very long time. I let go of bullshit expectations and am unapologetically myself. I’m writing my own destiny.

Divorce, Marriage, Perfection