I’ve had a few women reach out to me talking about the liberation that they need or want from social constructs either related to their familial or cultural expectations.

As a woman of color, specifically Indian, I completely understand and value that expression.

So, I have decided to write my thoughts about this.

This isn’t meant to be preachy but more like a conversation I would have if we were together talking to each other about this (except this is going to sound one-sided, so please comment-it can become a conversation)!

We all have inbuilt prejudices that come from generations of upbringing and parental/family/societal influences.

One of the several challenges of growing up is to discover what your own personal value system will be.

When you are a woman and that too, of an ethnicity that doesn’t really serve to free oneself from old ideologies, that becomes a massive undertaking (I want to specifically state that I do not mean to dismiss the similar experiences a man can have, as well-this is definitely NOT limited to women).

I’ve been a single woman and that too, a single mother, all my adult life.

No real relationship to speak of outside of my short lived, abusive marriage 21 years ago that lasted 5 years.

Initially, when I became a single mother, my family asked me to move home (to India). I chose not to do that so I could develop my own identity, both as a mother and a woman.

That wasn’t easy to do. It would have been far easier to absorb myself into the established family and life at home. But, I am really happy I chose to do what I did.

I hadn’t been alone as an adult until that time.

The opportunity to discover who I was, without either parents or a husband trying to help me, was a gift. On top of that I was raising a son. I wanted him to learn that lesson, too.

When you are raised in a home that has a certain way about how to live, it’s hard to break away from that.

You need to honor your truth in a way that isn’t insulting. It isn’t easy to explain why you may want to change an approach that has been in existence for years.

I have discovered that action is what makes the difference. Actually taking steps or the initiative to exert a choice. Once you do that, it’s too late for anyone to say ‘no’. They may not like it, but it’s too late!

Not meant to be rebellion. I look at it as being independent.

Your mind is like a country/nation. It has lots of input from thought (citizens) and lots of choices. You need to gauge what is best for your mind/body (nation) and then act (executive function).

The gauging is collecting of information. Making sure that you aren’t being emotional in a response. That the anger/frustration/sadness/whatever feeling you have isn’t the stimulus for action. If you can’t calm down that emotionality, the action you take may and probably will be damaging.

If you are being told how to think/feel/act or what to say/do, I think you definitely need to break from that.

But that’s not easy to do. It’s a test that all of us go through as kids and grow up into adolescents and then adults. Finding that sweet spot where you can be true to yourself and respect where you come from is the trick.

Where you come from may not be a situation you want to respect, though. And that is really important to acknowledge. You don’t owe anyone anything if they were unkind to you. Your main responsibility is to yourself.

That may sound arrogant and selfish, but it’s not meant to be. My personal belief is that it’s the truth. You came into this world alone and will leave it alone. What you do in between those huge events is what counts. That is what you are doing now. Living.

How do you want to live?

If a cultural doctrine is telling you not to date, who to marry, that you need to keep your legs together and sex is off the table and you don’t agree, then question it!

Your identity-all of it-is yours. Your skin color, religion or lack of, cultural background, gender identity, sexuality is yours.

No one owns your body.

No one should tell you how to use it.

No one gets to use it for their own good.

Your mind is yours. Your feelings and thoughts are your own.

No one gets to tell you how to or not to emote.

Love is what you choose it to be. Loving another human being or humans (there is no limit on how many you can love) is all your choice.

No one tells you who to love.

I say all of this with real conviction and hope that it will resonate with those of you who feel trapped. Allow yourself the freedom to be you, one hundred percent of the time. See how it feels when you are really authentic with your true nature.

It won’t be easy and you may end up needing to break solid relationships with people you have had in your life for a long time if they can’t accept or understand you.

But you might be surprised, as I hope you will be, and find yourself surrounded by those same people supporting you.

Fear can stop us from fully expressing ourselves. If you remove that fear and see the truth as your beauty it doesn’t seem scary to be you.

I have done all that I am saying above, in my own life.

I have broken a lot of rules that are taboo in Indian culture and took the risk of being misunderstood. Luckily, I didn’t personally attack or hurt anyone with my choices, even if they were and are choices my family and friends don’t agree with. They had to work through what their issues were and I look at it as growth opportunities for us to become better people.

We have cried together, been angry and frustrated, took pauses from speaking until we were able to calmly get back into a room or space that was loving. And it worked.

Each time.

When someone couldn’t meet me halfway, those were the relationships that were not worth it. If I can’t be accepted as I am, then I can see that person/those people aren’t meant to be in my life at that time.

Take the plunge to be you. Love being you. Look at what your priorities are and who supports them. What do you need to do to dig deep into your most beautiful, creative, authentic, divine self? Where can you see yourself soar with your spirit and what cage do you need to break free from to fly? Be you in all the glory of you!