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Rebecca Hoskins / Her Campus Media
Career > Her20s

Handling Pressures as a Woman of Colour

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Queen's U chapter.

Being a woman of colour is not easy —it often feels like the weight of the world is on your shoulders.

Being the eldest daughter in a South Asian household, balancing the pressure of figuring out what I’m going to do with my life with what is expected of me is scary. I’m still learning about how the world works and what I want to do career-wise, but I’m constantly urged to think about where I see myself five years from now.

Brown Woman Top Half of Face \
Photo by Jade Deo

And the truth is… I don’t know where I see myself five years from now. But that’s not an acceptable answer to my family. To my family and many other South Asian families, life is like a race. Once you get out of post-secondary studies, you HAVE to know what you want to do with your life or else you’re the talk of the town. The conversations I overhear more or less go like this:

“She’s 20, and she doesn’t know what she wants to do? Not even further schooling? Wow.”

“How will she be successful if she’s unsure of her career path?”

Indian culture is very group-oriented compared to Canadian culture. Meaning, families (including my own) tend to overshare and brag about their children’s accomplishments rather than keeping it to themselves. In my culture, there is a lot of significance placed on what other people think of you, and to me, that is its overwhelming demand. Because not only is there pressure from your immediate family, there is also pressure from your distant relatives. It’s a lot. No one wants to be a disappointment to their family —of course, you want to make them proud. But if you’re not careful, it can REALLY ruin your mental health.

This, of course, leads to my internal battle: should I prioritize myself and my mental health or the pressures of my family? After a lot of thinking, I ultimately decided I want to prioritize myself before anyone else’s expectations of me. I need to remind myself that I come first in all aspects because life is a marathon, not a sprint! If it takes me a while to get where I’m destined to be, then so be it.

Only I know my own path.

Mehak Narula

Queen's U '22

Mehak Narula is a fourth-year student studying Linguistics and German Studies at Queen's University. In her free time, you can catch her watching anime, drawing, and buying (overpriced) coffee!