My First Breakaway: A Note to Brown Girls

I’ve traveled before. I’ve traveled overseas. I’ve been on a plane on my own. But I’d always travel with family or stayed with family, or traveled because of family (say, there was a wedding or what have you). This spring break was the first time I would travel without them. And I mean, planning, budgeting, prep-shopping, packing, finding transportation, etc. This time, my mom was not booking the flights for me or figuring how much time I would need to get from the airport to the Port of Miami.

Maybe this might not be a big deal for some who are well-seasoned travelers, but for a sheltered West Indian girl, this was a huge step. And I was traveling with my boyfriend at that. And, big shock, no we were not engaged, no ring on my finger. Some girls (many with stricter parents) wonder how I get away with the things I do.

I choose to live my life, though it may not seem that simple or easy to others coming from a strict culture. What exists is just the goal of building a wealthy career (preferably in the medical field), and eventually marrying someone of your own race and having kids (P.S. They don’t tell you how to find this said person worth marrying when they never allow you to date or step a foot outside the house unless you’re going to school, but that’s another issue). No, I am not a medical student (not good at math either) and no, my boyfriend is not Guyanese/Indian either (still West Indian though...I can’t escape the island vibes).

I still hear stories of relatives’ daughters or friends of friends who are forced to take the arranged marriage route, and if they don’t, they are disowned by their families and/or run away. Now, it’s not always that serious. Maybe your parents are right with choosing for you because they want you to be established in life before they pass on. For me, that was not enough. If I was meant to find love, how can I do it with only a handle of people that make up my culture when there were seven billion other people on earth? I realized that many people, men and women alike, who took this arranged marriage route, end up never knowing what true love is. Many maybe develop it later on, which is just their good luck. But many often don’t, or they just think they do. All I’m saying is to weigh your options and remember that the decisions you make are with you for the rest of your life. They might as well be your decisions. Rebelling (and that’s putting it lightly) against your parents and the shelteredness of your culture is not a dreamlike, easy task. Freedom is never free. My advice is to follow your heart as much as possible and to be happy. You are not a disrespect to your parents by choosing what makes you happy.

My first official trip was a success. I learned about other cultures, conversed with locals, and became a student of the world. I learned more about the man I intended to live with for the rest of my life and in turn, saw a reflection of myself. I learned myself and returned a humbled me with open eyes. Be brave enough to leave the sheltered bubble you live in. There’s a whole world out there for you.