I follow Humans of New York and the other day one of his photos really got me thinking…most of his posts do but this one, really had me thinking about how some parts of the Somali culture (and other cultures) can be really effed up: it isn’t okay to express feelings of love and affection between spouses and even between parents and children.
Growing up, and even to this very day, I never saw my parents express their love to each other – at least not in front of me. Forgot kissing, I never saw them hold hands nor hug nor call each other names of affection such as macaanto or anything like that. Other Somali parents are the same with each other. Even with my siblings and I, my parents never hugged us…at least I don’t recall it. I also don’t recall my parents ever saying “I love you”. I never noticed it as a kid, but now that I’m older, I’m really bothered by it…and I think it’s because I’ve realized it has affected me.
It bothers me because it has had an impact on how I am with my parents. Giving my parents a hug or telling them I love them makes me feel strange and comfortable. What should be normal is foreign to me. It shouldn’t be like that! The only time I ever hug my parents is if they or myself is going away on holiday. And even then hugging feels strange (yet hugging others doesn’t). The only way I know how to show them my affection is giving them pats on the back. Is that not effed up? Sigh.
I brought this up with my parents…and their response was interesting. They said it was the way they were raised and it is very hard to change it. I think the only way change can occur is with the next generation. It is up to us young Somalis to express our feelings and show our emotions to our spouses and children. That way, our children will carry it forward.
Most of my friends are getting married and having kids and here I am in my twenties…still unmarried with no beau in sight and my ovaries nearing the date of expiration. Dramatic huh?
I used to feel really darn sad about it especially when all the Somali aunts would ask me when I’m getting married. Even felt so sorry for myself. I could just picture myself living alone with all my cats….just kidding! Okay, I lied I’m not really kidding. For a while I felt pretty depressed about the whole damn thing. Why couldn’t I find a decent, good looking man who was successful and could sweep me off my feet? What is wrong with me? What am I doing wrong? Why don’t I like any of the guys I talk to? Am I incapable of having feelings of attraction and love? It was pretty damn depressing and I was a pathetic mess shedding tears every time I ended things with someone. I took it so personally.
It was only in the recent year that I realized that there was absolutely nothing wrong with me and that I wasn’t devoid of any emotions. Last year I realized that none of the guys I had been talking to were my type nor were a good fit for me. They just weren’t right and it wasn’t my fault.
On top of that, when I finished my degree, I also realized that Allah was just trying to help me stay focused on my education. Every time I was involved in a fling with someone, my studies sort of tended to suffer. SO NOT OKAY. On top of that, I also think that I had a bit of growing up to do. When I think of who I am today and who I was when I was in my early twenties….I am much more mature and wiser now. More confident as well! I love who I am and I like how I look like unlike before. In the past, I was really self-conscious about my looks. I was always trying to look good so I can impress any potential cutie I may come across. It’s pretty sad and pathetic. Now, I don’t care what any man thinks about me. My physical features and my fashion style is who I am. They can accept and love me for me or keep it moving.
So now, it doesn’t bother me so much. I have an impressive educational background and I have a wonderful and fulfilling career unlike many of my “taken” friends. On top of that, I trust God. I know that I’ll meet whoever He intended for me soon and I’ll know it when I meet him.