I stayed in a stagnant relationship that wasn’t working because I pushed my wants and desire aside for the good of the relationship. I wanted it to work at all costs, even at my own happiness. When I did this, I allowed my voice to be silenced at times. Before that, I didn’t even know what I wanted from a partner or myself, so what did it really matter? All of our lives, we are told to be mindful of others, but we are not taught to listen to ourselves because that is selfish. When does selfish become selfless? When you lose all traces of yourself for the betterment of something else? And who is truly happy in such a relationship? I can tell you that neither of us were happy because we simply existed for existence’s sake. What I finally figured out was that my voice matters. Not to anyone in particular, but to me, and if I didn’t honor it, I would never have control over my life. When I exercised my desires, it was to the detriment of the relationship, but it was the first time in my life I felt powerful. When you listen to your wishes, you start to value yourself and those around you will also take notice.
Especially as a woman, we are taught to do for others, but we are not taught to develop our own self-worth. If we never develop it, we are constantly trying to live up to someone else’s standards and failing. As an Asian person, I was always taught to be deferential to my elders and males in particular, and as such, my voice was further dampened to leave way for those who were supposedly more important than me. To object was to threaten the whole system, and yet, no one is happy who cannot express their true opinions. This happens to those who are gay and cannot show their love, to minorities who cannot speak about social injustice, women who talk about the glass c ceiling, and those in the periphery who feel as if they have no voice. Power is not merely the empowerment of people through laws, social norms and such, but it starts at the tiny, quiet, and small idea that you are worthy of your own opinion whether it is wrong or right.
You deserve to be heard. Perhaps not by the world, but by those around you. If they refuse to listen, listen to yourself. Know that your opinion is valuable and it is you who must value it the most. Teach your children and especially your daughters that their voices are also valued treasures and something that they must develop and keep in tune. The search for happiness can result in momentary pleasure, but the self-worth one feels through honoring their own voice lasts forever. Just know that every voice starts out small, but it is the individual who allows it to grow. If I had known that when I was younger, I may have left him years earlier, but it is not something I regret. I developed my voice at my pace and all that matters is that I have it now.