I have been a feminist all my life. I wasn’t aware of it until I was reaching my twenties and when I started to become more passionate and active about the topic. Daniela Zelaya
I started with these wonderful words of my colleague, sister and friend, the talented Dani Z, as I completely agree with her, that none of us are born feminists. We become feminists under different circumstances in life. We all have stories that make up our lives, and she gave me the inspiration to tell my own story.
My name is Ashkhen, and I was born in a small village called Berdavan in Armenia. I was raised in a family of a doctor and an economist, so having good results at school was always a high demand.
They said. ‘The start defines the continuation’.
From the very beginning I used to be a ‘good’ child who would follow all these rules set by my community and as some of us might know, your community does not necessarily consist of people who can give adequate evaluations and advice on the things and situations we face as young women.
So I grew up in a very conservative society with very strange unwritten rules.
Having a close relationship with the books I’ve read helped me see the world in a wider prism and strive to become more than an average girl in my community.
I started with small things like learning chess. My sister and I were almost the only girls in my chess group! And despite all the skeptical opinions of others, we achieved a lot in chess. (Having a chess class is something rare in my community and often globally). Shortly I started engaging in other different activities that are also not very common for girls in Armenia like playing basketball, math and learning how to solve Rubik’s cubes. I started pursuing my degree in linguistics to become a teacher, because ‘it was a profession that fits a girl’. One can ask ‘Why did I give in to study this if what I really wanted was to become a doctor?’ But I know that getting this degree helped me realize and reassured me even more that choosing a profession (as a fundamental part of the future) or a life path must not be conditioned by the frames in which society wants to put us.
Like many woman in the world, I also had this period in my life in which I was trying to prove to others that I deserve more and that I could do and achieve more. Fortunately I was able to reflect upon this; otherwise I would have had to accept a reality and a life that I wasn’t excited about, and I would never have moved forward to what I really wanted and dreamed of.
After having my first big achievement in life, an achievement I really sweated for, I realized something very important; – I don’t need to prove anything to anyone. I am as I am. – I believe in people’s kindness and despite that, sometimes they can be critical or it might seem that they don’t have the best intentions; it’s worth getting to know them better to really understand, especially because each and every one of us has a background that shapes us to who we are. I like trying new things as I am a curious human being. I make mistakes, but I also do my best to learn from them. I have failed before, but I am still here, standing strong as ever and happy for those who have taken better decisions. I have also learned to put myself in others’ shoes to have a better perspective and understanding of people and situations around me.
I don’t intend to be ideal. I know I can’t. I am just a human being who has dreams and finds the meaning of life in fulfilling these dreams. As Maya Angelou once said: “I’m a woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, That’s me”.
By Ashkhen Aslikyan
World YWCA’s Programmes Associate from YWCA of Armenia