by Christie Garton, Founder & CEO of 1,000 Dreams Fund
This month for my “Founder’s Blog,” I have a special announcement to share. I am so excited to introduce “1DF Voices,” our new contributor series that spotlights written work from talented voices in our 1DF community of women. As you know, our mission at 1,000 Dreams Fund is to provide the support and the space for young women’s dreams to flourish. This is just one more way we’re doing that.
To kick off 1DF Voices, we’re featuring a piece by Manya Khemka from India, who reached out to us to share an essay that she had recently penned. It was such a moving piece — and I couldn’t think of a better way to spread its message of positivity and self confidence than to feature it here. She poetically speaks about a number of universal insecurities and external pressures that create intangible obstacles. This piece struck a personal chord with me — for many reasons. But, here’s one of those reasons.
When I was in my junior year of college, I applied for a scholarship to study abroad. It was so important to me and I would not be able to study abroad without it. Despite all my efforts to stand out, I didn’t get it. It was disappointing, embarrassing, and a huge blow to my confidence. But, here’s what happened next: The scholarship application was available again in my senior year. And rather than have a defeatist attitude and feel like I wasn’t good enough, I applied again. And I got it!
It’s never the wrong answer to try and try again and keep trying.
We see so many grant applications from very talented young women who all deserve to be funded. So, if you applied and you didn’t get the answer you wanted the first time, I cannot encourage you enough to go for it again. You just never know what could happen — plus, practicing persistence is a good quality to develop (but, it takes work) that helps you eventually reach that dream that seemed impossible only a short time ago.
At 1,000 Dreams Fund, we are committed to helping young women with funding, mentoring, and resources. But, we also hope to inspire women to tackle the more intangible barriers that we all face at some point. We do this by celebrating paths forward and developing a supportive community.
I encourage you to read and be inspired by Manya’s writing below. And, if you would like to submit a piece to be considered for our blog, email us at staff@1000dreamsfund with the subject line “1DF VOICES.”
“The Bigger Picture” by Manya Khemka
Outside our dark and dusty iPhone screen,
Lingers a whole new world yet to be seen.
Even so it will soon cease to exist,
Suddenly disappearing in the cold featureless mist.
“Smile for the camera!”
We paste our distressed, plastic smiles on the perfect white background,
Pretending as if we have never ever frowned.
We make society believe;
We always smile! We are perfect!
One post, one text, one “like” can alter or change a life,
How do you know that the next day someone won’t be crying over a negligible strife?
This is not as simple as normal high school drama,
And it is not right to just label it karma.
We make society perceive;
We are effortless! We are perfect!
In high school, everyone wants to be in the popular group,
Around whom all the boring, uncool people hide and snoop.
If they really wish to blend,
Wearing expensive branded clothes and clicking selfies is the new trend.
We make society comprehend;
We are rich! We are perfect!
To some, it is just like an amusing game,
Many don’t like to discuss it because of shame.
What we refuse to conceive is that every human needs someone to trust,
Not turn their soul into dust.
We make society recognize;
We don’t care! We are perfect!
We capture and post memories of us elated and overjoyed,
However, what about when we are distressed or annoyed?
We obscure whatever makes us not look perfect,
What does this depict?
We only have good times! We are perfect!
We wake up every day,
Thinking about who we spoke to and what we did yesterday.
Yet the stark reality is that we need to be liked, told we are pretty
So that life isn’t too lonely in a city.
The truth being we are not perfect!
We don’t love our life!
We love the idea of being perfect!
The idea of being loved by society!
Have you experienced the fear of missing out on things? The feeling of comparing yourself to others? Of needing attention and approval?
Consider this bitter reality: The so-called “perfection” of others is just an illusion. The elated vacations, the thrilling professional achievements, the content families that we see on our Instagram and Facebook pages… these are all just silver linings of real lives. They are just the sanitized, flattering, and praiseworthy versions of the real, raw experiences everyone goes through.
Even still, we fall into the rabbit hole of other people’s carefully curated presentations of their lives and compare those to our own. We hide past our cameras and limit ourselves to others’ expectations of who we are. We soon get addicted to the micro-gratification of the world that is like a playground for our insecurities. We choose to be effortless at all times and mask that part of ourselves which we aren’t proud of — or that we think society would judge us for.
But, to actually know who we are at our core, we need to slowly strip off all the different layers of labels like an onion peel. If we make it our objective to fight past these labels, we may amaze ourselves at what we become.
And, instead of worrying about people loving you, love yourself. No one deserves to cry every night, hoping to be like someone else. Don’t let the expectations and opinions of others affect what you stand for. Because it’s your life, not theirs. If you let others control your life, you are living their reality not yours.
The most important relationship we form in our entire life is the one with ourselves.
Everyone should be proud of what they have accomplished, their nationality, their appearance, and every single thing that matters to them.
No matter what, you will still be you: beautiful even though bruised, clumsy nevertheless graceful.
About Manya Khemka
Manya Khemka is currently a student at the British School in Delhi, India. Her ambition is to be an entrepreneur as she has always wanted to start something of her own — something which she builds from my own hard work, devotion, and dedication. Her life motto has always been to believe in herself and not let the expectations and perceptions of society about perfection affect her and her reality.