I remember coming home from school to the comforting hiss of my grandmother’s immortal pressure pot (cooker for my American friends) many afternoons. I would love to see the top dance and spin as the steam propelled it in circular motions until the meal, normally my grandmother’s famous oxtail and broad beans, was done. All the pressure resulted in tender, decadent meat that would have me running back for seconds.
Recently, I had to take a step back and look at my life and realise that I am a woman, not oxtail.
I have a habit of internalising a lot of things that I should bat immediately away into the atmosphere. I do it at work, in my relationships with my boyfriend and family until I have those days where I am hissing and spinning for everyone to see and hear. Once the pressure is released, everyone sees me as this soft, emotional stew which for me is so off-brand.
It’s not that I am quiet, I am known for my quick quips and retorts in casual conversation. It’s the heavier things such as disagreeing with a business decision at work or asking my very social boyfriend for alone time. It’s my deepest thoughts and feelings that get held down by forces unseen until I can’t contain them anymore.
In order for me to be myself and not oxtail, I have decided to get completely out of the pot. It means saying things like “No” (that was even hard for me to type), “I disagree” or “That makes me feel..” when they are relevant, not when I have reached “fall off the bone” levels of distress.
The hardest thing about choosing this is simply knowing that everyone will have to get used to a new version of me. Will everyone enjoy their Takiyah with a little more bite? Well – I am woman, not oxtail for many reasons but the first is this: I am not here for the purposes of feeding everyone else. I can’t be palatable to anyone if I can’t stand myself.