This blog post was originally published by The Torchlight Collective and Say It Forward as part of the #YoungWomenSay campaign.

Being born into a Pakistani family, it’s not easy to stop listening to what people are saying about you: about the way you dress, you walk, you talk, or you smile. I had to choose between walking away or giving in to people’s expectations. I chose to walk away from the negative aspects of my life and find myself. I believe that taking a stand and leaving behind everything that’s hurting you is the only way to grow, so that’s what I did.

She knew she could struggle, but she had the choice to sparkle.

She knew she could beat herself up, but she had the choice to praise herself instead.

She knew she could hide the scar, but she had the choice to be the star.

She knew she could cry again, but she had the choice to try again.

She knew she could not avoid the existence of pain, but she had the choice to believe in the existence of gain.

She knew she could give up, but she had the choice to act up.

She knew she could lose hope, but she had the choice to cope.

She knew she could keep lingering on, but she had the choice to keep forging on.

She knew she could fade away, but she had the choice to run away.

She knew she could keep waiting, but she had the choice to keep walking.

She knew she had the choice;

And so, she chose to walk away.

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