“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

“I wish you were a boy,” my mother would tell me while growing up.

This was difficult for me to hear. I wondered why my gender, which I had no control over, was a cause of disappointment to my mother who loved me so much.

As I grew older, I understood that her words were only out of concern. My mother was a brilliant student ꟷ her recitation of William Wordsworth’s “Daffodils” drew crowds of far-flung villagers to the school grounds. Yet, poverty and patriarchy meant she would be married at the age of sixteen while her brothers were afforded the opportunity to pursue higher education.

She, however, decided that her daughters would have agency. She convinced my father to change the status quo and ensure we had access to the best education.

I, in turn, lapped up every opportunity that I was given and with time learned to ask for opportunities that I wasn’t given. I have gone on to be the ‘first-generation’ in a multitude of areas.

Although there is great pride in being the first, my plan in life is to not become the only. So that mothers can instead tell their daughters: “I wish there were more girls like you”.

— Israt Tarin