We started this advice column as a space to hear and attempt to answer questions that our readers may be struggling with. While this column mostly focuses on dating, love, and sex, we will take a crack at answering any Sikhi related questions! These are all tough topics to handle alone and not all of us have friends or family to turn to for advice. We hope this advice column can begin to fill this gap!
I am still in school, and I am starting the stages of puberty. I remember learning about it in school, and I have a crush. I don’t feel comfortable expressing this to anyone because from what I’ve been told, it’s unacceptable to have a crush as a Sikh. Is it okay for me to feel this way? Is puberty messing with my head? I’m really confused, and that’s why I’m turning to you all. I need advice from people who have gone through similar things.
Thank you for submitting your question and allowing yourself to be vulnerable with us. Your question addresses some really hard topics that a lot of us have been through and are going through.
You are Divine
Popular belief tells us that when we go through puberty, our hormones are out of whack and we can not think straight. That is simply not true. You are just experiencing new things that simply require a little bit of reorientation. There is nothing wrong with your head. You are divine. It is completely normal to have a crush. And actually, you can have a crush even before puberty! Runner Kaur remembers having her first crush in second grade. She tried to impress her crush during PE class by running faster than them. She ran so fast that she tripped and fractured her pinky! When puberty hit, Runner Kaur had a new crush almost every year. We understand how crushes can feel really confusing. Crushes can come with all sorts of emotions—anger, sadness, frustration, anxiety, joy, the giggles and more! It can be a lot to navigate.
Crush with Caution
Sikhi does not tell us not to have crushes (we are sorry you were told otherwise!). However, Sikhi does tells us to be careful about how fixated we might get on them. Sikhi is a way of life, one that advocates balance amongst all the strong emotional forces in our life: anger, lust, attachment, greed, and ego. Guru Arjan Sahib describes these emotions as wrestlers which challenge us in the arena of life. The more control you have over these forces, the more discipline you will have to triumph in other areas of life! So, crush with caution. Below is a guide for you on crushes. Not everything here may be relevant to you, but we hope some part of it is helpful!
Tips On How To Triumph
Respect yourself and ensure you receive the dignity you deserve. Crushes are powerful and can shift you away from being yourself. Be careful about how much mental and emotional energy your crush consumes. Sometimes, when we want to be liked, we do things we normally would not do to get our crush’s attention. We may overlook the way our crush treats us. They may be mean to us and we may not even realize it. You should never accept behavior from another person that is rude or makes you feel small. Maya Angelou reminds us of this.
Live your true self. Learner Kaur remembers joining a club she did not like to be closer to her last crush. When she realized her crush was not interested in her, she quit the club and had a lot more free time. Now Learner Kaur is an avid guitar player! Make sure you are your own focus. Work on crafting yourself; figuring out what you like and dislike; learning new skills and hobbies with people who will make you laugh, and with people who love you!
Reach out for support. Runner Kaur never used to tell anyone when she had a crush. But then she realized that bottling her feelings inside was not a good thing—it made her feel isolated. Runner Kaur understands that it takes a lot to trust another person with something so personal. Opening up to her friends helped her understand the power of sisterhood. She learned that her friends were going through the same thing! Today, she and her friends are able to support and look out for one another. You could do the same.
Practice discipling your mind. Simran and kirtan are great ways of practicing disciplining your mind so you’re not thinking of your crush all the time. Guided meditation is another great option. We like Calm.com and Headspace (an app for your phone!).
Reflect. Reflect. Reflect. Pondering Kaur journaled and read books on philosophy as a way to think her way through her crush. She began by asking herself, “Why am I crushing on this person?” After some deep reflecting, she realized it was because she wanted to feel loved, celebrated, and included. “I thought about other ways I could achieve that since for me, dating someone wasn’t a good option.” Be clear with yourself about your objectives and what is driving your emotions.
What are my options??!?
Learner Kaur used to believe that having a crush was the end of the world; that she would have to live with all the fun (and not so fun) emotions of having a crush for the rest of her life. But she learned that she had options, and so do you.
Tell your truth. Learner Kaur believes that if you feel strongly enough about someone, you should tell them. Many of her friends spent months to years holding in their crushes, letting them slowly melt away their insides. Culturally, as women, we are taught that we are not allowed to be proactive about the people we like. But Sikhi is inherently feminist —it believes in the equality of all genders. Knowing how the other person feels can help calm your mind. Take a leap of courage. They might like you back. They might not—that is okay too. It does not mean you are not good enough. It does not mean there is something wrong with you. You are and always will be loved.
Crush your crush. Not all crushes are the same and not all crushes are priorities. Know yourself and what works for you. Pondering Kaur chose not tell her crush about how she felt. She knew that the emotional labor–possible rejection, heartbreak, gossip, and the struggles of moving on–was too much to take on in high school and would distract her from her priorities. “I also didn’t know what I would do if my crush liked me back. I knew my parents did not approve of dating so I didn’t want to venture into those waters. After journaling, thinking about my underlying desires, and focusing on other things, I was able to move on.” If you also decide it is best to move on, find a strategy that works best for you and that is in line with your goals and values. Pack your day with activities with friends or family so your brain can program life without your crush. Channel your energy into self-improvement, or kirtan. The options are endless!
Having crushes is part of what we feel as we go through life. Never feel bad about your emotions. Embrace them, learn from them. Learn how to control your feelings so they do not control you. Trust your gut about what feels right to do. Trust yourself. And seek guidance from gurbani and sangat.
Some Sikhs with Some Thoughts
Do you have questions you’d like a few perspectives on? Submit your questions anonymously here.
Your questions will be answered by a team of Sikh women who, together, have been involved with gender violence prevention efforts, researched South Asian honor culture, and are deeply engaged with their local Sikh sangats. They have degrees in law, education, computer science, ethnic studies, political science and more. Every two weeks we will respond to one of your questions publicly. We all come with our own diverse, and sometimes conflicting experiences, and will attempt to reflect these thoughts in our response. It should be noted that none of us are experts in your experience. We hope you take our advice with a grain of salt and forgive us for any part of your experience that we may have misinterpreted. Individuals of all genders are encouraged to submit questions! This is not a female-specific advice column by any means.
The advice offered in this column is intended for informational purposes only. Use of this column not intended to replace or substitute for any professional, financial, medical, legal, or other professional advice. If you have specific concerns or a situation in which you require professional, psychological or medical help, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified specialist. This column, its authors, Kaur Life, Kaur Life’s affiliates, and the publisher are not responsible for the outcome or results of following any advice in any given situation. You, and only you, are completely responsible for your actions.