Jas Kaur: The Most Important Relationship Is the One With Ourselves
Instagram does it again - There I was on a typical Sunday night, scrolling through my “Explore” page and I came across a beautiful Australian- Indian woman with a rock hard body. I clicked on it hoping I can learn some new ab workouts. What I quickly came to discover was not just a woman who’s literally my fitness goals, but a mentor to many young women and men struggling with self acceptance.
Although Jas Kaur is a certified fitness trainer based in Sydney, she is using her platform to encourage others to be more mindful and create space for their thoughts. Co-Founder of the Podcast - 2AUTHENTIC, her goal is to call out things as they are and inspire others to live an authentic life.
She has talked about staying positive when you feel like everything around you is messy, being disowned by her family, the key to a happy relationship, and the truth behind protecting family honor (this is something that’s super relatable to many of us).
I reached out to her, and I’m so excited for Jas to share her story…..
A - I grew up as the eldest of three children to an immigrant Punjabi Sikh family. After moving from Nairobi, Kenya when I was 4, I was raised in Sydney, Australia with a very traditional upbringing. Growing up, I struggled a lot with my identity because I was conflicted between two very opposing schools of thought - one that preached equality, independence and autonomy and the other that was based on patriarchal beliefs, family honor and “log kya kahenge”. This led to me living a “double life” where I was one person with my family and the real Jas with everyone else.
I, like many, did the whole “get good marks, go to uni and get a good corporate job thing”. Upon reflection, I realized that I did these things not because I wanted to but because this was what others expected from me. The love I had received from very early on was conditional. In fact, it was a trade: If I did what was expected of me, I would receive love in return. If I didn’t hold up to my end of the bargain, the love was taken away.
Not being allowed the freedom to make my own life choices led to confusion, anger, sadness and resentment. Training started to become a way for me to express these emotions. I reached a point where it all got too much. I had hit rock bottom and I knew that things had to change. I quit my corporate job and took steps to mould my career around my love for fitness, regardless of what others thought about my unconventional decision. I became a full-time personal trainer and fell in love with my job. This is where my personal evolution began. I decided that my life was mine to live and that nobody else could call the shots anymore.
In January this year I came out about my interracial relationship and as a result was disowned by my family. After sharing our story on social media HERE , my partner Sven and I got a lot of response from women and men all over the world experiencing similar situations who are too afraid to speak up. This inspired the start of “Brown Girls Rising” a facebook support group dedicated to shedding the double life and encouraging others to take their power back to live free and authentic lives. You can join HERE. We realized that the struggles that I went through are the struggles of thousands. We decided that it was time to speak up about the societal issues and break the brown community. We started our podcast 2AUTHENTIC where we share our unfiltered thoughts and experiences on topics such as patriarchy, female oppression, interracial dating, female education, Bollywood, being disowned, colourism and discrimination. The podcast is available on YouTube, Spotify and iTunes. You can check it out HERE.
Q - Your story hits home with tons of women & men trying to stay true to their culture and at the same time be open minded to diverse perspectives. How have you done both?
A - Being disowned by family really forced me to challenge the beliefs that I held about my identity, my views, my culture and my religion. I realized that for me to be a free and happy woman, I had to stay true to what made me happy. I enjoy those parts of the culture that give me joy and inspiration, such as the food, language, fashion, spirituality and religion. However, I am now also more aware of how toxic some parts of the culture can be. Issues like patriarchy, toxic family systems, colourism, discrimination and female oppression are unfortunately very prominent in some parts of our culture and need to be acknowledged and opposed.
For me, being authentic means that I appreciate the non-toxic parts of the culture - but I also see it as my duty to use my voice to empower and support those who suffer from the toxic parts of the culture. I think if you are more aware of these issues, there is no culture vs open-minded perspective, you simply pick the parts that make sense to you and remove/speak up against the parts that you know disempower you and others.
Q - Do you have any advice for young women or men struggling with acceptance at home?
A - Realize that your first duty is to yourself. You owe it to yourself to live a fully authentic life where you call the shots. Your choices should not be based on other people’s plans and expectations. Freedom of choice should be your fundamental right. You should be able to do, think and say whatever makes you happy, as long as it does not affect anybody else in their personal rights. Now, some of your family might be affected by you suddenly calling the shots in your life. If they are not supportive of you choosing to be happy and free, then this is not your duty or responsibility to fix. If your family loves you unconditionally, then they will accept you and your choices, regardless of “log kya kahenge”.
Don’t give other people the power to dictate how you feel about yourself. Otherwise, it is not you who is in control of your destiny but them. I allowed this for 27 years. I made choices based on fear of losing the love of my family, I wanted to be accepted and avoid issues - and in return I almost lost myself.
True love is unconditional. It is not based on doing things that will make other people happy, so you are then paid a reward. It remains regardless of someone’s life decisions. It is to give without expecting to receive.
The most important relationship is the
one with ourselves.
Once we start to love and accept ourselves, the acceptance or non acceptance of others will no longer shake us.
Q - How do you define intentional living?
A - To understand intentional living you have to understand what unintentional living is first. For me, before I decided to take life into my own control, I was living for the approval and (conditional) love of others. I was on autopilot most of the time and lacked awareness/courage to make choices that were purely for myself. I only figured out what intentional living was when I moved out and was forced to reconstruct and rebuild myself after being disowned. For me, an intentional life is one where you are fully authentic with the way you live your life. Every decision you make is in line with your values, your beliefs, your wants and needs regardless of what that looks like to others.
It’s so easy to get caught up in constantly doing what is expected of us to be a good daughter/son or doing things so that we receive love - but what about self love? How can you love yourself, your life and your decisions if you aren’t truly doing it for yourself? To really get to a place where you’re intentionally living you have to take an honest look at your life and assess your patterns, your conditioning, your subconscious programming. Assess EVERYTHING that you do and stand for. Figure out if you are true to yourself or if you are just a product of what other people want for you. This sounds easy on paper but it’s probably the most painful process you can go through - but also the most empowering. Once you get to a stage where you know that are in full charge of your life, your sense of self will be unshakeable and you will realize your true potential.
Q - What is your mantra in your pursuit to happiness?
A - “Chardi Kala” - this is tattooed across my left wrist and is a key concept of the Sikh religion. It basically means to stay in a mental state of eternal optimism and joy, even in times of adversity.
Jas is such a great role model for those struggling on any of the topics above or just someone to gain inspiration from on a daily basis. Living our most authentic lives is one of the best things we can do for ourselves. When we feel confined to our space mentally, it can be detrimental to our personal growth. Something I learned over the past few months which has changed the way I will view the rest of my life, is to expand as wide as you can, and follow your intuition. If YOU really want to do something, there shouldn’t be anything holding you back.