Where Do I Belong?

My family and I just got back from a 2 week trip to India. As you can imagine, I noticed so many things that I do want to talk about. Let’s start with this.

I was born and raised in America. My parents moved here before I was born but have done a great job teaching my about my heritage. I have a strong sense of cultural identity and am trying my best to make sure my kid learns as much as she can about her heritage as well.

On my trip, I did notice something interesting. Interesting might be the wrong word but it’s what I will use at the moment. I noticed that I’m not Indian in India. I’m American. The Indian people in India don’t consider me as one of them. (This is clearly a generalization. I’m sure there are people that consider me Indian.)

I can’t tell you how many times I heard people telling someone else that I am from America and I don’t understand or speak anything but English. The funny part was that I perfectly understood what that person was saying in whichever Indian language (Gujarati, Punjabi, Hindi) was being used. Yes, my spoken Indian language might not be perfect but I can understand most everything being said in whichever language you choose.

Why is that assumption being made? I feel as though some of the people who made these assumptions know that I can understand most of these languages so why do they need to feel like they have to mention that I’m from America? Is it an insecurity issue? Am I a worse person because my first language is English?

I met up with a friend who moved from California to Delhi. She was telling me that when she has something to say, no one really listens because she’s the American girl. How does where we are from even relate to the knowledge we have?

It’s also funny because growing up here as a first generation South Asian Indian American meant I stood out. I was Indian, not American. I didn’t assimilate into the typical American ideal at all. Luckily, I grew up in Southern California which meant I wasn’t alone and there were ways for me to fit in with others who were in the same boat I was.

So now, if I’m Indian in America and American in India, I’m not quite sure where that leaves me. The only place I really fit into is this westernized Indian culture that has been created here in America. I get to be as Indian as I want to be without having to be any less American than anyone else.

I hope one day that the people in India who think I’m too American realize that I can understand every word they are saying about me.

Don’t Let What Anyone Else Says Hold You Back

Due to a variety of experiences I had in my 20s, I got to a point where I believed I wasn’t lovable, I wasn’t good enough at choreography and dance, I wasn’t perfect looking, I wasn’t thin enough, I wasn’t the “ideal” anything. To be honest, I shouldn’t have let anyone make me feel like I wasn’t good enough. But it happened. 

It’s a hard thing to take when you feel as though the people who have seen you work hard day in and day out don’t believe in you. Being a second option or even worse, a last option makes you feel like you’re not worth anything. 

I felt like this until I decided to make my own path. I started working on projects with people that did believe in me. I walked away from situations that didn’t appreciate my hard work. I don’t know if those people ever realized how they made me feel but it was not a good place for me to be. 

I realized after I walked away that I was quite good at a few things when I had my freedom to really follow my passions. It was then I realized that I shouldn’t have let what anyone else said make me feel less than I really was. I wasn’t. I know that now. 

Don’t ever let anyone make you feel like you are worth less than you are. If you believe that you are good at something and you work hard at it, then it’s worth it. You’re worth it.