A Competitive Community

Indians are competitive. We are competitive in every possible thing that we can be.

As a child, I remember the competition to get the best grades. Later, it was SAT scores and colleges. After that, it was careers. Then came marriage and children.

It was also happening within the community outside of our Indian one but it was definitely amplified within it.

It didn’t matter if we were in the top 10 of our class in our school, we had to also to better than the people we were growing up with (or at least comparable).

I’m positive that there is always some talk about who is married and who has had kids and who is a stay at home mom and who is a working mom. There’s definitely competition in who has the best wedding and the most original wedding and the most expensive wedding.

This competition exists in whatever we do. I’ve experienced it heavily in different dance companies. The crazy thing to me is that I honestly believe we limit our potential as a culture if we compete.

We want to be able to share how wonderful the Indian culture is with the world. But how can we do that when we try to keep each other down? We want to involve and encourage as many people as possible.

So the question becomes why? Why should we encourage others in our community? What if they are our competition for schools and jobs? What if their business competes directly with ours? Won’t it hurt us?

In my opinion, no. I’ve seen the discouragement and disappointment of a competitive community and I’ve seen the amazing community that people can build if they have each other’s support. In the long run, everyone moves forward if we work together and lift each other up. Maybe, just maybe, India with its billion of people can have more of a presence world-wide. We could enter in the Olympics and have more than 4 people. We could be more than a side-note in the entertainment industry (especially since India makes the most movies in the world). We could build a great, progressive country that is respected.

I honestly believe this all starts at home. Build each other up. Encourage each other. Help each other move forward.

Being Creative

Almost every Indian can tell you that when you were growing up, you were encouraged to find a career in something stable. The idea was that if you were a doctor, engineer, or accountant, you wouldn’t have to struggle in your life. You were set and financially stable. It makes sense for that message to be passed down. A lot of our parents left their homes to find that stable, successful career. They gave up a lot to make sure their children wouldn’t ever feel like they couldn’t have everything.

But what about that creative side of us? What about those of us who are writers, dancers, artists, and musicians? Do we lock that side of us away?

And what about our souls? If all we do is focus on our left brain jobs, then what happens to our right brain?

I once had a job interview for an accounting position with a company. When I was offered the opportunity to ask the interviewer (who would have been my boss) questions, I asked her what she likes to do in her spare time. I asked her if she had any activities that she was passionate about outside of work. She actually said that she just did accounting and nothing else. Seriously??? I knew right then and there that this wasn’t the place for me. My previous boss supported my passion for dance and the show that we organized. She knew how much it meant to me and that it was good for me emotionally and mentally. Would this new boss have supported this part of me?

I’ve found that if I ignore my creative side for a little bit, it does affect me. There’s a happiness, a positive energy that comes out when I do use my creativity. I need it to balance out the rational, logical side of me. I do thrive on schedules and lists but I need the free-flowing side to make me whole. I’ve found that to be a consistent trait in the people I know. They have their stable┬ájobs and then they are creative on the side. They get the best of both worlds.

What about you? What is your creative outlet?

Are You Ambitious Too?

Ambition. It’s something that isn’t inherently in all of us. Well, at least, not in the same way. Some of us are ambitious about our careers, some of us are ambitious about our hobbies, some of us are ambitious about something else entirely. So how do it work when two people aren’t ambitious about the same thing?

Being a first generation raised in America Indian, most of us are taught to be ambitious about our careers. After all, most of our parents came over here and worked extremely hard so that we would get the opportunities to achieve whatever we wanted. So, of course, we should be taking advantage of that and do the best we can to take their successes a step further. Most of the people I have been raised with all have that same mindset.

Here’s the interesting part for me: not EVERYONE believes that as well. There are a few people I do know who haven’t achieved as much as they are capable of. I don’t know why they haven’t. I don’t know if it’s a lack of ambition or if there are other reasons. I don’t know if it’s something that’s inherited or if it’s just a personality thing.

I’ll be honest. I do judge people based on what is perceived as a lack of ambition. I can’t understand it because most of the people I know do have some sort of drive. And when I say ambition, I don’t just mean education-wise. It could be ambition in that person’s career or the way they raise their kids or their hobbies. I see interests that don’t just involve being social but to better themselves and the people around them in some way. But if I meet someone who doesn’t seem to want to do anything, I have a hard time understanding that person. I don’t think that too many people like this do exist though. Most people do have interests and want to accomplish something in life.

I think what’s important to understand is that two people won’t necessarily have the same ambitions. My husband knows I like to be involved in a lot of things. In the past, I have simultaneously worked, gone to school, and been involved in dance. But now, as a stay at home mom, that isn’t all possible. When we talked yesterday, he apologized to me for not being able to pursue my ambitions. The thing is that I can’t have the same goals when my role in life has changed. But what I can do is change my goals. While he follows his ambition to grow his career and business, I am following mine to raise my daughter and to develop other parts of my life (such as this blog) so that I feel fulfilled. And we both support each other. In the end, both of us should be able to positively influence my daughter’s life because she can see that even though we don’t necessarily share the same ambitions, we both will work hard to achieve something regardless of what it is. As long as we can figure out what we want to accomplish together as a couple and as parents, we can figure out how to get there with the other as support.