Growing up as a first generation Indian wasn't easy. After college I moved to New York and it was the best thing I ever could have done on many levels. Yeah I knew it'd be great for my career but I had no idea it would help me figure out who I was (as cheesy as it sounds).
Born and raised outside of Philly, I grew up singing the Star Spangled Banner and coming home to daal, bhat, and shak (a traditional Gujarati meal consisting of lentil soup, rice, and cooked veggies). For 18 years I refused to take Indian food to school in constant fear of questions, comments, and ridicule. I never even went to Indian restaurants until other friends made me go. So if I ate, dressed, or acted Indian, I was too Indian. On the other end, I was butchering Gujarati, dressing too American, and was a white girl to most of my family. Was this truly my life? So fragmented, feeling embarrassed and ashamed anywhere I went. Honestly, writing this makes me sad. For years I had been putting on my American hat one day and switching to an Indian one the next. God forbid there was a day I needed to wear both. What then?
I cannot believe it's taken me over t w e n t y f i v e years to realize this my identity isn't one or the other. I recently found myself asking if I should dress Indian or American for a party I was going to. Immediately I hated that I even asked that. Why was I sectioning them as 2 separate things? It dawned on me that I have been thinking about this wrong this whole time. It’s not one or the other. It’s a scale. And on either end holds both parts of my identity: American & Indian. Finally! Why did that take so long to figure out?!
It doesn't matter if you were born in the US or moved here from India. If you're living in America, going to prom here, sneaking out of the house here, going tailgating here, coming home to watch Zee TV with the parents here, You are BOTH. And newsflash, that's a good thing. Consider yourself lucky that you have the best of both worlds. It's a scale (not separate buckets) and you can sway however you want on it.
I finally wear my identity as a badge on my sleeve because it feels so good. SOO GOOD! To not only accept myself for who I am but to know and finally understand what that means. So yes, it’s time world. Get ready. This blog is just the start. It's been years in the making. Coming at you with:
Get excited. Join the movement.
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