I was born in 2004 to two Indian parents who immigrated to the United States from India some thirteen years earlier. At the time, they had lived in different parts of America including New Orleans, Louisiana and Detroit, Michigan, where my brother was born in 1994. Growing up, I was exposed to both the American and Indian culture. I went to school in America, spoke English as my first language, and celebrated every holiday from Easter to Christmas. On the other hand, I also wore a salwar kameez to Indian parties, ate with my hands, and danced to Bollywood music. It was fun having two sides. But of course, when there are two sides, there is conflict.
Many of my friends and peers are in the same boat as I am. They face two lifestyles. At home, they are exposed to their international values whether that be Taiwanese, Italian, Moroccan, Bosnian, Mexican, etc. And, when they’re at school, they are expected to assimilate to American culture in order to fit in. I discussed this in a previous post, but especially when children of immigrants are young, and first exposed to American culture, they often get ashamed of their own. It stems from feeling judged by other kids or just a deep desire to fit in. In the end, we are just left feeling out of balance and confused about the two sides of ourselves.
At some point, this imbalance, becomes obvious to the rest of the world. You get labeled with terms like “white-washed” or “fob”. It’s meant to be a joke of course. But, the undertone of it can make someone feel like a failure. It’s important to remember, that you did not fail. In fact, all you did was what you thought was best to please those around you, and people-pleasing doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. However, one day you’ll realize that you cannot truly please anyone. So, the best way to balance your two cultures, is to go back to the roots.
As I talked about, when I was young girl, I believe that I was the perfect balance of Indian and American. Because, there is no “perfect balance”. All I knew, is that I was happy. I wasn’t ashamed that “Kajra Re” was my favorite song or that I brought daal and rice to school. In addition, I know that I wear Lululemon because it’s comfortable and shop at Costco because it’s no worse than Sam’s Club. It’s essential to recognize why you are doing something or acting a certain way. Ask yourself, “am I doing this for someone else, or because I enjoy it?”
You are always going to hear you are “too much” or “not enough”. It depends who you talk to. Just remember, that your culture is your own. As long as you are living your life the way you want to, other’s opinions shouldn’t matter. Embrace the heritage of others, and show your friends that it’s okay to be who they want. Ultimately, America is a land of immigrants, and the individuality of each culture is what makes it “the world’s melting pot”.
“No culture can live if it attempts to be exclusive” -Mahatma Gandhi
Happy Living 🙂
Featured Image by @gemmachuatran on unsplash.com