The idea being an Indian-American can be confusing is quite the understatement. It’s a complex juxtaposition in which I feel certain aspects of my being do not comply to the mold of the what an American girl should be like. On the flip side, the western norms that have shaped who I am seem to make me an outsider in comparison to my relatives back in India. This is perhaps why I feel alone most of my short-lived life…
Saying the thought aloud may sound rather pessimistic as how can anyone really feel alone right? You have your parents, siblings, relatives, friends, etc. so why feel this way?
It comes down to communication amongst those you grew up with. Being brought up in traditional Indian household – it was something which I could hardly recall as communication was quite minimal. I felt as if I didn’t belong anywhere. All we have is this very collection of individuals, every other Indian-American seeking a place where their entity as a whole, rather than only half, can fit.
Do not get me wrong here, I spoke with people about various things throughout my life, but I never fully opened up to a person. I never was able to talk to anyone about the pressures I felt, the confusions of college, romance, my extracurricular activities. Ultimately, these thoughts which I wanted to express just became ruminations inside myself.
Growing up and trying to find the people whom I belong to gave me a place to call home while simultaneously reshaping my thoughts on having a dual identity. I was always cautiously proud of it, knowing that while it was a beautiful mix of traditions and holidays and people, I was still split between the two. I could not give my all to one aspect. However, as I grew up, I began to learn what a blessing it is to have the knowledge and customs of two different cultures ingrained in you.
But I felt as if I had to live a hybrid life. When at home, I was to be the traditional, studious, Indian girl with no other regards to life other than my studies. Yes, I was blessed to have parents to encourage me in my passion for the arts, but I was constantly reminded that it was just a passion and nothing more. It could never be something which could make income and be something which I could survive off of. Oh, and romance was out of the question; the thought of a boy would bring shame and utter embarrassment so I suppressed such thoughts from my family.
Outside the home, I was the typical ‘ABCD,’ I just couldn’t figure out which group of people I could really befriend and hang out with. I had not the slightest clue as to what was ‘trending’ or what was going on in the social/entertainment world that too the petty local gossip that was going around. I was clueless.
All these confusions, all these questions I had about the basics in life, to blend in with society never will be answered by anyone but myself. It was a hard realization, but that’s life- it never was meant to be easy for anyone, but I can’t help but think that had I had someone to talk to, or at least some level of comfort with those close to me, things could have been easier…
I personally feel that the true reason as to why the connotation ‘ABCD’ was formed was because of the underlying reason of lack of communication and comfort. If you are raising your children only to be successful in studies and worry about getting a job, then how else are they to feel comfortable talking to you about anything else? Encourage your children, those around you, even yourselves to start breaking this idea that something has to be a certain way. Stop trying to control the lives of those closest to you and instead, raise them to be individuals that are brave, willing to step outside the barriers of society that could possibly make a change.
I know parts of our Indian community will find this a tough concept to grasp and for us second generation, it is even harder because of the gap, but that is exactly why topics like need to be spoken about. If we ever want to move away from the ‘confused’ insinuation, then start talking and listening with an open mind. All of us should be able to talk about the various instances we face in life with someone so rather than instill a sense that they will be ridiculed when they open up to you, create a lifestyle so that the person will feel safe and at ease.
I’ll be honest. I still manage to feel as if my everyday life cannot relate to my peers in America while simultaneously feeling as if I have inherited too many American ideals to fit in with my family in India. It makes me feel like an alien, divided into two parts that create the person that I am. However, finding the people who are just like me has made me realize that this fusion of cultures has given me perspectives on life that you cannot learn. I have the knowledge and the thoughts in me that can only be inherited if you lead a dual life. Being an Indian-American has given me the chance to be the person I am today and that is something you could never change.
I believe most people wish to wake up and go to a job where they are excited to expel their creativity, improve their skills, and accomplish goals where they can be proud of, all the while balancing a life in general. And of course, somewhere amidst the 24 hours in a day, we’d be getting a paycheck that provides us with a comfortable lifestyle.
That’s the dream, right?
Reality is, we often settle for less. We put our dreams aside in order to put food on the table and to pay whatever bills and loans that pile up out of nowhere. That ideal career is exchanged for a livable wage, decent commute and stability.
To say, “you should never give up on pursuing that dream career,” does sound a bit naïve, especially in today’s technical age. Yes, it’s understood that the world requires – no, expects us to make sacrifices above our personal desires for career fulfillment…
But I still encourage everyone to hold tight on that dream, to continue doodling in that notebook of what it is you aspire to do, because (as I’ve been told more than once), nothing is permanent in this life. It may be that you momentarily let go of the idea, but that doesn’t mean you sideline it completely.
I’ve spoken to plenty of people who have told me their path to their dream career was nothing what they expected. It required taking those less-worn-out trails, exploring uncharted territory, and bruising an arm (or two), to get there. It will feel as if the world is against you for a while, but eventually, they are able to hold onto the reigns, take control and move in the right direction.
This is presently happening to me right now. I am in transition of pursuing that “dream,” that “passion,” I have for so long suppressed and be told not to follow, but I’m stepping up and out. I am taking a risk. I am simply being me…
It started out small, in fact, it was through this here blog, “Voice of an ABPD” where I started to channel my creative energy into somewhat, formulated thoughts. It started out as rants, then it became rhetorical-humanitarian questions and eventually, it became a place where I start to challenge stagnate idle ideas, we as humans choose to abide by. It became a place of realization of what I really wanted to do and that is to be an Evolving Voice… a communications entrepreneur for those who feel voiceless by any means to pursue what they wish do.
In all honesty, I didn’t envision this to be my career. I didn’t envision of becoming an “entrepreneur.” It developed over time and after networking with different people on a daily basis.
The world and its people are constantly changing and growing and with it, new careers are emerging. Our limits are ever-expanding, and what this means is our possibility to grow professionally is growing each and every day.
I was that person who didn’t believe in the college education system, for it wasn’t going to be pertinent to whatever it was I was going to invest myself it. It is after all, the experiences “on the job” that will mold you. But it was in attending University that my mind was opened to new ideas, opportunities and people. I grew up in a rather orthodox, sheltered life and had I not taken the decision to expand my educational knowledge, I wouldn’t be so inclined to pursue learning today.
I certainly am not the same person I was five years ago, let alone yesterday – neither are you. Ultimately, we’re all changing every minute of every day. Our dreams are fluid. What may have been a dream career may no longer be your size of suit.
Be willing to allow yourself for dreams to change and not feel guilty about letting them do so. Sometimes, you have to let go of those old dreams in order to let new ones in. It’s not giving up… it’s “growing up.”
Don’t be afraid of your dreams and what drives you, and certainly don’t try to stifle or forget them. They are a part of you. They may not happen tomorrow, so if you don’t see them appear suddenly, don’t feel bad. It will take time, but it will be your time. Everything in this world is always moving, so let it. Allow it to surprise you.
And remember, no matter how hard it seems, always try to follow your dreams.