Well, I started this blog in hopes of keeping my writing up to par and make this a continuous outlet but that’s been a failure.
The last few months have been quite the adventure and have forced me to grow in more ways than I could have imagined. To be honest, that’s been the past year of my life. So much of what I knew and believed at the beginning of 2016 got turned upside down and I was pushed to grow and adapt. I believe I’ve grown more this past year than I had in the previous 28. I know more about who I am, what I want out of life and, most importantly, what I deserve.
One of the things that I’ve learned and that has allowed me to grow the most is a newfound acceptance and love of my culture. Anybody that knew me growing up and into my early-20s was aware of how anti-Indian I was.
There was nothing about being Indian that enjoyed or truly loved. I still may not be the biggest Bollywood supporter, but I own my culture. It has, despite my fighting it, made me who I am. This can be attributed to a lot of things.
For me, it has been seeing the growth of South Asians in mainstream entertainment. I always used to say me being the creative type made me a “blacksheep” in my culture, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Me being a creative individual is right in line with my people. First, it was seeing Russell Peters talking about his youth in a comedic way then it became Aziz Ansari being the uber hyped brown guy on Parks and Rec. Since then, I’ve noticed an increase of Indian characters that don’t play the nerdy shy type. Sorry Kunal Nayyar.
Seeing the likes of Lily Singh, Kumail Nanjiani, Heems and Hasan Minhaj make art and actually being able to relate to it is an incredible feeling that I never had growing up. And, as strange as it sounds, seeing Jinder Mahal headline WWE events is huge! Hell, if I had seen that growing up instead of the caricatures I saw of my people I probably would’ve been more open to my culture growing up.
Instead, I had Apu. An Indian store clerk who was voiced by an Italian guy. That was the representation of my culture back in the 90s.
You’re probably wondering how does all this relate to me feeling closer to my culture and people. It shows that there are avenues beyond the stereotypical and proves I belong more to this culture than I had previously imagined.
Future generations of Indian kids growing up in America don’t have to settle for their parents’ dreams. They can be entertainers, musicians, artists of any kind. The world is more open to them than it was when I was a child. That’s not something I’m upset about. Instead, it makes me want to set a better example for them. I will be more open to my culture and include it into who I am and the work I do. That way they know they can be true to themselves while following the path they desire.