Second-Generation Identity Crisis

This week is a celebration for many Indians around the world: the celebration of the festival known as Ganesh Chaturthi (Birthday of Ganesha). While Diwali is probably one of the most well-known Indian celebrations, I didn’t realize how many additional holidays there were until I became older. Since I wasn’t raised in a Hindu household (or any traditional religion for that matter), I didn’t truly understand their respective cultural significance. This led to one of the most difficult things I struggled with growing up — being genetically Indian, but culturally American.

Having a hyphen in both my first name (Jay-Ram) and my culture (Indian-American), my identity was rejected by most orthodox Indian people and families as being uncultured – they would scoff at me for knowing very little of my heritage. On the other hand, I didn’t know enough about American culture to understand certain social norms to fit in. I was too uncultured for one group, yet too foreign for another. In school, whenever a friend or teacher would ask me a question about Indian culture, it saddened me that I couldn’t offer them any information of value; I would often know as little as they did about the culture.

Little did I know then, there was an entire generation of second-generation immigrants struggling to find their own identities. This would prove to be an impossible task because there wasn’t an identity existed for us then– we had to create and synthesize our own culture from our own experiences. Additionally, if they weren’t second-generation immigrants themselves, many of our friends and teachers were a part of this cultural shift and new paradigm. Today, we are the majority. Our culture today is big on acceptance, because we know how it feels not to belong. We have gone through the struggle of being rejected and laughed at, while trying to create an identity for ourselves – we try to accept the people around us because some of us are still trying to accept ourselves.

It’s such an interesting feeling when two separate cultures feel foreign yet familiar at the same time. I can eat rice and lentils with my hands in the morning, and animal-style fries from In & Out with a fork in the evening — and I wouldn’t miss a beat travelling between these cultural dimensions. This practice of crossing cultures has become second nature to many of us because we through the struggle of adjusting and synthesizing a new culture. Holidays like today help give me context as to the person I’ve become and why it’s important to accept our past to create the path forward. Ganesha is known as the destroyers of obstacles and bringer of prosperity, and these are both things I wish for you on your journey of self-creation.

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Generosity Comes From Abundance

[Today’s podcast was about generosity. You can check it out here]

In college, one of my colleagues was notorious for forgetting his pencil. It was very clear in the way he dressed, his mismatching socks, and disheveled hair that his goal was to do the bare minimum in class to get participation. And usually he would ask me for pencils, since he knew I kept an ungodly amount of pens and pencils in my backpack.

I think it’s interesting to note our respective attitudes in this scenario regarding pencils. If I really just wanted to be prepared, I would keep only a few extra pencils. Not twenty. But in past experiences, I’d personally been in embarrassing situations where no one was willing to give me a pencil. So, out of this fear, I kept many pens and pencils.

So he would ask, and I would give. But I started to notice that when my pencil stash would run low, I was more hesitant to give him a pencil. In fact, sometimes I would lie that I didn’t have an extra, so that my own anxiety could be quelled. Needless to say, neither of us were happy in this situation.

I had developed a relationship with my irrational fear of pencils, and my colleague developed an unspoken trust with me of providing. The more pencils I had, the more comfortable I was with giving him a pencil. But as that stash dwindled, so did our weird relationship. Basically, the less I had, the less willing I was to give him a pencil.

Eventually, he moved to another part of the class where he continued his cycle of “pen-handling.” I thought I was being generous, but in reality I felt bad for him. We aren’t able to freely give if we think we don’t have enough.

You know at least one person in your own life who has shied away from donating because they say they don’t have enough. They usually say things like, “Once I become rich, then I’ll have extra money to donate!” But riches come from an abundant mindset. Let me ask you this: how will you ever become rich, if you operate from a poor and lacking mindset?

 

 

Weekly Q&A: How Do I Stop Procrastinating??

This week’s anonymous question was submitted by luvalaf. If you’d like to submit a question, you can find the page here.

Chemistry or Cute Animals? The Struggle Is Real.

Chemistry Exams Or Cute Animals? The Struggle Is Real.

A: What makes procrastination so difficult is that most of us would rather do nothing than work. NOTHING! Now add in cat videos on YouTube, checking Groupon deals in email, and a myriad of other social media options and it seems like all hope is lost. But, the important thing to remember is that procrastination is a habit, and habits are difficult yet very possible to change, and all change begins from within. Make the commitment to yourself to improve your life, and make small adjustments daily and good things will follow. Why not start today? 😉

You Might Be Racist If You Didn’t Know This Little Fact

I failed an exam pretty badly last year, so this year I changed it up a bit. I decided that I would ace every single exam by doing study groups with people. Teachers always recommend study groups, but they don’t tell you that all the one’s that get A’s are hiding away in their basements, studying themselves; and the material. So instead, you get stuck with studying with hollywood wanna-be’s and straight-C students. Like this one time, I decided to do a study group for an exam with some Asian kids. The professor recommended doing the study guide before the exam day, but procrastination recommended I do it tomorrow to keep the material “fresh.” In the middle of studying, one of my Middle-eastern friends decided to put on her headphones and listen to music (In case you were wondering, Middle-Eastern is also Asian, like Russians are Asian…you racist). The music was so loud, we could hear it through her headphones, and she even sang along with the lyrics! People looked at us in the study center with huge open eyes. I couldn’t tell if she was just bad at singing, or if it was just the foreign lyrics. We kept telling her to shut up her miserable American Idol audition, but she refused by calling us racists. I did not understand how telling her to shut up her ethnic singing in a quiet area is a suppression of her culture.

We all felt hopeless about this exam, and mentally checked out long ago. My friend decided that the best time to learn about her people would be…now. She proceeded to take out her smart-phone, and started teaching us random facts about her people. I was annoyed at her until she read me a fact that stated her ethnic group is almost extinct.

Did Darwinism take over because her ancestors pissed off the neighbors by singing cultural songs all day? I’m sorry you just realized that you don’t have a bubble on the National Census sheet, but we have an EXAM in an hour. I don’t care if I pass with a C, but afterwards I have to go work on my screenplays to submit to Hollywood!