FYI: Finding Your Identity

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I can’t classify myself as a first or second generation immigrant. My mother moved to Long Island, New York when she was in middle school, and though she was born in India, she had a decidedly not-Indian upbringing. Raised upon blended principles and standards, my mom is different from any other Indian parent you will ever meet. My dad moved to Philadelphia when he began his freshman year at the University of Pennsylvania. Though they were both born in India, they are very much American, which leads to the question; are they first or second generation, and where does that leave me?

In some ways, I can relate to my Indian friends. Our parents all push for good grades, cook amazing Indian food, and speak to us in Hindi. In other areas, however, mine are a lot more open-minded. My parents don’t mind if I decide to eat meat, about what I wear, and let me have my own interests. On the other hand, my friends that are not of Indian descent are confused by some of our traditions. People are surprised when I tell them about how common arranged marriages are in India, and how I would never eat beef because cows are sacred in Hinduism. This leaves me in limbo. I find myself unable to relate to one person completely. There will always be a cultural boundary. 

Cultural boundaries are bound to come to light. No one person has the same experiences and upbringing, no matter how universal you may think an event is. Trying to sift through the facets that contribute to your identity is near-impossible. Your own identity is truly astounding and incredibly intricate, so it may take years to find a definition that you feel comfortable and content with. It is difficult to feel like you both belong and are also isolated at the same time. People are layered. A person’s layers have to do with their ethnicity, their sexuality, their gender. These layers reveal a person’s beliefs, desires, and ambitions. These layers bring you closer to some people and move you further away from others. Similarities and differences are woven into the fabric of who you are.

A solace I have found is that everyone struggles with their identity. We do not automatically know who we are. We are all confused by ourselves. That’s okay! Gen Z have, in particular, a different experience because of our open mindedness and ease in talking about this subject. We are a generation that is comfortable with complexity and uncertainty.

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