Children Born to Immigrant Parents Feel They Don’t Fit into Either Culture
First published in Desi News on Page 21 in Aug 2014 Issue
I feel like a misfit, like I don’t belong anywhere. When we visit family in India, or even with “uncles” and “aunties” here, I feel like I am constantly falling below expectation, like I am not ‘desi’ enough. Too Westernized, too modern, too independent, not interested in Indian movies or music or clothes…I just don’t identify with any of those things. But then when I visit my friends’ homes, it’s not like I don’t fit in there, either. Their parents are sure to tell me about ‘their’ food, as though I need a tutorial on lasagna! Or ask me about my exotic background, though I was born here.
I just don’t identify with any of those things. But then when I visit my friends’ homes, it’s not like I don’t fit in there, either. Their parents are sure to tell me about ‘their’ food, as though I need a tutorial on lasagna! Or ask me about my exotic background, though I was born here.
Misfits make the world go around. Many don’t quite fit into their surroundings and can’t assimilate themselves, that’s okay. It means you’re an individual with thoughts and feelings of your own. You are taking a bit of your desi-ness and adding your Canadian-ism with the results being how you fit in your own unique way. It’s your own expectations that you need to set and achieve for yourself, not others since this is
It’s your own expectations that you need to set and achieve for yourself, not others since this is a work-in-progress for all immigrant families.
You are Gen-I – immigrant children born here with parents from a different birth country.
You’re being raised as a Canadian with every benefit it entails but still expected to honour outdated traditions that might not quite fit for you. It’s always difficult being around so-called experts in culture. They believe their way is the only way and they will put you down if you don’t think the same. But no one corners the market on any one culture, it doesn’t matter if it’s South Asian or Canadian and you have both!
There is no one way to represent a culture and it’s not fair to have that pressure on one person’s shoulders. Sometimes people feel they need to pass judgement on others to make themselves feel like “pure desis”. Then you have some people bunching all South Asians in the same mould making you feel foreign in your own country.
Growing up I was also a misfit. I didn’t sing the latest Indian song or watch the Bollywood blockbusters and I especially didn’t enjoy dancing at parties where the girls liked to dress up in latest fashions. I enjoyed the same things other Canadian teenagers and I wasn’t into what other “desi” girls did. When I was older I became a “desi’ on my terms, eating what I wanted, enjoying my heritage on my own terms with a good sense of identity. It will happen to you too.
Whatever you’re experiencing now with your “desi-ness” will be the foundation on which you identify yourself to others when you’re comfortable in your own skin and no longer a misfit in your eyes. And remember… it is the person in the mirror that is the most important to answer to. Others will come and go in your life, their opinions won’t mean as much as yours in the end.
Be good and kind to yourself because we all need the misfits to show us the way in this world.