Saturday, January 21, 2017

Becoming American

Every country has its issues. All of that aside, I saw this Ronald Reagan quote recently and I couldn't help but think back to my time in India.

Sometimes my husband would tell me 'you're Punjabi now, eat like a Punjabi' and I would laugh and tell him my stomach couldn't hold all that food. I had a lot of mixed feelings back then about who I was and who I had or would become.

Inside of the house I felt cared for but, I still felt like an outsider. Because of my personal culture and my upbringing, I didn't feel included or connected because I wasn't allowed to do chores. I was in a hard place because part of me wanted to be young and free and enjoy my new marriage, the other part of me felt irresponsible and frustrated. Cleaning is how I burn off my anger and frustrations - which you all I know I had a lot of back then.

I didn't know the language well enough to be truly included in conversations, though they did make small efforts. Hubby would have to translate but I knew I was only getting bits and pieces and it wasn't satisfying to me. I let it go because it was out of my control to resolve until I learned the language and I knew that would take time. I never took this lack of inclusion to heart.

No one made me feel bad, but when it came time to get dressed up for a special occasion, I didn't know if I was wearing the clothes right or if I was doing something culturally taboo. My family let me be free to be me without much judgement, Uncle Ji excluded of course. This didn't necessarily help me in the long run as I wanted to adhere to the family values and ideals.Even now, I want to do some of those things and I try to still follow the family rules but it's easier said than done. They don't judge me.

I never felt Punjabi. I didn't have the same mentality, thoughts or beliefs that they did. I didn't want some of them. I felt, and still feel, conflicted over the things they consider morally okay and the way that I see them treat people. I struggle with their moral codes vs. mine. I've always said 'sometimes you can know too much' and that holds true when you have to find your cultural middle ground.

When you come to America, there will always be someone, something, some community that welcomes you. You can change a few things like your clothes and your hair and you'll begin to feel like you're a part of life here. As if you always were. Because there is so much cultural diversity here already, it's easy to find yourself feeling like you're truly a part of the world around you.

Like the quote above says, you would find difficulty obtaining that feeling anywhere else.

How about you? Have you ever ventured into another culture and felt like you were truly a part of it?


  1. That is so true. Same holds for Australia Britain Canada and few other nations I can't think of.

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