One of the most interesting lines I have ever heard someone say in my lifetime is “I don’t judge”. Whether this be about someone else’s characteristics, styles or preferences, to me this is incorrect. Everyday we wake up and go about our day, unconsciously grouping aspects in our life together in order for us to better understand how the world around us works. No matter how little “judging” we think we do the truth of the matter is everybody does it. We are all apart of different groups that make us who we are, classified and placed according to the lives we are born into and the families that raise us. Although I prefer not to think of myself as a part of a “grouping, it is these exact groupings that influence my independent thoughts and how I may think about other areas of life.
Each group I belong to affects my overall existence. Religious, gender, environmental and social groups are a few that make up my life and each of these aspects become more visible within my lifestyle the more familiar I am with them.
A few weeks ago, I moved to a foreign country, away from a home I lived in for more than three quarters of my life. An environment I was not familiar with, fearful and alone. Suddenly the self-confidence and ego I had in my former life had vanished. I feared the unknown especially because along with my anxiety, I had brought along all my baggage from the past. A montage of several inflation periods crumbling a beautiful country to the ground, watching friends and family flee because it was too difficult to live that lifestyle, having to sacrifice and surrender because of a power greedy president was something I as a 10-year-old grew up with and believed all that life was, was struggle. Today, I am privileged enough to have the opportunity to be a part of the American life, a culture I had only known about through media. Transferring from half way around the world however, has definitely changed my perspective of the way I see my life today.
Being born into an American- Indian family of incredibly hard working people and attending an International IB school, my academic standards have always been high. Not just for personal goals but for expectations in being brought up with these conditions. Furthermore, as I am a female the gender group has additionally caused me to be stereotyped as high achieving. The heavy weight of wanting to make my ‘large business owning -money making machine of a dad’ proud at least with my academic ability has always been the first goal I have wanted to achieve, largely because of the comparison and boastfulness Indian parents like to portray towards other families about their successful children. Pressure is key in my life and without it I would not be who I am.
Out of all the groups that influence my life, socio-economics has been one of the biggest to impact me greatly. I am where I am today because of it. Religiously I was not given the opportunity to learn much about my own heritage except through the bed time stories my mother would tell me as a child. Although my family often goes to the temples to it was made a point to remember at the end of it all we are who we are because of our experiences and we must have faith in ourselves before anything else. Culturally however, one would not expect the average Indian girl to act the way I do today. Growing up with a majority of black influence in my life I was able to adapt to the Zimbabwean environment well. Race had never been a problem in my family. My mother would leave her 3 year old baby with a nanny that would work days and nights taking care of someone else’s child as if it were their own. A bond between different colors was not difficult to make in a nation that was so loving, so humble. To Zimbabwean raised children, their nannies were like their second mothers and unconditional attachment was always shared. However, heartbreaking times of having to let domestic staff go and days off from school resulted from the economic crisis that filled the nation. A once socially joyous country became a rioting war zone. Today, the political grouping I am apart of has too made my family flee from a dangerous country we are far too familiar with.
Currently my biggest challenge is adapting to the new groupings that are supposedly changing who I am. Peer groups, racial groups and “study” groups are now what take up my time, constantly sitting on edge to make sure “I sit in the right places , and “talk to the right people” in order to “fit in” to the “right groups”. Until today, I would never have accepted that just because of the fact I am Indian I am categorized into a school known name of “Brown Town” and have to sit with that group of people because of it, or because I am a part of the IB curriculum I am only invited to associate myself with those who are in IB as well. I will always believe I am a part of a multculturism association and I suppose the amount of “judging” people do on me today is because of that, because I have a different view from the average American and because I don’t believe in only one answer. It is how I have been raised. My belief that life is solely struggle has not ceased but it has changed because of the new groupings I am a part of. I understand that I belong to different groupings, but I also understand that the more groups I am a part of the more diverse that makes me!