I think for the most part on this blog when I discuss experiences around race and religion etc, it’s almost always in a negative light. So, I thought I’d switch it up a bit this time round.
I’ve mentioned a few times how awful and alien you can sometimes feel in certain settings because of your physical profile. But as awful as that feeling is, it also brings with it, over time, an increased consciousness of who you are and where you stand in society. And I think this new awareness you have of yourself is one of the most liberating feelings. Instead of adapting the ‘oh why I can’t be like them?’ attitude, over time you begin to see it as ‘my differences make me much less boring and predictable’ and it feels good, it feels unique, its feels interesting.
The amount of times I’ve had people guess my ethnicity wrong is almost funny, I’ve had guesses like ‘Moroccan’, ‘Iranian’, ‘Indonesian’, ‘something Arabic-speaking’ and it’s great! – I’m actually Kashmiri so maybe not as interesting as they expected haha! I love hearing what accent they expect me to have before hearing me speak and what languages they expect me to be able to speak. I love hearing why people think I’m of a certain ethnicity or what they assume about me when they first see me, because in a University that is very white (my course is at least), I stand out like a sore thumb at times, and that’s not necessarily bad.
The amount of interest people show in your culture and the amount of flexibility you have to mix and match different aspects of your cultural heritage and upbringing is something different (albeit there are still those who attempt to regulate and reduce this flexibility). And the saddest thing is, you only really realise the good aspects of this after going through feelings of alienation and the countless attempts and desires of wanting to just blend in.
Sure, there are always those who make you feel less, make you feel alien or unworthy but, this consciousness makes you realise that you are NOT always responsible for portraying an image of your whole group and you don’t have to try and convince people that you’re nice if they don’t give you a chance. You realise that those who are interested and open-minded will treat you nicely from the start and the others you don’t really need to bother with. I think I’m slowly getting to that point (following from my last post) where I’m beginning to realise that I’m not responsible for strangers’ perceptions of me and I’m just one person, representing only myself, trying to find my path in life, just like everyone else.