How I Bridge the Gap with People Who Think Differently than Me
Something to consider in these difficult times.
It’s hard to know what to say to people who think differently than you right now. Whether it’s politics, religion, or culture, when you don’t see eye-to-eye with people, it can create tense situations. As someone who has navigated between worlds my whole life, I learned how to meet people where they are.
For a lot of my life, I’ve experienced discomfort over my bi-cultural identity. I was born on American soil, making me American. Still, I embrace my South Asian side. I always have.
As my own unique ray of light, I didn’t always hit the mark by showing those sides at different times. Since I spent much of my pre-teen years as the only person of color in the room, I shared my heritage as much as possible. That led to my sixth-grade teacher telling me I was too pro-Indian, and she was Italian and didn’t talk always talk about it.
When I went around relatives or other South Asians, I amused them with my limited language ability and limited knowledge of Indian/Pakistani fashion.
My American ways shine through, no matter where I go. At least, I can say I always connected with my culture as best I could, given my limited access to it. It didn’t seem to be enough, many times.
In short, I was too American for South Asians and too South Asian for Americans.
That used to bother me, but now, I could care less. I learned to embrace being a cultural hybrid. My cultural level is enough for you, or it isn’t. Either way, my world still spins.
Choosing a side (or not)
For people who like to put things in a neat little box, that’s a problem.
Years ago, my mother told me about a conversation she had with someone who expressed disdain for the whole East/West idea. This person said those people should pick one and not do both.
My mother immediately recognized that statement as a dig at me. Her response: if you can do it, why not?