Finding myself.

I am a first-generation Indian American woman. A woman of color. A teacher. A nurse. A feminist. A daughter. A sister. A friend. But most importantly, I am a child of God who is attempting daily to venture into the depth of her own identity and purpose.

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My story combines East meets West and all the trade winds that lie in between. For the greater portion of my life I felt a need to create the perfect balance of two worlds; to find an equilibrium between diverse cultures.

I grew up in a world where the media taught us that “America is a meltingpot.” A red white and blue intersection of the world where the flavors collide, people are equal, and “nobody sees color.” It wasn’t until I was uprooted from my diverse upbringing in Chicago to Scottsdale, Arizona during my “awkward middle school phase” that I began to see that melting pots aren’t truly all they’re hyped up to be.

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In Arizona there was no one that looked like me, no one that spoke like me. I felt like I was a plus-sized dark-skinned free spirit in a sea of blonde Abercrombie models. I didn’t fit in. I felt alone. I desperately missed Chicago.

There was no one who valued my mother tongue as much as I did here. No friend who shared my love of concocting new curries and grinding my grandmothers secret spice blends like I did. I looked different, I spoke different, and boy did I feel different.

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When I was younger, my differences became a target to others around me. My skin color, my weight, my name, my interests. I found myself quieting things that inherently made me ME. I so deeply wanted to belong that I found myself assimilating to what I like to call “the melting pot theory.”

In a melting pot, you dice up a rainbow of colors and textures and boil them down into one heaping serving of a singular flavor. Ingredients in melting pots are dissipated down until they lose their original integrity in an effort to contort into a mainstream palate.

I was a melting pot ingredient for years until I unknowingly walked into a relationship with God. A God who pulled me up, dried me off, and gave me a new outlook of the world.

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Projects like this allow us to deepen our understanding of the people who live amongst us on this planet we call home. Shared stories are tools that break ignorance through understanding. We can learn to deepen our love for ourselves and others when we take time to share stories. I see this project as a vessel for ingredients of growth and healing, and I would love  to be a small aspect of the recipe.

I am a deeply spiritual individual. In my head, I see the world as art.

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As a child, I would find myself looking at something as simple as my finger and thinking about it for hours. I would think about the number of cells that so perfectly work together to create my being and how God so perfectly crafted the symbiosis of my being. I was always a deep thinker. As I got older I began to yearn to understand the purpose of my life. Why was I here? What could I contribute with my time on earth? As I deepened my relationship with God, I began to understand that the only way to understand the purpose of your invention is to go to the inventor. I believe that everything, every one, and every experience in life occurs for a reason.

One of the barriers that separate others from knowing this side of me is honestly myself. Insecurities create road blocks to our own authenticity. We devalue our own stories and stifle them. We cover deep emotions with superficial humor. We laugh off our own transformational experiences. At times, I feel afraid to allow others into the deep intricacies of who I am in an effort to protect my heart. But I’ve begun to understand that our stories can be tools in the lives of others when we choose to use them. My depth is not only my own, but a creation of God’s hand and a piece of God’s plan. Remembering that allows me to be more free in who I authentically am.

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We all walk around this planet with the weight of past experiences. Tiny shards of hurt and pain that ache us like a stone in our shoe while we attempt to walk forward in life. There are so many areas where I feel misunderstood, it’s difficult to encapsulate them into one piece of writing... but then again isn’t that all of our stories? We are so often our own worst critics.  Sometimes I feel like I’m too much of too little.

Too imperfect.

Too loud.

Too timid.

Too big.

Too diminutive.

I am forever my own conundrum.

It’s so hard to feel like we are enough in a world with an ever-evolving yet constantly unattainable mold of perfection. We strive so hard to attain beauty but we fail to realize we house it within the deepest hallways of ourselves. We try so hard to cover up imperfections that we forget that the cracks are where the light gets in. Sometimes you try to be a jack of all trades and realize you are a master of none.

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I have stifled my own growth on various occasions because I let the white noise of others’ opinions pave a way for me that was not my own.

I’ve learned that when you feel your back against the wall, you have two options: stand still or kick that shit down. When I was younger I was meek, but I’ve grown enough in my relationship with myself and God to be able to see the value in who I am. I’ve learned that sometimes we need to offer ourselves the same bits of compassion and grace that we are taught to give to others.   

I choose to kick and fight and break molds until I am the truest representation of my authentic self, and I want to be an advocate for others to do the same.

I want to live freely and be truly unapologetic about the space I take up in this world. I want to truly love every inch of my skin and bones and the cells that hold me together. I want to understand my God given purpose, and embrace my identity in Him/for Him. My body and heart was created as God’s masterpiece and I want to live a life in remembrance of that.

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In today’s day and age we are constantly bombarded with comparison; the great thief of joy. We compare ourselves to others without fully taking time to hear their stories. We make hasty generalizations. We glorify others while concurrently tearing ourselves apart.

What if we didn’t? What if every time we had a negative thought about ourselves we counteracted it with two positives and a blessing we’ve experienced? What if we spread compassion to parts of ourselves that have only received slander? What if loving ourselves deeply allowed for an overflow of love to pour out onto the ones around us? God tells us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves... what if that’s what He meant.

What if grace and shalom was a daily marinade of our lives?

I choose to believe this life is possible in His footsteps, and through the tumultuous highs and lows of life I hope to strive towards it in all seasons.

I was created on purpose with purpose.

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