This is my last column of the semester and possibly my last column ever. There are so many topics from my upbringing and culture that I have yet to tackle, but I don’t know if I want to do that in writing.
You see, for the past year and a half I’ve been writing continuously about a variety of issues from my upbringing that attempt to be both comical and serious, fluff and honest. By allotting 500 words every two weeks just to exploring my identity, I’ve attempted to discover something — anything — about myself, who I want to be in the future and where I see my place as a person of South Asian origin.
And I haven’t reached a definite conclusion on any of those things. I don’t know very much about myself, and I definitely don’t know where my South Asian identity fits into my life.
That’s not to say that I’m conflicted about being an Indian and a Hindu/Jain — not at all. I am Indian and I am both Hindu and Jain, which is a part of me that will never change. But rather, I don’t know how big of a part my Indian origin plays into my life.
It takes so many forms.
It’s in the food that my mom packs for me every weekend. It’s in the music I listen to when I’m writing an essay in English.
And it’s in my blood.
But there are also parts of me that don’t have anything to do with my ethnic and religious roots. These parts of my personality — uninfluenced by my culture — are what I always considered to be my “authentic” self. I know I am more than just my skin color and country of origin.
Identities are complex. They’re uncharted territories, and they often remain undiscovered. They come in so many different forms that it becomes difficult to pinpoint an intersection of all of them. Identity is a vast and crowded Venn diagram. Mine more resembles thick, dark scribbles than a cohesive display of different facets from my personality.
It’s been impossible for me to reconcile my different identities and give myself a singular label that describes everything about who I am as a person and what I stand for.
Through this column, I’ve been privileged enough to have gained a sliver of understanding about where my South Asian identity seeps into my life, but there are so many issues I have yet to tackle that I’m not sure I want to take on in a public writing forum.
Issues of the privilege I have as a South Asian woman of Indian origin and of a Hindu religious background.
Why I consider myself as having a religion, but avoid going to the temple.
Why I can be outspoken about my Indian culture hidden behind a veil of bits and pixels on your computer screen, but can’t do the same in real life.
These are topics that I’ve wanted to write about for a long time. For most of my columns, I would begin to write a few sentences about them and then just as quickly erase them in favor of something that would require less introspection and digging.
As much as I’ve been open about being South Asian, I’ve also been a coward.