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MARALI SINGARAJU

I want to help others be able define what being “Indian” means to them rather than letting other people define it. There is so much pressure from American society to be competitive and to be the best you can be. But then you combine that with being Indian, which, we're seen as the model minority and ultimately, you have this added pressure. Unfortunately, the feeling of not being good enough is all too familiar to all of us - and is what I want to talk about.

Growing up in general is hard, especially as an Indian. We’re not only dealing with factors of being different at school with our skin tones, languages, or food, but also with extra added expectations to be the “smart students”. At first, this makes Indian students feel special, but later these students realize that they are under the pressure of not only their own expectations, but parents, teachers, and even other students. These incredibly high expectations made me feel that someone was constantly judging my performance. 

 I think being a psych major made me realize that my mental health had deteriorated so much. I thought I had it together, but I guess I didn’t. No matter what everyone said to me, it felt like I still wasn’t doing enough.  At one point, I was ashamed to tell people about what I was studying because it felt like they were going to look at me and think “She’s not worth it”. 

At the end of the day, we tend to follow what others tell us to do vs what we really want to do for ourselves. In the long-term, our parents aren’t going to be the ones working our jobs, not going to be the ones earning that money, or going through that schooling. It’s okay to stand up and advocate for yourself and say this is not best for me.  

My identity is that my nationality is American but I am very much Indian. I think it’s up to each person to define that for themselves. Not letting other people define you makes it so much easier for your mental health. It makes it much easier for you to advocate for yourself. Remember, it’s two different things. Realizing your worth within this competitive world, but also realizing as you navigate your identity in life, you don’t always have to fit into a box.