Throughout life, humans ponder on what they want out of life and what kind of person they want to be by the time they are elders. Some struggle with figuring it out and others thrive on it. The older you get and the more life challenges and obstacles you face, the more your identity changes. There are some things in one’s identity that simply cannot be changed such as race and culture. Individual’s identity is almost always shaped by whom they surround themselves with – such as a religious group, sports group, or academic group. Finding the right social group to encounter with makes it all more important since they have the most influence on who you turn out to be as a person. Due to the actions that I’ve seen in all my friend groups, I know what personality characteristics I want to exert. Most of my identity to this day is shaped by my closest friends and family, but even though I mostly know who I am as a person, my identity can change in a heartbeat.
In this world, many citizens go through many different events in their life that contribute them to having the identity they have. In my case, I’ve lived in two different cities and have been a part of very different activities in both cities so my identity is a complication of all these aspects.
My friends growing up were one of the biggest factors in my early childhood on how I behaved outside of the house. For the first 12 years of my life, I lived in Bakersfield, California. Bakersfield is a predominantly Caucasian city with “approximately 56% being White and 6.2% being Asian” (Bakersfield Population) so my identity was largely shaped by how my friends who were mostly Caucasian behaved and lived their everyday lives. One friend, specifically Jacob, was really into sports such as lacrosse, ice hockey, and basketball. These were sports that Indians generally wouldn’t participate in. Due to the fact that Jacob was my best friend in Bakersfield, I decided to join these clubs and participating in these sports helped contribute to the tough and physical aspect of me, despite the fact that I’m very skinny, and it gave me the confidence to live an everyday life. Due to the fact that I had so many Caucasian friends and not many Asian or Indian friends, I was losing touch with my Indian origins whenever I left the house to hang out with my friends. While living in the predominantly Caucasian neighborhood, I went to a very Catholic school where all students were required to take courses on Catholicism. In some of the courses, we learned about the history of Catholicism and also the beliefs and values of Catholicism. On top of all the topics we learned, we were also required to go to church every Sunday for 4 hours. Learning all this was making me forget about my Indian origins. The identity of being Indian was left at home when I went out. Even though we didn’t live in an area where a lot of Indians resided, my parents still made sure that I didn’t lose touch of my Indian heritage. Even though my friends in Bakersfield helped shape who I was as a person, my parents were the biggest factor in how my identity and actions were shaped. If my parents didn’t teach me about the Hindu values and what’s right from wrong, I would probably be on the wrong track in life to this day. They made sure that I learned the correct way to live and how to establish good relationships with other people. They also kept me attached to the Hindu religion so I wouldn’t forget my culture which is something that makes up a lot of who I am today and also made sure that I was successful in everything I’ve done up to this point and that I was doing things that I am passionate about. Even though me and my parents get in arguments about the advice they think will benefit me, I still know to respect their views because that is how I was raised to behave.
Going into 7th grade, my family decided to move to a small town called Saratoga, which is about 3 hours away from Bakersfield. A couple months before I moved to Saratoga, my grandpa passed away and I was at the lowest point in my life. I started throwing tantrums, getting into fights, and easily getting aggravated. When my parents said we were going to move to Saratoga, I looked at the extracurriculars the city offered. One that stood out the was Boy Scouts of America troop. I looked at reviews online and saw that most people said it was a life changing organization for them. Due the reviews I saw, I decided to enroll as soon as I arrived there. In Boy Scouts, we learned how to be independent from all the adults we had taking care of us. We learned survival techniques, cooking, and more importantly respect for everyone which is something that I didn’t have for others after my grandpa passed. I can honestly say that Scouts saved my life because if it wasn’t for this organization with all the adults and friends I met, I would probably be on the wrong path in life today.
Saratoga has a higher percentage of Asians than Bakersfield having almost 46% of its population being Asian. When I first arrived in Saratoga, it was hard for me to make friends because the people I met in my classes didn’t have the same interests as me. Throughout middle school in Saratoga, I didn’t really have any friends just because everyone was much different from me. On the first day of high school, this one senior boy came up to me and asked if I did any dancing and I told him no. He then said that he thought I would be a good addition to their Indian dance team known as Bollywood, and he asked me to come by and check it out. I reluctantly agreed to join the team because I’ve never done any dancing before in my life. After going to one of their practices and participating, I came to love the team and dancing and they influenced my life in so many ways. Like my parents, they taught me how to make right decisions, they looked out for me, and taught me how to be serious and have fun at the same time. They are my second family. In freshman year, I decided to take AP Physics. This was considered a big move by most of the school faculty because no one has ever taken that class as a freshmen. When I got to the first day of class, my teacher, Mrs. Garcia, saw this tiny Indian boy walk in and she came up me and introduced herself. Throughout that year, Mrs. Garcia was honestly one of my best friends outside of my dance team that year. Due to the fact that I had a close relationship with her, I started taking a big interest in the subject of Physics. One day I asked Mrs. Garcia what jobs I could get that involved the use of Physics and she said Electrical Engineering. From that day on, I told myself that I want to be an Electrical Engineer. Even though, I wanted to be an Engineer, I still never really cared about my academics or going to college which is what is needed to get a job in that field. Everyone but me on the Bollywood dance team were seniors. After they all graduated, I was forced to make friends who were in my grade or still at the school. This is when I met my best friends for the rest of high school. I met them on the first day of sophomore year in PE class. When they saw how I acted in classes other than Physics, they could see that I didn’t really care about my academics or going to college. It was the day after they noticed this that they sat me down on my living room couch with my parents and gave me a talk about the importance of studying hard and going to college.
From that moment on, I made a pact to myself, those friends, and my family to study hard, stay in school, and do well in my quest to become an Electrical Engineer. Even though, I am not in the same school as any of those friends, we all still keep in close touch and every day I thank them for helping me get a second chance in life.
My identity is pretty complex. I’ve had many social groups and social interactions that contributed to who I am as a person in my community. For me, there are some parts of my identity that probably won’t ever change such as my outgoing and athleticism features. I’ve been blessed to have such amazing family, friends, teachers, and organizations to have my back and help shape me into who I am. Being here at ASU, I was able to surround myself with those whose identity is similar to mine and it almost feels as if I never left California. Even though I know who I am, any life event could happen that can alter who I am as a person. For now, I’m blessed to be the person I am.