Keeping my identity within our culture

Updated: Aug 11

What is identity? If you google the word identity, it says "The definition of identity is who you are, the way you think about yourself, the way you are viewed by the world and the characteristics that define you. An example of an identity is a person's name." So, let's begin with that; identity is a person's name? What is my name? My name is Rajinder but, my nickname is Bitu. A nickname was given to me by my father for reasons which are unknown to me but, a name I preferred to be called by. So, who is Bitu? What is she like?


If you ask this question to those who believe they know me, the first thing they will tell you is that "Bitu is so funny … Bitu has a good sense of humour … Bitu can have a laugh and a joke". Yes, I am in agreement with these traits that identify me, but, over time, I have found that these traits also started to work against me. You see, I am 38 years old. I am single, and as you can imagine, over the years, I have heard all the puns when it comes to the subject of marriage. However, the problem for me with hearing it all was that people took my characteristic of having a good sense of humour too far and assumed it was okay for them to make jokes about me being single.


I am not about to go into detail of the many phases of hurt and emotions I have been through over the years, but, I did want this nonsense to stop. I did want to stop hurting. I wanted things to change, and so I started questioning myself why am I accepting these jokes from people? Yes, I have a sense of humour, but, that does not give anyone the right to belittle my current situation and think it was acceptable to do so. Why was I not standing up for myself? Why was I not using my words to defend myself? If I started speaking up, if I started defending myself, if I started correcting individuals and made them understand how their words affected not just me but, others in a similar situation too, then perhaps they would start realising the impact their words have on people like me.


The struggle with trying to change anything is that the change needs to begin with you and, in this instance, the change needed to begin with me. I had to change by firstly stopping myself from thinking it was okay for people to ask me these nonsensical questions. I had to start using my sense of humour, my wit, my sarcasm, my voice as my weapon to begin educating the fools who were being insensitive.


I no longer feel obliged to answer the question "why am I not married?", which by the way I believe is one of the most imprudent questions you can ask a single person. Instead of answering this question, I switch my sarcasm into full mode, and I let the questioner ask the questionee (me) the question.

"Hmmm, why don't you guess and tell me why I am not married?" I ask the questioner with my inquisitive one eyebrow raised look. At this point, notice the questioner's expression beginning to change to a slightly anxious look.

"Come on, you know the answer," I say to them.

You can then see from their expression that the penny is beginning to drop, the realisation that they know what the answer is and that they may have caused some offence has sunk in.

"Umm, because you've not met the right person?" they say, and I respond with,

"Bingo … ding, ding, ding, we have a winner!"

So, I ask you the questioner why ask me this question when you already know the answer?


Another epic moment is when you are told that you "too fussy!" Oh, please do define for me what "too fussy" is? Too fussy is running late for your movie, and when you arrive you decide you want an ice-cream but, you can't decide on a flavour, and the film is about to start any minute. That is fussy! Not settling and making others happy is not being "too fussy"; it is called ME being able to make my own lifetime decision which makes ME happy, not you!


I have lost count the number of times that I have been told that I must be gay because I'm not married. What gives anyone the right to question my sexuality just because I am not married. In fact, not so long ago a friend called me gay because I wasn't married. So, I played him at his own game. I asked him how long he had been married for., to which he answered that it had been four years.

"Hmm, four years and you still haven't had any children. Wow, is everything okay? Are you not able to have children? Is there an issue with you? Is there an issue with your wife?"

In that instance, I saw the expression in his face change from feeling full of himself, to utter disbelief that I could even ask him this.

"Shut the f*** up, don't say that," he said to me.

I knew I had hit a nerve and I responded with "it hurts, doesn't it when someone takes a dig at your personal life?". At that moment he realised his error and apologised.


These are just some of the situations I have come across. I believe people view me, Bitu, as this happy go, lucky girl, who is full of banter, full of sarcasm so when it comes to taking digs at my personal life, they feel it is okay, and I will accept these jokes. I previously allowed my thought process to believe it was okay for them to ask me the typical questions about why I am not married. It was all okay and valid because I had not followed the Asian societies expectations of getting married at an "acceptable" age. I did not want people to know that their words affected me. I did not want people to think I could not take a joke. I did not want them to believe that I had lost my sense of humour. I did not want to lose my identity as being the funny one. This repetitive behaviour from individuals with their continuous monotonous digs and questions over the years impacted me emotionally.


I will no longer accept comments from individuals who overstep the mark. My identity of being funny, having a sense of humour are my characteristics. They should not act as your motive for assuming it is acceptable to pry and poke fun. For those individuals in the same boat as me or, who can relate to anything I have raised, I urge you to make a change too and stand-up for yourself. You do not need to justify your status to anyone. You do not need to change your identity to suit others; maintain your identity and stay true to yourself.

#Identity #Culture #Indian #BodyImage #SouthAsian #Diaspora

Guest blog by: Raj-Bitu Kang

Raj-Bitu Kang is a proud British Asian from Birmingham. She works as a Project Manager but, in her spare time she shares her reviews on movies, suggests book recommendations, exercise routines and of course a good ole food snap.


@raj_bitu_kang

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