Why being a misfit is the new social norm
So, who here would put themselves into a category of “I’m a misfit”? I was born and bred in a traditional Asian household, with traditional loving grandparents. However despite their love and aspirations for me, they were always bound by society to enforce control over what I “should” be doing to fit into our Asian community. They would heavily influence decisions such as whom I should be, how I should dress, what rules I should be following and who I should be friends with.
Growing up in Camden of all places is probably a wish many of us have. It meant living in an exciting, vibrant, colourful and quirky atmosphere packed full of unique individuals, who are free to be creative and express themselves through art, music and much more. I felt the pressure of wanting to explore my identity being a Camden girl, but I still wanted to feel accepted in our Asian community. Can we really have both? So it’s no surprise when you’re torn between a community of self-expressive people and one that is controlling, over-protective and of course most importantly loving towards you. The fear that I would be judged for trying to be different was always quite overbearing and daunting to think about. We can lose ourselves in the process of growing up and simply trying to be YOU!
When I was young I went to a school, which was slightly multicultural however, I had a lot of non-Asian friends. I felt like I couldn’t really fit in 100% within my friendship circle, so I tried one day to develop friendships with an all-Asian clique. Well that didn’t last long, as I didn’t really have much in common with them as my parents and grandparents didn’t really give me the freedom to socialise outside of school or even on the weekends. So growing up was very isolating and lonely as some of you may resonate with. Back then; there weren’t many forms of communication methods other than face-to-face for us, so socialising with others was quite restrictive. I jumped at the opportunity to hang around with an all-Asian group at college and university, and even then, as much as I developed amazing friendships I still felt like a misfit! So the question is... is it me? Is there something wrong with me? Am I the problem here where I can’t feel 100% comfortable in my own skin, to express my own opinions honestly without someone trying to judge me or dictate how I should conduct myself as a woman? Why do I have to agree with what my clique thinks and feel? Why can’t I just be different and stand out from the crowd? It’s very easy to lose your identity here, and equally, it’s very easy to feel excluded, even though it may not be intentional or perhaps it’s all in the mind! So the only person that’s controlling you... well is YOU!
Sometimes we lose ourselves at a very early age by conforming to what society wants. We spend too much time listening to our elders because we think they are always right. We have control, boundaries and rules instilled upon us that creates fear, preventing us from challenging people. No one listens because they want to be over protective and they don’t quite understand that they are also relaying their own insecurities and fears onto us. So they think wrapping us up in cotton wool will benefit us in the long run. But actually, it’s quite damaging to our personalities and very suppressing, as we cannot release our anger and frustration using the correct positive channels to express our own opinions that define who we want to be through the way we dress, act, learn, network and explore. In my opinion other people’s insecurities can dictate our identity especially in an environment where we pay too much attention and energy to listening to what others tell us about ourselves! We struggle to be who we want to be or even try to explore and discover things in life, as it doesn’t fit within the norms of what our families, friends and society want for us.
So the question is, is it normal to fit within society, or should we be testing the boundaries and breaking free to find ourselves, to be who we want to be through the process of self-discovery! It’s no surprise that the wellbeing industry is booming right now. We spend so much time and money watching others grow, perform well, present a pretty picture of themselves and we are under the illusion that that’s how we should be through continuous comparison, it’s actually quite draining. The truth of the matter is, self-care should be our number one priority. Look after yourself by identifying your passion; what brings you joy, what makes you laugh and smile, what keeps you fit and healthy and what keeps your vibration levels high! I’m a big believer of “dabbling” a little into figuring out what your passion is. By simply working with our mindset to change how we think, remove those negative obstacles and break free from long-term habits instilled within us from others, will work wonders on slowly progressing towards figuring out what makes you tick! Some of us are stuck in professions, courses or relationships that make us feel miserable. It all contributes towards your self identity because, once we put ourselves and our opinions as the focal point of high self-worth, we then become less and less scared to push ourselves outside of our comfort zone, meet like minded people from all walks of life and explore parts of the world, topics, cultures and work that we once thought was unimaginable.
Start removing those obstacles that are holding you back! Start bringing the joy back into figuring out who you are, what you represent and trust your gut to make the right choices without regrets. We are so scared to fail because we see things so polished around us especially on social media, that we beat ourselves up for not fighting that part of us that wants to just liberate ourselves and follow our passion. Get on the train... we don’t know where it’s going, but we trust our gut and feelings that it will take us on a journey. We may need to hop off and hop back on, but eventually we will reach a destination and find ourselves. So it’s ok to feel like a misfit. In my eyes, that’s now the new norm! Be good to yourself, and work yourself out to find your identity, or maybe you already have. As life moves on, we must learn to move with it.
“A diamond doesn't start out polished and shining. It once was nothing special, but with enough pressure and time, becomes spectacular. I'm that diamond.” - Solange Nicole
#Identity #Culture #Indian #BodyImage #SouthAsian #Diaspora
Guest blog by: Moheeni Paul
Moheeni Paul is an Award Winning Teacher and a Creative Artist. As well as illustrating her own designs, and designing bespoke wedding stationery. Moheeni also teaches henna paintings on various surfaces, encouraging others to turn this timeless and ancient art into stylish and swanky designs. @moheenipauldesigns