I Am Not What Others Think Of Me: My Journey To Acceptance

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By Aastha Vohra

“I am not what others think of me.”

This is a sentence I have repeatedly told myself, as I turn around to listen to the criticism that is yet again going to diminish the low confidence and acceptance I already have in myself.

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We are often so prone to hear the critics that define us. We are so quick to abide by what they say. It seems they aren’t just mere labels, but our identities. The identities that we must live by because of the society we live in.

As a South Asian American woman, I often get lost in the things that define who I am. My dismay often begins with the lack of acceptance from the communities I am a part of.

However, it isn’t the lack of acceptance that our society defines for us. It goes even deeper. It’s our families and immediate circle that push these identities on us.

Often, I find that my immediate family sees me as a failure. I’m someone whose sole identity begins and ends by the way she looks, her achievements, and her monetary status. It seems regardless of what status I may achieve, I’ll always be the good-for-nothing child of immigrant parents.

As a child of immigrant parents, I have always faced critique as a form of love. But it never felt like I received love or acceptance, more like a destruction of the person I am.

Today, I sit here not able to achieve the things I want because the criticism has taken the best of me. It hasn’t allowed me to flourish.

I face the burden of their struggles of coming to this country, and the burden of essentially following the direction they wish for me. But it seems that I am nothing more than a lost, under-confident person who seems to be stuck.

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On the surface, it seems I am okay, but the cuts run deep. The cuts of being who I truly am as a person has resulted in shame.

Over time, as I learn and realize these implications, I have tried my hardest to heal from the conflict of identity, but also have tried to break free of it.

I separated myself from the norms of getting married early, as I am well into my late 20s. I have fought to prioritize my career first. And I have challenged myself to find things that make me happy and be selfish before making others happy.

I have spent a significant amount of time starting to voice my own opinions and stand for what I believe in.

I keep pushing for myself so I can define new boundaries, but also so that when I decide to have a family, I am blessed enough to have a daughter who will define herself in the many ways I do.

Sincerely, I hope she has an easier time. And I hope it allows her and the daughters of other South Asian American women to embrace their lives with all the cultures they are a part of in the way they wish to, not in the ways that society wants.

It seems that future generations don’t have to deal with the pressures I have faced. I hope my child doesn’t have to face the hurt I did.

I hope the stories that unfold from women like myself are able to truly teach lessons — ones that will change everyone’s futures.

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Aastha Vohra is a writer and contributor to Unwritten whose work focuses on health, wellness, lifestyle and self-esteem topics.

This article was originally published at Unwritten. Reprinted with permission from the author.