Those of you who know me, know that I grew up in Kenya so India doesn’t feel like home.
With the social density and family overload, not to mention the very different culture and way of life compared to my American life here, I actually find it pretty tough to visit.
But recently, I went back for the first time in seven years and it really forced me to reflect on why it isn’t easier for me, even though I’m Indian!
It took a week of judging it and resisting it – of disliking the lack of individualism, the expectations put on women, and the norms that feel so foreign to me – before I started settling into what the experience was here to teach me.
“When in Rome,” as they say.
I was surprised at where my acceptance took me.
- I found both a profound appreciation for the life and values there and a tremendous gratitude for the air, space, freedom, and laundry list of liberties I have in the U.S.
- I went into the trip feeling like Indian culture is too hyper-centralized on family values and left realizing how much we lack the kind of social connection my parents have that is more naturally embedded in their lives.
- One of my parent’s neighbors sent home-cooked meals over when she heard I was visiting and liked south Indian food. I was just blown away by the amount of love, affection, and community they have, and it reminded me of what’s on the other side of the personal space and privacy coin.
I came back from the trip wanting BOTH.
To have the best of both worlds.
- To celebrate my freedom and individuality in the US while also incorporating a sense of community and closeness from India.
- To enjoy the pursuit of professional goals and accomplishments while also opening up my schedule for building relationships.
So what’s my point?
As you head into the holidays and visit family that may or may not have the same values and priorities as you do, can you open yourself up to something new, to bringing something back with you that gives your life more balance?
Can we all be a little more receptive to another way of being?
We’ll start 2023 all the better for it if we can exist with the best of both worlds.