Hey everyone, my name is Jannat Chaudry and I’m a staff writer for APC. This piece I have written is an exploration of what it’s like to be different
Be different; Be unique; Be yourself. These are quotes that girls all around the world grow up hearing and they start believing are true. That is, until a girl actually steps into her difference and actively lives a life where she embraces all the aspects of herself. Then, difference becomes dangerous. Honestly, it’s not all glitz and glamour being different. It’s hard and exhausting. Anybody who is different in any sort of way may understand this feeling; the feeling of standing out. It sounds great, especially to me, an attention seeker in most cases, but when it comes to the color of my skin, that’s one thing that I never wanted to cause me to stand. I never wanted to admit that I was different. I wanted my skin to be super light so that I could look like the “ideal American women”. However, as a young brown woman grows up and faces more experiences and people in the world, she comes to terms with the fact that she is different, whether she likes it or not.
Don’t get me wrong, being brown is great. Every ethnicity has great features that come along with them. I always get told that my culture is so colorful and trendy, but that’s the problem, it’s just trendy. Big lips, curves, thick hair are trends, and trends come and go. However, that “trend” will forever be the body that I inhabit.
In the mirror, I see my fierce eyes, I hear my laughter, I taste the spicy biryani and sweet gulab jamun, and most of all, I feel that caring heart of mine.
To others, I am defined by my skin tone. At least that’s what it feels like. When you are a minority, you’re always self-conscious about how others perceive you. I was always uneasy when it came to speaking English because even though I was born in America, English is not my mother tongue. Growing up, I did not speak English at home with my family, and I learned most of it through cartoons, so you can just imagine how prepared I was for preschool. There were words I did not know and some that I misused or mispronounced. I was not familiar with American culture so a lot of what I said was wrong, according to other credible 4-5-year-olds in my grade who I looked up to so greatly. Little did I know, even though I may not have known perfect English or had pop culture pinned down, we were all the same in that classroom. At such a young age, we were just a bunch of kids who wanted to be accepted.
As I grew older, I asked my parents more questions about my culture and religion, not out of curiosity, but rather because I needed answers to give to people that asked me questions like, “how are you a Muslim if you don’t wear a hijab?”, “what’s the difference between India and Pakistan?”, or “Do you only eat curry, and how do you make it?”. These were the nicer questions. The mean ones, I was too afraid to tell my parents about. The questions that attacked my father for working a lower class, laborious job, or my mother’s choice to wear traditional clothing and a headscarf.
Those words did affect me, but not in a negative way. They opened me up to a new world in which I explored different parts of my identity and learned more about myself. I made it a personal mission to find my own identity in my Pakistani and American cultures, as well as in my Muslim faith. I have and will continue to learn more about my faith and cultures, being open to accepting the negatives that may come with them, but also embracing the love and acceptance they have taught me. I want the world to know the teachings of peace that have been embedded in my heart and soul by my heritage, for I know that they will leave their mark on the world.