When Your Tribe Is - Not Belonging
When Not Fitting In Is The Only Way To Live.
I belong to nowhere. This realization came to me when I was living in London, United Kingdom. I had managed to save up enough holidays to make a month-long trip back to India. I excitedly told my colleague - 'I am going home.' He looked surprised and said, 'Well, you do that every day.' And that's when I realized that home to me had many meanings, unlike other people. And a little bit of introspection, and I realized I had a PhD in not fitting in.
Let's start from the beginning. My parents got married when there was a drought in marriages—nobody, five years before or after them, had been married in our family. So that meant when I was born, I was the only kid around. That was my upbringing. Even in a crib, I was hanging out with adults who took photos of me in lovely gardens. When I was four years old, my parents moved to Delhi (Northern part of India - where they speak Hindi) from Banglore (Southern Part of India - where they speak Kannada). I was playing with kids when I did not know a single word of Hindi. My peer kiddos were busy writing sentences in the classroom, whereas I was daydreaming of what these doodles on the blackboard meant. These incidents happened when I was too young to understand that I did not fit in these places.
Fast forward, we moved to Nagpur (Central India - where they speak Marathi). And another few years later, we moved to Mumbai. I made friends in Mumbai who had known each other since childhood. To me, the idea of somebody knowing all your foibles and flaws as a kid was unappealing. I understood that the norm for me was moving every few years - we meet people to leave them. This temporary-ness was my norm, the only way I knew life to be.
Soon after that, I left India - and moved around a lot - Boston, Phoenix, London, Columbus. Of all these places, London is my favourite - closest to my tribal home because everybody is from outside. In central London, a ride in the tube is the epitome of diversity. I have never felt as much at home anywhere else because we were all misfits. The fitting in or lack of does not stop with places.
I was the first girl in my family to do engineering, go abroad, get a masters at a prestigious university. All this meant that I was constantly aware of how un-normal I was. I had decided a long time ago if being normal was - getting a good education to get a good husband to cook and have children - then maybe I do not want to be normal. Just when my family thought I could not stretch the boundary of normality anymore - I blew up the limits of what was possible. I fell in love and insisted on love marriage in a traditional Indian fashion. My mom asked the astrologer to match horoscopes, and he told her that their scriptures forbade them to check the horoscopes for a love match. Once my grandad realized that giving his blessing was the only way he can see his favourite grandchild's wedding - he gave his permission, and everybody fell in line. My cousins over-enjoyed my wedding, and now I know why - because they all had love marriages.
Not fitting in, being a rebel is my life. I was never South Indian enough for my North Indian friends and never North Indian enough for my South Indian friends. My husband and I are not Indian enough for Indian couples and not American enough for American couples. I am a software engineer who runs a Bollywood dance class. I am a project manager who writes books. I enjoy corporate life but practice on the spiritual side. In fact, I do not think I want to fit in. I love my life the way it is - a mish-mash of events, places, but it is all me. It is time we broke away from societal norms and decided to be who we are truly meant to be.
The one thing that I learnt from all these experiences is a better understanding of who I truly am and what I truly value. Rest everything is a superficial artificial label.
This post is dedicated to all the global nomads, rule-breakers - who do not fit anywhere.
About the author
My vision in life is to be a Better Version Of Myself Every Day. And my purpose in life is ‘Learn, Grow, Inspire and Contribute’.
Everything that I do ties into this vision - including my writing. Check out anumorris.com for more info!