My name is Amarjot; I am a freshman at Stony Brook University and a BALI Summer 2014 Leadership and Debate Training graduate. I grew up in a very diverse part of New York City, which is why diversity is important to me. I am a huge believer of everyone expressing their individuality, whether it be someone who is shy, but likes to dress boldly or someone who is socialite but makes time to read books. However, the reality of it all is that people are held down by standards and traditions. I always knew the standards and traditions I was supposed to fulfill but I just couldn’t, it wasn’t me.
I feel very thankful to be born and raised in a place where no one cares about what you do, it’s all part of that New York City magic. However, I can’t forget about the community, society, and culture my parents are from (mainly because they never let me forget it). I’m ethnically South Asian--Indian-- to be specific, and I take a lot of pride in that. I love almost everything about India except for the way girls are supposed to behave. Girls are supposed to be shy, collected, inferior to men, and talented in all aspects of housekeeping. I am anything but that. I’m loud, outspoken, I see myself as an equal to men, and I cannot cook.
Even though I’ve always felt strong and independent, participating in BALI programming taught me that I do not need to change who I am to please others. At BALI I had the chance to meet very successful women who told us that they fought for what they wanted and made the world their own. I know that’s what I want for myself, too, but I feel forced to please my parents; they’re constantly concerned about what other Indian people might think if I’m spotted with my male friends, or if I’m spotted out late at night. But after a while of going back and forth with my thoughts, I came to a conclusion: WHO CARES?!
I’ve started to realize that my life I have is full of value, and I’m utterly blessed. There is so much I can do. The standards and traditions that Indian girls have to follow have become a stereotype. It’s very rewarding to know that I live outside of this stereotype, because I am my own person. I refuse to let my appearance allow people to make assumptions about me, I’m more than my cover. So are ALL Indian girls, living within standards they are expected to oblige by. Throughout my life I want to make it my mission to encourage all kinds of people to cherish who they are. It’s a colorful life when we aren’t all the same.