San Francisco, California
I grew up in a fairly traditional East Indian house hold. You know–being woken up by the sound of prayer bells and the smell of incense in the morning. My parents were adamant about my brother and I having knowledge of our “Rich Indian Culture”. Which is understandable. It is hard to keep in touch with our roots in a massive melting pot such as the United States. Therefore, my parents were over protective and strict, resulting in me rebelling and neglecting my education and studies. All I cared about was fitting in and trust me it was not easy thanks to the bullies of my lovely middle and high school. I am not saying this for pity, everyone goes through it. My point is, I have never felt like myself. My family friends and cousins were “top scholars” and indulged in what they called “intellectual conversations”. I faked interest and honestly, pretended to understand what the hell they were talking about. Once again, trying to fit in. Surprising All I wanted to do was sit at home and create art and fashion sketches. I always had so much on my mind, my favorite thing to do was to get into my bed at night and fantasize about my future as fashion designer and what I would like life to be. Once, I got out of high school and got to college, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I finally got up the courage to ask my dear father if I can pursue fashion. Surprisingly, he was supportive and helped me reach out to art schools across the country. I ended up graduating from the Academy of Art University with a BFA- Fashion Merchandising and Marketing. That was undoubtedly one of the best days of my life. I did not think I could do it. But that happiness did not last for long, I felt a void. I felt trapped, I have always lived in the Bay Area, and everything “the usual”. The usual restaurants, the usual people, the usual shopping malls. Everything was always the same. I wanted something different- – I wanted DIFFERENT. I packed up my bags and ended up here in Jersey City. It was like pre-school all over again, starting fresh, knowing nobody, creating your image from scratch. I am not going to lie; it was not all “hunky-dory”. It was tough and I wanted to run back home. I just couldn’t let myself do that. So I Stayed. Therefore, forcing myself to go out there and start a whole new life. Now, I have a diverse group of friends- a 40 something year old, vegetarian photographer, his wife, and his 6-year-old daughter, a 38-year-old DJ, a 27-year-old aspiring model, a 30 year old nail raven haired beauty who is an animal activist, and the list goes on… I am not saying life here has been perfect, because it is not. Some days are tough and the others, not so much. Just as any other place in the world. My point is, it is okay to escape from the “norm” and experience new things. If you don’t like it, you can always go back. I love the change; do I feel like I am going to be here forever? No. I am going to keep venturing out and continue to discover myself. This is the happiest I have ever been.