Just another Weblogs at Harvard site

After watching¬†The Reluctant Fundamentalist, I found myself asking, “how do I¬†come to know who I am?”

I used to believe that the fundamental pillars of my identity boiled to faith and culture. As a Christian South Indian, it was difficult to find a community, place, or environment that could relate to both sides of me. I would learn the theory of my faith through lessons at church whilst spending most of my time and energy practicing Indian Classical Dance lessons–an art form that finds its roots in another faith but taught me much of the mythology, folklore, traditions, and music that make up my cultural heritage. It seemed as if I would have to make a decision eventually to choose a life that leaned heavily one way or the other because these two worlds of mine hardly never met.

I could feel the internal struggle of Changez living the American dream by working at Underwood Samson but needing to shave his beard and going home to his father’s disapproval of how he lived his life. The divide here seems also to reflect the tension between Changez’s Muslim faith and his desire to fit into American culture. When Changez found what he thought was acceptance of his part American, part Muslim identity in Erica (I found it curious that her name is the last five letters of the word ‘America’) up until he realized that she did not understand him at all, he was quite content with his life.

Events and interpersonal relationships seem to hold much influence on the decision to swing to either side of one’s identity. Between my sophomore and junior year, in the midst of my existential struggles to find God, I met two friends in my life that caused me to swing from participating in all cultural activities to all works of service. I was so inspired by the idea of living my faith more fully through action that I completely changed my extracurricular interests, thereby coming to disregard the immense value of the cultural tradition I was born and raised in.

It is only now that I’m realizing the age-old truth of the saying: people are complex. The moment I began to fully embrace both sides of my identity, and realized that faith and culture were just two of many parts to my identity, it became easier to fit into any society, group, or social structure–but this time, as an individual. It does not do to simplify the parts that make up who I am; it is much better to accept all parts of me so that I can begin to live as an integrated whole.

Identity is not just about the fundamentals; it is about the complexity that is human nature, as well as the ways in which we come to understand these parts. Just as with Changez, this requires a journey of some sort in order to fully appreciate myself to the fullest. After the identity crisis is solved, one can then begin to live and give back to the world more fully.

May 8th, 2016 at 1:16 pm