Updated: Aug 31
Without the paths that I have traveled, without the highest and lowest points in life, without the people who have transformed my lives, without the growing pains, without all of it, I would have no roots. I cherish remembering and reflecting on my past. It is important to me because I try to learn from it and grow each day to be a better person. I need those reminders and wake up calls, letting me know that I should celebrate life because I get caught up in life.
Remembering your roots is more than identifying your old stomping grounds. It’s more than your old house or the old car your family drove. It’s about the feelings. The feelings that left an impact and that are linked in some way to who you intrinsically are. The time you spent sharing your fears and dreams with your mother, the time you spent talking with your father about your problems and failures, the moments spent playing and dancing with your sibling and caring for each other. It’s going to your grandparent’s house for summer, having a feast and being gifted presents. It’s celebrating festivals with your relatives and sharing love and joy. Remembering the way the past made you feel is important, but there is no need to dwell on it and there can be reasons to forget certain parts. However, we can’t deny that the events of the past have shaped our lives in many ways. Similar to how the grandeur of the tree is tied to how strong its roots are, our values are tied to where we come from and what we grew up with. The tree is beautiful and can spread happiness through its bearings only when its roots are strong.
I grew up in Chennai, South India. I’m proud to say that Chennai is a culturally rich city where everyone is welcome to create a shared community and we hit a great balance between conservative and liberated minds. People from Chennai are well educated, humble and usually live simple lives. Having grown up in this city, my family had adopted that indigenous culture. Education was valued the most in my family. My parents were engineers and my grandparents had jobs in law, finance, arts and engineering. Watching my dad toil and being determined had significantly contributed to improving my family’s quality of living, and made me understand the importance of being career-driven. My mother’s devoted nurturing, hardship and juggling career and parenting, instigated me to become a fearless woman and cultivated the desire to win anything that I set my mind to. My mother was close with all the teachers at my school and she was very involved in my studies. She took it upon her to give me her complete attention and care despite all her other commitments. My mother sent me to almost all of the extracurricular classes you can think of and she would be my best friend, pushing me to do my best and help me in identifying my talent. Although I wasn’t the most intelligent one at school, my parents taught me that hard work is the key to success. I shined really well in academics and extracurricular activities and was a top performer at school, earning accolades for academic excellence. My exemplary scores in high school made me realize my dream of joining one of the top engineering colleges in India, College of Engineering Guindy (CEG). I owe it to my parents and my teachers who coached me and encouraged me to realize and unlock my potential.
My admittance to CEG was my golden ticket to a college, which I’d say is “Paradise,” where learning from top minds and leading professors and opportunities in college clubs and associations were plentiful. College opened doors I never even knew existed that changed my life in many positive ways. The college experiences that shaped my life the most were centered around getting to know people from diverse cultural backgrounds and learning to solve problems independently. However, interacting with people from different backgrounds came with it’s own set of problems such as conflicts due to cultural stereotyping. From “girls are not good at coding” and “open-minded girls are trouble” to “girls need to get married soon” or “girls have to take care of the family”, there was no shortage of common cultural stereotypes. I never let that affect me because of the strong support from my family and mentors. My parents always trusted me and gave me the right amount of freedom. I continued fighting for empowerment, gender biases, equality and other societal causes that I cared about. My family and friends who believed in me always had my back. I learned how big the world actually is, and realized for the first time how much a part of that world I was. It opened up my mind and changed my heart. When I graduated in 2015, I was a young adult, itching to contribute something meaningful to the world. College transformed my flimsy desire to become an engineer into a fiery passion to become a leader in technology, all because I had witnessed this leadership in my parents, mentors, professors and friends.
My mother was keen on sending me to the United States for higher studies as she wanted me to have the finest education and have new experiences outside of my comfort zone. My family always pushed me to dream big. With my mother’s hardwork and support, I made it to the United States for higher education. It was exciting in the beginning because of all the new exposures, however they can soon become overwhelming making you feel anxious as you’re constantly trying to adapt and discern the cultural differences. To add to that, things like doing all of your own household chores, managing your finances, foreign visa issues, competitive job market, job security, missing family and special occasions make up the day-to-day struggles in life. Adversity can come in different forms and the worst part of that is not having your family close to you. The life lessons taught by my parents have shaped me to become stronger and thrive in adversity. My dad taught me that we can’t control what happens to us but we can control how we respond. I’ve seen my dad accepting problems and overcoming obstacles like a hero. My mother finds faith in God to recognize and accept her emotions. Watching them flourish through growing pains has inherently made me adopt similar practices in my life. Praying religiously and breaking through barriers with confidence has helped me navigate through painful times.
As I keep growing and meeting people from all different walks of life, I will never forget the past feelings that bind me with my family, the experiences that the society put me through and all the wonderful mentors, teachers and friends who intrinsically moulded my life. Remembering my roots and my family’s pride, keeps me going everyday. It motivates me to be fearless, passionate and determined.
I’d encourage everyone to take a moment to remember your beautiful past, think about your roots and how far you’ve come. As long as you keep building and remembering, you’re growing. Celebrate life and own your story!!