A kid lacking ambition is … weird.
They present a special kind of challenge. One of: What do we do with this one? She clearly lacks direction.
Like she’s meant to have her role in the world defined and decided by age 9.
But when your parents are South-Asian, expectations of you as a child are very different to what’s typical in the west.
If you’re a boy, you’re encouraged to like cars, be driven towards education and aren’t expected to do what traditional western culture tells you.
Like open doors for women. Become independent. Or appreciate art.
But you are expected to become a breadwinner, with no alternatives. So there’s that.
And if you’re a girl, cue scenes from Pride & Prejudice.
You’re waiting for a husband to replace your father or brother. The chappatis you make must be rounder than the neighbours’. And you’d better rock the shalwar kameez while still appearing chaste.
Bollywood movies don’t help.
I didn’t have any career plans when I was a kid
No idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to grow up.
All I knew was that I wanted to be anywhere but here.
Escape. Freedom. Something else.
When my mum became very sick, I was the next female in line to look after the family.
So while friends were playing on their bikes out on the street, I was in the kitchen learning to cook lamb curry.
Lamb was expensive. I was 11. Messing up wasn’t an option.
So it’s no surprise that I yearned to run. I had more responsibility than my height justified. As soon as I could, I escaped it.
But this drive I had didn’t push me towards ambition. I didn’t dream of becoming anything. Or anyone. I just wanted to be … elsewhere.
Our generation felt the struggle
Of being in between two worlds. Western experience with eastern values. A constant juggling act.
Decide or die.
And despite having no expectations on us, other than following what our parents did, this struggle has given us more skills than the average person.
Empathy in different languages. The ability to find comfort in not belonging, and allowing others to feel so. Compassion. Context. Laughing about crying, but not drowning in the hilarity of it. Reading and responding to emotion quickly. Making the best of every world we’re part of.
So even though our parents may have expected the very least of us, we’ve grown to make the best of it.
Unapologetic. Staking a claim. Exerting our rights.
Because when ambition isn’t handed to you? You take it with everything you have.
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