Sikh-ing your authentic self | Nandip Aulak

Nandip AulakWhat does authentic mean anyway? In a nutshell it means, to be ‘genuine,’ ‘bona fide,’ ‘the real McCoy,’ ‘the genuine article,’ or ‘the real thing’.

I am a 33-year-old woman, Sikh, British Indian, living in London – one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world. Yet sometimes, I feel as if I am moving further away from my authentic self.

Do I fit in? No not really, I never quite feel like I do, but that’s ok, because I would rather stand out. I don’t feel that I have ever fitted in? Is it because I have grown up being different? I went to a Catholic school and was one of only three Indians in my class. I loved that School, it taught me that it’s okay to be different.

So, why do I feel like conforming is the norm? I don’t believe that we have a set blueprint of who we are. Our experiences of the past shape our perception of the world and how we behave in it and what we believe about it.

Take away past events, experiences and the messages you received growing up, and what’s left? You, just you as you are meant to be.

Identity crisis? Or is society in a crisis?

Living in a trendy area of London, I am adorned by colour and culture.

Such a mismatch of identities, it really is the true beauty of the city. I feel compelled to fit into this mismatch, and excited to do so. I feel as if I can embrace the right to be different.

So, what is my identity? Can I even define it? Take away the social noise or the expected role I should play. I am left with a really strong need to make a change, to make a difference, to leave the world a better place, to remove the blueprint, and leave a footprint.

I don’t believe anyone should be defined by gender, colour, religion, sexual orientation or anything else that isn’t the same as everyone else. To work towards creating a world where equality is not a nice to have. Society should not define who we are.

The right out-fit(in)

I believe what we wear is a form expression, of who we are, what we feel, and what we want to say to the world on that particular day.

Do first impressions really count? I think so. it was a recent shopping trip in London, that inspired me to write this blog. As I ventured out into the city, wearing a traditional Punjabi outfit; I became more aware of what others were wearing, and was saddened that I did not see one Indian person dressed in a traditional outfit. Why is that? I don’t know the answer, but I fear it might be that we don’t want to be judged.

What was my label that day? Indian woman covered up and comes from a strict family? I wondered if anyone considered that I might live in London on my own, have a responsible job work in marketing in the city, and that I am totally independent.

I am sometimes torn between being, British, Indian, Sikh and a professional. I want to amalgamate all of the above together. I feel exhilarated just writing it.

“Who are ya???….”

As they chant on the football pitch in a very loud abrupt voice. Its one of the most important questions, you will you ever ask yourself.

First and foremost:

#woman #daughter #sister #aunty #friend #Sikh #British #Indian #marketeer

The above is my authentic self, it is the very heart of who I am and all that I love.

I want to be all of those things, with ease and not have to justify my choices, whether that is my choice of clothes, my beliefs, or anything for that matter.

I know that it’s a huge ask, but unless we try, nothing will ever change, and I fear it will remain the same (ironically, the opposite of different).

We have to have the courage to working towards becoming the change we want to see, and making it the norm.

I want to be able to say: “I am an ambitious, confident, passionate, strong, courageous woman who wants to be really successful” and for that to be very normal.

Embrace it before you lose it.

Don’t try and fit in when you were born to stand out. I am fortunate to be surrounded by some amazing, strong women and men that allow me to be the best version of me. Listen to those that value you, to those you value, they will help you grow.

It’s natural to be you, and encourages integrity and trust amongst those around you. Most importantly, you begin to trust yourself, and when you do that the world is your oyster.

Let’s not just be different, and embrace the differences in each of us, let’s celebrate it. I don’t mean dance about it, but don’t whisper it.

Top 5 tips:
  1. Ask for what you want (if you don’t ask you don’t get)
  2. Follow your gut instinct (it’s the authentic you talking to you)
  3. Have a point of view (don’t fear your own voice)
  4. An opinion is not fact (don’t believe everything you hear)
  5. Don’t fear change (its inevitable, so embrace it)

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