The Corner Store Man

Broken English was what I knew him as. The man behind the counter was nothing more than a the corner store man. He stood tall above the customers only because the counter made him look tall. Bulletproof glass was the only barrier between him and the customers. “Hello buddy” was said to everyone and each time I died inside because he had an accent. I was embarrassed of him and I didn’t want people to know this man was my father. He was nothing but an immigrant who the customers can mock, make fun of and disrespect. I was a young, shy and quiet kid who usually stood in the background because I didn’t want to be noticed. I remember one day a girl from my 5th grade class walked in and I hid under the counter because I thought I would be judged due to my father’s job and accent.

A bad accent was what I knew him as. The man behind the counter would make me broom and mop the store. I hated these tasks because I could hear the whispers of the kids my age laughing. I remember one day I was mopping and I saw this man throw change at the corner store man while he had his hand out to take the change. I remember people throwing racist remarks at the corner store man only because he had an accent. The corner store man would do nothing but smile back and do whatever he can to make the customer happy. I was so embarrassed because I couldn’t defend him. I didn’t know what to say, what to do and how to handle these situations. Instead I grew distant because I did not want to be at the corner store.

As I grew distant, the corner store man and me would only meet for breakfast and maybe dinner. He would always ask me to stop by and help him but I always was too “busy” or made some other excuse. At times I would wish he could just be a doctor or have a “real job”. While I was wishing what he could’ve been he dealt with body aches, back problems and various health problems. I was so blinded and so selfish at the time that I couldn’t notice he would need my help.

I soon went to college and I forgot the corner store even existed. The corner store man not only got me through college but also made sure I never gave up. The corner store man forgot all of his dreams to see me peruse mine. I followed my dreams of becoming a dancer, photographer and writer. I fell so many times during my undergrad career and he was always by my side to pick me up even when I didn’t ask for help. I was an asshole who was so concerned about what he did that I forgot who he was.

Yes, I proudly announce to the world my father is a corner store man but nobody is better at it than him. Yes, he has an accent but he can read, write and speak in 3 languages. The corner store man is not only a proud storeowner but also a son, father, husband and a selfless man who provided education to all of his kids.

As I write this I am standing at the counter greeting the customers who walk in. This time around my father is drinking tea at home while I try to manage the things he does with his eyes closed. My father is what I will always see him as.

For all of my South Asian readers, whose families are in some sort of a family business, show your parents love and appreciate them. The immigrant life is tough and it is not easy by any means. It’s a new language, new culture and pretty much new everything. Never let yourself be embarrassed of how they speak or what they do.

Unlearning everything I learned

I was spoon-fed to believe success is a degree, which helps you gain an X amount of money. I was enamored with people telling me only a certain majors will help you reach this success. For some reason I could never accept the fact that I was made to study biology, chemistry or some other hard science but I still went ahead and did psychology. The problem was that I did not know who I was at the tender age of 19 and I made this decision. I didn’t follow what I wanted but rather my family, friends, society and of course where I could find money.

Clearly I went to college for all the wrong reasons and everyday I walked into lecture hall knowing, this is just not for me. I ignored all of my internal voices because I just wanted to make my family proud. I remember wanting to leave my university and transfer to some other university because the academics got very overwhelming for me but my family always huddled around me and picked me back up. I got lost in their dreams to the point where I forgot to live mine out. I remember after three long years in my university I applied for graduation and I still felt like I had not done enough. So I applied for a masters in speech pathology because I figured my family would be even more proud of me once I get accepted into 1 of the 15 masters programs I had applied for.

Everyday I would tell someone that “hey I might be going to grad school for speech pathology”. Yet, every night I couldn’t sleep because I was so stressed about my future. If everything was planned to the T why was I so worried? Why was I still so restless?

Every morning I would login to my email waiting for an email that would read congratulations. Sadly, everything read we are sorry to inform you. I had been rejected from all 15 schools nobody even put me on the wait list. At this point I became over dramatic and realized “I will have no future”. I was depressed and embarrassed because in my mind I had let down my parents.

With depression came many sleepless nights and one of these particular nights I remember doing a lot of thinking. I realized my 22 years of life had been shaped to make others happy. I hated my major, I hated the masters program and yet I was still going for it. It was so stupid of me because I would have went on with doing things that “sound successful” or will make others happy.

Every individual is born with a certain skill and after enough polishing that skill makes him or her successful. I decided to write down my skills and see where I could take these skills. My list included dancing, writing and men’s fashion. My interests were photography and media design. For some people these are stupid side things people have but for me it makes me who I am. Im no longer ashamed of that because I cant sit in a cubicle, I cant be told to be what society accepts as a profession. Ever since that night I have never been this happy and this comfortable in my own skin. I am happy with my skills and future goals to become a writer, fashion blogger, website designer, photographer and dream about all of my goals.

For any parent reading this blog please stop having your child live out your dreams. Stop expecting your child to live up to your expectations because we are all born a certain way and we all have different dreams. Im sure for the sake of your happiness your kids will do it but they will not be internally happy. Happiness will only exist when the child has passion and a drive for what they want to do.

Next week I walk across the stage to get my bachelors of Arts in Psychology. I couldn’t be more proud of myself and I couldn’t be more excited to say I found myself. Even with a degree I had a chance to unlearn everything I was taught. Success is not about a degree, money or what society says but rather it is discovering who are and being unapologetic.

 

Enjoy the ride?

I clicked submit and I leaned my back against the chair. I was happy but I was also sad. I was excited but I was scared. Then I started thinking if I rushed this entire process or did I not enjoy the ride. After much thought I realized that I did not enjoy my ride. I was rushing to reach my goals that I forgot to live my life. I forgot to enjoy the small things that this ride brings.

I submitted my application for graduation. I was happy because I am about to get my degree. I was sad because I’m leaving the college life. I was excited because it seemed forever. Yet I was scared because its time to enter the real world. I was so scared because I did not enjoy my years in college. I was so set on reaching my goals I didn’t enjoy what I had. People like me are known as the foreseers because all we focus is on the future and what is ahead. We are unable to live in the moment because the fear of failure, not being enough and not reaching goals is stressful.

I’ve lost countless friends, missed parties, and didn’t break through from my shell up until now. I think college was more of a lesson instead of a painful memory because it was not all so bad. I made some lifelong friends and learned lifelong lessons.

I picked up my cap and gown today with nothing but a smile because these 5 years were all about college. I put my all into this but the moment I walk off that stage a new chapter will start with a new approach to life.

For my fellow “foreseers” follows these simple rules and you will not be in my situation.

1)   Enjoy where you are while you work on your future goals

2)   If you ever stop living life because you are trying to reach a goal, refer to rule #1.

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My own reality.

Growing up in a very sheltered family, I was always told I couldn’t do many

things. Part of the reason was I had asthma, allergies, and many other health

problems which kept me sick. No matter how sick I was and no matter what any

person said to me I always had one quality within me. I am a dreamer and always

try to be different but according to my family it’s silly because the chances of my

dreams to become reality are slim to none. I never agree with them though because

my mind works differently than most people. I am creative, I understand people

from the inside out, and I just can’t live a robotic way of life. I need something more

because I have this longing for my dreams to be a reality.

I want to become a famous writer but often people say my writing sucks or

tell me its impossible. I am a South Asian writer and I know it’s hard, but nothing is

impossible. I actually never tell anyone “I am a struggling writer” because in no way

am I struggling. In order for others to believe in me I have to sell myself through

believing in my craft. Writing is just one of many dreams. I also strive to open up my

own dance studio to teach kids how to dance. I want to be successful in a manner

where I can touch someone’s life and have them believe in their own craft. The sad

part is I have been enamored with stories regarding failure and how my window of

opportunity is gone because I do not have the right connections. I had an individual

tell me I am stuck in the dream world and I will not get to where I want to. My

response to remarks as such is let me fail, let fall, and once I fall I will get stronger

and eventually reach my dreams when the time is right.

Most people go to sleep at night and then have amazing dreams but I dream

during the day. Its silly, it may not be realistic but this is my reality and I don’t want

to see someone else’s view on reality. I have no doubt in my mind, I know I will

reach my goals but right now it is farfetched, the chips are down and god knows

they are down. I just have to perfect my art so others believe in it as much as I do

and I recommend everyone else to do that. Never let failure determine or define

who you are. I have been through two blogs, I have quit before for months on end

but when you dream of something don’t quit. Everything in life takes time and

determination but if you don’t believe me look at the history of all the great athletes,

artists and historical leaders. Just keep dreaming, believing and eventually

everything will click into place.

Relationship Goals?

My generation has wrongful and strange perceptions on many things, but one

phenomenon that surprises me is the phrase “relationship goals”. If you are on any

social media outlet you will often see hashtags or pictures referring to a certain

relationship aspect. These pictures show very cliché things such as a couple kissing,

holding hands, or watching the sunset. On the bottom of these pictures usually

include a cliché quote, which talks about honesty, compassion, trust, and genuinely

being in love with your partner. Call me silly but shouldn’t these things be the

foundation of any relationship? How can the foundation of something that should

already exist be a goal? We should not be applauding things that should already be

present within a relationship.

My generation (including me) should look at the generations before us and

take notes. My parents have been married for 35 years and still counting. My

grandmother held my grandfathers hand as he took his last breath. I also know not

everyone has been in the same situation as me because break ups and divorce

happen. Yet one thing to note is even if the generations before us have dealt with

divorce or break ups, these couples have one thing in common: they fought until the

very end, and divorce was never the first option.

Now a days the dating scene is really annoying because we have so many

different labels. Such as single, in a relationship, it’s complicated, friends with

benefits, casually dating, and so on. The labels are not the problem, its following the

guidelines of these labels is where the problems start. If we all just cut the crap and

just be honest, our dating scene can be something really amazing.

Dear South Asian Parents.

Dear South Asian Parents,

We love you immensely and respect all you have done for us. There are times we sit back and think how we would be unable to do the things you do every day, there is something you should know about us. Times have changed and compared to how you grew up, we are living in a different world. Males and females can be friends, women can get the same jobs as men. We want you guys to understand this about us. We do not want our actions to be overshadowed by what society will say or what people around us have accomplished. We have become a household of order and structure that we often forget that we are a family. We want you to ask about things besides school and work. Ask us about our day, what new movies are out, or what we have planned for the weekend. We want you to be our friends and take interest in our lives so we don’t make mistakes like Anjali. Often we pass by each other but do not have much to say which is starting to create a wall between our relationship. We all make mistakes but in this time and age some unfortunate mistakes in your eyes may be drinking, smoking, and dating. We want to have a frank relationship with you but if we feel like you are going to react and get upset with us, chances are we will back off and not say anything even when we need you. Maybe our major in college is not what you want or maybe we are in love but can’t tell you. We really do love you but we as kids are stuck in a parallel with our modern lives while trying to relate to your customs. The fact of the matter is the only consistent thing about life is change. Now we as kids have to be calmer and really understand that we are from two different worlds, and we want you to do this as well. Now that you know our side we want to know yours.

Anjali & Trust Issues.

My heart was racing because I was drunk and the walk from the car to the door felt like a mile long. It seemed like an eternity to unlock my door and the entire time I was reminding myself to “act natural”. My make-up was smeared, I did not change out of my short dress and by the time I closed the door behind me I saw my parents sitting down and trying to find a daughter in me. They demanded me to come sit in front of them. I knew if I walked to them they would be able to smell the alcohol from my breath and my slurred words would give it away. I took a moment then started walking to them with the help of the walls and furniture around me. By the time I took a seat I saw them get angrier and scream, “Are you drunk!?” I denied it, I swore to them but my mom leaned in and smelled it on me. Just by the look on her face I knew I was in a lot of trouble. I thought at the time it would be great to lighten up the mood by telling them a joke I heard. I looked straight at my dad and said, a sandwich went into a bar and the bartender said, “Sorry we don’t serve food here”. I got no reaction but due to my intoxication I laughed really hard. My dad ordered my mom to take me upstairs and get me in bed; we will deal with her tomorrow.

My mother pulled my arm and dragged me up the flight of stairs. She gave me my bedtime clothes and put some water by my bedside table. I thought I was dreaming about throwing up but when I woke up I realized my clothes, bed, and floor were covered in it. By this point my mom had to clean it because I was way to hung-over to even help. I was called downstairs to have breakfast with the family but I knew I was due for a lecture. I walked to the breakfast table and before I had even sat down he demanded my phone and told me no more friends and no more going anywhere without our supervision. I just nodded my head and slid my phone to him and quietly went to my room with my breakfast.

I still had graduation and senior week ahead of me. My parents basically had me on house arrest, checking my phone every time it would buzz, going through my closet to make sure I was not hiding anything, and kept a close eye on my actions. I thought if I kept my good behavior up everything would be fine. Boy oh boy was I wrong about that thought process. They just needed a reason to bring up prom night and even with my 500 apologies they just did not want to even talk to me. I was reminded constantly of how much of a shame I was to the family name and how I can never be trusted.

Graduation day was bitter sweet. I thought to myself this is it, the 4 years of high school are over and senior week was going to be my only way to see my friends. After walking the stage my dad told me I would have 15 minutes to talk to my friends and I had no choice because I was not going to fight back. I knew senior week would not happen. I knew my parents were on the zero tolerance policy but the worst part was how they overshadowed my accomplishments over the past four years. I earned scholarships but it was overlooked because they were still comparing me to girls they thought had good image although everyone knew they sneak out every weekend and do the things I once did.

I heard my name being called and I got up to retrieve my diploma. The entire time I was walking back to my seat I thought how I would have never handled the situation like my parents did. Unlike them, I understand the impulses teenagers have. The social environment and curiosity leads them to experiment with things that their parents might not be proud of. I knew in my college career I would drink again, but the worst part was that I couldn’t tell them anything anymore.

Anjali is not a real girl, everything was made up and fictional but being a South Asian teenager is difficult. We have to balance two worlds between friends and family but that often gets overlooked. I have decided to stop the story here but next week I will have a message to the parents.