Identity - my personal reflections

- Share an experience/a time when you felt a part of your identity was threatened/judged/acknowledged. How did you feel? How did you respond? During the years that I lived in Shanghai, China, my family and I faced many experiences wherein our identities were questioned and then acknowledged. During the time, Shanghai was not home to many expats or foreigners. We also stood out from the crowd because of our dark(er) skin tone. My mother would wear salwars and her forehead would be adorned with a bindi - both elements of attire would attract attention from strangers or even pedestrians in the street. Sometimes, people would request my brother and I for a photograph followed by questions of where we came from etc... This was the first time in my life, that I felt like my identity as an Indian and as a Hindu (who wears a bindi occasionally) was acknowledged. Curious people who did not know much about India and our culture and traditions would actually stop us on the streets to get to know more about us. I remember feeling noticed and acknowledged. I also remember my heart swelling with pride upon seeing the inquisitive people's interested faces when we told them about our country and our customs. I would always assume that their initial assumptions and judgements would vanish once they approached us, because we would not only clear their misconceptions but also share things about what made us, us. - Why does identity play such an important role in how we behave, interact, view the world? Our identity is what defines us and it is what we project to the world. How people view and perceive us is all dependent on our many identity markers such as gender, ethnicity, nationality, appearance, age, skin tone, race and other invisible markers like our religion, personality traits and personal experiences. I also believe that our identity shapes our morals and principles and hence influences our thought processes and our attitude. Factors like our upbringing, education and the influence our closest social circle have on us, all shape how we perceive the world and how we think we should act in it. The lessons we internalise, over time and through the experiences we go through, ultimately play an important role in how we behave and interact with the world.