This piece by Robert Rausenberg captures my upbringing perfectly.
Born and raised in Toronto by Indian immigrants doing their best to raise me as a Muslim and sustain eastern cultures. From the age of six I grew up in a town where I was one of single digit brown peeps, surrounded by Jewish, Italian and multi generation Canadians, east and west contradicted each other consistently outside and inside of me.
They all pointed me in different directions and it was hard to carve out an authentic path when everyone is enticing you too join their tribe. My answer to all this confusion? To join all the tribes, to be everywhere all the time. I mastered the art of adaptation and simultaneously each group fed a different need of mine.
Some were into hockey, others basketball, others read, discussed politics and were big foodies, some just loved to have some drinks, smoke joints and play video games while others like to go for all night parties and drop some serious mind altering substances. Some were spiritual, some loved to dance, play board games and others loved to go for walks in the park.
I played in a lot of different worlds and feel lucky for it, but it wasn’t all fun and games. When being yourself is not your full-time job, the mind body and soul can get tired and confused. There was a ton of inner conflict that parked itself inside of me. I would have to keep a lot of secrets, like I couldn’t tell my parents that I drank, smoke, hung out with girls and went to clubs.
I couldn’t mix different groups of friends because they were so different and had unaligned interests. I danced between groups all the time, wearing multiple hats. This sort of upbringing was fun but the secret lives weigh on you and always having to be only a part of yourself is fucking exhausting. What to do?
Which way to go is confusing for most people, but if I could have used one set of guidance it would be this:
Learn to spend time with yourself, meditate, sit in silence, go inward and expand the internal self.
Now, would I have understood this in my teens and twenties? Maybe, maybe not but I still think it is valuable to plant the seed to discovering the authentic Self within our children.