I feel caught between two worlds: never South Asian enough to belong to my parent’s homeland, yet not entirely Canadian. Despite wanting to feel fully accepted in Canada, I would be lying if I said I do.
As my family moved from province to province in the pursuit of becoming financially stable, we were sometimes met with great distaste. Although I have met many accepting people since, the sting of being told to leave the only country I know never really heals.
My identity was a huge source of insecurity and eventually it became the source of my crippling social anxiety. As my anxieties built, my family decided to move from Manitoba to Ontario. The place they chose to relocate to was Thorncliffe Park in Toronto. I owe a lot to this community.
When I think of what empowers me despite the obvious struggles, my support system is always what comes to mind. It is my family letting me know how much they believe in me. The friends that support me. The trust I receive from teachers and community leaders, who openly nurture the potential they see in me. Those first months in Thorncliffe Park prove that even if I didn’t believe in myself there were always people who did and that made all the difference.
When the pandemic hit, I somehow stumbled on the opportunity to lead the Youth of East York – a youth-led organization working to empower youth success within the diverse communities of Thorncliffe and Flemingdon Park. With reassurance from my support system, the self-doubt I feel at the prospect of doing something so outside my comfort zone disappears.
Starting an organization during the pandemic and as someone who has faced so many challenges due to discrimination and biases in this society was frightening. It was difficult to get engagement from youth and for them to participate in the events I planned. Admittedly, taking the lead and managing a completely online organization was a challenge.
Even as I write this today, the hints of doubt that almost made me leave this mission incomplete were left completely to ruin as I recalled the people I consider my home, their support allowing me to feel the fear and do it anyway.
As any other story, I’ll end this off with a moral: Dear reader, surround yourself with people that make you a better person, a stronger person, a braver version of yourself.