Growing up, the world around me tried to actively define me and shape who I must be. There were musts and must-nots at every step of the way, clearly shaping parts of my identity that were acceptable.
It is only when I moved to London for a year that these notions truly got shattered. The city of London overwhelmed me precisely because it never tried to box me. Everyone had a space in the city. No one cared who you were, really. You could be anything you wanted to be. To me, it felt strange not to receive feedback from society on what I must and must not be.
When you could be anything you want to be, who would you be?
I felt the most lost when I was given the most freedom. I could be anything now and so for the first time, I was really challenged as to who I really wanted to be.
What I noticed was an effort to clamour onto all known cultural roots of mine in an effort to feel like I knew who I was and what I was doing. I grew the closest to my roots during this time, actively trying to recreate my sense of home following the routine at home by waking up to carnatic music, drinking chai and cooking upma. All that which I never really valued before became my only anchor and sense of clarity. It became the foundation of my life amidst chaos and then I realised why they are called “roots” – because they give you the foundation to build your life.