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I am privileged. Profoundly, unequivocally privileged because I was loved from the beginning. And not only loved but I was also supported.

Both of my parents were born in southern India in extremely conservative families. My grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, second cousins, and even the dog next door were all exceedingly religious, traditional, sexist, and absolutely cliche-ridden. Now, science may declare that parents pass down most of their traits to their children, but my parents are living proof that not all children inherit their parents’ traits. My parents are nothing like my grandparents. Being raised by modern parents who were open-minded and progressive truly shaped me into the independent individual I am today.

When our family moved from India to the United States, I had a hard time adjusting to the new environment. Even after I started school, I always felt like the odd one out which, after some time, began affecting my education. I started to hate learning and going to school. I let down my parents more times than I would like to admit when I was younger. Whether it was receiving grades that didn’t meet their expectations not working as hard as I should have or lying about working when I wasn’t, my parents still displayed unwavering confidence in me from childhood.

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When we occasionally went to India to visit my cousins, I watched the verbal and physical abuse that their parents put them through just because they forgot to do a chore or weren’t the smartest kid in their class. I personally believe that my aunts’ and uncles’ style of parenting is a little harsh and quite archaic. After all, the most fundamental thing a parent can do is love, encourage, and support their kid to be the best that they can be. Unfortunately, that’s not a familiar concept in India.

I was baffled by the complete and utter difference between my family and my cousins’ families. My cousins’ parents were strict and impatient, while my parents were compassionate and understanding. And at that moment, I truly realized how privileged I was. Later that year, I pulled myself together and began working really hard at school. I would not only do the homework my teacher assigned, but I would also complete the extra credit problems and stay ahead of the class, which for a 5th grader was quite impressive. Before I knew it, I had regained my passion for learning. I came to school every day eager to learn and left every day yearning to learn more.

Throughout my life, I’ve learned to be happy and look at things positively because that’s how I was raised. I’m passionate, hardworking, ambitious and most of all, I have a great family. My family loves to have fun, make jokes, and live life to the absolute fullest. No matter what, my dad has a positive attitude and constantly wants to make others laugh. And my mom has given me valuable advice that I can apply to every aspect of my life. The values of dedication, hard work, gratitude, optimism, integrity, and respect my parents cultivated in me have helped me in multiple ways. I have embodied these values in all aspects of my life and they have enabled me to grow as an individual. My parents never restricted my aspirations but encouraged me to aim higher and attain the greatest achievements in my life. It was because of their support that my life’s philosophy has been anchored on hard work. And for that, I was, I am, and I always will be privileged.

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