On Being a Third Culture Kid


Jahnavi with her sister, wearing traditional Japanese kimonos.

Growing up Indian in a country like Japan has made me appreciate being Indian. Think about that. And let me explain while you ponder. 

I was born in Japan and have lived here for 14 years now. I thought of Japan as my own country. But when I was younger, I would often compare myself to other Japanese kids. I hated my accent, my skin color, the food and so much more. Some days, Japanese kids would even approach me and make fun of my appearance or try to imitate the Indian accent. I tried very hard to stay strong and not let it bother me. But it did. I started getting more and more insecure of myself to the point where I began to hate being Indian. I felt embarrassed of who I was. 

Although we live in Japan, my family is Indian. My parents taught and exposed me to other Asian and even western customs, but I grew up Indian. So I began to think that if I go back to India, I could be myself without feeling embarrassed. I could go to my home country and be myself! Instead, I encountered another set of problems: I was not religious enough, I had a “weird” accent, I was not Indian enough, etc, etc! I quickly realized I am never going to be able to fit in perfectly in either of the two countries, so I might as well be happy as I am. 

Learning to accept being “Indian” was difficult, but it wasn’t impossible. All it took for me was to look at India from a different point of view. I realized that India is one of the most diverse countries in the world. I love how it is possible to meet someone from the same country and not understand the language they speak. Or how we can be from the same country and celebrate the same holiday in different ways. The best thing about India is how easily people come together.

Every culture is unique with its own morals and qualities. You should never be ashamed of your culture. Embrace who you are and be proud of yourself!