I can vividly remember the border guard asking me to fill out the immigration paper. Being only ten years old, and overwhelmed with joy, I grabbed the paperwork and started to answer the first few questions, they were simple – “Name”, “Age” , “Gender”. Slowly as I worked through the questions, my eyes landed the question that asked about my Ethnicity.
I turned to my mother and asked what that meant. At her first glance, she read the question and looked puzzled. Nevertheless, soon after she told me to check off “other”.
Other ??, I didn’t quite understand, I wasn’t other. I was Kriti Chopra, I had to have a category as well.
I was born in Delhi, India and back when I moved to Canada, Indians were a very small population so we had no category on the immigration papers. I was different and I knew that.
As a kid being different was my worst night mare. I hated going to school because I looked different, ate roti and sabji for lunch rather than pizza pops, celebrated rakhri rather than Thanks Giving and enjoyed Kuch Kuch Hota Hai much more than Mean Girls.
I was that awkward, confused kid who wanted to belong somewhere, anywhere.
Now, my experience has been that I am not alone. At some point and time, we have all felt like the outcast. Whether it was race, gender, sexuality or appearance …. we have all felt that feeling.
It can be daunting to feel left out, to not fit in.
This fear of being the outcast always outweighed the cost of living my authentic life. I spent the next 10 years hiding my truth, I tried my very best to hide my ethnic roots, my place of origin and even my family traditions.
Nevertheless, at age 20, I hit the sealing with living an inauthentic life. This is when I wrote a letter to myself:
Over the years, I have resented you for not being skinny enough, fair enough, funny enough, smart enough, beautiful enough, admirable enough, British Columbian enough and loved enough. I have found you trying so hard to fit into the box when you don’t belong there. You trying to push yourself to become someone you’re not is steeling from your joy, your happiness, and your courage. Well good news is, that’s all about to change… you’re about to go on a journey where you change your destiny. You’re so different, so go create your own path…. a path no one has walked on before.
This letter helped me get started on the journey of self-acceptance and massive growth.
At age 20, I was recruited to work at a big corporate company without a degree, I ran a marathon, volunteered at many different organizations, wrote for articles, went on TV, became an ambassador for South-Asian women in Canada …… I did everything I wanted to do.
Now at age twenty-two I am the current title holder as Miss Lower Mainland World 2017 for the province of British Columbia. My goal is to inspire youth to step into their greatness, and follow their dreams with a certainty that that whatever their minds can conceive, it can achieve.
Following are some powerful tools to help you:
Use your story to empower you: Own your past, your decisions and use them to empower you. The strongest thing a person can be is the own their truth. Owing your truth means, embracing your shortcomings, your mistakes, your strengths, your gifts and sharing them with the world openly. This will allow you to openly go after your dreams without hesitation.
The one in a billion approach: My good friend Satnam Singh, the first ever Indian NBA player ever drafted always uses this quote. He says “Kriti, I am one in a billion and I use that to my advantage”. Well I believe so should you, scientists have proven that each human being had a one in a billion-survival chance. YOU MADE IT … so use it to your advantage. Be different, be the outcast, make your own rules, be so utterly different that people count you in as a person to remember.
Exercise the “Take Action Muscle”: Just like every muscle in our body, I believe we need to practice our “take action muscle”. This muscle allows us to do the hard tasks, commit to achieving greatness. Use your act muscle every time your scarcity mind tries to stop you. This muscle will help you push forward when you get scared, anxious, nervous about your life.
Be willing to walk alone: There will be many times when no one around you will believe in your vision. They will try to bring you down and hurt you in every way possible. There will be times when your vision won’t be understood by anyone else but you. This is good because, your vision is “YOURS “, what you can see for yourself is utterly personal to you. So let go of the idea of having others buy into your dreams and hopes and keep following through on the life plan that you’ve created for yourself.
Protect your dreams like they’re your baby: Your dreams may be outrageous, they maybe not. For myself I know my dreams are outrageous…..almost a little too far-fetched that I avoid saying them out loud. Personally, I have created a huge vision board where I have all my dreams laid out. I treat my dreams like a baby, I consistently work on them, give them time and treat them with care. I also remind myself to never give up on them, after all they’re my baby and a mother never gives up on its child.
Would you read your own autobiography: The last and final step is to reflect. Image yourself at age 90, reading your own autobiography. Would you read it?, would you think that you accomplished your dreams or took a full swing at them… how would you feel ?, will your life be full of thrill, fun, adventure ….? What would it be. These are all questions that will help you get clear on who you want to be, and set you up on the road to success.
I hope you find this article inspiring and helps you raise the standards for the quality of life you lead moving forward.