Being raised by Pakistani parents in a flamboyant Scottish culture but living in one of the most affluent areas in England comes with many benefits as well as disadvantages. I live in a society in which I am blessed with the benefits of an opulent British citizen but also the few disadvantages of being a person of many cultures.
Growing up as a Pakistani in British society has been much less of a struggle than what most people would assume it to be. Undoubtedly, it has come with many struggles and hardships. On various occasions, I or my family have been victims of discrimination solely because of the colour of our skin. 9However, a common misconception which much is considered is how much the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. I’ve been discriminated, but should I allow that to diminish the fact that I have lived a life of opportunity, support and love which comes much more beyond that? I’ve been raised on two sides of the UK and if anything, coming from a culturally diverse background has always come to my advantage.
It works for everything. If I need a conversation starter I can talk about how I am able to speak more than just English as a language, or the struggles my mother and father have gone through in order to provide me and my siblings the life we certainly take for granted most of the time or the ridiculous and lengthy number of weddings which I have attended. Being from these different backgrounds enables me to connect with more people on an emotional level than I would ever be able to do if I was from just one culture ¬– it is most certainly a blessing. I constantly find myself using my backgrounds in the times where I would least expect it, I often wonder how much simple yet boring my life would be without my background.
My family and I are living examples of a Pakistani family which has been able to live and flourish in British society. Despite our often controversial background, traditions and skin colour, we have collectively prospered. I have been given equal treatment to every single person I have encountered in my short 17 years of living in this country, 99.9% of the encounters I have on a daily basis are positive. With time, the 0.01% of negativity is masked by all of the positivity I’m blessed with. Of course, it is vital to understand that the opportunities I’ve been given have been a result of my parents’ efforts to protect me from anything harmful and put me in some of the best schools.
However, despite being raised in the UK, I have visited Pakistan on a number of different occasions and there always seems to be one trend – it doesn’t feel like home. Of course, I will never see it as a country which is my actual home, but even for a place where a large majority of my family lives, I can’t help but feel a sense of bitterness every time I visit. Over the years, I have realized that there is a certain stigma within Pakistan. It is important to consider that my view is from an outsider, but my view is this: I feel like an alien in what is supposed to be my ‘Motherland’. I feel like I have fewer rights as a British Pakistani visiting Pakistan than I do living in the UK. There is a sense of entitlement that comes with visiting your own motherland yet I feel as though that is lacking. Perhaps it’s my experiences, myself or my discomfort but I most certainly feel this way. In addition, it is equally important to see that most Pakistani’s in Pakistan will receive a fraction of the opportunity which British Pakistanis would, which seems absurd.
Thus, there are a few questions left to ask – what is the purpose of this? is this necessary? Why is it like this? But above all: what can we do to change the unavailing astigmatism attached with identity?
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