This is my essay for UT. The prompt is:
What was the environment in which you were raised?
Describe your family, home, neighborhood, or community and explain how it has shaped you as a person.
The word limit is 700 words. My word count is 618. I just want to know if it flows properly and if there is anything I can do to make it more interesting. Thanks!
I have two types of English. There's the English I speak to my friends and teachers with-polished, articulate, and spoken in a fairly monotone voice-and then there's the English I use with my parents at home. This is nothing like the first type: it is more fast-paced, filled with inflections, and sprinkled with Gujarati words. I am a first-generation born American, and being raised in an immigrant household meant that I had a slightly different childhood than others. I grew up hearing the stories of Krishna and Shiva from Hindu mythology and celebrated Diwali instead of Christmas. English was my second language. I have never been to a barbecue (granted, I am vegetarian, but it's the thought that counts). Things like sleepovers were unheard of until high school, and I never stayed a friend's house past eleven.
As I got older, I became more aware of these differences. I was envious of my white peers, who always had the coolest clothes, knew the latest songs, and were able to fit in so easily. This caused me to start distancing myself from my Gujarati roots. Perhaps the fact that I didn't really feel that Indian, either, made it so easy. I was always tripping over words in Gujarati when family from India called, and it was hard to connect with my culture when it was 8,000 miles away.
It was as if I thought that cutting out a piece of my identity would make me feel more complete. I refused to let my mother put oil in my hair after a girl in school asked why it was always so smelly. I demanded something "normal," like a sandwich, for lunch instead of the fragrant vegetable curries my mom used to give me. I started to get embarrassed when my mom pulled out her coupons at the grocery store and pushed away my dad's hugs in the morning when he dropped me off at the bus stop.
However, sometime during junior high, my perspective starts to shift. There wasn't a specific light-bulb moment which catalyzed the transition-it was more of a few little sparks that just came together. One moment I remember vividly is when my counselor stopped me in the hall when I was on my way to class and asked me if I was celebrating Diwali, which was going on at the time. When I said yes, her face immediately spread into a smile and she started asking me questions behind the significance of the festival. I remember a wave of emotions flooding through my head-at first shock and happiness, but then disappointment at myself. The shock and happiness came from the fact that someone who barely knew me was so interested in my culture. But the disappointment that crashed into me was because I realized that I didn't know the answer to her questions. It belatedly dawned on me that, in trying to fit in with those around me, I had neglected my own culture, my roots, and the ideas that defined my existence. Soon, I started to pay more attention to the beauty of my culture. And what I found there was amazing. I learned the values of strength and perseverance from stories of Hindu mythology. I became more confident in my status as an Asian-American. I embraced the food as, though it was smelly, it was delicious. I started willingly putting coconut hair masks in my hair. And, I realized that my parents were only trying to look after me when they said no to sleepovers.
Growing up in an immigrant household definitely has its challenges. But, these challenges are minuscule when compared to the way I have grown as a person.