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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Wilfrid Laurier chapter.

“You’re so white-washed” and “You’re such a Fob” are two phrases I hear quite often.

Well then, who am I?

Throughout my entire life, I have lived in constant confusion about who I am. To give some context, I was born and raised in Canada, but my ethnicity is Sri Lankan. My parents immigrated to Canada in search of a better life after a civil war occurred in Sri Lanka. As a result, I have become pretty much accustomed to both Sri Lankan and Canadian traditions.

Here’s the thing: my family is considered different from your average Sri Lankan family. If we compare the two, my family would be considered “uncultured.” We speak both English and Tamil at home (mainly English), we don’t watch Tamil movies or listen to Tamil songs (at least we rarely do), we don’t partake in many religious practices unless it’s a special day and we’re not vegetarian on Fridays.

I thought it was normal to have a progressive family like mine since my cousins and family friends are the same, but that was not the case.

At my high school, there was a club called Tamil Students Association. When my friend first told me about it, I thought it was weird and something I would never be interested in. I thought to myself, “Why would I ever join a club with a bunch of Tamil people,” but, I ended up joining.

Through this club, I met a lot of my friends. One thing I realized was that we were quite different. They listened to Tamil music and knew how to speak very well, and here I was only knowing a few words and only a couple of songs. After ten years of Tamil school, I still wasn’t able to hold a conversation in Tamil. I felt pretty out of place and wasn’t really sure how to relate to them. Even after meeting their parents, I realized that my family was different from theirs. At times, I wished my parents were like theirs and had brought me up more culturally and actually spoke to me in Tamil.

I decided to learn more about my culture and be more involved in it just to fit in. It worked out on my friends’ side, but at home, my family thought I was becoming a “fob.” If you don’t know what “fob” means, it’s an acronym that stands for “Fresh Off the Boat.” Basically, this implies that I act like I just immigrated to Canada and have no clue about anything Canadian.

For the longest time, I felt lost about who I was. It felt as if no matter where I went, I couldn’t fit in. After some time, I figured how to find my place.

I realized that I don’t have to be 100% Tamil or 100% Canadian. What makes me unique is that I’m both. I can love Tamil traditions and still act like a normal Canadian. I can listen to Tamil songs without being a “fob” or watch English movies without being “white-washed.” I’ve learned to appreciate elements of both cultures and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

This is a message for everyone. If you’re confused about yourself, it’s okay. It takes time for people to figure out who they are. Fearing rejection is also common but shouldn’t be dwelled upon. Don’t think about others, just find what makes you happy and embrace it.

Sahaana Jeevendra

Wilfrid Laurier '24

My name is Sahaana Jeevendra. I'm a first year student at Wilfred Laurier University studying Business Administration. Some of my aspirations for the future are being a successful woman, be happy, and continue to live life to the fullest.
Chelsea Bradley

Wilfrid Laurier '21

Chelsea finished her undergrad with a double major in Biology and Psychology and a minor in Criminology. She loves dogs way too much and has an unhealthy obsession with notebooks and sushi. You can find her quoting memes and listening to throwbacks in her spare - okay basically all - her time. She joined Her Campus in the Fall of 2019 as an editor, acted as one of two senior editors for the Winter 2020 semester and worked alongside Rebecca as one of the Campus Correspondents for the 2020-2021 year!