Ten years of being a girl scout has taught me many things and has shaped my beliefs. It has taught me to be confident and to respect others. It has even taught me a great deal about giving a sales pitch when trying to sell delicious cookies every year! Apart from all of those lessons, I believe that being a girl scout has taught me one of the most important things in life- being true to yourself.
As a 10-year-old at the World Cultural Fair held every year, I felt ashamed to be myself. Each Girl Scout troop was given a particular country to represent and complete a project on. My troop represented India.
I knew more about Indian traditions that the rest of my troop, so I was elected the leader of our group’s project. Although my unique looks of dark brown skin and black hair instantly give away my identity, it was my culture that mostly defined who I was at that time. On the inside I was proud to be Indian, but I honestly did feel embarrassed by the perception of Indians that was portrayed in the frivolous and sometimes extreme lifestyles of Bollywood movies. Only certain aspects of my culture were represented in the movies, and I was afraid of receiving criticism for acting in a manner different from cultural norm. My heritage was like a secret that I hid in public because I was scared of being “different.” I winced as I pictured others snickering at me for making a fool of myself while dancing to Bollywood music on stage.
Only after working with my fellow troop members and realizing that they accepted me for who I was, did I feel comfortable in my own skin. I was able to share my ideas for our project without hesitation. As I watched the girls in my troop willingly wear saris in our choreographed routine, I realized that I was the person obstructing my own path to happiness.
The girls in my scout troop accepted my culture without any jeering. I realize now, five years later, that I am my own person. There may be 1.1 billion other Indians on this Earth, but I certainly have my own personality. Now, I am happy to let them know my views on particular traditions. In fact, I even want to let as many people as I can know who I am and where I come from. I am happy with myself, and I am no longer embarrassed.
Being true to myself was one of the hardest lessons to learn as a child, but now I know that I should be happy with myself. Now, I can come home and know that there is always someone that I can trust to be truthful. There is always someone that I can trust to give good and constructive criticism. There is always someone that I can turn to when I feel insecure. That person is me.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.