Imposter Syndrome and other becoming of age concerns

I think having a birthday twin is one of the best things that could happen to you. . Especially if you’re the older one in the situation because then you hold it over their head for the next ten years.

First of all, you’re friends for life, even if your communication revolves around wishing each other happy birthday and the older one (me) reminding the younger (hey bestie) the exact hold you have over him.

It’s especially reassuring to have a conversation with someone who has spent every single day since their birthday (last year) in and out of lockdown. So they can show you the funny side of things without infusing an element of sympathy in their reaction. They just get it, your birthday twins that you’ve known since you were a kid should always be appreciated.

Speaking of friends, last night my best friend and I made a playlist called ‘songs that raised me and my best friend’ and it was overflowing with songs like Excuse me girl (Ambarariya) by Arjun, Dil de de dil by Gary Sandhu and the soundtrack from Diary of a badman.

It’s been playing on loop ever since we created it and it’s giving me so much serotonin. The songs remind me of a time where all we had to worry about was English Literature revision, occasional racism for being the only two brown girls in a very white school and new song discoveries.

I guess we didn’t know it at the time, but our interest in South Asian music and artists helped us navigate our inevitable let’s-reject-our-ethinicity-as-something-to-do-at-like-15. And in hindsight it made the whole process a lot less painful: despite living in a monocultural area and in a society that was 10 years shy of rejecting Eurocentric beauty standards, we were confident whilst trying to learn all the words to Bewefa by Imran Khan.

I think the identity crisis happened when I was at uni and couldn’t rely on my best mate who understood what it was like growing up in a caucasian area and always feeling like you fit in, until someone asked you ‘where were you really born?’

‘Where were you really born?’ A phrase so powerful, it can make you question your entire existence, because Leeds (or anywhere else in England) never seemed to be the right answer.

Once when I was in year 10 a girl asked me where I was ‘really’ born and I said ‘I was born in Leeds’

This girl looked genuinely confused for a second before responding with ‘so where is that in Asia?’ I remember at the time we found it funny, but looking back, we were probably laughing at each other for the wrong reasons.

A few years later, I told one of my friends at university about it in a DMC* and although he looked quite shocked by her the lack of geography skills, he made me feel better about the whole situation by saying: “what did you say back, it’s near Pakistan and someone get this girl a map’

Did anyone else struggle with racist banter and constantly being torn between standing up for yourself and simply accepting this as something you just have to put up with since the start of full-time education till the day we die?

But we always sidestep over the common belief that your friends wouldn’t take the piss out something they know isn’t fair game and makes you feel uncomfortable.

When in reality, if you’re ‘funny’ but your entire brand is making racist, homophobic and misogynistic jokes that you think you can get away with because you’re ‘mates with the person and they let you make jokes about them.’

Well, why don’t you ask them? Chances are they’ve never been told that they can object to racist jokes being made at their expense and think it’s something they have to go along with.

Now with this new found knowledge, ask them again.

*DMC: Deep meaningful conversation (satire)

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