Growing up in America as a child of an Iranian family has been a challenge. On one hand I wanted to be true to my heritage and on the other hand I wanted to learn and acquire positive aspects of culture from my new country. My parents have always been strict with my social privileges. For my parents the most important thing for me is to be a good person and academically successful. My mother always in a serious manner tells me “You don’t need to follow what your friends do!”. As a child I never wanted to accept this, because I wanted to fit in with my peers. I wanted to live the relaxed life they seemed to have.
In elementary school I was always concerned with what others thought of me. My self-consciousness spurred from the fact that I was the different kid in my school, the one with difference in language, religion and culture. This always made me feel like I would never be accepted by my friends in class and at school. In Jr. High most of the people who I wanted to become friends with were superficial and self-centered. All they cared about was clothes, fashion, and who was in their social network. I tried to make connections with them, but I was never successful, again because of my many cultural differences. In high school I realized that this is a great country and there are many opportunities for people who like to work and study hard. So I became independent and choose a path that would not compromise my beliefs. I focused on taking advanced classes and practicing my violin while my friends chose to take the self-centered route.
Because of my rigorous and diverse schedule more opportunities opened up to me. I met different people who were more conscious of the choices they made. I learned from these people the importance of helping others. I began to volunteer at my city library and got involved with human rights groups. I know from my own experiences that it was beneficial I did not give in to the peer pressure. I have learned it is important to maintain my own culture while adopting new qualities from the society as well.