Competition may be perhaps one of the biggest driving forces in South Asia’s education system, but that’s certainly not the case in America–and that’s the disconnect I face with my parents. It isn’t hard to realize that competition is the impetus for everything, but the wonders of the education experience in America is that your academics do not correlate with your success as a student or as an individual.

Living in the Bay Area and attending the so-called “Asian public schools” forced me to fall under the same pressures that my parents were raised in, but why? I have unparalleled opportunities at my fingertips, but I am always at that dichotomy between being forced down paths of precedence or utilizing those opportunities, and competition is one of those traits that just seems to be riddled with placing me in states of pressure and confusion.

There is no one test, one class, one college, or even one career that determines your faith, but yet every time a result does not seem to be going in my direction the justifications are always so simple: you are not smart, you are not using your opportunities, you are lazy, you are useless… you are just not competitive. It is always challenging to consistently follow the footsteps of others, and trust me, I rarely have the experience to even justify how to be positive when you are consistently embattled with nagging conversations rather than nourishing ones.

For me, it was just the realization that the privilege and benefits of being an American resident outweigh that competitive drive my friends, acquaintances, and peers don’t inherit but are nurtured with. Time will only tell where that takes me.


In alignment with our mission to encourage others to #SpeakUp about mental health, we’ve created this blog – a passion project highlighting those who wish to share their stories with the world.

Open to anyone, the series features personal anecdotes from members of the South Asian community who have struggled with mental illness – and the stigma that comes along with it.

To submit your story, click here.

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