Finding Your Roots
Sarisha Kurup, 3rd Place
Many people have told me that if you work towards it, you can achieve your dreams. I never took that advice seriously, though it was told to me many times. My dream is to become a singer. Almost all the singers in America today are pale-skinned Americans. I believed that my dream of becoming a singer would never come true because of the fact that I am Indian.
When I was little, I didn’t feel this way. I loved to dress up in Indian outfits, drape myself with scarves, and then dance and sing. I never had any doubt then that I would be a singer. As I grew up, I became a bigger fan of music. I began watching music videos on YouTube and purchasing songs on my iPod. It was then that I realized that all these singers were Americans. For a while, I had an inner struggle with myself. Did I still want to be a singer? Was I really cut out to be one? Would I become like the millions of other aspiring singers who eventually got nowhere? Was I chasing an impossible dream? From then, my hopes of becoming a singer were buried in the realization I had come to. It would be a while before they were dug up again.
After that, I became shyer about performing. I went from the little girl who would put on plays and sing for guests to the older one who would mumble a hello and leave. I was always afraid to embarrass myself—that people would think I really didn’t have a good voice. I still wanted to be a singer, deep down, but I tried to convince myself that I wanted to be other things. I went from wanting to be a detective, to an air hostess, to a historian. I told people when they asked me that I wanted to be one of those, and for a while, I believed it too. I thought people would find me immature or think of me as a little kid with big dreams if I told them I wanted to be a singer. Hardly anyone who aspires to be a singer becomes one, so what made me think I could be one? I asked myself this question many times. I almost convinced myself that I didn’t want to be a singer after all. Whenever I watched the videos of me singing and dancing, I used to laugh at my little foolish self, but afterward, I would always feel a lingering bit of sadness that I would never be what I once dreamed of being.
Then in fifth grade, I went to a birthday party at a friend’s house. She had a playroom in her garage where we were laughing and talking, while music blared out from the speakers of her iHome. I knew most of the songs, being an avid music fan. Though I had stopped following my dream of becoming a singer, I still loved music. Then a new song began to play. After it was over, I asked my friend about it, for I had liked the song. She told me it was a song by Jay Sean. It was called “Down.” I went home, and the next day, because I wanted to hear the song again, I went on YouTube and searched for the music video. When I saw it, I noticed that Jay Sean didn’t look American, but Indian. Also, the video was done in a more Indian style. I searched him on Google and found out that “Jay Sean” was a stage name for Kumaljit Singh Jr.—he was actually Indian!
I realized that if Jay Sean could become a successful singer, I didn’t have to be American to be a singer—I just had to be talented. I have never again, from that day on, listened to the song “Down” without remembering that you can achieve your dreams. Even if they seem impossible at first, you shouldn’t cast them away. There is always a chance, no matter how small, of making it big. From that day, I began to sing again. It has taken a while to get over my shyness, and I’m still not where I was before, but I’m working on it. I have to admire Jay Sean for following his dream, and I have to thank him for helping me get back on the path towards mine. Finally, I have dug up my buried dream, and one day, I hope to make it a reality. I have found my roots, embraced them, and learned to love them, and I hope the same happens to every aspiring Asian singer out there—because dreams can come true if you work towards it.