Observations of an inbetween

What do you think of when you think of in-between?

I’m from the US, and my parents are from Pakistan.

My experience became an inbetween without me – but I’m not the only one, and would love to hear more about what you go through, too.

  1. Wearing all-black backpacks can sometimes cause a lot of attention if you’re an inbetween. I sometimes get funny looks on the metro if I have to go through said backpack to, say, find a lip gloss.
  2. People stare on airplanes. Sometimes, you’ll have a guard agent who suffers through trying to say your last name correctly, whatever that means, trying to show they’re “ok with people like you in their country.” Other times, they’ll immediately pull you off for secondary screening.
  3. It’s ok if you don’t look like the people around you. In fact, this can teach you how to make your sense of humor transcend superficial boundaries, like you know, skin tone. Recently, I’ve been on an Lilly Singh binge. Superwoman, aka LS, makes videos which definitely have her experience as an Indian American woven in – but she also does something clever. She doesn’t let the Indian heritage or the Canadian upbringing be the focus of all videos, and instead, shows us how an inbetween experience really is relatable and more common than you think.
  4. Calling people out doesn’t mean a person is combative. I don’t mind if you notice my skin color – it’s not a bad thing, and it marks me as looking like my parents and theirs! But. You should acknowledge it. Because if you don’t, things become much more complicated and harmful. By not acknowledging it, you’re saying you don’t notice what makes me different, and you don’t see a problem with what’s happening.
  5. It’s fun to teach others something about your first culture. It’s even more fun to teach about your fifth. As an American with parents from Pakistan, I grew up watching Bollywood movies (which is more fifth than first since it’s not even from either of those countries), which I shared with my hubby (not South Asian). (If you need help getting started watching Bollywood, take a look at this Reddit for help.) For our wedding, he and his siblings surprised us all with a bhangra dance to show his appreciation for the culture he was entering. (I might have scared him and his friends with threats stories of other grooms doing that for their wives.) Or he may just have been appreciative. Either way, it was fun to share the dances with his friends and family, too! See their moves for yourself:

Being an inbetween wasn’t always easy. And the problems haven’t vanished today, either, with a President who calls countries abominable names, and race relations becoming more and more tense every day.

But. By sharing my experiences and you sharing yours, I hope we’ll make the inbetween experience an amazing one.

What part of your identity makes you an inbetween?



One thought on “Observations of an inbetween

  1. I think the part that makes me an inbetween is being Asian and American. It’s something that I’ve explored on m blog quite a bit. And I think this is something that I’ve gotten to understand even more since I live in Asia. But being inbetween feels like a superpower sometimes.Maybe it’s the ability to shape shift, to be or not be what others perceive and to identify with more than one world.


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