Am I allowed to relate?

One of the biggest struggles I have had recently surrounding the concept of relatedness is whether I even have the right to relate to something. Is this meant for me? Am I invading a space that was meant for someone other than me?

I feel this way a lot when listening to people’s stories of struggle, especially as pertaining to their immigrant families. As the children of South Asian immigrants, we all come from stories of hardship, feelings of failure, and hopefully eventual success. However, when I think about my family’s transition from India and Bangladesh to a welcoming, quiet community in Canada, I realize that we had so much privilege compared to others. My family did not go through severe mental trauma during the immigration process, even though I know that it was not easy for them. They certainly did not go through physical abuse, and left their homelands because of career prospects rather than being forced to by the government or some other entity.

Therefore, while I feel myself nodding along to the stories of victims of intense immigration trauma, especially those coming from South Asian countries like myself, I can’t help but stop and wonder why I can understand. I didn’t have those experiences and neither did the rest of my family, so are we even allowed to relate? Does our sense of relatedness diminish the trauma experienced by others? Is it a sign of disrespect?

I grapple with this concern by analyzing the feelings rather than the events itself. No matter the situation that led a family to immigrate to America, the same feelings of leaving your familiar land for a foreign on and the tension at raising children in this new land are constant across most immigrant families. In this way, although we cannot relate by events, we are able to relate in the intangible feelings that come with being first generation Americans. Relatability comes from more than just shared experiences; different experiences can yield similar sentiments. In this way, we are able to relate to people who may have led completely different lives, and we are not trampling upon territory that is not ours unless we are pointedly diminishing their own experiences or inserting ourselves into their experience without allowing them to share their own story in the first place.


With a slew of #relatable YouTubers or social media influencers becoming very popular, the word “relatable” has slowly lost its meaning, being replaced with memes that state the obvious (of course we all experience this!) or completely unrelatable content (yeah… I totally feel when my Gucci bag gets dirtied… don’t we all??).

When the question was posed in class about art and relatability, nothing initially popped into my head. It’s probably my cynical view of the word “relatable” that makes me cringe because of it’s prevalent misuse. Perhaps something super famous, like Van Gogh’s sunflowers would be an example. It’s far away from me in distance and time, being created in France during 1888-1889. I would never be able to relate to the struggles of being an artist during that time or any of the historical and social implications he might have felt. I don’t even know what inspired this painting and what he might have thought or felt while making it. I still find a weird sense of comfort in it though. One of my favorite flowers are sunflowers, probably because of their obnoxious resemblance to the sun, making anyone feel a little bit happier. While the creation and the artists are major components I will never relate to, I can only think I can relate to the sense of comfort looking at something so yellow and bright can make you feel.

When I think about this in a bigger sense and how this connects to my project, I hope other people would feel the same way about my podcast. While they will not relate to why I wanted to make my podcast or the experience it will be to make it, I hope they would find meaning in it, whether it be comfort, wonder, or curiosity.


This remediating proposal really snuck up on me. I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do for it while I was still in the middle of my repurposing.

“A podcast,” I thought. “That’ll be perfect.”

Drake Hotline Bling

My brain has been very chatty this semester and I think it’s in large part due to this course. I find myself constantly thinking about my topic on stress and success at elite universities and pretty much changing my mind every single day on how I feel about it. This has posed a huge problem in deciding what I want to do for my remediation project.

Now that I’m digging deep into the nuts and bolts of the remediating project, I’m starting to realize that given my topic and the audience I want to go after, perhaps a podcast isn’t the appropriate medium for communicating my ideas. From what I discovered from the repurposing project, my remediation will likely be evolving from the day I turn in my proposal to the final class of the semester (maybe even beyond that!). Along those lines, I’m starting to become okay with not knowing exactly how my project is going to end up. I guess the mystery is part of the excitement of writing.

With all of that ambiguity being said, I am leaning towards doing a TED talk-esque project. I want to be able to present my project myself with my voice and my image. The two models for my source come from TED Talks that I have previously seen both during college and in my job.

The first model is How to find work you love presented by Scott Dinsmore. This topic coincides with mine to some degree, and includes a CTA (call to action) for the audience to get out there and do what they love. I want to include this same sort of emotional appeal in my remediation project because I feel that appealing to emotion is what separates a great TED talk from a mediocre one.

The second model is Your body language shapes who you are presented by Amy Cuddy. This is my favorite TED talk of all time because Amy incorporates personal experience so seamlessly with the science behind communicating power through body language. An aspect I chose not to include in my repurposing project was my own personal experience, and I definitely want to include this aspect in my remediation project. My main goal will be to have the reader see me as a human they can relate to in 21 minutes, just as Amy does, despite the fact they will be looking at me through a computer screen.

Through writing this blog post I feel way better about my remediation process than I did yesterday. I think my main challenge will be to get my ideas down on paper for the proposal and then I’ll just take the rest of the process day by day. This will definitely be the most exciting and challenging project yet, so I’m looking forward to taking you all on this journey with me!

Jimmy Fallon Mind Blown