4 Stories That Will Inspire You To Break Stereotypes And Reach For Freedom

We’re a generation who needs an identity. 

We can’t be constrained or restricted by a generic identity, we need to know who we are and once we find out, we want the world to know our individuality. We believe in breaking stereotypes, we don’t do what is expected, we do what we believe in and what we love. Because we’re the millennials and we’re fearless. We don’t intend on westernizing ourselves, but we do intend on bending the traditional to fit our personality.

We choose to draw from the country’s rich past to forge a present and future that’s free of fear, doubt and prejudice.

With sameness sweeping the world in thought and action, these stories will inspire you to heed just one calling – your own. And nurture it into personal legacies that sometimes scream and sometimes speak quietly for society to take notice.

 

These millennials have made a choice.

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A choice to break all the perceptions, to stop fitting into carefully crafted boxes made by society and discover their own self. Starting this Independence day, AJIO is celebrating these individuals through their new inspiring campaign, Indie’viduality.

As these plucky individuals continue to step across boundaries, feet hitting against their gorgeously pleated Indie sarees, we bring to you their personal journeys. Peppered and patterned with refreshing viewpoints.

 

1. SHILPA  COLLURU

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“I moved to Delhi from a small town, to escape being told what to do and how to behave. But Delhi, too, made it very clear I was different because I was South Indian – the pressure to fit in continued. When I finally returned to Bangalore after many years, I learned to accept everything I was – South Indian, dark skinned, loud, boisterous and a bit of a rowdy.

I think the saree is the perfect balance of feminine grace to this otherwise tomboyish personality. Throw in short-cropped hair to the mix, and it’s a recipe to throw people off. And leave them wondering ‘What is this person about?’ I’m fine with this, because I’m against labels. The more difficult it is for people to slot me, the more successful I am in the journey to define myself. That’s a pretty dichotomy, no?

Also, it helps that a saree commands respect – If it’s an important meeting I have to close, I bring out my best hand-woven beauties!”

 

2. ANJAN GAUTHAM

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“Hmmm, becoming an individual? I think, each of us is born individual. The power and passion to be unique is the umbilical cord attached to your destiny. You have to look for it in yourself. And also seek it out in other people around you. I call it the religion of humanity – looking for and appreciating the best in other people.

I see it everywhere. Even when I open my closet filled with my collection of sarees – where the weavers’ hard work, inspiration and brilliance is on display. Each weave threaded with a piece of their soul in it. Every time I wear one, it is a little tribute to what the human hand and mind is capable of.

When I’m done with looking for the best around me, I want to turn my eyes upward. And gaze at the stars at leisure.”

 

3. ALEX MATHEW

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“I’m Alex. But on stage, I’m my spirit animal and drag character – Maya. It took me 22 years to realize that Maya was the answer to many fears. Fear of the stage, of connecting with people, of performing, and most of all, fear of coming out of the closet. I’ve conquered all of them now. Thanks to Maya and her unapologetic, confident self.

It’s also why you’ll always see Maya in a saree – it’s the perfect embodiment of presence, character and fierceness. Nothing can be more dramatic than a beautifully draped 6 yards. The flick or twirl of a pallu or the way it glides with me as I move across the stage is not a far cry from Beyonce kicking up a storm in her designer outfits!

At the end of the day, drag is an art form. And Maya is a performance artist. It’s a craft I want to get better at. Even if it means fighting everyone who thinks otherwise, along the way.”

 

4. SHRUTI CHANDRASEKARAN

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“Here’s what I think – If you want to be seen as part of a larger unit, your identity will only be restricted to what defines that unit. It becomes more and more difficult to express yourself. As a Tam-Brahm who’s heard things like ‘Don’t touch the maid’ or ‘Don’t bring non-brahmins into the kitchen’, my life has always been about rejecting notions inherent to any one community, class or group. It’s always been about stepping out of line.

You can see it even in the way I treat the saree – I treat it in as unfeminine a way as possible. I’m not going to pleat it and walk in a demure fashion. I stomp around in it with an ease that’s been years in the making.

Once people see you not pandering to a stereotype, they will learn to accept you. And maybe even emulate you. Whether it’s learning to treat others with respect and compassion, or wearing a saree in a way that doesn’t typify it, but adds to your personality.”

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else, is the greatest accomplishment” – Ralph Emerson. 


This article is brought to you in association with AJIO.com