If you know anything about me, you know that Taylor Swift reference was totally intentional. But this story, hits a little closer to home.
I am blessed, fortunate and incredibly grateful to have Geet and Kiran Sethi as my parents. Let me phrase that differently, I am fortunate to be their daughter. 2 iconic pioneers in their respective fields of work. My father, a 9 time world billiard champion, a Padma shri awardee and a legend in cue sports. My mother, an education reformist, a designer and a social entrepreneur with god knows how many awards. While it’s extremely rewarding to be their daughter, it also comes with a lot of extra talk, perception, pressure and …. A reputation.
On one end of the spectrum, there is this image of a Jazz who can do no wrong - why, because I’m their daughter. I have often alway been introduced as, “meet Geet Sethi’s daughter”. If I do something right - its because ‘of course look at whose daughter she is’. It’s a beautiful feeling for sure, to be associated with the inspirational work they do; yet at the same time it’s made me question my identity a little. Yes I am their daughter, but am I also not an individual? Yes, they do open up a lot of avenues, but do I do nothing to work on them? Growing up, I took pride in that introduction, and then, I started questioning it.
And then, there is an image of a spoilt rich girl who gets everything she wants because she is their daughter. If I do something right, it’s not because of the hard work I have put in - its because I got it easy. I have struggled with peoples impressions of what I come across as. So much so, that I started questioning my friendships as well. Were people friends with me, well, because of me?
In all the talks and thoughts and names, a timid Jazz actually got lost. I went through a very tough phase of my life, where I wouldn’t show my struggles, my emotions and my problems, because that was not the image of ‘Jazz Sethi’ out there. Be it with Type 1 Diabetes, or with life in general; Jazz was strong, and confidant, and full of life. She couldn’t break down, she couldn’t cry and she absolutely couldn’t have a weakness. I was juggling between fitting an image on the outside while being incredibly vulnerable on the inside.
And then a friend once told me, “I don’t respect you because you are Jazz Sethi.. I respect you because you are Jazz” - and that really put things into perspective. The people who want to just see you as a name, will always just see you as a name. But those who actually want to see the person behind, won’t give a flying fuck about the name - and those are the people I would want in my life.
What no one really knows, is that being their daughter, puts a load of the universe on my shoulders. The pressure is unreal. And the worst part, it’s not pressure that they have put on me. It’s society. The way I behave, the way I interact, the way I present myself, has never been choreographed by my own parents - but rather has been crafted to fit societies impression of what ‘Geet and Kiran Sethi’s daughter’ should be like. We live in Ahmedabad, and Ahmedabad is very small. In population, in size and mostly in mindset. The word gets around quicker than the blink of an eye, and I never want to be the cause of ‘their’ name being put into questionable light. So, I don’t go out. Again, i’m not being overdramatic - I call my friends over, rather than step out for a casual dinner. Because you are always judged, you are always watched and then, you are always talked about. And that is why I love travelling outside this city - because for brief moments of time, you are a nobody!
I work bloody hard, I don’t take what I have for granted at all, and I am forever grateful for my parents. However, it’s very easy to just look at the cover, and decide the story, without actually reading the book.
Irrespective of it all, I shouldn’t have to be made felt bad about where I was born. I didn’t chose my parents - but I would never un-chose them as well! There is an interesting dynamic between what people equate your success to be in comparison to your parents. You will always be compared. My brother Raag faced this the hard way. He began his brief stint into cue sports and was doing well. One day, after winning a state level competition, a reporter asked him ‘So when do you plan on beating your fathers world record’, and it was that day, that he put down the cue and walked away. What no one realises, that at the end of the day - they are not Geet and Kiran Sethi to us - they are just Papa and Ma..
You don’t decide where you were born, but how you use where you were born - at the end of the day, that is what finally matters. If I can use the avenues given to me by my parents, to drive some greater good, then why not? Is it wrong to use your resources for good? And even if my father choses to pamper me from time to time, is that so wrong? Have I ever used my name to get away with things - not once!
I am not going to explain it anymore. I cannot change the way people perceive me, but damn right if I am going change myself, in an attempt to change the image that they have created of me, just based on my name.
As Taylor Swift once said, there will be no further explanation, there will just be Reputation.
And just for added effect - cueing another Swifty ref:
And the haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate - but i’m just gonna shake shake shake shake shake.. shake it off..