ComebackTown is published by David Sher to begin a discussion on a better Birmingham.
Today’s guest blogger is Avani Patel . We love to hear from young professionals. If you’d like to be a guest blogger, please click here.
Who am I?
People ask themselves this vital question from childhood until old age. What does this question really mean, and why do we continue to ask ourselves this question?
Let us start with our childhood. As a child I was a little Indian girl with an American accent with a twinge of southern slang. I moved to Birmingham, AL at the young age of one and been in love with Birmingham ever since. I attended school with other children who were very similar to me in personality and age group but not so much in appearance. When I asked myself – who am I?” back then, I thought – “I am an American kid attending school like every other kid on the block.” I did not notice the racial or cultural differences, and nor did my peers and teachers.
As I grew up in Birmingham, AL, I started realizing that I am different from those around me. I listened to different music, ate different types of food for dinner, and spoke a different language with my family at home. Many would automatically assume these differences pushed me away from those around me, but the very opposite occurred. My friends, neighbors, and peers embraced my culture as they curiously asked questions about our food, traditions, arts, and language. These very questions fueled my love and passion for the Indian culture pushing me to pursue classes in Indian classical dancing and violin. I shared these diverse talents on many occasions throughout middle school, high school, and in to college! Realizing those around you accept, embrace and love you for your differences urges you to pursue your passions no matter how different or non-traditional they may seem.
As a result, I chose to pursue my dreams to become a Jewelry Designer after graduating Summa Cum Laude with my B.S. in Accounting from Birmingham Southern College in May 2011. I moved out West to California to begin my endeavors in pursuit of my dreams. The year I spent in California at the Gemological Institute of America pushed me to think outside the box not only as a developing designer and artist but also as a young professional and adult.
Everyone told my parents that once I moved out to California, I would never return to Birmingham. My parents silently nodded their heads hoping their friends were wrong; they were wrong indeed. I moved back to Birmingham in January 2013 after finishing school to join my mother’s jewelry business. I am now a full time designer at Reflections Diamond Jewelry, and I cannot imagine myself happier.
The best decision I made was to move back to Birmingham because I have an undying passion for the Magic City. Birmingham represents family, love, strength, diversity, and success to me. I am continually proud of Birmingham and the changes that have taken place to revitalize the precious city I call HOME. The multitude of breweries, wineries, and bars encourage fun thriving party scenes coupled with the gorgeous new Railroad Park, Regions Field, and soon to follow Downtown Rotary Trail. The arts are alive in Birmingham now more than ever with its ever so lively music scene, artists and performers at world – renowned establishments such as the Alys Stephens Center and Birmingham Museum of Art. How could I not fall in love with Birmingham after fully realizing how much it really has to offer? I challenge all of you to think about who you are, but more importantly, who you can be. Do not turn your back on the city that has given you everything. Stay in Birmingham to dig deeper and discover what the Magic City can do for your inner artist, musician or dancer. Grab a local newspaper or read a local blog to explore the city and give back a little. The amazing things you will discover might positively surprise you!
Now I ask myself – Who am I? My answer is, I am Avani Patel, a strong American woman with an Indian cultural background trying to figure out her way in this world as she ventures through one of the greatest cities in the United States.
Avani Patel is a Jewelry Designer, GIA Graduate Gemologist, and the owner of local boutique – Reflections Diamond Jewelry. She enjoys dancing, reading, and watching old Bollywood movies in her free time.
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David Sher is the publisher of ComebackTown, a co-founder of Buzz12 Advertising and co-CEO of AmSher Collection Agency. He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham)), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).