Confidence VS. Ego

Confidence vs. ego. How can you tell the difference? How do you know when you’re unnecessarily bragging about something as opposed to just knowing and believing that you’re actually good at something?

Now let’s get into how we’ve been raised as South Asian Indian American women. Traditionally, we aren’t meant to be loud. We are supposed to be humble about our achievements. We aren’t supposed to be more successful than the man in our life. Our primary job is to handle our children and take care of our home.

If we’re lucky, we have been raised in families that support our achievements even if they go against the grain. There is no judgment about earning more or being a leader. Yet, somehow, a lot of us have still embodied these traditional stereotypes into our core.

When are we allowed to be proud of what we achieved? Is it bragging if we talk about the special experiences we’ve had or the honors we’ve received? We have to attribute those things to luck when, in reality, it’s years of hard work that have gotten us to where we are. Who are we protecting by not being self-confident?

I find that I personally tend to downplay the things I’ve done. Even if those around me around talking about their achievements, I’ll just smile and listen. Lately though, I’ve gotten tired of sitting in the dark. I’ve done some pretty cool things and I’m proud of them. So why should I hide? Why should I not let the confidence in myself shine through?

Part of is imposter syndrome for sure. For some reason, I’ve never believed I was good enough. Now though with age and time, I’ve started wondering that if I wasn’t good enough, would I have been able to accomplish all that I have? It all starts with the idea that we are successful through the effort and dedication we put into our work. There is nothing about us that is not good enough.

It’s important as women that we support each other. It’s also important as women that we support ourselves. We don’t need to put ourselves down in order to compliment someone else. There’s enough room in this world for an unlimited number of confident women.

So next time you feel like you need to compare yourself unfavorably to make someone else feel good or that you have to hold back from discussing your accomplishments in order to not seem like you have a big ego, remember that everything you’ve achieved, you’ve worked hard to earn it. Be confident about that.

The Middle Generation

The definition of the middle generation for me is the generation that currently has senior citizen parents and are raising children. The middle generation is where I’m currently located.

We seemed to be extraordinarily stressed out over the last year in a half. For a while, I thought it was just the pandemic but then I realized that being in this middle generation meant I wasn’t just worrying about myself and my spouse but also the health of my parents and my kids.

When the vaccine came out and all of our senior citizens got vaccinated, it helped but then my worries shifted to my spouse and I. Then we got vaccinated and it shifted again to my children which is where it has sat since.

On top of all of that, those of us in our late 30s and early 40s had to finally look mortality straight in the face. It’s not something most of us have had to think about yet. We were just starting families and needed to be there for them. All of a sudden, we had to be seriously aware that something could happen to us and we would have to think about our children’s futures.

I think this middle generation has had an especially hard time because we’ve taken on the worries of our entire family. It’s not limited and it doesn’t stop. I find that if I’m not worrying about my kids in school, I’m worrying about my parents working or doing every day errands. It doesn’t stop. It just shifts.

And it’s not just covid anymore. We have grown so accustomed to not getting sick due to masks and distancing that even a minor cold causes more worries than it should. It’s strange because I definitely remember a time when, as long as my kid didn’t have a fever, they were fine. Sneezing and coughing was no big deal. Not so anymore. Every thing out of the ordinary is a stressor. It’s like I don’t know how not to worry anymore.

This is without mentioning that being around crowds of people immediately brings out high anxiety. Even smaller groups of people whom I know are vaccinated will keep me thinking for days after the meeting.

I don’t know how to go back into an easier mindset. I don’t how long covid will keep me in this headspace. I feel like it might be a few years before I feel at ease with regular illnesses. It might be several events where I’m overcautious before I go back to feeling safe around other people.

There has definitely been a shift in how those of us in this middle generation live and think. I guess the big question is will we ever learn how to relax again?

Ghosting

So this might seem like a less intense thing to write about after my last few posts.

Here is the definition if this is a new term for you:

“the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication”

It’s not the end of the world. It’s not as intense as this pandemic has been or any topic of mental health. There are plenty of things that are more serious that ghosting. So why am I writing about it?

It isn’t nothing. And while in the dating realm, it might be the new norm (which also seriously sucks), what happens when it affects your other relationships?

Let me explain my background on this. A few years ago, after over 10 years of what I would consider a close friendship, I had a friend who suddenly stopped responding to my texts and calls. It’s not that I haven’t lost friends before. I’ve had huge fights with friends. I’ve had friends where just distance and time and life comes in the way. But I’ve rarely had someone just disappear on me without an explanation especially after a strong friendship was developed.

I grew up in the era of landlines and typewriters. It makes me sound super old but computers only made their start into our education some time when I was in high school. AOL had just come on the scene. We were cool if we had pagers (I didn’t. My mom handed me a phone card.) By the time, I was in college, I had a computer, ethernet was a thing, and a cell phone with limited minutes and limited texts.

The point of my history there is that if we wanted to stop talking to someone, it wasn’t hard because we didn’t have a lot of contact to start with. But most of the time, if two people were going to stop talking, we at least broke up or fought or something. I had an idea of why a relationship had ended or changed at the very least.

In this world of constant communication and availability, somehow we have stopped actually communicating. When I was ghosted, the worst part was that if that friend had just chosen to talk to me about it, we could have probably resolved whatever the problem was (to be honest, I still don’t know). I’m old enough to know I’m human and I make mistakes. I’m also old enough to know that there is a chance I did something that might have hurt her. But I will never actually know now.

Eventually, I kept contacting her until she finally told me the basic reason of why she stopped talking to me. I had to accept it for what it was. Whatever her reason was, she did not want to be my friend anymore. It hurt but it wasn’t my choice at that point.

The effect of it though has lasted. When I don’t have a friend respond now, especially one that usually responds right away, my mind starts going down the rabbit hole of what I did wrong and if I was going to lose them as well. It damaged my belief in myself, that I was a good friend. The doubts become overwhelming. I have to remind myself that I try my best with everyone around me. I have to remind myself that I have self-worth as well.

So in case you think that ghosting might be something you would want to do, just remember that one small honest conversation might be something that could save your relationship or at least give good closure to the other person when parting. Instead of just disappearing, give both people in the relationship a chance to work it out, whatever path it may take. It sounds hard but it’s my honest belief that it’ll show you that you can handle difficult situations as well as create good communication skills for future relationships. Besides, it’s just the kinder thing to do.

A Mom Under The Weight Of The World

It was never easy being a parent. For a while now, illnesses, school shootings, and bullying are something we have to think about in addition to the normal making sure our kids don’t get hurt falling off the the jungle gym, chewing their food thoroughly, and knowing how to swim safely. In the last decade or so, we have also had to learn how to protect our kids in what seems like a much crazier world than we grew up in.

And now, we have covid. Any sickness that our kids used to get is amplified because now we are worried that it might be something worse than it is. Things like seeing friends and family and participating in extracurricular classes used to be easy, but now have become more difficult because we have to weigh the risks of catching a relatively new disease that we don’t yet know how our bodies will react to. Every single daily activity is weighed for risk.

It’s easy to say to not worry and that whatever will be will be and that we tried our best in protecting our kids. But it’s not that simple.

Your kids are your hearts walking around outside of your body. I’m sure most of us have heard this analogy before. It’s so true. Anything they feel, we feel. The question is how long can we last.

I know we aren’t in the worst position in the world. I know there are parents dealing with dictatorships and wars and poverty, all while in a pandemic. Even though we are aware that we might be in a better situation than a lot of other people, it doesn’t make our feelings any less valid. How much can we handle before we break? How do we keep going?

I can tell you what I feel like when I see anything affect my child. I want to do everything and anything I can to make sure they feel 100%, whether physically or emotionally. I feel so helpless like that there is nothing that I can do that will be good enough. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried just because I feel like I’m the worst mom on the planet because I’m not doing enough to protect my kids.

We are in a situation that is beyond hard and that we don’t actually know when it’ll end. I don’t have a good solution to offer up either. I’m just trying my best at this point. And hoping with all my heart that it gets better.

Sharing Depression

I recently talked to my parents about the fact that I have a tendency towards depression. I admitted that I’ve had it since I was a teenager. It wasn’t something I could put a name to at that point but looking back after all of the experiences I’ve had living with it, it was there just waiting for me to fall into its pit. Somehow, even with these feelings constantly swirling around me, I managed to get all the way through my 20s before it became a major issue. And finally with all of the right elements in place, it did become a huge issue.

I couldn’t get out of bed on those days. Food wasn’t meaningful. Every day was such a huge struggle that life was beyond hard. I must have cried so much in that time frame. Because of the constant therapy and the fight I finally decided to put up against it, I did make it through.

Even though life was infinitely better and more well-rounded through my 30s, it would still linger in the background. For a while after having each of my children, post-partum depression definitely made a strong appearance. Luckily, for me, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Eventually, I even got to a point where my life was starting to feel good because I was getting more time to chase my dreams.

Then, covid hit. Everything went backwards. For a while, it was fine. It took almost a year and a half but then the little pieces of it added up. Somehow, without noticing it, it became bigger and bigger until just earlier this year, I realized that depression was back. Not just a hint or a faint scent but full-fledged back.

It’s not like I shut down. I didn’t. I couldn’t. I have a family to take care of. I have businesses to run. I can’t lay in bed for hours, eating candy, and hoping to feel better. I have to continue to function this time. So I did. I kept pushing forward. What choice do I have?

You know when I realized it was depression? When I realized I couldn’t feel excited about anything. When joy seemed to be nowhere in sight. I wasn’t laughing anymore. Things feel like they’ll never be better. Sometimes, you end up floating around in that black cloud that makes you question “what’s the point?”.

The best decision I made when covid hit was to get back into therapy. So now, I’ve been doing sessions throughout the last year which means I haven’t sunk as fully as I could have. I’m also aware and grateful for the support I do have around me because I know that they keep me afloat in what could have been that bottomless pit. Just a few moments of calm each week with people that love me keeps me holding on.

So I told my parents all of this. My parents have been pretty supportive with the whole mental health thing. They’ve tried to understand why and how I feel as I do. This isn’t always the case with South Asian Indian parents. Mental health is still a stigma. Depression is a stigma. Anxiety is a stigma. Everything that isn’t able to be physically seen is a stigma.

The biggest question that comes out of it is “How can you be depressed when you have everything?” I do have everything. I’m luckier than most. And the biggest blessing I have is the ability to communicate openly how I feel. I know I’m not alone.

So this is how I answered the question, “It’s because I had everything that it wasn’t or hasn’t been worse. I survived because I had the family support. I survive daily because I am able to talk about what I’m going through with my spouse, family, and friends. I get through each day knowing the next might be better because I don’t have to hide that I don’t feel okay.”

That’s it. Just being able to share that little piece, being able to cry when it’s not all okay, is enough to make sure I don’t drown when things are hard, when the world in general is hard. That’s how I know that one day I will get through it. It’s hard thing to consistently believe but I have had better days and for now, one day at a time is all I can do.

Floating

How many of you are currently living inside of your heads? No matter what’s actually happening, you are just floating through your day to day. You get through each day, functioning, doing your daily tasks but not really living in the present.

Has anyone else started worrying or thinking more about every day things that you wouldn’t have considered before? (“Started” might be the wrong word since covid has been going on for over a year now.) The slightest things I wouldn’t have noticed before stress me out now. Allergies, pain anywhere, a change in anything.

I recently looked up the timeline of the flu of 1918 to find out when things would feel a little bit more normal again. The article I read said that by spring of 1920, it was like it never happened. Overall, it doesn’t seem too bad, 2- 2.5 years of dealing with masks and quarantining. But living through it is harder than sounds. Every step we take is filled with worry and stress. The “what ifs”, the “is this the right choice”, the “should we” haunt us every day and every day after that.

We are living with loneliness even with a house full of people, the personal and professional sacrifices that some of us have made in order to deal with schooling and full time caretaking, and the lack of freedom that comes with thinking about what is necessary for the good of the community. The things that would have alleviated these feelings in the past are not options in the current state of society. The events and celebrations that we would have looked forward to have all but disappeared. We float.

It’s emotional and mentally exhausting. It’s surviving and dealing with small pieces of joy that are incredibly difficult to see. It’s feeling like things will never be okay again. It’s putting one foot in front of the other, while feeding your family, making sure they are safe and mentally okay, and giving them what they need to at least survive, if not thrive. And, in the end, what will each of us be left with?

I’m ready to get my feet back on the ground and move forward. I don’t want to float anymore.

Social Media In The Time of Covid

For almost a year now, we have been limited in our socialization. We haven’t seen a lot of friends or even parts of our families in a long time. We are lucky that technology is as advanced as it is. With covid around, at least, we are able to talk on the phone and through video chat. We can still keep in touch in ways that were impossible through the last pandemic. Another obvious solution is turning to social media. It’s supposed to be a tool to socialize, right? This way, we can still feel a connection with the world even though our surroundings on a daily basis is our own homes. What happens though when, instead of being a positive influence, this becomes a negative influence on our mental health?

Covid has exacerbated so many of the intense feelings we normally go through that social media, instead of being a helpful tool that helps lift us up, can drive us deeper down. I personally battle with my self-esteem and depression on a daily basis. Having a life where I could offset these feelings by volunteering, being around a multitude of loved ones, and helping the community in a variety of ways has helped me battle these feelings prior to covid. All of a sudden, a year ago, all of that stopped. While we still try to be outside and spend time as a family, we aren’t able to do all of the activities that fill our bucket. I found myself spending a lot more time on social media just because I wasn’t actively doing anything else. Recently, I’ve started realizing that it’s actually making me feel worse instead of better.

While I know that only the best parts of people’s lives are posted on social media, emotionally, I was taking in the adventures others were having or the friends they were seeing. Their lives seemed a lot more normal that mine seems to be. They’re still fulfilling themselves and finding some sort of the external validation that we all still need even though we don’t want to admit it. I know that internal validation is what we should be basing our self-worth on but let’s be real. We all also want to be recognized or appreciated for the things that we do and to hear feedback helps make us feel good about ourselves. And while in the past, I didn’t usually rely on likes or comments to validate the things I do but the fact that external validation in other regards had been completely cut off meant that this is what I was turning to. And guess what? My social media personality hasn’t changed. I’m not that interesting and I don’t frequently interact through it. So I didn’t get the likes or whatever I was looking for.

So in order to try to turn back inwards and figure out a way to feel good about myself by myself, I’ve now set limits on my social media time. If it helps people, that’s fantastic but for me, I think living in the moment and focusing on things I can control is the only way for me to hang out until we get out of covid. Until we can at least have some semblance of normality back, it’s better to be present and try living my life versus living in other people’s lives. I’m not sure if this will be the turning point for me but making this decision gives me some hope that maybe I can figure out what I’m looking for.

Grief

When Princess Diana died on August 31, 1997, I was 16 years old. In the time after that, I saw how much people grieved although I couldn’t quite understand why. It’s not like people really knew her. She was basically a celebrity. How could you feel grief for someone you hadn’t ever met or really even known?

Last Sunday, at 11:32 am, I received a text from my mom in our family group chat that said “Breaking news. Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter accident. Not 100% confirmed yet.”

I could feel the chills immediately take over my body. I did what I normally do when I hear a big piece of news. I start researching to find out if it’s true and what sources it came from. Obviously, there have been hoaxes before and I was hoping this was just another one. But as the day went on, the news was confirmed.

We were completely immersed in our personal family events that day so I didn’t really have time to process what had happened. The more we learned though, the more real it became. And when I went home that evening and finally had a quiet moment to myself, I felt it.

I don’t quite understand why I felt grief. I didn’t know Kobe Bryant other than he played for my absolutely favorite team on the planet. I never met him. I’m not very star stuck and am not really interested in meeting celebrities in general. With all of the drama and problems that Kobe had gone through and with the ego he had on him, I honestly didn’t really care to meet him.

So why? Why did I feel this way?

The best answer I can give is because we grew up together. I watched the Lakers from when I was a child but the Showtime era started before I was old enough to be a fan. I remember hearing about Magic Johnson’s HIV announcement and all of the questions that came with it at the time. I remember Johnson making a comeback and getting cut while playing and all of the players freaking out because he was bleeding on the court.

But Kobe, he came to the Lakers right after high school. Being only 3 years younger meant I was also in high school. I watched him learn how to play NBA basketball. I criticized what I thought were his stupid decisions (like marrying Vanessa at the age of 23 and having the power struggle with Shaq and Phil). I wondered as he went through his sexual assault case, wanting to defend him because he was a Laker but knowing full well that it was possible that he wasn’t innocent and that I would always side with the victim. I judged how long he stayed in the league and how he was drawing all resources to himself so we couldn’t put a decent team on the floor to win 3 more championships.

Then, he retired. I can honestly say I didn’t follow him so much after he was off the court as I did when he was on the court. I didn’t even know he made a movie until he won as Oscar. But when he did win it, I was proud like it was my friend that had won.

He was like that friend that you don’t see often or even talk to often, but when you do, it’s like nothing has ever changed. He would always be a part of our lives because he was a Laker. He was part of the purple and gold that runs in the undercurrents of Los Angeles.

It’s complicated. I know there are things he’s done that were wrong but I also believe that he learned how to change for the better. The more I learn about him now, the more I believe he might be someone I would have wanted to meet as an adult. He had drive, passion, and ambition. He was doing exactly what we all do with our kids every day, take them to their extracurricular activities and watch and support them.

The only way I can describe what I feel is grief. Grief over seeing someone I grew up with gone. Grief over seeing someone who was finding his new path gone. Grief over someone who had changed the history of our city gone.

I still have trouble believing it. I don’t know if I ever will.

The Inner Dialogue

Have you ever met your inner critic? You know, that version of you that tells you when you shouldn’t do something or tells you you aren’t good enough?

Lately, I’ve been having a lot of inner dialogue with myself. It’s not that this is something new but I’ve started recognizing it and being aware of it. Do you know how many jobs have never applied for because I’m telling myself that I’m not qualified enough? Do you know how many risks have not been taken because I talk myself out of them?

I deal with this when I travel as well. Initially, when a travel plan comes up, my immediate reaction is to stay home in my safe place. I don’t want to go somewhere new and have to figure things out and hope everything is okay. It takes work to quiet that negativity and really think about how much fun I’ll have traveling and all of the new experiences that will happen.

It’s scary to step outside our safe box. What if we get rejected? What if we fail? What if we just aren’t good enough?

The big question then becomes “Well, WHAT IF that actually happens?” Honestly, it will be okay. People have been surviving rejection and failure for centuries. In these cases, it might take work to get back on your feet and get ready for another attempt but it’s possible. The world hasn’t ended and we all get another chance. At least, we did try to do something new.

All of the dreams that I’ve had for years have finally made their way to the forefront. I’ve stopped repressing the things I want and have even managed to attempt at a few of things I used to dream about doing. This isn’t to say that I don’t experience anxiety and dread when I attempt these things. I do. But that inner critic can be quieted. I won’t let it get the best of me and block the things I really want out of life.

How’s your inner dialogue going today? Is it positive or it is trying to repress you?

 

Feeding Your Soul

Have you ever felt like you’re just living one day after another? Like it’s so filled with routine and getting from one place to the next? Is your goal every single day just to get through it? Does relief only come when the kids are in bed and you have that hour or so to yourself to relax and really connect with yourself (and your significant other)?

There is no getting around that we become our last priority when we have kids and school and extracurriculars and routines. Even when you find a free minute for yourself, what are you doing with that time? Are you choosing to feed your soul?

Recently, my sisters and cousin and I got into a conversation of things we would love to do again. Granted, it’s been about 10 years or more since the last time we did these activities and a lot, including our physical abilities, have changed. We don’t know if we’d even be able to do a lot of the things we used to be able to do.

But should that even be a factor? I loved taking dance classes and performing on stage in that particular dance style. Going to the classes would do something basic for me and my confidence that I wouldn’t be able to accomplish in any other way. It’s not something I have to be an expert at. I’m not aiming to achieve something great. I just want to participate in something that makes me feel good. I want to work on something personal that has no effect on anyone other than me.

I think we let this idea go too easily. When we talk about self-care, it usually results in massages and nail salons. While that is also fine and can work wonders (I absolutely love massages), there are times that we might need more than that. There is just something about taking a chance on something new (or old) that we can fall in love doing. Make your self-care really count.

Go sign up for something that you have always wanted to do. See how it makes you feel.