Being Direct

For a long time, when I was growing up and even when I became an adult, I just shoved down the way I felt even though I was miserable. I would get angry at the way I was treated by others or sad because of some reason or another and I’d just pretend it wasn’t happening. It would eat at me until I exploded. I’d get so angry that I would yell and scream and insult. It never ended well. I’m pretty sure I lost a few friendships that way. (Although the question remains if we were really good friends to begin with, if one fight could break us.)

Anyways, I finally realized the only way I’d feel better is if I talked about the way I was feeling. Then, it was up to the other person to work it out with me or decide not to be friends with me. It still sucked a lot of the times because usually the problem had arisen due our world views and ideals not aligning and that meant that it would be difficult to remain friends unless we wanted to argue or be annoyed all the time. It was better for both of us to walk away at that point. At least, we maintained our sanity and civility.

As I get closer to 40, I thought that most of the people I knew subscribed to this thought pattern. I realized recently that I was wrong. There are still a few non-confrontational people out there. And somehow, you could be doing something and never know it was happening because no one told you that you were doing it. It’s a difficult way to maintain friendships because it requires you to be perfect all the time.

I learned after having quite a few meltdowns and having a few spectacular blow out fights that it was better to be uncomfortable with someone for a few minutes but have a stronger friendship for it. I’d rather talk to someone about something even though, honestly, I dread it. I get nervous and anxious just thinking about being in that weird zone where we have to talk about our feelings. There’s the possibility that the discussion will end in a fight because you’re both arguing your point of view and no one is really listening. But there’s always the possibility that you both will figure it out and it will make you both better for it. I’ve had practice having these discussions with my husband because it’s impossible to have a happy relationship unless you’re both willing to discuss the important issues and listen honestly without getting defensive. I’ve been in the relationships where it was just attack and defend. Those aren’t any fun, trust me. You have to be able to admit that you might be at fault (even accidentally). Everyone is human. Everyone can make mistakes.

After the last few decades of my life, I also learned that it’s okay if not everyone likes you or even wants to be friends with you. My personal goal is to be honest with myself and and believe that I’m doing the best I can to love myself and to be a good person to everyone I know.

After that, whatever happens, happens.

What Is Love? Baby, Don’t Hurt Me, No More.

What do you think marriage should look like?

I’m going to try my best to explain what I think it should look like. I believe that it should be a best friendship where there is love, respect, and trust with a lot of attraction mixed in. There should be understanding on an emotional level. There should be laughter and fun. There should be a belief that no matter what, you both are a team together.

So then why are there so many people out there making fun of their significant others? Why is joking about our marriage something that serves as way to bond with other people? Why is your spouse not held in the highest regard?

I understand that marriage isn’t always heaven. We show our worst to that person. Everything bad that happens in our lives will fall on the other person. They are our rock and our punching bag.

But isn’t degrading them in front of others disrespectful? Or is that just another way that people show their love towards their significant other? Maybe that is the bond between a couple, the ability to tease and make fun without resenting them. Maybe there are stronger people than I who can deal with this type of relationship.

For me, though, I can’t do it. I know that my husband and I will have to fight about things. I know that when the kids are exhausting, it takes a toll on us as a couple. As long as we can create some space to enjoy each other and continue to respect each other, I think we will be fine. But I don’t think I could survive being with someone who thinks putting me down is an acceptable form of affection. I might be too sensitive or I might just need something different.

I know we have all seen it throughout the generations and throughout different cultures. We have “husband” jokes and “wife” jokes. We hear this in wedding speeches all the time. There are stereotypes like the uptight wife or the messy husband that get reinforced over and over again. Can this change if we don’t agree with it? Why must this be the way to connect with others? Why can’t we use something positive instead?

I’d like to know what your thoughts are. I know that all marriages are different and have different bonds. I’d like to hear about what keeps your marriage strong. I’d like to also hear about what things you’ve heard between a couple that really irks you.

The Void

Have you ever been at a point in your life where something felt like it was missing? From the outside, everything looks and seems perfect but you just know it’s not. It doesn’t mean that you don’t appreciate everything you have but to be completely honest, there is a hole, a void that needs to be filled.

I know that I’m lucky. I have everything I could possible ask for and want. I have it easy on a lot of fronts. But there’s always been a part of me that needs more. It’s hard to say which area of my life needs to be filled.

This is something that we don’t talk about much. How many times have we gotten into a discussion with other people about feeling like something was missing? How many times have we talked about this feeling that something needs to change? We don’t. I know that when I have some adult time, I usually talk about the physical things happening in my life. It’s hard to express this void when everything I do have to say is already good. Maybe we talk about problems or issues we have with some part but again, it’s usually something that physically exists. This void is hard to explain. It’s hard to express in a way that others can understand. I hope I’m doing it some justice trying to explain it here.

In Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert says that “Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it, you must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it. If you don’t, you will leak away your innate contentment.”

I have felt that happiness and inner contentment. And somewhere, somehow, it leaked. I can’t be the only one in the world searching for something. I can’t be the only one who has this need to fill this void. It took me a while to realize that I was trying to fill it with things that would never satisfy it. It’s like I have to come to terms with myself and where my life is now and find joy in that. I can also actively work to add substance to my life to help. But the void can’t be filled with superficial distractions. It won’t work.

It’s hard to keep up this effort. But my only choices are either to keep doing it to find the contentment I seek or to give up. I refuse to give up.

Fear

“Fear and resistance thrive when we’re avoiding work.” – 101 Essays that will Change the way You Think, Brianna West

I’ve been sitting in fear for a while. Somehow, I want all of these things but I’m too scared to act on them. I used to write all the time about things I saw and things I thought that needed to be discussed but sometime in the last few years, I stopped. I don’t know if it’s laziness or just this block of fear that is holding me back.

I’ve always had the belief that if you want something to change, you have to work to change it. We can’t complain about something when we don’t do anything about it. Logically, I know this but over the last year or so, I haven’t been able to move. It’s like I’m stuck in this comfort zone and while I’m unsatisfied with where I am, I haven’t done anything in my power to change it.

It takes effort and some discomfort to move past where we are stuck. I’m sitting here, typing, and a part of me is filled with anxiety because it’s been a while since I last put myself out there. I have to find a new normal to be able to write again. I can remember when writing made me feel good. Now, I feel like I’d be judged. I don’t know what shifted in my core that makes me feel that way but it’s an exploration I’ll have to go through. I’ll have to be okay with feeling uncomfortable for a while before it feels normal again.

What have you tried to include into your life that has involved shifting your normal? What new change is making you uncomfortable because the fear of change is holding you hostage?

How Do I Make 37 Better?

I just turned 37 this past weekend.

Honestly, I think I never thought about my life past kids. I had a plan to go through school, get married, get a graduate degree, and have kids. Now that I’ve accomplished all of that, I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do.

I want to make 37 good. I lived 36 in this weird state of not sure where I was. I wasn’t happy with what I was doing. I was set in my priorities for everyone else around me.

I don’t want 37 to be like that. I want it to be filled with things that I can make memories out of. I want to feel like I accomplished something big. I know it seems like a weird thing to want considering in the past year, I’ve been raising 2 kids, managing their schedules, managing a household, and starting a new business.

Part of what I’m feeling is that a lot of that isn’t for me personally. I want to feel good about myself which I definitely have not been lately. I need to do something for me.

So I’ve decided to start a “bucket list”. The next step is trying to figure out what I really want. My feelings have been so jumbled up that I have to wade through all of those feelings to really understand what will make me happy. I also want to be able to commit to something. I usually push back if the thing I want to do takes up too much time or energy. I give up and walk away. I don’t know if that shows lack of interest or lack of follow-through.

I know it doesn’t seem like a big deal but I don’t want to spend the rest of my life in a routine where I have a hard time finding what makes me happy. I want to be proactive and really jump in and take the chances I need to be taking.

If you have any bucket list suggestions, I would love to hear them. I’ve been having a hard time figuring this out and the only way I know to expand my thoughts is to hear what others are thinking.

The Positive Of Social Media

When you scroll through social media, it’s easy to be jealous of what you perceive other people’s lives to be like.

I get this way all the time especially since my life at the moment revolves almost completely around my kids.

Then, I realized something. The person I was consistently wishing I was like is someone I could talk to because she has been through what I’ve been through. So I did. I messaged her and she and I spoke for a bit about what I’ve been feeling and where I was stuck.

This is someone I knew entirely through social media so I had no idea if she would be someone I could confide in or if she was someone that would get me. But she did. She told me about how she felt when she was in the same life situation as me and how she moved on from there. She told me about her coping techniques. It was helpful.

I know there are a lot of negative things you could pull from social media but there are a lot of positive things as well. If we see someone doing something positive, instead of being jealous, we can try to learn from them. We can find a way to use other people’s experiences as resources and help ourselves get through whatever we need to get through.

 

The Internal Struggle of Loving Yourself

Have you ever struggled with yourself? Maybe constantly battling with feeling valid or just a whole lot less invisible?

This internal battle is no joke. Loving yourself isn’t easy.

It’s easy to be numb and go through your day every day and not realize that something isn’t feeling right. It’s not easy to realize that you are numb and how can you find a way to feel again? Even better, how can you feel good about yourself again?

I don’t like who I have become. I’m doing my best as a mother, wife, business owner, and dancer. But I’m not doing my best as me. That’s probably because I’m so focused on doing well on everything else, I haven’t found the time for me to know myself anymore.

Life changes so fast that if you don’t actively keep up with yourself, you are easy to lose. All of a sudden, I don’t know who I am anymore. I know my labels. But who am I? The person I can see at the moment, I don’t like very much.

I know that I have to look inwards and figure out what makes me happy internally. I have to figure out how to move myself past this phase. If I’m internally happy, I can be a better mother, wife, business owner, and dancer.

It’s work and it’s tiring on top of everything else. But honestly, I don’t want to be miserable. I want to love myself. Because it’ll make it that much easier to accept the love that everyone else wants to share with me.

Watch Something Progressive

Have you watched a kids’ show lately? Maybe if you don’t have children, you haven’t seen one since you were a kid.

My kids watch Sesame Street on a daily basis. I remember watching it when I was growing up and liking it. Now? I seriously love it.

Maybe it has to do with the fact that I’m an adult and more aware or that our country suddenly has a serious number of issues that have been brought to light. I’m finding that kids’ shows are more progressive that our actual world seems to be.

Before everything got kind of crappy, I would have been proud that Sesame Street showed episodes about the Indian culture. Now I’m relieved. They also have episodes about other cultures (such as Chinese New Year and a South African exchange student), bullying, autism, and just liking yourself as you are. It’s amazing. They are teaching my kids (and myself) so many positive things that sometimes, I wonder if we are actually in this time frame where people are acting as regressive as they are.

The other 2 shows that my kids have been watching lately are Doc McStuffins and PJ Masks. While it hasn’t come up in the few episodes I’ve watched, both shows star children of different backgrounds doing awesome things. I especially love that my little girl is watching Doc McStuffins because I love the idea that she has a role model that plays doctor and isn’t just into a bunch of princesses.

I feel like there are plenty of adults that need a good dose of some of these children’s shows. They have fantastic messages and teach you a lot about the world. You can stream Sesame Street on HBO, Doc Mcstuffins on Hulu, and PJ Masks on Netflix. Take some time out of your day and learn something new.

Second Class Citizen

Yesterday, while I was on the treadmill at the gym, some older white guy got on the treadmill next to me. When he turned on his tv, it was on Fox News. As long as I was there (for another 5-10 minutes), he hadn’t changed it. I don’t know if it happened to just be on and he wasn’t paying attention or if this is the channel he meant to watch. He had also socialized with a few other people around us. One of the men he spoke to was watching CNN. The other man that said hi to him then proceeded to go hug an older African American woman. So I’m really not sure what the guy next to me believed.

I’ll tell you what I do know though. I felt awkward. I felt like if this guy actually watches Fox News (while it was talking about the Muslim Travel Ban), he had no reason to actually want me around. It made me feel severely conscious of my skin color.

I was born here and have lived here my whole life. I’ve barely even moved out of the city I’ve lived in, let alone the state. I’ve always been proud of my dual heritage of being South Asian Indian and American. I’ve always thought it was so much cooler to live in American with its progression while also having a cool background where I get to wear gorgeous clothes, have a huge movie and music industry, and still participate in my cultural traditions.

Right now, with the way this America is, I don’t feel that. I feel like I’ve been downgraded. I feel like I have to second guess who I am. I feel like I am going to have to protect my family from all the problems that have still yet to come. I have thought of where we would go if it got that bad where we couldn’t live the life we were used to living. Would we go back to India? Another westernized country? Do you know how hard it is to even think of leaving our home?

I’ve always been more on the optimistic side of how these things resolve. Right now, it is extremely difficult to be optimistic. I can’t imagine how people can’t care for other people. I can’t imagine what it feels like to be threatened by people of another skin color or religion. Maybe it’s because being Indian means a whole variety of skin colors and religions already. To me, growing up in American already meant a blend. I don’t know it any other way. I’ve never understood it any other way.

Now, based on the fact that I’m more tan than that guy next to me on the treadmill, I get to feel like less of a person.

I really hate that.

The First Thing To Go Out The Door

Self-care.

As a mother, I think this is the first thing that we abandon when we have kids. Our priorities shift enough that the order of important is the following: kids #1-however many and our partner, work, home, extended family, the world, everything else, ourselves.

We forget we exist until we run ourselves down enough that there is only a shell of our former selves left. Then, all of a sudden, we are locked in a bathroom, crying our eyes out because this isn’t the life we imagined.

We have to take care of ourselves. If we don’t feel good about ourselves, then how can we be a good example for our kids?

I’m not only talking about the physical stuff like showering, grooming, exercising. We have to take care of ourselves mentally and emotionally. We have to take that time in the day where we can focus on ourselves.

Doing all of this other stuff is wearing. It’s tiring. It’s hard to refocus on yourself. When I finally get a few minutes of quiet, I just sit there and stare into the abyss. Okay, the abyss in reality is the tv. It’s like I forget how to function. I can’t even think of what I’d want to do for myself. If I do figure it out, I don’t have the energy.

It’s easy to get caught up in resentment and anger when you get used to putting yourself last. As a South Asian Indian mom, I’m programmed to put myself last. I’m supposed to put my kids and husband first. And every time I feel neglected, I end up feeling a mixture of sadness and anger.

The thing is that you have to find the solution. Your kids are never going to put you first and your partner can only help so much. You have to find the time and energy to do things for yourself. You have to be okay with putting yourself first sometimes. You have to find ways to take care of yourself.

If you have any self-care tips, I’d love to hear them. I am always looking for new ways to take care of myself.