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?

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.

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.

Second-Generation South Asian Indian American Identity

Something I constantly think about is how to pass down our traditions and culture to our children. I want my kids to know who they are and where they come from but it’s an interesting dilemma considering that my generation was raised differently than past generations. We were some of the first Asian Indian Americans growing up in the United States.

Being in America changed the way we would have traditionally grown up. I know a lot of people who grew up as close to the Indian culture as possible but even then, there were plenty of other influences affecting their childhood.

For me, growing up as a first-generation Asian Indian American in the United States allowed me and my siblings to define our own path. We chose whether or not to follow Hinduism. We chose which aspects of it we liked and didn’t like. Maybe it would have been the same in India. My mother’s side is pretty much a straight line of atheists. My dad’s side is religious but my dad never pressed us into following anything. He left everything open for our interpretations and let us make our own decisions on what we wanted to do.

Religion aside, being here in this “melting pot” gave us exposure to so many other cultures and religions. My family celebrates Holi which is traditionally a Hindu festival, Navratri which is traditionally a Gujarati festival, and spend Diwali at the Gurudwara since half of my family is Sikh although Diwali is also celebrated by Hindus and Jains. I am pretty sure that none of these are exclusive to their religions of origin. I know that garba during Navratri is well attended by people of all nationalities and religions.

Where does religion end and culture start? We are lucky to be in this area where everything isn’t so heavily based on religion but on our culture. I’ve never been really religious and if all of my family’s traditions were based on religion, I don’t know if I would feel as comfortable passing it down to my children. But since they have become much more based on Indian culture, we introduce our children to everything we possibly can so they are aware of our Indian traditions.

I feel lucky that Indian culture and religion can be separated as easily as it has. If our entire culture was rooted in religion, it would have been that much harder for me to accept this new identity that I have formed. It’s different now for my kids because they are learning second hand about our traditions. Whatever we have cultivated is what is being handed down. I have to accept they might never know our languages as well or the cultural norms that we grew up with.

How much can we expect our children to absorb? Is it possible that they will be as involved in the Indian culture as much as we were growing up. It honestly didn’t occur to me until my 30s that what we were doing was unprecedented. That means what our children are doing is unprecedented as well. I would like my children to take pride in the cultural traditions that we are able to pass down.

It will be interesting to see what our kids accept as and what they separate out from their cultural identity.

 

Real World Stuff

I had to stop going on Twitter and reading the news. Even then, yesterday, I saw a random headline pop out at me on my phone and it completely stressed me out.

What is the world coming to? The funny thing is that I’m completely aware that all of these problems existed before but a combination of I was too young to understand and no internet helped me to live in my bubble.

Now, the bubble has popped. No matter where we are, we are bombarded with information. And honestly, something bad is always happening. It doesn’t help that we are in a time when we have a leader that doesn’t know how to lead.

How does this affect us in our daily lives? For me, it sometimes makes me feel stagnant. I move because I have to but I’d like to crawl up in a ball and just hide until things get better. I have to also keep hope that they will get better but right now, that is definitely hard to see. So I freeze. I don’t know how to feel okay with the way the world is right now but I don’t know how to change it.

Social media also doesn’t help. It seems as though there are people who are still living in their bubble. I know it’s probably not true and they are probably just as worried about the state of things as I am but I wish I could at least feel that carefree sometimes.

I think having kids affects how I feel a lot. I worry about the future of the planet and the future of this county and how they will do within it. There are some days I wish they were still babies so I could keep them home and keep them safe.

Will it be possible to feel okay again? Is this temporary or is this the way we will be living now? Will these worries ever go away? Can we please get some good news for once?

My Child’s Big Transitions Hit Me Just As Hard

I always imagined myself to be tough. I have dealt with a lot of changes in stride, no matter what the challenge was. I’ve been through depression and loss and moves and employment changes. I’ve fallen and gotten up and fallen and gotten up.

I thought I had finally gotten to a point where a lot of every day stress was behind me since I am a stay-at-home mom now. I’m not technically working so the regular employment stresses are gone. I have a loving relationship and pretty good kids. I have a great family who is always there when I need them.

I thought that a lot of the issues I’d have now would be things like potty training and breaking up fights. I thought I’d be struggling with finding myself again and readjusting to a new normal.

So all of this turned out to be true. The biggest thing that hit me though in the last few weeks is that when my kids go through a big transition, I go through it too.

My children are both entering a new phase in their lives. It’ll be a little scary for them and completely new. I thought that I’d be the rock and help them get through it. I’d planned for it so we wouldn’t be overwhelmed with a lot at once and even spread a few activities out so the kids had time to adjust.

Then the nightmares started. The constant anxiety started. I have been feeling like I’ve been standing on the edge of a breakdown for weeks. The problem was that I couldn’t put my finger on why. There isn’t anything happening that we haven’t been preparing for. There isn’t anything happening that I have not researched and asked fellow parents and other teachers about. I’ve been getting the kids prepared as well so hopefully, there will be less tears all around.

I guess I needed the support too. I didn’t know that. No one talks about how it affects you as a parent when your kids have a big change. No one talks about how debilitating it is when the anxiety hits you. It’s already so much that you’re trying to protect your kids 24 hours a day with the most basic things like stairs and table corners and tree branches and dogs. Now, the worries start on how you will protect them when they aren’t with you.

I thought I had it but I don’t think I do. I think I feel a total loss of control to the point where I’ve imagined telling my husband that I’ll homeschool my kids even though I know that that isn’t a real possibility for me because it’s not the best option for any of us. I’ve always been a control freak so this is really much harder for me than I thought it would be. But I didn’t realize it until today.

It’s crazy how much affects you when it comes to your kids. There is a lot I can handle but anything regarding these children is amplified. I want to make sure that they are safe no matter what.

I think the biggest thing I’m learning from this (besides that I will figure out how to deal with all of it) is that I’m not alone in feeling this. And that validation helps tremendously.

A Competitive Community

Indians are competitive. We are competitive in every possible thing that we can be.

As a child, I remember the competition to get the best grades. Later, it was SAT scores and colleges. After that, it was careers. Then came marriage and children.

It was also happening within the community outside of our Indian one but it was definitely amplified within it.

It didn’t matter if we were in the top 10 of our class in our school, we had to also to better than the people we were growing up with (or at least comparable).

I’m positive that there is always some talk about who is married and who has had kids and who is a stay at home mom and who is a working mom. There’s definitely competition in who has the best wedding and the most original wedding and the most expensive wedding.

This competition exists in whatever we do. I’ve experienced it heavily in different dance companies. The crazy thing to me is that I honestly believe we limit our potential as a culture if we compete.

We want to be able to share how wonderful the Indian culture is with the world. But how can we do that when we try to keep each other down? We want to involve and encourage as many people as possible.

So the question becomes why? Why should we encourage others in our community? What if they are our competition for schools and jobs? What if their business competes directly with ours? Won’t it hurt us?

In my opinion, no. I’ve seen the discouragement and disappointment of a competitive community and I’ve seen the amazing community that people can build if they have each other’s support. In the long run, everyone moves forward if we work together and lift each other up. Maybe, just maybe, India with its billion of people can have more of a presence world-wide. We could enter in the Olympics and have more than 4 people. We could be more than a side-note in the entertainment industry (especially since India makes the most movies in the world). We could build a great, progressive country that is respected.

I honestly believe this all starts at home. Build each other up. Encourage each other. Help each other move forward.

The Exhausting Reality of Children

I woke up this morning like I wake up every morning: ready to go, planning the things we would do through the day, excited to try to make my (and our) day a good one.

Then it happened.

“Mooooom, carry me!!!”

“Moooom, she’s playing with my car!”

Mooooom, I need you!”

This all took place within the first 15 minutes of coming downstairs. The conflicting yells for me and for me to give the kids breakfast always hit me hard becauseĀ it’s not humanly possible to make breakfast in the kitchen if I’m sitting next to the kids at the dining table!!”

But make them understand that. Make them understand that I only have 2 arms and hands and not 8. I do frequently joke to my older child that I could do everything she asks for in the minute she asks if I was an octopus.

This means though that this great, exciting, fun-filled day we were going to have is over as my mood goes south by the end of breakfast time. Then, I’m playing catch up all day to feel like I actually have control of something, anything.

I know these are 2 little humans with their set of needs and wants and incapable of completely regulating their emotional well-being. I know they depend on me for a lot of things (although I do try to make them as independent for certain tasks as quickly as I can). But all of this knowledge disappears when I end up arguing with them over which shirt they want to wear or which plate they get to use.

Oh my gosh, it is exhausting. It’s mentally draining. It’s emotionally draining. And even though I have now been a parent for over 5 years, I have no idea on how to thrive. I’m surviving sure. I will never be a Pinterest mom and I have long accepted that. But I’d like to be better. I’d like to at least be a Berenstein Bear Mom.

I’m not, though. Unfortunately, I get rude and sarcastic and mean. My goodwill melts away into impatience. My requests become orders. Honestly, I’m just trying to get through the day.

Is it possible? Is it possible to not be so exhausted by these little humans?

Or is it just reality?