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.

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.

Stigma

Stigma.

According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, its meaning includes a mark of shame or discredit.

The Indian community takes stigma very seriously. If you do something that isn’t part of the community’s definition of acceptable, there will be some sort of stigma attached to you. If you don’t get married until you are older, if you don’t have kids by a certain age or at all, if you have a degree, if you don’t have a degree, if you have too many relationships, if you don’t have relationships with the right people, if you don’t speak your parents’ language, if you can’t cook and clean, and the list goes on and on, you probably have some sort of stigma attached to you.

There isn’t a specific definition of what is acceptable and what isn’t. It varies with each community.

Here’s my take on it: Who the f*** cares?

Why do so many people care about what someone else is doing? Why does it matter as long as the person is a good person and not harming anyone else? Why should it matter to me at all who is dating who or making how much money? It makes absolutely no difference in my life.

I didn’t think this way in my teens and 20s. Then, I wanted to fit the mold of what I should be doing. It wasn’t until I realized how unhappy it made me to do what everyone else wanted that I stopped. It did break some of my friendships and relationships. It did wreak some havoc on my life as I reoriented myself to put my feelings and desires first.

It sometimes still does affect me. I’m Indian so my programming is definitely towards the “what I’m supposed to do”mentality instead of the “what I want to do” mentality. And then I have to sit and really think and ask myself if what I’m doing is making me happy. I’m raising children now and I don’t want them to feel like they have to fit some predetermined mold. I want them to be able to make choices throughout their lives without feeling like they are doing something “bad”.

I’m glad I’ve at least gotten to a point where the stigma attached to me bothers other people more than it bothers me. I am who I am.

What About Your Friends? (Throwback to TLC)

There are some days that it really hits that I don’t have that many friends. I definitely have a few good friends but I’m not getting 800 invites per weekend to do things. People aren’t throwing parties in my honor, I’m not getting a ton of texts a day, and my weekends aren’t crammed with random events.

To be fair, having kids also limits your social life a little bit but I don’t want to blame them since this has spilled over from my life pre-kids.

My friends have now evolved into people who will come running any time of the day if I need them, people who will be there to the best of their ability between their busy lives, people who I can be completely open to about what I feel and think.

And while I love that I do have some really good friends, sometimes, it does hit me that I’m never going to be the popular girl.

I guess I never was. From the second I was in school, I have never been the center of anyone’s crowd. I’ve never been the person that everyone needed at a party. I’m not the person that would up anyone’s social standing (if there is still such a thing). Even my “groups” from college or different dance teams have moved in a different direction. And while I was there though, I was always on the periphery. I was the one person who was good friends with one of the people in the group which is how I was a part of it.

Honestly, I suck at making small talk with people. And to be completely blunt, sometimes, I’d rather be home with a good book or watching tv than be in a social setting full of people I don’t know.

For example, a few years ago I went to a party without my kid for the first time since becoming a mom. I was so excited to be able to be in the party scene again. But when I was there, I spent all my time hanging out with a good friend who I still saw on a monthly basis and talked to all the time anyways. I did small talk with a bunch of other people who I knew but wasn’t really friends with and then just hung out with the person I was most comfortable with and liked being around. It made me wonder what the point was of being at this party.

Recently, I watched someone who has a lot of friends at their social events. I kept trying to figure out if she was just more extroverted than I or maybe nicer than I am. Maybe she is just easy-going enough to be able to accumulate a lot more friends. Maybe she just has more time since she isn’t raising 2 smalls kids. (Although again, I don’t think that is a fair assessment because these personality traits of mine were there before I had kids.)

I also started wondering if sometimes, people just hang out with each other so they have “friends”. Do some of them in the group really even like each other? Or do they just tolerate it because it’s their group?

I don’t really have a conclusion to this. All I know is that this is where I am in life. At this point, I don’t really expect it to change. Maybe between the time I was a teenager to my 20s. Or my 20s to my 30s. But now, on the downside to 40, I doubt that I can change this part of my personality. I don’t even know if I’d want to. I’ve made the effort this far in my life and maybe it’s time for me to just be.

This might just be who I am.

It’s Not Their Fault Either

I saw a friend’s post on Facebook last night about reverse racism. She said that it’s not right because “as we all know- every race has racists”.

It’s easy as an Indian person to blame white people for the hateful shooting of an Indian man that happened in Kansas recently. It’s easy to blame white people for supporting Trump. It’s easy to blame white people for all of the fear that has arisen amongst people of different nationalities in the US.

We can’t blame all white people. I know when something terrible happens (and lately, it seems like something terrible is happening every day), it’s natural to feel that way. Even I feel that way sometimes. But it’s not right.

I think of all the awesome white people I know every time I do feel that way. I have one friend who literally posts her disgust every time there is something to be outraged about. I have friends who have never even seen the differences between us in a negative way. How many of us have white friends and coworkers who have done more to resist the negative things that have happened in this presidency than any of us Indians have?

How can we, as Indians, judge any race this way? I had a boyfriend a long time ago that had to break up with me because I wasn’t the same caste as him. We talk about Indians from other states in stereotypes all the time. All Gujaratis are cheap and all Punjabis drink a lot. How many of us have heard or said something like this? We all know people who don’t fit these ideas.

And how many times has the entire religion of Islam been blamed for the actions of a few? The Muslim friends I have are the most liberal and calm people I have ever known in my life. Yes, there are extremists but there are more regular, normal people who just want to live their lives like everyone else. They wake up, go to work, spend time with family and friends, and hang out.

As for voting for Trump, I also know a few Indian people who have done so. I no longer can socialize normally with them knowing that they voted for a man who condones hateful actions but that’s as far as it goes. There was a Hindus for Trump group. It makes me embarrassed to be Hindu and I’m hoping no one ever judges me based on this group.

I know it’s been a difficult time for the country and I’m hoping we come out of it soon. But we have to do it together.

 

The Other Part of Me

It’s been 2.5 years since we had our first child. It’s been 1 month since we had our second. We have started doing the normal, everyday domestic things like managing our own house, cooking, and cleaning. We have to have a regular schedule throughout the week now since our first child does go to school and classes on a weekly basis. Even when I have a break, I just want to sit and binge watch some laid-back Netflix show. The only other things I think about doing during a break is catching up on sleep.

Let’s put it this way: it’s been a long time since I’ve thought about me. And I don’t mean in the way that I want to do something and haven’t had a chance. I mean in the way where I think about where I am in life.

Suddenly, my days were just about getting things done and taking care of my family. Everything started to become a routine. I was just trying to get somewhere on time, cook dinner, get laundry done, and get the kids to sleep so I could spend some time with my husband (that is, if one of us hadn’t already passed out from pure exhaustion). My entire goal for the day is to just get through it.

What about me though? I danced, I read, I wrote, I analyzed my life and tried to be grateful for everything that I’ve been fortunate to have. I stopped doing all of that. When I had a spare moment, I went on Facebook and just read the articles that popped up there. I occasionally danced for a friend’s wedding. I completely stopped writing. And I haven’t even thought about keeping a positive mindset or about what I am grateful for.

With all of the things going on in this world, I decided I needed to take a break and read something else rather than the articles on Facebook. I picked up the Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Positive from my bookshelf and am currently trying to read a couple of stories of it when I have a few spare moments.

It has made me realize that I haven’t thought about myself. My passions have taken a backseat currently. It’s not that I’m not enjoying the things I am doing now. It’s just that there is so much more to me than just being a mom and wife. There are things that make me feel alive in a different kind of way. I don’t want to resent not nurturing my passions. I want to feel more. I want to be aware of more.

Writing this post is a promise that I am making to myself to bring this part of me back to life.

Ask

Have ever had one of those days where the thoughts are just running crazy through your head? How about one of those days where you think that no one can possibly feel the way you are feeling right now? Things can seem overwhelming with so many thoughts and emotions. And you end up feeling completely alone because everyone else seems to have their lives together.

The big question is when do we stop and ask for help. Asking for help is difficult because we always think that we can get through whatever we are going through without it. We also don’t want everyone to know the things we think or feel. What if they think we’re weak or crazy? Maybe others won’t understand what we are going through. Maybe others will judge us and make us feel like we are worthless or stupid for feeling the way we feel. Maybe we are the only ones who feel that way and there isn’t a point in asking anyone else about it.

I’ve gone through some rough things before and I’ve been down the therapy route. I am a big proponent of it. Eventually, I stopped going to therapy for the simple reason of living too far away from her. I haven’t looked for a new therapist in the meantime because I was doing much better and I was able to cope with my problems without help.

Even having gone to a therapist before, I still hesitate before I ask for help. At some points in my life, my problems were extremely obvious. I feel like others will judge me because, right now, I don’t actually have anything really wrong with my life. But, in holding back anything I’m feeling, I alienate myself.

I realize I’m happiest when I’ve connected to others who can understand the thoughts I’m having. I realize I feel better about life when I know that I am not alone in anything.

My point of this article is this:

You are not the only one who thinks it. More people than you know are dealing with different thoughts or feelings. Even if we feel alone, we are not.

It’s okay to ask for help.