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.

I Was Invisible

I was invisible. I was invisible to the people I hung around. I was invisible at work. I was invisible to the dance groups I was in. Nothing I did was good enough. Nothing I did was special enough. Nothing I did was worth noticing.

I didn’t exist. I truly and honestly didn’t exist. I spent every single day, trying to find myself, to see myself. I couldn’t. I didn’t know how to become visible. I was doing everything right (at least I thought). I was in a relationship, I went out partying with people, I was in one of the more popular dance groups in the city, I was always on top of my stuff at work. I did whatever I could to make my life complete. I tried to feel fulfilled. But I couldn’t. It was never enough. Whatever I did wasn’t enough. I was still invisible.

Why couldn’t people see me? I look at my journals back then and see pages and pages filled up of misery and demands for attention. I see pages of self-loathing and pain. I sit and wonder if there ever was any happiness. Or was the happiness all just an act for the benefit of the world around me? How did I survive that way for almost an entire decade? How was did I allow myself to feel that bad?

And whose fault was it? Was it mine for expecting that people should see me? What is theirs for not opening their eyes enough to be able to see me? Was it my significant other’s job to see me or was it mine to make him see me? Was I not worth seeing? Should I have done something differently? Should I have looked at myself differently? Was it because I questioned if I deserved anything better? Was it because I blamed myself for being invisible, as if I didn’t matter?

I read and re-read these pages to make myself remember how far I have come. I do believe I am visible now but it took a lot for me to see myself at first. I had to see who I was instead of trying to see who I wanted to be. I was never going to be someone I wasn’t and maybe that’s why I never showed up on anyone’s radar. Once I accepted I was who I am, I started showing up slowly. Day by day, month by month, year by year, I saw myself more clearly.

And now, I can not only see myself but I know others see me. I know that I have some value. It took a long time to get here and sometimes, I do feel as if I disappear again. And then, the search begins again to find myself.

If you feel invisible, just remember that the first person who can find you is you. Once you are visible to yourself, you will become visible to other people. It will always be work to see yourself clearly. You will change. Your visibility will change. But once you do find yourself again, it will be easier not to feel so invisible.