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.

Why Don’t We Talk About It?

I met someone who was telling me about her journey to have her children. She was open about it which she mentioned was unusual for an Indian person.

She wasn’t wrong.

Why don’t we talk about it? I’m not just talking about things like miscarriages and infertility but also other things that we think are embarrassing or that we will be judged for in the Indian society.

Why should we be embarrassed? So many people go through things such as depression, therapy, divorce, miscarriages, in vitro fertilization, difficult births, and having a hard time adjusting to being a parent. The list goes on and on.

Why shouldn’t we talk about it? I’ve personally been through quite a few of these things and I try to be open about it because if my experiences can help one other person see that it’s normal to feel like this or go through this and it helps them figure out how to make themselves feel better, then it’s worth it.

We keep worrying about being judged by our community or society but seriously, what the hell? Who cares if some aunty talks about the fact that you had trouble getting pregnant? I promise you a fair number of the generation before us also had the same problems. So why do they believe that not looking like the “perfect” person is a bad thing?

As I said in Emotional Awareness- Yes, It’s A Real Thing, mental health is important. And as a South Asian Indian, we hide from our feelings. We try to play off that everything is always okay. Everything is not always okay. And most of us probably understand that even though we don’t share it. It’s a good thing to be able to recognize when you aren’t okay because recognizing that is a step to helping yourself.

It’s okay to not be happy 100% of the time. It’s okay to go through things. It’s okay to have physical and emotional health problems. And talking about it gives you a chance to finding a solution. It also gives you a chance to find a support system to lean on. None of these things makes you a worse person. None of them make you a weak person. Acknowledge and own what you are going through. Once you do, no one else’s judgment matters.

So let’s talk about it.

Emotional Awareness- Yes, It’s A Real Thing

Have you ever met people who have no idea why they are acting the way they are acting? They don’t seem to understand that actions have a cause and effect. They act and react according to instinct but never take the time to really think about the why.

I touched on this a little bit in Emotional Abuse…Let’s Talk About It. Emotional awareness isn’t something common among South Asian Indians. We haven’t been raised with the idea of mental health.

For those of us who have finally figured out that mental health is as important as physical health, it took a long time to get to that realization. For me, in particular, it took a lot of going through problems and changes to understand that this was an important aspect that I needed to address if I really wanted to be happy. I had to face that this was a real thing. My mental health was something I had to take care of continuously.

Because I finally faced myself, I started self-analyzing so that I could understand why I acted a certain why at certain times. For example, I used to be super jealous in my previous relationships. I just reacted to the things that would happen. After the end of one of my relationships, I finally took a look at how I was acting because being jealous is seriously no fun. I realized that it had to do with my personal insecurities. I had (and still have) a hard time believing I’m worth anything to anyone. The only difference is now I understand that this is something I need to work on as opposed to my partner. I understand now that I should not be putting this on someone else. It helped my relationships that followed after.

I take the way I feel about myself very seriously. It’s easy to blame unhappiness and a lack of satisfaction on the world around you because it’s difficult to look inward. But most of the time, we can control how we feel and be able to change it if we just took the time to understand where our feelings came from. We can have a better understanding of ourselves and how we react to the world around us and give ourselves a chance to really feel good about our lives.

Even if it feels like you are on top of the world, being emotionally self-aware is a good thing. It’s always good to know why you act the way you act. Maintaining your mental health should be as important as maintaining your physical health. Give it a try sometime.

 

 

The Itch To Change

I’ve gotten comfortable. I have now fallen into my stay-at-home mom schedule with a set of responsibilities and I’ve become comfortable. My biggest challenge is literally just to find a way to get dinner done before I have to leave for the gym since the time I go is dinner time for the kids.

I know I should be proud of raising children and taking care of my family and etc etc etc. But I can’t shake this feeling that I’m meant for more.

The last time I had this feeling, I changed around my whole life. I left the relationship I was in, my job had just laid me off, and I had just finished my MBA. That’s when I met someone who became my business partner and together, we developed a really great dance show. It was great. It was exactly what I needed at the time and it brought me a sense of fulfillment and contentment.

I have that feeling again. This time, I don’t think I need to make any major changes. I love my husband and my kids and the life we have created. My husband and I have also started teaching dance as a side business and are loving it.

That itch is still there though. I’m not sure what it means or what I should also be doing. I know things I’ve dreamt of but I’m not sure which ones are meant to come true and which ones I really want to pursue. I don’t know if I have the motivation to really figure out what it is that I need. I don’t even know which ones are realistic.

Have you ever sat on the edge of something you know will change you? I don’t know how to quite describe it. I’ll know it when I see it. And afterwards, I’ll be like “Remember when I was talking about this? This is how it happened. “.

To quote The Little Mermaid “I don’t know when, I don’t know how, but I know something is starting right now.” (It’s stuck in my head. Thank you, children of mine.)

 

Believe in Yourself

Validation. We all need it. But how do we get it?

A lot of us tend to seek it out from other people. It’s hard to value ourselves. It’s hard to be able to see our own self-worth. It’s hard to really trust that we are the best versions of who we can be. So we look to others and if they approve of us, we feel good about ourselves.

But what happens if we do something that people don’t approve of? What if we do something that is a good decision for us but isn’t what others think is the “right” thing to do?

How do we validate our decisions then? How do we feel good about ourselves when the rest of the world tells us we aren’t good?

I honestly don’t know the right answer to these questions.

I know that we should be able to validate ourselves. I know that if we are going to trust others, we should trust the people who have been there for us through everything. Why should we listen to people who don’t know us at our core? Why should we listen to those who don’t understand us or our feelings?

I think that sometimes, we just need to trust ourselves. I didn’t trust my emotions and myself throughout my entire 20s. I thought I was wrong in feeling the way I felt. I tried to change my mindset because I thought that I shouldn’t be feeling the way I did. I thought I wasn’t gracious enough and that I wasn’t good enough. I looked at myself through the lenses of the people around me. I didn’t like what I saw at all. I learned by my late 20s that the problem wasn’t me or the way I felt. My feelings were correct. I needed to change my life around.

So I started doing just that. As I entered my 30s, I learned to trust myself and the way I felt. Once I felt centered, I was able to make friends who really were people that I could really reflect off of. I was able to see myself for who I really was. And they saw me for who I really was.

It isn’t easy to always validate yourself. Once you start believing in yourself and who you are, it gets easier.

Facing The Way You Feel

Analyzing yourself is hard. Really looking inward and trying to understand why you are the way you are and feel the way you feel is hard.

I’ve looked head on into my feelings a few times before but it usually happened during a breakdown after years of suppressing them. I would get to this point where I would just explode because I had tried to be so strong while ignoring the way I felt. It’d be a lot to clean up after because after my real feelings came through, all that was left of myself was a broken down mess.

I realized after I had done this a few times about a few major parts of my life that I needed to find a better way to deal with everything. It’s so easy to fall into complacency and build this strong shield around yourself to function on a daily basis.

Recently, I have started feeling like if I don’t maintain that shield, I will break down again. This time is different because I’m mostly just struggling with parenting my kids. I love them and I know that this is what I need to be doing right now but sometimes, it’s just so hard. I also know that this part of my life will just take some time to even out.

I also know that if I really try to look inwards, it’s going to be somewhat of a mess in there. So for now, I try to find ways to cope and survive. I find the small joys in my days and take those for what they are.

I know that I’ll have to address my feelings head on at some point but I don’t think that the time is now for me. It’s partially true that I’m doing this for my kids but it’s also partially true that I’m a little scared to see what’s in there.

I hope your journey into addressing your feelings is more successful and that you are able to find what you really need.

The Next Step

Last week, I wrote about mental health and yesterday, I mentioned how it’s important to be able to cope with the feelings that you might be having.

I also wanted to dedicate an article to what the next step is.

If you don’t feel like you figured out ways to cope and actually feel better, it might be time to seek help. There is nothing wrong with needing professional help. As I mentioned before, if you are willing to see a doctor for your body, why would you feel bad about seeing a doctor for your mind? It is a part of who we are and it also needs to be taken care of.

So what’s the next step?

When I finally admitted that I needed help, I literally just got on the phone with my insurance company. A lot of insurance companies have a phone number for mental health on the back of their card. And when I say I got on the phone with the company, I mean that my friend and I got on the phone because I still needed the support. It was a hard decision to make. It made me feel like I failed at something because I wasn’t able to deal with my issues by myself.

Sometimes, you need someone to help you stand yourself up again. And it’s okay.

So I called the insurance company’s mental health line and asked them who they covered in my area. They literally started at A and gave me 5 names and numbers. I called the first number on the list and made an appointment.

It’s important that you like your therapist and feel like they can help you. I needed someone to listen and to help me navigate my murky feelings. I needed someone who could help me take steps to become me again.

I was lucky that the first name that I called was the first person I saw was the therapist I ended up seeing for the next 4 years. Even when I felt better and more like myself after a year or two, I kept on seeing her every so often just as a tune-up. I saw her as I went through a few other phases in my life and she helped me get through them.

The only reason I stopped was because I moved away and physical distance made it difficult. I haven’t found another therapist because I haven’t felt the urgency to see one yet. After having 2 kids though and not quite feeling like myself for a while, I am thinking about finding one near me.

I want to be the best version of me I can be and be able to give that to my family. So I’ll do what I can to find that person again.