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?

Ghosting

So this might seem like a less intense thing to write about after my last few posts.

Here is the definition if this is a new term for you:

“the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly and without explanation withdrawing from all communication”

It’s not the end of the world. It’s not as intense as this pandemic has been or any topic of mental health. There are plenty of things that are more serious that ghosting. So why am I writing about it?

It isn’t nothing. And while in the dating realm, it might be the new norm (which also seriously sucks), what happens when it affects your other relationships?

Let me explain my background on this. A few years ago, after over 10 years of what I would consider a close friendship, I had a friend who suddenly stopped responding to my texts and calls. It’s not that I haven’t lost friends before. I’ve had huge fights with friends. I’ve had friends where just distance and time and life comes in the way. But I’ve rarely had someone just disappear on me without an explanation especially after a strong friendship was developed.

I grew up in the era of landlines and typewriters. It makes me sound super old but computers only made their start into our education some time when I was in high school. AOL had just come on the scene. We were cool if we had pagers (I didn’t. My mom handed me a phone card.) By the time, I was in college, I had a computer, ethernet was a thing, and a cell phone with limited minutes and limited texts.

The point of my history there is that if we wanted to stop talking to someone, it wasn’t hard because we didn’t have a lot of contact to start with. But most of the time, if two people were going to stop talking, we at least broke up or fought or something. I had an idea of why a relationship had ended or changed at the very least.

In this world of constant communication and availability, somehow we have stopped actually communicating. When I was ghosted, the worst part was that if that friend had just chosen to talk to me about it, we could have probably resolved whatever the problem was (to be honest, I still don’t know). I’m old enough to know I’m human and I make mistakes. I’m also old enough to know that there is a chance I did something that might have hurt her. But I will never actually know now.

Eventually, I kept contacting her until she finally told me the basic reason of why she stopped talking to me. I had to accept it for what it was. Whatever her reason was, she did not want to be my friend anymore. It hurt but it wasn’t my choice at that point.

The effect of it though has lasted. When I don’t have a friend respond now, especially one that usually responds right away, my mind starts going down the rabbit hole of what I did wrong and if I was going to lose them as well. It damaged my belief in myself, that I was a good friend. The doubts become overwhelming. I have to remind myself that I try my best with everyone around me. I have to remind myself that I have self-worth as well.

So in case you think that ghosting might be something you would want to do, just remember that one small honest conversation might be something that could save your relationship or at least give good closure to the other person when parting. Instead of just disappearing, give both people in the relationship a chance to work it out, whatever path it may take. It sounds hard but it’s my honest belief that it’ll show you that you can handle difficult situations as well as create good communication skills for future relationships. Besides, it’s just the kinder thing to do.

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.

Removing Myself As An Obstacle

I have 2 advanced degrees, neither of which are in writing, English, or any type of journalism. Tonight is the first night that I am taking time away from my family to devote a few hours solely to myself and writing.

I am terrified. Who do I think I am? I am qualified to count people’s money. I’m not qualified to write words on a page and think that it can be “something”.

Yet I’m here. I’ve wanted to write since I was a kid. It’s hard to admit it but I would try to write stories since I was 10. I would dream of publishing a novel. Instead of actually trying to follow my dreams, however, I followed the practical road. I became an accountant. And that was after rejecting dentistry (science and I did not get along). Writing was never my first choice as a career in real life.

For the last 5 years, I have been a stay at home mom who has occasionally written in her blog. I would be focused for a few weeks and lose it after when real life overtook my side aspirations. Now, I’ve been given a chance at consistency.

And I am terrified. I was having crazy anxiety just driving to the coffee shop right now. I feel like a fraud. I’m not a professional writer. So why do I get to step away from my family in order to sit and put words on the screen for a few hours? Is it even realistic goal? Does it have to be? Can’t I just dream big?

I don’t know if this will even come to anything. All I know is writing has always been good for my soul. So here I am.

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.

 

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 Art of Being Still

I have this itch to do something. I’ve had this itch for a long time, probably around the time I became a stay-at-home mom to 2 kids. There is an intense feeling that I should be out in the world doing something, accomplishing something.

I read this quote today and it resonated with me:

“Crazy-busy is a great armor, it’s a great way for numbing. What a lot of us do is that we stay so busy, and so out in front of our life, that the truth of how we’re feeling and what we really need can’t catch up with us.” – Brene Brown

It got me wondering if that’s what I’m doing. Am I trying to do something so I stay ahead of what I’m feeling? Do I need to accomplish something so that I feel validated as a person? I feel like I have been numb for a while. I haven’t felt the ups and downs like a regular person would. It might be that I’m protecting myself from feeling at all.

What if I were to stop trying to force the issue for a bit? What if I were to just stay still and really figure out what’s going on with me? What if I were to let the armor down?

It’s a scary thought.

I also wonder if I’m the only one. How many other people are trying to stay super busy so they don’t have to think, to feel? What if we slowed down for a minute? Would it allow us to see who we truly are?

Being South Asian Indian, we are especially regularly busy. We have so many social events that we plan our events months or even years in advance. Is it a good thing to have that community or does it just add the busyness? Is there a balance you can achieve where you have the space to discover yourself but enough people around you to have the support you need?

The next thing I wonder about is if will it be disappointing to see myself at a stand still.  What if I don’t like who I am without the cover of busyness? Will it even reveal something? It feels overwhelming to just stop. How do you discover who you are and what you’re feeling? How do you handle what you find out? What is okay? What will I find okay?

I’m up for the challenge because I’ve been trying to forcing myself to find something to accomplish for a while now. I want to slow down and let the universe reveal the path I’m supposed to take. It might be easier even if I have to face things about myself I don’t like.

Let me know your stories if you have ever tried this before. I’d love to know.

 

 

 

 

The Boy Who Wears Bows

We are in a new time in our lives. When I was growing up, the ideas of what boys wear and what girls wear were pretty established.

Now, if you were growing up like me, it was okay to be a tomboy. You could wear boys’ clothing and play sports and video games and it was no big deal. But if you were a boy, the same gender neutrality wasn’t the case.

I have a son and a daughter. My son is the baby so he follows his sister everywhere. She is a tomboy in princess’s clothing. She wears dresses, does her hair, and puts on a necklace and then goes to climb mountains and play baseball. There is no separation of what is acceptable for her to do or wear from any other child.

My son likes to do the same thing his sister does plus a few things she didn’t do. He loves cars and trains and trucks in a way she was never into. And he will participate in all of it with a bow on his head. He sees his sister wear bows and asks for them as well. Because we have never established something was a “girl thing” or a “boy thing”, we put the bow on and let him rock it.

It definitely raises interest especially in our South Asian circles. We have heard “that’s for girls” a few times. But really is it? Or is it just something that we have established as a “girl thing” in society? If boys were given a fair chance to express themselves, would they themselves have immersed in the bow culture?

The next question that arises is what happens when my son wants to wear something else his sister wears. What about princess dresses or necklaces or bangles?

What do we do when we have let the kids live in a gender neutral zone where they can be free to do or wear whatever they want? Is it better to follow society’s gender norms at least for now so we can protect our son from the chance of being bullied until he can understand how to protect himself? Would we follow the same rules of parental protection as we would with climbing structures and riding bikes? Would we do whatever we could to protect them in the real world until the real world catches up with the way we think?

As parents, what is the correct path? I don’t know if there is one. I think we are in a new territory where children have the freedom to become who they really are, who they are truly comfortable with. I want to be able to be there for my children for whatever choices they make. I want to be there for them to fall back on and to be their shield when they need it. My parents did that for me when I was breaking society’s norms and I don’t want to be any less for my kids.

It may turn out that our son doesn’t care for “girl things” as he gets older. It may turn out that he loves them.

It may turn out that he may go on to drive monster trucks with a multitude of bows in his hair.