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.

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.

 

Just Give It A Chance

Have you ever felt insecure about trying something new? I remember when I was younger I’d even have the fear of talking to someone because of this irrational idea that they were judging me. Now, I have to meet new parents all the time if I want my kids to be involved in activities. It forces me to step outside my little safe box every single day of their lives.

It’s not just insecurity about talking to new people but also of doing new things. I remember when I started a new dance class at the age of 29. I was terrified. I had to talk myself into it and convince myself that it will be okay and that I just needed to try it. I had to push myself not to just stay home because it was the easier thing to do. I ended up loving the class and took it for 2 more years and am still friends with the teacher.

It’s easy to avoid doing things just because it’s the easy path to take. I know that there are a few other things I want to try but the fear of rejection makes it easy to push it off. But I won’t accomplish anything if I don’t at least give it a chance. It will take work and it will take some courage.

The insecurity is still there. I still have to convince myself to try things that may or may not be worth it. Sometimes, I don’t have a choice and have to force myself to speak to someone new or try something new. In the end, it’s a good thing. It pushes me out of my safe bubble and opens my life up to so many new people and experiences. I wouldn’t have become friends with half of the people I am now if I hadn’t given them a chance. I wouldn’t have accomplished all the things I have so far if I hadn’t just taken a step to try.

Yes, I still have to talk myself into doing certain things and convince myself that no one is judging me and that if it doesn’t work out, it’s not the end of the world. But I’m more willing to not let me fears get the best of me.

Having a Family: Commitment or Sacrifice

– By Anonymous

Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights – Pauline R Kezer

In reflecting on my life in the last 5 years, I see myself as a different person than I had envisioned. I knew children would change me and change my lifestyle, but not in the way it has. 5 years ago, I drew my energy from being around others, from being in social situations, and from conversations with my family of friends. I swore that this wouldn’t change by having children. Fast forward to now and I re-energize by having moments of quiet time those late hours when I’m awake because my 4-year-old is having nightmares, those wee early morning hours when not a soul is yet awake in my house, or those minutes when my office door is closed and no one comes knocking. When did I change from being an extrovert to an introvert?

Recently, it has been brought to my attention that I’ve been hiding in a cave of sorts. Whether it was a conscious or unconscious decision to limit my interactions with others is unclear; what is clear is that I’ve made some lifestyle changes and am re-evaluating and prioritizing those important things in my life.

I talked to several people during this enlightening time and have come to the conclusion that some people perceive the time spent with young children and limiting “mommy time” – time away from the children – as a sacrifice: a sacrifice of the self. Others perceive this time as a commitment. I count myself in the camp of those who consider it a commitment. Growing up, I saw my cousins allow their parents raise their children, giving more of themselves to their social lives and career ambitions. I never wanted to be the parent who relied so heavily on grandparents. I firmly believe that my children should know me as their mom. I am also an ambitious career woman (which also adds guilt because I spend so much time away from my kids) so when I am home with my family, everything else gets shut off. No text messages, no phone calls, no tv. I am committed to being “mommy” which means I get to have dance parties with my kids before bed, read stories, and enjoys tickles and giggles. Please don’t misunderstand. There are also moments of frustration but I’m committed to helping my children work through tantrums, fights, and experiencing such intense emotions.

Did I forget to mention my role as wife? I also have a firm belief that without a solid foundation, whether that is as a single parent or as a two parent household, parenting can go south real quick. So when the kids are asleep or entertaining themselves, I work on making that foundation as solid as possible (in addition to completing chores such as dishes, general cleaning and laundry).

So commitment or sacrifice? I suppose that is in how one perceives the various roles a woman plays when she becomes a mother (or the roles a man plays when he becomes a father) and also depends on how one chooses to prioritize the different aspects and responsibilities in his or her life.

I have changed and I am committed to my family. I’m not here to judge those who choose a different way, I’m just asking to not be judged for choosing my way.

That Auntie!

I go to a dance class every Saturday. It is run by an Indian woman that’s probably around my mom’s age. Almost all of her students are about the same age. I actually have a great time in this class because anytime I’m around dance, I’m at ease.

A new lady showed up at the last class I went to. Our teacher told her I was Gujarati because apparently, that lady (who was South Indian, Tamil to be more specific) knew how to speak Gujarati. Then, my teacher asked if I understood Gujarati. Before I could even answer, the other lady said “No. Most of that generation can’t.” I immediately jumped on that because, in reality, most of the people I know can speak their parents’ native language. At the very least, they understand it.

I think what bothered me was that the lady assumed I didn’t know anything. She started testing me. Now Gujarati is my second language. If you start putting me under pressure to speak, of course, I’m not going to be as good as I would be in English. She asked me a second question later and I was able to recover and prove that I knew my own language.

Seriously though? Why was I being challenged like it was wrong if I didn’t know Gujarati? I really wonder if her children understood her native language. Why would she assume that I didn’t? She had met me for the first time. For all she knew, I had just came to America recently with English as my second language.

I don’t get it. Being judged just based on my appearance or whatever she was judging me on was not appreciated.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Just because I’m American doesn’t mean I’m not Indian. I wish Indian people would stop treating me that way.

What Indian People Think

Sometimes, I read what other people write about being an Indian raised in another country. It’s scary to see what they think. I read a couple of articles written by these Indian people about how we are losing our culture if we are born and raised in America. We defy our parents, we ignore our traditions, we don’t want to participate in anything even remotely Indian.

I’ve written a few articles about this in various forms already. Just because I’m American does not mean I’m not Indian. Yes, there are things that have changed since the good old days where the daughter or daughter-in-law would just blindly do what her elders asked but that’s called progress. It’s called knowledge.

In exchange for me not being the world’s best cook or the Indian woman that cleans all day long, I am independent. I know how to financially support myself. I never needed to get married to someone in order to survive. Instead I chose to marry someone who supports my passions and interests and we have a relationship based on friendship and love. We are here because we want to be not because we have to be.

On that note, I chose my own life partner. I really got to know myself myself and having gone through previous relationships only helped me understand who the right person was for me to take this journey with. In exchange for that, I won’t resent having missed out any part of life. I won’t feel stuck in a relationship because it was my duty to be there. I will love myself and my partner because I have gotten the chance to chase my dreams.

Yes, I don’t agree with or listen to everything my elders say. In this day and age, with all of the information out there, the ideas that we had grown up with might not be the same or even accurate anymore. I also believe in making my own mistakes. But guess what? Neither of us, my elders or I, know everything. We all have to learn. It doesn’t matter if they had done something before us and we are in the process of doing it now. Times have changed! Things have changed!

It’s frustrating that those of us who were raised in a different country still get judged for it. The truth is that our parents left India to make a better life for us. Our parents wanted better opportunities for us. So then why do we get judged when we take advantage of these opportunities? You can’t expect us to move forward in one thing and still be behind in something else. I can’t be an educated woman and then be expected to sit at home, cooking and cleaning all day (unless it’s truly what I love to do). With knowledge comes change. With knowledge comes progress.

I think it’s time that the Indian people who keep thinking we are losing our culture and traditions realize that it’s not that we’re losing them. It’s that our culture and traditions are evolving. Things will change. They always have. Even if you believe that everything has been the same for thousands of years, I can promise you that it hasn’t. Even in India, things have changed over time.

So please stop judging us. Accept change. It’s the only way that you’ll really ensure that the things that are important to you stay around (unless you expect me to wait on you hand and foot because that’s not happening).

Yes, I’m Being a Hypocrite by Writing This Post

I’ve been really pissed off lately. I was trying to figure out where all of this anger was coming from and I realized that a lot of it is watching the hypocritical behavior in others.

I want to be completely honest. I’m a hypocrite too. Especially for writing this particular entry. How can I judge someone else being hypocritical when this entire post is about not judging and not being hypocritical? I get angry at people for being who they are and being unforgiving and being self-centered. If I was truly not hypocritical, I wouldn’t do that. I would be more accepting and kind and really just more nice towards others. I’m just glad I’m aware enough to know that my opinion makes my whole post exactly what I’m trying to write about.

On that note, I know maybe 4 people in my life that are truly nice and kind towards other people, even if they have been wronged by them. These are the saints I know. Trust me, I’m not even close to being that kind of person no matter how much I’d love to be.

Anyways, back to the hypocritical people. There are people I have seen mistreated and judged and then I see those same people who have judged them doing the same types of things they are advising against. There are people who act like they know everyone and want be everyone’s friend yet I watch them fail at being someone’s friend when they needed to be there for that person. It’s ridiculous. Why is this happening? Why do people think they are allowed to be rude to others?

I am aware that I should be tactful and kind and nice to everyone. You know the saying “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say it at all.” It’s become hard for me to do that. If someone has wronged me, I have grown tired of holding my tongue and being kind and not saying anything. It’s not that I want to spread bad things about the person but if someone asks me if I know them and I have nothing nice to say, I’ve started saying it. The sad part is whatever I have said is the truth. It’s a consistent opinion. I know that doesn’t make it okay that I say anything but I have started to hate feeling guilty for telling the truth bluntly.

A friend of mine wrote a post in Facebook where he mentioned that people have stopped taking responsibility for their own behavior. 100% true. I feel like people have started feeling like they are entitled to everything. They are allowed to treat people however they want and if they are lucky, they are always around people who are much nicer than they themselves are and who won’t say anything.

How long will this go on? When are we allowed to be honest? When are we allowed to say that we have been treated badly?

Let me make one thing clear. I have treated others badly in my past (and probably in my present). Not necessarily on purpose but it has happened. And I’d like to think that I’m a big enough of a person to have apologized for my behavior when I realize that I have hurt someone or said something I shouldn’t have. Unfortunately, most of the time, I find apologizing a one way street. I know that I do it for my inner peace but I have watched so many people just assume that that meant that they were right and that really burns me.

I realize that this post was more of a rant but I feel as though I have started getting cynical because I’ve been around people that I can respect. I see more and more of this self-centered, hypocritical behavior and it makes me wonder how we as a community are ever going to get anywhere in life.

I’m calling out all of you that have been hypocrites at some point. Recognize that you are doing more damage to our community as a whole for having double standards. Recognize that no one is entitled and that everyone needs to be kinder and more accepting of others. Recognize that we all make mistakes and nothing makes you a better or stronger person that taking responsibility for those mistakes.

I apologize for being a hypocrite by judging those who are hypocrites.