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.

The Positive Of Social Media

When you scroll through social media, it’s easy to be jealous of what you perceive other people’s lives to be like.

I get this way all the time especially since my life at the moment revolves almost completely around my kids.

Then, I realized something. The person I was consistently wishing I was like is someone I could talk to because she has been through what I’ve been through. So I did. I messaged her and she and I spoke for a bit about what I’ve been feeling and where I was stuck.

This is someone I knew entirely through social media so I had no idea if she would be someone I could confide in or if she was someone that would get me. But she did. She told me about how she felt when she was in the same life situation as me and how she moved on from there. She told me about her coping techniques. It was helpful.

I know there are a lot of negative things you could pull from social media but there are a lot of positive things as well. If we see someone doing something positive, instead of being jealous, we can try to learn from them. We can find a way to use other people’s experiences as resources and help ourselves get through whatever we need to get through.

 

The Internal Struggle of Loving Yourself

Have you ever struggled with yourself? Maybe constantly battling with feeling valid or just a whole lot less invisible?

This internal battle is no joke. Loving yourself isn’t easy.

It’s easy to be numb and go through your day every day and not realize that something isn’t feeling right. It’s not easy to realize that you are numb and how can you find a way to feel again? Even better, how can you feel good about yourself again?

I don’t like who I have become. I’m doing my best as a mother, wife, business owner, and dancer. But I’m not doing my best as me. That’s probably because I’m so focused on doing well on everything else, I haven’t found the time for me to know myself anymore.

Life changes so fast that if you don’t actively keep up with yourself, you are easy to lose. All of a sudden, I don’t know who I am anymore. I know my labels. But who am I? The person I can see at the moment, I don’t like very much.

I know that I have to look inwards and figure out what makes me happy internally. I have to figure out how to move myself past this phase. If I’m internally happy, I can be a better mother, wife, business owner, and dancer.

It’s work and it’s tiring on top of everything else. But honestly, I don’t want to be miserable. I want to love myself. Because it’ll make it that much easier to accept the love that everyone else wants to share with me.

Second Class Citizen

Yesterday, while I was on the treadmill at the gym, some older white guy got on the treadmill next to me. When he turned on his tv, it was on Fox News. As long as I was there (for another 5-10 minutes), he hadn’t changed it. I don’t know if it happened to just be on and he wasn’t paying attention or if this is the channel he meant to watch. He had also socialized with a few other people around us. One of the men he spoke to was watching CNN. The other man that said hi to him then proceeded to go hug an older African American woman. So I’m really not sure what the guy next to me believed.

I’ll tell you what I do know though. I felt awkward. I felt like if this guy actually watches Fox News (while it was talking about the Muslim Travel Ban), he had no reason to actually want me around. It made me feel severely conscious of my skin color.

I was born here and have lived here my whole life. I’ve barely even moved out of the city I’ve lived in, let alone the state. I’ve always been proud of my dual heritage of being South Asian Indian and American. I’ve always thought it was so much cooler to live in American with its progression while also having a cool background where I get to wear gorgeous clothes, have a huge movie and music industry, and still participate in my cultural traditions.

Right now, with the way this America is, I don’t feel that. I feel like I’ve been downgraded. I feel like I have to second guess who I am. I feel like I am going to have to protect my family from all the problems that have still yet to come. I have thought of where we would go if it got that bad where we couldn’t live the life we were used to living. Would we go back to India? Another westernized country? Do you know how hard it is to even think of leaving our home?

I’ve always been more on the optimistic side of how these things resolve. Right now, it is extremely difficult to be optimistic. I can’t imagine how people can’t care for other people. I can’t imagine what it feels like to be threatened by people of another skin color or religion. Maybe it’s because being Indian means a whole variety of skin colors and religions already. To me, growing up in American already meant a blend. I don’t know it any other way. I’ve never understood it any other way.

Now, based on the fact that I’m more tan than that guy next to me on the treadmill, I get to feel like less of a person.

I really hate that.

The First Thing To Go Out The Door

Self-care.

As a mother, I think this is the first thing that we abandon when we have kids. Our priorities shift enough that the order of important is the following: kids #1-however many and our partner, work, home, extended family, the world, everything else, ourselves.

We forget we exist until we run ourselves down enough that there is only a shell of our former selves left. Then, all of a sudden, we are locked in a bathroom, crying our eyes out because this isn’t the life we imagined.

We have to take care of ourselves. If we don’t feel good about ourselves, then how can we be a good example for our kids?

I’m not only talking about the physical stuff like showering, grooming, exercising. We have to take care of ourselves mentally and emotionally. We have to take that time in the day where we can focus on ourselves.

Doing all of this other stuff is wearing. It’s tiring. It’s hard to refocus on yourself. When I finally get a few minutes of quiet, I just sit there and stare into the abyss. Okay, the abyss in reality is the tv. It’s like I forget how to function. I can’t even think of what I’d want to do for myself. If I do figure it out, I don’t have the energy.

It’s easy to get caught up in resentment and anger when you get used to putting yourself last. As a South Asian Indian mom, I’m programmed to put myself last. I’m supposed to put my kids and husband first. And every time I feel neglected, I end up feeling a mixture of sadness and anger.

The thing is that you have to find the solution. Your kids are never going to put you first and your partner can only help so much. You have to find the time and energy to do things for yourself. You have to be okay with putting yourself first sometimes. You have to find ways to take care of yourself.

If you have any self-care tips, I’d love to hear them. I am always looking for new ways to take care of myself.

The Battle With Depression

So this is something I’ve been dealing with most of my life. I don’t know if it’s a chemical thing or a personality thing or what. When I read Eat, Pray, Love, and Elizabeth Gilbert mentions that her therapist said that she would battling depression on and off for most of her life because she has a tendency towards it, I was like “Yes, that’s literally what I felt like I’ve been doing”.

The American Psychiatric Association provides the following definition for depression:

Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.

The funny thing for me is that there usually isn’t a huge cause for it. I’ll be wandering around just doing what I need to be doing and suddenly, I will realize that I’m just not feeling like myself anymore. It’s not like some big event always causes it (although that has happened as well). It almost feels like a bunch of little things that stack on top of each other and when I look up, I’m under the weight of all of that stack. I end up feeling like no one gets it. I end up resenting people for not understanding how I feel. I end up feeling like I’m a hole that I will never get out of.

I remember feeling that way when I was younger but I didn’t realize what it was. I’m really good at continuing to put one foot in front of the other so I would just keep doing whatever I was supposed to be doing (school, work, etc.). I think when I finally visited a therapist for when I had it really bad is when I learned to recognize it for what it was.

It comes and goes. I’m in the middle of trying to pull myself out of it right now. The best thing about recognizing it and beating it is that once you do it one time, you know you can do it again. It is tiring. It is overwhelming. But it is possible. I’ll continue to put one foot in front of the other and find love and happiness where I can. I’ll find help where I can because I know that it’s not possible to do this entirely by myself either.

The American Psychiatric Association also says that:

Depression affects an estimated one in 15 adults (6.7%) in any given year. And one in six people (16.6%) will experience depression at some time in their life. Depression can strike at any time, but on average, first appears during the late teens to mid-20s. Women are more likely than men to experience depression. Some studies show that one-third of women will experience a major depressive episode in their lifetime.

So if that’s you, please know you aren’t alone. There are a lot of us out there and we work hard at finding contentment and happiness. It’s not an easy battle but it’s one that is worth it. So get help, talk about it, do whatever you need to do to fight it. Because I promise that not being depressed really does feel good.

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.