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.

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.

 

 

Couples and Communication

So I’m going to tell you the truth about my new year’s eve. My husband and I had a fight. It sucked. We were both tired and we had been dealing with illnesses traveling around our family for a few weeks. There came a point where stuff we had been thinking about and not saying just all came out. It wasn’t the greatest way to start off a new year but we figured it out.

We try to both be understanding of each other but sometimes, that leads to resentment. Holding stuff in doesn’t really help resolve anything and then, one of us ends up really angry at the other.

The problem with this situation is that constructive communication is something we both had to learn. Putting our ego aside for the benefit of our relationship is something we both had to learn. Talking to each other with the common end goal of moving forward is something we had to learn.

Unfortunately, these aren’t lessons that are readily available in the Indian culture. We don’t know that we need to continuously evolve in ourselves and in our relationships. The end goal is usually to get married. No one explains that you have to keep working on your relationship after the wedding. It’s just assumed that you will stay together regardless of anything else. We are taught that we just need do what we need to do and that’s it.

But that isn’t it. Awareness and improvement are a relatively new concept in the Indian community. Happiness and emotional needs are also new concepts as well. So we have to realize ourselves that we need to be able to look at our lives and analyze it so we can make it better. As a couple, we need to be able to talk to each other and figure out a way to move forward that is beneficial to both people.

Marriage is something that should be fun. Sometimes, there are occasions where it isn’t so much. But as long as we talk and try to understand each other, it should be a short-lived situation. Then, we go back to having fun.

My husband and I sure did.

Who We Are Today

Over the last few years, I haven’t written as much in this blog as I’d like to. If I’m honest, it’s probably because most of the exposure I have to the outside world is limited to my family and sometimes, I don’t want to write about the things I feel within that limitation. My original intent for this blog was to discuss things that South Asians don’t have a tendency to discuss. I’d like to try to continue that and make more of a commitment to writing regularly again.

Being surrounded by my kids most of the day means that most of my experiences are child-oriented right now. I am not the stay-at-home mom that is able to do all sorts of arts and crafts and bake and teach my children all sorts of lessons (with unending patience, I might add). I wish I was because that would give me a ton of inspiration in what I write about.

I loved writing but it’s taken a quite a back seat to the rest of my life. It scares me sometimes that I’m not experiencing the outside world the way I used to. My world view has narrowed (other than what I read in the news). So now I need to figure out what I should write about. What are things about parenthood that need to be discussed? What can I write about where the discussion can help improve and influence the lives of other South Asian people? How do I translate this new life of mine into a conversation?

This blog was started for a reason and with a purpose. I don’t want to lose that. That means I have to adapt to the change. I have to find times and ways to continue writing with a purpose.

There are always things to talk about. So let’s talk about them.

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.

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.

Why It’s Time To Take A Facebook Break

Yesterday, I wrote a post where I was wondering who I am.

Today, I realized the best course of action would be to take a break from Facebook.

I love Facebook for so many reasons, the main one being that I can keep in touch with my friends and family from all over the world. It allows me to be a part of everyone’s lives even when I’m not able to see or talk to those people regularly. I also get to be a part of so many different groups and have been able to make friends via social media throughout the world.

But, on the flip side, it’s not real. We only see what people want us to see. It’s not a bad thing to be able to celebrate the good times and experiences that others have until things aren’t always where you want them to be in your life. Then, you end up focusing on what you imagine to be their perfect lives to be like and how imperfect your own life is.

You forget to see the good happening in your own life. You forget that the lives of others aren’t perfect either. And when social media becomes a negative instead of a positive aspect of your life, it might be time to step away from it. It might be time to put Facebook, Instagram, Twitter in the corner while you figure out what is important to you and your life.

This is where I’m at right now. I want to be able to focus on me again. I want to focus on my family. I don’t want to sit and obsess about the lives of other people and how it seems so much more exciting than mine.

This isn’t the first Facebook break I’ve taken. I had to do this in 2012 when I felt like a part of my life was just not moving in the direction I wanted it to go. It helped me tremendously. It felt great to refocus my energy off of social media and back onto myself and the people I love. I was able to shift my mind towards the things I wanted to accomplish instead of just feeling bad when others accomplished something. I was able to be happy for my friends when good things happened to them instead of just jealous that they weren’t happening to me.

So, in my efforts to shift my energy in a direction that I can be proud of, I have decided to take a break from Facebook.

 

Are You Really Happy Or Just Happy On Facebook?

A few years ago, I wrote a post about “My Perfect Facebook Life“. I actually had to take a break from Facebook for a few months because seeing other people’s lives looking so perfect and amazing all the time made me feel like I was missing something.

Out of curiosity, when you take a look at other people’s posts on Facebook, does it feel like everyone is out living life and you’re sitting wherever you are looking at them live their lives? Even their food for dinner seems more exciting than whatever you’re doing. It’s like, all of a sudden, you realize that there is this great, big world and you aren’t everywhere. I have fomo enough without needing to be reminded where and when I was or was not invited somewhere or if I missed an event. Knowing what happens elsewhere without me really does mess with my mind.

So how do you get past it? Can you look at other people’s lives and just see it as their experiences and enjoy your own experiences for what they are?

Do you sometimes feel like it’s a competition to make your life seem like it’s the most interesting one? Or to show that we’re the most loved or that we have the most friends? Or are people really just innocently wanting to share their lives and it’s just crazy people like me that feel this way?

Are people really that happy all the time? If it’s so, I think it’s great and I want to know that person’s secret. If it’s not, are we lying to the world by only showing the good stuff or are we just presenting what we should because it doesn’t make sense to share all the crap? Do I look like one of those super happy people or like I live in reality (assuming my reality isn’t super happy all the time)?

I think I just need to find a way to deal with Facebook and the way it is.

How about you?

When We Change, Do Our Friendships Change?

Facebook keeps us connected with a lot of people we have met in our lives. I still have friends on Facebook from high school and college. And, honestly, it’s interesting to see where we end up.

Somehow, over the last few years, I’ve become completely separated from most of my friends from college. I had already separated from the friends I made at the first college I attended but now I’m not really in touch with the friends I had made at my second college as well.

When I look over the last 10 years and see the amount of friendships that have just faded, I wonder if it’s me. Is it that I’ve changed or that I haven’t kept in touch? Or is it that these friendships were never really solid in the first place and were more a matter of circumstance? Have I stayed in touch more with those people who I share a mutual interest with or was there something different that kept us connected?

We want to keep those around us that helps us be better people. And when we don’t feel good about ourselves around some, we choose to give ourselves some space. But when we look at the past, it is sad to realize that there are so many people we have walked away from or that have walked away from us.

Could we have done something differently? Could I have done something differently? Would I have wanted to do something differently? Would it have to take a sacrifice of self in order to maintain these friendships? Or just working through difficult times with certain people?

How much of ourselves do we have to give in order to stay friends with people who we have outgrown or who have outgrown us? Is it worth it? When I see so many people I know still socializing and celebrating each other’s life events (thanks completely to Facebook), I definitely do wonder if I missed out.

I know I need to focus on the people who are currently in my life and continue to work on those relationships. I don’t want to take them for granted and there is a reason that they are in my life now. I don’t want to dwell on what could have, should have, would have been.

But every now and then, I do wonder.

Barely An Accountant

So I’m pretty sure that most Indian parents out there dreamed that their child was going to grow up and be a doctor or if not that,  at least an engineer.  I didn’t realize that my profession as an accountant didn’t really count in the eyes of the community.  Not until I had heard someone say that I was barely an accountant. 

The funny thing is that I’m the one with a standard degree in my family.  My siblings and even my cousins did much more interesting things that just accounting.  I’m a little jealous that my degree is so boring.  

So let’s talk about the standards and expectations that the Indian community has.  If you’re a doctor,  you’ve made it. If you marry a doctor, you have also made it. Now if you are both doctors,  you both are pretty much royalty.  

I’m assuming that this mentality that the generations above us have of becoming a doctor has to do with two things : financial stability and status in the community. I have even heard people in our generation talk about the fact that if someone is a doctor (or if you marry one),  that person has it made. 

 It has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that you might actually love what you do. The people I know that are doctors have this passion for their respective specialties. They work pretty damn hard at it too.  

Now let’s talk about the rest of us.  The accountants, the lawyers, the business people, the journalists, the artists, etc. Are we now considered unsuccessful? When people meet us, do they look down on us because we didn’t want to become doctors? What is so wrong about following a different passion?  

In past posts, I’ve talked about making something you love into a financially stable career.  What if you did that already?  I honestly think that as long as a person has ambition for something and can support themselves,  they can do anything they want in the world. And I think people have stopped caring what the community thinks regarding this. Otherwise,  we wouldn’t have had such a range of professions out there now.  

The question really is whether or not we will get respect for what we have chosen to do with our lives.