Being Direct

For a long time, when I was growing up and even when I became an adult, I just shoved down the way I felt even though I was miserable. I would get angry at the way I was treated by others or sad because of some reason or another and I’d just pretend it wasn’t happening. It would eat at me until I exploded. I’d get so angry that I would yell and scream and insult. It never ended well. I’m pretty sure I lost a few friendships that way. (Although the question remains if we were really good friends to begin with, if one fight could break us.)

Anyways, I finally realized the only way I’d feel better is if I talked about the way I was feeling. Then, it was up to the other person to work it out with me or decide not to be friends with me. It still sucked a lot of the times because usually the problem had arisen due our world views and ideals not aligning and that meant that it would be difficult to remain friends unless we wanted to argue or be annoyed all the time. It was better for both of us to walk away at that point. At least, we maintained our sanity and civility.

As I get closer to 40, I thought that most of the people I knew subscribed to this thought pattern. I realized recently that I was wrong. There are still a few non-confrontational people out there. And somehow, you could be doing something and never know it was happening because no one told you that you were doing it. It’s a difficult way to maintain friendships because it requires you to be perfect all the time.

I learned after having quite a few meltdowns and having a few spectacular blow out fights that it was better to be uncomfortable with someone for a few minutes but have a stronger friendship for it. I’d rather talk to someone about something even though, honestly, I dread it. I get nervous and anxious just thinking about being in that weird zone where we have to talk about our feelings. There’s the possibility that the discussion will end in a fight because you’re both arguing your point of view and no one is really listening. But there’s always the possibility that you both will figure it out and it will make you both better for it. I’ve had practice having these discussions with my husband because it’s impossible to have a happy relationship unless you’re both willing to discuss the important issues and listen honestly without getting defensive. I’ve been in the relationships where it was just attack and defend. Those aren’t any fun, trust me. You have to be able to admit that you might be at fault (even accidentally). Everyone is human. Everyone can make mistakes.

After the last few decades of my life, I also learned that it’s okay if not everyone likes you or even wants to be friends with you. My personal goal is to be honest with myself and and believe that I’m doing the best I can to love myself and to be a good person to everyone I know.

After that, whatever happens, happens.

The Guilt Trip

Do you know that woman that finds a way to passively aggressively guilt trip you when something doesn’t go her way? She can turn anything around so that even if the whole thing wasn’t about her, it becomes about her. Instead of just addressing an issue at face value, she keeps pushing and twisting so that she can become the victim.

I know her. I used to be her.

In my last few relationships before my marriage, if my significant other didn’t do something the way I wanted, I found a way to fight and make it about me. I used to be act like things were okay but then freeze him out. I used to guilt trip and guilt trip and guilt trip. I did it to my friends too. But I finally realized though that a good relationship is based on direct communication rather than trying to force someone to understand you without talking to them.

Recently, I’ve made some mistakes. Honest mistakes that I didn’t mean to make but since I’m human, they happened. I also owned up to them and apologized for them. Now the people on the receiving end decided that instead of just accepting my apology and understanding that it happens, that they needed to make subtle comments on the fact that I screwed up.

I know when I’m being guilt tripped because I start having these arguments with the people guilt tripping me in my head. I think about what I want to say to them, explain to them so they understand why my mistakes happened. I want to yell and scream at them until they understand why it’s not my fault and that obviously there is something wrong with them if they had to guilt trip me. And this conversation goes around in circles in my head.

I don’t want that to be the case. I don’t want to have these conversations in my head and I really don’t want to have them in real life. Is it really worth arguing with someone who guilt trips? They obviously think they are the victims of whatever happened.

I like what The Four Agreements says. “Don’t take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you.” It’s true. My mistakes weren’t meant to cause anyone harm. They were true mistakes on my part. So I will go ahead and believe that these people need to guilt trip me because of something that they are going through. Maybe it’s insecurity, maybe it’s something in their past, or maybe it’s just the way they think.

All I know for sure is that I don’t want to go through life feeling like I have to guilt trip people to make myself feel better. I don’t want to be passive aggressive in my communication methods. I would rather resolve a problem directly and move on. As my husband once told me, “You can be lame or you can have fun.” I choose to have fun every time.

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).

A Letter To My Child

To my baby,

I don’t know what to say. I can’t believe you’re here. I’ve been waiting for you for a long time. Your father and I had to go through a lot before you came but you’re here now. Our perfect little baby.

I finally know what it means to watch my heart walking around outside of my body. The first week or so, one of us had to stay awake while you slept because we wanted to make sure you were okay.  I didn’t know then what I know now,  that you are tougher than you look. But I still always worry when you’re not smiling at me. I still wake up at least 3 times a night to make sure you’re doing fine.

It’s been tough.  We are learning each other and teaching each other at the same time. There are days I’m completely frustrated and exhausted but then, you do something new that I’ve never seen before and forget everything and am in awe again.

I love to fact that you do smile at me now. It feels like you know who I am, even though I’m not sure if you do. I can’t wait to share more with you. I want to laugh with you, dance with you, live with you. I want to teach you everything I’ve learned so you don’t make the same mistakes. I want you to see the world in the best light possible. I want you to always be happy.

I can’t believe I’m writing this letter to you. I hope you get to read it some day. For now, I’ll settle for you being the love of my life. Thank you for coming to us.

Courage to Take Responsibility

It takes courage to stop blaming and take responsibility.

I read this quote in an article that someone had posted on Facebook. I love it. How many of us can be completely honest today and admit to being wrong about something? How many of us can take the next step and actually apologize to the person for being wrong?

We have all had our moments whether on purpose or not of screwing up and hurting someone. Then, what?

I think that the people in our lives are a great reflection of who we are. If you aren’t sure of what you look like to the outside world, take a look at the people around you. Are they good people? Or are they the types that don’t take responsibility for their own lives where everything is always someone else’s fault?

I had a friend email me last night, apologizing for not being there in the past few weeks when I was going through a really hard time. This is a friend who has been there through some of the worst times in my life. This is a friend who was apologizing to me for not being there while she was going through a really hard time herself. I admire my friend a lot. She is an amazing person. And I admire her courage to stand up for her beliefs and do what she needed to do when she thought she was wrong. I don’t think she was wrong at all for taking some time out for herself while she dealt with her stuff but that’s a whole other story.

I think people don’t realize that having beliefs is acceptable. Standing up for your beliefs is also acceptable. I have done this time and time again. And there are times when I have stood up in a way that was completely unacceptable. I have had to go back and apologize for not treating someone correctly because I was passionate about something that they didn’t understand or agree with. It doesn’t change what I stand for but I want to be proud of the way I defend my beliefs.

How do we make the world a better place when we don’t have the courage to even look internally at our who we are and what we are doing? It’s scary sometimes to see the person staring back at you. The only thing we can really ever do is our best. We are all human and we are all going to make mistakes. And sometimes, those mistakes will hurt other people. But if we can take a look at what just happened and take responsibility, then that shows that we can learn and grow. I hope that is how we change our world to be a place to be proud of.