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.

Health Insurance Is Not A Guarantee Of No Stress

I am epileptic. I have given birth twice. I am a normal person.

Yet, one of the things that causes me the most stress in this life is my health insurance.

Unfortunately, I have a chronic condition. It’s not an option. I’m lucky enough that I can afford insurance. I’m lucky enough to be able to control my condition. I’m lucky enough to have a simple enough solution to handle it.

Dealing with insurance, however, makes the condition feel worse than it is. There are constant problems with meeting all the requirements to get the medicine I need to control the condition. The insurance doesn’t talk to the pharmacy, the pharmacy doesn’t talk to the doctor, the doctor can’t talk to the insurance. It’s like I need to conference call all of them constantly to make everything function smoothly.

In the past 4 months, I have had to deal with it all at least 3 times. For a month, I was constantly calling the insurance company, the pharmacy, and my doctor to get all the paperwork in order so I could continue to get the medication that I’ve been on for 13 years.

Why is it so hard? Why can’t something that should be so basic be easier? I’ve definitely read that it’s easier in other countries. I do realize that the insurance industry is a for-profit business and this is a way to make money. Why is that the case though? Shouldn’t our healthcare be a necessity, not a luxury? Shouldn’t we be able to get what we need without stress? Isn’t getting sick stressful enough?

I hope I get to see things get easier in the insurance world in my lifetime. I don’t know how this country can untangle the mess that it is. I don’t even know if the people in charge want to.

All I know is that it’s frustrating that in addition to whatever our bodies and minds are going through on a regular basis, we have to add a good dose of stress to it.

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.

EMPATH

Who knows what an empath is?

According to Merriam-Webster, an empath is one who experiences the emotions of others.

It took me a long time to figure out I am an empath. Well, I believe I am. I don’t actually have an official way of knowing.

According to this article from psychology.com, here are the 10 ways to know you are an empath:

  1. Highly sensitive (in my case, oversensitive)
  2. Absorbs other people’s emotions
  3. Tend to be introverted, can be overwhelmed in large gatherings
  4. Highly intuitive
  5. Need alone time
  6. Can be overwhelmed in intimate relationships
  7. Targets for energy vampires
  8. Replenished in nature
  9. Highly tuned senses
  10. Huge hearts but sometimes give too much

It took me a long time to figure out that a lot of the times I was overwhelmed by my feelings, it was because I was absorbing other people’s feelings. It devours you and makes you want to hide and not deal with anything. I’m sure there also people out there that would be surprised that I need time alone. I can specifically remember one night I had gone to Knott’s Scary Farm with my friends when I was 16. At the beginning of the night, I was super social. By the end, I just wanted to be in my bed by myself. There are many more examples that helped me realize that I fit the description of an empath. I wish I had known when I was younger so I could have figured out how to deal with it better. I don’t think I fully realized it until I was almost 30.

It did make having a relationship difficult. How do you explain to someone how you feel when you don’t even completely understand what is happening? The accusation of being oversensitive was thrown at me a lot. And I thought I was. I thought it was my fault that I felt the way I felt. I finally realized that my feelings don’t need to be invalidated. This was something that was a part of me. I had to learn to own it.

That’s exactly what I ended up doing. I learned not to stop my tears or if I was feeling upset. It didn’t get rid of the feelings. It just bottled them up until I exploded. Now, I try to understand them and I talk about them. It helps to move forward faster.

Now, let’s talk about being an empath and a mother. That means that you rarely get alone time, there are feelings all over the place, and picking up other emotions is a daily occurrence. The positive side is I also know when my kids are really feeling things and I need to address them without assuming it will heal. The only way I do know how to deal with it is to shut myself down (which I admit might not be the best way). I have to compartmentalize a lot. I don’t know if this makes me a better or worse mother because I have to separate myself from whatever my kids are feeling or doing.

Something I hadn’t thought about until recently is that my children might be empaths as well. The older one already shows signs of empathy at an extremely young age. How do I teach her to deal with this? How do I teach her how to handle it when I’m not even sure how to deal with it myself? What is the healthiest way for her to handle it?

Do I have any empaths out there who can offer some advice?

Last On The List

Taking care of yourself is not easy. It’s especially difficult when you have 2 kids and they are your priorities. Every day, I take a look at my calendar and it’s filled with everything I need to take my kids to or get done for my family. Currently, I’m using their nap time to write this post.

It’s more than likely that if you have kids, you get caught up in their daily lives. You keep taking your one step in front of another to realize that you have gone a while without doing anything for yourself.

It’s another type of downward spiral. If you keep putting yourself last, you’ll be (guess where?) last.

The funny thing is that my husband would tell me to take nights off and go write or go spend time with friends or go do whatever. But I feel/felt guilty. I feel like he is working so hard to take care of all of us. How can I just push more work onto him when he is finished with his actual work? How can I not be there for my kids just because I’m tired?

And the worst part is that if I choose not to take the break, I resent everyone else for it.

It took me a while to figure this out. I wasn’t a better person for putting everyone else first. I was angry that I never got to do anything for myself. I was angry that I felt unimportant to everyone else. I wasn’t happy. Basically, I felt like my kids’ maid and that was all I was good for.

This wasn’t going to change without me putting in some effort. Obviously, the kids need me. Obviously, I need to do my part in helping the household function. So it involved some thought and practice on changing the way my life was scheduled.

Now, I wake up early to exercise so I can’t blame anyone else for missing a workout. The days I don’t is because I prioritize sleep since that is what my body needs that day. I’ve been making plans with people and not feeling guilty about it. Even if that little seed of doubt enters my mind, I try to make it leave because really, I’m a better wife and mom because I do take the break.

We try to go out on weekly or semi-monthly dates. I used to feel guilty about leaving my kids with their grandparents but I’ve realized that they all seem to be having fun so what am I feeling guilty about? I might as well have fun too.

And I’m loving writing again. It took me a while to get back into this because I was so busy trying to take care of everyone else that my mind became super blocked. The thought of putting words down started feeling overwhelming. I kept pushing it off until I couldn’t anymore. I enjoy doing this. So I have added it to the list of things I want to do for myself.

There are 100 other things that I’d love to add to that list and maybe as my kids get older, I can. But, for now, finding some way, any way to do something for myself that I look forward to on a daily basis is enough.

Controlling Your Thoughts

Have you ever had one bad thing happen to you and it made you focus on everything that has gone wrong in your life lately? How about thinking about one thing that scares you and it makes you go into an out of control negative thought spiral?

There are days that I will wake up fine and have a hard time dealing with my kids and then it just seems like nothing goes right. I start thinking of all the things I’m unhappy about and it grows and grows until I’m completely resentful. I think about all the things that used to make me feel good in the past and dwell on that instead of my present.

The crazy thing is that if I just change my point of view to focus on the good instead of the bad or found a better way to deal with the harder things that happened, I wouldn’t go into this downward spiral. That’s not to say that I’m not correct in what I’m feeling. It’s just that there are good, positive things that do happen. I just focus too much on the negative.

It’s hard to control our thoughts. It’s easier to follow our instincts. It’s an uphill battle to continuously think positively. It’s work to recognize the good things, especially because they may be little things. I can easily name 5 things that I don’t like about my life but constantly struggle to name 5 things I love about it.

If I continue to follow this pattern though, it will be hard for me to find happiness. I’ll stay in a constant state of anxiety and disappointment. I will miss the great things that are happening in front of me.

I also do believe that appreciating the good surrounds you with positive energy and it attracts more good stuff. So as much daily work as it is, it is definitely worth trying to stay positive. Recognize and understand anything bad that happens and feel it but don’t dwell on it. Shifting your thinking is a daily mind exercise.

So work on not sending yourself into a downward spiral. Find the good.

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.