Self-Doubt

I recently wrote a post with the question of whether or not I am a toxic person.

Logically, I know that I am trying to be the best person I can be even though it doesn’t always show. What I didn’t know is that my self-doubt would increase tremendously since I lost the friend that forced me to confront this question. I didn’t realize how much it would affect me. I can understand it and realize that it happened and there’s not much I can do what happened in the past but I didn’t realize that it would follow me for months.

It’s not the first time I’ve been through a loss of some sort. It’s happened before and crushed everything I knew about myself. I remember feeling like I disappeared for a while. I had to really work hard to find myself. I went through therapy and really worked on myself and I became someone I liked and respected. After I entered my 30s, I thought I knew who I was. I had read enough books and really took a look at my life. I found things and people I loved and believed that I had settled into who I was supposed to be. I had accomplished some pretty cool things that I was proud of and moved forward.

There’s been a lot of changes since that point. It’s been almost 8 years since I turned 30. And somehow, I’m back in the middle of a bunch of questions. I have constantly been meeting new people through my kids’ schools and classes and through the dance classes we teach. And through it all, I thought I knew myself and had accepted the fact that not everyone would be my best friend. That was okay. I knew who my tribe was. I knew the strength of the bonds I had formed.

But now, I’m questioning the basic core of myself. Am I someone that people want to be around? Am I someone that my kids like? Am I someone that I can respect?

I have fallen back into the trap of questioning myself after every social engagement. I worry that I said the wrong thing or did something that offended someone. The logical grown-up in me knows that whatever happens happens and it’s okay as long as I tried my best to be a good person but the emotional anxiety in me has risen up immensely.

Do I have to go through the same work again to be comfortable with myself? How do I learn to trust myself again? What if no one ever likes me? (Oh man, that thought makes me feel like a teenager again.) How do I know that this won’t happen with other people?How do I know if I’m disappointing or hurting someone else enough that they will decide to stop being my friend as well?

How do I manage this self-doubt?

 

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.

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.

Being Creative

Almost every Indian can tell you that when you were growing up, you were encouraged to find a career in something stable. The idea was that if you were a doctor, engineer, or accountant, you wouldn’t have to struggle in your life. You were set and financially stable. It makes sense for that message to be passed down. A lot of our parents left their homes to find that stable, successful career. They gave up a lot to make sure their children wouldn’t ever feel like they couldn’t have everything.

But what about that creative side of us? What about those of us who are writers, dancers, artists, and musicians? Do we lock that side of us away?

And what about our souls? If all we do is focus on our left brain jobs, then what happens to our right brain?

I once had a job interview for an accounting position with a company. When I was offered the opportunity to ask the interviewer (who would have been my boss) questions, I asked her what she likes to do in her spare time. I asked her if she had any activities that she was passionate about outside of work. She actually said that she just did accounting and nothing else. Seriously??? I knew right then and there that this wasn’t the place for me. My previous boss supported my passion for dance and the show that we organized. She knew how much it meant to me and that it was good for me emotionally and mentally. Would this new boss have supported this part of me?

I’ve found that if I ignore my creative side for a little bit, it does affect me. There’s a happiness, a positive energy that comes out when I do use my creativity. I need it to balance out the rational, logical side of me. I do thrive on schedules and lists but I need the free-flowing side to make me whole. I’ve found that to be a consistent trait in the people I know. They have their stable jobs and then they are creative on the side. They get the best of both worlds.

What about you? What is your creative outlet?