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.

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.

Will You Talk To Me?

Do you ever wonder what makes us connect with another person?

I have about 3 categories of people: people I love and easily get along with, people that are cool but we aren’t that close, and people I just don’t want to be around.

The hardest group for me is the second one, the people that are cool but we aren’t that close. These are the people I have to make small talk with. These are the people that I would like to have a conversation with but I honestly just don’t know how. I don’t know how to change the comfort level for these people.

I am at a point in my life where if I can’t just be silent with you, it’ll be hard for me to be close to you. I need to be around people that can either facilitate the conversation or are cool just hanging out. I will try to make conversation but my mind doesn’t work as quickly or freely as it once you used.

I used to wonder what was wrong with me. Turns out that this is just my personality. I am not super social. I’m social up to a limit. I will always smile at you but if you aren’t easy to talk to, I have a hard time communicating.

It’s hard to be accepting that this is my personality. I don’t like feeling unfriendly or like people don’t want to talk to me. I judge myself for it. I should be more outgoing. I should be friendlier to people who have tried to be friendly to me.

But honestly, I just have an easier time around people that I feel comfortable around. I have to work hard to change that. Sometimes, I’m not even sure I want to.

What type of personality do you have?

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.

How Do You Talk To An Indian Auntie?

I can’t relate to Indian aunties. If I run into them at different events, it’s literally a “Hi, how are you?” situation and then I’m on my way. I’ve tried the small talk thing but honestly, it’s usually a fail.

I always thought that it was the fact that I was younger and it was something I’d outgrow but after going to recent family events, I’m now accepting that maybe it’s just me. Even now that I have kids and we have more in common than before, I still don’t know what to say to them.

It seems to be mutual. They are nice enough to exchange the social norms with me but that’s as far as it goes.

And I’m not really sure why this is. I can connect to some people but maybe I just don’t have much in common with the aunties. I have some friends who seem to be able to talk to everyone. They are able to be friends and make people laugh and it’s no problem at all. I just don’t seem to have the ability. Maybe it’s also partly that I never developed a relationship with some of them past being their friend’s daughter.

I also started thinking that maybe I’m not an easy person for aunties to relate to. I don’t know how to be myself and connect to them. Maybe it’s a generational gap, maybe it’s being raised in India versus being raised in America, or maybe it’s just a personality thing.

Who knows? I wish I could figure out what makes it easy for us to talk to some people and really difficult to talk to others.

Until then, we just hang out with those who make it easier for us to be ourselves.

 

Positive Gossip

We were catching up with some family over the weekend. One of the topics that came up during this time was about some other relatives and how they have to do some extra work to fix something that they were having trouble with. Later, my husband and I were discussing this between us and he asked me if it seemed like some people have more bad luck than others.

Here’s my question: Maybe they did run into some issues but they have also had a lot of good luck. Those people have been doing good and seem to be happy most of the time. So why is it that we get stuck discussing negative things that happen to others? Why does it feel like only bad things happen to them?

Plenty of good things have happened for these relatives. But we did not discuss those things. We focused on the bad things that happened.

That’s because when we talk about others, we tend to look at the negative things. How many times do we bring someone else up in conversation in order to just say what hasn’t happened for them or what bad thing did happen to them? How many times do we talk about how someone has gained weight (in a bad way) or didn’t do something the way we would do it so it’s can’t be as good?

So why is this? Is it because it makes us feel better to put someone down? Is it because we can look at our own life in a more positive way because we aren’t having the same problem they are? Does it make us better human beings because things are going smoother?

Which of us haven’t run into problems? I know there was a time when I had to deal with getting my epilepsy under control. There was a time when I had to get over 2 really bad relationships in a row. There was a time when I had to deal with being unemployed for months after I had gotten my MBA.

Here’s the thing: For every negative thing that happened, there was definitely a positive. I learned things, I gained things, I moved forward.

So I hope that, if people did talk about me, it wasn’t to feel sorry for me but to realize that I did have positive things happening even, if at the moment, it didn’t seem like it.

I know it’s not realistic to not talk about other people. We all do it. If we are going to do it though, let’s try to make it more positive.

See Your Phone? Put It Away!

15 years ago, if you went to a social event and you didn’t know anyone there, you had 2 choices: you could either try to make friends or you could sit in a corner and be by yourself. Now, you have a third option: you can sit by yourself with your phone out.

Have you noticed that people seem to be beyond addicted to their phones? I went to a social event recently and even though all of us don’t see each other that often, there were a few people around the table still on their phones. There’s definitely a range of what they could have been doing. I’ve seen people sitting on their phones in a social setting and playing games, texting other people, or just surfing the internet.

I’m not saying it’s the end of the world but honestly, doesn’t it worry you just a little bit? I want my kid to learn how to talk to people. I think a lot of us developed the ability to be social because we didn’t have the phone as a crutch when we were growing up. Now it seems that it’s used as a distraction in all cases.

You see it all the time. How many of you have seen 2 people sitting at a table at a restaurant and both have their phones in their hands and neither is talking to the other? I have had people talk to me but, at the same time, have an ongoing text conversation with someone else.

What’s going to happen if you don’t look at your phone for a few hours? We used to get by without having constant access to the outside world all the time. If something wasn’t happening in the exact location we were at, we didn’t know about it. Is that so bad? Why are we so scared of missing out on what’s going on somewhere else?

Also, why is what’s going on somewhere else more important than talking to the person that is sitting across from you? Why is it more interesting? The funny thing is that we could be with that other person and we’d be sitting on the phone talking to someone entirely different. Sometimes, I don’t even feel like talking to someone who seems to be more interested in their phone/text/social media conversations than in speaking with a real, live, present person.

There was one time I had gone on a vacation with my family. I was so tired of dealing with the outside world that I decided that I wanted to live in the moment. In order to accomplish that, I decided to leave my phone in our hotel room. It was liberating to not be so attached to something. I was able to really focus on hanging out with my family.

I know we all need our phones. I have a kid. I like to be in touch when I’m not with her just in case she needs me. But I do want to be able to put my phone away when I’m with other people and don’t need to necessarily be in touch with someone that isn’t present. I want to be able to focus on the moment at hand. I want to be present and be able to socialize with the people that are right there next to me.

Can you do it? Can you put your phone away and not look at it for a few hours? Can you break the addiction?

Small Talk

We’re Indian. Which means that even if we don’t know someone, we kind of sort of know them. So when we run into them at social events, we have to make small talk. It’s how we socialize. It’s how we get to know people. And it’s how we make sure that it’s not awkward when we see them again.

I spent a 30 minute ride home with a family friend who I’ve known my whole life in almost complete silence. Her daughters are really good friends of mine so I asked how they were doing. And that was the end of our conversation. We just had nothing to talk about. I couldn’t even think of what to say so I just sat in silence until I reached home.

There are times I will run into people that I have met before and be at a complete loss of what to say to them. Other than the standard “how are you doing” and “what are you up to”, I have nothing to say. I know small talk comes easily to some people but I’m not sure how.

I have a cousin who once told me that she manages to start conversations by just asking people about themselves. She found that people love talking about themselves and this helped her jump start any conversation. Is it that I’m not that interested in people? Or maybe it’s just that I’m too scared to start talking about anything. Maybe I’m worried what’ll people will think of me.

It’s interesting to me that that insecurity is still around. I’m at a place that I’ve established myself. I know who I am. And if I say something that everyone doesn’t like, should I even worry that much about it? I am well aware that everyone might not like me at this stage in life.

Maybe it’s just that I’ve done my job making new friends over my whole life and now, it’s harder. Now, we really have to make an effort to know someone else. Now, we have to try to find common ground that isn’t just provided to us. Before, we made friends of circumstance. We went to school with someone, they lived near us, we were in the same social group outside of school. It takes a lot to pass the insecurity we might have in order to make new friends.

Now, we have to work at it, especially if it’s a situation where you are truly there just to make friends. You have to put yourself out there. You have to find a way to make the small talk so that you can really get to know the people that you meet.

Small talk. Fun, huh?

Social Anxiety

The idea of walking into a room full of strangers and having to talk to them scares the crap out of me. I’m assuming it’s because they might not like me. There are people who can go anywhere and will walk out with a room full of friends. I have one friend who I have gone out with in the past and she will know everyone in the place by the time she leaves. I know someone else that somehow manages to get to know everyone and has no trouble (at least that I can see) talking to anyone at anytime.

I wish I had that ability. I moved recently and while I am still in touch with my friends, I do have make new ones that are geographically closer. I haven’t had to make new friends in years. A lot of the people I have become friends with in the last few years I have met through other friends or through doing activities. I find that much easier than having to make friends without any type of familiarity in the process.

How many of us go through this social anxiety? I’d like to think it’s normal to feel this way. So how do those other people do it? How are they able to just talk to anyone? I honestly have to psych myself up when I know I’m meeting a group of new people for the first time. I have to convince myself that they will like me for me and that the worst that can happen is that I don’t talk to them again. I’m in my early thirties so I really should be over the idea that everyone has to like me.

I wonder where this fear comes from. Is it based on doubts of ourselves? Am I just not sure who I am? Is something else? I was never very popular. I always had my group of friends but I was definitely a nerd. I do feel as though I was judged while growing up for not being “cool”. Maybe this tag has remained with me as I’ve grown up and regardless of what I have done in my life, I will always feel like I’m not quite accepted for who I am.

I also wonder if the people who make it look so easy to just blend into a group also feel the social anxiety. Is it something that everyone go through whenever they step into a new situation? Or are there just people who are completely at ease no matter who they are talking to or any new place they go?

What is the secret to get rid of the social anxiety?

Socially Awkward

One of my good girlfriends was surprised when I told her I was an introvert. Unless I’m comfortable with the people I’m with, I’m not too good at being super social. 

If I end up in a room with a bunch of people I don’t know, I have to force myself to be friendly. I would much rather curl up in the corner with a good book. I have a friend who can literally walk into a place and make friends with everyone there and leave knowing everyone’s life story. I really wish I could do that. 

Those people who can be friends with everyone amaze me. And I don’t mean the fake people that pretend to be friends with you. I mean the sincere people who really want to know you and create a new relationship. 

So what makes us introverted? I don’t know if it’s entirely the insecurity of the possibility that the new people you meet might not like you or if it’s just a preference. I don’t think being an introvert is a bad thing at all. It’s who you are. I just have trouble accepting it for myself because I judge myself to be socially awkward when I’m not the person who knows everyone in the room. Talking to someone one on one is much easier for me. Put me in a room of a bunch of people I don’t know and I want to run the other way. 

I asked my cousin once on how she manages to go anywhere and be comfortable talking to anyone. She told me that her secret is just to ask them about themselves. I still have to learn to employ this technique. 

Being introverted is a challenge. It’s not an easy thing to overcome. One day, I hope to be comfortable enough with myself that I have an easier time being in a large crowd. I’m pretty sure I can’t be the only person who feels this way. 

How do you manage to be social in a large crowd?