5 Steps to Deal With The Next 4 Years

This election was a punch in the stomach; the outcome a final blow. Here are five steps I am taking to make myself feel better. I will get into detail later.

How to Deal With The Next 4 Years in 5 Easy Steps (in no particular order):

  1. Listen to Hip Hop Music
  2. Find role models, learn from them
  3. Read books that inspire you
  4. Join organizations/ events, get involved and be impactful!
  5. Help thy neighbor. Stand up for yourself and for those around you. Support one another, this includes friends families and strangers in need.

– J

Note to Self

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”.

Eleanor Roosevelt

The last time I referred back to this quote for guidance was when I was in heavy disagreement with one of my good friends in college. We got into such a heated debate that she ended up leaving me at a crowded restaurant all by myself, my food only half eaten. I also soon left only to find myself stomping around the park across the street sobbing profusely.

When I look back at that moment and hear the echo of this quote, I imagined a sense of empowerment and reassurance would have flood over me. But the more I thought about it, the more confusing it became; the less satisfied I felt. I was crying in that park because someone made me feel bad about myself. The argument ended with their last words, not mine. I was silenced by the emptiness of their absence and a longing to tell them something that I didn’t have the power to say.

I avoided my friend for many weeks after that incident. Even today, I can still feel a hollowness in our friendship; a distance that I continue to create every time I reject her invitations to “hang out”. For a long time, I struggled to understand why I held on to this quote even when it failed to help me in my most troubling time.

This quote doesn’t give me instructions, it doesn’t tell me the ‘how’ . “How do I make someone not make me feel inferior, even without my consent”? Its not like I can just go up to her and say, “Its ok. Your words don’t hurt me because I won’t let them. I didn’t give you permission to disrespect me so therefore I do not feel inferior when I’m around you”.

After a few months of letting this quote sit on the back-burner, I think I’ve finally figured out what Eleanor Roosevelt was trying to say: its all in your head.

Its not the attitudes and words of others that hurt you, its your own attitudes and your own words that cause you pain. When Roosevelt said “no one” she really meant “you”. Now, whenever I read this quote I always translate it as,

“No one, including yourself, can make you feel inferior without your consent”.

A lot of my anxiety comes from within me, not outside factors like friends, schools, etc. Its always how I perceive the world around me that causes me to panic.

Now, whenever I feel stressed or have an anxiety attack, I will remember that the only reason I feel inferior in my time of torment is because I let myself feel this way. I gave myself permission to feel inferior and therefore can easily take away that same power. Knowing that I have these abilities makes me feel a whole lot better. 🙂

-J

 

 

Becoming Indian…Again

I should be studying for my quiz but I’m not. This seems like a better time to talk to you about my identity crisis.

I came to the Unites States in 1998 when I was about 6 years old. I didn’t know how to speak any English. I was enrolled in kindergarten and promptly pushed into a classroom full of other foreign speaking children who could not speak English. I was so shy of speaking in my embarrassing, messy English that my kindergarten teacher asked my mother if I was mute since I never said anything in class. It took me until 2nd grade to learn how to read and write in English at my grade level. The first time my parents saw me reading an English book (at Costco of all places), they bought it immediately, signed the date and titled it “Jui’s First Book”! The book was called Danny and the Dinosaur and it was a page turner nonetheless.

Elementary school not only taught me about annoying silent letters, nouns and cursive, it also taught me how to develop a fabulous English accent. After one year, my Indian accent was gone and I spoke like a true (educated) valley girl. In addition to all that, English composition became my best ranked subject in school; I read every book in sight and failed at math miserably- basically every Indian parents nightmare. What a time to be alive!

Middle School and High School felt like a bad rom-com. I watched lots of sappy love stories like Sleepless in Seattle or Princess Diaries , slowly starting to separate myself from Bollywood and having to read those pesky subtitles. I would run into my room and slam the door like I saw in the movies if my parents ever pissed me off only to find them chasing me down the hallway with a slipper in their hand. I began to complain endlessly to my mom about how “itchy Indian clothes are! UGH!” and constantly worried if I remembered to put on deodorant in the morning because I was afraid people would smell the onion, cumin, and mirchi odor that seemed to linger on all my clothes. I spoke in a crystal clear American accent, made fun of my parents for mispronouncing their W’s for V’s and greatly underestimated the length girls in my class went to for prom dresses. Although I never said and never intentionally thought about it, I secretly wanted to be as American as I could be. But was I convincing enough?

The first day I moved into my new apartment in college, my housemates now ex-boyfriend asked me a rather racist question: “So you’re Indian right? Do you eat curry everyday?! HAHAH!!!” I didn’t get it, but I didn’t want to seem rude so I just laughed, rolled my eyes and stupidly said… nothing. I met lots of cool, interesting, and often times insensitive people such as previous housemates ex-boyfriend in college. One person told me they know lots about Indian people dynamic/culture because I quote, “I dated an Indian guy once”. Most importantly, when asked “so, where are you from”, I would always respond with the name of my home town. More surprisingly, I would quickly follow up on that with, “But I’m actually from India”. Most 2nd generation people like myself would complain about how American’s would ask then dumb things like, “No, I meant where are you really from”? But I never got that question. I would treat my “I’m actually from India” response as if it was a liability because lets face it, I look brown but have an American accent so what better way to confirm that I am in fact an American citizen then to mention my indefinite Visa from India at the same time! It was dawning on me that no matter what I did to be as American as I could be, I would always be Indian. In high school, I didn’t think about it too much, but in college, “becoming Indian” became my mission.

When I came to college, I was all of sudden very interested to learn about my culture. Not sure where this sudden surge of curiosity came from but I have done everything I could to be more Indian. I have maps of India on my wall, I’m taking Hindi classes, I’m playing badminton on weekends with other brown people, and even coordinating a Diwali party for international students. It feels like a moral obligation to suddenly learn as much as I can about my culture. Does that mean my identity crisis is finally resolved? No. The thing in, I can learn as much as I want about India, my language, culture and religion, but I don’t know if that will change the person I am today. I don’t even know if thats the end goal I am aiming for! Everytime I go to India, I only see my motherland in the perspective of a tourist. I see my family and the places they take me. I see the poverty and the feel my stomach drop when a bunch of starving street kids come knocking on the taxi window begging for money. When someone in America asks me, “whats India like?” I don’t know what to say. I only know India from the perspective of a 22 year old who has gone their not more than 5 times in her life. From someone who may or may not be charged the international fee at an Indian museum because I look that much of a non-Indian even in the country I was born in.

I think my identity crisis will be a continuous struggle my entire life. Many times I have told people that I am not a reliable source of information about my country, that I am a poor representative for India as a whole and that all questions regarding Hinduism or Shah Rukh Khan should be directed towards Google. My parents never forced me to obey Indian religion, they never told me I couldn’t’ do something because Indian culture would not dictate it. They never prevented me from being American, but then again, they never taught me how to be Indian either. I guess I am just going to have to figure that out on my own.

-J

My First Year as a Transfer Student

I’m trying to do a better job at writing more this summer. Lets begin!

Todays post will feature some much needed explanation regarding the experience I’ve had my first year as a transfer student. For those readers who don’t know what the hell I’m talking about: the “transfer student” I am referring to in this post is a student in the USA who previously attended a small, community college for about 2+ years and then transferred to a larger university, beginning school as a third year (aka: junior). Personally, after high school, I went to said community college and after 2 years, got accepted to a larger university where I am currently studying for a B.A. in Political Science.

When I was in community college, I was so focused on making sure that I got out within 2 years that my entire time their revolved around academics. Since community college’s are small institutions, there are not that many clubs or activities to help one assimilate as a member of their student body. A typical day for me consisted of going to class in the morning and coming back home a little after noon or going straight to work. This is a usual lifestyle in the eyes of a community college student. The goal was to transfer within 2 years and graduate with a bachelors degree within 4 years while saving my family money on rising tuition and loans. However, after getting accepted to the larger university that I am currently attending, I began to form very high expectations about the booming social life I would have at a bigger uni. I thought that my housemates and I would be bff’s, I would join lots of clubs, and make many many friends. Sadly, this was not the case.

To begin, I was fortunate enough to live in an apartment where everyone had their own bedroom and bathroom. The only communal space the four of us shared was the kitchen and living area. However, this meant that my housemates usually spent the greater part of the day inside their private spaces with their doors closed. As an older student, you tend to want some personal space, but as someone who wanted to make friends with my housemates, I felt really isolated when everyone stayed in their rooms all the time. Basically, having my own room backfired on me because it made me feel more distant from others. To top it off, many of my housemates and fellow transfer friends also went home for the weekends. This was usually due to homesickness or maybe because they already had a circle of friends in their hometowns. These exterior friendships meant that transfer students typically didn’t spend a lot of time making new friends on campus because they already had old friends they could rely on back at home. This was not a similar luxury that I encountered since I was never homesick and also because all my friends from home were away in their own respected colleges. Joining clubs helps but it takes lots of time and energy to find the clubs that fit your needs. Time, that as a junior, you may not always have.

Another issue that I came across was the overwhelming sensation that arose from the abundance of resources available at my fingertips. A freshman student who comes straight from high school has more time to build a network of contacts and explore their new surroundings. As a transfer student, you may only have two years to do this! Essentially, you hit the ground running. As if making friends was tough, now you have to get to know your campus in lightning speed. I wasn’t aware of all the resources available to me or the multitude of internships or jobs I could apply for until it was too late. I definitely felt at a disadvantage in comparison to students who had been at my uni as freshmen because I was unfamiliar with my campus and unaware of all the things I had the possibility of doing until the deadline had passed. Even on the last week of school, I was learning about on-campus internships that fit my interests which I could have totally applied for if I had learned about them sooner. Being resourceful is a valuable skill to have, but sometimes it takes time and mistakes to learn it!

Lastly, I always felt like I was fighting between having a social life or having a good GPA score. When you are a transfer, your GPA starts with 0.00. You only have two years to get good grades and less time to redeem yourself if your grades ever start falling. As a result, I was very focused on making sure my GPA was high, but at the cost of my social life. Yes, its possible to balance having a social life with obtaining good grades, but no one said it would be easy. All my classes required heavy loads of reading material. There were days where I would have to read 100 pages worth of subject matter in less than two days! Managing that while making new friends was very tough. Essentially I felt defeated and torn. I really wanted to make life-long friendships but with so much studying from all upper-division classes, this felt nearly impossible. Some of the closest friends I’ve made on campus were from study groups, which is always a possibility. The only downside to this is that once you are all done sharing the same class, you tend to go separate ways, leaving the friendship hollow.

These were the three main issues I came across as a transfer student. They are my own personal experiences and I’m sure not everyone can relate or agree with them. I’m simply sharing them because if there is anything I’ve learned from this experience it’s that isolation and loneliness are a both horrible feelings that can be prevented. Maybe someone in the same predicament as me can relate and thus feel less alone. I’ve had some great moments as well my first year but overall, my expectations have really sunk. After all this reflection, I’m beginning to think that maybe having such high expectations wasn’t such a good idea. Maybe next year, I’ll try not to expect too much in hopes of being surprised and feeling pleasantly happy about the outcome. One thing is for sure: next year is going to be riddled with anxiety and panic because I will be a senior! The anticipation and fear of my fast-approaching “adulthood” years are slowly catching up to me and I am fucking scared as shit!!! A post about all that will probably make its debut same time next year, so stay tuned for the hysteria. 🙂

– J

New Post, New Year

Hello again.

It has been a very long while since I posted anything on this blog and I’m sorry for that. If anyone is still out there, let me begin by saying, thanks for sticking around so damn long! I’m assuming you are looking for an explanation, and oh boy do I have one for you.

Today is January 4th,  2015. A new year, another lousy resolution. But lets back-track to October really quick…

I started attending university as a junior on October 2nd of 2014, which for a kid still in school marks the real new year. I began my academic new year with a list of expectations. Earning good grades, making friendly relationships with my new house mates and finding friends was on the top of this list. But as always, my expectations were not quite met. My grades have been good but not great. My house mates and I get along well but admittedly have had a few hiccups along the way. Thankfully, I have formed a tight group of friends, my only fear is that next quarter when we no longer share a class, we might go our separate ways. Despite all of this, I have totally relished living in my very own apartment, cooking my own meals and being independent! However, I didn’t quite prepare for the avalanche of depression that hit me over winter break when I had to spend almost three weeks back home with my family.

I met the same girls from high school I would typically see on holidays. As always, I found topics of discussion to be boring and uninteresting. New relationships, boys, loss of virginity and college parties were where the conversations usually swarmed around. It was difficult to share my thoughts on an upcoming internship, unlikely friends I recently made or the fact that I literally lived in the library during finals week when the only thing that made anyone’s ears perk up was a boys name.

Being home also meant that I was on my parents clock. My whereabouts had to be constantly reported and all activities had to be placed on hold immediately because I had to do the dishes “right now”! Whenever I would complain about my parents persistent nature, accusations on my filthy apartment living habits would be fired. The constant need to defend my actions, annoyance and crabby attitude were driving both myself and my parents up a wall. My blissful, independent moment of peace in college was interrupted by the oh-so joyous holiday season, leading to my sudden plunge into depression. In addition, the lack of connection I felt with my old friends made me question why I was putting so much effort in seeing them every other night. Suddenly, home didn’t feel like home. I wanted to go back to college. I was, unbelievably, college-sick!

For the past couple of weeks, I have been miserable. My entire demeanor has changed after coming home for the holidays. My friends and my family have asked me several times whats wrong and honestly, the only explanation I can fester is that I miss school. Watching my mom when I told her how badly I wanted to go back to school made me sad. I knew deep down my mom loved when ever I would come home, but even she could see that I really really didn’t want to be here anymore. Maybe one day, I will crawl all the way up to my parents doorstep, begging them to let me in, allowing them to shield be from the horrors of taxes, rent and unemployment. But until then, let me be my productive little self and for the love of god, allow this winter break to end once and for all!

Beyond my desire to run back to college, I have also dealt with the many unexpected tragedies of life that I constantly never see coming. My house mate whom I just met in October, lost a close friend recently. His unfortunate death has hit not only her, but our entire group of friends in college. I never went to a funeral but his was the first one I attended. I was definitely not prepared for the experience of seeing someone who was literally in my apartment two days ago to seeing them in a casket. In addition, during this break, I found out that another peer whom I graduated high school with also suddenly died. The shock was overwhelming and I didn’t know I was so impacted by it all until New Years Eve when I cried over their deaths in a drunkin, hazy state of mind. Although I am extremely embarrassed about my actions, It has also made my think twice about how much I bottle up my feelings and its scary to think that I keep so much away from other and most importantly, my self. This final emotional blow had further buried by depression.

As new years is a time of reflection, I dedicate this post to keeping you and me both updated on the many curve balls that life has hit me these last few months. Unlike my typical list of resolutions I would normally be hashing, this year is going to be a little bit different…

1. Death, when observed up close, teaches you many things. For me, death has reminded me to be more compassionate towards others and mirror the actions of those that constantly show their love and support for me.

2. Trying to be the mysterious girl who doesn’t say much is really hurting me. I’m going to try to talk about how I feel more often in hopes of gaining trust in others and myself so that I am emotionally and mentally prepared for all the crazy stuff that gets flung my direction.

3.  Expectations give me anxiety. They make me want to strive for perfection even with the knowledge of knowing perfection does not exist. Less expectations equals a more care-free and stress-free me. It won’t be easy to think without a plan but I’ll give it my best shot.

– J