I always have to force myself to sit down and reflect throughout the year, and especially at a year’s end, but it’s never been this hard.
Though I don’t really believe in New Year Resolutions and making a whole big deal about the “new year” (because what is time, anyway? and are we not following a Western/Christian calendar? obviously created by white men? obviously without the consideration of folks worldwide?), I do believe in reflection, goal-setting, and taking the time to – well, for a lack of a better phrase – talk to yourself. Without it, I would never know how to be at peace with myself nor would I be giving myself the privilege to get to know myself. And, that’s hard, too… to remind myself that I’m important and I deserve to sit down and dedicate some time to talking to myself, to getting to know myself. I must sound crazy but y’all get me, right? Right.
Though I wholeheartedly would love to deconstruct the Gregorian calendar and consider alternative forms of telling and understanding time – I don’t got time for that. I have to work, I have school, I have pressures from family, I have to take care of myself. In other words, I have to survive… and thus, every year, I kick back and reflect upon the year every December.
And, God, what a year it’s been.
I feel so different. I feel so detached from that womxn I was this time last year. Winter quarter, spring quarter.
I was preparing to run for President. I was dealing with a bully (a BULLY – in college? what?). I was working two jobs. I was struggling in classes. I felt like I was losing my closest friends. I spent thousands of dollars on a campaign I didn’t even win (and I don’t even got money like that!). I was so stressed. I was so unhappy. I was not being myself.
It took me a really long time to realize that I was dealing with depression and anxiety. Honestly, I still struggled to even write that sentence. I don’t know why it’s so scary and hard for me to accept. I mean, I guess I do. Because I was never taught about these things. I was never taught that these feelings are okay. I was never even taught to talk about my feelings on a day-to-day basis much less this. What is this?
I spent much of the last school year ignoring my feelings, distancing myself from the folks that cared about me, drinking more, just going through the motions. I lost all motivation. I was just waiting for the year to be over. Over.
I still remember the day I was biking home and I thought it would so easy to just not… stop… when I saw that car coming. But I didn’t. I couldn’t.
On May 23rd, 2014, Elliot Brown shot 6 students and himself. I was on the 65 block of Sabado. Near 7/11. Terrifyingly close to numerous crime scenes. I remember the sounds. The police sirens, the panic, the fucking police radio thing. I didn’t really know anyone but I didn’t have to. Our community is so small, it shook us all.
What hurt me though was that I did kind of know someone. I knew Christopher Martin. I had met him, I had shook his hand, he had sat on my couch.
But I didn’t even remember.
I was so caught up in myself, my own life, my own problems that I can’t even remember a person I had met and interacted with… who had now lost his life. I don’t blame myself. But the moment was an epiphany. I didn’t and I don’t want to be all about me, me, me. How could I not even remember him – until I was reminded that he was our housemate’s classmate the very summer before? Maybe it’s silly but that moment in combination with a few others, reminded me not to be selfish, reminded me that despite the bullshit and silly shit, it’s important to remind the folks that you love them and that even if you’re not the best person in the world and you sometimes make mistakes, you’re trying.
I was trying, I was. But it was so half-hearted.
Summer rolled around and a cross country road trip with my family was such a great way to let go and restart. But, I was still sad. I was still struggling with my self-image. The girl that used to love taking selfies? Yeah… selfies were so rare on this road trip. I was not happy. But the trip happened and it was great and I am so thankful for parents that love adventures and long trips. I really am. I wish they could understand how thankful I really am. But, I also wish they could understand that I haven’t been me this year. I’m trying. I’ve been trying.
My mom is big on annual physical exams. We have to have them every year, no questions asked, and it’s always the works: blood tests and all. Upon our return from the cross country road trip, I met with my latest doctor at Kaiser. Long story short, it ended with me in tears, a box of tissues, and a very awkward South Asian doctor blinking unsurely at me. I tried to talk to her about feelings of depression, anxiety, and even suicide. She tried to connect me to a therapist in Kaiser but I was leaving for Santa Barbara the very next day.
Back in Santa Barbara, I had the opportunity to live by myself for a few weeks. And, honestly, in hindsight, it was the best thing that could have happened. I was forced to be alone with myself but not at my parents’ home, no. In Santa Barbara. Where I can truly be myself. I finally got some alone time with myself. I began working out, I began eating better, I was doing better in my summer classes. Things were going to be okay. Panic attacks and random days of sadness and a struggling self-image and parents’ pressures aside, I was going to be okay.
I knew I should have taken this time to see someone at our campus’s Counseling and Psychological Services. I know. But, I don’t know how any psychologist at my school could understand my Indian background… my strict parents and my struggle to please my parents while staying true to myself. I love my parents. I appreciate my parents. Every single thing I do in my life, I am always thinking about my parents and how I hope to give back to them the way they have given to me. But, when our ideas of success and happiness and love can’t match, when they cannot even treat me like the twenty-one-year-old I am… I can’t get them to hear me, listen to me, understand my feelings. And I’m trying to understand them, I’m always trying.
Thanksgiving this year, though, was scary. So scary that I can’t even discuss it but now I constantly worry about my parents and our relationship and my dad and his health. I just wish they could understand and I could understand and we could just be happy. We have all the reasons in the world to just be happy. We’re so blessed. Yes, we struggle with finances – but we are so much better off than most of the world. We don’t need more. We have each other, we’re in fairly good health, we have family across the street too! We have so much. We have all we really need. We have no reason to be arguing and fighting. Who created these ideas that my parents feel they’re forced to follow and force upon me?
Fall Quarter 2014 has been one of the best quarters I have ever had at UCSB. Despite everything. I still wasn’t the best student but you know what… I’m okay with that. I’m over that. I know what I can do and I know what I am good at. And, I heavily believe in educational reform, anyway (but that’s a post for another day – it really is, it’s coming, hehe). I’m still struggling with self-deprecation (you DON’T hate yourself, you’re NOT “the worst”) but it’s gotten better. I’m still not the greatest friend or daughter or sister – but it’s getting better. Slowly but surely. I still have days where I wake up and feel sad for no good reason. I still have days where I feel that clawing feeling in my chest, that nausea bubbling up, that giant creature just sitting in my chest, my heartbeat quickening… but it’s getting better.
And, I know it will get better. I feel more at peace with myself now than I did at the beginning of this year. I have goals, I’m working towards them. I’m scared for the future and I’m scared about my family. I’m scared about love. I’m scared about my loans. And, lord knows, I am so scared for this planet and for the Black community and for Palestine and for our communities, in general. But, who isn’t? Fear is okay. It’s normal. I’m just trying to love my family, friends, and myself more and better. I’m trying to be kinder to myself, to other people, and to the world. I’m trying to be there for others and for myself.
I don’t know, all I can say is that I’ve been trying and I’m excited for 2015 because I truly believe things will change this year. After the year we have collectively had as a species? With Ferguson, Gaza, Ayotzinapa, the climate changes? I feel it in the air, y’all. I don’t know what it was with this year, I don’t. (Was it the alignment of the planets? I don’t know!)
But I feel it. We gotta stick together, y’all. We gotta be here for one another. We gotta create, we gotta inspire. I’m struggling with myself but I’m trying and it’s getting better.
2015, I’m wholeheartedly ready and excited for you.