Archive

Reflection

i like lists. a lot.

  1. Just fucking say no. 
    • I thought I had learnt this sooner. But I’ve only just really put it into practice this past year. When I don’t want to expend my energy on something (doing something, going somewhere), I finally fucking say no (well, usually – it’s all a learning process, yo). Though I’m still working on saying no in the workplace – I think I’ve learned to honor my capacity, energy, and wellbeing to say no to going out, trips, whatever it is that I don’t want to do. I’m still working on not giving a reason for my no but one step at a time, I’ll get there.
  2. Self-worth.
    • I’m still working on this one, too… but, damn, a year ago I would’ve let people treat me like shit and get away with it. NEVER OKAY. You are fucking worth it, you’re intelligent, you’re a boss ass bitch, you’re funny, you’re creative, you’re valued, you’re a fucking princess. Don’t forget it, own it. This is so easy to say but so hard to truly believe and act upon. I try to give myself positive affirmations in the morning and in the evenings. Sometimes I write them down, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I find myself thinking “fuck, I’m so dumb – why’d I do that?” and sometimes I try to change the negative into something positive… “I’m not dumb, I wanted to do that – it just didn’t work out the way I wanted… hey it’s actually kind of funny.” Whatever, figure out what works for you because you’re awesome and you need to do what works for youuuuuuu!!!
  3. (Cis, Hetero) Men suck.
    • Yeah okay this one contradicts my last point but generally speaking, they do and I don’t trust them. Not to say I don’t have compassion for men or that I wouldn’t be friends with any men… I have mentors that are men and homies that are men but I – for the most part – don’t keep too many in my close circle of homies. Not sorry. I just don’t need any macho male violence in my life right now, thanks.
  4. Memorize housemate’s numbers… or be prepared to waste three hours locked outside of your home in the rain with no phone, no keys, no bra on your body. True story.
  5. Mindfulness, to be present, to bring my head back down to the ground. This one has been a game-changer for me. As an introvert, I’m often kickin’ it in my own head, whether it’s just me thinking about existentialism or over-thinking a situation or daydreaming about another time and place, I forget to stay present in the moment I’m in. I’ve made a practice to ground myself in every moment I’m in when I feel my thoughts and anxieties run amok… and it has made a world of difference.
  6. The importance & necessity of compassion. I have made it a personal goal and intention to practice compassion in all that I do, to unlock my inner empath and truly put myself in another person’s shoes before making any decision. Having compassion for myself and for others is so integral for me to live a happier life and since I’ve begun working on this, I’ve been a little bit less anxious, a little more carefree… Compassion is a whole nother blog post for another day, though.
  7. Accept all of me – even parts of me that aren’t considered desirable traits by the mainstream. I’m quiet, I’m introverted, I like to hang out with myself… and I’m finally so fucking okay with all of these things. To get here, too, I’ve been taking the time to learn more about myself. To ask myself hard questions about my past. I’ve also had to accept and own my mental health. To be open about my social anxiety. To not let people tell me that my anxieties “aren’t real”… when in fact, I’ve had a problem of heart palpitations, sweaty palms, and over-thinking in classrooms and social settings since I was ten years old.
  8. Brush (AND FLOSS) my teeth and be careful when parking  my car.
    • You know… these might seem unrelated but they ain’t. One day, you’re going to go to the dentist for a biannual cleaning and they’re going to let you know at the end of the appointment that, hey, you might want to book an appointment to fill those cavities, and yeah, by the way – evenwithyourinsuranceitsgonnacost600bucksthanks! Just a week later, you’re gonna get your car towed because maybe you were running late for work and didn’t pay too much attention to where you parked. Suddenly, you’re forking over 500 bucks (that you kinda wanted to spend on a ticket to Costa Rica… oops). Next thing you know you’re wondering why you ever thought it was a good idea to ever go to Happy Hour or go to that wine tasting with your friends… Or maybe not, maybe that won’t happen at all. Maybe that was just me. Moral of the story is: take care of you & your shit.
  9. BE OPEN & VULNERABLE (let those walls down, girl!).
  10. Affectionately, deeply, wildly love your best friends, your homies, your chosen fam. Love ain’t just for your partner or significant other. It ain’t just for the family you were born with. Fall in love with your best friends and you will never feel alone, even when they are 300 miles away. Fall in love with your best friends and treat them like the goddesses that they are. Nurture these relationships. Check in with one another. Plan trips together. Prioritize them.
  11. Keep cash in my car and wallet… at all times.
    • Because who fucking knows when you’re randomly going to be driving and hit a toll road… am I right (was that also just me?)? A lot of places are cash only, though… you never know. Emergency cash is so important. Plus, it’s great to have cash on hand when you want to give money to someone in need.
  12. My productivity does not equal my worth. This one’s hard to truly internalize in a capitalist society that is constantly pushing us to create more, make more, want more, consume more, do more, more more more — but I try to be intentional, honest, and gentle with myself. It’s okay to do nothing. It’s okay to want to do nothing.
  13. Draw, write, print and paste my dreams, visions, and goals all over my room and laptop. I don’t know bout y’all but it’s so easy to fall off track from what’s REALLY important to you. Reminders are key.
  14. But most of all, through all of this, stay gentle with myself and others. Stay soft. Life is fucking hard. I know you’re battling daily micro and macro aggressions. I know capitalism sucks. I know you’re dealing with stupid shit at work, on the streets, at the club. Housing is a struggle, there are bills to be paid, something randomly hits the fan. But I’ve learned, with the help of mindfulness and practicing compassion, that it’s okay, that we gon be alright, that I am so blessed and privileged to be where I am – despite all the BS. I remind myself of the people I love and care about and the beautiful home I live in and the beautiful people that surround me and the trees, the water, the food that sustains me…

A year ago, I was struggling to get myself to therapy (and now I’ve begun). I was struggling to love myself (and now I’m falling). I was struggling to honor the pieces of me that I felt were unworthy to the mainstream (and now I mostly don’t give a fuck).

Yeahhhh, I’m gonna be alright. And you are, too.

I’m coming in to this post with an unconscious stream of thought – no thesis, no end goal, no beginning middle and end.

I’ve been on a constant up and down lately. I don’t know what to do with myself with all this free time, stuck at my parents’ home, slowly applying for jobs. I’m trying not to be too hard on myself, trying to remain gentle.

I’ve taken on a lot of goals since graduating and the biggest one is taking care of my health: eating better, exercising, positive affirmations, loving myself. Honestly, I’ve come a long way. I feel a lot better, I feel stronger, I feel like I really know my body and how to nourish it, how to respond to it. I’m slowly transitioning to all natural care of my body and being, slowly transitioning to a vegan (minus desi yogurt, sorry that’s never stopping) diet… it all feels right, it really does feel great.

I feel that I spend most of my free time thinking about my health – different ways to eat healthy, different ways to care for my skin and hair, different ways to work out.

But I haven’t been exercising my creativity or my mind. I finally picked up the keyboard that’s been gathering dust in our loft. I tried to teach myself scales. I think I got F and C down? Something about me felt alive though. I needed that and I’m trying to make it a goal to practice and teach myself a little bit every day.

I have an unfinished painting. I’ve downloaded mixing software and have spent time reading articles about mixing music and DJing. I write down ideas for blog posts and YouTube videos. I even have a really basic idea about a (short?) story I would love to write (and daaaamn, I have not written a novel since HS).

I just feel so uninspired here. I don’t feel at home. I feel stagnant and unmotivated. It goes up and down, though; some days I feel better than others – particularly when I’ve seen friends or have a great interview. It’s hard, growing up in an environment where you literally feel like you can’t communicate to your family. I process most emotions through speaking and when I have no one to talk to, I become so negative within my own mind.

I love being alone with myself, I love dates with myself. I thrive the most when I balance quality time with people I care about with alone time with myself. But damn too much alone time got me doing stupid things, got me thinking too much, and just has my anxiety at an all time high. And I just hate being inside all the time. But, damn, that just comes with being an unmarried South Asian girl living at home with her parents.

Idk. Leaving this private because I just needed to get some feelings out. Why is everything I say and do so lacking in purpose lately? Maybe I need to reflect on my purpose, my goals, my desires. Cause I clearly don’t know them too well right now. But, damn I’m still only 22.

Edit: Okay, decided to make this public because I know so many folks feel similarly and though this lacks in purpose, I feel that only capitalism teaches us that everything must “have purpose”. And fuck capitalism.

when i was younger, writing was always my form of expression. elementary school all the way through high school (until senior year) i wrote endlessly. notebooks upon notebooks. i actually have a wordpress from some of that time period that i actually maintained for about three/four years and updated REGULARLY. i don’t know what makes commitment to writing so hard now. i really need to think about that and deconstruct my feelings.

but anyway, not really the purpose of this post. i just haven’t sat down to write about this or anything (and i have SO MUCH on my mind!!!) in such. a. long. time. all i’ve been writing are these damn cover letters and i’m losing myself in the process. but i digress (story of my life).

anyway, the purpose of this post is to share the story about how i got fired from my first job ever. on top of that it was my first job after graduating college. it was a full time seasonal job (so that made it not so bad – it was just like, 8 weeks? something like that.).

i’m not going to name the organization or anything. we’ll just call them Org, okay? i worked for the Org. it was a six week “summer camp” for low-income, under-served youth in the area i lived in. the idea was that low-income youth lose a lot of “summer learning” that their counterparts (wealthier – usually white – kids) had the opportunity of receiving because their parents weren’t working multiple jobs to support the family and they weren’t living in impoverished conditions or in multiple-family homes or in “bad neighborhoods”, etc… you get the idea, right?

this program functioned at numerous “sites”, or schools. at each site, there was a coordinator, an assistant, and then all the program leaders (or, essentially, the teachers). each teacher had their own group. our groups are often taken on field trips. these field trips are usually booked by the Org and sometimes, we (the leaders) got to book our own, too. i had a group of 12 amazing, beautiful, resilient brown boys and girls. including one that was strictly spanish speaking (this alone taught me so much about my future as an educator – i’m currently trying to become fluent in spanish! slowly but surely, holla if you have resources).

i actually had the oldest set of kids. incoming 8th/9th graders. we had to do a community service project that had to be completed in the six week program. so, i did what i would usually do in such a situation: had them toss out ideas and we voted. i already had potential community service projects up my sleeve in case they struggled: writing letters to local organizations/companies that use a lot of water about water conservation, a campaign raising awareness of the drought & water conservation, a campaign against bullying in schools, etc. but, they’re smart ass kids!!! they came up with so many different ideas, i didn’t even need the back-ups. and then one of my girls raises her hand and says,

“racism.”

my mind was blown. this girl did not just “racism”. the black studies major in me did a mental victory lap around the classroom. did one of my students really just say she wants to do a project addressing RACISM in the local community!?

*drops mic* i was done.

and ok not gonna lie, i can’t hide my emotions so i’m sure i looked a bit excited but i also knew this was a LOT for the class to take on. so, i was not expecting it to win.

but then they voted.

and it somehow won.

and thus began my lessons on race, ethnicity, & culture.

to be completely honest, the lessons went really, really well. i made them incredibly basic and really just asked them questions. showed them videos, asked them questions. wrote a word on a board, asked them what they thought it meant. had them discuss it. had them share examples of when they thought someone was being racist towards them. when that was too hard, i had them share stereotypes.

honestly, i heard some amazing things come out of these twelve/thirteen-year-olds’ mouths. they shared stories, thoughts about donald trump and big race-related local issues, they quickly grasped the difference between race and ethnicity…

then, one day, i checked my agenda and i had to take my students to this teen center that was paid for and ran by the local police department. this teen center was created – from my understanding (and i talked to one of the managers of the teen center) – to provide a space for at-risk youth to come, hang out, use the resources. the teen center, itself, is nice. there are computers to use, foosball tables, xboxes and nintendos, desks, etc etc. cool. it’s a cool way to provide resources for students (and lol “keep kids off the streets” and “out of gangs”, right?) but then you gotta think about the purpose behind it and the funding. what’s the real motivation here?

even before going, i was already starting to feel uneasy. all my kids are brown. specifically, latin@s. i wasn’t sure of documentation statuses? past run-ins with the police? maybe older siblings? what if someone knew a family member or friend that had been on the local gang injunction list? god, so many possibilities. but okay, i went anyway because i didn’t want to make any judgements right?

so it was just the two oldest groups on our campus that were invited to this field trip and from what i gathered, this was about to be a series of trips. we get to the teen center and the kids are immediately excited (i mean, of course, hella TVs, game consoles, etc)… but then we sit down for the presentation and it’s this cop… oh sorry i mean, pig. he explains that he is going to do a presentation on “citizenship”.

however, he then proceeds to explain the differences between consensual contact, detainment, arrest, etc. these are good things to know, yes – but i don’t understand the connection between that and “being a good citizen”. sounded like he was trying to scare the kids. further, he went on to claim that if a police officer stops you and asks to speak to you, it’s automatically suspicious to say you don’t want to talk to them or answer their questions… lol. what. NO. you do NOT have to say “yes”. saying yes means you are agreeing to consensual contact. and it is perfectly okay and NOT SUSPICIOUS to say “no”. pigs abuse this power and manipulate innocent folx. further, he had the kids perform in skits where they wore belts carrying toy guns and had to force “hobos” away from storefronts because it is against the law and detracts from businesses — he literally said this (yay let’s enforce capitalism n a lack of humxnity, dope).

afterward i spoke to my boss and had a conversation about with my students about their thoughts. we also watched some videos on police brutality – i couldn’t help myself. a few of them voiced their discomfort and disinterest in the presentation. they passed this information on to my boss’s boss (aka the manager of the entire program). he gives me a call a week later, telling me they appreciate my feedback, that this is a new partner and they’ve never witnessed these presentations (good work, y’all), and to ask questions at the next trip.

then comes our second trip. oh laaawd.

they had the kids gather around a SWAT vehicle and proceeded to show them weapons.

i proceeded to ask tactless questions but critical questions all the same. i don’t even think this part is important to tell, really. all that matters is that in the eyes of this nonprofit, i questioned authority. i questioned one of their partners (aka a source of money). i questioned these police officers.

it’s to be noted that i was not fired by my boss. or my boss’s boss. rather, i was fired at a later time by the upper management, aka the board of directors… aka a group of white men (and one man of color) that had never once witnessed my work with the students.

though i had reason to be angry, i wasn’t. i was upset with myself for losing it when i should have been more strategic, should have chosen my battles carefully, and stuck through with my students till the end. i ultimately did a disservice to my students and that is my biggest regret. they were my number 1 motivation, they got me through the long days and lack of resources (i didn’t even have a classroom for the majority of time i was with the Org)… and they were so incredible. they were teaching me so much.

however, i also feel that to a degree, the fact that i was fired taught them so much about race and critical thinking. i really hope they look back to this moment years down the line and realize what had happened.

if anything, i hope i taught my students the power of questions and critical thought.

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.