I hope everyone is having a fantastic LAST WEEK of November!!! Can you believe how fast this year has gone by? Needless to say, so much has happened in 2017. This last week, I’ve been thinking about how much has happened for me this last year and starting to think about what goals I want to set for myself this next year. Everyone knows that new year’s resolutions can be hard to plan and accomplish, most often because we don’t start out with a plan on how we want to accomplish our goals. Whether the goal is to eat healthier and work out more, manage time better, getting better grades, earning more money, reading more books, or even just making more of an effort to look put together, a lot of the times we see the difference in the pictures of where we are and where we want to be in a few months, and we completely ignore the part in the middle where we plan out how exactly we are going to get to where we want to be.
One this thing that I’ve learned this year as a blogger, as a student, and as someone who consistently reflects on her actions and choices, there is no way to get from the start to the finish line without planning the steps you will take in between.
And based on that, here is a step-by-step guide on how to set goals and achieve them without driving yourself crazy or getting discouraged, illustrated through a series of flower metaphors.
Welcome to a new week! I wasn’t able to post at all during this last week due to my educational obligations, but I have an exciting bunch of posts for you guys to enjoy over these next two weeks! Here is the first one on a topic that I’ve recently come to identify as one of the most important ones we can talk about in relation to mental health.
This post was inspired by a couple of friends and a holiday that is important to my family- Diwali. I wanted to use the concept that this holiday celebrates to talk about something I, and many of my loved ones, have realized recently- why it’s so important to talk to other people about the negative things that go on in your life. I wanted to shed some light on why I think these things are part of the things that make your voice so significant- why you need to be heard, and why other shouldlisten to you. These are the things that make you glow- they are how you share your light with the world.
So for two weeks before this I was on vacation, and last week I was moving back to my University’s campus and I didn’t get any time to write! I had all of these ideas going in my mind and I’m so looking forward to sharing them all with all of you- this is the first one!
This one goes out to all of you who struggle with anxiety. Whether you’ve been diagnosed or you just easily get anxious like me, I hope this helps in some way.
Most of the times, I get anxious about my expenditure, my grades, and the my impressions on other people. When I’m anxious, it feels like both my mind and body are frozen in time, like I can’t move or think about anything else but that which I’m worried about, or like anything that I do could lead to some other things falling apart, crashing and burning. Sometimes I vent out my worries to someone. But mostly I sit and stare for a long time. I imagine what will come next, and what I can do if it doesn’t go the way that I want it to. I’ve done this as long as I can remember struggling with anxiety, but I never realized how very unproductive it was until a few days ago when I was worrying about something irrelevant and my sister said to me: “Aarti, don’t just sit there and worry. DO something about it”
When it comes to my anxiety, my sister is my biggest supporter So I listened to her, and ever since then when I’ve felt anxious, I’ve also remembered to tell myself to dosomething about it.
Of course there is no general formula for solving all issues of anxiety, but there is a general formula that I like to use for dealing with anxiety. The first step is the one that I struggle with the most: talking to someone about it. I hate talking to other people about the things that make me anxious, because it seems like almost anything can make me anxious: awkward encounters, busy schedules, uncertainty, hard tests, and everything above and beyond that. Sometimes its hard to find someone to talk to about anxiety too, since it’s given that not everyone is going to understand how you feel, since what you get anxious about is not something that someone without anxiety troubles also gets anxious about. Sometimes, the most someone will be able to give you is “Relax, you’ll be fine”. At times hearing this from someone you trust can make you feel better, but not always. If you haven’t found someone in your life yet who you can vent out to, diaries work great too. Even though you can’t necessarily bounce ideas off of them because diaries can’t talk back, they are great for self-reflection- talking to yourself! And since you know yourself better than anyone, it’s definitely something that could work.
Something else that works in helping with anxiety is working out- go jogging or do some yoga, and, if you really don’t want to get of the house to do something, clean your room and the kitchen! While working out doesn’t involve doing anything about your problem at the moment, it does give you time and space to actually think things through, while allowing you to be productive and do something good for your mind and body and something that will undoubtedly make you feel better about your health.
And of course, for those of you who love to write like me, write about it: use your anxiety productively by figuring out what you need to do through writing. Pass on what you learn to your fellow bloggers and writers, and use the lessons you have learned because of your anxiety as ideas and inspiration for future writing projects!
And lastly, the best way to deal with something that you don’t get know how to tackle is to plan for it. Lay out everything you need to do to accomplish the task, and then direct yourself, step by step, on how you will accomplish it. If you worry about little things at a time instead of freaking out about the big picture, your anxieties will be a lot easier to deal with.
Anxiety often doesn’t feel great to have, but I’ve slowly come to realize that my struggles with anxiety have made me the person I am today- someone that I couldn’t be more proud of, even though she still has a lot to learn and a long way to go. So, loves, if you struggle with anxiety at times, make sure you keep reminding yourself that you are strong, you are loved, and you will get through it.
With only a couple of days left in the beautiful month of August, and the next year of school just around the corner (some of y’all have probably already started), I thought that I post about body image was in order.
I’ve actually been waiting to do this post for quite a while now- at least 3 months. Even though body image is an issue that many people have trouble dealing with, there is no doubt that it is a difficult one to talk about. My size and my weight have been two of my biggest insecurities since I was about 5 years old. Since then, it took me 16 years of many attempted diets, many tears, and many moments of sadness to realize that regardless of what happens on my journey of health, I need to love myself anyways.
Whether you are fat or skinny, tall or short or medium-sized in every respect, whether you are light-skinned or dark-skinned, whether you have dark hair, light hair, curly hair or straight hair, thick hair or thin hair or any other outstanding characteristic, the it’s likely that you’ve faced some type of body image issue at some point in time. Despite all the media promotion about loving yourself and how important it is to do so, I’ve never found one that effectively explains why it is important to love yourself, no matter what your current form might be. In order to share why I think it’s important to appreciate your body in any shape or size, I’m going to be sharing a bit of my story and struggle with you.
The story begins with a conversation I had with my sister just a few months ago, in May. After months and months of my cheapest and most appetizing dining options being pizza, burgers and salads- mostly made of dressing, croutons and fatty dressing- not only was I sick of most of my eating options, but I also felt hopeless. My schedule for the last year not only prevented me from seeing my friends regularly, but the amount of work I had on a daily basis made sitting inside and studying seem like a better option than going outside for a run. I’ve opened up a little bit before about my struggle with congenital hypothyroidism before. In essence, what this means is that regardless of how often I exercise and how healthy my diet is, it will always be harder for me to lose weight as compared to other people. But remembering this at that time only made me sink deeper into my hopelessness. A few days after I began to feel this way, I had a very meaningful conversation with my sister, and that’s when my whole perspective changed.
As I sat with my sister, I broke down. I told her that I felt like I was completely out of options, and I didn’t know how I would ever be able to feel good about myself. It was completely possible that I would never be skinny or even the “right” waistline for my height and age. It was completely possible that I would never look the way that I’ve always wanted to, that I would forever be subject to feeling bad about myself when I heard fat jokes, and, worst of all, I would never be happy with who I was. That is just about how hopeless I felt. That’s when my sister pointed something out to me that no inspirational speaker, writer or celebrity has ever pointed out before: the only way I would ever be able to love myself isif I made the necessary choice to do so.
My sister pointed out to me that my ability to think and my ability to do were only possibilities for me because of the body that I have. And regardless of all of the mistakes I’ve made in my life, I still have done a lot of good, just like most people. Regardless of whether or not I have a thin waist, I am able to move both my hands and my feet, and I was to get as far as I have in life; I am able to think because I have a working brain, and even though it is possible that I will never look exactly how I want to, it is because of my mind and my body that I’m even able to try, and I have to respect that. And more importantly, after all my body has done for me, I have to take care of it and treat it with kindness.
This summer was truly an emotional journey for me- one that finally allowed me to come to terms with who I am and what I look like. And what I’ve realized is that I’m going to look different in many stages of my life. In the end, though, it is my body that is going to get me through all of these different stages, through my happiest moments and my sad ones. Even if I have nothing else left it is the one thing that will get me out of everything alive and well so long as I take care of it and respect its ability to do so.
So, to my readers, don’t love yourself because it’s a trend and the internet is telling you to do so. Look at yourself in the mirror and take in every single color and curve; the texture of your hair, the way that you walk, and the way that you smile or frown or whatever other expressions you make. Realize that all of these things and everything about your body is what has gotten you to this very moment and that is why you are beautiful. And this is something that no one can appreciate the way you can. Love yourself for who you are, work towards becoming the version of yourself that you want to be, and love your body for allowing you to get there.
Even though body image is something that has always been hard for me to talk about, it’s something that I love talking about now. Be on the lookout for more writing about healthy eating habits and having a healthy mindset. And on a related note to having a healthy mindset, check out my last post!
If you like my writing, feel free to subscribe via email by scrolling all the way to the bottom or, you can follow me via WordPress! If you feel have any tips or other thoughts for me, feel free to leave me a comment here on this post, or you can reach out to me via email. Thank you to everyone for supporting my writing, and I will be back next week!
Hey y’all! Welcome back. I haven’t gotten a chance to write or post in two weeks! It feel like it’s been forever.
Since the start of the upcoming school year is just around the corner for me and for other college students around the country, I thought that it might be a good idea to talk a little bit about confidence.
Whether you are starting a new school year, or your first day at a new job, or moving to a new city that you don’t have much experience being in, confidence is one of the most important characteristics- if not the most important characteristic- that you need to have with you in your “first day” toolkit. But for many of us, confidence can be hard to come by, especially when you’re afraid of people criticizing you about one thing or another. This is the biggest reason why I’ve struggled all of my life with having confidence: when I was a kid, I thought that the key to confidence was fitting in, and acting and doing all of the things that every other kid did. But it was while I was doing that when I realized that because I was trying so hard to be “normal”, I never could- there was always a reason for someone to judge me. As I got older things got better because I learned to embrace the things that I liked about myself and not those things that I wanted other people to think about me. But even now, when I’m pretty secure in my own shoes, there are times when hearing criticism really gets to me.
One thing that has really helped me in these times is realizing that someone thinking that something is wrong with me doesn’t make something wrong with me. I’ve been called stupid for having political opinions that are heavily critical of American policies of presidents and political leaders of both sides of the political spectrum; I’ve been told that my makeup looks bad when it is darker than usual; I’ve been called lazy and unhelpful, I’ve been called a work-a-holic, I’ve been told that I’m gullible, that I’m clumsy, that I’m a pushover, that I’m “too nice”- I’ve been told a lot of things about myself, but I’ve never been made into any of them. Perhaps this realization is the biggest push that I’ve had to becoming more confident. Other people can choose to say a lot of things about you, but they can’t force you to choose to become any of those things.
None of this means, however, that you should completely ignore every piece of criticism that you receive: you should pay attention to constructive criticism, or the kind that helps you build up. Even the criticism that is destructive can be flipped into constructive criticism; maybe someone calls you ignorant- instead of letting that comment tear you down or completely ignoring it, let it allow you to realize that maybe the person you are speaking to feels unheard, or misunderstood. Maybe someone calls you sloppy- what if that means that this person feels they could trust you better if you kept things more neat? People often deal destructive criticism as a way of projecting their feelings onto you. So when dealing with criticism, it’s important to be empathetic to the person you are dealing with, especially if this person is a friend or loved one.
Words can hurt, and when it comes to criticism, words often do hurt. But always remember that what you do with your criticism, and how you think about it, how you deal with it and how you deal it to others is on you. Finding confidence in criticism isn’t like looking for a needle in a stack- it’s not impossible or unattainable, even in the worst of times. The easiest and best way to find your confidence is to construct it on your own, using each piece of criticism you find in your path.
Can y’all believe we are actually most of the way through summer? It feels like summer break started only a few weeks ago. Nevertheless, it’s been a great time. I’ve learned so much in school and through blogging for the last few weeks!
But one of the most important lessons that I’ve learned is the importance of letting other people help you. This next post is going to be a continuation of the conversation that I started with you guys last week- about the importance of being vulnerable. You can read that post here. In my last post, I talked about how it’s important to realize that, regardless of who you are and where in the world you live, you do have the power to make a difference. This week, I want to talk about letting others do the same by letting them help you.
I was inspired to write this post because of a book that I started reading called The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let Other People Help, by singer-songwriter Amanda Palmer. I found this book while I was browsing through Barnes and Noble this past weekend, looking for something inspirational to read. I was attracted to this book because I was surprised that someone might think to write a book about such a seemingly mundane activity. After I picked up the book and skimmed the pages, I realized that asking questions, and more specifically, asking for help, can’t be mundane- if it was, why would so many of us refuse to do so?
Asking for help is difficult because of its nature- because it requires us to make ourselves vulnerable, sometimes to complete strangers, and because it requires us to trust- something we are often encouraged not to do. For some reason, we have learned that asking for a favor requires returning a favor. If you think about it, this is so absurd, because all people need help. Why do we expect each other to pay a price for showing our humanity to one another? Palmer talks about this very idea in her TED talk, which you can see here.
Learning to let other people help is a completely relevant topic in conversation about mental health because from personal experience, I know that not being able to ask for help when it is needed causes a lot of anxiety. In many cases, this new anxiety can compound already existing anxiety, and this extra anxiety is arguably completely unnecessary, but also extremely common for students and working professionals. It is curious how difficult it is for us to ask for recommendation letters, or ask for tutoring, or ask someone to help cover us if we don’t have enough cash for bus fair, or ask strangers for tampons or cough drops or kleenex or whatever it is we need to help us get through the day.
Why are we so scared to make ourselves vulnerable, even in the smallest of ways, especially when we know that anyone of the people around us have or could face the same vulnerabilities in other situations?
So what should you do to stop feeling this way? How do you go about fearlessly asking for help? It’s simple: only about four steps. The hard part is getting yourself to follow these steps.
The first step is basic- open your mouth. Get ready to say something, and hold your thought on the tip of your tongue. This is same first step you have to take to say literally anything, so doing it shouldn’t be that bad.
The next step is imagining yourself asking for help, and imagining the person you are asking saying “no”- the one word we are all most afraid of hearing.
The third step is preparing your reaction- what are you going to do if someone refuses to help you? What is the worst possible thing that could happen? Are you going to be eternally embarrassed? Are people going to laugh at you? Are you going to look stupid? And if any of these things do happen, how will you react? Preparing for the worst is the best thing that you can do here, because it’s likely that at times the worst will come true. But that doesn’t mean that someone will refuse to help you every time you ask, so you shouldn’t let that stop you from asking.
The fourth, and probably hardest step is being impulsive. Let your words slip out; be brave. Once you say it, who knows where your road is going to lead you? Finding out is the best part.
The most important takeaway I want to list here is that it is not a bad thing to be vulnerable. It is not bad to ask for help, and it is not healthy to feel guilty or indebted for taking help. What you can and should do is pay it forward: be empathetic, and encourage others to let themselves be vulnerable; always give help openly and willingly, and always remember that you deserve to be comfortable in your own skin because you can offer so much to the world by just being yourself.
Jump then Fall is the title of one of my favorite Taylor Swift songs. It tells a different sort of story, but expresses the same sentiment as the one I’m interested in- jumping into an opportunity that you’re curious about, and figuring out what exactly you’re doing as you go.
Jumping then falling is exactly what it sounds like: forcing yourself to jump off a metaphorical cliff by making a sudden, spontaneous decision, before taking the time to calculate your actions. As an avid and self-proclaimed lover of planning, jumping then falling has always been something that I’ve been scared to do until now. What changed my outlook was finally realizing that life is a lot more worthwhile if I choose to be excited about my next steps instead of being too scared to take them at all.
It’s been about a week since I was last able to post. It’s the middle of the summer, and lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the changes that I’ve made and growing I’ve done up till my halfway point in college. Overall, I can honestly say I’ve become a much healthier and happier person. I realized I wouldn’t have been able to do this if I hadn’t adopted Growth Mindset. It truly changed my life for the better. I thought I might write this step-by-step guide for anyone who hasn’t heard about it before.
I hope everyone had a great 4th! The 4th of July is always a reminder to me that I have a lot to be thankful for: having autonomy over my mind, body and behavior, living in a place where I feel safe, having the ability to be myself, and above all, having a reason to spread kindness.
I didn’t really take the time to think about my mental health until I got to college. Until that point, I knew ‘mental health’ as an area of concern for a particular category of people: those who saw therapists or specialists, or those who dealt with depression or anxiety. These were concepts that I’d learned about in school, but were not things I truly understood. In my eighteen-year-old mind, those who worried about mental health were in a world apart from mine.
It’s the Sunday before my first final. I do not at all feel like cracking open my textbook at this point. Who else is ready to close all the books, shred the notes, drop the pencils and curl up with a warm blanket, some hot cocoa (my favorite hot beverage), curl up on a comfy couch next to a roaring fire and watch an oh so cheesy rom-com?
I could not be more ready at this point to start my holiday break.
I don’t have any exciting personal life updates right now due to the fact that I’ve either been working or studying all week long, but I do have some updates on that book I said I might write in one of my last posts.
I’m going to keep this post short and simple. As I wrote in a post earlier this week, when I’m stressed out about tests and projects and last-minute things like I am right now, I like to give myself something to look forward to. But since this last week I’ve been interviewing for research internships in my department, I started thinking about plans for next summer! Chances are, I’ll be spending my summer doing research. But since I’d love to do something fun when I’m not in the lab, I’ve also been thinking about taking the opportunity to possibly open up an Etsy shop. Etsy is a great place to find many unique, handmade things. I’ve bought a few pieces of clothing and jewelry from there and they’re great!
Not many people who’ve met me in recent years know about this and I’ve certainly never mentioned this before on my blog: from when I was in the seventh grade until the end of my sophomore year of high school, my life goal was to become a jewelry designer and open up my own business. I even taught a class on it to a few kids. But that dream died after that point. I still have up my Facebook Page, though, from my jewelry making days! So if you ever feel like looking at the stuff I made in my short-lived career as a jewelry designer, feel free to take a look at my page! If I do decide to do the Etsy thing, I’ll probably get that page back up and running, at least for the summer.
But summer is still a long ways away, and in the mean time, I have a lot of stuff to take care of this week. I have one more interview for a lab internship and two finals and then I’m free!
As you can probably tell I don’t have a ton of fun life updates for y’all this week, but I will once I get home and have time to relax! In next week’s posts and letters, I’ll probably be sharing with you all some of my goals for 2018, and fun holiday activities! Also, I get to show you all my DIY gifts! I’m beyond excited.
I hope everyone who is still working on finals has a successful week, and that everyone who is home for break has a very restful week!
Right here, right now in the middle of dead week (the week before finals) at University, I’m having a little trouble motivating myself to keep moving forward. I decided to do a little mental self-medication: I’ve always found that the perfect way to keep pushing forward is to remember the things that you are pushing yourself towards. So with that, here are the things I’m looking forward to next week, right around this time when finals will finally be over!
Sleeping in as much as I want
Seeing friends and catching up over cups of homemade hot cocoa
Baking lots and lots and lots of cookies, and peppermint bark
Making mysterious holiday presents
Decorating the house
Saying things to my sister that annoy her and cracking up at her classic look of disapproval
Trying out new recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner
Taking long drives with my sister while blasting our favorite tunes and singing along
Visiting that cute little outdoor shopping mall in Tacoma and getting Bubble Tea
(Hopefully) taking more pictures for this blog so that I can update from sunny season
Window shopping (maybe a little actual shopping) with my mom
Finishing my book and writing up a review
Blogging, of course!
What things are you all looking forward to doing during the holidays?
The Power (and awkwardness) about being completely honest
What do you think life would be like if you were always completely honest?
Like, if you were to go up to the barista that you think is so cute and tell him or her that you have a big, fat crush on them? That is why you go to their coffee shop every Tuesday, right?
Or, would you tell the girl in your chemistry class who randomly hates you that you didn’t do anything to her and you don’t know why she’s mad at you without letting your pride getting in the way? You don’t want her to know that you care about what she thinks- that makes you look weak and scared. But it really does hurt to know that someone who doesn’t even know you that well acts like they hate you and doesn’t tell you why.
Would you be honest when someone asks you what your most embarrassing memory is? Or would you tell them the second or third most embarrassing memory instead?
Many of like to think that we are open and honest with other people.
Happy first week of December. As I’m writing this letter to you after sort of a hard week, but at the end of which there was a happy, hopeful twist. I guess that’s why I’m adding a picture of this beautiful Christmas tree from a local cafe. Like I mentioned in my last letter, I didn’t grow up Christian, but that didn’t stop me from loving the sight of a Christmas tree. I’m not sure what these trees symbolize to Christians, but to me they symbolize hope. Hope for joy, for surprises, and for peace- exactly what everyone needs at this time of the year.
The first week of December is commonly known as “Dead Week” at my University; it’s the week before finals. Dorms usually enforce quiet hours more strictly or for longer periods of time. The main undergraduate library is open 24/7 so that people can hit the books. What makes this particular Dead Week worse than others in other quarters is that its the week before Christmas break! So while its so tempting to ditch the books and notes and go celebrate with friends and family… we can’t. Because grades.
But I always like to give myself something to look forward to at the end of every week. In the case of this week, that would be finishing off my job interview that is at the end of this week. I have a good feeling about this one- I feel hopeful! Most of this week that isn’t spent studying is going to be spent preparing for that one. But I guess I’ll be able to let you know in my next letter how that goes.
A lot of my free time will also be spent scrolling through pinterest! I mentioned in my last letterthat I’d be making most of my holiday presents this year, and I know now exactly what I’m going to make. It’s going to be a surprise… everyone is getting a variety of the same thing, and I so badly want to tell everyone what that is but I’ve never been capable of keeping this a surprise except for that one time I surprised my sister for our birthday (we’re twins) so I really REALLY am going to try to keep this one a secret. But I can’t wait to show you guys once the surprise is revealed!
After this week is over, I have two weeks of sleeping in, baking cookies, catching up with friends and driving around to see Christmas lights! Until then, I just have to get through my interview and my finals.
To close my letter, for everyone who has finals after this next week (and is also experiencing Dead Week)… you got this. To paraphrase some of my friends on many occasions when I’ve been worried about tests, projects and life in general, you can get halfway to success at least if you believe you can do it.
As always, thanks for stopping by and taking a few minutes out of your day to read this! If you want to write back, you can email me at email@example.com OR fill out this contact form! It’s always great to hear back from you all as well.
I spent the last hour googling “single during the holiday season” and clicking in and out of articles. The stories were pretty much all the same. How to survive the holiday season. Things to do when you’re single. The articles start the same way, with cheesy puns about adding extra fa-la-la-la into your season. The slew of articles is really pretty pathetic for how weighty this feeling of “singleness” can be when December rolls around.
So you’re here. And you’re reading this. And maybe you’re the single one.
Valentine’s Day is one day on the calendar but, for some reason, the holiday season feels like two long months of social awareness for the single people in the room.
And maybe Hallmark Movies don’t make it any better because all these fiercely handsome men and seemingly perfect women keep colliding into one another in the old haunts of their hometowns while…
I hope you all had a great, fun and warm Thanksgiving! As I said in my last open letter, these letters are just my way of let you all know how my life has been going. One thing that has helped me get through my own challenges with anxiety is doing my best to be reflective- and that is what these letters allow me to do. These letters are for anyone to read, and anyone to respond to if they wish to! Feel free to write back through email or post comments, or PM me on my Facebook page!
Thanksgiving was so perfect- it was a break after working so long and hard this last week. Like I mentioned in my last post, every Thanksgiving my family does this thing where we all make one dish for our family meal. This year, I made a salted pecan caramel cheesecake, and it was DELICIOUS.
Here is the recipe I used, in case any of y’all want to try it!
We had so much food on the table for Thanksgiving: Turkey and gravy, BBQ sweet potato sliders (a vegetarian twist so that everyone could have them), candied yams, corn and potato patties, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, brussel sprouts, and of course, CHEESECAKE. The best part about it though was sitting down to eat with my family and friends.
We spent all of yesterday and some of Thursday night shopping, which is sort of a tradition for my sister, my mom and I. I know a lot of people who really don’t appreciate that stores open on Thursday night, or the fact that Black Friday is such a huge crazy day when the day before is supposed to be spent giving thanks for all of the people and things that you have in your life. The only reason I do it is because I (usually) don’t buy all that much throughout the year, so I let myself have Black Friday. And, it means getting to spend a day having fun with my mom and my sister, and this year, our friend too!
But besides Thanksgiving all of the holiday fun from this weekend, this weekend I also spent a lot of time thinking about that book I mentioned I wanted to write in last week’s letter. Again, I know that trying to publish a book any time soon would be crazy at this point in my life, since I have so much going on already. But I guess I started thinking about what I wanted to write since Christmas is right around the corner.
I’ve been a Hindu all of my life- I was raised by a family that is at least somewhat religious. But I did not grow in a place where Hinduism was prominent. My family celebrates Diwali every year, and every year my parents have at least one Satyanarayan pooja (a ceremonious prayer) and we also do Ganesh Chaturthi. But because I did not grow up having a lot of other friends who were also Indian and also Hindu, these never really seemed like the community events that they are in places where there are large Hindu communities.
There are some schools and school districts in the United States that let people take days off for Diwali. But I’ve yet to hear about schools that give holiday breaks for the holidays of other religions, belief systems and cultures: Hanukkah, Eid, Chinese Lunar New Year, etc.
I grew up singing Christmas music and planning and doing Secret Santa with my friends. Every year, we put up a small Christmas tree and give each other gifts just for the fun of it. For me, Christmas means trying to show my family and friends that I love and appreciate them through gifts. But I’ve always felt like I can’t really participate in celebrating Christmas because it is not a religiously significant holiday for me. The religious significance is a part of the holiday that does deserve its respect, and I just feel like by taking only part of the tradition and not all of it, I can’t give it the respect that it deserves. That’s why even though its fun for me to spend time with my family and friends, plan out and create gifts for them, it also is somewhat uncomfortable.
I call the gifts that I give people during that time “holiday gifts” now, as in gifts for any holiday that might be important to the person that I’m giving my gift too. Because even if I don’t understand or celebrate Christmas for its religious significance, it is important to to stop and show people that you appreciate them as often as you can.
This year, I’m a little extra excited because I’ll be making a lot of the presents I’m giving to people! I’ve been all over pinterest and several craft blogs looking for ideas, and I’m probably going to be brain-storming and shopping for supplies during the next two weeks, and putting together gifts during holiday break.
During these next two weeks, I’m also going to planning out my resolutions for next year, including deciding how I’m going to move forward with this blog! The most important thing for me with this blog was to somehow set up a community that was excited to talk about mental health. This blog is about seven months old now, and I think so far I’ve done an okay job of doing that. But one thing that I’ve realized is that blogging really isn’t about making yourself well-known (unless its a personal blog), but more about making your cause well-known, and making yourself a prominent voice in that cause. But I’ve also began to feel that some part of it should also be giving a voice to other people- with a blog centered around mental health, this is especially important, considering how stigmatized mental illness and seeking mental health care are. It’s been great seeing some people do that already, whether this means having guest blog posts, or sharing the blogs of others. I’m so excited for what is ahead!
Next week, I might have some updates on my goals for next year, goals for my blog, and on holiday gift ideas! For now, you can check out some of this great website I’ve found for DIY gifts!
Here is the first of something I’m hoping will become a tradition on my blog: an open letter to all of you, my readers!
Those of us who care about mental health know that sometimes the most therapeutic thing you can do to make yourself feel better is simply have a conversation about what you’ve been doing, what you’ve been going through, and what you need help on. That’s what I’m hoping to do through this letter: just a short conversation with you all about how I’ve been doing, what I’ve been up to, and what I might need help or advice on. I’m hoping to make this a weekly, Sunday morning thing. If you feel inspired something yourself after reading my open letter, feel free to write back! I’m always looking for opportunities to have conversations with all of you who read this blog and support me. You can reach me by either commenting on this post, commenting when I share it to my Facebook Page, or emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week I’ve been doing a lot of waiting. I’m waiting for Thanksgiving break so I can see my family again, so that I can go shopping with my mom, my sister and one of my best friends on Black Friday, and so that I can have more time to blog! My family does this thing every year: we each make one dish for our Thanksgiving meal instead of just cooking all of the traditional foods. This year, I’m making this Salted Caramel Pecan Cheesecake that I found online- pretty much all of the best holiday flavors (except for Pumpkin, which is sad)- and it’s on a cheesecake! I’m excited, though part of me does feel like it might be too many flavors all at once. But I guess we won’t know until I’m done cooking it! If you like the recipe and decide to try it out too, let me know how it turns out!
I’ve also been waiting to get through to midterms that I’m taking in the next two days, and I have a paper due on Wednesday! But the good news is that after I’m done with all of those things, I’m pretty much free until finals at the end of the quarter, so I’m looking forward to having two weeks of lots of free time after this week!
I was dreading doing all of these things earlier on in this week, but on Thursday I spent some time talking to a few friends- we were just catching up and talking about our various life struggles, and I realized that the entire week I’d been dreading all of the big things that I have going on before Thanksgiving next week and I hadn’t spent enough time celebrating the small good things that were already happening in my life.
I’m the President of a club that I started with a few friends called Snail Mail Society, and our on-going project at the moment involves writing letters for people who are nominated by friends or themselves to receive a “love letter bundle”. The purpose of these bundles is just to show the people in our university community that though they might be going through a hard time, they have people rooting for them to get through it. Although it can be challenging to write letters to people we often do not know, we successfully pulled together bundles for our first four nominations this last week!
I also got a package in the mail (who doesn’t love packages in the mail?!?) of something that I’d been expecting for a really long time and I’m excited to open it when I get back home for Thanksgiving break!
This past summer, I had an idea for a book I’d potentially want to write, about the struggles faced by brown-skinned women in modern America. After having a really great conversation with one of my friends this past week, I think that this might actually be a topic that I’d want to write about in the future. But writing a book is a lot of work, and it’s not necessarily something that I have a ton of time to do right now, but it’s never too early to start brainstorming and documenting stories, right?
I realized that it’s only 5 MORE MONTHS until my best friend comes home from her mission! I haven’t heard from her in a little while, but in 5 more months I’m super excited to catch up on life, binge watch Flash, go hiking and get our hair done together.
One of my friends who is also majoring in Psychology recently got into a lab that she had interviewed for and accepted the position. Another friend got a job.
These are all really small things, but being happy about these is better than being sad that things you are waiting for haven’t happened already. I think that’s the biggest thing that I learned this week. I think that sometimes its really easy to forget about these little things that are worth celebrating when there are so many big things looming in our paths. But doing that can also make it hard to live in the moment. After struggling so much with that last year, I’ve noticed that the anxiety I used to feel on a daily basis has gone down the more I started consciously making an effort to celebrate all of the small accomplishments I have.
I’m going to close off this letter by asking that, if you are having trouble living in the moment, to try and do the same thing. Think about the small things that have happened in your life recently that made you smile, and know that reflecting on these positive things will help you get through the big things you might have ahead.
The last thing I want to add to this letter is a huge Thank You to all of you. Thank you for reading my blog, and thank you for caring about mental health. Thank you for continuing to support me. I hope everyone reading this has a great Thanksgiving this next week!
Here is my second blog post for this week. A couple of weeks ago, I attended my first Open Mic, and I watched one of my really good friends, Bre, perform. Bre is a blogger as well, and you can read her work on here blog here! Bre writes and does poetry as well. A couple of weeks ago, she performed spoken word poetry for the first job and did an amazing job. I was so proud of her! But this blog post was actually inspired by a conversation we had before going to the event. Bre and I were talking about how frustrating it is to encounter people who have no idea how privileged they are. Because of who I am now, I related to the frustration. But I also related to the problem itself, based on how I remember being a couple of years ago. In this post, I share my story.