Suffering is not a norm.

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Is it possible for Communities of Color to balance their cultural history without normalizing suffering?

Last night, I was at dinner with a friend from the Latinx community, and we began to talk about our lives and our current struggles. Inevitably, we had barely caught up on our struggles before we started qualifying them with one another and comparing them to the struggle of our parents.

For all immigrants and third-culture kids, it’s pretty safe to say that most of us understand suffering and have grown up with stories of our parents’ struggles – politically and financially.

It’s important for us to recount these stories and to understand and value our family history, especially when these are the stories that are often left behind by history books, movies, and novels.

However, is there a point when retelling these stories normalizes suffering?

As much as it is important to use the struggles of our parents and ancestors to motivate us, it can be extremely isolating and devaluing to compare your own life and struggles with the ones of past generations.

So many of us are told that we should stop complaining about negative comments, or bullying in school, or struggling with our education or peer groups because our parents had it worse. I think that there is a valuable lesson of human perseverance here. But I also think that repeating the idea that “other people have it worse” can be incredibly unproductive.

These ideas can even leak into conversations of mental health.

In my personal experience with depression, I have experienced it both as a result of grief and emotional abuse, and as a recurring illness. When I was 16, my grandmother passed away, and her sudden death and all the family drama surrounding it brought me into one of the deepest depressions of my life. She got sick and passed away in the span of 3 months – between August and October.

For about 6 full years after this experience, I would struggle with depression during those months like clockwork. Nothing had to happen, and it wasn’t brought on by a different traumatic experience every time. In fact, it often came up when everything else in my life was relatively normal and stable. It can make you feel completely crazy when your brain and body are telling you that nothing matters, that we all die anyway, and that life is full of suffering.

The first time I opened up to my parents about depression and the way I was feeling was when I was 16. The response I received was a literal slap across the face and a lecture on how there was nothing in my life to be depressed about. How my parents always had it worse, and that my life was perfect.

My life has never been “perfect,” and neither has our parents. However, playing into this “Oppression Olympics” does nothing for the wounded.

When our parents replay their own stories of suffering and peril for us, they are spreading the message that what happened to them is normal. They are telling themselves that that is the bar from which we live our lives.

No one’s idea of normal should stem out of a traumatic event.

Children should not feel that their suffering and pain is invalid simply because it looks different than the suffering of our parents.  It’s time that we understand suffering – emotional, political, or financial – can look different for everyone, and that suffering is painful without devaluing it. We need to meet this suffering with deep empathy and greet our children with a deep sense of belonging.


Do you have any stories of suffering like this? Share them in the comments below!

Self-Care & Therapy aren’t “Just Gora Things”

Self care is not just for white people. Mental health is not just a “white people” thing.

I grew up thinking that therapy was for white people, and that only “goras” have mental diagnoses or struggle with mental health.

This hurts our communities in multiple ways – for instance, not only does it discourage anyone who seeks help from doing so, but it also places value on pushing through feelings of pain, loneliness, helplessness, depression, and anxiety despite the consequences. We are teaching our own children that it is better to care what others think of you rather than to take the time to prioritize your own personal growth.

Therapy, personal growth, and self-help aren’t just for the “damned” or the “crazy,” or for white people.

We all know how important it is to eat right and work out on a daily, or at least frequent, basis. However, when it comes to this kind of preventative work for mental health, it is completely dismissed.

What if we thought of attending therapy, or reading self-help books, or participating whatever forms of self-care and rituals resonate with us, was more of a preventative measure to deal with anxiety and depression, rather than stigmatizing these activities and the people who participate in them?

Self-care is a human issue, and we cannot exclude ourselves from taking care of ourselves on a basic level. I know this because I have seen so many family members, both young and old, and South Asian peers of mine choose to suffer in silence, rather than risk anyone finding out that they have a mental disorder or are going through a difficult time. This silence is detrimental. This lack of support can drive people deeper into depression, or help them to turn to self-medicating, and at its absolute worst, can result in suicide.

When we speak out about the shame and when we are vulnerable about our struggles, we become free. However, for many of us South Asians, it can be incredibly daunting when you know that you will often be ridiculed or told to suck it up by your own family members. We may even find it easier to open up to friends or a stranger rather than our own flesh and blood, simply because of how our communities have been taught to deal with mental health issues.

Our community deserves better.

Another point to make here is that self-care isn’t all face masks and rose petal baths. Self care can look like setting boundaries, cutting off relationships and activities that don’t serve your Higher Self, and can even encompass a spiritual practice or ritual.

Taking care of ourselves can help us be better partners and friends and can even help us make healthier decisions that serve us wholly.

If you don’t practice setting boundaries with yourself (yes, you can make self-care a boundary in itself), it will only get more difficult to make others respect your boundaries. When others don’t respect your boundaries and space, you begin to feel resentful and even taken advantage of. When you feel resentful, it’s difficult to be grateful. It’s difficult to live in the present moment.

When we’re constantly dwelling on the past, or constantly anxious about the future, we forget to stay present in our relationships, in your work, and with yourself. This is when some of life’s best moments can pass us by. This is the feeling that we get when things are so good, and so pure, that we immediately jump to fear because we believe that it can’t last.

Imagine that everyone in our community took a little time for themselves, to nurture their needs, and to become a little more self-aware. Consider a world in which our parents, cousins, and all the Auntys we knew took a little time for self-love and personal growth, and a little less time for judgement. We would become a much more understanding and tolerant community. There would be fewer individuals exiled from our societies, and would be embraced, instead.

Our families would grow. Our love for one another would grow. Our love for ourselves and our community would grow.

Invest in self-care. It is a step in the right direction for all of us.

Let me know in the comments below – What will you do this week to commit to self-care?

xoxo,

Rosh

An Introduction To Beti Grew Up

Welcome, everyone! I am so excited to “meet” and connect with all of you!

I want to preface this blog by writing a more in-depth introduction to this brand and my personal story.

My name is Roshni, and I am a 23-year-old, Kenyan-born, Texas-raised, Indian lady who now lives in Colorado! Needless to say, my upbringing has been complex — but it’s given me insight into many different perspectives that I’ve implemented on my journey of personal growth and healing.

Beti Grew Up is a business focused on helping you create and cultivate your sense of self. My belief is that the better you take care of yourself, and the better you know who who are, the more enriched your life and your relationships will be.

As a third culture kid, a child of immigrants, and a first generation college student in the United States, I have had to create bridges between seemingly mutually exclusive worlds. I have had to navigate relationships with family members and peers who operate from a completely different perspective.

What I’ve learned through this all, is that anything is possible if you have a strong sense of self.

My story of navigating depression, general anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder in a community of color has also contributed to my belief that a strong sense of self is something that you can cultivate at any time, and is the key to unleashing internalized messages about yourself, your culture, and your true sense of self. I’m sure that many millennials, or individuals for that matter, have grown up and watched members of their community battle with issues that were kept a secret or caused a lot of shame.

Seeing the consequences of this in my own life has inspired me to write and speak up about managing our emotions, providing real tips and exercises (that I’ve personally used) to begin to heal, and to foster a shame-free community to talk through our stories.

I started this blog partly to keep myself on track in my own whirlwind journey of personal growth, and to offer insight and advice to anyone who wants to tune in to their true selves.

In this blog, and on my YouTube channel, BetiGrewUp, I aim to:

A) help you understand and manage your emotions,
B) dissect what having a sense of self means, where our own sense of self comes from, and how to begin to change that story, and
C) create a community that strengthens one another to decolonize, to unlearn, to relearn, and to cultivate our best selves.

I post a new YouTube video every Wednesday, and you will see a new blog post here, every Saturday. If you want to reach out to me with your story, you can always email me at betigrewup@gmail.com.

If you want to follow my personal soc meds, I’ll be on Instagram as @rikk_r0sh

See you Sunday, and happy healing!

xoxo

Roshni

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