“It got really bad once. To the point where I took a bunch of pills and tried to kill myself. It didn’t work obviously. I woke up after a daze and felt terrible. Nobody knew or even noticed. I just acted like I was sick. (Rewind 10 Minutes)…
…I used to be a real estate agent not too long ago but I quit. It wasn’t the easiest job and it takes a lot of your time and energy so I decided it wasn’t worth it. I mean I wasn’t happy doing it and I’m not a sales person. It was like I had to pretend to be this person I’m not - just to make money…I wasn’t down with that, so I quit. I moved back with my parents since I was making no income and decided I was going to do something that I love so I started working on the book that’s been in my head for years. It’s a coming of age novel. It’s about a girl in her twenties. She’s really sheltered and she has had a traumatic life and she wants to be free. She’s striving for something but she doesn’t really know what she’s looking for. She gets on this plane and is going somewhere to find this something. Hopefully she finds it. I’d say there are some parallels with my own experiences.
I’ve wanted to write my whole life. I can think back to when I was in kindergarten and I used to make these great picture books. I still have them somewhere. I’ll look for them and send you pictures. When I was in middle school I used to write every day. When I was in high school I was able to take creative writing and it was my favorite class. College…was a little bit different. My parents were like “You’re Bengali, so its time for you to be a doctor”. And so, I ended up going to Hunter for nursing. I absolutely hated it.
I hated everything about the classes I was taking, all with one exception, which was freshman seminar, mainly because it was a literature-based class. There were a lot of books that I read in the class that got me thinking, “Wow this is what I always wanted to do. Why am I doing nursing?” Just like that I decided to change my major to English & Creative Writing. Soon after my parents cut me off. They were not going to pay for my college if I was going to pursue this, so I had to take out a bunch of loans and really push myself through college and ended up graduating with the degree I wanted.
As of now, my degree hasn’t really helped with work or anything like that but it did a lot for my confidence. I was just looking to do something my heart was into…something that made me happy. I needed support. It was tough growing up because I didn’t have that.
There was a lot of disappointment from my parents when I was in school. Like a lot, to the point where they used to come to me every day and say things like “What are you doing with your life?” You’re a waste of space. Get it together. Get a job” And it wasn’t that I was just sitting at home, I just wasn’t doing things they approved of. I used to do things creatively and would respond “ But look at what I made today” where they would just answer with “ What is that? Is that going to make you any money? What’s the monetary value?” Of course none of the things I did was about money, but I just wanted them to be happy that I learned something new that day. It was hard not getting that type of reaction.
Because of that, I grew up without having hobbies. That was probably one of the hardest things for me. I still remember when I was little I used to be so jealous of my friends who used to have things like piano lessons. They used to always complain about it and I was begging to trade places but of course they couldn’t. I don’t think they realized at the time that I was being very serious. I wanted to get a keyboard so bad, just to learn but my parents wouldn’t bend. The question always was “How will this help get you money?” They didn’t believe in art, they didn’t believe in music, writing, it was all the same to them: a whole lot of nothing.
When I ended up in real estate and even retail, doing all the things I didn’t want to do, it just didn’t feel natural. I was depressed for a long time. Really depressed. I thought about killing myself multiple times. I’ve tried multiple times. I’ve come along way since then though. I’m much happier. I feel at peace. I’m finally doing what I needed to be doing. There’s this huge weight that’s been lifted off of me, which makes being poor a lot easier. The people who love me understand why I’m poor which is all that matters. I’m chasing what matters to me.
There were some dark times though. It got really bad once. To the point where I took a bunch of pills and tried to kill myself. It didn’t work obviously. I woke up after a daze and felt terrible. I don’t know what I took, just anything and everything I could find around the house. Nobody knew or even noticed. I just acted like I was sick afterward. This was probably around senior year of high school or freshman year in college. How it got to that point? I just felt like my life didn’t have any purpose or meaning. I thought I wasn’t ever going to do any of the things I wanted to do because I wasn’t my own person yet. I couldn’t foresee ever being my own person. I was just stuck in this little cage.
My parents never found about about this stuff but I think they always knew I wasn’t happy. They knew I felt terrible. They knew I was seeing a therapist for a long time. They’ve come a long way from then to now. As bad as some of this stuff sounds, I understand that they grew up differently than me. Their culture, their society, everything was different and they thought that they could just come here and just wing it but it doesn’t work that way. I think we’re still forgiving each other. I’m trying to forgive them for not being the parents I perhaps wanted or needed and they are trying to forgive me for not being the daughter they expected. Expectations can make you or break you.
In hindsight, not all that came of it was bad. It honestly took a lot of fighting to get to where we are today and they still don’t respect my lifestyle but they understand it. They understand that I am my own person and that I need to be happy. There are certain things that I need to do in my life that they disagree with and aren’t happy about, but at least we have an understanding. I think a lot of this change happened when I wasn’t around. I literally ran away. I lived with my friend for a couple of weeks and I wasn’t speaking to them. My dad had to come to my job once just to talk to me and asked if we could have lunch. And so we talked and ended up making a deal where I would get more space. I came back for a few months and it was fine for a bit but eventually ended up being exactly the same. I then moved in with a boyfriend for about two years. In those two years my parents changed a lot. I wasn’t ever around them so the times I was they were nice. They missed me.
My sister also played a big role in them changing. She was going through a lot when she was younger – she’s 6 years younger than me for context. My parents saw that they were losing her and they didn’t know who to talk to so they turned to me. I told them I’d start by explaining how they lost me. They had to stop discouraging her from pursuing what interested her. They had to look beyond what makes money. They had to stop killing creativity. My sister wants to get into media and advertising. She comes up with a lot of creative ideas and when she shows them to my parents, they’re kind of lost. They are a lot nicer to her than they were with me at least. Strangely my struggles kind of helped make our family closer through my sister.
I know when I have kids; I’m going to encourage them to do whatever they want to do. If you don’t have the ability to become the person you’re supposed to be, you’re not going to be happy. It doesn’t matter who you’re with, or what things you own, you’re just not going to be happy unless you are doing what you feel like doing. And that doesn’t mean drugs or partying or stuff like that. No, I mean creatively, you have to let yourself out.
I don’t know if I’m happy now, but I’m getting there. Happiness to me is balance. You can never be fully happy, you can be happy for moments but you should also be sad for moments too. Otherwise you can’t appreciate the happiness. It’s a balance.
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