Are You Okay? I’m Not, and That’s Okay.

A quick note … I wrote this post on April 24th after sitting with this feeling for a couple of weeks. It’s taken me nearly a month to actually hit publish. I’m feeling a lot better now, and that might be the reason I felt courageous enough to share – I can see a light at the end of the tunnel.

I’ve struggled for the last couple of weeks with sharing this post. When so much of your life is online, and many of your personal and professional contacts overlap in the digital space like mine do, it can be really scary to share your challenges in such a public way.  Whenever things are less than perfect in my life, I hesitate to share those messy bits online because I’ve always felt that’s not what people want to hear from me. Readers come to this space for uplifting, inspiring content, not my problems. And secondly, a lot of my clients follow me online –  what if I wrote about feeling sad or stressed out and a client read it? What would they think of me,  and could I lose business? These are very real concerns for a digital entrepreneur.pink chai living{Always looking for comfort in a cup of chai}

The reason I’m finally opening up today is because I value authenticity from the brands and blogs that I follow, and want to be able to offer the same to my readers. Only showing you the perfectly curated parts of my life isn’t fair, and it doesn’t help us to grow together. So here it is the ugly messy truth; the last 18 months have been really hard for me. Probably the hardest period of my life. I lost my two beloved grandparents, struggled with health issues, made a huge life altering move, my existing business had nearly 200% growth, and I launched a new business with my friend Salma. Through all these ups and downs, I expected myself to handle everything on my own and effortlessly. That’s how I’ve always been – the first one there to help a friend, and the last one to ask for help. Because like many women, I hold myself to a different standard then I hold others.

For months now I’ve been feeling a sense of stress and unhappiness, but I keep sweeping it under the metaphorical rug. I keep expecting my feelings of unprocessed grief to go away, and I keep waiting for the day when I have a little more time and things get organized so I can take a few days off. Every time my business grows a little more, so do my insecurities. Maybe it’s rampant impostor syndrome, or maybe it’s the fear of failure, but the feeling is always with me, in the pit of my stomach. And to be perfectly honest, I thought I was the best actress ever and no one had a clue, but then my friend Salma called me out one day.

I was running around between appointments and had forgotten to call her back about something (again). She called and asked me a simple question: “Are you okay, because you don’t seem okay?” It was the second half of the question that really hit me. If she just asked if I was okay, I would have covered it up. But she kept pushing – “you just don’t seem like yourself” she said. And then…”it’s like you are fine on the outside, but something’s wrong on the inside”. I got off the call with her and just broke down into uncontrollable sobs. I was embarrassed that someone noticed I wasn’t okay. I’m a care taker, a classic overachiever, and a people pleaser. In my mind, I don’t let people down.

After that conversation for days I felt like I had let Salma down. (BTW: She is the nicest human ever and did or said nothing to make me feel that way). I felt like she wouldn’t ask me for help if she needed it, or she wouldn’t share her problems with me, worse; she would feel obligated to do my share of the work in our business.  

Now that I’ve had about two weeks to process all those thoughts I’ve come to realize how much pressure I put on myself everyday. I expect myself to be the best mom, the best homemaker, the best daughter, and still run a growing business without missing a beat. Every single day. I basically work 365 days a year and still feel guilty when I have to take a sick day. Somewhere along the path of life I started measuring my worth in closed client deals, sparkling counter tops, and perfectly plated dinners. That’s not okay, and neither am I. Just typing those words is hard for me; I’m not okay, but you know some how I feel like I will be soon.

I know it’s going to be a long process un-learning some of the habits which I’ve trained myself to follow for years. It’s going to take some time to learn how to say no, lower my expectations of myself, and allow myself to recover and heal from the loss I’ve felt over the last two years. I also know it might have taken me years and a serious medical crisis to realize how bad things were if my friend hadn’t pushed me that one day, if she hadn’t asked that question “are you really okay?”

We live in a world where being okay is expected, it’s the norm, but are we all really okay? I know it can be hard and scary to push a friend when you know she’s covering something up, but maybe we all need to do that. Maybe we need to create more intimacy in our friendships so we can share the messy ugly stuff with each other and move beyond the niceties of just being okay?

I know I will make an effort to ask the women in my life how they are actually feeling in future. How about you, will you ask a friend if she’s really okay today?

 

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11 Comments

  1. May 22, 2016 / 8:18 pm

    this – this act of honesty – makes me think even more highly of you than before. sending lots of good vibes your way

    • May 22, 2016 / 10:26 pm

      Thanks so much Sarah, that really means a lot <3

  2. May 23, 2016 / 3:01 pm

    It’s not just the women in our lives we need to be pushed, it’s the men as well. In some ways, men are better actors. They are human as well. Some of my deepest connections with men and women are due to the fact that I push. It’s a hard thing to do because sometimes you can push that friend away too if they aren’t ready.

  3. May 23, 2016 / 5:37 pm

    Thank you for opening up and sharing this honest post. Sometimes the scariest part is admitting that things are not okay. And from conversations I’ve had with friends recently, I think lots of people feel this way. I know I have my days/sometimes weeks. Sending a big hug your way!

  4. May 24, 2016 / 10:29 am

    I’m really glad you decided to hit publish on this post. It’s raw and real and you’ve put into words what so many of us feel but can’t verbalize. <3

  5. May 24, 2016 / 12:04 pm

    These posts are the hardest, the rawest ones that expose that we are actually humans behind our superhuman blogs, businesses and motherhood. I’m so glad you shared, and I’m so glad you have amazing friends who can help pull you out of that darkness. <3

  6. May 24, 2016 / 2:02 pm

    I’ve so been there. How fortunate you had someone there who knew you and could help you through. Kindred spirits are blessings:)

  7. June 10, 2016 / 11:19 pm

    Thank you for sharing this with us. All of us need to learn to be truthful to ourselves and others… We are all guilty of this. Am glad you put down in words what some of us have trouble acknowledging.

  8. July 8, 2016 / 1:20 pm

    Raj,
    I really appreciate you taking the great leap of moving beyond the fear of vulnerability and daring to be authentic in posting about ‘not being okay’, and the uplifting message of it being okay! I read this post some time ago, but returned to it today because I feel like I’ve ended up in the same place you describe so eloquently.

    I think so many of us struggle with self-acceptance -as simple as even accepting that we are stressed or bothered by something. As a new mother, I am learning new strategies to nurture healthy emotional well being and confidence in my baby boy. One of the strategies is as follows: when he’s crying, I reflect his feelings back to him. For example, “You seem frustrated at being in your carseat. I’m sorry you are so frustrated, and I’ll take you out as soon as I can, but for now you have to be in it for your safety.” I find such simple scenarios healing for me personally, as much of the way I was raised was to not address wellbeing or emotions, deny how we were feeling “I’m fine”, or at worst, criticizing ourselves for somehow coming up short for not being okay with something that really isn’t okay.
    So thank-you again.

  9. Anamika
    July 28, 2016 / 4:58 am

    Very beautiful written . I really enjoy reading all ur articles

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