OK. So I start this year off with some honesty. I am lost. Like properly have no idea what I’m doing or where I’m going or what to feel lost. I’ve been on autopilot for a while. I’m good at my job, I’ve jostled together a savings account, I live in one of the world’s most beautiful cities, I own a car, I have the most loving family, I have friends and I have some faith in something sublime. But I also have a lot of shit. I’ve become really good at coping in the past year and even better at pushing through stressful situations in the only way I know how: laughter and time with people I love. But I’ve struggled with that strange divide of what’s appropriate to share with a literal world of strangers; it’s one thing when you’re sharing with people who have a peripheral understanding of your past and background. It’s another thing entirely when you’re a very open, honest and vulnerable person and you find yourself exposing your raw soul to the world, open to comments from random people and subject to advice and criticism.
My #100daysofgratitude project gave me a space that was safe enough for me to start treading that line but over the latter months of 2017 and now into 2018, I’ve found myself struggling more and more with the idea of boundaries – what is mine and what is for everyone else? In my quest for acceptance and friendship, I’ve blurred those lines until they have been rendered indistinguishable. If it happened to me or if I was present, I’m more than happy to dissect incidents and overshare (“revealing Radhika”) to literally anyone who asks. You’ve all seen unfiltered (ha) Instagram stories of my parents, my friends, my brother, me, my life – but what then? When is it content and performative and when is it my life, safe and sacred for me? How do I grow the shield to protect myself when I’ve been especially candid? Where do I draw the lines for what is truly enough?
Writing has been cathartic for me, allowing me to process my pain, share realizations and see clearly what to distance and where to just let go. But with all these new boundaries I’ve been trying to delineate, I find myself stuck and numb.
There is so much I want to unpack this year in my writing. I want to talk about my identity, my faith and lack thereof, my worries and fears of judgment, my experiences with “having it all”, my relationships, my traumas – I know there’s an audience out there for whom some of this can hopefully resonate and I am aware that in sharing stories we can establish commonalities and shared camaraderie. But I also know that I’m putting my entire family on an imaginary pedestal for my readers to examine. Because like every good brown girl, I’m both myself and an extension of a larger family unit, tied to history, culture and tradition that run deeper than my superficial understanding of it all. My mother always told me that my oversharing with people would be the end of me but as I’ve started censoring and muting myself, I feel like I’m clipping away at the wings that could set me free. I itch to write and share but I catch myself and say no, it’s not the time.
We’re living in a time where vulnerability is finally get its due. People are celebrating emotion and feelings. Women and POC in particular are fighting to be heard and are being heard in new, unprecedented ways. Trauma is being revisited. Mental health is finally being considered real. Healing is happening on a grand level. Hurt is also happening on a grand level.
What happens to those of us that don’t feel equipped to deal with the aftermath not because we’re scared of repercussion but because we’re scared of what comes after the big reveal? Who have I helped? Will I be known as another survivor? Will I be yet another girl coming out of a failed relationship? Does my pain become my identity? Can I separate myself from it?