For the Eldest Daughters of Immigrants.

I know that literature regarding the experiences of the diaspora kid is oversaturated, but here I am writing about it. I hope to address the parts of the child of immigrants experience that are not as widely discussed, and I am going to do so from the eldest daughter perspective throughout the following paragraphs. I am sure that even eldest daughters, or eldest children, of parents who are not immigrants will relate to some of these points, but overall, I write this for those mentioned in the title of this blog post, including myself.

My younger brother has told me many times that he is so thankful to be the younger sibling. The older, or oldest, child has to experience everything first, and this is only exacerbated if you are now a woman who was raised in the United States by immigrant parents. In many ways, I believe that my experiences were easier compared to my friends as my parents had a less traditional (as compared to other Indian families) approach to raising children and all of the aspects that come along with it, and they had also resided in the United States for quite some time before having me. That being said, I still struggle with the pressures of being the eldest daughter and the feeling of being frequently misunderstood.

Certain aspects of growing up such as having playdates or sleepovers with friends, fashion, puberty, mental health, and dating are viewed very differently here in the United States than they are in India. While the lines are a little bit more blurred now, and commonalities do exist, I am sure that raising a daughter in the 2000s after moving countries was a different ball game. Not only do all young people experience these things, but as an immigrant daughter, I was navigating the pressures of building community within predominantly white spaces. Aeropostale, Hollister, and Abercrombie were trending, and I had to nervously and gradually float the idea to my mom that I wanted to shop at these stores. The white girls in middle school were obsessed with straightening their hair, and while I felt as though I needed to do the same, I could not muster up the courage to ask my mom for a flat iron until I was in high school and could get one myself (by this point, my appreciation for my hair had grown, and I rarely straightened it).

The way that periods are discussed in the US is likely very different than how it was discussed in India, and I did not know how to have these conversations with my parents when I reached that age of development. I had to test the waters myself and proceed accordingly. I have always been transparent with my parents regarding dating, and I was one of the few immigrant daughters who was allowed to have boys over, but every day was not smooth sailing. Despite the permission, I would butt heads with my parents over spending time with a boy, and where the boundaries lay within that. I was the first child with whom my parents had to go Homecoming and Prom dress shopping, and as a girl, the (now minuscule and silly) stressors that came along with these events were even more stressful.

My (white) friends would get upset if I could not spontaneously leave to spend time with them because I had obligations to my family and my own community. I had trouble determining how much of my culture and my family I should show to others because I did not have guidance from an older sibling. I was the guinea pig regarding social situations and my parents had to decide whether to enforce curfews or groundings, which are uniquely white, American concepts.

On top of the social pressures, a weight is also placed on eldest daughters to take advantage of every opportunity and succeed in a way that is deemed acceptable. We are representations of our parents cultivating better lives in unfamiliar places, and we have to prove that we are deserving. I think that I have disrupted convention a fair amount of times in my life so far, and I know that my parents have struggled to understand me, or know me, in these moments. As the older sibling, I feel pressure to ensure security in my life as quickly as possible and my loved ones would feel helpless if I expressed any vulnerability. Everyone is watching every move I make so that they can determine whether they should follow in my footsteps or keep me in mind as a “what not to do” lesson.

You’re experiencing everything first not only as a child and sibling, but also as the first person to go through K-12 schooling in a different country. Your classmates are different, your homework assignments are different, and your extra-curricular activities are different from what your parents knew. I held the answers to questions that my parents, or anyone who has immigrated here as an adult, did not, and I hold myself accountable for my brother’s success in this country both professionally and socially.

I also know that despite all of this, my parents still know best, and as much as I have tried to defy them as an eldest daughter who claims to be an expert in how American kids should be raised, I have learned to accept this. I still carry the weight and the pressures with me, and attempt to do whatever I want because I believe that I am right, but I no longer feel the need to conform as I did when I was a tween.

The eldest daughter of immigrant parents has to carry a lot on her shoulders. The mental exhaustion that comes with this role may seem trivial and dramatic (and maybe it is), but we cannot help how we feel. The expectations placed on us are great. I have many friends who have expressed similar stressors and I urge younger siblings to check in with their older siblings from time to time. I absolutely love being the older sibling, and would not trade it for anything, but this does not mean that I am not afraid when I am the first one to experience a new situation. The balance of fitting in with your peers (and being influenced by them) while also pleasing your parents is a delicate one, and I still feel as though, at the age of twenty four, that I have not mastered it. I find peace within this because I would rather give my brother a realistic view of being a diaspora kid over providing a flawless image that only exists in movies.

Thanks for the Traction.

I know that my identities, upbringing, and experiences yield a certain amount of privilege. I know that a good amount of people dream of having the opportunities that I have had. I know that my success and comfort rests on the shoulders of the work that my parents and ancestors have produced, and I cannot express how grateful I am for this. Sitting here, writing this for the blog that I created on my MacBook years ago, is an ode to all of this in itself.

I also know that I have the opportunity to use the resources available to me to share my values and reflect on my joys and hardships. I know that my hardships are minuscule compared to a lot of the other horrors in the world, and the ability to write about my struggles in London demonstrates this. My experiences still matter to me, though. I have never, ever, ever in my life sought pity or attempted to play victim for the words that I write on this site. I try to be as transparent as possible and write down all of my thoughts because I know that someone, somewhere will resonate with at least parts of what I say. Am I not allowed to reflect and grow?

The same people who hide behind screens and provide criticisms through poorly made assumptions also have privileges. They could also benefit from reflecting on their words. I absolutely love hearing from readers and engaging with people, but I wonder why empathy is often absent in these conversations. Honestly, I feel gross even writing this because I do not want to ask for empathy. This is not about me. Empathy is a courtesy that should be extended to everyone, and I find that life is a lot easier to live without projecting unnecessary, misplaced anger onto others.

It is awfully easy to pick and choose words from a piece rather than digesting the overall message. Yes, I went to London by myself, as an American citizen, and was able to stay there for 1.5 months. Most people cannot do something like this. I used a portion of the little savings that I have to execute a dream of mine, knowing that I would have a roof over my head back in the US regardless of the outcome. I have said, repeatedly (!!!!!!!), that this is an immense privilege, and I hope that this acknowledgement has been clear. My heart swells with the gratitude that I have and I wish I could share a piece of this with everyone. I think that I still have the right to be proud of myself for navigating some hardships while abroad, and random people on the internet (or even in my life) do not need to be privy to all of them to know that I have feelings and emotions just like everyone else.

The wealth (of which I have little as I am a young adult who is currently applying to jobs) that I redistribute to my local and global communities and the advocacy work that I do is not something that I choose to flaunt on social media because it is not performative. It is important and necessary. Activism is for everyone, and my activism means more to me than “optics” or publicity or checking a box. I question the intentions of those who hide behind their keyboards and demand proof of these actions from anyone who has a platform. People are allowed to post on social media and write blog posts and ethically travel and do whatever they’d like because existing itself is a privilege, and if you consume anything in this world (which the people who leave comments online definitely do), you’re likely causing harm to someone else. Importance exists in recognizing the privilege that one has, and I do this every single second of every day.

I know that I do not have to write this and explain myself more than I already do. I just believe that this is an important message for everyone, including myself, to remember, and writing this post was actually therapeutic for me.

I aspire to foster as much love and community as possible in every step that I take, and I hope that you all can join me in this.

Riding Solo.

As an extrovert, existing by myself in a different country has been tough. I have experienced a fair amount of obstacles, and instead of being able to consult with someone else or have a companion as I address certain issues, I have navigated these situations on my own. I know that I am capable, and the past month has demonstrated this, but the emotions are so hard to carry when I only have myself.

I did expect to have someone exploring with me, but things do not always transpire accordingly. This did not stop me from fully immersing myself in a city that I love, and I have learned a lot about myself and my surroundings in the process. As much as I enjoy planning (virgos rise), I was not ready for the difficulty in doing so when the itinerary was entirely my choice. I wake up whenever I want, I sleep whenever I want, and I can visit the places that I want to see in addition to avoiding the ones that do not interest me. I decide the cuisines that I want to consume and how much time should be spent in each place. I could have my entire day planned only to encounter something unexpected or be pulled in a different direction once I am actually in the city’s center. London is truly endless, and many people have told me that even though they have lived here their entire lives, they have not covered every aspect of it. The way that I view the city now is very different from when I have previously visited, and grappling with this realization has also been overwhelming.

Due to my long-term stay, I also focused on establishing a routine here, which is rough when I can only plan so far in advance. I am at a major crossroads in almost every aspect of my life, and I decided to complicate this by buying a one-way ticket across the pond. Arranging my things and hanging my clothes in an Airbnb feels strange, having a UK phone number feels strange, and shopping for groceries to make food at (not my) home feels strange. I had to find the closest health clinic and nail salon, and I needed to have a plan in place for emergencies.

I know that these details are probably similar to ones that people who study abroad also have to address, but the difference is that I have been completely on my own. I do not have a network of classmates or colleagues here, and I’m not living with roommates. I do not have classes or an internship to attend every day, and if I let them, my days can be a lot of nothing (of course, this did NOT happen as I’ll be damned if I waste my time in this fantastic city!). I have never experienced such an intense lack of human interaction, and while this may seem dramatic, anyone who knows me knows that I am very outgoing, so solitude is not my cup of tea. I value my independence and do need alone time as an adult, but my mind becomes a little bit darker as days pass without genuine conversation.

The following paragraphs are some points that I have noted during my solo time in the UK.

Shame does not exist in eating at restaurants alone, but I found myself humbled by asking for a table for one at sit-down restaurants. I know that many people dine alone, but I still do not think that it’s a request made often, and hosts do not know how to react to it. On the bright side, I was always accommodated without a reservation because I was the only person who needed to be seated. I could eat and pay at my leisure, and I was able to eavesdrop on some interesting conversations.

I have made some amazing friends, but they are all still new friends. They do not know me in the ways that my friends in the US do, and I feel a bit awkward inserting myself into their already established lives. I have to share my story with new people while also navigating my life in a new city. To that end, importance exists in residing outside of the comfort zone, so I am proud of myself for taking the initiative to meet people. For example, I entered a small boutique in the Shoreditch area and the two girls working there seemed very cool. I literally walked up to the check-out counter and asked them if they wanted to be friends, and now we are! I have also taken advantage of mutual connections, and I am grateful for everyone who has connected me with someone they know here in London.

My parents encouraged me to register for a tour of Stonehenge, Bath, a drive through the Cotswolds, and Stratford-upon-Avon. These are definitely areas that I have always wanted to cover, but I did feel a bit wary prior to the twelve hour excursion. I woke up at 5:15 am and only returned home at 9:15 pm. The day was long, but time seemed to pass quickly. I was actually sad when it ended as I had so much fun. I am obsessed with the city of Bath and cannot wait to visit again. I was nervous to join a tour group as a singular person, but the guide was so welcoming and I felt comfortable. I had some good conversations and it was honestly one of my favorite days that I have had here in the UK.

Rest is essential. I do not have the energy or money to be living large in London every single day, and I embraced the days that I stayed inside, catching up on job applications, watching movies, or reading books. I made sure that the spaces in which I stayed every night were comfortable enough for me to do this, and I value my time spent traipsing around the city much more because of it.

I know that I have extremely high standards for myself, but only having my own company in another country showcases just how extreme these standards are. I physically feel the weight of the pressure that I have placed on my back with the amount of to-do lists that I have and lists of places that I want to cover. I grow frustrated with myself when I delay my departure into the city because I get so tangled in planning my routes and what order of business is most logical. If I buy something, how inconvenient will it be to carry? Where can I use the toilet? Can I get back home from wherever I am with a dead phone? On top of the daily routine, I have been navigating loneliness, heartbreak, imposter syndrome, and much more while here. These emotions have accumulated so heavily that I would not even know where to begin to unpack them with someone else now because I have not been able to do so for so long. I am also still trying to be as invested as I can be in my friends’ lives back in the US, but this has been draining me in ways that I have never felt before. I am trying to absorb as much as I can of London while also planning my future.

As thrilling as social media can be, and as exhilarating as solo, long-term stays in other countries are, rough patches are inevitable. I can be here, gallivanting in London, but life does not stop. The world does not stop. My health is still important and my bank account balance is real. The emails still arrive and the text messages do not stop. Romanticizing one’s life is frequently necessary, but the realities of solo traveling and traversing oceans by oneself are still prevalent. I find solace in that even if all else fails, I can count on myself.

thank you to everyone who has reached out to me during this time

xx (as the British say lol)

Chanel Bags or Shelter.

The other day, I was shopping on Oxford Street and found some pieces that I liked in Zara. I stepped into the checkout line, and one of the girls in front of me was telling her friends about a new Chanel purse that she wanted. She also mentioned that her mother “collects Chanel bags” and has been accumulating a purse from every season. This was a small interaction, and I wasn’t even meant to hear it, but I began to spiral. Here I was, standing in line with clothes that I was not even 100% sure I wanted, listening to a white, American girl rant about Chanel.

My spiral was not about this girl specifically as she just happened to be in front of me, but I was thinking about how each of those bags costs thousands of dollars, and collecting them to the point that one, singular person has tens, if not hundreds, of purses could house so many people. Of course, rectifying this poverty stricken world should not rest on the shoulders of an individual, but this exchange was just another example of the inequitable distribution of wealth that plagues us. After standing in the checkout line for about fifteen minutes, I decided to step out of it and put the clothes that I was going to buy back on the racks. Purchasing clothes that I did not even love, from a brand that is far less than admirable, felt so trivial. Admittedly, I have purchased a few clothes since being in London because I love the fashion here, but I was so overwhelmed in this moment by my thoughts and I knew that these items would not serve me. The past few sentences felt silly to write, but bear with me.

This post is not an ode to my moral compass or anything of the sort. These are, genuinely, just the thoughts that crossed my mind in that moment. People can spend their money however they want, and maybe someone who has accomplished a goal of theirs wants to invest in a designer bag — so be it. I love treating myself to new books and vanilla lattes (decaf, of course!) and a nice pair of jeans. I love traveling. We all crave material gratification. I just do not understand the need for dozens of designer bags that will hardly be used. I have seen so many influencers purchase $5,000+ purses and not even use them. Even in an expensive city, $5,000 has the potential to cover at least a few months worth of rent. $5,000 can buy several months worth of groceries.

I truly believe that every single person on this planet can have nice things beyond basic human rights. The only reason this is not the case is because we live in a capitalist world where wealth is unevenly distributed, and this is the kicker. The amount of money wasted on a daily basis has the power to change multiple lives, but we are so afraid of how alternatives to the status quo will impact us that no one has the capacity to do otherwise. While larger systemic changes are slowly forming, I recommend asking oneself if they need yet another designer purse. If they do not (shocker – they don’t), those thousands of dollars should probably be spent elsewhere.

Human Beings Are Not Trash Cans.

This post only scratches the surface of all of the topics mentioned. I just hope that it encourages everyone to be more mindful.

A couple of days ago, I was scrolling through Twitter, and I came across a few images of the items that Americans were donating to the earthquake survivors in Syria and Turkey. I have not stopped thinking about the sheer disrespect and disgust laced within these images. “Donating” used makeup, cotton swabs, and torn clothing to people, who are ultimately victims of Western consumerism, is beyond distasteful. This post is a reminder to not lose sight of our values despite the hoarding of material items to which we all succumb.

As with any issue that does not impact the West, many friends and fellow organizers have taken to social media to hold people accountable for ignoring disasters happening in the Middle East or other Eastern areas. As another tweet mentioned, the Notre Dame fire received a flood of monetary donations while humans are being buried under cement and rubble in Syria. People were willing to make noise about a building on fire in France, but a small, brown child crushed by an earthquake is meaningless. I do not think that anyone should be surprised by this sort of reaction at this point, but it is disheartening regardless. This horrific event is just another example of how desensitization is a scapegoat for apathy.

I am writing this post because the pictures of those donations angered me deeply. Fully grown, privileged adults in the West thought that placing their literal trash in a bag was an acceptable donation for earthquake victims. In their minds, used, crusty foundation and a pair of torn slippers is going to save lives, and they are probably going to report these valiant deeds on their tax returns. Passing one’s trash onto another does not, somehow, lead to less waste. I would hope that most people would know this, but here we are. I would rather see someone not donate anything at all than indulge in the selfish aspect of altruism.

While I have primarily highlighted this issue from a Westernized lens, I want to take this space to examine the issue from a capitalist, classist lens as well. In the United States itself, the issue of donating trash to those in need is glaring. I am sure that shelters and charities (and probably even places such as Goodwill) are insulted by half of the “items” that they receive, and I urge everyone to think twice about whether something is worthy of donating. If you would not wear it yourself due to holes and rips, why would you assume that someone else would want to do so? A coat without sleeves is not going to keep your unhoused neighbor warm.

tweets referenced in this post:

donate here (prioritize mutual aid groups whenever possible):
SAS Harvard fundraiser
Turkish Philanthropy Funds

Choosing to be Uncomfortable.

I am writing this in England.

My last blog post alluded to some of these thoughts, but I wanted to reflect a bit more on the concept of change and the ability to adapt. I graduated with my Master’s in Public Health from Boston University at the close of the fall semester, and while I am so thrilled to be done with my schooling, I also feel uneasy. Some of this unease is prompted by factors that are outside of my control, but most of it is because of my own actions.

I decided to take the leap and move to London for the foreseeable future, and even though I have been here for about three days now, I feel like I am constantly retying a bow that keeps unraveling. I am experiencing a lot of change at once and truthfully, it has been very isolating. I moved here by myself and am adjusting by myself. I am forever grateful to everyone who has helped me along the way, but emotionally processing this move has been a challenge as I have to do it on my own. I knew that it would be, but one can only prepare themselves so much for things that are not yet tangible.

I am staying in an Airbnb this month and have yet to find a job that suits my career. The roadblock in applying for jobs here in the UK is visa sponsorship. I am a US citizen, so my employer will need to sponsor my visa if they choose to hire me, and many employers will not hire me due to this reason. Obviously, starting a job would allow me to not worry about spending money nearly as much as I do right now, and I would also be able to sign a long-term lease since I would be able to pay rent. This process has been quite stressful for me, but I do want to acknowledge that this was a choice that I made due to privileges that I have. (That being said, if anyone has any connections or leads on organizations/companies that are likely to sponsor visas and are looking to hire people in the public health policy/advocacy/activism realm, please let me know!)

Half of my possessions are residing in boxes in Boston, waiting to be shipped to wherever I ultimately land. Within a few days, the phone number that I have had for the past fifteen years will no longer be used as I will be messaging with a new UK SIM card. I need to build new relationships, and while I enjoy chatting with people and have already done so a bit since arriving here, creating a local support system is going to be a large feat. I feel homesick and uncomfortable and uncertain, but I keep reminding myself that I chose to do this. I chose to feel these feelings, and I knew that they were coming.

A lot has changed for me over the past six months. I am no longer in a relationship that lasted 2.5 years, I am no longer a student, and my last semester of graduate school was one of the most chaotic semesters that I have ever experienced. On top of all of this, I decided to book a one-way ticket to London and leave everyone whom I love. I know that everyone is only a phone call away, and I could easily hop onto a plane and visit home at any point, but I am cultivating my life in a new country on my own. Dollars are now pounds, Fahrenheit is now Celsius, American accents are now British, and I cannot walk into a Target and buy unnecessary things.

I think about everything that I have mentioned in this post and feel overwhelmed, but I also feel ready. I love walking through London and interacting with people from all over the world. I love the fashion and the plethora of areas to explore. I love that even when I am sobbing, my tears are falling in London.

I know that I do not know anything and I do not know what the future holds. I know that I am doing something that not many people would ever do, but I have never been someone who does what everyone else does. Changemakers go against the grain, not with it. If things do not work in my favor, I can always move back. If things do work in my favor, I might be the happiest version of myself. I deserve to have faith in myself and I deserve to give it a try.

This post very much so screams privilege, and I am certainly counting my blessings. Many are not in a position to do anything like this, and I do not take that lightly. This is a huge risk, and I was granted the opportunity to take it. I would not be here without my friends rooting for me, and I definitely would not be here without the love and support of my family. I hope that you all will give me a little bit of grace as I try to piece together my life, and just know that I am well aware of how unnerving this decision is. Stay tuned for more London content!

starting my London playlist: listen here

follow/subscribe to my blog — your views really do help 🙂

But Sometimes I Don’t Want to Be.

If I am anything, I am brave, but sometimes I don’t want to be. I want to crawl into the comfort of the thumb holes in my sweatshirts and the arms of my stuffed animals. I want to ease the pains of my favorite book and television show characters instead of focusing on my own. I want to sit on the shower floor and eat Eggo waffles and ask “are we there yet?” every ten seconds of the family road trip.

The feeling of driving through the quiet streets of my hometown at 9 pm is comfortable while strolling 3 suitcases through the airport by myself is not. The occupation of “student” is second nature, but I can no longer claim it. I crave change and my mind is engulfed in the idea of the next chapter, but I’m trying to hold onto the familiar at the same time. 

The days only become more complex and the sleepless nights become tradition. I should know how to handle discomfort and growth and change, and I probably do. If I am anything, I am brave, but sometimes I don’t want to be. 

I Refuse to Give into It.

I find difficulty in avoiding “uncomfortable” topics and the discussion of social issues in any setting. I think that these values are central to the pleasures that we all enjoy, and I would rather cease to exist than live in ignorance. I have been made to feel small when I mention something serious while everyone else is having fun, but I simply cannot unsee the things that I know to be true.

This world depends on the ignorance of its inhabitants. People in power, within these systems of power, do not want us to know the truth. We become comfortable with this because the truth is hard to stomach, but I urge all of us to value our integrity more than having fun as a product of someone else’s suffering. We cannot depend on the history lessons taught in schools to inform our perceptions of right and wrong. We must question, read, and research as much as possible outside of this. I’ve learned more about human rights atrocities and systemic issues from my own reading and (well-resourced) social media consumption than I have inside the classroom. We made cornucopias and hand turkeys instead of acknowledging Thanksgiving for what it really is: genocide. We were pushed to assume that slavery ended with Lincoln’s presidency and the year 1865 when the suffering and trauma is still seen within the Black community today. We were taught about the world from an Americanized, westernized viewpoint as though “winning” wars makes the killing of Black and brown people valid.

We blame each other instead of blaming agents of the state. We gaslight ourselves into believing that our opinions are “extreme” and “radical” and “too woke” because the white man laughed away our concerns. Having basic human rights is too large of an ask. It inconveniences those in power, and everyone who isn’t in power did not work hard enough to get there.

I recognize the frustration in constantly having to think about hard things. We cannot avoid every problematic brand or be 100% progressive in our language, but acknowledging the history and the current actions of ourselves and those around us is an important step. Avoiding Amazon purchases as much as possible or boycotting an abuser’s music may seem minuscule, but human apathy perpetuates violence. For every problematic artist, plenty of unproblematic ones exist who are just as talented, if not more. I recognize that one may not want to discuss systemic issues at the pregame or while watching a television show, but I refuse to laugh away my thoughts. I refuse to give into exactly what this world wants. I have the privileges of having fun with my friends and taking time away from my stressors, so it is my responsibility to do my part in moving us toward a world in which everyone can have these privileges.

As I’ve said in previous blog posts, the state of the world does not rest on any one person’s shoulders, and we all deserve to have fun and smile and love as much as we can. I do think that this idea can coexist with being as cognizant and critical as possible of the systems in which we participate.

He Came, He Conquered.

he came and he saw and he conquered
your body
you are beautiful when you are his
when you are not, you are just another nameless face

you wrap him in your thoughts and emotions
while he wraps you in objectivity
you wonder if this is what you deserve
are you difficult to love?

the sad songs play
and the romance novels have you desperate for the moon

but the reality is
you have a patch of grass
large enough for him to come and see and conquer
your body
and then leave

24th Birthday Reflection.

(Birthday Reflections is a series on my blog.)

Have you ever had a sneeze that is so visceral that you literally felt as though a weight had lifted off of your shoulders? This is the feeling that I am attempting to channel as I head into the next year of my life. Embodying the age of twenty three was unpleasant at times, and mundane at best. I am very grateful for my life and I had some fun experiences this past year, but I am ready to leave the feelings and thoughts that I associate with twenty three in the past. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I feel as though I have lost myself in some ways over the past year and I am unsure as to whether this is due to living in Boston, graduate school, world events, growth, or a combination of these.

I turned twenty three one day after my first semester of graduate school started here in Boston. I am thrilled to say that, despite some stressors, I successfully made it through my first year and managed to swing an early graduation! I only have one semester left and I will officially be Natasha Sohni, MPH come December. The Spring semester was definitely more challenging than the Fall, but I also felt more passionate about my classes and actively participated in discussions. Some highlights include writing a lengthy health care plan, including extensive budgets and policy proposals, for reducing harm from family homelessness in Los Angeles County (the final product was very far from perfect, but I learned lots throughout the process) and expanding my knowledge on substance use in Oregon. To my dismay, this past school year was also flooded by an abundance of problem sets in both quantitative methods (essentially, the basics of epidemiology and biostatistics) and health care finance. I did well in both classes, but this did not happen without frustration and ranting.

I started the last school year as First Year Representative for the Students of Color for Public Health (SCPH) and am now Vice President. I am happy to be involved on campus in a more relaxed fashion than I was in undergrad, and I have met some of the best people through SCPH. In addition to social events, I want to use my role to tackle hard hitting issues that people of color face and advocate for students’ needs. Our group is definitely a bridge to administration and I do not take that lightly. We have both Instagram and Twitter accounts, so feel free to give us a follow! Additionally, all BUSPH students are required to complete a practicum, and I just finished my internship with the Impact Center this past week to fulfill this requirement. My schedule was very flexible and along with drafting social media posts and newsletters, I gave feedback on the organization’s curriculum and audited their content through a diversity, equity, and inclusion lens. I am glad that I was able to build connections with some really great people while interning there. This fall, I am going to be a fellow on the Fair Share MA campaign which advocates for a four percent tax on millionaires in Massachusetts. I enjoy voter turnout work and fostering relationships, so I am excited to get started.

While I am not in love with Boston, I do believe that I am meant to be here at this moment in my life, and having the ability to familiarize myself with a new city is a privilege that I would not trade. Boston is a very ~interesting~ place, to say the least, and while the inefficiency of the roads and the transit system scares unsettle me, it does have its gems. Sure, I had a minor bus accident during which I was flung to the front of the bus and hit the windshield, Boston rent is taking all of my money, and Deepa (my fun, hilarious roommate) and I experienced a bit of a mice problem in our apartment, but at least I have stories to tell. I have had the pleasure of meeting some awesome people during my time here so far and, surprisingly, a few friends from both my hometown and the U of M have moved here as well. I spend a lot of time going on walks and runs to Jamaica Pond, which is a nice 4.6 mile loop from my apartment. I am surrounded by so many babies and puppies, and I could not have lived in a better location because of this. Reading a book by the Charles River at sunset or eating a bagel by the water in Seaport are experiences that cannot be traded. The winters in Minnesota are way more severe, in my opinion, than the winter that I experienced this past year in Boston purely due to the amount of snow and freezing windchill that Minnesota provides for us without fail. In a twisted way, I kind of missed the Minnesota winter.
Through sheer luck, I happened to land a job at the gym right below my apartment last Fall, and I have been working there since. As someone who values health and fitness, I am very grateful to have a health club that is accessible to me. I have definitely had some story time worthy interactions while working there, but these interactions make a potentially mundane job riveting.
Recently, my best friend, Kaitlyn, came to visit me in Boston after we had not seen each other for a little over one year. Having her here, in my space, was a piece of comfort for me and I only wish that we had more time together. I wish that we still lived in the same place and I could just walk down the street to her apartment like I could during undergrad. Harmanpreet was also visiting Boston at the same time, and having both of my best friends with me in the same place was wonderful. I do not know where I would be without either of them.

I am thrilled to say that my relationship with Neeraj is going well. While we have certainly had our fair share of lows, I am just glad that our relationship has survived long distance and we both envision a future together. I love him so much and I cannot wait to give him the biggest hug when he comes to visit me in 1.5(!!!) weeks.

In a world riddled with COVID and monkeypox and so much more, these past couple of years have been bleak regarding travel and concerts. Excitingly, after not attending any concerts for two years, I was able to hear lots of great artists live in 2022. These include Dua Saleh, UMI, LÉON, Vansire (my friends from high school went on a national tour!), and Leon Bridges. I have Noah Kahan, Novo Amor, and Jacob Banks on deck for this fall (this list might grow, haha). In addition to a fun camping trip at Pawtuckaway State Park in New Hampshire this Summer, hiking Mount Major in New Hampshire this past Spring, NYC and New Haven, Connecticut with my mom for her birthday in April, and roadtripping to Milwaukee with Neeraj over winter break, my family took a trip to Alaska in May! Alaska is a MUST SEE and I appreciated the natural landscape, interacting with people, and hiking. I even sang karaoke to a restaurant full of strangers while I was there. As a vegetarian, a variety in food options was difficult to find, but we did not visit the state for the cuisine, obviously. I will never forget this trip, and my time at home in Minnesota both before and after our Alaska travels was also peaceful. In some ways, I was sad to come back to Boston, but it was nice to get into a routine again.

One of my best friends from college, Erica, wedded her fiancé, Tom, in July! I shed a few tears during the night and I felt so happy being surrounded by so many of my friends. This was also my first wedding with Neeraj, which was special. Weddings will only grow more common over the next set of years of my life and while I am overwhelmed with shock because I am at this point, I am looking forward to all of the celebrations (including my own).

My mental health saw a lot of highs and a plethora of lows. While some may disagree, I feel like I am in my “flop” era in most facets of my life right now. I’ve mentioned this before, but I do not feel like the best version of myself in Boston. I find myself more upset, more annoyed, and more insecure. I have always struggled with body image, but the concept has been eating away at me over the past year. I want to write more about this, but I not emotionally ready to do so yet. Generally, I have reflected on the idea of good stress versus bad stress during the past few months, and it helps to just remind myself that while everything may not be perfect right now, I am able to attend graduate school, live in a new city, meet people often, and move my body in so many ways. Studying for exams, waking up at 5:15 am to open the gym, training for my REI Women’s 10K next month, and waiting for delayed buses may be pains at times, but at least I have the opportunity to experience these things.

In addition to my blog growth (every view counts, so thank you! remember to sign up to receive email notifications for when I post), at this time last year, I had 277 Spotify followers. I have now crossed the threshold into 300, rounding out at 305 currently! You can follow me here.

I do not think that I could live in a world without books. Some of my happiest places are bookstores and libraries. these are the books that I read this past year (in order of when I read them, asterisk = definitely recommend!):
– Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi*
– The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
– The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein*
– The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
– Daughters of Smoke and Fire by Ava Homa*
– The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen
– Paradise by Toni Morrison
– The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
– See No Stranger by Valarie Kaur*
– It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover
– All Along You Were Blooming by Morgan Harper Nichols
– The Year of Blue Water by Yanyi*
– The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson
– Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
– The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
– The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas*
– People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry*
– The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman*
– The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
– Book Lovers by Emily Henry
– The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich*
– Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
– The Committed by Viet Thanh Nguyen
– In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren
– Normal People by Sally Rooney*
– Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
– Winter in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand
– All About Love by bell hooks
– Serena Singh Flips the Script by Sonya Lalli
– LaRose by Louise Erdrich
– The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
– Well-Behaved Indian Women by Saumya Dave
– The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren
– And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini*
– Anxious People by Fredrik Backman*
– White Rage by Carol Anderson* (required reading for white and non-Black POC!)
– currently reading: Writers and Lovers by Lily King

I have a feeling that twenty four will be enlightening and exciting and a lot of other good things. I have gotten a lot better at establishing my boundaries and protecting my peace, and I have improved a bit in advocating for myself. Flop era or otherwise, I can honestly say that I am proud of myself and my growth. If I am anything, I am brave, and the culmination of several events in my life thus far have proven this to me.

As always, I am glad that you all are witnessing me step into the age of twenty four. Being alive and making it to another year is a blessing in itself – shoutout to my parents for my existence and shoutout to all of you for getting me to where I am. ❤

abortion funds
pakistan flood relief
jackson, mississippi water crisis relief