21st Birthday Reflection.

(Birthday reflections will be a series on my blog.)

Disclaimer: My opinions are my own and do not reflect those of the organizations, representatives, or folks mentioned in this post. Additionally, I am aware of my privilege and thankful for the opportunities I have had. This post is going to be long, but please read all of it.

Wow. I keep thinking about the words that are about to flow into this post and I feel so much pain. I am choosing to be candid because how do I, or any of you reading this, benefit from this post if I am not? I probably will not sugarcoat too much. This is hard for me to write.

I feel as though I share a lot on my blog, and even more in real life, and I’ve only grown to be more open and vulnerable within the past year. Every time I post something, I’m completely terrified. Every time I share a piece of myself with someone, I’m completely terrified. So many of my friends ask me how I do it. Honestly, I do not know if I have the “right” answer in terms of how to practice vulnerability. I think a lot of this is just who I am and my personality, but my thought process has always centered around reminding myself, often, that I will never regret being vulnerable. I can never be blamed for withholding how I feel.

Every year, on my birthday, I go on a sunrise run. I do this to show myself that even though sunsets exist, sunrises do too. Additionally, joy exists in looking forward to a beautiful view.

Much of this past year has been beautiful. I held leadership positions at my university and worked on meaningful initiatives. In the past, I had always dreamed of speaking at a rally because I saw so many of my role models within the political field do the same. I accomplished this goal and spoke at a Planned Parenthood Get Out the Vote rally last fall alongside a good friend and amazing advocate, US Senator Tina Smith, former Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan, US Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, and at-large Minneapolis School Board Member Kimberly Caprini. Events like these pave the way for women in politics, and I am honored to be a part of this movement.

During election season, our team increased voter turnout in student precincts by over one hundred percent. We worked to have so many progressive candidates elected and while these times may be daunting politically, I think we can all acknowledge that they are exciting as well. I had an amazing experience last November and spoke on a BBC international radio show, and I still cannot believe that this happened. A mentor of mine once told me that importance exists in just buckling down and doing good work. If you do good work, regardless of where you are, people will notice and honor it.

This summer, I had the opportunity to intern at Tina Smith’s Senate office. The work environment was fun and I had a lot of interesting conversations with my fellow interns. We all got along super well, and I think, being in an office where the work, at times, can be mundane (scanning documents, answering constituent calls, writing letters), having great people alongside oneself is essential. I had a cool boss and us interns were paired with staffers based on our interests, so I was paired with the Diversity & Inclusion Outreach staffer and Healthcare & Aging Outreach staffer. Both of them are incredible women and I learned lots just by having conversations with them. I was able to partake in meetings and visit fascinating places such as the Federal Reserve. I learned a lot about what the work is like in a senate office as well as a lot about myself.

Over the past year, I have been fortunate to travel a fair amount. Last fall, I attended a national student government conference in New Orleans, and I could say a lot about the experiences I had there, but I think I will just say that it was interesting for sure. We were there over the weekend of Brett Kavanaugh’s unfortunate and scary, in my opinion, confirmation to the Supreme Court, and I heard some discouraging viewpoints regarding the matter. I am not sure how I managed to accomplish this given my packed schedule (take a look at my Google calendar), but I was able to fly to London for a weekend in April with my mom. To be honest, I thrived. I lived. I know that not everyone can afford to travel like this and I am so blessed to have a mother who would think of me when booking trips like this, but I needed it. I needed to clear my head and escape from the environment that was breaking me. I feel as though this trip also contributed positively to the relationship I have with my mom. I think that we have become closer throughout my time in college, but we became that even closer over this trip as well. I admire her so much.

I recently visited my family in India. We travel there every couple of years, and I enjoyed seeing my family. At the same time, I struggled quite a bit because I am constantly on the go, but I spent a lot of time sitting with my own thoughts while I was there. I felt anxious because my thoughts consumed me, and while I had fulfilling conversations with family members and read a couple books, I like to be moving. I really hope some of my family members in India visit us here at some point soon because I would love to show them a little bit of my world as well. Easy and comfortable living is not common in India. If you’re reading this, I urge you to visit the country at some point in your life because while it is beautiful, everyday life is not anything like how it is here in the United States. I am reminded of this every time I visit, and I am glad that I am. If you’d love to discuss India’s social and political climate with me sometime, let me know and we can grab coffee or take a walk.

This next part is going to be tough to write. As many know, I was in a long-term relationship that ended in February. I felt as though my soul had been sucked out of me and I had been shattered into an infinite amount of pieces. I still feel so much pain just from remembering the pain that this Natasha was feeling. Out of respect for him, I will not be sharing specific details, but we had gotten back together after breaking up once in May 2018, and I do not think either of us had healed from that previous breakup when we decided to do so. He is not toxic, but the relationship was. I can say that I deserve better, but I do not mean that I deserve a better person; I just deserve better treatment. I spent more time crying than I did smiling when I was with him. I would miss him when he was lying right next to me. I know that I showered him with as much love as I could muster, but if I have learned anything over time, it is that love is not enough to make a relationship work. I threw love at every problem, but the problems were never resolved. I just broke a little bit more with every single one. I will always have love for him, but I deserve someone who will respect not only me, but my love and my time. As Lewis Capaldi sings in Bruises, “it’s your love I’m lost in, and I’m tired of being so exhausted.” He struggled to treat me well and he admitted that he did. He did not have it in him because he did not love himself and was not secure in his life here, and how you treat others is often reflected in how you treat yourself.

I have noticed that my mental health is infinitely worse over breaks. My depression and anxiety were much worse over the winter, spring, and summer breaks. Winter break was especially troubling because I had moved out of my apartment due to a tough roommate situation and I spent most of it in Rochester. I love spending time with my family, but I do not like residing in a town that has not grown with me. I started 2019 and spring semester on a sad note, was trying to mend a broken relationship, and I actually lost an incredible amount of weight on top of already facing eating disorder (I have gained most of it back). My anxiety and depression were so horrible that, even as a high-functioning person, I started missing classes (I did alright academically despite this) and was too sad or anxious to make food and eat it. I still struggle with eating disorder, but I do my best to work through it. I have an immense amount of cysts on my scalp due to stress, most likely, and had a few of them removed at the beginning of the semester. The surgery was kind of horrible and this did not help my anxiety.

I started consistently attending therapy during this time, and I am glad that I am now taking steps to better my mental health. Growth is not linear, and I still struggle, but after my breakup, I felt lighter. I am more outspoken, and I love and appreciate my existence. I pay so much attention to where I place my energy. I have always had high emotional intelligence, but I am more forward about verbalizing how I feel, and have done so especially in the romantic experiences I have had since my relationship. All good things take time, and I continue to put myself out there and share my heart because I know that the relationships I have with other people are formative for my personality type. I am who I am because of others. I can be hurt a million times, but I will never close myself off to new experiences, or love, or the risk of heartache. If I know that I have given something or someone all that I can, I do not need to blame myself for whatever happens next. Building walls is the easy option, but relationships, dating, and loving in general is hard. The easy option will not work in the long run. My friends and family have told me in the past to stop investing so much into others because I am hurt so often, but why should I change myself because of how others treat me? I am going to be exactly who I am, and I would want the men I date, and especially whoever my life partner is, to value this. We will see what happens in the coming days.

For some reason, I was unable to cry for about four months over this past year. I might have cried so much before then that I did not have any tears left, but I often had the urge to cry because I am such an emotional person and could not bring myself to do it. Luckily, this has been resolved and I have cried a fair amount recently. Crying can be therapeutic and I do not think that anyone should ever be afraid to shed a few tears. I have realized that driving, running, singing, and yoga are also very therapeutic for me, and I know that I mentioned this months ago on my blog, but I might invest in a yoga membership. I would like to have a more consistent practice.

On a spiritual and religious note, as I grow older, I question religion more and more. I have always had an existential mind, but religion, frankly, makes me angry. I respect the concept of religion because I think having faith in oneself and the future is important, but in my opinion, it is socially constructed and this should be recognized just the same. I find so much frustration in the fact that religion causes so much hate in this world. We have folks dying at the hands of it coupled with other concepts such as power. While I like to believe in a greater being and do pray occasionally (always thanking, never asking), I think a lot of folks are hypocritical when it comes to practicing their respective religions (based on what they preach). I am Hindu by birth, and do celebrate the cultural holidays we have when possible, but I am careful about letting it guide me or believing in it so much that I lose myself to it. I would rather decide my own morals and values, and follow them “religiously” (nice word play there, Nat) if that makes sense.

In other news, I decided to finally have my ears pierced this past year and now have double piercings. I really like it. Last year, at this time, I had sixty (60) Spotify followers. I now have two hundred and seventeen (217)!!! I appreciate the support and if you do not follow me on Spotify, I recommend that you do. I saw Aminé and 6LACK in concert and saw Rupi Kaur speak last fall, and I really needed to hear a lot of what she said. I am now the President of the College of Liberal Arts Student Board as well as the Coalition for Progressive Change, and I am a Research Assistant at the Minnesota Population Center on the IPUMS-DHS project. I am also on the University of Minnesota Homecoming Royalty court, and the other royals are awesome. I have a few concerts scheduled in the coming months as well including Pink Sweat$, Lewis Capaldi, and my favorite band of all time (FBOAT, if you will) Bon Iver. I will be seeing Bon Iver in North Carolina and my mother is attending the concert with me. I cannot wait. My travel bug bite is large, so I have some other trips in the works too. I have really fun roommates and, given that I do, I know that I will have a really fun senior year of college.

I have grappled a bit with imposter syndrome over the past year (and my entire life), and I think my accomplishments and the leadership positions I have acquired have contributed to this. I know that I work hard, but I am well aware of my privileges and I often question whether I am really qualified in that regard. I feel as though I am floating and drowning and internally screaming all at once. I do not think most folks understand what it is like to be inside of my head, but my mind overwhelms me.

I think a few folks deserve to be mentioned in this post. I would like to thank my mother, father, and brother for every family lunch, hug, and gossip session. We may have the occasional disagreement, but they always tell me that they are proud of me and this means the world. Many do not have intact family units and I will never take mine for granted. Family, when you’re reading this, I love you and appreciate you. I (literally and figuratively) would not be here without all of you. My successes do not mean much without acknowledging the ladder you built for me.

I do not know how I would have gotten through this year without my best friend and future maid of honor, Harmanpreet. She has wiped my tears too many times to count and she knows exactly what I need to hear. I am probably too protective of her, but she deserves all of the success and happiness in the world, and I will do everything I can to contribute to this.

I have set a few goals. I plan on running a marathon before I am thirty, desire to improve my posture, and I *will* have a job upon graduation in May. I am looking to work for a non-profit, or some government or politically related department for a couple years before attending graduate school for a Master’s degree in Public Policy/Global Health Policy. Additionally, I have the dream of working for Spotify, so if the opportunity arises, that’d be cool.

The world can be scary personally, professionally, domestically, and globally. I am terrified. I do not like uncertainty. I do not like feeling alone or feeling lost. I am terrified, but music exists. Sunrises exist. Love exists. Google Calendar exists. While I bask in my uncertainty and existential crises, I am going to be proactive. I am going to blast my favorite songs, fall in love with myself and those around me, stay organized, and simply just live. My heart is often enveloped in pain, but pain is how one grows. I know that energy is contagious, and I will always do my best to exude it positively.

Thank you for joining me on this adventure we call life over the past year and for reading this post. I am blessed to be here. We all are. If you’ll excuse me, I am going to drink a glass of rosé as I am now twenty one.

The Test of Time.

I often describe myself as someone who thinks with her heart. This rings true in every situation, but is especially true in romantic instances. Feelings and emotions always mean more to me than logistics. It is in my nature to do so and I do not try, or desire, to fight it. Given recent events, I have been pushed to evaluate more on why I do this, and I have arrived at a few interesting reasons.

Emotions inform my choices because this is what I saw in my own home. My parents are about to celebrate their 31st wedding anniversary. I am fortunate enough to have a prime example of true love right in front of me. They have not actually been in the same location to celebrate most of their anniversaries together, and this year will not be any different. Almost immediately after their wedding, they were apart for quite a while as they were pursuing their respective degrees and careers. My father has had to travel and reside in other places consistently for work since I was in first grade. For half of their marriage, they have not been able to come home to each other every day, or even for weeks at a time, but the love they have for each other is just as strong. My brother and I have been able to grow and learn from them, we have been able to visit so many countries and relatives as a family, and our group chat is occasionally riveting. At the same time, the house has felt lonelier without my dad’s presence, my mom was tasked with driving my brother and I to our various activities until I received my license, and pictures or videos of important events do not equate to being with one another in person. As I enter my senior year of college, I have not felt these effects as much over the past few years, but I still remember feeling frustrated when I was younger.

As I stated previously, I am so thankful, throughout all of this, to have an intact family unit nonetheless. Having parents who constantly fight for each other against logistics had a large impact on me as an impressionable youth. They married each other within a year of meeting. My mother proposed to my father. When I asked them how long it took them to know that their connection is unique, they said that they knew almost immediately.

I feel as though, even if you do not instantly think of marriage, you can quickly realize whether you see potential with someone. I know myself well enough to know what I need in terms of emotional depth and connection, and even if a million barriers are placed in front of us, I am always ready to break them.

I am unsure as to why I am so willing to fight for love and persist, but the intersection of personality and genetics probably has something to do with it. My father and I have similar temperaments, and he is quick to act on his emotions. My mother is detail-oriented, and even the smallest moments can have immense impacts. Both of my parents dislike taking “no” for an answer, and say yes to almost everything asked of them.

When he asks me to think logically while working through the challenges our relationship faces, I find difficulty in removing my feelings and emotions from the process of doing so. It is frustrating, but I cannot help it. What I can do, though, is acknowledge and explain why I think the way I do, and be mindful of this when navigating the twists and turns of dating, relationships, romance, or anything really. I understand that how we feel about each other has to take a backseat to other life events sometimes, and this is where the test of time plays a role. If our connection is still just as strong throughout and after the growing, experiences, and barriers we have presented in front of us, we will know.

My parents stood the test of time and I am here because of it. I fight for love because of it. I let myself fall and invest myself into others because of it, and I am proud to do so. Patience takes strength, and it is tough (as I stated in my last blog post, our story would not be worth it if it were easy), but only time can tell if something is meant to be.


You look into a sea of blue and you see an entire world. You see your future. You see a red house with mahogany wood and a wrap around porch, a smiling baby with a soft, tan complexion, and anniversary dinners.

You see your head resting on his shoulder as you travel to Italy or Thailand or India, and kissing him at sunset in front of the Taj Mahal. You see arguments in the kitchen resolved with warm cuddles, and even warmer words, shared by the fireplace while listening to your collaborative Spotify playlists.

You see your phone calls that last hours and hours while you are oceans away from one another and you see him coaching your son’s soccer team. You see a labradoodle and a tabby cat, concerts played by artists who have been able to put your love into words, countless pizza orders, and family outings to football games.

You see yourself sobbing in his arms, pushing each other to challenge yourselves in your careers, and lighting candles created from a scent that you’ll always love.

You look into a sea of blue and feel lost. You see dilated pupils, you find yourself softly kissing his cheek, you hear the final “I love you,” and then you’re looking at a closed door. Your soul had found a home, a community, a safe space. If you think about it, most people do not live in the same house forever. More than one sea exists, and a new one is always waiting to engulf you. You will find your home. You just have to let yourself move.

You Have Yourself.

Do you remember when you were a child and all you wanted to do was just be you? Your outlook on life and its meaning was simple. Loving yourself was a given and effort was not required to do so.

I find myself constantly working to be a better version of myself, but who even is she? Why can I not be whomever I want to be? Over winter break, my friend asked me a simple question. “Are you happy?” I thought about it for a little bit and realized that, although it is a “yes” or “no” question, I could not answer it with one word. Instead, I said that I feel as though I am always working toward being happy, but I never reach it. As we grow older, our happiness stems from becoming something, from working toward our ideal lives, from being surrounded by ideal people.

What are we trying to become though? Who I am, right at this moment, is enough because regardless of the successes I have, the titles I have, the degrees I have, the people I have, I will always be Natasha. I will always have to be comfortable with being myself and having myself. I cannot escape that and I should not want to escape it.

About 1.5 months ago, I was sitting across from a friend at a coffee shop, and I told him that I feel as though I do not have anyone and he said something that has stuck with me throughout this time. “You have yourself.” This is a concept that is so simple, but I (and I feel as though most others) often forget.

As an extrovert, I struggle with being alone. I love people and I invest so much of myself into others. I invest so much of my soul into others. I do not mind doing so, but difficulty exists in not losing myself in the process. During moments in which being alone is especially hard for me, I remind myself that I have myself. It is liberating. I feel so happy when I think about this. The one person who has always understood me is me, and I should appreciate myself more.

I was watching a YouTube video the other day, and this YouTuber was reflecting on her life the day before her wedding day. She played a clip from a home video of her childhood, and in it, her dad asks her five year old self what she would tell herself if she were watching the video at a later point in her life. She said, “I love you.”

I think little Natasha would be proud of where I am now. I am proud of who I am and where I am. I feel so much pain when I think of the people who do not appreciate my worth or what I have to offer, but I know that others do, and even if they did not, I do. That is all that matters.

So many complexities exist, but being happy with yourself should not fall into that category. It is simple. You are not you if you are constantly trying to be something more or better. Trust yourself enough to lead you in the right direction. You have the power to remind yourself of who you are and your successes will not mean anything to you if you lose yourself in the process.

Natasha, you have yourself. Your career will fall into place, the people in your life will fall into place, and you’ll fall into place. Ultimately, the one thing you’ll always be able to give yourself is love. Sounds like a pretty great deal.

My 2019 Perspective.

Even though I am not a fan of New Year’s Resolutions and I do my best to avoid defining my life in terms of years (with time being a social construct and all), I will say that 2019 has been rough so far. I have cried so much that I am surprised I still have tears left, I underwent surgery, have had multiple anxiety attacks, lost ten pounds, experience negative thoughts often, scaled back on my commitments within my extra-curricular activities, contracted a bacterial infection, and have frequent migraines.

I have realized that the only goal I have at this point is to feel some sort of contentment or happiness. I feel so much pain both mentally and physically, and I want nothing more than for someone to tell me that they are proud of me, they support me, and everything will be okay (please be kind to me and send warm thoughts my way, thanks). I feel misunderstood and I feel lost. I always wondered if, or when, I would hit rock bottom, and I think I finally have.

I have always put others before myself. I have always put others before my health and my happiness. I am, frankly, not a healthy person. I do not eat well, I over-exercise, my bones are weak, I let my stressors consume me, I hard on myself for not being more compassionate or loving (even though I love so much and so easily), and my mental illnesses have created quite a thick icing on this cake.

I have decided to take charge and find my footing. I have therapy appointments scheduled, visit the Doctor for health-related concerns, and am trying to stress less over things that are not in my control.

People will always make assumptions about me and take advantage of me, but I need to take my own advice and trust only myself. No one knows me better than I know myself and I am so incredibly tired of taking the way others treat me at face value. I may be nice, I may be caring, and I may invest so much of myself into others, but these reasons do not give anyone the right to walk all over me. I truly believe that the ones who value me most will show me that they do, and I should start living by this.

I have always felt guilty for prioritizing my health. I find it disheartening that I am only doing so now because I am so broken, but at least I am taking action. Sometimes more strength is needed to do the simplest things such as asking for and receiving help, and I am proud of myself for finally finding mine.

I value positivity and I find importance in exuding it, but I have realized that being real is important as well. We all become so engrossed in euphemisms, and I have been one to pioneer this in many situations, but I value my authenticity more. Ways in which I plan on practicing this include: purchasing a yoga membership (I attended yoga classes with my best friend throughout my senior year of high school and my life changed for the better because of it), accepting situations and people how they are (for example, if I do not receive an A in a class, I will accept it and move past it), only posting photos or tweeting if I am posting them for myself and doing so actually makes me happy, unfollowing “friends”/YouTubers/celebrities who perpetuate negativity, scheduling therapy sessions, becoming more comfortable with my solitude, journaling (instead of channeling my frustrations and negative emotions into my relationships or situations) and saying no. The things that I love to do most are writing and singing, and I want to devote more time to both of those. I have a lot of post ideas and I have never written any of them, so I want to do that now. I do not have to do everything. I do not have to have a million commitments or constantly try to save people. I do not have to do what others think I should do. I do not owe anyone else my happiness, my energy, or my time.

I continue to sit here and try to fix myself, but all I seem to do is create more issues because I manifest “fixing” into pressure and perfection. I am so happy with my relationship, but I cause problems too frequently. This does not excuse the ones that he has caused, but I do not need to add to them when we are already so focused on bettering ourselves and our relationship, and see a future with each other. I let others sweep me into their messy affairs. I stress over assignments and am hard on myself if I do not exercise every day. I stare at myself in the mirror wondering why my nose is so large, my thighs are so big, or my hips are not smaller when, in actuality, I would be underweight if I lost a couple more pounds. I create mountains out of molehills when I am perfect just the way I am.

I highlighted this previously, but I will say that I often feel undervalued or unappreciated, and even if I am (and this does not excuse the way others treat me), I should not root my validation and happiness in the ways that others view me. Those who actually care will fight for me and will be present in my life at the end of the day.

I believe in the power of positivity and manifestation, and I will do my best to live by this, but I also do not have to be okay all of the time. One should never expect me or anyone else in their life to be okay and happy 24/7. At the same time, I do not have to live in pain. I do not have to sit in disappointment. I should and will be proactive about combatting negative energies, but in a healthy manner. I will do my best to avoid projecting my feelings onto others, even if they have upset me, and instead have constructive conversations. I am tired of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, and I would like all of those who read this to join me in the present and remind me to remain here.

This post may seem negative. It may seem like a cry for help. I do need help, but don’t worry, I’m finally starting to receive it and take better care of myself. I do not have to weather storms alone, and I hope that those who care about me and love me will join me in this process. I am not here for the promotion of unhealthy practices (such as not sleeping, eating, etc.) to do well on a test or to reply to emails, sarcasm, or the nonsense (feel free to insert stronger words) that people spew and stir. I am not here for your judgments of my character when others, frankly, do not even know me, how I am feeling, or even half of any given situation I face. Think what you will of me, but I am finally living for myself rather than everyone else and I will not apologize for it.

Being kinder to ourselves allows and empowers us to be kinder to those around us, and I would like to see a lot more of this within myself and my environment. I cannot help others without helping myself. If you gain nothing else from reading this, I hope you at least feel some sense of empowerment. I certainly do.

Also, writing down all of these thoughts made me feel better, and I wish I had done so earlier.

The best advice I gave and received in 2018.

in no particular order

You cannot be positive without being grateful.

No one knows you better than you know yourself.

The world is not against you. Most are just working for themselves and you are hurt in the process.

Someone else’s beauty does not diminish your own.

The best leaders are the ones who desire to learn from those who follow them.

Do not trust others blindly.

Searching for signs is a sign in itself.

Self-care is a necessary habit if you desire to help others.

You cannot make everyone happy.

Do not invalidate someone else’s trauma.

All good things take time.

Having high expectations for your significant other and your relationship is valid.

Do not surround yourself with folks who do not add to your life.

Do not assume that the man is paying.

Do not apologize for saying “no.”

Do not apologize for your feelings.

Some people just do not act on their feelings because protecting their hearts is more worth it to them than the possibility of love.

You will hurt the people you love and expecting otherwise is unrealistic. Love prevails. Do not let pain prevail.

He may be the world, but you are the universe.

Missing someone you love is okay.

Do not compare your relationship to other relationships.

Your opportunities arise from your manifestations.

Do not be ashamed to do (legal, healthy, reasonable, kind) activities that bring you joy.

Support men who choose to attend therapy sessions.

If you are privileged enough to vote, you should be voting.

Communication is key.

Always tip. Do not dine and ditch.

I say this often, but strength exists in being vulnerable.

If you are running for office, promote your own platform instead of bashing your opponents’ platforms. Voters will not learn anything about you if you spend all of your energy on creating negative facades for your opponents.

Surround yourself with folks who match your level of excitement.

You were beautiful and smart before him, and you will be beautiful and smart after him.

Gaslighting will happen occasionally in relationships of any kind, but both parties must consciously work to avoid doing so.

Some folks will always be mean and investing your energy into those who are kind is best in this case.

Sometimes, you might feel lonely because the people you love are unable to understand your experiences. Do your best to avoid projecting your frustrations onto them and if you do project, do not scold yourself for it. You are not perfect and your loved ones should not expect you to be perfect.

Toxic & unhealthy relationships do not contribute to an individual’s success and productivity.

If you are able to pick and choose the issues about which you care, you have privilege.

If you are able to avoid conversations surrounding politics, you have privilege.

Having privilege is not an issue; not recognizing your privileges is problematic.

Some will automatically assume you cannot be trusted or that you are a bad person, but this does not mean that you actually are.

Give others the benefit of the doubt.

Do your best to accommodate for folks with disabilities, and cultural or religious holidays.

Do not criticize what others in power have or have not done if you have not used your own power to enact change either. You do not have to be an elected official to create a movement or enact change.

Supporting, uplifting, or advocating for marginalized voices does not need to be (and probably should not be) politicized.

Bad and evil things will happen. Do not let the world make you cold-hearted.

Surround yourself with people who want nothing more than to watch you fall in love with being alive.

Complacency is not cute.

Worrying does not accomplish anything.

You do not owe anyone your happiness but yourself.

If you are feeling sad, happy, loved, empowered, weak, energized, angry, or any emotion really, follow Natasha Sohni on Spotify. She makes great playlists. 😉



In my opinion, my journey to positivity has been tumultuous and fairly interesting. I have been reflecting quite a bit on what positivity means to me, how positivity looks, and whether spreading positivity is always necessary.

During my earlier years in high school, I used to take pride in being negative and pessimistic. I would be ashamed if anyone ever told me I was a positive person. I used humor and sarcasm as a coping mechanism.

My struggle with depression in ninth, tenth, and eleventh grade was at its peak. Contemplation of suicide and self-harm were constantly at the forefront of my mind, and I felt as though I was burdening those around me with my presence even though they told me this was never the case. I used my relationships to fill the voids within myself and I spent every night crying, writing some extremely heartbreaking things in my iPhone notes, and hurting myself. I had many school days during which I would cry for no reason in class, but I was good at masking this. I did not share this, the darkest parts of myself, with anyone. Even those closest to me did not see this side of me.

Of course, my friends and family probably viewed me as the chipper Natasha we all know now, but I do not think they recognized the walls I had built around myself with the bricks as pain and the foundation as pure negativity. I am an extrovert, so regardless of how I am feeling internally, being surrounded by others pushes me to be bright, make people laugh, and the one to always say yes. My outgoing personality was constantly fighting the darkness that resided within me. I thought positivity, self-care, and gratitude were cheesy ideologies to practice and I chose to wallow in my sorrows instead.

The thought of death intrigued me and almost made me happy. I would keep running to the edge of the cliff in my mind and was so close to jumping every single time. I do not know what stopped me and while fear plays a role, I think the people in my life played larger ones. Since I invest so much of myself in others (this is not healthy and I do not recommend doing this), my attachments to whoever invaded my thoughts every time I considered the jump are what prevented me from acting more drastically. I am glad I am here, as I am, today, but the fact that I needed others to keep me at bay is not great.

I will say that I do not think this period of my life is reflective of who I am. I think that I was trying so hard to be negative because I wanted, so badly, for a reason to quit. I had lost myself to imbalances in my brain, societal factors, an unrealistic idea of love and happiness, my environment, and probably so much more.

The winter and spring of junior year had been rough. I stopped exercising, was in a bad mood a fair amount of the time, experienced a terrible break-up, wore sweatpants half of the time (I now live by “dress well to test well” and I am never caught in sweatpants), did not have that much fun at the Prom, and had to spend most of this year collecting myself.

After letting my negativity consume me for so long, something changed within me before entering my senior year of high school. I cannot pinpoint an exact moment because the change was gradual. I felt recharged. Even though I still struggle with a few mental illnesses to this day, I decided that my present contentment was a conscious choice that only I could make. Receiving help was a choice that only I could make. One cannot expect to act upon and be surrounded by positivity without being intrinsically motivated to do so. I began exercising again that summer. I started attending yoga every week with one of my best friends. I planned and was excited about events. I found community within my friend group. I began to truly appreciate the activities in which I participated. My study habits improved and I did not procrastinate even in the slightest, and this showed through the grades I received.

I realized that if I exude positivity, it will return back to me. I found joy in small things such as new music releases, rainy days, funny jokes, or hugs. I practiced gratitude. We all have problems, but our lives could be much worse. Having a family, a roof over my head, food to eat, an education, and friends who support me are blessings and not guarantees. I have so many resources and opportunities at my fingertips and I know that others do not have as much. I take every moment to acknowledge the privileges I have because positivity and gratitude are intertwined. Life will continue to throw curveballs in my direction; I do not need to contribute to this by having a negative mindset.

Environment is incredibly important. I might not be able to make immediate changes to mine, but my outlook adds to it. I try to be as friendly and warm as I can be. Given that I am an extrovert, doing so is not that difficult, but it takes energy. I choose to spend time with those who add to my life, and stay away from people and things that diminish my energy. I try to add as much color and warmth as I can to my physical environment so I am always met with joy.

Recently, I mentioned that I used to be a negative person and took pride in being this way. My friends were taken by surprise. Negativity and Natasha do not blend well. If my past self knew myself now, I would probably be surprised too. Reflecting on the poisonous thoughts that intruded my mind back then hurts me. One of my greatest fears is relapsing into this mindset again, but I spend every second fighting it. Sometimes, we need others to hold us accountable, recognize warning signs, and tell us that we need help, and I am thankful to have folks who do so in my life now.

Positivity does not equate to always being happy, smiling, or upbeat. Positivity takes work and time. Just because I choose to emit warmth does not mean that I am happy and doing well, and always should be. Positivity is recognizing that it is okay to not be okay, but doing what one can to change this. Growth does not occur overnight and changes cannot be made unless we are motivated to do so by our own hearts. External factors help, but they are temporary.

I still have heavy days and struggle lots, but I am in a healthier and better-equipped mindset to face these challenges. I am here and I choose positivity because I know I have worth and so much to give. I care so deeply about those I love and I want to add to their lives instead of draining them. I cannot believe that I was so close to throwing away all of this. I cannot believe I was so close to throwing away myself. I am proud of my growth and I will never apologize for being too positive or consistently expressing gratitude.