My name is Nikita Srivastava. I am an Indian woman who carries herself with the confidence of a heterosexual white male. Now, I don’t intentionally act like a white man. It kinda just happened. Apparently, if a woman demonstrates confidence in her abilities, intellect and strives for success, then she is acting like a white man. (Sorry, not sorry)
I think it’s safe for me to say that everyone had a shitty year. We lost many greats and were exposed to many horrible leaders. Some of our favorite icons lets us down, while others inspired us. Our nation is not only divided politically, but morally. We saw how our morales intertwined with our politics. Simply put, we have politicalizes things that shouldn’t be political. Moreover, we saw how people are emotionally unstable especially during quarantine.
In a year filled with misfortunate, I can easily say that I am very privileged. I don’t have to worry about job security or paying my rent. However, COVID-19 still made it a pretty shit year. But, I want to take a step back from the all the horrible-ness and look back at what kept me emotionally stable. Hopefully, they will be there for me this year as well.
Recently, I’ve full-on disengaged from celebrity culture. No more online tabloids or frivolous following on social media. Instead, I only follow a handful of celebrities who work with great organizations. Or, celebs with great abs. However, I can’t entirely get away from celebrity news. Apparently, what famous people post on their public social media platforms is headline news. Moreover, what they don’t post speaks volumes.
Throughout 2020, two Chrises of Hollywood got plenty of media attention. One for an accidental nude picture and the other for religious beliefs. However, it was the ample support and love from their community that intrigued me. I noticed many celebrities standing up for them when injustice occurs to them. But, my mind drifted to the celebrities who didn’t get the same support like Chris Evans and Chris Pratt received. Then, I noticed that they received support for mainly one reason: they’re white men.
Racism did not disappear with the election of Biden-Harris. Although hope returned, hate will continue to lurk. As some of you may know, being anti-racist is one way for our nation to heal. However, alone anti-racist teachings will not fully cure the four years of open hate that we’ve endured. Or, the centuries of discrimination.
Before the election results, I was walking my dogs in a park. As I was picking up one of their massive dumps, a pick-up truck covered in Trump 2020 flags slowed down near me. The two men in the truck honked at me. One screamed at me, “Trump” while the other screamed, “you go back to where you came from.” As they drove off, I thought, “I can’t even walk my dogs anymore.” When I came home, I cried for a moment then share the encounter on social media where I received ample support.
I come from privilege. I wasn’t born into this privilege, which allowed me to understand my privilege. Throughout the years, I watched my parents climb the socio-economic ladder. It wasn’t easy. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears went into it. However, they manage to give my sister and I a comfortable life. To keep this paragraph short, my parents’ journey inspired me to give back to my community not only professionally but also personally.
When I review my own finances, I assess what I need. Once I figure out my savings, I find myself with some excess money that I don’t need. But, others may need that money. Thus, I like to donate and spread awareness! Here are some of my favorite places to donate:
It’s a tricky balance: being mindful of how you make others feel v. being true to not only yourself but also the greater good.
This year, oh, this year.
For me, it started with a death in the family and ended with a relationship crumbling. In between, the February Bar Exam, COVID-19, a kinda break-up, more Trump Administration nonsense, and more death.
Whenever we go through difficult times, we can do one of two things: either ignore the problems or self-reflect. Before, I was the former. However, years of therapy made me the latter. But, too much self-reflection can lead us down a dark path. We beat ourselves up to the point where we punish our past selves instead of fixing the problem.
Hope. That seems to be lost theses days. Everywhere you look, you see COVID-19 deaths, incompetent leadership and a passive community. From protests to voter awareness, everyone is trying to inspire change. However, 2020 smacks us in the face every time we try to do something right. Yes, 2020 sucks for many reasons: COVID-19 and celebrity deaths. Although voter turn out is at an all time high, I am not convinced that anything will change. I am convinced that we still haven’t hit rock bottom yet.
Recently, I re-watched the entire Dark Knight Trilogy. Each of those films show Batman failing then rising from the ashes. He hits rock bottom then climbs back up. His heroism inspires all to be heroes in their own way. Whether it be fighting against oppression or simply seeing the humanity in others, the people of Gotham stood up for each other. They didn’t do this by passing invasive laws or militarizing the police. Instead, they showed their strength through their everyday actions. The people of Gotham showed that our choice to be better than what the villains claim we are fights injustice. In The Good Place, Michael summarizes humanity by saying that it does not matter if people are good or bad. Rather, what matters is if human beings are trying to be better today than yesterday. In the Dreamworks’ movie, Spies in Disguise, one of the main characters doesn’t see the world as good guys v. bad guys. Instead, the world is filled with people who are each worth saving.
I am volunteering to be the change I wish to see in this world. And, it’s going okay-ish.
At the start of my training session for volunteering for the Biden-Harris campaign, the volunteer captain stated, “Don’t be discouraged. There will be tons and tons of people who don’t want to talk to you.” Personally, I hated hearing that. I am a goddamn delight to speak with. You should be honored.
However, there were many people who sent me straight to voicemail or blatantly told me that they didn’t want to speak to me. My favorite rejection: “Oh, democratic. Bye now!” Classic. Although many were quick to get rid of me, it was the ones who voting that got me excited.
Image management is something I work on everyday. I recently learned that I am thrown “off-center” when my experiences do not always coincide with the images I made for myself. Simply put, I don’t live up to my own self-images. This can cause bad days. However, other factors do contribute to my “off-centerness.” And, when I am off-center, then I have bad days.
As I continue down my path of being a working professional, I realized that my public defender image is very important to me. It’s a large part of my essence. I am terrified of making mistakes and not making the right decisions for my clients. I also struggle with drawing the line between helping my clients and standing up for myself. So, when I believe that someone thinks I am not a good public defender, my mental health can’t take it. My anxiety increases. I don’t meditate, I attempt to distract myself, or my mind focuses too much on the event that pissed me off. I simply forget how to take care of myself because my anxiety overwhelms me.
History was yet again created when Senator Kamala Harris debated Vice President Mike Pence. I mistakenly watched some pre-debate predictions where one person said that “Senator Harris needed to act more empathetic if she was going to win.” Annoyed, frustrated, and saddened after hearing that comment, I video chatted with one of my dear friends to watch the debate and lift my spirits. We enjoyed watching Senator Harris criticize the current administration and speaking directly to the people.
Women, particularly women of color, never get the luxury of being themselves, especially when in the public eye. If Senator Harris showed empathy, then she would be called weak or faking that emotion. If she didn’t hold back her punches, then she’s the angry Black woman. Every word she said, every facial expression she made, and every gesture she made was scrutinized more than Vice President Pence.
I wish I was less political. I wish I could say, “I stopped watching the news because it makes me sad.” I wish I could say, “I do my civic duty by voting but that’s it.” I wish I could wake up every morning thinking the bare minimum was enough.
I wish I was less political. I wish I could act like I was smarter than both parties. I wish I could tell people it’s their fault for having faith in the democratic process. I wish I could villainize people for their mistakes or call “career politicians” evil.
I wish I was less political. I wish I could act as though an unbalanced Supreme Court would not affect me or the rights of so many. I wish I could wake up every morning knowing that my government won’t make laws telling me what I could do with my body, who I couldn’t marry, and if I could get health care. I wish I didn’t care about immigration and equal representation. I wish I could be so blissfully ignorant to all of it because it does affect me.