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 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” is 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.
When I saw the trailer for The Devil All the Time, I didn’t connect with the story at all. With the current political climate, I had no interest in watching a film about a white family in 1965 living in small rural white towns. I quickly apologized to my love, Tom Holland, then moved on to watch other movie trailers. However, a few days later, I watched the trailer again and discovered an opportunity! I could finally analyze toxic masculinity – something I haven’t done since my Gender and Film class in college. With that in mind, I was prepared to watch my Spidy-boy take on our new gothic Batman, Robert Pattinson.
I will not pretend that I am an expert on mental health. Also, I will not simply show symbolic support for suicide prevention. Other than researching, there is only a few things I can do. One of them is sharing my own experience with a suicidal thought.
While preparing for my move across the country to start my job, it seemed as though everyone had an opinion on the decision I made. Those closest to me would ask me how I would handle certain challenges. I explained to them my solutions, but my solutions weren’t good enough for them. When asked again, I tried a new answer: I’ll keep that in mind. However, that also wasn’t good enough. They continuously harassed me with nit-picky questions and concerns at any given opportunity. No matter how research I did or responsibility I demonstrated, it was never good enough. I asked them to stop asking me these questions as it caused me a lot of mental stress, but they told me to change my perception. They claimed that I needed to change my attitude.
I drive by a confederate flag every day. When I take my dogs to the park, drive to work, visit my friends, or even go grocery shopping, that flag assaults my eyes. Some days, it’s blowing in the wind proudly. Other days, it hides cowardly behind the American flag. However, the feeling of seeing it is always the same: numbness.
Young-Nikki would have ignored it. Teenage-Nikki would have been scared of it. College-Nikki would have burned it to the ground. Law-school-Nikki would have given a passionate speech about intersectionality. However, this Nikki, the beautiful public defender, struggles to find the right action for that flag.
Because, casting a vote isn’t a transaction. You cannot expect all your problems to be fixed by one vote, then not be involved.
As a South Asian American Public Defender, I am voting for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in this election. My vote isn’t to get Donald Trump out of the office or a compromise I am making. Also, it is not me “playing a game to change the system by using the system.” My vote means something more than those feelings. Rather, my vote means that I will be more involved with my government.
I understand that as a current public defender that I am not supposed to like Senator Kamala Harris and openly criticize Vice President Joe Biden’s time as a public defender. But, I am not going to. My generation may be known for many things, however, most notable is the creation of cancel culture. Yes, we are dealing with the consequences of the Baby Boomer generation’s decision. Yet, I am not here to villainize them for their ignorance and mistakes. I urge Gen Z to be better than my generation when it comes to giving people chances because quick judgment can lead to severe collateral consequences.
Have you all seen While We’re Young? No? Eh, doesn’t matter. It’s a pretty okay movie. Anyways, there is a moment in the movie where the main characters describe their adulthood as “a child pretending to be an adult.” And, quite frankly, that’s how I feel…like, all the time.
I’m financially independent. Not afraid to ask for help. Always pay my bills on-time. Also, I don’t avoid confrontation. I am not on my parent’s health insurance for Pete’s sake! Full-on adult, right? Yes. Then, why don’t I feel like one? Rather, is there such a feeling of adulthood?
Dear people living in America during this pandemic,
Wear a motherfucking mask.
I am tired of seeing your Snapchat stories where you’re at bar or hosting “beer Olympics” with a group of many friends, but not wearing a mask or maintaining social distance. I’m sick of seeing social media pictures of you with a large group of friends, partying and celebrating, but not wearing a goddamn mask or social distancing. Then, you have the audacity to post articles and memes about the “other side of the aisle” not wearing masks and how our COVID-19 stats are increasing.
I don’t care if you want to go out and won’t let the pandemic stop you from celebrating life. Great, but wear a mask. You’re not invincible. You could die from COVID-19. Or, you could give it to someone who could die from it. Getting tested is horribly intrusive. It’s 10 seconds of hell. And, waiting for the results is even worse. Then, if you have it, who knows what your symptoms will be. It’s such an unpredictable virus that we all must be careful. Also, not everyone can afford to get tested if they have no health insurance. (So many reasons to wear a mask!!)