Reasons to Smile: Community

I woke up this morning, still in shattering disbelief of the events that have transpired here in the “land of the free”. It feels like a punch in the gut to know that soon, some of the most important rights and principles that we have fought for will be ripped away from us. Truth be told, I am scared.

More than that, I am hurt. I have always identified myself as an Indian American, and I am privileged enough to be able to straddle that line between Indian and American because of the sacrifices my parents made to create a better life here. It kills me that it feels so insignificant now. What did they do it all for if this is what we have become as a nation?

My dad worked –and still works– to put a roof over my head. He works, hard day in and day out, to put me through good schooling, so that I can get a better job as a woman here in the United States than if we had lived in India. This is an opportunity that he and my mom hoped for: The American Dream. Now I wonder, will it still be a valid opportunity in a couple of months?

How did we let ourselves get to this place where every victory we ever celebrated will be ripped away, as though it never happened? As I myself struggle to grasp how this happened, I find that a lot of parents are struggling to answer their children as they also ask: Why? 

Wading in a pool of my own anger and mourning, shaken by this existential question, my dad sent me a text:

“Do not make decisions or act without thinking while you are depressed.”

Funnily enough, he knew exactly how I was feeling. It was comforting to know that he felt the same, and still he had wise words to say in response to these unexplainable outcomes. It will always be strange to me how much strength and wisdom parents have, even in such moments of confusion. Miles away from me and he still had a read on how I was feeling.

Living on a college campus –particularly, a liberal one– the emotions are running high and the atmosphere is tense with disappointment and anxiety. Still, there is beauty amidst this chaos. We are adults, navigating this situation to the best of our ability, trying to find the laughter in the here and now. I see people hugging each other, crying out against all that has happened, but finding some measure of comfort in one another. I see open offers of company and consolation as we all attempt to accept this reality in some way. I see pursuits of blissful distraction through video games, loud music, and movies.

I am amazed and grateful to the people who surround me. My parents, my friends, my floormates, my community– they spread strength and positivity in the smallest of actions. And so to all of you out there who are high on emotions at this time, please, continue to do good, because that is something that no one gets to vote on. And to those grown ups who have to look at their small ones who are asking “Why?”, I am telling you that your presence and your words are essential today in the lives of your children. Educate them in the ways you can. Help them keep their emotions in check. Spend positive time together. Jump on the bed. Go for a walk. Dance around to a song. Show them what love looks like.

Additionally, to all my friends who are members of the LGBTQ+ community, people of color, women, survivors of sexual assault, and anyone in between– stay strong and please use the resources around you as needed.

National Suicide Prevention Line: 1800-273-8255

Crisis Text Line: Text START to 741-741

The Trevor Project (LGBTQ+): 1-866-488-7386


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