Being our radical queer desi selves can be exhausting, and it’s always a positive thing to be intentionally taking care of our selves and our minds. When I first came out, roughly four years ago, I was aching so much to become an activist that I really wore myself out, as well as everyone around me! I now have a long list of conditions I have to give myself in order to be radical but still enjoy the world we are currently living in.
My social work professors have and still do lecture us over and over again on how important it is that we each know what it is we need to get our minds off the trauma that we are seeing or experiencing. So for me, what I need is trashy television, brown people, soul music, occasional guilt-provoking shopping trips, and to sing a good bhajan at puja. Now, while my partner and many of my feminist friends often provide me a place of peace to come to, my partner despises pop culture and my western feminist friends can’t handle five minutes of an “overly cheesy” Bollywood movie!
Although my white feminist friends taught me a lot academically, there is so much they will never understand about my culture. They can roll their eyes at my cultural ish, but how much privilege does it take to be able to boycott pop culture? I know that although my straight desi friends don’t understand everything, sometimes I really need them. I need to give myself Bollywood movie nights, true non-western family time, and pure, self-indulgent me-time.
And sometimes it gets complicated. Sometimes I am volunteering during the day with children in trauma, so when I come home I do not always want to listen to my stepson’s temper tantrums. After a long day of discussing feminist theory and racism in class, I don’t always want to talk politics with my partner and friends when I get home. Also, after a lifetime of dealing with the body image issues that many desi women face, the overly extreme food politics of my white hippie friends can be exhausting, and despite my religious beliefs, I sometimes just want to eat fast food in peace. But speaking of religion, I wonder where to draw the line between self-care and selfishness.
Although I wasn’t raised strictly, I am a Hindu, and I am familiar with the concept of avoiding the cycle of never-ending desires. I feel I need to be somewhat self-indulgent to stay happy, but at the same time I can understand certain desires being unsustainable. Being desi and Hindu, I try to be as community-minded as possible. One of the many blessings desis learn is a sense of duty to help others as if they are family, but when is too much? And when does it get unhealthy? If I am going to be a social worker all day, do I get to pick and choose when to be one at home?
What does self-care look like to my Gaysi Family?