that person.

Last week, I had an epiphany.

I was always one of those people who said “I don’t need to see people all the time. I don’t like people. I like picking up from where we left off.”

I realized that every time I said that I was bullshitting myself and the people I was saying that to.

After Shivdaballer entered my life, a lot changed. I had never felt such an incredible connection with anyone else up until that point.

Shivdaballer is in the 7-year medical program, meaning she graduated after 2 years of undergrad (unfortunately for me). Since we ended high school and began college during the pandemic, I only met her when we were allowed back on campus – our sophomore year. This meant that I literally only had one year to cultivate a relationship with her, get unbelievably close, and then bid her goodbye.

Here I am now, my junior year of college – no longer conquering the campus with Shivdaballer. Meeting and connecting with someone on such a deep level and then suddenly realizing that that person will always stay in your life, but will not be with you for the next two years of your undergrad life hits hard. It cuts deeper when I see other people deepening their relationships because I find myself getting jealous that they get to have that extra time. My cousin put it this way, “You’re grieving the time you couldn’t have. It is normal to feel that way.”

There’s a reason why it took me much longer to get readjusted to the college life after Shivdaballer left compared to when I lost touch with many of my high school friends as I transitioned into college. Shivdaballer taught me a lot – a lot about life, a lot about myself.

The biggest thing she taught me, though, is to just not take myself so seriously. I used to always get hung up over the littlest things in life. Oftentimes, I’d be afraid of how I’ll be perceived; sometimes I’d freak out over academics. Shivdaballer showed me that really none of that matters. It’s important to work our butts off to get to where we want, but she made me realize that I can have everything and anything I want without ruining myself. She also taught me to embrace every inch of who I am. There were so many times when we’d walk out of our apartment wearing the most shittiest clothes and strut through campus without a care in the world because she showed me that people don’t care, and those who do, don’t matter.

There’s a long list of lessons and realizations that I can continue to write about, but my point in writing this post is to remind myself (and everyone else reading) that many people will come and go. However, there will be some who will come, stay, and be the main people at your Wedding Party. Shivdaballer is one of those who will always stay in my life and will be the wacko taking shot after shot with me at my wedding. It’s comforting to know that we can meet people at any time, especially during the most unexpected times, and they will just uproot our lives for the better.

Love you Shivdaballer ❤

when you feel like the world is ending…

inspired by Lana Blakely’s video.

writing this post to remind myself of all the things that keep me sane – it’s a never-ending list and something that I can always refer to on the days I feel gloomy 🙂

when you feel like the world is ending, think of these:

the soggy, muddy grass against your feet after the sprinklers have just turned off.

the smell of your morning cup of coffee as the warmth of it spreads across your face.

the sinking feeling of your heart when you’re at the top of the swing on the playground.

the way your brother smothers you with his entire body when you just want to lay down and Netflix.

the way your cousin sits and listens to every one of your words when you need someone the most.

the view of the sky connecting with the height of the trees during your long car rides.

the smell of your brother’s fart in the car prompting you to roll all the windows down and let the smell of nature fill the air.

the way you wake up to the annoying, yet soothing chirps of the birds.

the sound of shawn mendes or b praak making you want to release all that you have bottled up for weeks.

the feeling of the spring wind against your skin causing your little hairs to shoot up.

the redness and pulsing of your heart after a challenging and invigorating workout.

the tears and wholeheartedness you feel after watching dear zindagi for the millionth time.

the random hugs, slaps, and spicy fries sponsored by shivdaballer.

the kind souls you’ve met because of the fifty coffees.

the bubble tea in princeton.

the love the family in houston showered you with.

the dream of saving so many lives once you become a surgeon.

the sound of glennon doyle in your ear telling you to just sit still and find your ‘knowing.’

the fierce eyes of a lion on top of a mountain.

the smelly armpits of your brother and ravali that suffocate you during a movie night in the basement.

the idea that life is very vast, but you live day by day.

the average life span is around 80 years and you’re only 20. only 20.

the fact that you have a blog and you pour your heart out in these posts and coffee dates.

the taste of nani’s warm rasam rice mixed with spicy chicken curry.

the understanding that you are enough and everything happens for a good reason.

Bodies, Bodies, Bodies

Thankful to all of YOU who have showered this post with so much love ❤ This post, in particular, took a lot of courage to publish and I’m grateful that it resonated with so many of you.

I truly love the fam that we’re creating on this site and am incredibly happy that I decided to embark on this blogging journey. Blogging is something I do to just unleash my emotions – this site acts as my digital diary. Every post comes straight from my heart and I am beyond joyous that many of you are taking the time to read my words. Sending you all so much love!

Esha Kode

In all honesty, I was terrified to draft and publish this blog post because it’s forcing me to write down and reflect on my CURRENT thoughts. All my other posts are generally things that I’ve dealt with and thought about in the past, so it’s easier to reflect because I moved past that stage already. This topic, on the other hand, seems to always be a part of me no matter how hard I try to move past it. Thus, I was prompted to draft this post because I’ve been feeling this way since the beginning of this year. I hope it resonates with those of you who feel a similar way.

TW: body image issues, eating disorders

To begin, my first exposure to the Eurocentric ideas of a woman’s body began in eighth grade (which is, unfortunately, extremely late compared to children today). Up until eighth grade, I ate…

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Physical Touch

I was known for being the “Touch Me Not” child while growing up. When all our relatives used to visit, they’d squeeze my cheeks, bring me in for a hug, and hold my hand while speaking. I remember never really liking that physical touch. I was never a hugger nor a fan of physical touch. Many of my coffee dates can attest to that.

This past weekend, however, I somehow enjoyed the hugs, kisses, and the touch.

This weekend, I met new faces and rekindled relationships with so many of my family members. This environment was unlike any other family environment I’ve been in. These people were just exuding so much love and had no other ulterior motives other than to just shower me with as much kindness as possible. Not a single person was toxic and no one gave off any sort of negative vibes.

Many of these people were grandparents and aunts & uncles I met when I was just a kid. They held my hand affectionately in their hands as they spoke about their lives – some would even go on to speak about their own marriages, life trajectory, and their kids. My heart was jumping in joy as I reconnected with so many of these wonderful souls and learning that love can be a very beautiful feeling.

Now, as I am reflecting, I realize that the reason why I was never a fan of touch was because my parents never showed their love through physical touch. I wasn’t used to it and I didn’t understand it, which is why when others prefer this love language, I oftentimes have no idea how to react.

I will now no longer avoid those intimate moments with people I love because I realize that I enjoy this kind of love – the love that doesn’t need to be shown through words or money or large actions. It makes my heart giggle and makes me wanna say ‘ily‘ to the people in my life who make my world so happy.

A Colored Person’s Invisible Insecurity

There’s a familiar lump in my throat and weird squiggles in my stomach as I am writing this post. The content in this post has been largely unspoken about or said to any of my friends or family. Thus, knowing that once I finish, I’ll hit the “Publish” button is absolutely terrifying.

This post is about a colored person’s insecurities.

The insecurities that arise when you’re in a public place, such as your workplace, and you start having pounding palpitations when it’s time to open your Tupperware because you’re worried that the smell of the warm, cozy rasam rice will ‘offend’ the white folks near you.

The insecurities that arise when you’re at a restaurant with your white friends and you notice how their body language is different from yours, so you change yourself. You notice the perfect angle at which they placed their napkins on their lap, so you abide by the same ‘rules.’ You notice their eloquent nature when using a knife and fork, and force yourself to not use your hands to eat that taco.

The insecurities that arise when one of your white colleagues asks to see your Spotify because you’re almost embarrassed that your Spotify is only filled with ‘brown’ music.

The insecurities that arise when you pronounce a word wrong and fall deep into a pit assuming that the white people around you will ultimately blame your color and ancestral origin for your failed attempt at pronouncing a word the ‘American way.’

It’s as if the country expects you to erase your non-American culture and only embrace the American culture.

It’s suffocating.

These insecurities can be largely subconscious or conscious for many of us. For others, the lucky few, these insecurities simply may not exist.

The point is though that the burden to acclimate to the environment and society is placed on colored people. Instead, there should be no such burden. People, specifically white people, should be educated about the way colored people MAY feel around them and it is naturally their duty to ensure that they do not continue to uphold such stereotypical notions and ideas of minority groups.

For the longest time I thought it was my fault that I wasn’t as comfortable around white people as I was around colored people.

“It wasn’t until I was in PoC-only spaces that I realized how much of myself I had cut off to fit into white culture,” one person of color in Shambhala recently told me. “So being in PoC spaces allows me to reclaim those forgotten parts of myself.” – Citation

Thank God for the way media has allowed for more space amongst marginalized communities. Organizations and companies like Live Tinted are changing the face of diversity in the U.S. and knowing that children are growing up during such a revolutionary time is encouraging and comforting.

An Interesting Debate Over ‘Purpose’

The other day a doctor I was working with said to me:

“Many people don’t know what their purpose is, so they make their work their purpose.”

This stuck with me.

I thought anyone’s purpose would be embedded within their work because, at least for those of us who are privileged enough, they will choose to enter a profession that brings them the utmost joy and value. Becoming a surgeon has been my ‘purpose’ for over a decade, and that’s because I believe that this profession will enable me to build on my strongly held values, such as service and compassion.

However, when a doctor said that to me, I was forced to stop and reflect. If work isn’t my purpose, then what is? How do I find it?

The doctor was talking about how we, as students, should not take academics as seriously as we do being premeds and even as we grow older. This is because he believes that work should never engulf one’s entire life.

I agree with this wholeheartedly, however, I have a slight problem. I can’t even envision myself as having any other purpose. I don’t want my purpose to be limited to family, friends, or any one sector of my life. I want it to be more, and being a medical professional fulfils that desire for me.

Because I was so deep in confusion over what my purpose would be if I can’t rely on my future profession, I googled how we can find out our purposes.

According to Richard Leider, who is “a nationally-ranked coach and purpose expert…the equation for purpose is G + P + V = P.” (gifts passions values = purpose)

Let’s break this up.

Gifts

I’m not sure what my gifts are yet, but I’m sure I’ll discover them as I progress further.

Passions

My passions are deeply rooted in service, specifically in helping & advocating for children and mental health rights. I am also passionate about the performing arts. As a dancer and someone who grew up watching way too many Telugu/Hindi movies, I believe the performing arts has the ability to change one’s perspective on various occurrences within our world.

Values

This one is tough to reflect on as I have never actually sat down and thought about them.

Using the list from this website, I would say that these are my current values that I hold very dear to me:

  • family-orientedness
  • leadership
  • service
  • self-actualization

Purpose

Combining all three of these aspects, I would ideally find my purpose. However, we know that discovering what we truly want in life is not as simple as cracking down on an equation. I feel like our purpose can only be found by either experiencing a lot in life or by having a life-changing experience.

And maybe we don’t need to settle with having just one purpose. Maybe we’ll have more than one purpose and that’s okay. Maybe we won’t discover our purpose(s) until we take our final breaths and that’s okay too. And maybe one’s profession does become their purpose, while for others it’s just something that they’re passionate about but it’s not their true calling. It’s our life and we get to shape it in whatever we want to.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Outliers was the most thought provoking and intriguing book I’ve ever read.

Quick Synopsis: Gladwell takes a look at a person’s background, culture, ancestors, etc. all to explain how they became who they are. For example, Bill Gates is who we know as a successful and wealthy entrepreneur, making him an outlier. However, his success is not attributed to him alone. It’s due to his family, the school he went to, the hours he spent with computers. It’s even due to the year he was born in.

I had so many moments of utter shock while reading this book. Here are some of the things that I learned:

  • It takes 10,000 hours to reach the level of mastery.

Bill Gates reached his level of mastery with computers because he supposedly used his wealthy school’s computers all the freaking time, starting from a young age. Therefore, by the time he developed Microsoft he had already covered or was near to covering 10,000 hours of work.

If we all put in 10,000 hours solely for our passions and into our desired professions, we too would be on the Forbes List.

  • Privilege and power play a large role in your success.

Gladwell talks about Chris Langan, the smartest man in the world. Chris Langan did not have much power or privilege, causing his intelligence and “success” to go largely unnoticed. Gladwell talks about the moment when Chris’s high school teachers didn’t engage him with more challenging work as he was always 100 steps ahead of all of his peers due to his high IQ. Thus, he spent most of his high school time self-studying and eventually earning a perfect score on the SAT.

Langan proceeded to receive scholarships from 2 colleges. He attended one of them and was subsequently kicked out because his mother did not send in his financial information in time. Gladwell even mentions that Langan was denied his request to attend class at a later time because he had a broken down car.

Chris Langan’s opportunities were bare and few, and even when he wanted to act upon them, he couldn’t because of his social background.

There are A LOT of interesting stuff in this chapter that I can’t summarize here, but I HIGHLY recommend reading it so you get as equally shocked!

  • Culture impacts the type of person you are.

There’s this AMAZING chapter about plane crashes and pilots in this book that absolutely blew my mind. In essence, majority of the plane crashes that have occurred can be understood by taking a look at the ethnicities and cultures of the pilots.

Pilots from countries who value elders and authority, tended to not stand up for themselves and the state of their plane minutes before a crash. For example, Gladwell talks about a Colombian pilot who was unable to clearly state to the headquarters that they are out of fuel and needed to land ASAP because he was primed by his culture to never disobey or raise your voice against authoritative figures.

However, an American pilot may have spoken up immediately and demanded that they find a place to land because American culture claims that “all men are created equal.” American culture does not preach the need to bow down to all elders and people of power.

Hence, culture plays a large role in the type of person we are and could become.

Gladwell also talks about how our ancestors and what they did for a living impacts us today. He uses Asians as examples to explain this topic and why they are so good at math. It was incredible. I don’t want to spoil anything hehe 🙂

  • The time and era you were born in can determine your success.

This concept was simply astounding for me. The year and era you were born in can set you up for success or failure. Gladwell talks about how national-level hockey players tend to always be born in the earlier months. He also gives the examples of how all the multi-billionaires were born in the 1950s. Obviously, Gladwell goes more in depth and explains this idea of time to you in this book.

Overall, EVERYONE NEEDS TO READ THIS BOOK to understand that a successful person is not someone who is incredibly different from the rest of us. They are the result of numerous factors that we often overlook.

‘Inaction Is A Slow Death’

“Inaction is the holiday of fools, who trade temporary comfort for long-term existential suffering…. Action is a life-giving breath. Inaction is a slow death.” – Better Ideas

Throughout the pandemic, I worked super hard to set a routine for myself – especially in the mornings because I love my mornings. I’d wake up bright & early, workout, get a lot of work done, not look at any social media until after my workout. I was happy with spending time with myself and not having so much stimuli enter my world.

However, college forced me to change my routine and since then I have not been able to get back to the same level of routine I had built during the pandemic. I now struggle to wake up to my alarm. I still love mornings, but it has become increasingly difficult to begin those mornings. I open Instagram right in bed to urge me to get tf out of bed. However, by doing that, I’m allowing an incredible amount of external stimuli to jolt my brain first thing in the morning. Working out has become an inconsistent action. I’ve started to rely more heavily on my morning cup of coffee. It’s just different.

As a result of this change and the weird feelings associated with it, I wanted to highlight this video. It was breathtakingly shot and addressed the mental rut that I’m currently in. I hope you enjoy the video as much as I did 🙂

‘Empty’ Time

My Dad is currently in India on a work trip. When he calls me to check-in, he often asks “What are you doing? What are you up to?”

My go-to reply, with actually anyone who asks a similar question, is “Nothing.”

However, I’m never actually doing ‘nothing’ because doing ‘nothing’ starkly goes against the American Dream: the idea that one must keep hustling in order to achieve their goals and dreams. Doing ‘nothing’ is also terrifying because then that means all the thoughts that I’ve locked away can come back – with full force. Thinking about those thoughts is emotionally draining, so the best solution would be to just go-go-go.

Once you’ve been go-go-go-ing for quite some time, you start to notice how depleted and overloaded you feel. Many define this as ‘burnout.’ A lot of people (and information on the Internet) claim that the cure to burnout is to do things that bring joy. The thing is, though, many people actively schedule those joyful things into their day-to-day lives. The act of scheduling joy may be helpful for some, but I found that it was actually more detrimental for me.

“According to the Western perspective, filling every moment with “value added” activities is a sign of virtue and significance….The archetype of the virtuously over-busy person is so ingrained in our societal mind-set that it takes strong language to knock it loose.” – Martha Beck

When I schedule joy, I start to look at joy as a task that I need to check off. For example, let’s say I schedule “write a blog post at 2:00pm.” Writing and posting on this site is one of my creative passions that brings me lots of joy. However, it only brings me joy when it’s not a structured part of my life. Therefore, when I try to structure this passion of mine into my day-to-day To-Do list, I found that I actually begin to not like writing as much as I used to.

The key to prevent such backward healing is to schedule ’empty time.’

“Empty time is a powerful medicine that can make us more joyful and resilient, but it’s strangely hard to swallow.” – Martha Beck

Schedule ’empty time’ into your calendars. Do not title that block of time with anything – just write ’empty time.’ When you reach that period of time, then decide what you want to do. Do you want to just sit on your ass and stare at the walls? Do you want to journal all your crippling thoughts? Do you want to go out for lunch with your best friend? Do you want to go downstairs and chat with your family? Decide what to do in that moment. Lean in to the things that feel like home. For someone who likes to be in control and plans everything well in advance, this idea of being spontaneous during her ’empty time’ is an uncomfortable, but refreshing feeling.

Martha Beck does an incredible job of conveying the importance of having empty time here.

Starting Over.

This month I started something over again.

In February 2021, I started a new job as an Emergency Department medical scribe. I love medicine – specifically, surgery. Thus, I wanted to do something that would give me exposure to such a breathtaking field.

The hospital I worked at at that time was draining, to say the least. Providers were seeing nearly 30 patients every day, meaning I had to write almost 30 patient charts every time. Every one in that hospital was severely burnt out and didn’t know how to cope with the overwhelming amount of pressure. My shifts ruined my very disciplined and rigid routines as I would work 3pm-1am, 9pm-7am, 11am-11pm, etc. My sleep schedule, eating schedule, working schedule – everything – was altered. I began to internalize every comment or attituded remark made by the people working in that hospital.

This experience honestly affected my perception of medicine and I decided to leave the job once in-person classes began.

Here I am, a year later. I am now, once again, trained to be an Emergency Department medical scribe and I now work at a different hospital.

I started over.

I was terrified in the beginning when I first entered this new hospital because what if this hospital is the same as the previous one? What if it’s not the providers, it’s me? What if I am not made for the rigors of medicine?

Fortunately, this hospital was vastly different. People were still burnt out (as this is a major problem in the healthcare field), but they do not project their inner feelings onto those around them. It’s crucial to note that it was totally okay for the previous hospital’s providers to express their dissatisfaction with their job and life, in general. However, I was unable to disassociate from such statements and vibes of the hospital.

The point is, I was scared to start over. I was scared to train all over again for a job I was already experienced in. I was scared to interact and cultivate relationships with new people. I was scared of change.

Change is good. Change teaches us new things. Change gives us new perspectives. Change must be welcomed more.