coffee date #7 with kim kumari
premed undergrad, bhangra dancer, owner of the BEST rbf, fellow backstage crier/dancer/jammer/practicer/eater, sister queen who roams the halls of hotels with me late at night
key note: IT’S KIM KUMARI YA’LL! Love her to pieces ❤
me: iced caramel latte with almond milk (from Booskerdoo Coffee & Baking Co. Bell Works – the best coffee I’ve ever had holy cow) | kumari: matcha tea (her first time!)
Those people with their RBFs (resting b**** face) scare the absolute crap out of me. Kim Kumari is the owner of one of those faces, hence my not so pleasant first impression of her way back in 2018.
Kim and I first met in 2017. I was the reigning Miss Teen India NJ, and Kim was competing in the Miss Teen India USA 2017 pageant. I sat on the side of the stage to watch the contestants strut down the ramp and give their spiel to the judges. Kim was glowing onstage with her wide, radiant smile. She was killing it!
A year later, we ended up competing again at the same pageant. I was competing for Miss Teen India NJ 2018, and she was in Miss India NJ 2018.
I remember during one of the rehearsals, I was standing in line to be called up to practice my “ramp walk” on stage. As I stood there, our NJ state director pulled Kim aside. Once Kim came back, one of the girls asked her why the director called her.
Kim replied, “Nothing really, she just said my walk looked really good.”
I felt so intimidated by her in that moment because I was comparing myself to her perfection. As hours progressed during our never-ending rehearsals, we somehow vibed and exchanged a few conversations.
It was during the span between the state and nationals pageant that we really connected with each other. Almost every weekend, we’d end up at Royal Albert’s Palace to attend numerous events (where we would meet people like the NJ Governor Mr. Phil Murphy, Actor Suniel Shetty, Singer Mika Singh, etc). We’d occasionally sneak out to take a breather, snap some mirror pictures, and stuff our faces with food. Kim Kumari was my perfect sister queen.
I love telling this little story from our time competing in the nationals pageant: We were both decked out in our ethnic round’s clothes and sat on the floor backstage. Our HUGE, puffy lehangas were crushed underneath us as we both managed to fit into a small corner. We just stared at each other and broke down crying. We seemed to have forgotten that we had a full face of makeup on, other contestants were watching us, and we were about to go onstage in a few short minutes. We released all our exhaustion and pent up energy from that week.
More than merely attending events and doing pageants together, Kim became one my life consultants. Something goes wrong with my life – shoot Kim a text. Super anxious about a certain decision – FaceTime Kim. She’s bold and incredibly frank, which makes her one of the most best suited people to give me advice.
- Pageantry enables women to grow into their most authentic self.
Pageants are often connotated to be “catty” or “superficial.” However, pageantry propels women from many different backgrounds to appear confident onstage and develop impeccable public speaking skills.
More importantly, Kim shared that pageants helped her develop better instincts about people.
I never thought about this benefit of pageantry until Kim mentioned it. It’s true!! You meet SO MANY people during the span of those 3-5 days every time you participate. Being with those girls for hours on end helps you read people’s intentions faster and accurately.
Obviously being able to recognize and separate those who are toxic from those you love is an incredible quality to have, so thank you Kumari for that insight 🙂
- SURROUND YOURSELF WITH PEOPLE YOU TRULY LOVE, ADMIRE, AND CONNECT WITH!
I swear we talked about this for so long because this is one thing that Kim follows to the absolute core.
“If you understand who you surround yourself with, then that is a great benefit for your mental health.” – Kumari, 2021
Her social circle isn’t that big because she doesn’t spend energy on changing herself to fit in with others. Instead, she’s around people who let her be her truest, most beautiful self.
- Only confront people who you value and trust.
This was a rather unique concept that Kim touched upon. During my other coffee dates, they all said that confrontation is key to developing healthy relationships. However, they never specified when the confrontation should occur so I assumed it needs to happen all the time.
I was wrong. According to Kim, you should only confront those who hold value and take up space in your life. If your best friend is making you feel like shit, confront her because she means a lot to you. On the other hand, if some random person you meet occasionally with your friend group bothers you, then why waste so much energy and allow that person’s negative energy seep into your life by confronting them? Instead, purposely maintain some distance from them. Obviously if that person is completely demoralizing you, then yes, stand up for yourself.
WOAH! That takes a huge load off my back because it is not my job to hold every single person I encounter accountable. It’s my job and my friends’ jobs to only hold each other accountable for our actions.
- Being a morning person gives me an odd sense of peace.
I am so deeply connected to Nature. I realized this in 2020. When Kim mentioned that becoming a morning person is her priority, I asked her why that is so important to her. She said that she too loves the natural sunlight and it’s important for her to wake up in time to feel that warmth.
“It is super important to have a routine.” – Kumari, 2021
Routines keep us balanced and make us feel as though we got some control over our uncontrollable lives. Doing the same thing every morning controls my anxiety and tells my mind that “Esha has got her shit together,” even when I do not.
- Transform your envy into a moment of pride.
I’ve discussed envy briefly with coffee date #1, but didn’t have an in depth conversation about it then. I wanted to ask Kim about envy because it’s something that we both have felt before (and sometimes may still do).
First, I want to clarify the difference between envy and jealousy. Jealousy is wanting what the other person has, whereas, envy is not only wanting what the other person has, but also feeling as though that person does not deserve whatever he/she gained.
Clearly, envy is a toxic emotion, but it’s important to note that it is a human emotion. We all feel it and that’s okay as long as we recognize it and actively try to move past that mentality. So how do you move past that mentality? Well, great question. Kim Kumari is coming to the rescue.
According to Kim, the key to moving past envy is not to ignore it because then it just amplifies. The key is to recognize it and then transform envy into a couple seconds of pride. For example, before quarantine Kim did multiple photoshoots. From those photoshoots, many reached out to her for modeling tips. Now, those girls are doing extremely well as models, so it’s natural for anyone in Kim’s position to think Oh wow, they made it so big, but I am still stuck here. ME ALL THE GODDAMN TIME!
When Kim catches herself feeling envious in these situations, she takes a minute to be proud of herself for helping that person develop their career into something extraordinary. Additionally, she said one more thing about envy that shook my mind:
“You’re comparing someone’s career and life goal to your hobbies and extra passions. Your career goals are not to model, act, etc., but instead it is to become a doctor. The things that others are doing may be your hobbies, but not your ambitions. So how is it fair for you to compare their careers with your hobbies?” – Kumari, 2021
A queen ya’ll. 100% accurate. If this resonates with you, then let it sink in and understand that you are on the right path for whatever YOU want to be doing. If you think you’re not, then you can get back on the right path by focusing on your own goddamn self!
- Those who understand you will value your need to not talk everyday.
I absolutely cannot talk to people every single day of my life. I’m not big on daily texts or FaceTime calls. I’ll call up my closest people if something amazing or urgent comes up and of course, I’ll check in with them at times. However, I don’t maintain contact every single day. For the longest time I thought this was a major flaw.
On our date, I learned Kim is the same way. Kim described that she too never talks to her people every single day, but when a major life event happens, she’ll call her best friend to update her. There’s no need for the superficial “hi, how are you?” if you’re just texting that to keep up with the idea of talking every day.
“Those who understand you and love you will also understand your need to not have to talk everyday.” – Kumari, 2021
- Call people out on their BS.
Did I mention that Kim is an incredibly honest person? One of my favorite qualities of Kim is her courage and ability to call people out on their BS. This is a bit different from confrontation because confrontation, in my head, is calling people (generally someone you love) out who affected you after a certain time has passed. On the other hand, “calling people out on their BS” is immediate, on the spot.
- Staying connected to our roots is essential for us and future generations as well.
Kim Kumari is as Desi as one could get. She loves her culture immensely and is a proud Punjabi woman. She’ll slayyyy on the dance floor with no care in the world every time she hears hype Bollywood or Punjabi music playing. She’s a talented beatboxer and singer. Most of all, she adores some of the values of the Indian culture, so when I asked her what her one life lesson out of her 19 years of existence would be, she said:
“I think it’s crucial for us and our future generations to stay deeply connected to our roots.” – Kumari, 2021
We don’t believe in every single aspect of our culture, but we do agree with parts of it. Kim isn’t advising everyone to learn absolutely everything about their culture, but at least having a basic understanding of our ancestral roots and what their values were can help us stay connected to ourselves and families.