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  • Being a Graduate Student of Colour

    I remember spending hours searching for clinical psychology faculty across the country that matched my research interests.

    Mental health in minorities & forensic populations.

    I remember the cycle so well. It always started with curiosity: ’I wonder if there’s a place for me at [insert public university in Canada].’

    Confusion: where is everyone? is no one interested in this? maybe I’m being too specific.

    Desperation: come on. there must be somebody like me interested in other people like us??? it’s a pretty big school and they’re constantly advertising about diversity & inclusion. maybe I’ll try the other campus.

    I oscillate between frustration & fatigue: my eyes are flooded with screen after screen of middle aged, white men. they’re interested in psychometrics, depression, anxiety, CBT. but there’s no mention of the populations I’m interested in. no South Asian studies.
    Alright, I could settle for immigrants in general. no?
    Okay…how about POC? I could just broaden my scope some more, right?⠀

    Slim pickings.⠀

    Scroll, scroll, scroll. ⠀⠀

    Wait. A flicker of hope? excitement? idk but my heart rate goes up when I see that there’s one lady on this list that doesn’t look toooooo different from me!!!

    Click.

    A low simmering anger: ah. she’s not taking any students this year.⠀

    •••⠀

    It’s a familiar anger that’s still simmering.

    Because not only is this just a snippet of what it’s like, it’s mild enough for me to feel comfortable sharing. ⠀

    My experience as a WOC in grad school is not unique. And more importantly, it is STILL wrapped in privilege. Black Women face the worst of the white water of academia across disciplines and institutions. Instances of overt racism and discrimination are not spoken about enough because of the risks they face in sharing. In a system that tries to drown them, they are still expected to survive and to do so silently.

  • Black Lives Matter

    “America is not another word for Opportunity to all her sons.”⁣ ― 𝗪.𝐄.𝐁. 𝐃𝐮 𝐁𝐨𝐢𝐬, 𝘛𝘩𝘦 𝘚𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘉𝘭𝘢𝘤𝘬 𝘍𝘰𝘭𝘬⁣

     “A feeling of inferiority? No, a feeling of not existing.” ― 𝐅𝐫𝐚𝐧𝐭𝐳 𝐅𝐚𝐧𝐨𝐧, 𝘉𝘭𝘢𝘤𝘬 𝘚𝘬𝘪𝘯, 𝘞𝘩𝘪𝘵𝘦 𝘔𝘢𝘴𝘬𝘴 ⁣

    •••⁣

    Imagine being a black American that cannot trust a system that claimed it would protect them and promised them equal freedom. ⁣

    The ability to imagine and unimagine this instead of being forced to live this reality is a privilege.

    These are two seminal works from 1903 and 1952. They provide deeper perspectives on the human psyche through a critical race lens. They’re about blackness, language, culture, colonialism, dehumanization, internalized oppression, and the psychological implications voiced by two influential black authors (they are so much more than just authors). ⁣

    This is not a new fight. We are desensitized to the fear, rage, grief, and fatigue being communicated by the black community. ⁣

    I am not above this, as I continue to learn about anti-blackness in the South Asian community as well as my own biases and microaggressions. I am here to learn and to use my privilege to act for social justice. ⁣⁣⁣It’s on me to do that work, by listening, reading, researching, changing, and supporting minorities in the justice system.

  • • inhale // exhale • ⁣

    “Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

    ☁️

    just having one of those days where all I can seem to focus on are the unanswered questions I have in my head, mostly about the future.

    • are things going to be back to normal by the fall?

    • what happens if they don’t?

    • how am I going to cope with that?

    and then 30 minutes go by and I realize I’ve been actively wasting my energy on trying to answer these questions that really cannot be answered right now. *bonus: now I feel bad about wasting time.

    so instead of trying to solve these questions by going down rabbit holes and hypotheticals and worst case ontarios…

    I turn to this Thich Nhat Hanh quote, I decide to notice these thoughts, and just breathe.

    Observing your thoughts without judgement and anchoring your focus back to your breath are key parts of practicing mindfulness. These are skills that take time and effort to build. I’ve been practicing for years now and still need reminders so here it is if you need it too 🌬

  • Eid 🌙

    Eid Mubarak 🌙 wishing happiness and health for everyone celebrating today 💝⁣⁣⁣
    ⁣⁣⁣
    Although I haven’t always seen it this way, Ramadan is a special time for us to refocus on what’s important to us. ⁣⁣⁣
    ⁣⁣⁣
    It’s different this year and I know that it might feel difficult for some, especially during quarantine. We didn’t get to catch up with all of our friends/family while stressing about parking at the mosque this year. ⁣⁣⁣
    ⁣⁣⁣
    But this is surprisingly the closest I have been with my family and the most connected I have ever been to my culture. We’ve had some savage games of luddo and my hand is still cramping from applying henna to everyone last night. By far, my favourite thing has been sitting around with coffee to hear stories from my parents after iftar.⁣⁣ I’m going to make an effort to continue to do that. ⁣
    ⁣⁣⁣
    The last month has been a reminder of the following values for me:⁣⁣⁣
    ⁣⁣⁣
    discipline, ⁣⁣⁣
    patience,⁣⁣⁣
    and compassion. ⁣⁣⁣
    ⁣⁣⁣
    Fasting, reflecting, working on some of your habits, and donating are all ways that people are grounded in their humanity and cultivate compassion. And I think we could all use a little bit of that stuff once in a while. ⁣⁣⁣
    ⁣⁣⁣
    Whether its a religious/spiritual experience for you or just a feeling of togetherness, I hope there’s some joy in it for everyone. 🌻⁣⁣⁣
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  • motivation

    I don’t think I’ve ever had as much difficulty with finding motivation as I have over the past few months. Growing up as a competitive athlete, it felt like I automatically came with some motivation software installed. But as I’ve learned over the last few years, motivation is so much more than just a drive that you either have or don’t have.

    One of my readings defined motivation as…

    “activating orientation of current life pursuits toward a positively evaluated goal state”

    (Rheinberg & Vollmeyer, 2018).

    What does that even mean?

    Well, that definition touches on a few things that really should be elaborated.

    1. That “positively evaluated goal state” might be towards a desired outcome BUT, it might also be to avoid/prevent undesired outcomes too.
      – For example, quitting cigarettes to avoid health complications might be one.

    2. The word “pursuit” is important. By reducing motivation to just the outcome alone, you neglect the powerful incentives embedded in the consequences of that outcome.
      – You might find that not freezing your butt off in the cold, spending more time with your family, and saving money are a few of the positive consequences of your efforts that really help you quit smoking cold turkey.

    3. Sometimes incentives and outcomes are aligned in their ‘valence’ of positivity or negativity, and sometimes they are inverse.
      – For example, there are enjoyable activities such as playing soccer with your buddies that get you the result you want. And other times, there are less appealing activities (e.g. using the stair master) that produce the result you want (being healthier) – this works vice versa as well.

    4. Consider that if a consequence has a high enough incentive – people might even participate in activities that they hate. – Please refer to all the Saw movies for an extreme example.

    5. Often, people will procrastinate until the consequences of inaction are more unpleasant than the hated activity itself.
      — Let that one sink in for a second.
      How often have you let the anxiety of completing an annoying task become so uncomfortable to the point where completing the original task becomes an easy relief? Then you start chasing this feeling of relief and the cycle of anxiety develops.

    Points 2 & 5 were heavy-hitters for me.

    When you focus so heavily on just the outcome of your efforts, you don’t get to fully commit yourself to the process. And the process is really where you get to study your approach, hone in on your skills, and begin perfecting your craft. The crucial thing to accept here is that committing to the process really means becoming an expert on failing until you become the best person to ask about how NOT to do that thing.

    When I reflect on activities with which I’ve found the most success or improvement, it was my attitude about the process that really made a difference in the outcome for me.

    When I think about weightlifting, I realized that I fell in love with pursuit of caring for myself and being healthy, not a specific body image or goal weight. My motivation for exercising really flourished once I focused on the parts that I enjoyed the most (the endorphins post-workout, the mental clarity, the alone time with my music…and so much more).

    It’s hard for humans to keep working towards a goal just based on the thought of a future reward in their minds over long periods of time. That’s normal. Especially with external stressors or uncertainty regarding future rewards that many of us are experiencing right now. But if you’re like me, and looking for a few ways to maintain motivation for long-term goals, I’ve shared them below.

    • identify specific, achievable goals and write them down – it’s easier to maintain motivation when you are working towards things that you can actually make progress towards and achieve. Writing them down and displaying them somewhere you see often can help make them feel more tangible. It can also help you visualize your progress and movements towards these goals in your daily life.

    • set smaller, achievable subgoals towards larger long-term goals – breaking apart larger tasks into smaller parts makes them way more approachable and helps remind you of all your progress along the way.

    • re-wire your relationship with failure – start looking at failure as progress because it is more accurately a process of elimination towards the outcome you want.

    • start with parts of the process that you enjoy or make parts of the process more enjoyable for yourself – your attitude and perspective about the process is KEY.

    • remind yourself of the cost of your inaction or increase that cost – think about why you set this goal and it’s importance. Then ask yourself how your procrastination will impact that goal. Are the consequences of inaction unpleasant enough? Try to remember that the sooner you do the stuff you don’t enjoy, the sooner you get back to stuff you enjoy, and the faster you get to your goal.

    • reward yourself often and take time to really absorb feelings of accomplishment no matter how big or small – journal, talk to a supportive friend about your progress, go out for dinner to celebrate. Just make sure to treat yourself whenever you work towards that goal state.

      These little efforts might be all that you really need to keep going or to even get the ball rolling. Reflecting on what seems to work for you and then rewarding yourself whenever you have glimmers of it might be all you can reasonably ask of yourself right now.

      Motivation, like many other parts of you and your mental health needs care and attention. It’s natural for it to fluctuate so don’t be so hard on yourself when you have less of it.

    References
    Rheinberg, F., & Vollmeyer, R. (2018). Motivation. Kohlhammer Verlag.

  • Mother’s Day 🌸

    I want to acknowledge that this day isn’t necessarily happy for everyone, and that’s okay.⁣
    • For mothers that have lost⁣
    • For those that have lost mothers⁣
    • For new moms struggling to bond with their babies⁣
    • For those with unstable or strained relationships with mothers and/or children⁣
    • For those (like me) who have chosen not be mothers⁣
    • For those trying or have been told they’re unable to be mothers⁣

    🌸I try to think about what I can actually take out of this day – an appreciation for nurturing life. I’ll likely never receive a handmade Mother’s Day card that I save for eternity. But I see my value in how I’ve helped raise my siblings, the way I care for my dog, the growth I see in my therapy clients. There are many ways to be a caring, selfless human ♥️moms are just usually pretty darn good at it.

  • Begin

    New month 🌿 new growth.
    It’s taken me a while but I’m finally reaching out of my comfort zone to begin building this space for myself.

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