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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at MSU chapter.

Where do my roots of optimism lie? When I envision the posed question in my imagination, I view my maternal grandmother. However, before I further explain the whereabouts of my optimism, I would like to share my perception of it. 

What is optimism? If you find the definition in a dictionary, you’ll see that it explains, “A doctrine that this world is the best possible world,” but that is not my definition. Optimism is viewing the glass half full rather than viewing it half empty. Optimism is seeing that there is a way to get out of the hole you have dug yourself in. Optimism is having to wear a medical vest early in the morning but not letting that bother you and continuing to enjoy life and its surroundings. Optimism is knowing that you can contract a deadly disease called Pseudomonas which can kill and shatter potential dreams and fantasies for the future, but viewing life in a positive manner and making the most of what you have. I’ll admit, I’m no stranger to the plethora of pessimism that the stress of having Bronchiectasis, a condition that I contracted when I got Pneumonia as a child, has on me. Leaving behind a scar on my right lung, it has caused distress to me some days where I contemplate how far I’ll go in life with it. But I will not let that affect how I live my life or how I view the world. What keeps me positive, in particular, is seeing the optimism of my grandmother.

My grandmother is a symbol of optimism and hope. Growing up in misogynist India, she had aspirations of pursuing medicine and becoming a doctor. However, the role for a woman in my grandmother’s family was to cook, follow duties upheld by the mother-in-law, and complete the rest of the cleaning.  The care of her children was left to her many housemaids. My grandmother was denied to pursue medicine but, rather, was pushed to pursue  a family and aid the mother-in-law. She was devastated, her delicately wired dreams shattered in pieces to the ground. But alas, faith took a turn in a better direction when she fell in love with my grandfather. At her time, falling in love was uncommon before marriage; the woman and man usually had an arranged marriage and learned to love after. Yet, my grandparents broke traditions and married shortly after. Not long later, my mother was born and the job of my grandmother was to help my great-grandmother and uphold her duties, but my grandmother was so admadent about her right to learn, that my grandfather let her attend college and graduate from university with a diploma.

To this day, my grandmother is the only one of her three siblings to hold a college degree. About two years later, my grandfather was taking university classes for engineering in the United States and he begged my grandmother to pursue the “American Dream” alongside him. My grandmother had to sacrifice everything as she departed to America:her family, her friends, her parents, but also her lifestyle, unaware of the harsh reality she would endure. At 22 years old, she left India for America in pursuit of her own “American Dream.”  For the first couple of months, she resided in the basement of my great-uncle’s house, cramped, dark, and dismal with a newborn and a small child. Life became hard for my grandmother who had not yet done anything with her life in America except to be a stay-at-home mother.

One Christmas, however, my mother’s family fell low on money and my grandmother had to take a job at K-mart to help with the low income my grandfather earned. Around my mother’s sixth grade year, my grandmother decided to get back to work and support her family as my grandfather had been laid off from his company, US Steel.  My grandmother found a position to work in a medical clinic where she would aid the nurses. She studied hard, countless hours while managing my mother and aunt and at the same time putting food on the table for them. At last, with her devotion and perseverance, came on top and was selected out of a large group of people for the position. But another conflict soon came in. While my grandmother adored her in-laws, it was a big stress when they came to live in America as she needed to provide them a place to live within her tiny home and food when she came home exhausted most nights. She still worked hard and exceeded the expectations of everyone around her. To this day, my grandmother is happily tired after a rewarding career as a supervisor for a small group of people in her company, Johnson Controls, having dealt with health related issues. 

In conclusion, it is human nature to complain about the bad in our lives and hold doubt for ourselves, when in reality, we should search for the light at the end of the tunnel. Moving forward, I want to grow as a human being by looking at the struggles my grandmother endured in comparison to my own. She is the sole reason for my mother’s optimism which has passed down to me after hearing  her story. Regardless of how  bad a day is, I would have no strength if it weren’t for my grandmother. She is where my root of optimism lies.

Hi there! I am currently a junior that is part of The University of Michigan's chapter of HerCampus. I am a BCN and English double major, with aspirations to become a physician. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with loved ones, catching up on a good book, or streaming a copious amount of shows and movies on Netflix.