too cool for school.

Everyone has a different approach on how they show emotions. Some would say exhibiting too much emotion is a sign of weakness, I on the other hand have ALWAYS believed it takes an abundant amount of strength to actually reveal how you’re truly feeling. Masking emotions is not for everyone. I, for one can’t do it ALL. I inherited my father’s fury unibrow, that scrunches and gets low when I don’t understand something. Some people wear their emotions on their sleeves, I happen to wear them on my face. I have to catch myself most days when I’m making the “are you stupid?” face-or what my friends call, “the Fatima face.” I’m 100% sure that is my face 89.9% of the time.

I absolutely despise labels, yet at times I find myself using them for the sake of explaining certain situations. Who doesn’t want to be the cool guy, or the cool girl? They portray themselves as if they have no care in the world. They’re chill and nothing bothers them. Or so it seems.

Let me tell you what I learned about the cool guy and cool girl. Things bother them, they bottle up those emotions and eventually… POP goes the weasel. Communicating is extremely vital in ANY relationship you foster. In order to cultivate and strengthen existing relationships, and new ones, you MUST communicate at ALL times. And I admit talking seems like a chore most days, but without verbal and even non-verbal communication there isn’t much we can accomplish in any category of our life.

In relationships, I’m SO the cool girl. Nothing really bothers me. You don’t call for a couple of days, I’m cool – I’m entirely too busy in my own life to really notice. Plus being clingy is NOT my thing. Time and dedication should be given freely. They hang out with other friends – who are girls, I’m cool. What’s a relationship without trust anyways?

And I don’t even think I intentionally try to be the “cool girl.” I was cool with it all. Not because, I didn’t feel the need to communicate buried emotions, because relationships are so tricky. People give different, love different,  and most importantly they communicate different. Just because he didn’t text me every second of the day didn’t mean he didn’t care. Just because my mother is more abrasive than other mothers, doesn’t mean she doesn’t love me the same. My father is a man of very little words, but his actions leave an impact on me daily. So I’ve learned over the years, not to ask for much. I never intended to be the “cool girl.” My disposition always remains the same. So I continued to be patient, because I’d want the same in return.

But by labeling myself I did myself a disservice. Why can’t we be a little bit of everything? Matters don’t have to be so black and white. We attempt to fit ourselves into a box, when we want to. And others do the same  when we act in a negative way, i.e if we do something “crazy” are we crazy? No.

I felt myself closing in, the wall I had built to protect myself was starting to cave in on me.

We often mimic the love we receive. He was so extremely chill, that I let my inner cool girl shine as well. I don’t think I was necessarily accommodating him as much as I was accommodating my own feelings. I could obviously never refrain from being passionate as he would say, so it wasn’t like I was changing or molding myself FOR HIM, but there was an element to my actions that tried to be collected at all times, to be in control of them. I guess it was never about him.

We build facades with the intent that when a person doesn’t give us what we want, we tell ourselves, “that’s alright, because I prepared myself for this” and if they do, then we hoped for it.(I wanted to be the strong girl.) But that’s the thing about building facades.. no one wins. My friend Candice literally ALWAYS tells me what she wants – a phone call from me, and because she matters to me, I give her that. That is how ALL relationships works. We actively make a choice EVERYDAY to nurture relationships we want. But remember, you can NOT ask for things you, yourself have difficulty providing.

Whether we keep our emotions bottled up or we scream the things we want, we’re not really treading properly. He never spoke up about what he wanted, and neither did I (for awhile) and we both lost.. and the kicker is – none of us were playing the game.

I wanted words of affirmation, and he wanted.. actually I’m still not sure what he wanted, but its a learning process right? I also recognize no matter how much I wanted words from him, until he was ready to give them, I would never get the conversation I so deeply longed for. So I walked away knowing for the first time, I didn’t have to be the cool girl.. or any girl for that matter. I could just be me, and I am composed of many elements. Collected, cool, crazy, but above all – loving.

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a minimalist perspective.

I scroll and scroll some more. Then I head to another outlet, tap on the picture and patiently wait for it to load and watch the story unfold. I realized an hour had passed keeping up with my peers. It dawned on me how I do indeed enjoy story time but perhpas more meaningful ones…

Is there an obsession with knowing what everyone else is doing? I’m a millennial and I see how our generation and Gen Z feels the need to be connected to everyone and everything, every second of the day. The digital natives have changed the game, they have upped the usage by 75%.  Have we lost all human connection? I know my eyes are tired from all the rolling they do as I scroll my Facebook feed.

I had been obsessed with living a minimalistic life for years, and I always thought how can I really do this? I own entirely too much for starters, but I wanted to declutter my life in every single aspect. To clothes, to jewelry, to people.

Yeah sure, I recognize people aren’t disposable per se, but in a way they are. The moment I turned 29, its as if I had a radar. The second someone was fake to me, my mind would start to beep. It always beeped, but the beeping got louder and louder.

I edit multiple times before I send emails, upload blogs,  and even my journal writings have tons of edits, scratch marks and all. So why would my life be any different? Be a ruthless editor of what you allow in your life, in your home and most importantly in your mind. What does this object mean to me? What does this person mean to me? Why do I continue to give someone space in my LIFE, when given the right time period, this person would give me nothing substantial (too specific?)

So I edited, deleted and kept going.

I guess that’s just it, I’ve never needed a great deal from people. Genuine friendship, appreciation, respect. But the more time passes, I acknowledge how difficult it is for people to give these elements that come so naturally to me. Its harder for me to be fake. It has absolutely drained me. The concept of keeping up with people became a job, people I didn’t even care for, but we continue to follow them on different mediums because we don’t want to offend anyone. I can’t uphold this persona. I can’t remain robotic of scrolling and eye rolling. Why deny myself the simple pleasure of being peaceful ON MY OWN DEVICES?

I’ve still been “documenting” moments in my life that make me feel a variety of emotions, but in a more old school manner. I pull out my journal and jot down how I am feeling in that instance. Whether I am thrilled, bitter, or somber. I follow with why I’m feeling this way and what can I do to change it or channel my energy differently.

No matter how we spin it. We want validation. We want someone to tell us we’re pretty or give us a pat on the back when we accomplish something of an importance. We want the world to validate our emotions. We want someone to approve the things we find joy in, but I don’t want that through an Instagram filter.I want it to be in a genuine more concrete way.

I don’t share too much of my personal life. My mind is forever on overdrive for my family, friends, the things I love and even despise. Daily, I fight small battles and enjoy victories I never share. Some days I even cry in my defeats, wipe my tears and head to work and tackle my day. There is an ENTIRE world you never see behind that Starbucks cup on Snapchat.

There have been numerous benefits of deleting people, social media, and decluttering my life thoroughly. I got rid of every little substance that didn’t give me joy. I detached myself from materialistic possessions. I cleared out bags and bags of random items from my bedroom. I wanted to feel free. Then I went through my social media and deleted EVERYONE who basically voted for Trump – this kind of petty I enjoyed indulging in briefly. It is nauseating enough to see Bills being passed that effect me directly and then to see those who openly agree to it all is something I could live completely without. Then I deleted social media entirely. I can read the news without people’s unsolicited opinions.

Also, because I wanted to be more productive with my time. In 31 days (do you see a trend?) I found time to read more, write more, declutter and really live that minimal life I wanted. I became self aware of my emotions without all the fake noise that surrounded me. I saved money easily by taking myself out of the mix of seeing what others had. I don’t feel the need to share my thoughts, my memories with others. I get to keep them to myself, something we don’t do enough of.

I also can admit this was kind of a drastic change in lifestyle and perhaps I need to find a balance, to disconnect and still feel connected. But by staying connected to others you can lose some connection with yourself. Valuable time you will never get back. We are taught that being able to multi-task is praise worthy. How can the age of distraction and half assing everything bring value to our life? I finally have self-control and discipline in various aspects of my life. Of course, we have the ability to do so but do we apply ourselves enough?

I want assets in my name, to build an empire, to be successful. And sure, you can do so while having thousands of fake followers watching your every move, but I rather not. Evil eye is very much a thing, and I’ve never believed it before as much as I do now, that being “envious” can strip you from all happiness. And it can be as simple as a momentary question. If you find yourself being jealous and asking, “I wish I had those shoes.” or “I wish I had that job.” Then ask yourself what are YOU doing different to actually obtain those things?

By eliminating, to put eloquently, the bullshit, I have made allowances for actual change. I’m not scrolling through a feed and saying, “man I wish I was traveling, or I wish I was in grad school.” I made it all happen in just a month by ridding myself of excessive commotion.

I starved my distractions to feed my focus. If you want your life to flourish and shift in the right direction, then you must do something completely different.  You must reconstruct your life to fit the vision you have set for yourself. And you don’t need your 1000 friends on Facebook to give you accolades when you get a promotion or get that Instagran like for your #OOTD to validate the fact your outfit is dope. Share those stories with TRUE friends who aren’t jealous of your successes or deep down want you to fail. In the words of Drizzy, we have fake people showing fake love to us… and we continue to accommodate them? We can deny all we want, that we don’t post for people, but it goes back to the question I ask myself often now, “if the world were blind, would I still do this?” A small part of us does want to impress others, and the other half of us indulges in worldly affairs solely for ourselves and to share with those that actually matter. So ask yourself, which part are you feeding?

I deprived my “followers” and found out quickly who truly cared for what I was feeling or thinking. And who cared enough to text me about the Muslim Ban. Who really stood in solidarity with me, not just behind a lousy like.

By feeding my focus I became the most productive and peaceful I have been in a very long time. Insert 300 likes here.

a new boost of confidence.

Make-up is an expression of creativity and a form of art. I believe that to be true, but this is what happened when I didn’t wear make-up for 30 days.

For the past couple of months, I’ve been experiencing some interesting changes. The things that once mattered to me, don’t. I can’t distinguish when the change happened but a part of me gathers it is because I am turning 30 soon. Eight months to be exact. Other components have been a deciding factor as well.

The idea came to me one day out of anger. I was angry that as I spoke about a topic that weighed remarkably heavy on my heart,  someone stopped me to ask me the color of my lipstick. I don’t know what made me more angry, the fact that out of EVERYTHING I was saying, they were more interested in my fake lip color or that I cared.

I am constantly torn between, how I want to be perceived by others, and not really caring and doing as I please. It’s a daily struggle to be honest. Naturally, I am not concerned with what people think about me, but I do carry some sort of burden of being represented correctly.

We live in a world where the word feminism is interpreted in various ways. I consider myself a feminist, in the true sense of the word. Both sexes should be treated equally – nothing more, nothing less. When people see me or speak to me, I want to be taken seriously MORE than anything in my life. In fact, I  want it so badly, I come off aggressive most days. I became aware of this thanks to my ex (they’re good for something I guess.) He’d always tell me to take it easy, that it was never that serious, and although he was right, I couldn’t help but to think, you’re not a woman, you’ll never get it.

I started to define these moments as losses. That if my hair was too polished and my outfit was too perfect then the matters I was speaking on or the important things I was trying to accomplish, were going to get lost. I became so obsessed with being heard that I didn’t want to be seen. I didn’t want any sort of distraction. I wanted my knowledge and intelligence to be the core of me. ‘What you see, is what you get,’ if you will. So I took away the pink lipstick and opted for a fresh face, discoloration and all. Tucked my curls away, and pulled back my hair. Needless to say, my sisters went on to tell me I looked like a walking zombie.

Initially, I hated the way my dark circles were the first thing you noticed and I absolutely loathed the, “are you tired?” question. As the days passed, I started to like the extra thirty minutes of sleep in the morning. I started to like my bare skin and my hair pulled back. I started to realize, I was still me. The strong willed person who doesn’t take any bullshit. Concealer or sans concealer. I know make-up doesn’t define me, it never had. That was never the question I battled with. I wanted to take away this superficial layer, and be my authentic self. I wanted people to ask me more significant questions. I wanted to engage in more meaningful conversations.

I concluded, it wasn’t necessarily the make-up that was the issue, but perhaps the people in my life. I was getting “rid” of the wrong thing. I also recognized, its all how YOU define it. Interest in beauty and fashion doesn’t diminish my intelligence BUT I will be damned if you presume that interest in such matters define me as person entirely. I just defined a new me.

I am MORE than my well thought-out outfits. I am especially MORE than my face. I am MORE with my pink lipstick and I’m also MORE with my dark circles, and I am REALLY more when we talk about the POTUS.

let it go.

I always say loving someone is easy. Its not difficult to fall for their cute personality traits, we often confuse that initial high- with love, but perhaps it could be love. Love for that person in general, love with the idea of eventually being with this person. My family always tells me I’m weird; I’m all about that slow progression. Loving is simple, you just be. It’s the other things people have a hard time with. Such as, loyalty, commitment, sacrifice, and the hardest of them all- forgiveness.

Why is it so problematic to forgive someone we love? Ego, of course. We always feel we’re right in most situations- because we know our intentions, and when someone we love hurts us, we constantly keep thinking- how can the person we love so dearly hurt us? Very possible by the way.

I could say all those cliché phrases right now, that life is short, that you’ll never get this time again, you might lose someone tomorrow and ask yourself, was it worth it? My theory is, in retrospect what is more important- your ego? Or that burden you will carry of not forgiving someone? Or for not saying how you really felt?

If you know me, you know I say what I am feeling always, word vomit if you will. All while being honest remain tactful. For me, it’s never about the right time or not. If something is weighing heavy at me- I have to get it off my chest. There are many things I can carry in my heart, but the burden of regret? That’s not one of them.

I don’t know why people complicate life. If you want to talk to someone, call. Miss them? Tell them. Want to hang out with someone? Invite them. I take full ownership of every single emotion I feel. Its extremely empowering to be fully in control- of the things I can control, of course. Because trust me, there are numerous things which we cannot control, but telling someone you’re going to call them back and then you get a phone call that they are no more.. that is something you will live with forever, and I don’t know about you.. but its much easier to just make the phone call.

So ask yourself, is that you, or your ego?

And also, forgive yourself. I think often forgiveness is associated with others. It is okay if you let your ego get the best of you at times. Just remember, that you can always take over at any given moment and change the momentum of how things are going. That is the power of having control… and being human.

if you wish to be a warrior.

At any new stage in my life, its hard not to reflect and think about all those occurrences  that brought me to this exact moment. Sometimes it takes a lot of heartbreaks, failures, cuts, bruises to finally make it.

Things you really want can seem unattainable. Especially if getting there was such a task. This is just a reminder to MYSELF and ONLY to myself, that anything and everything I have achieved is for me, and even all the times I failed, that was for me too.

One of my favorite quotes by Khalil Gibran is, “I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strange, I am ungrateful to these teachers.”

This quote is extremely reflective and true, we are SO ungrateful to these teachers, but I AM grateful. I always say, you can be many things in life, just don’t be ungrateful. Treasure your time, one thing you will never get back. Don’t fall in love with potential. Fall in love with yourself. Just because you want something SO badly, doesn’t mean you deserve it. That’s the thing about getting what you want… or NOT getting you want, either way, you have to work really hard. Be patient, but don’t procrastinate. Be hopeful, but never naive. When it’s right, you’ll know.

There are days I feel so underserving for everything I have, and on the flip I feel broken at times, asking myself, “why am I not where I want to be?” I remind myself I worked really hard up to this point, that all those failures meant something. To put eloquently, shitty situations inspire brilliant solutions. The trick is, that if you are extremely self aware of who you are and what your heart really desires, what others say or think won’t effect you. I wish I could say that was true all the time, but sadly it is not. There are times people will break you, but it should only make you stronger. The truth is, we spend entirely too much time in critiquing ourselves. Dissecting every thing that went wrong, why it went wrong, or why things aren’t happening fast enough. Unless you let go, forgive the situation, forgive yourself you can’t move forward. Embrace the glorious mess that you are. Accept your failures as an essential part of your journey. Let’s just be who we really are, and always be honest to yourself. I don’t know about you, but I never want to be in calm waters for the rest of my life. If it doesn’t test you, if it doesn’t break you, then it’s not for you.

Timing is everything, and even though it took me a long time to understand that everything genuinely happens for a reason and it is all a part of your story. I will never look back and think: I wish I did things differently. Because I know now, that what passed me by was never going to befall me what has befallen me was never going to pass me by.

I survived and pushed through…. because the fire inside of me burned stronger than the fire around me.

Ramdan Series: Forgivness.

My sister has been begging me to do a Ramadan Series, and I kept telling myself I would eventually get to it. You know, life, it happens, all too often, but it’s important to make time for the things that matter and for the people that matter. I have so many amazing ideas for the series but first lets talk about anger.

Going into Ramadan, God recommends, almost enforces, Muslims to ask for forgiveness from those they have wronged or hurt. The concept behind this is simple, this is month Muslims repent, the month of ultimate forgiveness from the most merciful. Consequently, it is extremely vital we understand the concept ourselves. How can we believe God will forgive us, when we hold on to anger for others?

Life betrays you. You know that moment you’re running late to work and you can’t find your keys? Lovers betray you. Friends betray you in the worst possible way and sometimes even you betray yourself… but we forgive ourselves. Ultimately because we judge our actions by our intentions and others just by their actions. It’s essential that we allow room for others to make their intentions known.

This month is about finding inner peace, and personally, for me, this is the first step. Being able to forgive others for what they lack is exceedingly imperative and humbling, because we forgive ourselves daily… for small things and sometimes for even bigger things. I constantly push myself to be patient with others, because I want the very same regard. Push yourself this month to have self-control in various aspects of your life.

No one ever said it was going to be easy, but it will be worth it.

pass[ion] aggression.

Recently, I had a professor tell me that my other professors and him included, thought I was too passionate. My reaction was subtle (surprisingly) but I was trying not to be dramatic, for obvious reasons. He said that often while having discussions, they felt others were scared to chime in, because my thoughts and ideas overwhelmed them… because I was too passionate when I spoke. My first instinct was to defend my self, but I remembered this isn’t always the best tactic when someone is giving you constructive criticism. He proceeded to tell me, people find me intimidating and I should remember that while sharing my views. I smiled and said I would be aware. I kept telling all my friends and classmates that day, and of course they laughed- because most of them agreed. I kept reiterating the fact- how can someone be TOO passionate? Is that even a thing? Apparently it is.

Passion scares people. Passion starts new hobbies. Passion starts wars. Passion starts protests. Passion strikes that crazy love, poets speak of. I can see how passion can be slightly dangerous to others.

As it may be, I am too passionate. I just don’t understand how someone can live their life without it. I would rather be a distressed soul than pretend everything is okay. Who wants to be cornered under a disguise of complete normalcy? Finding your way through the uproar of your life, can only bring you peace through the reality, which you live.

Passion absolutely drives me. It could be the simplest of task, but my desire to do anything, to be anything, comes from the mere fact that I feel so deeply for it. Frequently, my friends and family say I do too much, I give too much. I still haven’t figured out if this is my biggest flaw or a strength. I do know though, I value the relationships or the ideals in my life, whatever they may be, whatever they might signify.Love who you love while you have them. That’s all you can do. Let them go when you must, if you know how to love, you’ll never run out. Losing people is a part of life and I don’t know if its the older I get, or if its just my tolerance level, but I have no room for those who don’t love freely, or give freely in return… naturally, it all comes back to passion. Some folks just don’t have it in them, to love as you, to give as you. To put your all into the things that construct your happiness takes courage.

I give away everything within my table of contents, perhaps leaving the world no interest in the remainder of the book, but the thing is, I don’t know how to love in chapters.

For Deah, Yusor, and Razan.

They were going to change the world.

This past week has been extremely emotional. I am still in disbelief, that someone can go into another persons home and shoot them, execution style over a “parking dispute.” It doesn’t sit well with me. To even mention it is trivializing their deaths, which I do not want to do. It is clear that there is indeed hatred in the world. My heart hurts, my heart is heavy thinking of those three incredible people. What a tragic loss for their families..for humanity.

What we cover on the news tells us what matters to us, how we cover that news tells who matters to us. I am still sickened by our media on how they reported this heinous crime, but I want to shift focus on how this atrocity has affected me, and how it has affected humanity.

I was not fortunate enough to meet Razan or Yusor and for that my heart also hurts, because clearly they were amazing. I only met Deah a couple of times. My brother was fortunate enough to go to school with him, to be friends with him, and from what Bilal always told me, he was indeed a sweet, generous, and a humble human being. As a Muslim, it is hard not to focus on the controversy of all of this. The hate Muslims are feeling, the fear that is completely valid. Being an American, I have never really felt fear living in this country. Even after 9/11, I always felt protected… because you always think, first and foremost I am American. For the first time, I have felt fear, I am AWARE of the fact that I am hated on because I am Muslim. It is not something I can explain. When your parents lecture you to not be so feisty about your passions or views, because you don’t know how someone else is going to react, is when you know there is something bigger going on. Islamophobia is REAL.

What Deah, Yusor, and Razan’s sudden deaths have taught me, is that life still has to go on.. sadly. As hard as it has been to focus on the good in the world, I want to change the perspective. I want to celebrate their love, their life, their incredible legacy – not just now but always. I want everyone to remember the good they started. It is crucial we focus on who they are and what they wanted to accomplish. Their wonderful lives were inspirational. It truly makes me want to be a better person. I want to live better, do better. I keep thinking what have I offered the universe? What have people gained from me? Why haven’t I done more? These questions are important, and we need to ask ourselves, what is it that we want people to remember us by. I see how they’ve inspired so many individuals. From Step Curry honoring Deah, to all these drives, and vigils in their names, in their legacies. It hurts, when I think of their lives taken too soon, in a senseless act but seeing the strength and patience their families and friends have exhibited is also very inspirational. It is EXACTLY what Islam teaches.

They indeed changed the world.

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Surely, to Him we belong, and to Him we shall return.

the importance of being earnest.

I always say this: showing emotion doesn’t make you weak. If anything, it makes us courageous, makes us strong. That we’re able to convey things most people have a hard time even realizing. For as long as I can remember, I have NEVER been able to hide my emotions. My face tells ALL – and when I say ALL, I literally mean all. There’s a running joke in my house, if my forehead is scrunched and my eyebrows are low, everyone in my house is thinking “stay clear from Fatima,” not much of a joke actually. My mother instantly knows when I am I am not feeling well. My sister knows when I am in deep thought. My brother always knows when I don’t like something, because he claims my “stank face” is on 85 percent of the time.

My point is, I’m an open book. People always tell me it’s not a good thing and perhaps that’s true. Over the years though, I realize more and more how it is extremely important to be honest – especially to yourself. I get it, there are times we don’t want to think about certain aspects of our lives because it becomes too real, but that’s exactly it, its OUR life, it is REAL. Face your demons, face your thoughts. You don’t need to live your life pretending things will go away if we don’t face it. Spend less time running away from your problems and trying to rid yourself of them, instead spend time accepting the problems as an inevitable, natural part of life. Bottling up your emotions is never the answer.

Be honest to yourself and to the world. Stop being fake. It is one the of ugliest traits you can have. It is SO liberating, when you tell someone no without having to explain yourself, it is SO liberating when someone asks how you feel about something and you answer honestly. It is SO liberating to say how you feel, with tact of course – because rudeness and cruelty is ALSO an ugly trait.

Be genuine. Be real. Be honest. Be yourself. Stop pleasing the world. How can anyone give others happiness when they can’t even be honest with themselves? How can someone genuinely care for your emotions when they can’t even face their own?

Take ownership of your words, your thoughts, your emotions. Only then you can live a fulfilling life.

I have been liberated.

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