i don’t mind.

We hear the phrase, ‘be mindful of others’ regularly. Especially with social media consuming our lives, we consistently hear people say, ‘pay attention to your surroundings, be present, be aware, be mindful.’

Growing up, my parents really wanted to embed mindfulness in to us kids. To be quite honest, it’s all they cared about. If we were sitting and someone (mainly elder) was standing, we should be mindful and offer our seat. If someone came to visit, I should be mindful and offer water, or chai. If someone was complaining about a situation we should be mindful and offer help. To constantly be aware of others needs. Growing up, my sister would jokingly refer to our mother as a social worker. Despite having three kids, she took on tasks for people like it was her job. Both my parents really. They were so kind to open their doors and have people stay if they ever needed a room or food. Literally anyone could call my parents for help, and you’d never hear a no. Never.

I am truly grateful to have witnessed such kind, extremely giving, and mindful parents. They not only taught us to be respectful to others but to always show compassion to those in need. And they really taught us to be attentive to not only others’ experiences but their feelings especially.

Desis are ALL about emotions. I mean just watch any Bollywood movie and see how we like to pull at peoples heart strings with emotional blackmail… err situations. Being mindful isn’t a dreadful thing. It’s a wonderful attribute but is there such a thing to be too mindful? I genuinely don’t think I have EVER made a life altering decision without listing the pro’s and con’s of how OTHERS might feel (and when I say others, I mainly mean my parents.) Sure, I’ve been selfish and did things I wanted but I also drove myself pretty crazy up until I made that decision.

I find my mindfulness has spread to other areas of my life. With friendships, with work. I have a hard time saying ‘No.’ Because, again my parents taught us to always be mindful of  people’s feelings.  I don’t quite know how my parents provided for three kids and were able to take on more than their share – because I find myself struggling. On one hand I want to be able to make everyone around me ‘happy’ (I say happy but I know it’s nearly impossible to make everyone happy – a general consensus if you will) but on the other hand it can take a huge toll on one’s sanity.

My friends who are amazing wives struggle between what their husbands want, what her parents want, and what her in-laws expect from her. She’s busy in her own life and of course has a voice but is also extremely mindful of keeping the harmony. I often listen to their struggles, pause and ask, “and what do you want?” The most daunting question of all time. We’re so wrapped up in trying to balance the beam. I truly believe they forget what they even want to begin with. I don’t want to make the bold statement that more often than not, women are asked to be more mindful than men, but in this case I’ll say it.

I once read a story that really resonated with me for many different reasons. A couple gets married and they make a pact for the first couple of weeks they won’t let anyone bother them no matter what. The guys parents come and they ask each other do we let them in and break the pact? The guy says it’ll be okay, they’ll be fine. The following week the girl’s parents are at the door. And of course not wanting to break the pact she convinces herself that it’s okay, they’ll understand. After a couple of minutes, she can’t take it, she tells her husband we should let them in, what if it’s something important? She opens the door. Fast forward a couple of years they have a son and then a girl. On the arrival of their daughter, the husband began to cry and the wife jokingly asked why are you crying? And he replied, “because the one who’s going to open the door for us, is here.”

I know plenty of guys who are mindful. I know plenty of women who are not. But there is something about this story that really resonates with me. The girl felt so many emotions upon opening that door. Firstly, to not want to disappoint her husband if she did open the door or feel guilty if she didn’t open the door for her parents. I often find myself at a similar crossroad. When my co workers say no to my boss for an extra task, I start to think of the all reasons why I should take the task. Mindfulness. It pops up everywhere.

For once, I’d like to be mindless. To solely make a decision based on my needs, only. We often spend our adult life fixing what our childhood broke and I’m not sure which part is more broken now.

My parents raised humanitarians, and as grateful as I am to them, I’m also upset they set me up for failure for my own sanity. The world wasn’t raised the same. The guilt that consumes me when I don’t fulfill a task that’s asked of me, will be the death of me. Many would say, this is a personal problem, and that’s feasible. Nevertheless, how is one to turn off being mindful? That’s just it though, there is nothing noble about not giving grace. It could be I’ve been on the right side all along, although for the sake of my sanity (and others like me) it’s time to fathom that No is a full a sentence and completely okay to use every once and awhile.

I do mind.

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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.

new birthday beginnings.

My birthday this year was amazing. Initially when my birthday month started, I was extremely sad about it, not going to lie. Every year my birthday is simple. I only want to spend it with family and my best friend. It always consisted of work/school and then a dinner… with my best friend. The past eight birthdays went that way. This year was different, my “best friend” isn’t in my life anymore, and that has been hard in itself to cope with. My birthday felt weird, how was I going to spend this day? Plus, I turned 27, how do you celebrate that? Jokes aside, I just didn’t want anything or to do anything. I wanted to have a little family dinner, where Rubes cooked my favorite food. Of course though, my lovely sister and amazing friend Mary, wanted to do something special for me, considering how I felt. My family and her threw me a surprise birthday party a week before my actual birthday and boy was I surprised. A room full of incredible people. Can’t thank my family and friends for constantly making me feel so loved. As I walked in, my adorable baby brother goes, are you surprised? I managed to get a yes out and held back the tears. I said why? and he quickly responded, you do so much for others, you deserve this. It was the sweetest thing ever, he makes my heart melt. My sister and Mary went above and beyond for the cutest party! I am blessed with amazing siblings. To top off all the amazingness, on my actual birthday, my awesome cousins surprised me from New York! Drove all night to get here one day before, just for me. Blessed doesn’t even begin to to cover how I feel. I have the most amazing people in my life, and they just happen to be my family.

“Don’t grieve, anything you lose comes around in another form” -Rumi

I might not have known what I was doing for my birthday, but I knew exactly what I was going to wear. Confessions of a shopholic, clearly. I went into forever21 and went a little crazy on jumpsuits. I found two that I absolutely adored. As my birthday approached, I knew I wanted to keep it minimal and sophisticated. I opted for the black jumper with my whisper pink blazer. I added the headpiece – had to be a little fancy, it was my birthday after all 🙂  My favorite thing I wore, was my father’s watch. I’ve had my eye on this watch every since I was a little girl. It was in my mothers jewelry box and I would just stare at it, hoping one day it will be mine. It was the watch he wore on his wedding day. Just a year ago my mother took it out and gave it to my brother. I literally cried and was bitter for months, I actually still am. It just happened that my brother gave it to me to get the battery changed. I took this as an opportunity to wear it at least once.  My father got married when he was 27, and the fact I got to wear it on my 27th birthday, made up for the fact that Bilal got the watch. Hey, the connection works for me, let me have it.

Jumper: f21 | blazer: h&m | headpiece: A La Couture | shoes: Steve Madden | purse: Versona

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Traveling Diaries: O Canada [edition]

This summer was extremely hectic. With Ramadan and constant traveling – not complaining by the way, I can’t believe summer is technically over! I say technically because you haven’t experienced North Carolina heat. But summer fun has come to an end sadly, and I wanted to share my traveling experience through a series of blog posts, called traveling diaries. This is the Canada Edition.

I went to Canada as a child and my memories of Canada are minimal, perhaps I was just that young. I remember attending a wedding, and some good family friends, but not much else. Oh, and of course Niagara Falls, because if you’re desi, you HAVE to see Niagara Falls. My experience this time was pretty amazing. Nothing trumps quality family time, experiencing a fun new city, and of course… Niagara Falls.

Toronto is pretty fabulous! The food, the diversity, and lets talk fashion! My family and me went to Yorkdale, which is a huge shopping mall in Toronto, we probably shopped WAY too much. I saw so many well dressed people in Toronto, I was honestly impressed. I want to say Toronto is comparable to New York, but I have to give Toronto it’s own credit. It has this vibe and liveliness of its own, and oh, the fashion, SO great.

Nothing compares to quality family time. If you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw how all my cousins have the most adorable children. Spending time with children is such a humbling experience. They’re remarkably innocent, they ask the most curious questions, and I love how bubbly and high- spirited they are. It makes you admire them and kind of envious at the same time. Here we are, constantly caught up in the stressful part of our lives. How sometimes, we aren’t able to enjoy the little things, and then there’s the zesty children, who get excited over me doing their hair, or who will get to sit by me or my brother in the car. I truly miss them.

Canada is gorgeous. Must be all those tax dollars – or tax canadian money? Canadian dollars, by the way. Did you know that Queen Elizabeth II is on the twenty dollar bill? Yeah, me either. I loved that beside every word they also had the French word for it. I hardly saw any cops on the road! Seriously, not one. I’m guessing Americans are much more rebellious then our neighbor country. And lets talk about the bagged milk. Okay, so for anyone who hasn’t been to Canada, instead of cartons, you get bagged milk. It was quite interesting I must say. My brother and I figured its probably easier to recycle, who knows. If you miss Pakistan- just visit Canada.

Don’t hate me for saying this, but I think Niagara Falls is a little overrated. NOTE, that I said a little, don’t get me wrong, it was absolutely stunning. Definitely a one time thing though, at least I can check it off my list, right? This time when I was there, I got to ride the ferry, which was pleasant and being able to see it THAT close was enjoyable, I got completely drenched – so much for my doing my hair, but the view was breathtaking. It was worth it.

O Canada, as much as I love living in America, I’d consider you 🙂

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traditions.

As long as I can remember, Eid has been one of my favorite holidays. Growing up, I anxiously waited for my father to give us Eidi (money) after prayer, and it’s quite adorable that he still does that. I love how my mother always makes everyones favorite foods. The aroma of sheer every Eid morning is what woke me up. It’s exactly how kids feel Christmas morning. I think as a child I took all this for granted. There came a time where we didn’t get to celebrate together as a family. My father had to go into work, my brother was off at school, my sister was celebrating in a different country, and I had classes. I am grateful that this Ramadan I was able to spend every day with my family, and Eid was no different. Being united as a family has to be the biggest blessing.

One particular Eid, my mother stayed up all night making me an outfit. It was absolutely perfect. A purple sequenced lengha with a purple silk kameez with gold buttons, and a purple sequenced dupatta to go along with it. Can you tell purple is my favorite color? That lengha was the business. I was ecstatic to wear it the next day. Wearing fancy Eid clothes is equivalent to being a princess (or prince) for a day. And I definitely felt like a princess in my lengha. My mother insisted after prayer I take off the lengha and change into something more comfortable, but I wasn’t having it. I told her it wouldn’t be Eid if I changed out of my clothes. Until nightfall I did NOT take off that lengha, and I’m sure even then I put up a fight.

Still at 26, Eid clothes are important, although some things have changed, that remains the same. No more sequenced lenghas for this girl but I pick out an outfit in advance and leave it strictly for Eid because new clothes are a must. There are so many things about that day I would never alter, and I hope once I begin my family I can keep all this alive. How my father is shouting at all of us to hurry up, so we’re not late for prayer. How my mother is stuffing our faces with sheer, even though our stomachs can’t take it because of Ramadan. How my brother is helping me pick out my shoes and sometimes even my clutch as we rush out the door- and yes, he still does that, how we always forget my little sister, and lastly how I hug my parents first after prayer. These will always be my favorite things about Eid. Family. Traditions. 

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Outfit: Faraz Manan Lawn, courtesy of A La Couture | Heels: Nine West | Clutch: The Limited

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