It’s amazing to to make peace with things you thought you will never be able to look at again. One does found love again. Just keep looking for the light and once you find it, keep following it. Perspectives do change. Hang in there! 🙂 Love n Peace.
I took this picture last Monday. It was a dinner at my new friend’s place whom I consider my mentor.After the dinner, we were all sitting around the bonfire just chatting, acquainting and reacquainting. I, always the quiet one, was just listening to people talking about their passions and future plans, soaking in every detail of that moment.
The reason I consider this moment,a moment of triumph, is because in this moment I was among people who I deeply respect. People who restored my faith in people. I was surrounded by literature and intelligence.
Most importantly I was at ease with myself. For a long time, I have been at war with myself striving to get better, struggling to accept myself and every bad choice, every regret.I may still be struggling and maybe I’ll always be falling down, getting back up and growing in the process. That’s what life is but I am happy that I have these milestones to look back to.
This is my moment of triumph because in this moment I was not afraid of my truth.
Last day of Photography 101. It has been amazing. I got to learn, experiment and meet beautiful people. Thank you, everyone, who became a part of this journey with me.
Here I am with another rambling post.February has been busy. Busier than most of the months after graduation. The highlight being this Poetry workshop I joined. Remember how I had nothing “next” in my life but I said I wanted to keep writing. I did. This blog has been going good and all my readers have been so kind.
I was both afraid and excited to go to this workshop. Its was a workshop for spoken word poetry. I love spoken word, I knew that I could handle writing but wasn’t sure about the performance.Keeping in mind my low confidence and how it was further killed in university.It took me a week to gather enough courage and sign up for it.
It was a four days workshop. One day per week.
Let’s start with DAY 1.
I almost didn’t go. I had a massive anxiety attack. I took me a few hours to calm myself down. Stop the tears. Muster enough energy to go there.
Jittery and nervous at first but I managed to be in the present. Just go through the 90 mins with a receptive mind.
I managed the first day. I felt happy, genuinely happy, deep down to my bones. I met these amazing people who were there not to judge, not to ridicule but for their passion; poetry. They were there to learn and to listen and to teach.
And I met my mentors Zainab and Zohab who are absolutely amazing at what they do. I should probably do a separate post about how good they are. For the first time in my life, I understood what a mentor is. They were generous enough to help me express my deepest fears without the fear of judgment, they created a safe space for all of us and I will forever be grateful for that.
I was excited to go. It was again a great change. I felt scared but I didn’t hold back.
We were told to write about something we really wanted to write. I chose to write about “Finding myself” as this is the most important thing in my life right now.
The first piece I wrote was really bad according to me. I took back some fears with me.
It took some time but, I gave another try to the same topic. I came up with something more honest and it was better in terms of writing too.
By this time, we had learned quite a few writing techniques and were concentrating on that one topic.
I read them the poem, I had written, and got a real appreciation. I was told to edit it so they could help me make it better before the final slam. Which was one week later.
The first response of the edit that I got was quite detailed and scary. I was told not to get scared by all the mistakes highlighted.But I did get scared for a while. I saw the document and closed it immediately. I felt bad and my confidence faltered.
Again I had a choice to surrender to my fear of Redoing. I could edit again or I could just sulk and sulk at how bad I was.
I did not surrender.
Redoing the poem not only made it better but also helped me realize a few things about my life, my mistakes, my demons.
I didn’t want to repeat all that.
By the last day, I had redone my poem 4 times. It was more concise and polished.
I was sad for the workshop to end because I enjoyed something and for the first time I didn’t want things to end.
I made new friends. I enjoyed those moments to the fullest.
I had two fears in my mind:
1) Performing in front of so many people.
2) Why would people want to hear about my story?
I kept feeling this till the very moment my name was called to come on stage and perform.
I went up there, started the poem and after the first few lines, I froze. I forgot the next words. I went blank for a few seconds…
but then I recovered and completed the poem.
I got an average of 8/10.
It was over. It was done.
Everything on my checklist was done.
Get out of the house
Interact with people
Be in the moment
Face your fears
Don’t let the fears win
Complete what you started
I did all those but where was my happy feeling? Why the hell was I crying? I was supposed to feel accomplished and proud after this then why wasn’t I? Why was I numb and why were my eyes leaking. I couldn’t understand what was happening.
The only thing I could think of was the second in which I forgot my poem and the words of this lady from the audience – what happened to you, you were doing good but somewhere in the middle you messed up.
I messed up in front of so many people.
My first reaction was I am never gonna write again and well performance was never my thing why did I even try??
I couldn’t process my feelings and I desperately wanted the tears to stop. Why did I need to give logical reasons to my mind to make myself believe that I accomplished what I wanted. Why didn’t I automatically feel happy and content, why was I still feeling crappy as hell.
Thanks to my vampire friend ( yeah I have a vampire as a friend, that makes me cooler than you :P) who made me realize that my brain has been conditioned to feel wronged over the past five years of university. I don’t blame my university, entirely, because I am a worrier and I concentrate on the negative, it’s in my genes. But this thing was triggered and cultivated more and more to the point where the only thing I knew about myself was – I am a loser.
I realized I have to condition my brain to concentrate on the positive.
So, let’s go back. All the good things that happened during this time are in Purple and the bad ones are in Red.
7 vs 1
That’s a good enough score, right?
It won’t be fair to me to let those few seconds cancel out the hours in which I tried and succeeded.
It won’t be fair to let the words “you messed up”
“you are good”
“I love ur writing”
“I am proud of you”
” You are a powerful woman”
It won’t be fair.
Even after this, my mind tells me that they were saying it to make me feel better because they knew I was struggling.
But my mind doesn’t have a counter argument for this guy who was also one of the judges.Who came to me and said:
” You were good. I hope you win”
He didn’t know me. He didn’t know anything about my struggle. He didn’t have any sympathy for me but he managed to come up and tell me what he felt.
Yeah, screw you! You over-thinking brain!
I have to say even while writing this, concentrating on the purple, the tears still haven’t stopped. The red is still chasing me, haunting me.
But I am on the road to recovery and that’s what matters. I have two major milestones as well.
1) When my story came in the top ten of a competition.
Okay, my heart is beating really fast and my hands might be a little shaky just thinking about the fact that I took this step. I’ve been dwindling between “hopeful” and “overly depressed” from the past few weeks now.
After reading about NaNoWriMo and then sleeping on it for a few days. Remembering it again and reading some more. Signing up for it like a week ago. Delaying filling in the details or fearing them?. Opening the page to write details about myself and my supposed novel :P. Closing it again, Opening again the next day and closing it again. Today, finally, I took advantage of my mind venturing over to the “hopeful” side and filled in the details.
It’s starting the day after tomorrow.
I did it.
I jumped into the deep waters lets see if I’ll swim!
So, I have mentioned this before how writing has become an important part of my life. The past few years of my life have been messy.I have been drowning in an ocean of failures. Starting this blog and writing became my safe haven. I have been writing my whole life in one way or another but after starting this blog I realized just how much I enjoy it (as I haven’t been enjoying anything else). With this realization, began this new hope that maybe I can take writing to a bigger level. So, I started searching for writing competitions. For a person who had been so depressed and thought so small of herself to compete with anyone, this was a big step! Competitions were triggers for panic attacks. After a long time, I had the courage to fight again.
So, yes I entered a short story competition and sent some pieces to magazines. I got passed on by a few. But it didn’t bring me down which was, again, encouraging. To say I entered this competition and forgot about it would be wrong. I waited for the results badly. When I sent the story, I got the reply from the editor that it was a “Powerful” story. That made me so happy and also hopeful. I didn’t expect it to be in the top 3, but I did hope to make it to the “honorable mentions”. I wanted a win so badly.
When I say badly, it means that the deadline for the entry was Sep 15, I waited for it and after it every day I waited for an email. I know it’s crazy, but that’s how badly I wanted a hope. In this time, I realized that in my school and college life I knew where I was because I had a base to step on and move forward. A base of achievement and confidence that I am able; I am worthy. This basis made me take risky decisions; unsafe decisions, because I believed in myself, I believed that I could handle it.That basis got shattered in university and I fell face down into despair and self-doubt. I wanted a little achievement to build the basis again.
And then I got it, the email, telling me my story was shortlisted in the contest.
It took me back to my early teens. I had a big fat book of quotations which belonged to my father. It was my best friend.I used to spend hours reading quotations on Life, Love, Friendship, Confidence, Faults, Self-doubt, Anxiety and whatever was the problem of the day. It helped me to process. So, I remembered this above mentioned quote and I thought that I had stopped believing in that. For a long time, I stopped doing a lot of things because I never thought I could. Now, this got me thinking maybe I can?
Of course, there is this other half of my brain. The doubtful part of my brain.(yeah it’s always there :S) it asks me if I can? If I was really worth it? Or I will be worth it in the future.But then I shut it and try to concentrate on the present. This is a long journey and I’m taking baby steps.I am really happy about this first step.
I have been asked this question a lot these days and I don’t have the answer.
Why have I been asked this?
Because I just graduated as an architect. So they ask me are you done with your studies? I say yes. Then they ask what are you going to do now? And I don’t know what to say because I know what they want to hear. They want to hear that I am going to get a job now, gain experience and build my career as an architect. But I don’t say that because I don’t want that.
Why do I don’t a want that?
In simple words, I don’t have the confidence.
I have shared it once before in my post, ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS(Revised), how the five years of my university life have been the toughest. I have been a very good student in my school as well as college, I worked hard and I got the reward for that and I got the appreciation for that. But then in university things started going downhill.
At first I thought it’s because I have opted a different field and I’ll learn everything eventually. But I didn’t get better. At least not as good as I wanted to be. So I started getting depressed. Even then from time to time I tried to pick myself up and try harder but somehow my 100% was always 60, 70%. By the time, I realized that I had chosen a wrong field of study for myself, I was in the third year and I was stuck. I couldn’t leave, no matter how much I wanted to and I had to complete it. I got really depressed and lost all of my confidence. I have never been a very confident and outgoing person, but now I lost even the little I had.
In the last year, I took writing more seriously and also started writing this blog which helped me a lot to deal with low feelings and complete my degree. I completed my degree. I didn’t quit.While, that is an accomplishment I don’t feel accomplished.(That doesn’t mean I am ungrateful to Allah because only HE got me through that difficult time.)
So, now, when I say I want to stay away from architecture my friends try to tell me that I should work, it would change my thinking…
It took a lot of time and energy to be able to stand on my feet again and keep standing, I have not been able to walk yet because the standing is taking all I have in me.
I am afraid that I am going to fall down again and I don’t want that.
So, yes, I don’t want to work and I don’t want to make a career in this profession.
They tell me that if I won’t do anything I’ll become dull and depressed. I don’t know why people think that if I do something architecture related only then I’ll be doing something useful.
I say that I am not becoming dull, in fact, I am doing things that I have been wanting to do for a very long time now. But always saved them for another day because I didn’t have the time or I was too depressed. Most importantly, I am writing.
This is something that’s keeping me sane. This is something that I am enjoying. Isn’t that what matters? I plan to take this to a bigger level. I know that I have just taken the first step and there is a long road ahead, but I am willing to keep walking. I am willing to fall down and I am willing to get back up. I am ready to take the challenges and handle failure. I know I will not succeed if I don’t fail first.
I got an email telling me that they decided to pass on this certain essay I sent them for publication. Got a few more emails like that one. It didn’t hurt at all because I know that it is a long process. I am willing to go through it and I am enjoying it. I have also started to take criticism like a big girl. I am not the person who laughs at her mistakes I sulk and sulk and run on the slightest bit of attack. One of the reasons I couldn’t be good in architecture.
But now I am learning to take criticism positively. It sure hurts my big ego at first, but I sleep on it and try to work on it the next day and it turns out good for me.
I have come out of a lava mountain and people want to know if I’m going to jump off the cliff or into a turbulent ocean next. I say, no, I want to stand here and just let everything sink in. Let go of some demons I caught along my previous journey and prepare for the next.
And not everything is vague. I know what my next is.. Or at least see it far ahead. Yeah, I have a next and that is writing.
After saying all that, a part of me also says that maybe this is all just stupid and I will never get anywhere with writing. Maybe this is all my brain’s way of keeping me sane. But whatever it is I am hanging on to it.Even if I don’t get what I want to achieve, still writing makes me feel good and I am going to hang on to that feeling. I am going to give myself time, wait and see.
I hope that I will be able to get past my fears and become strong and confident.
And one day I will have an answer. When people will ask me such questions, I will not look down or hide away, but instead look them in the eye and tell them what’s next.
I feel contentment in small moments
When the shine of your smile reaches your eyes
When your eyes begin to droop and you lean against me
When your laughter echoes through the house
When you jump forward because you believe I will catch you
When you take the babble version of my name
When you open your mouth for the next bite of food
When you come to me to ease away your pain
When you love regardless all biases
I find contentment in simply watching you
Because when I see you
I see love in its purest form
I wrote this little piece for my nephew. The first child I have observed so closely and love how pure children are :). Thanks to Allah for this beautiful bundle of joy.
I am in the last days of my university life, my Architecture degree, and this life hasn’t been easy. Five years that make up most of my academic life, were supposed to leave beautiful memories and a stronger, more professional version of me. That’s what everyone says, but that is not the case. When I open up my box of memories from the past five years, I come across hardships, struggles, fights, depression and an overall feeling of “not belonging”. I come across face to face with a wrong decision, a wrong choice of professional degree.
The first two years were spent in the feeling that this is all difficult and if I keep trying, I will acquire what it takes to be good in this field. The third year was the year of downfall, realizing the fact that I am in a wrong place. Not just academically but also in terms of people. I thought that being a very shy and introvert person, people didn’t matter but it turned out that people mattered the most. I never found the right people in this place. I can say that me and my fellows, we never found ourselves on the same wavelength. The fourth year passed, accepting the hard reality and coping with depression and health problems due to it. It also included, leaving the people, separating myself from those who were toxic for me. Then the final year, there was only one hope, I hanged on to this whole year that this is going to end. I thought about quitting a lot. I hit rock bottom not just once but several times during the past three years but each time I got up for my parents and my past, the past in which I was good at what I did. I couldn’t just quit, that is not an easy job, also I didn’t want to disappoint my parents, who had invested time, money and love in me. I told myself to just complete this degree, the least I can give them is a degree that says I completed my studies, answer to many questions that would be asked, a safe haven from what would have happened if I quit.
So, finally the end is near, the date of my final jury has been announced. I can say I am able to see the silver lining now. Few days ago, I had to submit my thesis report; final year thesis report. The final years has two semesters, the first semester is research based and the last semester is design based. The same report was submitted in first semester too, but I was so detached to add an “acknowledgements page” in it. In this semester, however, I did add the page. It comprised of only two lines, in which I thanked Allah Almighty and my family; Baba, Amma and my brother. I couldn’t write more because somehow anything that is related to university causes my senses to cease. Everything is more of a labor than a simple task. The mental state is more of a panic and worry than of achievement.
But here I want to acknowledge. I want to thank. Here, this place that has become my refuge.
First I want to thank Allah, for everything that I am doing is because of Him. He has been giving me strength, every time I hit rock bottom, He has been listening to my prayers and the prayers of my loved ones. I have had this “change of heart” which is allowing me to go through these last days. It has allowed me to not quit , to carry on, to finish. This strange strength that He has given me is allowing me to keep on moving. I want to thank Him for the strength and for everything that He has blessed me with.
I want to thank my father; Baba. Baba you have been a great driving force during these years. I want to thank you for this time but more than that I want to thank you for all the other times. Our talks, walks and laughter shared together. For all those lessons, that you give me, hoping that I would absorb at least 50 % of them. I do absorb them Baba, more than 50%. All those lessons about life have become a part of me, some consciously and some unconsciously. I want you to know that I maybe a failure in this part of life but I will not fail you at life and the life here after. I will make you proud by living life how Allah wants us to. I will keep your name alive by living by all the little rules you always thought to be important. I will make sure and do my very best to not fail at life, and most importantly what comes after.
I want to thank my mother; Amma. She is the perfect woman with all her imperfections. Amma you may not be able to understand the technicalities of my degree but you have always wished and prayed for me with pure love. You have a huge heart and so much love inside you and that is reason enough to be thankful for. You pray for me and get me through roughest of days with your unconditional love. Your love has been a great support and no one will ever be able to take your place, neither will your cooking. Thanks for cooking me all my favorite meals whenever I was down and taking me out and for simply being there.
I want to thank my brother, who has always been a great friend and support. I know I can always count on you no matter how much things get difficult. I know you would be there just like you always have been.
My best friend Sadaf.I want to thank you for listening to my whining, handling my mood swings and making me feel better. For saying “you can do this, it’s only 3 years”. “2 years”. “Just one year”. “Hey it’s ending only 6 months”. For counting-it-down with me. Most importantly for providing me with a friend when I literally had no friend in university. For growing up together and becoming bad ass together!
My college group because that is the best group of friends I could ever ask for. You guys are the best support and best way to have fun.
Those are all my thank you-s. I never thought I would do this but I would also like to thank my University life, these past five years. I never thought I would ever be able to see the light. I literally lost belief in silver linings and positive-ness. It all became a cliché for me, just a lame way to get past hard times. But now I see it. I have always been a runner, an avoid-er. But surviving these years has taught me to stand and stay for the important things during difficult times. To fight, to hang on, to appreciate all the “good” amidst all the “bad”. Because there is always “good”. Sometimes it comes naturally. Sometimes you have to fight for it.
I have been wanting to tell this to you since I had my last panic attack a few days ago. First, let me ask you, do you like it this way, torturing people, setting in slowly and then coming in with full force? I had a whole week of passive panic-y state and then finally you attacked me with all you had. It took me four hours to calm myself from the initial blow, and then several more hours to function normally.
You’ve really got some talent. I have to admit. The way you start to build up in the pit of my stomach, and slowly crawl your way upwards, all the while increasing the deathly tingling in my body. I have to use up all my energy to manage the fierce grip of your claws clenching at my stomach. You think its not enough and go ahead and increase my heart rate, resulting in labored breathing. Then I slowly lose control over the rest of my body and am unable to do anything. I can’t focus. I can’t function. I can’t breathe.
On the top of it all, you are the most absurd thing that can ever happen to a person. When you are done, when the person comes back to his senses, you seem the most senseless. When you have successfully managed to make a person surrender to his fear, waste his precious time, which he could have used to actually come over the fear, you walk away. You walk away with a smirk on your face, leaving behind; loss. Loss of time, trust, confidence and calm. You walk away leaving a guilt that you came only to go back, but while you stayed, you managed to bring chaos. That you could have been managed.
Now, that you are gone, I am writing you a letter in a hope that you would learn that you are an unwelcome guest. That you would learn I would learn to slam the door at your face whenever you come knocking at my door. I would not let your claws take a step inside. I would not let you take over my senses. I would manage.
There are no good wishes for you, they are only for me!