THIS POST WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT BROWN GIRL MAGAZINE HERE.
I remember clearly, the light bouncing off his unruly curls. The way his eyebrows almost connected. The beauty of the fact that he didn’t mind. His earring that only slightly shook when he tilted his head back to laugh.
I remember the tumultuous roar of Cafe Medici. Finals week does that. Hamad and I sat accompanied by iced coffee and woes, preparing for our final. Although we had originally come to study, often times we were sidetracked because we simply loved talking to each other! Hamad and I had a very unique and heartfelt friendship. We laughed at the same things, and thought the same way.
But we didn’t feel the same way, and about a lot of things.
After discussing “the voyeuristic gaze” in cinema, Hamad asked me if I believed in predestination. I did. Hamad didn’t. But Hamad didn’t really believe in a lot of things, religion being one.
Hamad, a born Muslim, had left religion many years ago (for reasons I am not at the liberty to discuss). On the several occasions we talked about it, we often got heated and returned to common ground: dog memes.
On my way home from school, I thought hard the things he said. Although I’ve had questions, highs, and lows, I’ve never thought about abandoning my faith. My faith has guided me through the darkest of times. It has made me more inquisitive, and curious about the world around me. I will tell you, really, there is some magic about looking out your bedroom window at night time and watching the moon and thinking to yourself “Yes. There is more. There is so much more.” Although I will NEVER force someone into my beliefs or try to convince them out of their own, religion is important to me. And it has the right to be.
Since then, I have been very critical of the things I accept as my truth. Hamad taught me this, and it is one of the most beautiful gifts anyone has ever given me. Since then, I have been doing a lot of thinking. About what is important to me, about what aligns with the stars of what I truly believe.
But this gift of critical thinking is a blessing and a curse. Several months have passed by since our conversation, and I am left with these critical thoughts about my religion. But the problem is that my mind has the power to harness the energy to make me doubt basically everything, but it doesn’t have the power to search for answers. Instead, it lets these doubts consume me. These doubts then control me, and I am blinded by my own circular mentality. I become ignorant.
It’s true that I do what is expected of me. I (typically) answer all daily five calls to prayer, I do my laundry every week, I give charity, my GPA is decent, and I wipe the washbasin down in airplane restrooms after use. But when consuming myself in watering the garden of worldly riches, my spiritual well often runs dry.
This month, Ramadan, is supposed to be about growing, loving, and blossoming. About forgiveness and kindness. About gratitude and moonlight. Inspiration and rest. Freedom of thought and expression. A love for Allah (God), and a softening of the heart.
I’m observing fasts during the day, praying taraweeh nightly, and I’m rising in the wee hours of the morning to observe qiyam prayers. But tell me why why the Imam (Priest) is pouring his heart into a duaa (prayer) and everyone around me is crying and feeling and I don’t know what to think? I too, want to feel deeply. To be so in drunken with the sweetness of Islam that even for a little while, my worries dissolve and my heart melts into ishq-al-haqiqi (true love).
But it doesn’t happen. And I don’t know why, but the things I am trying, the books I am reading, the voices I am listening to simply do not settle. But alas, religion comes to us in highs and lows.
If you, like me, are having trouble finding that connection, do not give up. Join me. Dig a little deeper. Remove distractions. Surround yourself with nature. Kneel. And let your forehead touch the cold, hard ground. And feel. And if you don’t, try again.
And soon, it will be sweet.
I know people tend to romanticize their relationship with religion and God, but I am here to tell you that if you don’t feel anything during worship, it is okay. Give it some time. Let verses heal your heart. However, be cautious if the problem persists, for it can easily become dangerous. When your heart says nothing during prayer, it is saying something very loudly.
It says, I am a seed. Water me. Burn me a few times if you must, but try to bring me back to life. You need to try, or I will become futile. Then it will only become harder to bring me back to life. And one day it will be too late.
And then you will truly weep.
So if you’re really annoyed this week, it’s probably because it’s my birthday and I’ve mentioned it about 450 times! And get ready, because I’m about to talk about it all over again.
Turning 18 was a big deal for me. For someone who behaves and act likes a 8 year old with nice eyebrows, it was unbelievable. I was an adult. I could drive and go to university and most importantly, I could go to Starbucks without asking my mom. I could turn up “white people music” without my sister threatening to kick me to the sidewalk, and I could get into R rated movies. Not that I ever wanted to. It was just a thought.
In all of days, months, and minutes that comprised my new entrance into adulthood, I’ve had some of the best memories of my life. I graduated, met and left so many people, and I took all those risks I wasn’t supposed to. However, of all the #dank times 18 gave me, perhaps the most important were the lessons I learned. Here they are.
1. Life is short. Treat Yo Self.
Don’t feel bad about the extra $2 spent on dessert, and don’t ignore the random impulses to order a grande instead of a tall. You’re strong and smart. You deserve goodness! And remember, treating yourself doesn’t mean spending money and being irresponsible: you can even skip chores one day to pick up that book that’s been making goo goo eyes at you for 4 months on your bookshelf. You can spent 15 extra minutes a night doing a face mask. How can we appreciate the big things if we don’t make time for the little things?
2. Let go if you gotta.
So you met a guy, and it’s not one of those generic stories YOU PROMISE. You really hit it off and had intellectual discussions. You shared boba and secrets. And as soon as you were ready to tell your mom, he stopped texting back!!!
And that’s okay.
There is no room in your life for people who do not want to be there. There is not space in your heart for people who have no intention to stay. So don’t go out of your way to continue trying to accommodate for the #haters and #fakes. Instead, be friends with me! I’ll make you laugh, and if you don’t, I’ll tickle you.
3. Your skin will suck sometimes.
Okay has it ever happened to you that your skin is perfectly clear one day, and in the next, you look like a halal pepperoni pizza???? I started breaking out this semester, and it honestly has taken on a toll on my self confidence. And we need to start being okay with our skin.
Because as generic as it is, all that REALLY matters is your sweet, sweet heart and (let’s face it) your instagram feed. Also getting good grades. Those are important!!!
4. Gas tanks GOTTA BE FULL A LOT.
If you’ve been driving or are about to, take heed, and ALWAYS make sure your gas tank is at least halfway full. You never know when you’ll get off on the wrong exit and end up on a solo road trip to New Mexico, so always be prepared!
5. Talk to strangers.
Tell me WHO came up with the notion that we can only be friends with people through parties, other friends, classes, or online?? You remember that old white man who rides the 801 bus with you every tuesday morning? Will you believe he has a personality?! And he has all these great story about his grandchild who got his head stuck in a toilet that he’s been waiting to tell. All you have to do is ask.
6. Always keep your career in the back of your mind.
I promise I’m not your mom, but remember, you are in college/high school/preschool for a reason. Don’t forget the harsh truth that although emotional intelligence is valuable, it doesn’t mean much to employers if not coupled with a shiny degree. Keep personal goals, but also educational goals. Remember that the opportunity to receive an education is a privilege denied to many, and you are #BLESSED. So don’t mess it up.
7. Be YOU.
Up until last year, I was afraid to do exactly what I wanted, including behaving a certain way and dressing a certain way. And when I finally made peace with myself and stopped worrying about what people would think, it all went well. I started experimenting more in terms of expressing myself in the things I write, the videos I curate (including snapchats), and the clothes I wear. Was my watermelon shirt a classy and elegant debut to year 19 of the glamourous life of Duriba Khan? Nah. Did I wear it anyway? YUP.
8. Get #Woke.
It’s true that this election wasn’t the best to witness, but it did something good. It unified us all: against the haters, the racists, the sexists, the bigots, the #fakes. Although I’ve always been moderately politically involved, this year I voted and put in #WERK during protests and marches to appease the woman inside of me. She was pretty happy about it.
9. YOU DON’T NEED A MANS!!!
You bet I ate CLIF bars and cried while my friends told me about their love life pursuits: some got engaged, some were proposed to, some became moms (I have a lot of older friends, okay), and I played with someone’s fourth child. Guys, the #FOMO is real. Imagine me as a mom though. I’d have one of those mom lobs and wear pearls to pick up my kids from school in a prius and keep their homework in vegan organic leather backpacks! IT WOULD BE SO GOOD!
But I retract: the point here is that males/females/pelicans/whatever you’re into are irrelevant!
Like really, think about all the time you spent developing awkward unnecessary crushes on people that walked past you once, and then wasted time finding their blood type and family tree. But….WHY DID YOU DO THAT??!!! YOU ARE WHOLE!
10. Life is good.
Hey listen, you’re good. You’ve got shoes on your feet, a latte in your hand, and a phone/laptop to read this ugly post on. You bombed that chemistry test, but you can excel at life nonetheless! The world is never over. 18 is one year, and 19 is another. So is 104, but that is irrelevant.
THE WORLD IS ON YOUR SHOULDERS AND YOU ARE A MAJESTIC UNICORN. YOUR BLOOD IS THE NEW UNICORN LATTE. YOU FART SPARKLES!
I know I’ve been far. But the truth is, (insert my ultimate excuse) I’ve been really busy. And I
promise it's not the kind of busy you use as an excuse when you don’t feel like hanging out with your friends. It’s the kind where you get home and then pass out (after scrolling through your insta feed once). And it hurts!
But alas, winter break has flown by, and spring is here. The flowers are blooming and it's a good time. Starbucks released those cute cups, and Drake released a new album. All is well in the world (let’s ignore for a quick second that Donald Trump is Donald Trump).
And me? I’m good, reader. I’ve been breaking out, and it hurts, but I’m good. I got sidebangs and a car wash. I finished my homework assignments for the break and I’m here now. I am good.
And you? I know, you’re exhausted. School has been hard on you. If school hasn’t, work has. And you’re just tired.
But the best part of always being tired and hurt is that even the smallest things can make you happy. It means that you can do things like leave cute notes for yourself and smile a little. And that means a lot.
And I can say that it means a lot simply because I get it. I’ve had those days, and that’s why I’ve listed some small things you can do to #TreatYoSelf and focus on some happy living. Some cute-sy tips that will fool you into believing that, even for a minute, you have your life together.
2. Get a cool water bottle, and then put some fruits in your water (I AM OBSESSED WITH THIS CONCEPT)
If you’re like me and don’t get time to go to the gym, I have an easier alternative (with reduced benefits, of course). All you have to do is get a sweet ‘n cute water bottle (a mason jar works too!) and, if you’re a fan of infused water, add some lemons and BAM! Suddenly, you’re London Tipton! You are fabulous!
3. #OOTD READY
I’m not going to tell you to comb your hair or moisturize because it’s only your choice, but honey, if you look good, you feel good. If you’re dressed presentably, you’ll feel more confident and feel more pulled together. Then, the next time they mess up your order at Starbucks, you'll have the confidence to ask them to remake it. You paid for it, you deserve it!
4. Clean out your bag/backpack/wallet.
Coco Chanel once said, “stop throwing CLIF bar remains and receipts to the bottom of your bag.” Okay, no she didn’t, but I did. I’m so guilty of doing this...my purse is a breeding home for 45 types of bacteria, I’m sure. But it doesn’t need to be! Let’s all make a choice to organize notes in folders and put the pennies where they belong... it feels good to pay in exact change, you know.
5. Do a face mask.
Whether it be a sheet charcoal mask or a #vintage mix and paste, slap it on your face and moonwalk to your freezer for a Haagen Dazs bar. Soft skin and pretending to be a monster in the mirror? IT IS ALREADY A GOOD TIME!
6. Just buy it.
Whatever the first thought you had when I said that: a polaroid, watch, jar of applesauce, or sequined blazer… if you’re still thinking about it and waiting for a sign to go get that thing you’ve been dying to have, this is your godsent sign.
With that being said, I know that the semester is cranking up and that there are political tensions, and Aleppo is burning, and that life is hard and scary. But worrying about it will never do anything. You need to recharge yourself and take care of yourself, so that you may do the Earth better.
So be kind to yourself, because very few people are. Be kind to yourself simply because you deserve it.
Also, you could get a cute Instagram out of it.
There’s a million reasons why I love New Years, and of those million, my favorite is that “renewed” feeling. You know, that first week of the year that everyone posts those Facebook statuses asking people to forgive their misdeeds like the time they insulted your baby bangs or pointed out your sideburns. And then you want to stay mad, but you realize that you yourself are trying to clean the air, so you forgive them. Ahh, that week.
And you can ridicule me all you want about being the “new year, new me!!” person, but I believe it! You can drone on and on about how you don’t need a new number behind the “201” to start going to the gym again, but come on...it would be nice. You’d actually feel like something was changing, and that would be EVEN BETTER.
Obviously, as you can tell, I can go on and on about this, but we all know you’re here for the meat and potatoes that are my New Years resolutions, that should probably be on your list too.
2. Get healthy, yo.
I can hear the groans and moans already.
But come on: how did you not expect this? This is your year to get the blood flowing to all parts of your body! This is your year to be able to caption your spicy gym selfie “Do you even lift bro?!”. This is your year to stop worrying about being unconfident or uncomfortable, to stop the excuses and give it all you got: drink more water, write yourself a workout routine, invest in a gym membership, wake up for those morning jogs (think about how cool you would sound bragging to your co workers!!), and pull your yoga mat out of your trunk.
For those of you looking for some extra motivation, here’s some tips that work for me:
3. Be more confident.
Yes, laugh all you want. Duriba Khan needs more confidence!
All jokes aside, I feel like recently i’ve been struggling with my confidence at work because I’m still fairly new and don’t know how to mail envelopes and I have gross hair and sometimes when I answer the phone I get nasty gross stuff in my throat and I just sound like a croaky frog. Yeah, I need to get better at that. If you also struggle with this, I’ll write up a funky and cool post where I come up with some ways to help you out.
4. Look comely and presentable, all the time.
I know at this point everyone will rush forward with the “you are beautiful just the way you are!!” business, and I appreciate it. I really, truly do. But this resolution plays simply off the “look good, feel good” principle. If you feel like you look presentable, you’ll definitely start more conversations, not worry about stains on your “Gone to Texas” shirt, not be so timid, and be your best self. That’s the stuff I like.
5. Don’t be looking for love.
Because of all the Bollywood films and love songs I encounter on a daily basis, I’m sure you see why this is a resolution. In general, I feel like society puts a lot of pressure on us to have a significant other, to be searching for someone to pose with at the “I love you so much” wall in Austin, etc. But guys, we don’t need other halves. We’re already whole! It really is as simple as that.
6. Don’t let your emotions control you.
If I said that I wasn’t reactive at all, I would be lying. For as “practical” and insensitive as I am, I’m actually super emotional. I mean I cried of happiness one time in my advertising class when my professor showed us an ad about veterans. I randomly will almost be asleep, and then I’ll start crying because I remembered how flowers are a miracle of life. And yeah, it makes a cute story, but it can also be bad when somebody yells at me and I start crying. Or if somebody flips me off while driving and I get butthurt and sad the whole day.
7. Self branding.
As you guys can probably tell, I’m very big on publicizing my life: from vlogs, blog posts, instagram posts, tweets, etc. This year, I want to work on creating my own brand and solidify my “style”. Obviously, not everyone is into this, and that’s perfectly okay. Personally, my goals are to post more of my work, create meaningful content, and be better at putting my passions up there on my to-do list with my goals.
8. Stick to your morals.
Make a list if you have to. I know with all the changes in life with college, work, etc, that sometimes we don’t have time to work on our relationships with ourselves, and that needs to change. If you promised yourself that you’d stop cursing, or that you’d never drink alcohol, or that you’d grow your hair out, and be yourself more, then maintain that promise. In life, a lot of people won’t be honest with you. Don’t be one of them.
7. Read for leisure.
I know it can be hard and sometimes even boring, but I have found that the best way to fuel your imagination and creative skills is to read. Read about dogs, Steve Jobs, the history of spoons, whatever! Just don’t stop.
8. Become more politically/socially active.
Hey, I’ll give myself some credit for attending a handful of protests at school. But in general, we’re supposed to be the ~woke~ generation. Let’s actively work together to put an end to classism, racism, sexism, bigotry, and hate. The power of awareness is a gift after all.
With that being said, there are my nifty dandy resolutions for 2017! I hope you guys could #relate, and that this year, you’re striving for optimum success and prosperity. Here's to more dank memes and good vibes.
So….this day ACTUALLY happened huh?
After all the death, disappointment, and grief 2016 brought upon us, I’m frankly surprised the earth didn’t explode. Because didn’t this year feel like the last scene in those horror movies where dinosaurs come back to life and things start exploding? And then there’s like a montage of havoc ensuing and the Eiffel Tower collapses and some mom loses her baby stroller because there’s a sudden rift in the earth?
If you said no, you’re either a Trump supporter or a mountain goat that is oblivious to the international dilemmas unfolding. You also probably like your own Instagram photos and shop at Aeropostale.The point is, 2016 is easily one of the most dynamic years that has occurred in my eighteen years of existence. Below are some reasons why.
2. I got into college. My dream one.
I want to boast about being smart and always coming at the top of my class, I really do. But the truth is, I’ve always worked hard in school. My super extremely trying hard was the smart kid’s attempt. I worked hard to be considered average. But I worked tirelessly, surrounded myself with good company that motivated me, fueled my passions, and I never took no for an answer. Still, I was skeptical about getting accepted at UT. And somehow, I did. And it made me really happy.
3. I decided what I wanted to do with my life.
Since middle school, it was pretty much decided that I, like my elder sister and parents, would pursue the paved and manicured path to the medical field. After years of convincing myself that that was what I truly wanted, hours of volunteering at a clinic, droning on and on to my balding advisor with a happy smile, and a lot of praying, I finally mustered enough confidence to acknowledge that, deep inside me, it wasn’t what I wanted. In 2016, I made the most important decision of my life, and I couldn’t be more pleased that I listened to my heart.
4. I unfriended someone.
I generally consider myself a persistent person, and many times, I turn a blind eye to the bad signs. I trust that people are inherently good, and every disappointment to this principle breaks my heart. As you can imagine, that’s a LOT of power to give to people. This year, I finally unfriended someone who was a downward spiral and hurt the people dearest to me. I have always made excuses for them, and sometimes I stayed up praying for them. I tried to help, I really did. But how can you help someone who doesn’t want to help themselves? How do you bring peace of mind to a disastrous whirlwind? You don't, I learned.
5. I learned how to drive. Vroom, vroom kids!
I’ve waited so long to take the wheel.
To be able to drive to the park and bark at dogs without my mother’s glaring eyes following me. To be able to spend however long I want standing on chairs at vintage coffee shops to get that A1 Insta pic. To just be able to take a long drive to nowhere with the windows to my ~whip Honda CRV~ rolled down. Meet with old friends, spend hours in smelly bookstores inhaling pastries. Going to HEB in pajamas to get blueberries. Doing volunteer work.
Long ago, these were distant dreams. Today, they’re my wondrous reality.
6. I got a REAL job.
I don’t know if watching kids pick their boogers at Kumon and threatening to mark their answers wrong if they don’t throw them away constitutes a real job, or if an online job does. I guess for the sake of this paragraph I’ll just saw they don’t count as real jobs because it build drama you know?
Anyway. I got a real job! Yes, I have my own mailbox and office keys and guys everyone is so nice. I get to use a Keurig and wear dress pants and I know all the passwords and when I answer the phone I FINALLY get to use a receptionist voice and I feel so helpful. I really recommend getting a job. They even pay you for it!
7. I’ve had my most diverse group of friends yet.
I grew up around solely brown Sunni Muslim people, and although that was nice, 2016 was the year I got to experience something different. I’ve befriended Atheists, Koreans, Buddhists, Bangladeshis, Ismaili Muslims, photographers, fashion designers, Sikhs, Agnostics, future engineers, scientists, historians, Pakistani Christians, Hindus, dog lovers, and bisexuals…..it has been amazing. I love hearing about everyone’s upbringings, struggles, and lives. It stimulates a lot of great conversation, and all in all, these people are extraordinary and I have grown to love every single one of them. Although it was hard for me to step out my comfort zone, I did it, and I’m glad I did.
8. I’ve grown to love/take ownership of my body more.
Up until recently, I’ve been pretty embarrassed of my body. Although I was always aware that I had prickly legs, I never thought to flaunt them to strangers at Starbucks. But now I don’t care. It’s nice to have smooth skin, but you can be hairy if you want to. It’s all up to you. I can be chubby and wear baby tees. I don’t know why it took me so long to understand that.
9. I voted.
I mean, it didn’t do much. But I finally got to vote. And it felt good to pretend like it mattered.
10. I got to write about it all.
With all the horrors occurring only seas away, it’s important to remember that no matter how many Donald Trump’s ego sized L’s you took, it would be worse. I know it’s fun to complain to your friends about Finals week and Stranger Things (trust me I know it’s fun), but your arms move and you have a designer handbag. You have shoes on your feet and internet. You will be able to handle 2017.
Hey sweetos! Children born, adults passed. Food consumed, then digested. Texts typed...then backspaced. Votes cast, tears shed. What a year it’s been. I’ve laughed, cried, loved, and lost… and through it all, I’ve had a great companion.
I don’t consider myself a person who keeps up with bands, my favorite artists, or recent releases. Instead, I entrap random songs floating around the interweb into my poorly moisturized hands and replay them until I die.
Now, I know 2016 has given us many classics like One Dance (you’re lying if this wasn’t your jam), Famous, Bad Blood, etc, but today I’d like to introduce you to some gems I’ve unearthed in 2016.
So I just got done with my first semester of college, and I don’t know how to feel.
It definitely wasn’t short, nor did it go by briskly. In fact, it was extremely slow. I felt my life change in phases, and if I’m being honest, I changed. Or maybe I’m not done changing just yet. Maybe it never stops. Maybe I don’t want it to. I’m still figuring out if it is a good or bad thing. Or maybe it’s one of those things that I’m not allowed to like or dislike, only accept or reject.
But it happened.
And my god, gRL, the freedom!!! I can dress out of uniform now, and can cut class to watch a street performer’s mastery of the wobble. Instead of cafeteria shawerma wraps, I can eat Potbelly’s cookies, or Wendy’s fries, and if I dare harness the energy to combat Austin traffic, I can drive out miles ahead to a place like Lubbock and eat oily streetside veggie burgers and drink peppermint shakes and fall asleep in the backseat of my car. But I’d have to be home by 8 pm, because that’s when my mother would expect me to be home. And no one would even know if I didn’t tell them. That’s the best part.
I’ve also learned that college means a lot of alone time. It means driving in cramped spaces, changing radio stations while almost rear ending someone, and it means discovering Chance the Rapper while eating a fish filet in a McDonalds parking lot after work. It means lonely nights home speeding on the freeway, humming along to Coldplay on the radio wondering about the guy with the afro in my Bollywood India and After class.
College means teaching myself to not back into a pole, caring about adult-y things like parking, time management, and remembering to take medications and vitamins. It means saying “no” to hanging out, not because your mom won’t let you, but because of homework. Or saying yes and regretting it later.
It means studying as hard as possible weeks early, attending review sessions, and still failing. It means not understanding why you did. It means accepting it. It means promising yourself a 4.0, and…….it doesn’t happen. And you only cry a little.
It means coming home at 10 pm to an empty house and a sole plate left on the dining table by Mamma. It means eating cold daal because you’re too lazy to microwave.
It means staring at yourself every day in the mirror and poking at the chubbiness of your thighs and the frizziness of your hair. Wondering if you should get bangs or a pixie cut, and convincing yourself out of it. It means wondering if you’re good enough, and knowing that you always will be. No matter what.
College means everything is up to you: the people you see, the things you do, the way you feel. It means going out of your way once and making the bestest friend you’ve ever had, or wanting to and simply not having the guts to. It means regretting it later.
College means good and bad, scary and comforting. It means understanding that the world isn’t just black and white, and it means accepting it. Most importantly, it means never getting used to anything, because one moment it may mean something, and in the next...
When we’re younger, we have versions of ourselves we desperately want to be. Often shaped by material possessions, status symbols, and the validation of others, these expectations become our aspirations, our obsessions, and they are damaging.
Maybe you are not where you’re supposed to be in your life plan. And maybe that is perfectly okay.
9: 51 pm.
My vision is blurry, and my temple throbs from sitting here. Here, in this sturdy chair. Sitting here in this bedroom. Fingers scattering over the keyboard. Switching tabs. Hunched over this mahogany desk frame. The occasional swig of chai.
There are deadlines. There are repercussions for failing to meet those deadlines. There are priorities and numbers that mean something to the Duriba I want to be in fifteen years. The clock is ticking, and time is slipping away.
But I am weary.
I put the pen down. Sigh.
I am sorry. I am sorry I cannot be who you wanted me to. I am sorry I cannot smell like lavender all the time and have curly tresses that bounce a little every time I take a step. I’m sorry. Oh my god I’m so, so sorry.
I am sorry my skin is tanned now, and I am sorry I have acne spread like constellations across my cheeks and jaw. I am sorry I am not doing what you wanted me to. That I am not as happy all the time as you would have liked. That I don’t have many friends. Or that I don’t have a hunky boyfriend who resembles a Brown James Dean and plays the violin.
I am sorry that instead, I am chubby and that I have an ugly laugh. That I’m very egotistical and that I’m not as tall as you would have wanted me to be. But I am happy. I am happy right now. I enjoy slouching over when I walk, and I am not embarrassed of the tiny hairs all over my face, legs, or stomach. I love the tape that binds my shattered glasses together and the mess in my bedroom. The frizziness of my hair makes me feel like a lioness.The paint stain on my jeans makes me feel like an artist. But most importantly, all of these things make me feel like Duriba. And there is no better feeling.
Wow, I think this might be the longest I’ve gone without posting.
I really have changed.
*Cue sad piano music and scene of me brushing my hair in front of a vanity with a single tear rolling down my cheek*
Oh my, guys. My first semester of college is basically halfway over, and I don’t know how to feel. SO much has changed (did I mention I’m driving now?!?!), and in all honestly, I’ve changed. A lot.
There is an aura of difference in the air. Suddenly, my priorities have flipped flopped, and looking back at the lists of things I wanted to accomplish in college I made in sparkly gel pen over the summer, I can’t relate.
So, from student government elections, legal orgs, drivers Ed, and friendship and heartbreak …..here’s what you missed!!
1. REJECTION, REJECTION, REJECTION.
For the first time of my life, I’ve been rejected by six things in a row! It’s WiLd!!!!!! From student government to an improv troupe, it feels like every single thing I’ve known about myself has been only an illusion. Although at first it was tough, I’m starting to embrace the fact that this isn’t high school anymore. There are people who are into the same things as you, and boy, do they kick your butt at it.
2. How to deal with rejection.
Yes, you’re allowed to cry on the Metro ride home while a hobo stares you down. You can TOTALLY ugly cry in the bathtub and you can ask yourself “Why not me?” a million times. But eventually, the neighbors ‘gon complain about the dreadful noise, honey. Eventually, the hobo will try and comfort you.
And then everything will just be weird, and you don’t want that. So after a day of mourning, dust yourself off. Tell yourself no matter what happens, you tried your best. And well, if your best wasn’t good enough, the standards are just different. You can change that. Just work hard, play hard, and don’t be salty (because let’s face it, no one likes a crybaby).
3. You have to be yourself, no matter what.
Throughout this entire journey of self revelation, you are all you have in life. You are the only person you can count on, so be a good friend to yourself. Because you can change the way you dress for a boy, you can curl your eyelashes, and you can pretend to be things you aren’t, but that will ALWAYS do more harm than good. It’s cliche, I know, but don’t change yourself for ANYONE. If someone really loves you, they will ALWAYS accept and prioritize you. Someday, you will have to walk away, and not care if they chase you.
4. You learn who your true friends are.
In college, you rarely have time to see your face in the mirror, let alone your friends. That’s why you need to make sure everyone in your circle is there because you WANT them to be. Life’s too short for fake friends and fake cheese. Looking back to my most recent post about college, I can't help but snicker loudly. My, has everything totally changed. But I'm glad it did. It had to.
5. Take one day at a time.
Last but not least, remember that it’s important you take every day one by one. You will only overwhelm yourself if you get too caught up in the big picture, so breathe a little.
If I can do it, you can do it!!! LESSGO RANIS!!
And I understand why everything has been so out of place, and why I can’t find solace in sleep or in prayer. Reflect my heart whispers. And don’t you dare leave out a single detail.
I plan not to.
College is both alike and different from what I expected. There is so much to do, so many options, so many resources, so many directions. Everything is big and wide, far and fast. I am an onlooker, dazed at the world around me. Everyone is loving at full speed, rushing to classes, bags on their backs and under their eyes. And their eyes? Glued to pixels on screens, furiously typing or scrolling, like the world is frozen.
Sometimes, I’ll look away from my own computer screen, searching for some sign of life. An awkward eye contact, a shy smile, an eye roll. Nothing.
And yes, it will get better and worse. No, I am not prepared for any of it.
On the first day of college, I woke up early, nervous and afraid. Nothing was good enough: not my outfit, not my breakfast, not my attitude. I didn’t know what to expect. Once the “good luck!” texts poured in from my dear friends, I was calm and collected but simultaneously overwhelmed. On the way there, I fumbled with my fingers in the passenger seat of my mother’s minivan. Silence, The Beatles, Mohammad Rafi... everything felt uncomfortable. To ease my nerves, I played Steve Jobs’ Stanford Commencement speech. I recited the words I knew along, and everything felt okay for a little while.
My first affair was a group meeting with some kids from my major. Our mentor was a perky brunette named Ashley who was too excited to see us. While most kids seemed uninterested, I was astounded by her radiance. She was warm and inviting, and promised that everything would get easier eventually. I didn’t know if I should believe her.
I remember the rest of the day’s academics in flashes of long walks across campus and big lecture halls. I remember the light bouncing off of my bald professor’s head as he made another dad joke only I found funny, and I remember sitting in music class with Mehdi as he hummed along to the jazz piece the professor played. I remember feeling out of place in my brother’s t-shirt and baggy jeans.
I also remember Hibah texting me to come over, eating grilled cheese sandwiches on the wooden floor of her apartment and ending up laughing at nothing in a thrift shop with her among many smelly sweaters. I remember buying two tops that were essentially the same but convincing myself they were different, and I recall meeting with friends who asked too many questions about my wellbeing I somehow didn’t know the answers to. I remember sitting in a conference study room surrounded by them, their smiles, notebooks, syllabi and an empty feeling. I remember soaking in my surroundings: black leather chairs, light bouncing off a Hibah’s headphones, peeking at my reflection in the laptop screen and noticing my peeling lipstick.
I recall ending back at Hibah’s home and sharing secrets and giggling on her black couch, and I recall making way to my sister’s new place shortly after. I recall her friends asking me how my day was, and I remember being honest about it. I remember the exhausted car ride home watching the city lights dance away to the beat of “Cheap Thrills”.
Most importantly, I remember watching the pearly moon hanging in the sky from my bed and telling myself, “Duriba Khan, this is your life and you will be both happy and sad and as long as you are never one without the other, it will all be okay”.
I write to express my passions, views and opinions on different types of cheese, and to heal myself. I am an aspiring law student and hand model for McDonalds. I currently reside in the United States, and study at UT Austin. Most importantly, I wholeheartedly hope you enjoy what my work has to offer.