December 30, 2014. Confetti litters the floor, girls dance wildly and scream at the top of their lungs. Some explicit Drake song pounds through the ceiling, and all of us are lost through time. I take this moment to watch all around me: some incessantly Snapchat (me like 20 mins ago LOL), other sit quietly in the corners of the room, contently watching the scene that is Sprite “beer pong” unfold. We are all of different ages, walks of life, stages, and faces...yet we all have something in common: once this New Years party commences, we want to leave this suburban cookie cutter home feeling like better, improved people with clearer goals directed toward the best version of ourselves possible.
0. And so 2015 begins.
Nearly a year later, I find myself in this dimly lit room with the same mindset yet again. Another year, another bunch of memories, songs to belt aloud to, another list of cliche improvements. New friends, new inside jokes, new...BANGS?! Just kidding. Let’s not go back there, yeah? Sounds good. Jolly pip pip I have no idea what I’m saying hoorah.
As I am, I am constantly searching for ways to improve myself. This is why my New Year's Resolutions this time around are very carefully constructed: I’ve talked to peers, siblings, friends and compiled a list of places I went well and wrong to follow through with. The reason I’m sharing these with you here today is because I wholeheartedly believe these can be applied to improve any character, however brawny or debilitated.
1. Write more.
When people think of “writers”, they envision a cheap knockoff of PLL’s Ezra (Ian Harding) hunched over a Macbook Pro and leather bound notebook in a deserted coffeeshop accompanied with the dream of “the next great American Novel and a black coffee. And as beautiful of a sight that sounds like, a writer can be any and everyone. For us to reduce to this stereotypical vision is foolish, as writing grows all souls.
Writing is scientifically proven to make people happier, better thinkers, communicators, learners, lovers, and friends. I love to write because the immense joy that results from pulling my journal out from its home under the dressing table and flipping through it is irreplaceable. I love to watch myself grow, participate in a roller coaster of emotions yet again, and stop time. I love to write, and because it has done so much for me, I want everyone to write and continue to fall in love with themselves.
Write in the notes section of your iPhone, write on wordpad, write in a handy dandy notebook or planner. Just WRITE, and at least weekly.
2. Expand and filter your vocabulary.
Especially in a world like ours, it's easy to use unpleasant words. We say “hate” more than “love,” and when we use “love” we don’t mean it. We curse for no reason, and this phenomenon plays a subliminal role in our conscious. I once asked one of my dear cousins why she doesn’t use curse words. She just laughed, and then told me that it was because if we curse so much, we fail to use words other than curse words to describe life experiences. Of all the rich vocabulary in the world, we succumb to the most basic words that taint the way we recall memories. Stop using words like, “retarded” and “gay,” and “homo.” Types of people are not insults. Take this new year to add new words to your vocabulary, even try to learn a new word a day. You’ll be able to describe better, more concisely put your emotions and feelings into words to share, and feel more polished.
3. Start and finish more.
We all have creative ventures we’re dying to take. From a new painting, starting a blog, redecorating a bedroom, finishing up that vegetable garden, starting a photography series, and re-doing your wardrobe… this is the year. This is the year of your opening more creative doors and expressing yourself more. This is the year of figuring out what you can and can’t do. This is the year of trying. Meet new people, fall in love with their work, and test the waters.
Clean out your wardrobe, purse, wallet, camera roll, backpack, pantry closet, iTunes, junk drawer, and contact list. Throw out every single thing that doesn’t make you a better, more productive and motivated person. Reduce clutter and conform to a minimalistic attitude. The less to haul around, the less you have to worry about losing. Make a list of all the things you can’t live without or would be uncomfortable without, and toss the rest.
In your car, purse, backpack belongs a water bottle, all the time. Staying hydrated is so important, so don’t compromise. Whenever you have the chance, order water instead of soda, and if you’re bored, choose water based drinks like fruit infused waters, lemonade, etc. Try parking farther to increase walking, and try yoga, just stretch, or dance if you’re bored of treadmills (you don’t even have to join a class, youtube tutorials, and instructional books ftw!). Try morning jogs on weekends, and all in all, just keep moving.
No, I’m not going to tell you to apply 5 layers of foundation before you leave your home. What I will tell you, though, is to always be mindful of your appearance. It a universal truth that when we look good, we feel good. Brush your teeth, trim your fingernails, comb your hair, and like how you look. Practice good hygiene, puhLEASE. Moisturize, shave if you want to, and be comfortable. I can’t even recount the amount of awesome opportunities I’ve missed because I thought I looked “bad.” And it is a new year, so change up your look, do something different. The time is right, it’s just waiting on you.
Of all aspects of myself, my character is always my personal improvement, as it is the easiest to improve. Below are just some pointers on how to improve your character.
Character over reputation, always. Character is who you actually are, and reputation is who everybody thinks you are.
Stand up for everyone. If you see someone being unnecessarily bullied and they clearly do not see it as the “joke” it's supposed to be, please, please, please SAY SOMETHING. You could save a life.
Don’t tell secrets that aren’t yours to tell. If somebody trusts you with something, they trusted YOU. Not your best friend, not your sister, not your cousin.
Always be kinder than expected.
Don’t ever worry about who gets the credit.
The ultimate goal is never money.
Talk to God more.
8. Social Media is supposed to be an outlet, not an obsession.
It’s cool to like to showcase your interactions and art, but don’t become too obsessed. Take time out of your day to just LIVE. Sometimes, when I’m in a public setting, I like to people watch how many people are on their phones, tablets, or laptops and it fascinates me. When was the last time you sat down to eat and actually just EAT? Please, don’t let technology swallow and spit you.
With that, I take leave on this adventure that will be the new year. I await so many amazing stories, lessons, and memories that I can’t wait to share with you all. Of all the blessings 2015 has bestowed upon me, your constant support and encouragement has made me happy to be alive. So I take this joy, and I sprinkle it back to you, to me, and to every and anyone who needs it. Here’s to another year of love, compassion, learning and losing. Here’s to 2016.
A lot can happen in a year.
In a span of 365 days, we can become better people.
We can discover different parts of our souls, and we can nurture them. We can save lives, and we can change lives. We can become happier. Healthier. Stronger. We can continue looking forward, and we can make sure we never look back. We can die, and we can live. We can break some bonds, and we can strengthen others. We can learn. We can defy odds, fall in or out of love, reach a peak in life, hit rock bottom, barely make it out alive, take risks, and we can stop time, even if for a second.
For some, 2015 has been A year. For others, it has been THE year.
For me, it has been a learning experience unlike any other.
In 2015, I learned...
1. How to navigate a bus route to downtown.
2. How to write, edit, and produce a documentary.
3. What Times Square looks, smells, and feels like.
4. How gorgeous Mickey Singh’s eyes are in concert.
5. What sixth street looks likes through the eyes of a curious sober Muslim girl.
6. How to work a Starbucks card.
7. That bugs in Germany will, if irked, make your feet swell to the point of having to use a wheelchair and screaming, “PAPPAAAAA!” every fifteen minutes.
8. That maybe a Rosie the Riveter costume isn’t the most original Halloween look.
9. What getting a paycheck for doing what you love feels like.
10. That the only person you will truly ever need is yourself. Sometimes a Zayn Malik bobblehead can be pretty helpful too though.
11. That sometimes, people don’t enter our lives to stay, rather they enter to teach us all lessons.
12. What good music sounds like.
13. What a college application is.
14. What Hasan Minhaj smells like.
15. To trust no one, however convincing they are.
16. That a nap and espresso shot can fix more things than you think.
17. That your family is truly your biggest and best fan club.
18. That it will never matter if you understand punjabi music or not.
19. That if there is a will, there is always a way.
20. People will always look for something to say.
21. That Sharukh Khan does not age.
22. You don’t owe anybody a justification except God.
23. That if you aren’t afraid of being wrong, life gets SO much easier.
24. That what somebody thinks of you is none of your business.
25. That the woman on top of the mountain didn’t land there.
26. That if you don’t want anyone to find out, don’t do it.
27. Nobody even became poor by giving.
28. Riptide by Vance Joy will never get old. So many memories associated with that song omg.
29. You could live your life...but there’s so much out there to Instagram!!!
30. Everything is okay for the sake of a Snapchat.