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”.
Ah, good ‘ol high school.
Once you graduate, you begin to see everything in a different light. The crazy shenanigans you pulled weeks ago seem elementary and a thing of your past. Once you’ve had a taste of college, high school seems restrictive, kiddish, and illogical.
But to get to the stage of graduating and reminiscing, you have to graduate (preferably successfully). You have to start fresh and determined, and finish strong.
Because I have younger siblings and friends still withstanding the wrath of high school, I have collected a list of tips from my deep, dark past that will come in handy in times of college applications, AP tests, and the moment you walk the stage.
The last day of my internship was today, college orientation is tomorrow, and today is the first day of school for my alma matter (and I’m not there??).
Life is moving quickly, and instead of stepping up to the plate, I want to drown my sorrows in chocolate pudding and Kate Spade journals (that’ll I’ll happily fill with more woes). I’m afraid of the future: not having friends, not getting into graduate school, not getting my license in time, getting bad grades...it’s overwhelming and listless and GAH WHY DO I HAVE TO GROW UP. And the worst part of it all, Mamma’s not going to be there to hold my hand (and occasionally slap me upside the head for being incompetent).
That’s right, it’s Duriba Khan vs. the big, bad adult world.
Soon, I’ll have to whip myself into shape and evolve into the type of person who carries breath mints and packs their own lunch. I’ll have to take my life seriously, and probably go to sleep earlier than 4 am if I want to be prepared for school. I’ll have to color code my notebooks and send emails with ACTUAL typed subjects instead of gibberish.
Because how much longer can we hide?! School begins soon, and that means organizing our sleep schedules, getting our lives on track, and keeping our goals in mind.
But fear not if you find yourself in the same predicament: I’ve done my research. Now presenting, tips for college (directed at college freshmen, but literally anyone can benefit)!!!!
Remember all those summer memories i dreamed of creating? That I wrote about in true poetic fashion, scribbled rough drafts on coffee shop napkins and all?
Yeah, about that…
I dropped calculus, went to the pool three minutes before closing time (so much for nightly swim), forgot about the water fight because water wastage duh!!! (not because i don’t have friends!!!), and made easy mac in less than two minutes. Also, no one wanted to make a summer horror film with me because I get too into it. Or because they hate me (or maybe I never asked them about it because I was too lazy). I was also too cheap to get a gym membership, and every stranger I almost started a conversation with looked at me like they were surprised I knew english.
Besides that, summer has been pretty fruitful.
My graduation party (an event I had been looking forward to forever), a family cruise, the ravishing sight of the Bahamas, a pop up internship, a book club meeting, a newfound obsession with italian coffee makers, an introduction to Gossip Girl (and binge watching, for that matter), the realization that I will never truly need anyone but myself (and maybe a vintage SRK poster), and getting $35 shoes for $10 at ALDO...I’d call it a pretty productive summer.
I know that in life, we’re forced to summarize everything into lists. Lists are helpful, condensed, and easy to follow. They make our goals more prominent, and allowed us to keep track in life. To do lists, Bucket Lists, Summer To Do Lists, I’ve made, seen, and failed to complete all.
Now, I’m not telling you to abandon lists all together or give up on your hopes and dreams. I’m telling you to be optimistic about your future and be aware of yourself. That, just because you didn’t complete everything on your list doesn’t mean everything else is a waste of time. You didn’t make the private yacht virgin Shirley Temple fantasy a reality this summer, but you had a can of Tazo’s savory peach green tea on the lawn of your community college. You didn’t take a roadtrip to New Mexico, but you finished four seasons of The Office.
Instead of specific actions/deeds in the summer, prescribe yourself emotions. Tell yourself to feel fulfilled instead of scribbling that you MUST do something. When you prescribe yourself emotions instead of actions, you broaden your horizons. There are many ways to feel “euphoric”, and only one way to “adopt a cat.”
So be flexible, and open your mind to new things (this advice to myself before anyone else). Avoid getting stuck on the specific little details, and instead, focus on the bigger picture. There is so much beauty in the world, if only you forced yourself to see it.
As many of you know, I write for Brown Girl Magazine, a platform dedicated to empowering the South Asian Diaspora through lifestyle, culture and entertainment news. In order to facilitate a good conversation, all staff shares a secret Facebook post, where today one of the writers commented that she had been going through a nasty breakup and needed to be cheered up.
Homegirl, this is for you, and for those five other friends of mine who are going through something similar but wouldn’t dare tell anyone. This article is for Anjalis in the world who don’t get Raj, and for those girls who haven’t had someone like them (or rather, tell them that they do). This is for the girls who became rebounds, heartbroken, and toyed with. This is for my sisters who need this after a tough time, or the ones who have been single even after they got their braces off (I feel you girl).
Now, how am I qualified to give this tirade when the closest thing I’ve had to a hunnie is the rumor of one? When the last guy I liked was mistaken for my cousin and also, my best friend who liked someone else? When three guys have ever told me they loved me, and one was my father and the other my sister? (KIDDING I LOVE YOU SHAZZO). The answer, honey, is that I’ve seen Queen too many times and am basically the best person to meet over caramel macchiatos and mani pedis when it comes to pep talks. Yes, it’s true: I’m THAT friend. The one that gives propitious advice but can’t follow it for her own life. The one who can tell you what makes a good significant other, but doesn’t even have a cat. But worry not, I’m a writer and I’ve seen a few Bollywood movies.
So ladies, trust me on this one.
If someone breaks your heart, you ARE NOT alone. It happens all the time, and us girls don’t tell each other about it with the fear that someone is going to tell Shagufta Aunty. I say, let’s talk about our feelings. Let’s warn each other and let’s hold AliMalikTheRapper00 responible for all the DMs he’s been sending out. In a world where love is commonly unfairly romanticized and holds no true value, it's so easy to get lost amongst the teen lit novels and sweet text messages from Rasheed. The Arjit Singh songs and the heart eye emojis awaiting on snapchat after your story post (that freaking dog filter!).
And whoever told you it was weird to have a crush, tell them “um no it’s okay Becky”. Crushes, regardless of your religion, race, ethnicity, or preferred flavor of bubble tea, are NORMAL. It’s okay to spend passing period in the hallways humming Love Story and daydreaming, but tell me honestly, wouldn’t you prefer doing something else?
So ladies, the following tips apply to you if:
1. You want to be in a relationship almost as badly as you want SRK and Kajol to be in one
2. You’re “halal dating”
3. You like a guy who likes Salma
4. You think about Zayn Malik for too many hours in a day
1. Love should be mad passionate or nothing. Life has SO many average things, and love shouldn’t be one of them.
And seriously, what kind of love story would that be for your children? “Your dad slid into my DMs and I just KNEW he was the one.” uM, NO!! If you chose to be in love, make sure it’s indulgent. The kind you can start blush thinking about, not the kind you hide your phone because if Mummy saw..!!!!. Mediocrity is for Salman Khan movies and key lime pie recipes off Pinterest, not love. If someone is not 100% dedicated to you, if someone is not 100% obsessed and in love with you, they are no one to you.
2. Worry not about finding someone. Instead, focus on yourself.
Spend the time you have now focusing on building yourself and enjoying yourself. Eat good food, meet good friends. Travel to exotic locations, and laugh hard at dad jokes. Do what makes you happy, and remove the focus off of looking for your “other half”. Homegirl, you are already WHOLE. Focus on being happy, and the universe will take care of it.
3. People cannot be trusted.
Having a significant other is basically trusting someone you knew for 1/18th of your life with you “self destruct” button. It’s being vulnerable: giving someone else the power to hurt or heal you, someone who knows all your secrets, what angers you, and what ruins you...along with the power to do all of it. Don’t die for a guy. He’ll bring another girl to your funeral.
4. Your happiness depends on no one.
Honey, you are not a princess who needs saving. Don’t expect some guy to come and save you. You don’t need saving, you can pull your own weight. Your happiness depends on NO ONE but yourself. You are the universe in ecstatic motion, and no one in the world is you. You control your emotions and you run the world.
5. You don’t have to settle.
You are single because you need not to change your relationship status for someone who is anything less than you deserve. You know your own value, and the space in your heart begins to a real man, someone who is mature enough to prioritize you and wouldn’t dare jeopardize loyalty or respect, no matter what. If you're his second choice, IT IS NOT WORTH IT. If he doesn’t return the butterflies and you’re constantly toyed with, drop him like a spoon you didn't know had been microwaved.
6. Get bigger, better, faster, and stronger.
Okay so, you had a thing. That thing ended quickly, it was one sided, or you got blocked on Snapchat and now you’re stuck in a mess of tissues, a carton of double chocolate chip and A Walk To Remember. That is all okay. Don’t get mad or sad, get better. Rise above all the petty drama, all the emotions. Become so surrounded by your accomplishments and honors that you literally forget about that person (see I can’t even remember their name!).
7. Understand that this is a big, big, world.
Sometimes we never find people. Sometimes we fall for people who aren’t ready to catch us. Be pleased: with or without others. Be no one’s half time, down time, spare time, or sometime: so don’t waste your time. Stop letting people who do so little for you control so much of your life. If you live off a man’s compliments, you’ll die from his criticisms. If someone is missing you, they’ll call.
And at the very end of it all, ask yourself: Why chase him when you’re the catch?
The rumors, they’re all true.
I...god this is so hard.
A young and hip Muslim vegetarian?! Allahu-akbar kill the sheep Muslim person? Is such a thing the truth?!
Your reaction is likely one of the two: You don’t mind, or you have trouble believing me. Or, upon learning of my new preference, your reaction follows that of my friend Suhaib: “You’re such a vegan hippie I’m surprised you don’t smoke crack.” In fact, the reactions I’m getting make me kind of embarrassed to admit it: Aunties are convinced I’m full on “american” (likely influenced by my mom’s commentary) and almost roll their eyes when they find out, friends begin with the classical “you know chicken is dead anyway right?” like it’s a Quranic revelation, and my mom hits me with the “at least have one chicken leg...” truly missing the point. In fact, the truth is, I’m writing this blog post as a response to all the questions I’m tired of answering.
2. Why have you denied yourself chicken wings?
A) Health: I never was really a fan of red meat (except the occasional burger) because it tastes weird and because of all the health risks involved.
B) Ethics: What if a superior race that was smarter than us and couldn’t communicate with us thought they could exploit and eat us because we were yummy?
Also, I’m one hundred percent aware that in Islam eating meat is permissible. BUT, that’s only if it’s one hundred percent halal, or slaughtered in a way specified in the Quran and Sunnah in a manner that causes the least amount of pain to the animal (laying it down, closing its eyes, etc). That method is a lot rarer than it seems: halal meat companies are succumbing the the KFC style mass massacre of sweet animals and, according to a lot of recent research (refer to Ibrahim Abdul-Matin’s Green Deen), ARE NOT following islamic guidelines. Mistreating animals is a much greater sin than denying myself this meat.
C) Environmentalism: Have you seen factory farms? Animals are barely given space to move and have to stand in their own feces for hours on end.
3. How do you keep yourself in check?
As a desi person, meat is a lot bigger part of our culture than many have noticed. EVERY single party features an array of spiced, baked, boiled, and grilled chicken or beef, and I’ll admit: it’s HARD. At parties, I’ll take longer than necessary to take the “non meat” portion of the salaan while fat twelve year olds push and shove behind me in line. I crave chicken wings a lot. However, you have to always put your beliefs before your desires. THINK OF THE SAD BLEEDING CHICKENS.
When I’m at someone’s house and I see no vegetarian dishes/ they make a plate for me/ someone sends me food, as per manners of the Prophet Muhammad, I will eat it if i have to. Sure, I’ll offer it to neighbors/put it back, but the goal is not to waste, because that means the poor guys died for no reason.
4. Do you think you’ll be a vegetarian forever?
At this point in my life, I’m uncertain I’ll keep it up in the future. Frankly, I don’t know. I feel like I may try to, but cultural expectations and things will get in the way and it will become harder. However, that doesn’t mean I’ll stop without putting up a fight. I want to try it for six months and see how i feel afterwards. LOL, I’m just waiting for someone to bring this article up if I ever decide to leave pescetarianism.
5. Ok but how do you eat fish and eggs? Fish can cry and be sad to die too?
Firstly, the eggs aren’t fertilized so I’m not killing anyone’s child. Fish can’t experience pain as much as other higher vertebrates and are a good source of animal protein. Also, sushi is yum.
6. Does it suck?
In a brown household/community like mine, it truly does. I’m constantly mocked for my beliefs and called a tryhard, wannabe, etc. Sometimes I want to slap people on the face: I don’t owe them an explanation. I can eat/not eat whatever I want without having to go through a step by step. Every time I let someone know, they try to put me through some islamic debate, challenge me with all these questions they read on the internet, or try convince me out of it. In fact, sometimes a conversation starter is, “ha, Duriba’s vegetarian now, LOL!!!!!”. Which is cool, whatever. But my diet didn’t concern anyone so much before, why does it suddenly?
I hope these questions put your burning desires to rest. The moral of the post is to not let yourself be an annoying prick and let people live their lives the way they want to.
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.