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.
Hey, guys. I graduated high school.
Now, I know what some of you are thinking. 45% of you guys are reacting like my third cousin who found out I kept her in my will, like “Congrats!!! So proud of you!!!!!.” 30% of you are like, “oh congrats. It only gets harder. Enjoy it.” Another percent of you guys are proud of me for resisting dirty things like peer pressure and retaining my roots and identity. And the rest of you? The rest of you guys are unbothered, likely posting Hookah videos on Snapchat hoping to be acknowledged by everyone except your parents.
Except, here’s the thing.
I didn’t have what one would describe as a “traditional” high school experience. While most teens complained about cafeteria lunches tasting like pelican feces, I scarfed down daal chawal every other day during lunch. While most teens couldn’t decide what to wear to school, I donned an Abaiyah and matching hijab (with my American Eagle pajamas peeking out from underneath, of course) every single day. While most teens had to work hard to preserve their islamic faith by abstaining from mixing with other genders and praying on time, I prayed Duhr (the afternoon prayer) alongside my classmates and I communicated with my Hafiz crushes through Google buzz by liking their statuses (that was literally it) up until last year. While most teens tried hard to fit into an accepting crowd, my classmates, principal and administration were my family (Some of us were actually related).
Because I don’t practice the hijab, because I look like any other Indian girl, and because I never had to deal with instances of standing up for my religion, my Muslim experience in the US is seriously downplayed. In fact, the closest thing I experienced to discrimination was not islamophobia, but racist remarks comes in very subtle doses of “where are you really from?” from the lady in line after me at Whole Foods and “Is it a cultural garment?!” to my Forever 21 elephant print dress.
At school, all my friends had heroic tales to tell about the time they stood up to the old white bearded man in the Chevrolet truck with the “Texas Secede” bumper sticker who made a gun motion with his fingers and pointed it at them. Although I cheered them on and offered high fives, I felt a little empty inside. I too wanted to stand up for my beliefs and take a stand. But instead, I sulked in my seat and continued to pick at my daal chawal.
Looking back, it all seems a little petty. It’s true that I haven’t had the most enlightening Muslim American experience. No CIA officers knocked at my door like those brave stories I read on Facebook, no one ever called me a rag head. If I ever wore a hijab in public, it was complimented, not ridiculed. No one left trash on my lawn on 9/11, and I was never followed. I found myself nitpicking situations to search for racist and discriminatory undertones because to me, if I didn’t stand up to the bigots, I was a silent voice. I wasn’t muslim enough for my opinions to be considered. Although it’s true that I haven’t had the most profound, life changing muslim american upbringing, my muslim american experience is not invalid.
When I discuss how US policy making affects indigenous Muslim populations, I do not deserved to be hushed. When I claim the title as an Islamic High School’s student body president, I don’t deserved to be looked at twice because I post too many selfies. As Muslims, we all seem to have trouble understanding that even though all of our religious journeys take on different paces, routes, and methods, our destination is the same. Our experiences, appearances, and opinions must always be considered equal and valid, despite where we are on our roads, and lastly, that judging is reserved only for God and god alone.
Due to my position as Student Body President, I was requested to give some remarks at my graduation ceremony not too long ago. I do have a video, but I started crying in the middle and it got really boogery and emotional. Below is the transcript of the speech, and it all, one hundred percent, from the heart.
So it all lead up to this.
The long endless nights of reviewing for AP tests, the random metro bus routes to ACC that resulted in too many trips for ice cream, the stressing, all of the student council events, the early morning debate tournament bus rides, cramming, tutoring, loving and losing…
It all lead up to this moment, and all I can say is Alhamdullilah (thank god).
Although these past four years have not gone by smoothly or quickly, they were packed with ingredients for a beautiful future. They grappled and molded me into me, and for this, I am eternally grateful.
Wherever I end up, it will certainly be far from my little private high school. Leaving APA implies leaving a world behind, a world that I will forever keep in me. Where there are no strangers.A world where I have grown so much as a leader, a subordinate, and most importantly, a slave to Allah Swt. A world that can only be described as home. As I prepare to partake in my academic endeavors at the best university in the world, I have no idea what the future holds, and I’m still deciding if i want to find out.
However, I am grateful. I would, firstly, like to thank Allah swt for this amazing opportunity, and my mother for always searching for the best in me, my father for his motivational speeches and readiness to help, my sister Shazma for her ability to make me laugh and love my younger brothers for keeping the child in me alive, and I would like to thank my family for flying out and constantly serving as my support system in life. I would also like to thank my dear and close friends for constantly pushing me to unapologetically be myself, my classmates for never failing to amuse me with their antics, and I would like to thank Ms. Diana, Mrs. Maisaa and Mr. Alex for always putting us first.
Before I formally sign off, I would like to leave some advice for my peers and classmates.
Firstly, please continue to work on strengthening student council and all it stands for. I hope and pray that it continues to live on and form leaders of you all, like it has to me. It has been an honor and a privilege to work side by side and strengthen our student body, and I am so proud of our progress as a student council today.
And secondly know that the future is unknown, and the ones who are strong, playful, and curious enough to accept this will go the farthest. The rest will be so busy calculating their next move to make a living, that they will forget to make a life.
With that, I take leave on this adventure that will be the rest of my life. I await so many amazing stories, lessons, and memories that I can’t wait to share with you all. Of all the blessings my high school career has bestowed upon me, your constant support and encouragement is perhaps the most important.
And now, a toast to the beginning of the end.
Here’s to another four years of love, compassion, learning and losing. Here’s to a group of talented fireworks who will make a dent in the universe. Here’s to the class of 2016.
On the night before the first day of freshman year, I remember not being able to sleep because of the butterflies in my stomach. I remember crafting a binder of all my goals for each year of high school: having above a 4.0, taking every AP class possible, getting into my dream university, and placing in multiple forensic competitions...the list was endless. Today, as I pull this binder from its familiar spot on the bottom shelf on my last day of highschool, I cannot help but reminisce in triumph.
With the blessing of God, I am exactly who I wanted to be.
Okay, scratch that.
No, I didn’t wind up the valedictorian or even the salutatorian of my class like I intended, but I did end up a honors graduate. I didn’t get into my dream university, but I got into an amazing one I couldn’t be prouder to join. High school has taught me many things: from who my true friends were, to how to thicken my skin, but most importantly, it taught me to trust destiny. To trust my decision to switch schools smackdown in the middle of high school. It taught me to stick to my gut and push through debate class, and, most importantly, dance through the tournaments. To utterly and unapologetically be myself, no matter the consequences. And there is no feeling better than this.
In high school, I joined forces with people I never thought I would have anything in common with. I made new friends, accomplices, and teammates. I did my best to get to know every single soul in the school building: from working on a website with the awkward wannabe computer engineer to prose and poetry class with the emo girl with the ugly skater boy shoes, and by pushing myself to do this, I have discovered a wonderful world that I will forever keep within me.
There are 7 more days until I am no longer Duriba Khan the high school senior, but Duriba Khan, the posh and sophisticated college freshman. Looking back, all of the events I looked forward to throughout my entire highschool career have either passed or are approaching swiftly and sweetly: From the senior brunch, short film, senior trip, Student Council, Newspaper committee, senior photoshoot, senior prank, and finally...graduation. It has all been so memorable, hilarious, and simply fun. I am so grateful to spend these last couple of days with the craziest bunch around.
And suddenly, in the same International Relations class where I napped too many times, I look around on this last class of the year and take in everything. From the way the boy in the first row tilts his head to the stain on the roof. Suddenly, on my regular walks to the gas station next to school, I stop in my tracks and realize that that moment will never come again. Suddenly, as I saunter across the front of the classroom during a Student Council meeting, I realize that that will be my last, and I feel nothing short of blessed.
So if you’ve ever laughed at a stupid joke I made or hurt my feelings, thank you. You have made me into the person I am, and for this, I am grateful. I am so grateful to have led such a wonderful existence where I have never felt short of being loved. God has given me so many opportunities, and although I may have no grasped every single one, the ones I took hold of will remain forever in my gluttonous heart.
As the textbooks slam shut and the sun shines for longer, we enter a new season of life. For some, this season will be like any: it will pass swiftly between Netflix and summer classes. For others, it will be life altering. It will be a time of renewal, replenishment, and change. And for the first time in my life, I finally feel like I have the right to categorize my new season as the latter.
I’ve watched the rain droplets summon on the window for thirty seconds now. It’s dark outside, so I cannot see much. These four walls that surround me, this big brown house that holds them, is cold. Do I hold myself and cry under cotton sheets or do I perform cartwheels across the room? Do I laugh and smile, or do I hang my head and cry? Do I thank God for another year or do I get angry for another year closer to no more years?
I glance at my phone screen.
In less than 24 hours, I will be an adult.
I will be eligible for lots of things: voting, driving, drinking, real doctor appointments with real doctors, being compared to Kylie Jenner at 18, two numbers closer to not remaining a teen, expected not to burp in public, be told to “act your age”, making life altering choices, having my own *~insurance~*.
Being sixteen is so young sounding, and seventeen sounds so transitory, while eighteen just screams “awkward adult.” The thought of remaining in that bubble frightens and excites me. I want it to pop, but I enjoy the thin film of protection it offers. It seems I am bursting with contradictions tonight.
Reader, we have grown together. Being seventeen has taught me many things, and as a tradition, I’d like to share those things with you as long as some of my fondest memories and moments.
So this is it. I’ve remained a nuisance for 6, 205 days and it has been fantastic. I’m more happy than I am sad, and I’m more grateful above it all. Another rotation around the sun, and god damn it was great.
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.