My hair is short, my smile brighter. My mind sharper, my waist thicker (no one told me that hot girl summer means more popsicles and gelato), and my heart softer. But I am happy with where I am.
It took a year of being uncomfortable and inconsistent for me to say that, but I can finally say it. So I will say it: I am happy with where I am. And now I’ll say it again, no --- I’ll declare it: I AM HAPPY WITH WHERE I AM.
I started this year with slim expectations. And, for the first time in my life, only two resolutions: to get into law school and have clear skin. I know there’s so much more that belongs on that list, but those were simply the two things that bothered me the most. At night, I would even seek them in prayer: “Please, Allah. Just give me these two things and I’ll never jaywalk ever again.”
As elated am I to have completed both of those goals, this year has been about so much more than how I look or where I go to school. This time last year, I was uncertain, afraid, and confused. I was studying for the LSAT, breaking out, deeply depressed, and extremely unhappy. I was angry with myself for deciding the graduate early and willingly leaving everything I knew behind. When I think back to myself in January, I can’t believe that I’m the same person. I am in a place far from that Duriba. And as Cardi B so eloquently stated, I like it like that.
This year has been the biggest for me yet, which is the last thing I was expected it to be going in. From living in four different states to being the guest speaker on a panel, 2019 was a gift. It’s when my goals and potential became clear to me, and the year my visions for the future and myself manifested into a reality.
2019 was a year of growth, unlikely friendships that blossomed into weekly FaceTime calls and experiencing the gooey enigma that is oysters for the first time. It was deep, growing pain and it was bad-tasting medicine...that the patient needed. Like Pooja, she was dying for it.
2019 was arguably the best year of my life, filled with so many accomplishments and firsts. It was the lowest of lows, and somehow still the highest of highs. It was a goodbye kiss: something you know you have to take advantage of and cherish at the moment because you know it may never come again, and if it does, it will taste different.
All in all, 2019 was the year I:
- Crammed for the LSAT with a study buddy turned best friend :)
- Got my first law school acceptance (well, all of them)
- Witnessed my dad’s side of the family immigrate to the US of A
- Took a flight alone (actually, over 30)
- Had the honor to represent MannMukti at Washington University’s In-Between conference (where I got my name on a big board :’))
- Met my first internet bestie who I still regularly talk to
- Had so much fun directing/writing/editing a short film with my best friends that went on to place at a competition
- Hosted Basant, our Pakistani Students’ Association’s biggest event of the year, one last time
- Completed my Accutane cycle and FINALLY developed a skincare routine
- Accidentally threw a rager afterward (if you know you know)
- Got to celebrate my birthday for a week with a grand finale - DURIBAWORLD!
- Graduated with my bachelor’s in Political Communications
- Spent time away from my family for the first time this summer in DC, where I met some of my best friends and did what can only be described as hoodrat behavior
- Met Rashida Tlaib, Ted Lieu, Mehdi Hassan, and other role models
- Finally realized I was good enough to be who I wanted to be
- Got to witness my baby brother graduate high school
- Celebrated my parents’ 25th anniversary
- Tried oysters for the first time
- Finished ONE (1) book ((at least it was good: The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri)
- Celebrated the engagement and nikkah (Islamic marriage) of my two best friends
- Visited a cat cafe for the first time ever, and fell in love
- Fell in love with Salt Lake City, UT
- Visited the following cities/states: Newark, NJ, Arlington, VA, Washington, DC, Chicago, IL, Columbia, SC, Charlotte, NC by myself :)
- Saw PM of Pakistan Imran Khan speak at like, Astroworld for Pakistani adults
- Checked out a Kareoke bar for the first time (a truly enlightening experience)
- Had a milkshake the size of my head (also took one sip, then threw it away)
- Drove across 4 states with my Mom
- Moved to Chicago to intern at NPR
- Lived with my Uncle and learned his story
- Ordered room service to my heart’s content in random cities (s/o NPR’s tab)
- Got to really experience Chicago with my cousin and her husband, from thrift shops to the top of the Willis Tower
- Learned what it takes to produce an award-winning podcast amongst the coolest people I’ve ever met
- Lost my first car, Rekha, in an accident
- Declared chartreuse my official new favorite color
- Was the first in my family to take a gap year
- Got a newer, cooler car that didn’t have quite the same charm as Rekha
- Got a cyst in my neck removed
- Saw Hamilton live
- Made my first friends trip outside Texas to see beautiful Boston, MA
- Crashed a Harvard house party
- Took my first standup comedy class
- Moved to South Carolina to work for a presidential election
- Lived on my own for the first time
- Celebrated my cousins’ weddings, baby showers, and baby births
- Accepted Thai food as my official favorite food
- Interacted with the real, middle-class America and learned their stories and lessons
- Made more than 5 actual, meaningful friendships
- Got my heart stolen by a little girl named Jannah :) (my cousin’s daughter)
- Loved, and lost.
When I got back and read older posts I wrote to recap prior to new years, it’s like seeing how much I’ve grown on a powerpoint bar chart. It feels weird and conceited to type this out, but I’m really grateful for who I am today. Of all the years of my life, 2019 was the most dynamic and testing, but I came out stronger and more certain of myself. Although I’m not sure what 2020 will hold, I will say that it’s got to be pretty amazing to top 2019.
So maybe, old Duriba, I am in a place far from you. But it is beautiful too, and I’d like to stay a little longer.