Letter to My Future Self

Letter to Future Self:

Something has been worrying me lately. I have noticed a change in your attitude towards the world and the people around you. Once you were optimistic, believing in the good in us all. One of your many guiding principles has been that justice and goodness prevails, but I know the world is proving to be the opposite of all that you’d hoped it would be. I know you were prepared for this epiphany because the word of God, in its many forms, has reminded us all that humans are ultimately motivated by self-interest. You just kept hoping that our similar motivation for balance would not be overruled by it. As long as you remember your roots, your purpose, and your passion for public service – there will always be hope for you.

It is too easy to  be convinced that there is no harm in letting this balance be overruled within you. After all, it is nice doing things for yourself. You deserve to think about yourself as much as the next person. But in this quest as you move up in ranks, whether those be in attaining further education, acquiring new roles, accumulating more wealth, I would hope that you have not and will not forget the warning your parents gave you while growing up.

Do not chase after wealth. Do not be so enamored by the materials of the world that you forget your purpose in leaving it behind better than you found it, and better for those who will be living in it far after you are gone. Do not forget that there are people who have been less fortunate than you have been, and that they are counting on people like you to create spaces for them to be heard.

Never forget your purpose. One day, time will catch up to you as it will to us all and in the end it will only matter whose lives did you positively impact, who did you love, and what did you do with the things you were given?

Even if everyone else embraces our inevitable selfish nature, do not let that change who you are.

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From 23 Year Old to 22 Year Old Me

Inspired by a birthday post to tell myself all the things I wish I could tell myself a year ago:

    Say no and stand by it firmly.
    Take time for yourself and learn to enjoy the quiet. It’s scary and lonely but as you’re tuning out the rest of the world, you find your own inner voice. Listen to her.
    You still hate driving. Luckily, you will have a new car after a rear-end collision that you survived Alh.
    Relationships still suck, lols. And loving anyone requires effort, time, and a whole lot of selflessness. Find someone who is worth the hassle of the key word “compromise.”
    Life has a weird way of making sure you confront your demons aka placing you in the same apartment complex as the guy you can’t get over, but luckily being in close proximity makes you get over him REAL QUICK. Yay.
    You should probably seek therapy and stop delaying it.
    That feeling of emptiness is so easy to let leak into every aspect of your life. Force yourself to meet with your friends and remind yourself that you’re loved and cared for.
    Family truly is everything and it will save you in your most darkest moments. Get to know the elders in your life because the clock is ticking.
    You will inevitably find someone and get married, most likely. You won’t ever get another chance at youth again so enjoy every mistake, every relationship, every moment… enjoy the ups and downs and unpredictability of being young.
    Speak your mind every chance you get. Don’t let people walk all over you. They will.
    Do not stress over what you cannot control and do what you can.

Recipe: Keto Burger

Ingredients:

1 pound ground beef (you can also use turkey or chicken for reduced calorie/fat content)

1 tsp of red chili powder

1/2 tsp of garlic paste

1/2 tsp of cumin

1/2 tsp of salt

1/2 tsp of pepper

1. Mix everything together

2. Form into a patty.

3. Grill. Simple! ūüôā

Anxiety is Taking Over My Life

sometimes at night it comes

the noise of what seems to be a thousand cars speeding,

birds and crickets singing,

the sound of leaves rustling

and children screaming.

all I can do is count to ten,

focus on my sound of my own breathing,

and tune the world and my worries away.

 

Lessons Learned in 2018

When I first created this blog, it was during undergrad when I found myself having so many different experiences and not enough time to document them all. I wanted to leave behind a record of my life’s most significant moments, especially during my twenties as I navigated the complexities of coming of age as a South Asian raised in two completely different cultures, aka growing up as a confused Desi. This record was originally meant for my future daughter, Amireh, in the event that I die (okay, that’s dramatic) or if she needs proof that her mother was just as messy as she is. This blog now is honestly a platform for me to collect myself every few months. I wish I could say I’d post regularly but life happens. It be like that sometimes.

However, I did skip a very important tradition and that is “Lessons Learned…” a series I’ve been doing for a couple years so here’s my late 2018 lessons!

  1. Ask for help:¬†I’m a perfectionist and that means I do everything by myself because I can’t trust others to. That also means I hate admitting when I need help but not only in academic or professional matters, but largely personal ones.I hate coming to the realization that I’m not superwoman after all and like a normal human being, I have to take care of myself. I’ve always sort of been in my own head as a kid (being an only child is such a lovely experience, 10/10 recommend) and I’ve had depressive episodes throughout my life, but this was BAD. I mean, not eating, not sleeping, not doing much of anything-BAD.

    If I weren’t feeling sad, I was not feeling much of anything at all. It felt like I was a guest in my own body. I felt like half of me had died and the other half was just being tortured daily. Doing something as simple as showering felt like the end of the world. I barely brushed my hair. My personal hygiene was absolute trash during this time.

    I am not proud of what I had become, an inkling of the woman I aspire to become, but I had to go through this to push myself into FINALLY seeking professional help. Thanks to my amazing therapist, I’ve learned to appreciate living in the moment & only thinking a few steps ahead (instead of, ya know, ten years in advance). I also learned to appreciate just being okay because being okay means I’m still alive, and after feeling like I wanted to disappear, feeling alive is all I can really ask for.

  2. Be honest with yourself: I think I spent a lot of my senior year of college living in denial of everything I was experiencing after a heartbreak. As referenced before in 2017, there was a guy I had met (and almost fell in love with) that I hadn’t completely gotten over. I started my senior year largely nursing that heartache or pretending it didn’t exist only to end up crying after every night out with friends. I was not facing what I had felt. I hadn’t forgiven him at all so when he entered the picture again, my emotions got messy.It took me two years to get to a point where I am over the situation but I could’ve saved myself so much trouble and pain if I had been honest with myself. I tried to push my heartbreak back into my mind and pretend it did not exist because heartaches are imperfections, and they force us to reflect on ourselves and the role we play in the demise of a relationship, but avoidance and dishonesty will get you nowhere. Be honest. Only then can you move forward.
  3. Be open to new experiences: everything about entering this phase of life is NEW. Suddenly, having my own apartment is not the same as having my own apartment in college. Doing my laundry is different. I have whole new wardrobe. Meal prep is a MUST for a smooth work week. Adults see you as equals (for the most part). You’re no longer the bright eyed, enthusiastic intern. You’re a whole adult with a full-time job and bills to pay. You can’t skip work the way you skipped class. It’s honestly not as fun as people try to make it seem. Getting older feels like you’re literally being hazed into becoming an adult. It’s not fun, and every lesson is learned the hard way. However, it’s new and it’s important to be open-minded. I wish I could say more but…it sucks so far. So I’ll leave it at that.
  4. Trust the process:¬†This has been the most difficult year of my life. I have had to grow in ways I’ve never done before. I’ve had to confront realities I was not even aware of until I was out of the secure bubble of Chapel Hill. I’ve lived most of my adolescent years in a rush, always looking to the next milestone to achieve. I’ve become so accustomed to achievement that a setback is perceived as failure. Naturally, I’ve not truly put myself in the face of failures, so, the fact that I’m not currently where I want to be is difficult, but, I cannot let this setback stop me. I intentionally wanted to take time off after my undergrad to give myself time to study for the LSAT. Most of this is uncharted territory for me as I’ve never taken a break in my education.

Well, there it is. 2018 went by FAST and so much of it was spent in a depressive episode. I wish I could say it was a great year, but truthfully, it was one of the worst years of my life. Don’t get me wrong, there were special moments about 2018 (I’ll mention later!) but¬† I am glad that 2019 is significantly better. I’ll be posting a mid-year recap of what 2019 consisted of. Stay tuned!

 

-K

Postgraduate Depression

As I looked out into the sea of light blue graduation cap and gowns, a sense of dread overcame me. I was surrounded by a few of the greatest friends I had my most memorable moments with during my four years in the little town on top of the Hill and thought to myself, ‚ÄúWhat if this is it?‚ÄĚ As I took a long look at some of the people who passed by, I saw flashbacks of the moments we shared whether it was watching a Bollywood film, going to a student organization meeting, or simply grabbing Cookout after a night out, and realized I will never see some of those people again. In that moment, I was a ball of the emotions I spent my entire senior year avoiding. This was it.

Click here to read more of this post that I wrote for The Pomegranate Society.

2017: Metamorphoses

2017. What a year. 

To say the least: this has been one of the hardest years of my life. It’s been a year of learning not to care about things beyond my control and being comfortable with uncertainty. I’ve learned to allow myself a chance to grow, even if it means facing failure.¬† I’ve learned to admit when I need help or when I’m unsure because being a perfectionist is a 24/7 job that I am so tired of keeping up with (so I quit!). I’ve learned to be selfish with my time, learned how to say “no,” and prioritize my health. I’ve learned the difference in people who say they’ll be there versus the ones who already are. I’ve learned the difference between the things that shine versus those that are actually made of gold, and how easy it is to get the two confused. I spent so much of my life worrying about events beyond my control, relationships I couldn’t save, and wanting permanence from temporary people. The good news is that even though those lessons were difficult to learn, they have molded me into the woman I was destined to become. For those reading, I hope that you too will face many challenges in your journey because the beauty in obstacles¬†is that eventually, you get to the other side and WOW is it beautiful.

Recap:

As president of an organization, I gave my all at the cost of my mental health more often than I’d like to admit. I made this organization a reflection of myself by hoping that if I invested time & energy, it’d pay off and others could be proud of me. It felt like I was trying so hard but you can’t fight for something if no one is fighting alongside of you. I cannot be held responsible for a sinking ship just because I am the captain because that’s what an entire crew is for. Even with all hands on deck, sometimes the waves just have to pass through.

On top of this was the stress of senior year along with feeling unmotivated. Spreading yourself thin turns your passions into a chore. I’ve always wanted to work for the public but I saw just how little people care about social issues, like poverty, if it does not pertain to them. While I’m dedicated to my goals, caring so much for people does take its emotional toll sometimes. However, I’ve decided I can’t let the misery of others take away from my ability to do the best that I can. At the end of the day, all we can do is the best that we possibly can & as a perfectionist, I had to learn to let myself be okay with that.

Earlier this year, I met someone I ended up liking more than I wanted to after exiting an unhealthy situation with someone who I basically convinced myself to like because I was afraid I had lost the ability to emotionally connect with someone. And to be very honest, I don’t know if I can. I am a bit old-fashioned with relationships. Even if I don’t end up marrying a person I date (which is fine) I still need some level of commitment because I’m not here to waste time. Everything used to be easier when people were honest about what they were looking for & nowadays it’s all a series of mind games. Because of that, it’s hard to let my guard down but with this person, I finally wanted to because I enjoyed their company. They came off charming, funny, caring, and sweet & I don’t doubt that they are still a good person who just has some more time to learn on their journey. The thing that hurts about getting to pick up on someone’s quirks, like the way they look down while thinking, their taste in movies/music, or the way they hesitate before speaking is that you attach sentimental value to the things that make them unique. If you had asked me to describe the kind of guy I’d fall so easily for: this was pretty damn close so I stood no chance & because of that, I put up all the walls I could & came off more reserved that I typically would. Ultimately, they were not on the same page as me and while I appreciated the honesty that they did initially offer, they did not stick to their plan of action & that led to a lot of nonsensical mind-fuckery. The issue, for me at least, was that I was fine with just spending time with this person, but that I needed to know where I stood. If this person could learn one lesson from our interaction: I hope that they realize that their actions can be misinterpreted so easily that it made sense for me to be as confused as I was & I had a right to the truth even if it hurt. Because I did put myself in a vulnerable position and felt like my feelings were taken advantage of, I felt like I deserved a proper apology. It did hurt my feelings. Still, it was fun while it lasted & I truly wish I had enjoyed that person’s company more. Forgiveness was an important part in letting that go, though. Alas, the lesson I did learn was it’s not fair to treat people like a destination because it takes away from the experience of enjoying their company. I am glad I got to meet this person & I wish them well on their journey, even if they did not want me around even as a friend to witness that.

From relationships in general I’ve learned it’s important to be true to who you are. There’s a greater plan that God prepares us for, even if we don’t recognize it in the moment. I’ve always been in a rush due to the strong relationships around me. It’s natural to want commitment but at 21, most people are not ready to be serious. While in the past that would make me try to mold myself to fit in with my peers, I’ve realized I don’t have to abandon my values and beliefs to be desirable to the opposite sex. I’ve spent so long trying to fit the idea of what people want a woman to be based on how the media, men, other women, and society define womanhood. The true beauty in being a woman is having the power to choose how you define yourself & owning it. It took 21 years and three years of being single to realize that I am a priceless gem & refuse to deal with being treated as anything less.

Overall, my senior year was GREAT! There were plenty of parties, events, and I finally had more time to spend with friends. Cutting off toxic friendships has been a big weight off my shoulders. After years of my effort not being reciprocated by certain friends & family members, it felt great to just NOT CARE ANYMORE. Freedom!¬†I’ve also been involved with the Honor Court & Student Government & met people who I share the same goals with. It’s so refreshing!

Unfortunately, in November 2017, I had a severe anxiety attack after a stressful week. In retrospect, I’m unsure whether it was stress over a particular event that week or my brain being fed up of the stress that’s accumulated over the years, but I’ve never felt so anxious in my entire life. Somehow, I pushed myself over the edge and ended up going to the E.R because I could NOT calm myself down. The event made me come to terms with certain habits I wanted to let go of, face my fear of death, and made me realize the people who are actually going to be there for me…very few, btw. It’s brought me closer to God in ways I didn’t think were possible but also made me question where I stand in my faith because anxiety is the worst thing I’ve ever felt in my entire life. It feels like being a guest in your own body. People make so many jokes about mental illness as if anxiety is simply the feeling of worry. What they don’t realize are the very real, physical symptoms of anxiety as your heart skips a beat and sends you into panic. I’m not sure where my anxiety is coming from but through the help of a therapist & meditation, I’ve been able to manage it & understand the sources of stress/fear. Alh, this too shall pass.

Needless to say as per tradition: Here’s 10 lessons I’ve learned from 2017 and¬† Goals I have for the next year!

10 Things I Learned In 2017

  1. The beauty of life is in the journey. Be present!
  2. Relationships are not a destination. Learn to enjoy someone’s presence without expectations.
  3. Mental illness can happen to anyone, even the happiest and strongest of us. It’s not a joke. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Take time for self-care! Exercise for your soul & your body will thank you.
  4. It’s not about winning the fight. It’s about standing up for what you believe in, standing up for what you think is RIGHT.
  5. When someone tells you who they are, believe them.
  6. Become the person who deserves the things you pray for.
  7. Forgiveness is virtuous & sometimes the only way to move on.
  8. Always be kind, especially to the people who may not deserve it. You lose nothing, but gain everything.
  9. Change negative patterns of thinking. Don’t obsess, stress, or dwell over the things beyond your control.
  10. No matter what happens, remember this: you’re doing the best that you possibly can. Nobody’s perfect. Allow yourself to celebrate the fact that YOU are more than enough. ‚̧

5 Goals

  1. Eat healthier & be active, which hopefully leads to weight loss.
  2. Get a job before graduation
  3. Score above 160 on the LSAT & apply to law school
  4. Open up to people by embracing vulnerability in my personal relationships.
  5. Create a reading list & actually complete it (one book per month, at least)

Long story short, it’s been a wild ride. I turned 21 & my world somewhat changed (will blog about that later!) It’s been a year of trial and error, fire and ice, and while it was bittersweet it was just as rewarding. Alhumdullilah for the good,¬†Alhumdullilah for the bad. Alhumdullilah.¬†