Musings: Healing comes in waves

Today, I watch as the light returns to my face, as my smile shines brightly while I tell stories to the ones I love most. I can feel the sunshine healing the cracks in my bones as I put the pieces of myself together in a more resilient form. I sense the joy of writing and telling vivid stories, ones that will keep people talking and leave people feeling empowered about who they are and where they come from. It’s a blessing to be writing and teaching and sharing, and I hope I never take any of this for granted.

Today and every day, I’m reminded that the most valuable relationships can take us to the greatest heights. Because even if all we’re doing is staring at snowflakes or frosty windows or munching on s’mores crepes as we watch custom orders whiz by on conveyor belts, I feel a little bit lighter.

I’m lucky to love and be loved like this, by people who see me for everything I can be. I know that the darkness will pass and I will be healed once again.


Musings: A search for love amid destruction

February 15, 2018

I stand by the notion that love is the most transformative force of all. I mean sure, it can break you and send you into the depths of self-doubt when it doesn’t work out, as if you were the one who tugged at strings that were already breaking and all you want to do is salvage is the peace. But love is always beautiful – because of the chaos, I find myself emerging with more knowledge about how I can love and be loved better. We all deserve a love like this.

Right now, I’m at war with myself and I don’t know how to win (if you know me in real life and aren’t ready for the deep dive into my current mental state, I’d suggest exiting out). I’ve recently realized that my brain isn’t exactly on my side right now because it wants me to sink deep into depths of self-doubt and self-loathing. I’ve been skipping classes and meetings and avoiding people who I really love – but I know that this isn’t me, the real me. I can feel myself pushing back on my impulse to self-destruct with a rhetoric of positivity and love and light, but my body is doing everything it can to send me down a spiral. I was meant to be soft, to be kind to others even if they didn’t seem to deserve it, to take care of myself and this body that enables me to see the world. I don’t want to act out of anger and spite and jealousy – after all, love is still the most powerful force of all. What will it take for me to respond with love and kindness, to take care of the hurt and not push people away.

I decidedthat I need to take care of myself by arranging an appointment with a therapist, and I hope we’ll be able to have a productive conversation about how I can cope with my silly brain chemistry. And if you think you need help, don’t forget the power of reaching out. Talk to your friends and roommates, or even check out a counseling center for a consultation to see if it’s right for you.

As the monologues reminded me, healing isn’t easier or linear. But for now, my heart rate is slowing and I’m finding solace in the words of people who truly want the best for me. I will find ways to not let the onslaught of rejections from tech companies or tough tutoring sessions or missed plans prevent me from living my best life (and being my most authentic self). I am lucky to know rejection so well because it’s a sign that I’m always putting myself out there. In the coming weeks, I’ll search for ways to be an even better writer, educator, and friend.

Musings: Waiting for [self]-love like this

February 6, 2018

Wow, it’s crazy that the blank monologues always occur during a time of turmoil, but they still manage to center me. This time of year is usually tough, but I feel a bit lighter than I have in a while. I’m genuinely smiling and cracking jokes, and the universe is reminding me that everything isn’t my fault.

This time last year, I was suiting up in all black to tell the unabashed story of my identity as a Pakistani Muslim woman. I talked about my eating disorder in a way that was honest because that shit isn’t glamorous (and not just for white people) and I’m still waiting for someone to say it out loud. Instead of laughing it off or making excuses, I spoke candidly about the emotional abuse I had endured throughout my whole life. But I ended on a note about resilience and healing because these are the things I have acquired since then.

In a lot of ways, things are different this time around. Now, I know how to love really deeply. I know how to own my weird emo-hip hop-shock rock music taste. I know how to believe that I’m a prize, not to win but to choose & be blessed with. I’m starting to see myself as inherently strong, someone who can draw out the best in others just by helping them see it. And liking myself feels really fucking good.

Today, I’m remembering to be patient when people are doing their best (and who stay calm when it’s easy to panic), serve up the roasts to people but practice forgiveness so I can move on, process things with a neutral third party, eat when I’m hungry, and offer my time to those who need it most. I’m grateful for deep breathing exercises and the opportunity to write something that vividly expresses how someone is a source of love and light.

I know that I don’t always get it right, but I’m glad that I can love people deeply and respond to mean words with kindness – at least most of the time. And I’m proud of myself every day for making the choice to share because I know that a lot of people can’t. I hope that everyone gets the opportunity to tell their story and be seen.

Today is a day for second chances, for being honest about the tough shit instead of hiding it. It’s a time to make time for people and community because this is more than anything else. I’m very blessed to be supporting people in their storytelling process and have a circle of people who are willing to read my texts when I’m in peril. Life is and will always be wild, but it has always been a blessing.

I don’t have a sad story but one of triumph, of love and goodness and greatness that’s been coming my way for a while. I have waited my whole life for love and community like this.


Musings: On trust [and who is worthy of it]

February 5, 2018

It’s 1:14 a.m. and I’m thinking a lot about love and trust. You see, I trust people pretty damn easily because I always want to see the good in people. After all, I know that I learn from everyone if I ask the right questions (and even if I just say the words “really?” people are willing to keep going and share their honest story). But when I hear that people doubt me or my story, I believe it because I fear that I’m not capable enough to achieve my dreams.  I’m afraid I’ll never get it right, never write well enough to get my dream internship at Spotify, never run enough to make my body look quite right, never be worthy of the unconditional love I try to give others, as if good things will evade me because I’m not worthy of them.

But today, I’m reminded that not everyone can be trusted – and that when you share your most authentic self, not everyone will be open to it. My friend and I always talk about how people telling me that I’m not valuable can’t change how much I’m worth. So then, I should not need other people’s validation to know that my story matters. And it can be hard knowing that there are people who don’t care about my story or don’t think that it matters. This is hard for me because I’ve always seen other people’s stories as a gift to me – after all, these are the most vulnerable things we can receive from others. But I’m remembering that not everyone wants to see me thrive or support my growth – and even if these voices are the loudest ones in the room, they’re certainly not the ones that matter.

My story matters regardless of what anyone tells me. The other day, I interviewed someone who told me about how they’re frequently underestimated because they’re a black woman, even by academic advisers aka a role that should be underpinned by an unwavering desire to support students. I asked her what story she tells herself to remember that she’s inherently valid, and she responded by saying something along the lines of, “Statistically, I’m not supposed to be here. But I am.” Wow!! It’s amazing how much knowing your own story can be a source of empowerment.

I have to believe that I can have good things because I do: this morning, I met up with a friend in my major and we talked for 4 hours about the craziness of my life, the importance of giving people the chance to prove themselves (rather than prioritizing expertise over someone’s ability to learn), and how honesty is the most important thing to do. I shared my study abroad applications with my co-workers and discussed stories of gay awakenings and crazy program directors. I ordered Greek fries for my friend and me, and we talked about caring for our friends deeply but also communicating our own needs. And I need to remember that some people were great because I saw them for their potential, not necessarily because of what they actually gave me – and it’s OK to admit this.

So, I guess I do have really good things if I let myself remember this. I’m lucky to have support from all sides, even when my wild adventure of a life is crashing around me. After all, adventures don’t feel like adventures when you’re in them (that’s what C.S. Lewis said, at least).

Isn’t it crazy that I’m starting to self-identify as a kind person? I’d always wanted to be a bunch of other things first: I wanted to be described as funny or social or engaging or confident, but I’m realizing that treating every person with kindness and respect is the most powerful thing I can do. It’s been a while since I’ve thought this, but I think this can make the world a little bit brighter. So, my story is here [and it’s queer] and I’m not going to let other people’s negative energy stop me. And I can’t afford to stop.


A little more creative [and a bit more love]: Date plans, meet-ups, and opening lines of a memoir

What’s the opening line of your memoir?

A few different options that reflect how wild life can be

  • Things are wild, but I wouldn’t have it any other way
  • The way they [stay] tells you everything (adapted from Rupi Kaur’s milk and honey)
  • Life isn’t perfect – but it is beautiful, inspiring, and magical most of the time.
  • If it’s not alright, it’s not the end – this simple reminder has kept me moving forward.
  • I’m lucky to know rejection so well
  • No good story is ever told once
  • God I love butterflies

Your first and your most recent lover meet

I’m sitting in Café on the Ave and taking deep breaths. I’ve been planning this moment for a while, the one where my past and present collide. I’m not sure what I want out of this meeting – am I seeking excitement, anxiety, or straight up horror? I put on “Show Me Love,” my go-to song for healing and feel a little bit better.

They both walk in the door, one after the other. I guess neither person knows who they are looking for, so they both pull out there iPhones and send me a message, “hey, where are you sitting?” I flag Frances down first and gesture for him to sit at my table.

“So, what’s new with you?” I say brightly, practically stumbling over the introduction I’ve been rehearsing for the last half an hour.

“Pretty good!” Frances responds as he pulls a headphone out of his ear. “Winter quarter isn’t making me freeze to death, so we’ll call it a victory.” I blink at this joke because I said the exact same thing to my friend last week – I guess I’ve never stopped being struck by how similar we are.

I nod politely as I look out for Sam to show up. Frances doesn’t do well with silence, which becomes evident when he starts drumming his fingers on the table.

“Have you heard Drake’s new song? I mean obviously you have, but is it a yay or nay for God’s Plan?” Frances asks as pulls out his wallet.

I smile because he knows me so well. I love it when someone knows what I’ve been listening to. The smile fades quickly because I see Sam enter the doorway. I see her thick brown hair first as she pushes it out of her face and smiles at the person coming in behind her. She gives me a small wave and walks over.

“Phew, I made it!” she says she sits down. She turns to Frances and offers a handshake. “Sam – and you are?”

“Frances! I’ve heard so much about you,” Frances after giving me the side eye. In this moment, all I want to do is melt.

“Well, here we are,” I blurt out, interrupting their polite conversation. They look up and stare at me in confusion, and I can feel myself blushing.

~  not sure where this is going, I’ll all about the chase and build-up ~

Describe the perfect date night: setting, food, & ending

Well, anyone who knows me should have figured out that I want to start any good date in Capitol Hill. Hopefully, we can start by visiting the murals off of Broadway Street next to Cal Anderson Park (I think). Then, we stop into General Porpoise donuts (my vote is on the chocolate marshmallow donut. Then, we need to take an extra long walk on the rainbow roads of the city that have always welcomed me home in my purest form. I hope that the sun is shining so I’ve traded in my black puffy jacket for some lacy shorts and a crop top. I hope that my significant other and I are holding hands and laughing a lot, but also talking about things that matter most to us. I hope our conversations are as meaningful as they are vulnerable, and that we can see each other clearly by the end.

Ah yes, the ending. Well, my motto has always been, “if you’re having fun, don’t leave.” So, I hope that it doesn’t end too early because I love a 6 hour date 😉


Musings: A window into the past | 1/29/18

I’m constantly struck by how many things are different between now and this time last year. This time last year, I was a Public Health major taking CSE 143, hitting submit on my application to the College of Engineering, seeing 15-20 students a week to help them apply for the same major, applying to every internship in sight, and learning what meaningful relationships should feel like.

I know I write about this a lot, but it’s honestly ~ wild ~  as evidenced by my writing from this time last year. I guess I was given the opportunity to re-enter some of those emotions, so I decided to write about that here. It’s rough buddy, but it’s honest:

I opened a portal

Into a world that was no longer mine

I stepped in gingerly

Into a place that wasn’t mine anymore

I search for you in the nooks and crannies

I peer around the corner and barely recognize


I brush my hands over words carved into the wall

They felt different last time

I fall back,

Wondering if I can will this moment away

Take me back

To when things weren’t perfect or easy but they always felt right

I look up at the sky

Feel the rain hit my face

Offering something close to clarity

I stumble back into the door

I don’t feel welcome

But I want the feeling

What pieces can I take?

I search for the line in the sand

Turning this moment over in my hands

Do I know how to be in love anymore

Is this love

How do they leave

And take you with them

All at the same time

My key doesn’t work here anymore

What happened to the dream

I got tired of chasing something

That could never be mine




A little more creative: Betrayal, stories, and being kinder to myself | Jan. 27, 2018

If I forgive betrayal

The short answer is yes.

As a writing tutor, I’m always seeing people and their work for its potential. Even if someone doesn’t have a fully developed story, I can look at the pieces and extract the most meaningful parts to highlight. Then, I ask the student, “what the heart of your story?” or “what story do you need to tell the most urgently?” From that moment, we can craft a narrative that summons the best of the person and their writing.

This is why I like to see things for all they could be – when I do this with students, I can give them an opportunity to tell stories with honesty and urgency. It’s my job to extract meaning and help them feel confident in what they’re hoping to tell.

But what if someone has the potential to make me happy but they don’t in real life? At what point do you stop seeing people for what they could give you? See, I’m so lucky to have crazy amazing friends who inspire me with their work ethic and accomplishments. One of my best friends is TAing a class and her sections’ grades are among the highest in the entire course. My other pal just finished taking the MCAT and receives scores of research scholarship for her work. My co-worker is applying to higher education programs while maintaining a strong sense of faith and community.

But despite all of these meaningful relationships, I still choose people who betray me and my trust. I really do trust most people, and it’s hard when people break that. Even when I’m hurt, I found myself telling people everything about my life even when I don’t think they deserve it.

So, do I forgive betrayal? I think I do, but I want to work on not trusting the most vulnerable parts of myself with people who don’t love me completely. My friends are so easy to love and give me so much life, and I never want to lower this standard.

What does happiness look like for you?

It’s a lot of different things. For a long time, happiness existed in the form of a stable long-term career where I could make a living. If I couldn’t check this box, how else would I be able to take care of myself? Once I felt like I found that in tech, my new goal was to find meaningful relationships. I’m so excited to see who else will come into my life because happiness includes a whole lot of stories, people who make me better, and curated playlists depending on my mood.

Right now, happiness looks like being in control of my health. I’ve been doing a better job of running regularly to make sure that I’m keeping up my endurance and feeling strong, but I’m also trying to eat regularly and take care of my physical body! I’m trying to write more, create articles about things that matter by being a diversity beat reporter, and drinking a lot more water and tea (the health benefits are real, friends). I’m lucky to be creating memories every single day and even if the people in my life come and go, I feel ready for whatever stories I’ll be able to tell by the end of this year.

Regardless of what happiness looks like, I hope it involves an openness to adventure and new beginnings.

What have you been thriving in lately?

Lately, I’ve been thriving in making time for my pals, even though I’m taking 19 credits and feel a lil’ bit tired but mostly fulfilled (mostly because I’m trying to cut out coffee).  I’m pursuing my dream major and challenging myself to be better at visual design, but I’m also writing about the theory of technological politics, evolutionary biology, and diversity and inclusion.

I feel really blessed to be exactly where I am. The other day, my friend says, “I hope everything works out, whatever that means” and I want this too. I’m learning to live in the moment and be kinder to myself as I am, but also who I could be.