High-functioning Anxiety

I recently watched a video about high-functioning anxiety and it really resonated with me. It taught me what high functioning anxiety looks like. High functioning anxiety looks like achievement. It looks like normal.  It looks like calm. And to me, that is what makes it so dangerous.

People often have an image of someone closing themselves off or being unable to smile whenever they think of anxiety or depression. But mental disorders do not have to look like that. It scares me to think of the number of people who live their lives with battling thoughts every day. The number of people who keep telling themselves that they are okay because they can get up every day and make it out. The number of people who are scared of “faking it”. The number of people who are battling over every single decision just to make sure they don’t mess up. It scares me.

I will not self-diagnose myself… but I will say that I know what it feels like to constantly try to make the right decision. To try to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good sister, a good person… and believing you are not one when the smallest thing goes wrong. I know what it looks like to be careful at every single minute of your life… yet to pretend that you are the most carefree person out there and smile. I know what it feels like to dance in the rain and feeling joy… and knowing that a small part of the joy comes from the knowledge that no one will be able to see your tears if they accidentally escaped your eye ducts.

I lost myself somewhere in the battle between careful and carefree. But I find myself every day so it’s okay.

Just please be aware that a smile can hide a million things and always be kind to each other and yourselves.

The Changing Shades of Pink

I am darn sure those flowers were pink, no matter how many times Google images brings up the images of dark red flowers when faced with my search “pomegranate flowers”. I remember the trees towering over me in my youth. I remember trying to climb them to get the fruit. I never succeeded.

My childhood was filled with many hot days and hours and hours of running after my siblings under the shade of our ever growing pomegranate trees. Those pomegranate trees are gone now. My grandfather got rid of them the day after my dad left for the US and we left to go live with our grandma. They required too much care that no one could provide them.

I do not know if they would have been able to survive had we left them there and I guess I never will. All I know is that part of the sweet emotion that runs through me when I hear the word “nostalgia” is the sweet yet tangy taste of the pomegranate seeds from our trees.
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Nostalgia is trying to climb up those trees and reach the fruit hanging from the limbs and never being able to make it.

Nostalgia is catching the pomegranates as our father threw them to us from the top of the trees that we could never reach.

Nostalgia is racing with my siblings to see who could get the most pomegranates.

Nostalgia is bringing the pomegranates back to the kitchen, where our mother sat, criss-cross apple sauce style, and peeled away at the pomegranates because our fingers were not quite strong enough to peel the thick skin just yet.

Nostalgia is spinning under the trees that now bore pink flowers instead of the red fruit and trying to catch the petals that came down despite the defiance of the wind.

Nostalgia is elusive, just like the colors of our pomegranates.

Eid Mubarak

Today was Eid. Since “life doesn’t stop for anyone” (especially if you are a college student), I went to school regardless of the fact that it was Eid today. Even though Islam is the second largest religion practised in the world today, few people know of Eid or its significance. Questions like “Didn’t you have Eid this past summer?” and “Why are there two Eid’s?”So today I will share a story that my first-grade teacher shared with me a long long time ago. The story of why we celebrate Eid-ul-Adha, the “Festival of the Sacrifice”.

One day, Prophet Ibrahim A.S. (Abraham) had a dream. In this dream, he was told by Allah to sacrifice the thing that is nearest and dearest to his heart. He thought long and hard about what was nearest and dearest to his heart and decided that his son was, in fact, nearest and dearest to his heart. Prophet Ibrahim A.S. did not hesitate a single moment and went forth to tell his son, Ismail, about Allah’s command. Being a believer, Ismail did not hesitate either and they set forth for the sacrifice. Ibliis (Satan) was there every step of the way, trying to  mislead Ismail and scare him into disobeying God’s command. Ismail’s faith did not shatter, however.

They went to the man who was to sacrifice Ismail and Ismail lay down on the table, ready to die for Allah. The man blindfolded Ibrahim so he would not have to see his son suffer and brought down the knife as hard as he could to Ismail’s throat, but the knife just would not cut through. He tried again. He could not bring the knife down. Then he tried once more and the knife did go down all the through. Ibrahim removed his blindfold and found that instead of his son, there was a dead ram on the table. He was afraid that he had somehow disobeyed Allah. But then came a voice that told them that it had just been a test for Ismail and Ibrahim to test their faith and they had passed. From that day onwards, we sacrifice an animal, such as a lamb, goat, or cow and human sacrifice was forever forbidden.

To me, this is a story of faith. It is a story of Islam, of submission. It is not a story of violence, nor is it a story of killing blindly. And it breaks my heart when people make it out to be one. 

I have had FREINDS who have argued with me that it shows the violence that Islam is “deeprooted” in when I have told them this story of faith that I learned as a first grader. Perhaps it is because of that itself that I am afraid to tell them that it’s Eid anymore. But I want us all to be aware, of holidays and traditions all around the world that those around us celebrate.

Eid-ul-Adha is not celebrated right after Ramadan but after the first ten days of the holiest month. It is often accompanied by Hajj, which has another story behind it that I encourage everyone to look up if they can. I apologise if I have gotten any part of the story telling wrong but I strongly feel the need to share the story of Eid.

I felt like I met my people whenever someone smiled and said “Eid Mubarak”. Heck, I contemplated starting wearing a hijab so that more people would be able to tell that I am Muslim when Hijabis would greet each other and not realise that I too am Muslim. I wanted to claim my identity. 

I want to say “thank you” to everyone who took the time to stop and wish me Eid Mubarak today. I want to especially thank the two girls in the bathroom who went so far as to stop me and give me a hug. I may not remember your names but that gesture meant a lot to me.

I hope to see a world someday where more people are aware of religious holidays and festivals that those of other cultures and religions around them might be celebrating. Eid Mubarak.

 

Recharging My Spirits

I have lost a total of three eyelashes today. To the crazy girl I was, that would amount to a total of three free wishes that she would have made with a smile on her face and blown away with just as much gusto. But today, this girl did not make a single wish.

I texted my friend who is off to college yesterday, with the same “Booo!” that greets everyone. He sent me a picture of the group he was chilling with and my heart told me it’s best to let him be.

When I met the boy whom I thought was Mitch and learned he was Andre, I chatted with him for about 3 minutes and ran out of things to say. I spent a good twenty minutes talking to a girl whose name I did not know but as soon as class ended and her name greeted me, I had no desire to keep talking to her anymore.

I was the girl who loved fiercely and cared passionately. The girl always willing to help you, even if it hurt her. The girl who smiled even when she wanted to cry. And that hurt. 

In fact, it hurt so much that I think my heart’s immunity system finally woke up. It has closed off its walls. It needs to recharge. I had tried to ignore its cries for rest and I tried to go on loving, hoping it would recharge as I went on.

But charging your phone while using it only worsens its ability to charge. Maybe I need this break. I will give myself this break. 

Perhaps then I will be able to be the crazy girl who loves like hell and laughs until she cries. I will be waiting for the day my heart is fully charged again.

Her Hijab

 

 

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There is elegance in the way she wears her hijab as her crown.

It’s in the way she wraps it around her head, and ties a knot near her neck to secure it in place.

It’s in the way it sometimes matches the rest of her outfit and other times clashes against it. Yet she wears it anyways.

There is elegance in the way she wears her hijab as her crown.

There is elegance in the way her eyes meet those of everyone who mistakes her choice as her weakness and say “You are wrong”.

There is elegance in her blend of confidence and humility.

There is elegance in the way she wears her hijab as her crown.

 

Why I Don’t Post Pictures on Social Media

I don’t post pictures on social media. It is not because I do not want my friends to know what I am up to. It is not because I don’t care too much about social media. It is not because I am too busy to do so. It is not that I don’t like to have all my pictures be in a place where I can easily share AND access them in the future. In fact, the prospect of that idea sounds very appealing.

Yet I don’t post pictures on social media.

I simply do not post pictures on social media because I realise I have a lot to lose. The idea of nazar, or the evil eye, was introduced to me as a young child. I have grown up hearing my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles talk about the losses they faced and how they think it’s because so and so was impressed by the object they have lost. I have lost too many things to nazar to risk it again.

I clearly remember the time I was given the task of delivering dishes to our neighbour’s house. It was a bit dark outside but their house was right across the street (the streets were not quite as big as they are here). I remember the look on their face when they opened the door. The look of surprise and awe. I was 7 and what many would call “chubby and adorable”. A step in and that was all it took for our neighbours to pull my cheeks, offer me candy, and pack a bag of fruit for me to take along home. I had a fever and could not get out of bed for the next week. I had been subjected to their nazar.

Whenever I told any of my friends about this, they gave me that look. That look that says “do you really believe that?” That look with the worried eyes that the forced smiles are trying to hide that says “they didn’t get in trouble, did they?”, believing my beliefs to not just be foolish but harmful.

No, my neighbours did not get in trouble. In fact, I think of them even today with fondness and tenderness. They have given context to the word “nazar” for me. A context my American friends have not been blessed with.

With this context and incidents just like that one, I have grown extremely cautious about anything and anyone I love. I have found myself losing things that I valued because I boasted about them. I have found that whenever I am quick to share my good luck, it often vanishes.

I make an effort to not share pictures of my brother being his excessively cute self or to tell anyone about that sweet gesture of the person I love because I can’t bear to lose these things or have them be hurt. And when I do share them, I do it with a prayer to Allah to protect us from the evil eye and keep us under his protection. I quietly whisper “Mashallah” whenever someone praises a loved one. If anything, I wish I could whisper it aloud and with confidence.