2019 picked up as quickly as it came. It seemed like a pretty busy start for pretty much everyone – lots of my friends have begun to have school runs (only a reminder of how fast time flies and how quick children grow!), and for me I had my second book launch to sort out, and yet another travel plan to kick start my new year. Amidst the chaos, I seemed to have less time to do my favourite thing come each new year – making New Year Resolutions.
For as long as I can remember, I have always loved making New Year Resolutions. There is just something about the turn of every 365 days, that allows me to physically calculate my milestones; for some reason this makes me feel assured that I have done something with my life. It’s the control freak in me that loves to know how far I’ve come and plan what else I’d do in the future.
This year, instead of making a list of things I plan on doing, I am making a list of things I need to improve on with myself. I’ll consciously make efforts to try and work on them this year, but won’t put up a measurable expectation.
First of all, I definitely, definitely need to learn to become more financially savvy. Last year’s travel-mindlessly-without-a-care-in-the-world actually did put a dent in my wallet. I have no intentions of slowing down this year, but I certainly know that I can work out better ways to make that lifestyle more sustainable. Being a responsible adult (blergh! I’m an adult boo-hoo) also means that I now have to be more mindful about where the $$$ goes, and although investments, trust funds, savings and stuff had been and always will be a bore to me (as do most adulating things), I know that I need to think about them eventually if I have hopes of financial freedom (as we all do, no matter who we are).
Secondly, I wish to improve my relationships with others. I am fully aware that I have an amazing support system any girl can ask for. I have supportive parents and siblings, friends who genuinely care about me, and colleagues who are constantly helpful (believe it or not, I’ve never had a terrible boss!). Unfortunately, I do notice that as I grew busier, I sometimes forget to nurture these relationships. I firmly believe that my quality of life is determined by the quality of my relationships, and so looking forward I want to make conscious efforts to stay connected to people I value the most. For example, a friend noted that I tend to ‘fall off the grid’ sometimes and not reply to text messages, and/or fail to show up to gatherings (admittedly, this happens a lot when I’m in my ‘writing cave’). I would like to show up more for my family and friends.
Thirdly, I want to challenge myself to stop gossiping altogether. Frankly I don’t do much of it anymore these days, but there was a time last year when I was conscious of the fact that I was indulging in some bad talk over others’ and their choice of lifestyles. Oprah says that gossiping is just an exhibition of your own low self-esteem, and Oprah is my gal so let’s try to have none of those this year.
The fourth thing I want to work on is of course, my third book. I’m pretty sure I can guarantee that we won’t be seeing a new book from me this year. Although I’ve begun to work on it, I foresee that it will take a long time to finish, as I am quite happy to really indulge in it for as long as I can this time around. It’s a new territory I’m excited to work on!
Lastly, I would like to put myself in more unfamiliar situations. The thing about growing older is you tend to want to become a social hermit; you’d want to stick around with only things and people you’re familiar with. Which is great, but over the years I’ve realised that being more adventurous and delving into unfamiliar territories are what kept my life more exciting and inspired. So more conscious efforts to try new and unfamiliar things in the future.
How about you? What are the things you’d like to work on come this new year?
I will be the first to admit that yes, I am a sucker for New Year. I know a lot of people tend to think that the whole ‘New Year, New Me’ thing is such an overplayed cliché, but I respectfully disagree! I love the idea that a new year can be used as a kick off medium to further improve yourself through resolutions. I especially love looking back at a past year and realising that I have in fact achieved them in my aspirations to become a better person (I hope). For example, in 2015 I have achieved my goal of not watching the Kardashians anymore, wearing sunblock everyday (yes, every damn day!), keeping a good tab on my daily prayers, making an effort to join more charity work than 2014 and exercising at least twice a week. They are small milestones, but they made a huge difference in my life.
For the past week I had been reflecting on 2015 and concluded that I have had a shit year. Aside from some things that did go well, the rest sort of went downhill from the get-go. Feeling melancholic, I started writing a post about how sad and gloomy it had been. But this morning, as I scrolled down Facebook and saw everybody’s comments on what 2015 had been for them, I realised… everyone seems to have had a generally challenging year too. A couple of friends lost their jobs, some lost their loved ones, my neighbour got robbed, a mutual friend was diagnosed with cancer, deranged guys are killing civilians, racist weirdos are Prime Ministers and Presidents, and the list goes on.
As I read through this, it dawned on me that I am officially and undoubtedly, an ungrateful little twat. Sure, just because everyone has bigger problems does not mean mine are less valid. But looking around, amidst all the tragedies there are so many things to be happy about. One day we were having a family meal, a feast, more like, and while everyone was tucking in my Dad said, “Do we realise that some people don’t even get to eat?” He didn’t mean to be a buzzkill, but it sure made the food taste even better, because it made everyone at the table have gratitude and ultimately, happier for the simple blessing that is food on the table. And family to eat with. In a stable home. Such a wonderful life.
So in 2016, one of my resolutions is to project gratitude. I don’t want to just sit in my comfy apartment wearing nice clothes eating fancy food and say I’m grateful. That is NOT enough. Gratitude needs to be exhibited. Portrayed. Whether it be through trying to help others with small gestures, doing my part for the environment, getting off my bum and out there doing physical charity (rather than just ‘liking’ a photo on FB) or even simple things like not being wasteful and accepting challenges in life with a hindsight that there are so many other things I’ve got going on for me.
On a more selfish note, there is this Islamic saying I read somewhere that says “until you are grateful, you will never get better things in life”. And I want better things!! So here is to being grateful.
Note: Other 2016 resolutions include – sleep for 7 hours max in a day, watch less than 3 hours of TV per week (exception: The Walking Dead, Homeland, Game of Thrones), see one new place per month, go for Umrah, learn a new skill (last year was Yoga). Terms and conditions apply.
Another note: Last night I went to see the NYE fireworks in the city. The grandma in me initially detested this idea, but it turned out to be so much fun! Gotta add this to my 2015 highlights.
I had lunch with a good friend of mine. We’d known each other for a good few years now, and it’s safe to say that my rapport is an open book to us. As we proceeded to discuss about what our progress and what was going on with our lives, my friend evaluated.
“You never take chances.” That was concluded of me.
A glass broke somewhere. Or at least, that was how it felt. Sometimes it takes another person who’s not in the bubble to point out things that were already obvious otherwise. I’m not a risk taker, I realized. Everything that I have done is on the basis of being safe, and of sparing myself from any idea of failure. I am the woman who sits and wait for things to fall on her lap. I am that person who resists change.
The signs couldn’t be more obvious. I insisted on settling down in the same area of the city as the one I first landed in when I got a job, because I didn’t want to have to start over in a different place, with different people and a different grocery store. I used the same Goddamn vintage mobile phone until it broke into pieces that I had no choice but to get a new, smarter one. I got an offer to study in Paris two years ago, but wimped out at the last minute because the idea of me being alone in a foreign city with a language I didn’t understand was daunting to me. I never show my true emotions unless I’m 100% sure that my vulnerability will not be screwed over. I kept wearing the same backpack when traveling even when it’s so aged that one of the handles is longer than the other, because well, what if I don’t like the new one as much? I can’t seem to be crossing the line to the next phase of my life, because I see it as a cliff – if I jump I might never be able to come back.
I don’t take enough chances in life. What’s the cause of this? Possibly through years of experiencing or witnessing other people take that leap, only to crash and burn. It is an ugly scar that reminds me of the mess I’ll have to clean up if it didn’t work out. It is the fear of things not turning up the way I’d hoped them to be that stops me in my tracks.
But if I don’t take chances… well I’d imagine that life would be quite dull. I’ll carry on being exactly like I am right now, forever. I’m not saying right now isn’t great. But I have a feeling if things are still same ten years from today, I’ll be so bored with everything that I’ll eventually join some kind of community chess club. And nobody wants to end up there. That’s plateau-life territory.
So I guess I’ll try to take a bit of a risk. Let’s start with having a chicken sandwich instead of the usual egg tomorrow morning.
In about one week I’ll turn twenty-five.
Twenty five. 25.
I don’t think I deserve to be 25 at all. In my mind I am still a big fat baby. When I was in high school I looked at my twenty-something year old relatives and thought that they were such grown adults who seemed to know exactly where their lives are headed and what they wanted to do. I sit in my room right now, in a rented apartment, and I think about that night I sat in bed and wrote resolutions on what I will accomplish as I turned 24. That was a year ago? Wow.
What’s different since a year ago? Well some things remain the same, like my obsession with Coldplay, my thoughts on flat shoes (shouldn’t be worn in broad daylight) and my fondness for movies and my love for my family and friends. I still like Harry Potter books, I still love cooking and I still would like to go to Iceland.
But in a year, so many things have been so different. I travelled more. I backpacked across Vietnam with a bunch of amazing people, and saw so many amazing things. I swam for the first time with turtles and sharks. I finally got involved with charity instead of just talking about it, and I loved the feeling that I am actually making an effort in trying to make a difference in the world. I discovered a new dimension with my family, from which I learned that the true essence of being a family is being able to pull through the bad times together and come out of it with more love for each other. After all, what is life if it is not with a family? Subsequently, this has also taught me a thing or two about men and relationships. It's not just about being consumed with the idea of finding a guy, any guy. It's about Mr Right, not Mr. Right Now (but of course, if they both happen to be the same guy, well then more power to you LOL).
My twenty-fourth year has also showed a phase change – everyone seemed to be getting married and making babies! To tell you the truth, I was a bit taken aback by all these changes, and frankly a little pressured at first (especially at weddings. Why won't these aunties give me a break??), but with time I have learned that everyone has their own timing for everything that happens in their lives. There is no point comparing your life to others because they are never even for a second similar. We don't have the same time graph. Birth, death, wealth, hardships, we all have our own schedules for that. Everybody has a calling in life, and thus nobody should be judging anybody else about how their lives have turned out.
Some things remained the same, and some things have changed, but some other things seem to still be in progress. I am still in the process of figuring out my path. Some days I look around and it seems like everyone knows exactly what they’re doing, and I am still pretty clueless. I am still planning my travels for the next few years – hopefully I’ll get to see the world a little bit more. I am still learning the curves of financial planning. I am still trying to become a better Muslim. I am still very excited about what life has in store for me. I hope I get to live my dreams and take my family along with me for a great many years, and grow old happily, spending my days on my front porch with a view together with my husband, sitting around laughing with my high school girlfriends like we always do, going for weekend trips with my bunch of friends, doing something I absolutely love for a living, having firm feet on the ground on my faith and religious beliefs, joining charities and changing the world.
And of course, I hope I'll eventually have a really nice record player with all Coldplay songs on it.
Every year I make optimistic resolutions. I will be rich. I will have toned legs that would make Jennifer Aniston look bad. I will travel to at least one different country. I will start reading the newspaper. Things like that.
But 2011 turned out to be a significant year for me in terms of life lessons. I think I’ve had it pretty easy for the past 23 years. I had been comfortable. I’ve never really faced anything that was too hard. I’ve always had a place to bounce. On my 24th year (that’s 2011, folks), I learned the biggest lesson so far; you are responsible for your own self.
You may have parents who would always catch you, but the truth is, parents are just humans too. There is only so much that they can do. If you have a spouse, they may empathize, but they’ll never be able to replace you. By the end of the day, it always boils down to just you. You can blame the food, you can blame Lady Gaga, you can blame your next-door neighbor, and heck, you can even blame the technology. But the truth is, whatever happens to you will always, always be up to you.
So this year’s resolution is to – wait for it – have faith in myself.
Gosh, I sound like one of those middle aged women on Oprah.
It's Ramadhan again, which means here's a big fat excuse to sit with your family and loved ones and feast until you're a spitting image of Jack Black.
But today when we go back home and sit around the dinner table with the clan, we should take a moment and savor it.
How many more Ramadhans? How many more break-fasting evenings will we have before our parents are missing? Or one of your family and friends are no longer at their chairs?
And while we're at it, remember that some children are sitting at a canteen somewhere in an orphanage, with awful food and without a Mom and a Dad. And that's all happening right now, right when you are over throwing out food in the trash from excessive buying. Right when your parents are at their homes but you choose to not be with them anyway.
'Tis the season to be grateful. My resolution is to not sit around and feel sorry for those kids, but to get up and do something about it. Maybe I'll take an orphan child into my home someday (InsyaAllah, and hopefully I'll get a husband who's open to it as well :D ). But today, this month, I'm going to get my butt off the floor and figure out something. Maybe I'll donate food. Or just give money. A lot of people spend their lives talking about change, but never really doing anything to change it. So yep, my goal this month is to do something.
How about you?