Sunday, September 13, 2015

On Friendship

I have 371 friends on Facebook but if I’m in trouble tomorrow will they all be there for me? No. However, I do know exactly who will be there because they’ve been there before and are still around. Occasionally you’ll have the friends who would surprise you when you’re in deepest need of help or support, those have a special place in my heart. 

To my friends, thank you for the memories we keep creating and for the smiles and laughs. Thank you for the occasional insights on life and its beauty. Thank you for sharing your experiences for they give me a glimpse on a life I’m not living but might consider to try.

But to my best friends, here is a post to you even though you won’t be reading this. For although we are best friends, I might not have mentioned this blog to you or maybe I did but a long time ago.

Omaima, my sister, it’s only right to start with a best friend I’ve known literally my whole life. Our relationship freaks people out for we’re too attached for our own good, but being the way we are was never a problem. Omaima and I don’t only share blood but we also share shoes, clothes, bags, accessories, taste in music, food and most importantly inside jokes. I’m sure I’ve forgotten a lot of things but you get it. My longest living best friend shared with me a lot of memories and while it might not be fair for the rest of my best friends, she got lucky being a sister. She gives encrypted advice that you appreciate in the middle of the night, she shows appreciation in the form of weird gestures like bum shakes. She awakens my hibernating rebel in a healthy way. In her honour, I’ll stop at this for she doesn’t like cheesy talks.

Fatma; friends since 9 year of age, best friends since 12 and a long life ahead. Before Fatoom, I changed best friends like I change my clothes, 3 times a day. I didn’t understand what a best friend meant but since Omaima had one I of course had to have one too. And the hunt began. I can’t remember how we became best friends, what life had planned for us when we were young and naive. I do know though that this best friend stuck with me even when I changed schools. I still remember calling her from my new school right after last lesson at 2:45 pm, it was the time she goes back home from the old school. We’d update each other with the day’s event and plan an outing once in a while. Life was good to us, for we later went to university away from home in the same city. Fatoom is the motherly best friend, the one full of suggestions and guidance when you’re in deepest need of them. She’s the one that constantly reminded me to get some sleep, eat, and study. She’d cook my favourite meals, go shopping with me and all the girly things best friends do on TV. She’s the typical best friend in an untypical way, if that will ever make sense.

I’ve been friends with Dana since 13, we were virtual friends and 3 years later ended up going to the same school. I still don’t remember what made me stop talking to her in the 3 years that passed until the new school, but I guess if my mind doesn’t remember it then it doesn’t really matter. I really can’t remember how we became friends again but by the end of high school and start of university I’ve found Dana as a shoulder to lean on and eventually joined the best friend circle. I’ll forever be grateful to her standing by my side on a really hard day while in the UK when my dad had his accident. I couldn’t have asked for a better person to be around. Dana is my realistic friend, that reminds me to stay hopeful and have strong faith. She doesn’t say much but whatever she says usually sticks in my mind. Dana has recently been of tremendous help with a chaotic year and for that I’m in debt to her constant support.

And finally Mariam, my bear hugging friend. My sushi partner and my marshmallow covered in chocolate best friend (hard from the outside squishy from the inside). This is my culturally aware, knowledgable best friend that always adds a new piece of info to my life. It’s worth mentioning that we constantly ask ourselves how we became best friends when we’re worlds apart when comes to thoughts about certain topics but I guess opposites attract. Mariam was also around when I got the news of dad’s accident. The mix of Mariam’s positivity and Dana’s realistic thoughts were exactly what I needed. When I need a hug Mariam is the first person I’d think of knowing the right exact words to say in the most perfect tone. I need her around for she’s a constant reminder that knowledge is the most beautiful thing a person can be.

I have acquaintances, friends and best friends. I appreciate their existence for they once were part of a memory. I try not to take memories for granted for I’ve learned they make me who I am. Today, I spent my day between friends and best friends, and I must say I realise how lucky I am to have them all around, for sticking around even though I’m not the best out there at keeping in touch. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Dear 26

Dear 26,

In a months time I’d probably be packing to embark on the new journey. The idea of leaving for a year to live with myself is surprisingly easing my tense mind. There is something about having my own rules of living that makes me happy. Having my meals whenever I want to, going out whenever I feel like it and travelling whenever I have the time. Very liberating. Writing that out made me realise that I chain myself even when I try to convince myself that I don’t care what people think. I hope by the time I reach you I’d be able to really say it and mean it, “I don’t care”.

Commitment is something new I’ve learned about myself. I never knew I had it in me with that short temper and habit of complaining at a rate of 10 complaints per second. I’m happy to say I’ve proved myself wrong. My commitment to hold onto what I think is right after a whole year of ups and downs makes me very proud of the person I am today. My commitment to find the tiny details in my days that make me happy is something I never thought I’d be able to do for 100 days continuously. The more I think about it the more I realise I never gave myself the chance before this year to commit to something. 

In 3 years time, when you read this 26, I hope you’re still holding tight to what you think is right for you. Commit to your happiness, satisfaction, dreams and hopes no matter how selfish it may sound.

Yours truly,

The one committing to 26

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Things I've Learnt In The Past Year

For the past year my life has felt like a compass trying to find north and it finally did. From where I am north is west towards London. I think I'm ready to try and think of everything I've learnt in the past year so that in the future I could come back to this and remind myself a thing or two. I have a habit of not proof reading my posts so there might be repetition, I wouldn't know.
  1. If you have the slightest feeling something doesn't feel right then speak up and say you don’t want it.
  2. never regret a decision you’ve made that you know will keep you happier, no matter what more “influential people” around you think.
  3. Don’t ever feel like you have to always justify your decisions. Some decisions are meant to be kept between you and yourself.
  4. When you feel something is right stand up for yourself and fight for it as much as you can. So you dont regret it one day.
  5. Try to live your life in a way that in the future you don't use “what if?”
  6. Never be the ladder people use to get to the top.
  7. Its ok to be selfish when it comes to your future and happiness
  8. Don’t take things for granted, appreciate all the little things around you.
  9. Projects, like plans and to-do-lists, help keeps my life and mind more organised.
  10. No matter how hard it feels while waiting, there is something better coming your way.
  11. Keep your expectations low, you wont be as disappointed.
  12. Don’t underestimate yourself, in the long run it ruins your self-esteem.
  13. It’s ok to question your parents, they don’t always know best. 
  14. You’d reach a point where you won’t appreciate your birthday because you have too much going on in your life. Don’t let that happen a lot, you need to appreciate your existence more than your problems.
  15. Read as much as you can, you’ll go to more place, experience more things and learn more. 
  16. Learn to live in peace with yourself, in the very little times this happened during the year it felt really good.
  17. Look at things you've been used to like it’s something new for it to not lose its beauty.
  18. Coffee is an art, its a ritual, a source of inspiration don't give up on it.
  19. Come up with rituals but not routines. 
  20. Surround yourself with productive people and those that poke your mind.
  21. There are 2 types of people: those who make fun of your obsessions and those that embrace it.
  22. Travel with people you can actually live with and not only tolerate. 
  23. Speak up before its too late.
  24. You don’t always have to stick to the plan as long as your goal is clear.
  25. You’re meant to change not stay the same.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

I Took Things For Granted

We take a lot of things for granted; morning coffee, health, family. Exactly a year ago, I was getting ready to leave to Leeds to attend my graduation. It was also the last time I heard my grandmother’s voice.  

Just another Ramadhan night but everyone was missing which isn’t usual. My mother, all my uncles and the heart of our family, my grandmother, were all missing. It felt weird, empty, something was definitely wrong just not sure what it was. My father told us my grandmother fell earlier and hit her head, my mother called and asked us to leave to Leeds without her. On our way to the airport, my mother called and asked me to speak to my grandmother, I took that call for granted. She apologised for my mother not joining us and congratulated me on graduating. I cired so much on my way to the airport for so many reasons. I took that call for granted, I thought I’ll be able to talk to her again, for her to be around when I come back and congratulate me once more. She was admitted to the ICU and went into a coma. We take a lot of things for granted.

My grandmother was a beautiful person inside and out. She was caring, empathetic and loving. She took care of us, treated us equally and never failed to make us smile. She used to make us popcorn at 12 am, orders all the food we love and stocks the storeroom with all types of candies, crisps and chocolates. She used to buy us toys, encourages us to play and sometimes even joins. She used to switch on the indoor fountain when we come over. She never sleeps before she’s sure we’re all comfortable. We were spoiled. We took everything for granted

Take the day to familiarise yourself with everything and everyone you got used to, you never know if they’ll be there tomorrow. Thank those around you, love more, care even more and criticise less. Appreciate all the little things that make you happy and be grateful. Call those you love, go out with them and spend as much time as you can with them. And if you have a grandmother alive, give her a hug from me because I really miss mine.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Dear 26

Dear 26,

It suddenly felt like someone put a glass bowl over my head, I zoned out and I could feel my pulse behind my ears, in my lips and in my wrists. It felt like my heart was beating write up in my head rather than my chest. 

I started reading the e-mail 

We have now made a decision on your application for Human Molecular Genetics (MSc 1YFT)

My breathing quickened. 

Everything blurred around me, I could hear my heart beating even louder.

Please login Student e-Service  to view the decision

I made sure I don't bring my hopes up. 
Keep in mind my low expectations.
Stay calm. 
Not shatter if it was a rejection.
Remember what I thought all along, I applied just for the sake of it.

Conditional offer

It took me a few seconds to register what I read.
Surreal. Just surreal.
I read the conditions: send the original transcripts & pay the deposit
The place felt like its spinning

I ran to my sister.
Switched the lights on.
Told her about it.
We did a hand dance and waist shake. We don't hug.

Conditional offer accepted

I cried.
I prayed.
Allah never disappoints

I told my dad.
He's proud
I told my mom.
I think one of her wishes came true.

I sent everything they asked for and paid the deposit.

Unconditional offer accepted

26, thanks for the surprise you left in my inbox on the 25th of June 2015. I didn't see that coming, you caught me off guard. 2 weeks later I think its time, I had to tell you how it felt before I forget so that in 3 years time you'd be able to recall how it was.

I'm going to Imperial College London!

Yours truly,
Maria at 23 (aka Imperial as Omaima likes to call me)

Dear 26

Dear 26,

Changing, like wrinkles and white hair, is part of growing up. You can't control it, it just happens. When I was around the age of 13 I was naive enough to believe I'll never change. That I'll stay the same person thinking I was as perfect as I can be. I'm glad I changed. By 26, I want to be wiser, learn to be more patient, be more appreciative, complain less, stay positive, volunteer regularly, explore more often, give more, read more and never stop learning.

As much as I hate change, how unexpected it happens, I need it to keep going. I need it to improve myself, to stay motivated, to seek for what's better. To be the best version of myself in that point in time. 

While writing this, I'm thinking about Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson. I haven't read it in a while and maybe I should. 

Yours truly,
The one that's changing 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Closing Doors

I woke up on the 1st of January 2015 in a dimly lit corridor. On both sides of the corridor were slightly opened doors, not enough for even my thin body to slip into those brightly lit rooms behind them. As far as I could see there are 7 doors, with different sounds and scents coming out of them. I tried pushing open the first 6 doors with no luck. I really wanted to go in but couldn’t. As I reached the 7th door, I was almost convinced that it won’t open from past experience, so I kicked it really hard only for the door to easily open, slamming really hard to the wall behind it. I went in and made the most out of the room until I had to leave. While there and after a while, I heard 6 loud bangs coming from outside the room. I realised it was the 6 doors I’ve seen earlier each closing tightly without giving me a chance to even go in. It happened to also be the time I had to leave the room, the minute I stepped out I heard it close quietly. I stood still in the dimly lit corridor waiting to hear any sound to guide me where to go next, I can’t go back, I can only go forward. I saw 3 new doors two of them closed the minute I touched them and the other one stood there with no light coming out of it or sound, it later closed with a bang. I now see 6 new doors that I’m afraid to touch, with my fingers in my ears, expecting them to bang.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Dear 26

Dear 26,

I don't remember the last time I've been satisfied with something I've done. I continuously raise the standards for achieving to the point where I end up achieving nothing significant. I'm probably being harsh with myself but just let me tell you, you're most honest with yourself at 5:40 am , when you're awake but lacking sleep. When you've been struggling for long trying to make something, anything, workout. I refuse to lower the standards, and it sucks to continuously fail at reaching standards you've set for yourself and no one else. 

I'm my and your harshest critic. Be ready for when I reach you to criticise every little step you will one day take. Your foot should have been straight while walking rather than 5 degrees to the side. Be ready to hear criticism that doesn't come with explanation or suggestions for improvement.

And while I'll always be your worst and harshest critic, never, and I mean never ever, ignore me. Continue with the highest standards you know you have to achieve. One day I'll make it. One day I'll meet the expectations I've set for myself.

With best of luck,
The harsh one