Why is it so scary to make changes?

Is it because we are afraid of the people who knew us before? Is it because we are not sure if we are ready to become that person yet? Is it because there are too many doubts clouding our memories already? When you set out on a new journey it is easy to remember the mishaps, disappointments,…

Just because you don’t know what to say…

Doesn’t mean it’s hard to tell I’m in a daily battle of pain. Doesn’t mean your mind doesn’t fill in the blanks with what your life would look like in the same scenario. Doesn’t mean you can dismiss our words as invalid or inappropriate. Doesn’t mean you should ask how I’m doing. Even if you…

Between identities

It’s interesting to live in a world where you feel like you’re always apologizing for who you are. But what do you do if you feel like you’re between identities? Then, it’s even worse. I’ve been asked why my English is so good (more than once, and no, an eyeroll is not an appropriate response). I’ve…

Why the Swet Shop Boys are better than a boy band

Have you heard of The Swet Shop Boys? If not, have you heard of Heems? If not, have you heard of Riz Ahmed? If not, have you heard of Star Wars? The Swet Shop Boys are code-switchers. They can fit into molds, places, and people you’d never expect. In the 90s, I was a teeny-bopper, boy-band…

It’s not easy to be sad…

Because sometimes, you have to explain something you never saw coming happened, and now you are living the worst possible nightmare every morning. Because your heart is so full to capacity that your brain can’t seem to comprehend anything else. Because when you think ahead to big events, you want to freeze everything and rewind…

Don’t let it be true.

Don’t let it be true. Don’t let it come to light. Don’t let it tear into every moment of my day. Don’t let it be what we fear. Don’t let it be something that stops the world as we know it. Don’t let it unfold. Don’t let it be what happens to us now. Don’t…

Dear 15-year old me

A challenge from Jubilee; Thanks for tagging me in this challenge! Your words truly inspired me and made me wish I had you in my fifteen year old self’s ear as well. Dear fifteen-year old Tara, Here are a few things I wish I knew when I was your age. Instead of imagining you have nothing…

Ten daily outrages

Let me clear about this one: nobody asked for this one. They didn’t ask for the circumstances that led me to write this piece, nobody has asked how our lives have changed, and no one has asked what makes this the hardest time of our lives. But I believe in putting it out there – so…

I invited myself along…

To a book challenge Word Wonders put up. If you are in need of some new reading material, look no further! How many books is too many books in a book series? I’m conflicted about this. When I was little, I DEVOURED the Thoroughbred, Boxcar Children, Babysitter’s Club, Sweet Valley High, Nancy Drew series…As long…

Grief has a funny way of showing itself…

Sometimes it’s jagged edges that hurt when you try to swallow. Sometimes it’s laughing so hard you can’t breathe and thinking of their laughter. Sometimes it’s taking in your big moment and wishing you could turn to them at your side. Sometimes you forget, for just a moment, that they’re not there anymore. And then…

I had a dream

When I was younger, I had a dream. That one day, I’d be able to speak my mind without worrying about what others thought, that one day, I could write without consequence, that my actions could be mine and mine alone. But that hasn’t happened yet. In 1996, in a parking lot after my sister and…

Stop making EVERYTHING catered to men

There’s nothing wrong with writing stories about men, or having male protagonists. There’s not even anything wrong with men watching certain channels. The problem is that it’s the NORM to write women out, and that means our stories are not told. This summer, a movie is being released called The Sisters Brothers. Despite its title, there’s…

It is a luxury to be apolitical

Because you’re not worried about someone else deciding whether or not you’ll see your family again. How you’re seen to strangers who have never met you is not a thought that has crossed your mind. You control what people say about your culture. Because you don’t have to be ready, at a moment’s notice, to…

Now you’ll look ‘cooler’

When I was standing at a party in college, a friend of mine came up to me and gave me his beer to hold. “There,” he said, “now you’ll look cooler.” I slowly and silently handed it back to him, mouth open, not sure how to respond. Soon after, I left the party, unsure why…

Observations of an inbetween

What do you think of when you think of in-between? I’m from the US, and my parents are from Pakistan. My experience became an inbetween without me – but I’m not the only one, and would love to hear more about what you go through, too. Wearing all-black backpacks can sometimes cause a lot of…

5 ways to be more you in Ramadan

Every year, on a date that might seem random to outsiders (the date fluctuates depending on the lunar calendar), some (no, not all, and if we are, please avoid saying these things) Muslims fast for 30 days straight. That means that some of us abstain from food, drink, or sexual activity sunrise to sunset for…

The feminist voice

As Mothers’ Day weekend comes to an end, I want to re-examine my perceptions of feminism. Growing up, I never thought of myself as a feminist. My perception of feminism was women with strong opinions, brash reactions, and harsh attributes. But today, I look at feminism as more than just strong women. I look at my…

What is a legacy?

Today, we had a candidate come in for a position my company is looking to fill. He shared he often thinks about his legacy and what he’ll leave behind in this world. He’s always trying to fill a need or discover something helpful or contribute in a grander way. It got me thinking: what mark…

What color skin do you want to be when you grow up?

When you were growing up, did you know what color you wanted to be when you grew up? Did you even think about it? Teenagers in the US brag about their tans but don’t have to answer why they tan. Instead, a tan is a trademark of sunny days lounging,  vacation, and, ultimately luxury. In contrast,…

What is February 3 2018?

My family, my Muslim brothers, and sisters, my friends, and I today have a challenge. In the UK, it’s Punish a Muslim Day. What sounds like a cruel joke is, in fact, real life. Before you tell me we’re imagining things, or things can’t be rough, well, they can be. Even across the world, we’re trying…

Happy so-many-things!

For many of us in intercultural relationships, the act of mixing and matching traditions can easily get overwhelming. Do we drop some customs and pick up others? Do we create all new ones? OR – do we blend them all together? My Swedeheart and I find this challenging, but also exciting! Last time I was home,…

Forgiveness

In the wrong hands, I was lied to, manipulated, and cheated. I’ve been in the process of forgiveness for many years now. In some instances, I have found myself able to let go (quite often when it’s not forgiveness for myself), but some feel further away. How do others do it so seamlessly? People like…

In the land of books and identity

In a time where differences are brought up more than ever, I have craved something new in my books: a recognition of where we are now. Lately, I’ve been seeking out books with authors whose names remind me of my own, names that are (often) mispronounced and mark us as different than the people around…

A New Year.

New years hold some kind of promise, don’t they? They whisper of new adventures, new escapes, new getaways. With a new year, we can learn something more, something new. Every year, I try to set a reading goal, books read or papers highlighted through. But this year, I want to make myself a promise of…

The complications of teaching English as an inbetween American

Two weeks ago exactly, I embarked on a new adventure: teaching English. I’m an inbetween American. I have the privilege of being the daughter of immigrants whose education was influenced by their colonizer, and so – I both love and detest the power language can signify to another country. During orientation before we began teaching, I found myself…

So, I’m a woman who wears two rings.

  Every morning, I slide on two rings. When I wear them, I am on the receiving end of “ma’am,” sly remarks about my husband, and intrusive questions (and yes, I include questions about the medication I am or am not on as intrusive). The number of children I must have or must be about to…

Why American TV now is exciting

Fresh Off the Boat: a term for a person who has just moved to America, and a show about an Asian-American family that I somehow relate to for its portrayal of a strict mother, a father always working, and kids jamming to grunge music. Redheads, characters with autism, and strong female characters who speak their mind…

Hometown Pride.

I’ve been thinking a lot about hometown pride today, and what that means. As an inbetween American, this term troubles me in a way it doesn’t trouble others. I was born and raised in a big, big city, a place where people wear stilettos to the gym, and then moved to a place named after…

Always leave a place a little better than you found it.

Today’s message is another from my parents. One day at the mosque back home, my mother and I noticed a huge mess in the ladies’ room. Nobody else was cleaning up the strewn-about paper towels, or mopping up the stale water, but my mother started on her hands and knees, clearing out the mess. When…

In time…

In time, you’ll understand why parents say the things you do. You’ll see the logic of the unknowns that govern their lives. Or you’ll wrap your head around new ideas, beliefs, and myths. In time, you’ll develop your voice. You’ll listen to opinions that don’t agree with yours. Or you’ll be too stubborn to hear…

Why are you still a Muslim?

After 9/11, a big question I got a lot was, “why are you still a Muslim?” This question was often pre-empted or followed by distaste, horror, or anger with my decision to remain in a religion that, until now, hadn’t received much screen time. From then on, as it did for many others, my religion…

Using my words.

Hello all, It has been a tremendous amount of time since my last post…I am both sorry for that, and glad I took some time to think without writing. Since my last post, some things have changed: My roommate is now someone I plan to spend my life (but not every second) with My marital…

Think, and let think.

In September, I will marry someone with whom I, in many ways, epitomize this graphic. I like to point out that the only thing we have in common physically is that we are both left-handed (although he always reminds me we do also each have two feet and two hands). When I first met him,…

It’s time to stretch out your thoughts.

As we grow up, we turn into different versions of ourselves. We are still us, but we have experiences that shape us and shorten us and (sometimes) stretch us. When I was younger, I only slightly veered from the safe routes. I strayed by listening to rock music, but I didn’t venture into mosh pits. I stepped…

Meanwhile, Canada did something awesome.

    Canada, you got this right. (You also got Tim Horton’s right but that’s another story for another day!…Although, fun fact: Apparently Tim Horton’s has actually been home to wedding pictures!) Let us promote a world of compassion. A world that tries to understand. A world of hearts that open, and stay open. …In…

Make a difference with your difference

When you’re not heard, there is a major misalignment in the universe. But when you choose not to be heard, does that mean you’re purposely tilting the world on its head? There should be more people who use their voices to raise awareness of an issue. Kristen Bell has a history of teaching through example. You…

New job, new adjustments

For those of you who don’t know, I recently started a new position. It stretches and challenges me in many ways (including a 40-min commute each way, which luckily has not caused any dizzy spells yet, but does lead me to worry about it on occasion). It also means sitting at a new desk. Within…

The Language of Loving a Difference

My parents moved here before my sister and I were born to follow an American dream. I feel lucky every day that my American story begins in love. But I want it to continue that way, too. Modern media has finally caught up with the fact that not all American families fit one mold. There are finally…

There’s a chance this could be WATER

“No, thanks, just water for me.” In America, when I say I don’t drink, my conversations often end. People turn away to someone who can relate to their experiences. When I say I don’t drink, people assume I won’t join them out at a bar or a party. “No, thanks, just water for me.” It…

Move over, please.

My roommate and I ride the bus together occasionally. On such occasions, we like to tuck ourselves into two adjacent seats, but here’s the key: If it’s an inconvenience to the others on the bus, we don’t do it. However, we are evidently some of the few in that category. This morning, we experienced it first-hand…

Musical realism

Music runs a fervent stream in my head all day long. It ranges in genres (teenage me will never let me forget punk/indie/rock), styles (boy bands are always a staple), and origin (mysterious, or otherwise). But music, unfortunately, knows no bounds when it comes to sexism or racism. Sexism in the music industry has been around…

How did independence forget about similarity?

We have officially crossed into August 14 (if you go by Pakistan time)… Which is Independence Day in Pakistan! Celebrations today range in ferocity, effort, and beauty. Going to Pakistan to see family meant I was able to partake in some celebrations. But one of my dearest friends is Indian. In her country, Independence Day is celebrated…

How do you categorize yourself?

How do you categorize yourself? Are you inclined to pick a label for yourself based more on what you think or feel? Or is it about your relationship to others? Or is it what you look like? I have been lucky. I have never questioned my faith or its practices, or felt embarrassment of where…

Families, and what we like about them.

In my world, family comes first. My world is where my parents’ pictures sit right beside my phone at work, even though they are the first thing I see when I turn my phone on. I wouldn’t be lying if I said my parents’ words often come out of my mouth. If you haven’t seen Gilmore Girls yet (or…

How to re-set your mindset

There are few things in the world scarier than change we don’t see coming. [Image description: Image of Veronica Mars, TV character and hero of my life, with text underneath: “You know those people who can predict when change is coming in their life? I’m not one of them. Change has a way of just…

It’s Eid! Let the feasting begin. But first…

If you haven’t seen this video, please take a few minutes and watch. It’s the best Ramadan video I’ve seen yet. As someone without a “mainstream” holiday in the United States, I have learned that my holiday is treated a bit differently. In New York City, the Mayor recognized Muslim students should be able to…

What can you do with your power today?

Women are pretty amazing. There is a lot of evidence to this statement. There are these women, who perform countless good deeds, just because they think it’s the right thing to do. Remember when Emmett tells Elle to use her powers for good? What about when Misty Copeland entered history? And what about these moves,…

What else is a comparison but a let-down for ourselves?

On the metro this week, I caught myself looking at the women around me. One had gorgeous hair, the kind that is naturally thick without being annoying or triangle shaped. (Side note: Remember when Anne Hathaway had to have triangle shaped hair for this role?) One had J. Crew-esque features; a matching dress, delicate pearl necklace,…