Call it a poem, call it a lazy attempt at a blog post, call it what you will.

Where does this desire – nay, compulsion – for constant renewal come from?

Why do I have all this energy to start projects, but then lose interest after a few months or even days?

Is this my fate, is it in my disposition to start this, start that, take on this, take on that – but then feel so inundated by everything that the only solution is to retreat from it all?

I used to think I was afraid of commitment.

I’ve changed my mind about so many things.

What career I wanted.

The type of man I wanted to marry.

The kind of woman I want to be.

As to the first, I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do – but then again, I thought the same all those other times, as well.

As to the second, I got what I wanted for the most part (yay), but also got what I needed (which is not always fun, let me tell ya).

As to the third, it’s constantly in flux.

Right now, the kind of woman I’d like to be is the kind of woman who NEVER has headaches.

***

Perhaps the source of this deluge is not all those things, but me.

Moving On

Tonight is the last night I will sleep in the room I have been sleeping in for the past 10 months.

Others live in their homes for years before they move. Some never move. Ten months is but a speck in the continuum that is life, but these 10 months have been significant for me.

Ten months ago, I said good bye to my mom and dad and brother (my sister moved out years before, but I’m sure I said good bye to her as well somehow) as I moved to Indiana to be with my husband.

That’s a big change for any person, as you can imagine. But for a Hyderabadi-Muslim woman who had always lived with an immediate family member, it was also a scary change. My family was my life. Now that I was moving away, who would I be? What would I do?

The first few months were a difficult adjustment. I missed my family so much. It’s not that I don’t miss them anymore, but just thinking of my parents brought me to tears in the beginning. Sure, I loved Mr. Rafia, but he was (is!) so different from me. I had to adjust to a new routine, a new way of doing things. The freedom actually felt threatening. Was I going to lose who I was for the past 29 years? I didn’t have any friends. I couldn’t cook (I had my fair share of mishaps). I didn’t know what I was doing with my life. I felt like a hapless mess.

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Mr. Rafia on our then new couch in our then new apartment. Models are supposed to make products look appealing. But, it’s okay, because we had already bought the sofa by then.

But then a few months later, the end of March to be exact, I started blogging again – and that seemed to herald the beginning of a new life I was happy to call my own.

As I sit to type this, attempting to ignore the physical disarray surrounding me, I can honestly say that I am looking forward to the changes ahead. I’ve slowly come to welcome the freedom I now have, though I’m still learning to fully accept it.

I hope in the years ahead, when these 10 months seem like a mere moment in time, I will look back with fondness and gratitude.

Okay, so it’s not quite the last episode of Growing Pains, but being the melodramatic drama queen that I am, I thought of that moment earlier today, when Maggie comes back into the house one last time and finds Mike’s carving on the wall. I did something similar in my parents’ home in Chicago. And who knows, maybe I’ll be a senator one day too? No, I won’t. But it’s fun to say that I might (Apologies to my readers who weren’t alive in the 80s and therefore don’t know what Growing Pains is – I only know the show because I watched the re-runs on the Disney Channel over a decade later).

Bye, folks. The next time I blog, I’ll (hopefully) have a REAL desk! Well, I’ll at least be writing in a different room.

The elephants in many rooms

If you haven’t heard by now (please take me to wherever your dwelling place may be), Donald J. Trump was elected as the 45th President of the United States of America.

This week has been disheartening, frightening, and saddening to say the least.

But am I shocked? No.

Despite what everyone in the media was saying, I am not at all shocked. I can’t don’t want to read my Facebook feed anymore. It’s just a vacuum of discontent that’s not helping me in any practical way.

Trump becoming president was an almost-unconscious fear of mine coming true, like the chickens coming home to roost. Anyone surprised by this either does not have a basic understanding of American demographics and history, or they’ve wishfully ignored it. But for what it’s worth: those who take issue with this reality can no longer remain complacent. If this is the jolt we need, then so be it. I might be in the minority here, but even though many of us wanted Clinton (as opposed to Trump), I don’t think her winning would have changed anything practically. Just like Barack Obama becoming President clearly did not signal the end of racism, Hilary Clinton becoming President most likely was not going to shatter any ceilings. If the past few years are an indication, an extra layer of glass would be installed.

That’s not to say that misogyny, racism, and xenophobia alone are the reasons why Trump won, but neither can they be completely ignored or discarded. The reasons for the election results turning out the way they did are layered. It’s a muddled mess that I can’t even fully make sense of myself at the moment.

BUT – I am not pessimistic like many of my friends and family members are. That’s not to say that I am not hesitant or fearful. But I am NOT going to let that fear and discontent affect the way I live my life.

The very next day after the election, I had two very important things take place. One, in the morning, was the first official planning meeting with all the key players for the Jewish-Muslim women’s leadership project I initiated. We all agreed that this meeting couldn’t have come at a better time. For anyone who thinks interfaith work is a bunch of baloney, all I have to say is TRUMP. Then, in the evening, we had a very informal but much-needed round table discussion on the current political climate. While the original focus was Muslim Hoosiers, it ended up being a place for all of us to share our concerns and hope for the future.

What will actually happen remains to be seen. But as I’ve been saying, the work doesn’t end after the election, regardless of the result. A mirror is being held up to society right now and if we don’t like what we see, it’s up to us to do something about it.

I’m finally the girl I used to wish I could be

It’s been a rainy weekend.

Rain, I know, is essential for living. Not just for you and for me, but for the cows… and I guess, for all the other non-cow beings in the world. But without rain, there would be no cows! And without cows, well, this blog would not exist and neither would a part of me.

But perhaps because of the rain, what otherwise would have no effect on me compelled me to seek a change in scenery.

And where did I go? The library.

Ah, the library. The one place in the world I wish I felt at home at – but never did. Until now, that is.

In the past, the library was simply the place I went to to study until my next class started or bide my time because I didn’t have any friends. It was a place of refuge, but I did not seek it for all the hidden treasures it contained.

I never was a “book nerd” in the typical sense. My sister was and still remains The Reader in the family. It would be a miracle if I could find a novel I liked and actually get around to finish it. The perennial “What’s your favorite book?” used to make me sweat bucket fulls. I never had a ready answer. But I also wasn’t comfortable with admitting that I don’t read. I’d say something like, “I’m so busy with school, all I read are textbooks! Grrr!” when in reality, school was just a convenient excuse.

As an nonathletic, chubby nerd(ish) girl, reading should have been my favorite past-time. But it wasn’t. Why wasn’t it? It was a fact about myself that I was deeply ashamed of. So ashamed, I haven’t been able to admit it until now.

Over the past few months though I’ve discovered that it was not reading fiction that I disliked, I just hadn’t discovered the genre I like. Eureka!

When I was younger, I felt that I had to read literature that was tortuous – the classics – you know, because that’s what smart people do. It sounds silly now. I’m not proud of this fact. But today, I’m okay with admitting I’d much rather watch the musical Man of La Mancha then read Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote. There! I said it!

These past few months living in a new city, so far away from what I’ve known as home, have given me an incredible opportunity to discover who I really am, deep down inside, at this particular stage in my life. I began to blog again. And that sparked an interest to write more widely. At the same time, I began to search for ideas in other writers – in books. Sometimes, it’s reading a fictional account of a life so different from your own that gives you the directive for an area in your life you had been neglecting. How does that work? I don’t know. I love it. I’m hooked.

Now I know why having fun isn’t hard when you got a library card! And when I tell everyone my favourite Disney Princess is Belle, I don’t have to attempt to justify my response.

I LOVE TO READ! I can finally say it with pride.

Solving a decades-old identity crisis

First of all, I want to thank all my lovely readers who left such encouraging comments on my last post. You don’t realize how much it meant (and means!) to me to read your comments. It was just the soothing balm I needed.

Alas, I got my (second) answer yesterday. Another No. So for the time being, I find myself looking forward to a blank weekday.

Perhaps not for long though. Along with this ‘no’ came another potential opportunity. One that might be better for me, but not in the comfortable and assuring way that the fearful little girl in me would prefer.

One thing I’ve gained from these rejections is an experiential knowledge of how things in the world work. I really have been Bubble Girl for most of my life. I’m getting better at verbal communication, my writing has no doubt improved, and I’m even starting to believe in my own self-worth again.

This opportunity would not be a cushy one. If I do get it, I would be forced to confront one of my greatest fears: public speaking.

But for the first time in my life, I actually want to overcome this fear. I’ve lived so much of my life not believing in myself because… I’m not a natural orator (Obama, I am indeed not – not even close). I limited what I can and cannot do simply because of this fact. I built my entire identity on this premise.

More than anything, what this opportunity would do would be to deconstruct this identity I’ve created for myself.

And how wrong I have been in the past!

When I was younger I had accepted that I would always be the Fat Girl – and that’s partly why I have trouble seeing that I haven’t been her for over 7 years.

I had thought that I would never go to my dream school – but then about a decade after that first college campus visit, I graduated from that dream school with a Master’s Degree.

And if I did manage to ever get married, it would be to a recently-arrived immigrant from Hyderabad that my parents arranged – but instead I married a man I found on the internet!

What I’m trying to say is up until now, I’ve decided who I am, who I am going to be and who I must be because of this.

But identities and even goals in life are fluid, which I never allowed myself to embrace until now.

Maybe it’s hubris that’s kept me this way. But I’m starting to find joy in being so wrong about everything. Even when God kept me waiting, when He did finally deliver, He delivered beyond my wildest imagination.

And so maybe if I hope and pray for the best – the unfathomable – I might find myself enjoying the journey of discovering I don’t know who the heck this Rafia is.