I went on a social media detox for 3 months, and here’s what I discovered…

I went on a social media detox for 3 months, and here’s what I discovered…

Last year. Start of January 2016. I was a different person. I had goals and I needed to focus in order to achieve them. Stop being a fatty. Write a good chunk of my first novel. Finish my CIM course. Pass my driving test. Talk to men again. Sort out my life etc.

No, but seriously, I had a core goal, to lose weight, and I really needed to focus all my mental and physical faculties on it as I decided to go hardcore by low-carbing. In order to do this, and do it successfully, I needed minimal distractions. And so I decided to go on a digital detox, primarily on social media, for the first three months of 2016. I was sort of fed-up with social media and the endless amount of time I was wasting on it by that point too, so the decision wasn’t a particularly difficult one for me to make (I simply ignored the fact that I manage the social media for a large University and delegated the bulk of it to my colleague – ha, the perks of being a manager). At my core, I am also a hermit-introvert, so this really felt like my natural calling and I was more than ready to hibernate. Some of my inner circle were quite surprised by my decision to do so, as social media, like for most millennials, forms quite a big chunk of procrastination during the day, and it’s one of the main ways we interact with each other. I also got rid of my personal phone because I felt like a twat having two phones which I essentially used to do the same things (I stuck to limiting my usage to my work phone – another perrkk).

It’s taken me a year to get around to writing this up – probs coz I’ve been wasting my time scrolling online since I came off the detox – but nonetheless, the lessons I learnt are still relevant a year on, if not more so…

1. No one even knows you’re offline

Yeh, and no one gives a shite either. You’ll get over it when you break your detox about 5 hours in and realise you have NO NEW NOTIFICATIONS OMG ON ANY OF YOUR ACCOUNTS WHATSOEVER. And that FACEBOOK IS STILL IRRELEVANT. AND INSTAGRAM IS INCREASINGLY BECOMING SO. Twitter is dead – they keep trying to revive it. Well #keeptrying.

The only people who will know you’re offline is your daily stalkers – and yes I was quite surprised to find that I have a few (flattered really) – but the ones who want to contact you or you are important to WILL FIND A WAY TO CONTACT YOU – TRUST ME. Had no idea how people managed to get a hold of my work mobile number, but they did. And when they reached out to me it just reminded me of how special and important they were to me.

2. More time to focus on other ways to waste time

Social media and anything on ze Internet is a way to waste yo time. Most people who are looking through their social feeds is mostly because they are bored and looking for something to occupy their mind. So when you don’t have that to distract yourself, you look for other ways to distract yourself. Eventually you realise you should spend your time doing something productive, so you write down your goals, draw up a plan, and then head to bed and take a nap. Yah, that’s life.

But honestly, by not spending time on social media, I realised, that I had EONS of more time in my day. Back in Jan 2016, there must have been something in the air, because I was incredibly focused. I was inspired to make a change by the way I felt about myself after I bumped into some people whilst I was in London during December 2015, at a friend’s Xmas party. So I made a commitment to myself. Instead of scrolling on my phone and eating during my lunch times at work, I spent it in the Piazza opposite my office building working on the first draft of my novel and chewing a protein bar #dietlife. Instead of Whatsapping and talking to people I didn’t care much about, I read and wrote on ze bus on the way home from work. Instead of reading my emails, I ignored zem. I focused on myself primarily and on cultivating the relationships that I valued most – my family and close friends. You can waste your time, or you can spend it productively on doing things you enjoy and that add value to your life. It’s all a question of prioritisation. A friend recently asked me how I manage to read so much? I just said simply that I prioritise it everyday. Time is not a renewable resource and I believe it’s ever so important to be spending it on doing things that help us grow and nurture our souls. The choice is yours.

“There must be more than this mediocre social media lifeee.”

3. Less flippin depressed

Talking about nurturing the soul, I was definitely less gloomy during my social media detox. I wasn’t being bombarded with the latest celeb or millennial friend’s engagement/wedding pics or Trumpaggeddon news story at the top of my Facebook newsfeed. I was completely oblivious to the going ons in the world. Anything important that I needed to know, naturally made it’s way to me through my friends or family, of only which a handful had my work mobile number. I was blissfully ignorant of what was going on beyond in the outside world and I have never. cared. less. It was great.

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4. I have a love/hate relationship with social media

I realised this very quickly on. I love it. I hate it. And I love to hate it. It puts you in touch with what’s going on in the world and other’s lives (I’ve made lots of new friends through it as well), but it also gives you a very skewed perception of things, and can end up making you feel down and gloomy. We all know that social media are people’s filtered highlight reels and gives us this weird ‘opportunity’ to become the stars of our own lives – but it’s sometimes very easy to forget that it’s not necessarily a real representation of people’s actual lives when you are constantly being bombarded with content and images of what other people are doing or saying. The daily grind or struggle is not documented. Everyone seems to be enjoying life or achieving things and it’s sometimes not uncommon to wonder subconsciously if you measure up. I find it quite overwhelming at times and so going offline for a while helped in removing what I felt like were societal pressures to always be doing something, be busy, or be achieving something; but I also struggled in the sense that I felt a bit ‘out of the loop’.

Of course, this was all psychological and internal – but having been on social media since it’s early beginnings (remember Hi5? Bebo?), it has become such an integrated part of my life (its also part of my job don’t forget), I appear to have developed a very conflicted relationship with it. I am a creative and outgoing person (when I want to be), so naturally I do enjoy uploading content online and engaging with others. I want to share what I am doing and see what others are doing, but at the same time I don’t, as I am aware of the pressure I put on myself to make things appear ‘perfect’ – is this good enough to share? Am I over sharing? Do I even care? Does anyone care? Why do I feel compelled to take a photo of every coffee and book I read and upload it onto social at that exact moment in time? What am I achieving from this? Have I become dependent on likes and validation from others on social? etc. etc.

There is also this pressure to always be available and immediately responsive online. Or have a perfectly preened social media feed of gorgeous images of you looking beautiful all the time doing fun and amazing things (don’t get me started on Instagram fitspos). This pressure does not help at all and if anything just stressed me out massively at one point! Let me tell you this. I look like a troll 364/365 days out of the year. When I look at photos of myself dressed up to go to a wedding or whatever I literally don’t even recognise them as me because I’m like errrr that has about 10x filters on it. Realising the fakery that is social media to the nth degree has made me so much more mindful of the time I spend on it, how much I invest in it and how much I take away from it. It certainly made me realise that people (myself included), can easily slip into an unhealthy relationship or even addiction, with it (there have been a number of studies recently showing the link between the amount of time spent on social and mental health issues in young people). Now I find I’m more blasé about it, and my interest in it comes and goes. I respond to people when I can and don’t stress about responding to them immediately (the ‘seen’ update on messages has ruined many a relationships I’m sure); I upload content when I want to without thinking about it too much, don’t concern myself with gaining/losing followers and go offline/detox as and when I feel like it.

5. You don’t miss out on much at all

Like literally, nothing. I logged back in 3 months later. Everything was pretty much the same. The world was still spinning and Facebook was still sprouting fake news and memes.

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The memes are good, ngl.

The moral of the story…

I could not recommend going on a social media detox enough! Going on a relatively solid digital detox for 3 months last year from January – March 2016 helped me focus on myself primarily: I was more productive than I had been in a long while – I wrote 20,000 words of my novel, lost 1.5 stone, rediscovered the important relationships in my life and found some peace of mind that comes with being ‘switched off’, and not wasting time endlessly scrolling through content that, in more cases than not, added no additional value to my life.

I’ve wanted to go on another digital detox for a while now, but I’m in a rather challenging spot as I am in charge of managing the social media for a large organisation under a lot of strain at the moment in the turbulent waters of the HE market – so switching off completely is not the most feasible or realistic for me. That being said, I have found that I am naturally minimising my time spent online to a great degree, making space for things that are important to me, such as engaging in activities that help to cultivate my mind and talents, and working towards my long-term goals.

Today it is increasingly easy to become passive absorbers of endless content and information, as opposed to applying ourselves to become critical thinkers or makers of things. This for me is increasingly worrying – if we are constantly distracted by social media and the online world, when will we ever take a step back and take the time to be in tune with ourselves? Or be creative or innovative? Cultivate our deeper faculties? As an older sibling and aunty, my current concern is that my younger sisters, nephews and nieces will simply become vegetables and digital media addicts – I can already see it. There are very rare moments I ever see my youngest sister unglued to her phone.

Being off social media made me realise how much time I spend on it on a daily basis. And it is far far too much.

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Six pieces of life advice from people I’ve met

Six pieces of life advice from people I’ve met

I count myself as very fortunate. I’ve met lots of different and incredible people throughout the trajectory of my life so far, and they have imparted words that have resonated with me far longer than they may have realised would at the time. I’ve been reflecting on these lately; this year has thrown lots of curve balls at me and everyday I am trying to move forward and face those challenges. I’m a thinker, perhaps more aptly an overthinker, and my overthinking has led me to writing this blog post and sharing these nougats of wisdom with ye all.

1. On not being a lemon

Best friend growing up: “He ain’t thinking about you so why you thinking about him?!”

I remember being in Year 8 and getting my first mobile phone – it was a black Siemens with a glowing orange screen. God I used to love topping it up and texting Uzma. We’d giggle over the boys we’d fake car race to Secondary School every morning. I was in love with this dude from way back in Junior School – who attended the ‘sister’ all boys Secondary School of ours (I went to an all girls’ school and yes it was horrendous). I think I nicknamed him something like ‘Loverboy’ (LOOOL) – and it got to such a point of ridiculous fantasising about my future with him – the wedding, marriage, babies, white picket fence etc. – that my best friend, positive I’d lost the plot, snapped at me one day, sick of my constant whining and pining: HE AIN’T THINKIN ABOUT YA SO WHY YA THINKIN BOUT HIM. I was a bit like O__O for a few seconds and then the penny dropped. Yeh. Self-explanatory really. Kinda just clicked after that. I realised I was wasting mind space and capacity on someone who probably hadn’t thought about me twice since we sat awkwardly together in Year 6 staring at the word ‘breast’ (we were reading Macbeth and increasingly becoming traumatised by it); I could, and really should, be investing on expending such brain energies on more productive things. Mind these are the wise words of like a 12 year-old girl. I got over dat boy fast and stuck my head in books for 10++ years+

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LOVED THIS PHONE SO MUCH OMG.

Footnote: Funny thing is that I was reunited with Loverboy at sixth-form/college, and we even work in the same organisation today!! Crazy how life works round in circles like that – and my feelings today? ZERO TO THE ZERO. But at one point in-between Junior School / Secondary School / College I did find out he had a thing for me – so maybe I wasn’t wasting time daydreaming after all haha! I also went through a similar thing at uni (probs why I didn’t get a first lool that’s what I tell myself!). Life lesson: don’t spend time on people who aren’t spending time on you. If you want em – make it clear and go get them. Wanting them inside your head isn’t going to bring them any closer. Don’t waste yo time pplz. Study hard. Cultivate those mental faculties of yours. You’ll be better off. Trust me.

2. On love

A guy I was seeing: “Sometimes, you just have to take the plunge.”

My response? I remember looking over at him in the car with big eyes and saying: “But the plunge has to be worth it, right?” God I regret saying this so much. I honestly don’t even know why I said this. I think I saw some random self-proclaimed ‘love-guru’ on YouTube once say this lame-ass line, and it just came out of my mouth like a caterpillar without me even thinking twice about it. I thought I sounded great saying it, like all high and mighty and shit. Playing hard to get or whatever. When it comes to love and falling for someone, THE PLUNGE IS ALWAYS WORTH IT. ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS. JUMP INTO THAT GAPING WIDE HOLE WAITING TO SUCK YOU UP. No matter how scary, how daunting, how terrifying – the plunge is always, always, worth it. I cannot stress this enough. Otherwise you’re just putting up barriers. Those who wear their hearts on their sleeves get so much more from love, relationships and life. Easier said than done, but it’s worth looking at love and life this way. Go all in.

3. On making solid investments

Managing Director of the previous company I worked for: “In life, the two most important things to invest in are a good bed and a pair of shoes, because if you’re not in one, you’re in the other.”

Best piece of advice I’ve ever heard if there was one. She told me this over company drinks when I ended up hovering in front of her and was like ‘SHEEEET HAVE TO MAKE CONVO WITH THE MANAGING DIRECTOR’ (this was inside my head of course). She was tipsy and we got talking and when she came out with this line it was like the stars and rainbows and unicorns had all aligned inside my head and the galaxies of the universe. I was like HOLY MOLY ROLY POLY this is all I need to know to be happy and comfortable for the rest of my life! No more skimping on dem shoes!!

Me, everyday.

4. On smashing exams and tests

My favourite English teacher: “Go in there and enjoy it. Show those examiners what you are made of!”

I had one of the most inspirational English teachers in Secondary School: Mrs Cosford. I absolutely loved her – not only did she believe in me and my writing, but she had a way of galvanising all her pupils to become scrupulous students and ignite their passion in English Literature – even the chavs in our class. She gave me the best piece of advice when it came to accomplishing exams and all manner of tests: “Go in there and enjoy it. Show those examiners what you are made of!” No one had ever framed exams as something to be enjoyed. It was always foretold as something negative, as an opportunity to be tested, held up to scrutiny, to fail. By saying this to me, when I was a wee bairn getting ready to sit my GCSEs in Year 10, she completely turned the whole notion of sitting exams for me on its head. I took this piece of advice and attitude, and applied it across my whole academic life. And it has made a wonder of difference for me. It really made me enjoy what I was studying and look forward to the prospect of – as my friend would say –‘smashing it’ – in exams.

5. On pursuing whatever you want to pursue

Friend of a friend I met at a party: “You should do it. Go for it.”

I was at a friend’s annual Christmas party when I noticed a guy from uni that I had always seen and known of – you know when you have lots of friends in circles of friends but you’ve actually never spoken to each other – so since he was one of the few familiar faces in the room, I decided to make my way and say hello and see what he was up to. We got talking and I started to share my wistful writing dreams of becoming a published novelist one day. He simply just looked at me, directly in the eyes and said: “You should do it. Go for it.” The enthusiasm, poignancy and the belief with which he delivered this sentence to me, practically a stranger to him, really struck a cord. When he said those words, I could literally picture myself going from city to city on a book tour. It was so simple, but for a moment, it was as though I was taken out of that room with a renewed sense of confidence and self-belief. I was also speaking to him about going to New York and how I was in two minds, and he just simply looked at me and said the same thing. “You should do it. Go for it.”

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In my dreams. #booktour

In many ways, it’s exactly like Wayne Gretzky said: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” After that party, I did start making written plans for my novel, and I did book my flights to New York with my friend. It was just a simple push, but it reminded me that there was no reason to doubt myself. Doubt kills a lot of dreams. Really, what have you got to lose by taking chances or pursuing what you really want to pursue? Apart from your pride, dignity and face? (LOL) At the end of the day, do those things really matter? Because let’s face it, the things we regret the most are the things we didn’t do or were afraid to do. Oh, and we all die so, it’s ok. Embarrass the crap out of yoself.

6. On trying your best everyday

University friend: “If and when you feel down, actively distract yourself with something. Make every effort not to wallow in your thoughts.”

Life is tough. We all encounter personal challenges daily, and I have been in the presence of those who have fought bravely in the face of some of the most difficult challenges that life can throw your way. A friend of mine who died from cancer last year, fell into depression when she first found out she was diagnosed with the disease. Yet, incredibly, she made every effort – and was determined – not to actively let herself get lost in her depression. I try and remember these words when I’m feeling down and fighting my own demons. My mental health is not as good as it used to be, and sometimes it’s just so much easier to give in and wallow in negative, self-sabotaging thoughts. It’s an ongoing battle, but you just have to get up everyday and fight it with your sword and armour. Knowing you’re striving towards your goals everyday helps I find. If you’re making every effort to actively distract yourself when you feel like you might let yourself be swallowed up by black thoughts – taking little steps everyday to avoid doing so will eventually make a change.

Monthly Musings | October 2017

Monthly Musings | October 2017

It’s been a mellow month for me. I feel like I wallow a lot. I think I must enjoy it on some level hmmmm…

Listening to…

DVSN – Morning After

I have been waiting for this album to release for ages! Have been pretty much listening to this on repeat (mostly at the gym woo) since it’s release on October 14th in the UK.

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Favourite tracks are:

  • Nuh Time / Tek Time (at 3.20 my feelings BEGIN)
  • Conversations in a Diner
  • Body Smile
  • Morning After
  • You Do

I’m a huge fan of Daniel Daley’s voice – I’m a 90s gal through and through so anything that reminds me of 90s R&B like Boys II Men, Brian McKnight, All-4-One etc. is like a win for me. Rolling Stone have described DVSN as “emotive, throwback R&B of the future” – and I couldn’t agree more. I loved their first album September 5th, and Morning After, although not as compelling (I feel they’re going somewhat more mainstream in their sound), it’s still a decent follow up. Bits of the album was inspired by the different types of film and music that they encountered on their travels, and this definitely comes across in the visuals of the album – especially the cover art, which I really like.

Jhené Aiko – Trip

This was released in September this year, and as I’ve finally downloaded the Spotify app on my iPod (going crazy on these free trials atm wooeee), I’ve been working my way through some more albums. I think I am enjoying this because it’s got a mellow psychedelic sound to it. Not sure how else to describe it. She herself has said it was shaped by her journey through grief (she lost her brother to cancer in 2012). This is probably why I can relate to it quite closely. Favourite song so far is ‘Ascension’, but I’m still working through the album.

Visiting…

Tate Britain

Literally so dumb – I was supposed to go to Tate Modern to see the Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power exhibition, but I didn’t realise there was more than one Tate until I rocked up at Tate Britain and was like ‘HI I WANNA SEE THIS EXHIBITION ASAP PLS’ (I was running low on ze time). And cute guy behind the counter was like ‘SORRY DEAREST YOU’RE AT THE WRONG PLACE – YOU’RE LOOKING FOR TATE MODERN BUT YOU’RE AT TATE BRITAIN YA NUMPTY’* (*may not be his exact words). I was annoyed at myself but this is what happens when ya fail to plan. FAIL TO PLAN, PLAN TO FAIL AS THEY SAY. Anyhow, since I was there, I thought I would make the most of it and have a wander. I was looking for some inspiration, not sure I found it but saw some interesting stuff. The young preppy private school boys trying to be subversive was my favourite bit tbh.

Watching…

13 Reasons Why

Finally got Netflix… FREE TRIAL OH YEH. I know, I know, I’m like donkeys of years behind the times or whatever, but hey hoo, got there in the end. Been wanting to watch this for a while as it has received a lot of coverage earlier this year (no doubt the fact that Selena Gomez is an executive producer on it helps!). If you’re not familiar with the premise, 13 Reasons Why is the story of Hannah Baker, a teenager in high school, who commits suicide after a series of events. Before her death however, she records 13 tapes detailing the individuals and the reasons that ultimately led her to take her life. The show addresses some really sensitive issues, including bullying, voyeurism, drug abuse, rape and, most key for me, mental health.

I found the actress Katherine Langford (who plays the protagonist Hannah Baker), really compelling. Her portrayal of Hannah’s internal conflict was really powerful, and it really brought to light the debilitating impact poor mental health can have on one’s actions. This is what really stood out for me in the show- it showed how mental health can profoundly affect every part of your life- from your ability to remember things to your interactions with others to how you digest any single situation. Hannah’s mental health meant she reacted to the situations she encountered differently to someone who doesn’t suffer from mental health issues might have. One of the key things about poor mental health, is that you can’t always process or think through things rationally or develop a tendency to overthink everything. Someone watching the show may think she overreacted in many situations, but anyone who’s ever struggled with their mental health or depression would understand that her reactions were perfectly normal or plausible in her context.

If you have the time, I would definitely recommend watching it. It’s got a lot of teen drama but the message the show aims to get across is a really important one. The pace can be a bit slow at times but I think it really lends itself to the seriousness of the issues its dramatising.

Thor: Ragnarok

Actually went to the cinema to watch this on a whim witnessing my baby sister’s excitement regarding the new Marvel movie (she loves all things Marvel da cutie). I legit never go to the cinema. Go like once a year or something. Anyhoo, once I found out Tom Hiddleston was in it I was like TAKE ME NOWWWW. I surprisingly enjoyed it – it was actually really entertaining and I did not, wait for it, fall asleep!! Lord behold. And that speaks volumes!

Reading…

Fat is a Feminist Issue by Susie Orbach

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This is the main book I chose to read this month. Sticking to my New Year’s goal of reading at least ONE book per month. If you’ve been reading my posts, then you’ll realise that I have been choosing to read a lot more non-fiction this year and I have been really enjoying it. It keeps my mind engaged now that I am no longer a student – I love reading about new perspectives and ideas that open up my world view and challenge my current thinking and/ or perceptions. I am really into health/fitness/food so love reading anything around that. Fat is a Feminist Issue was recommended to me by a work colleague and am really enjoying it (have yet to finish it). It provides a compelling debate on female body image, dieting and the beauty narrative that continues to plague every woman today. 5 stars from me.

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

This has been all over the bestsellers list for Southampton this month so I also picked it up. It’s a crime-thriller and I enjoyed the light and easy read. I always seem to get into crime-thrillers during autumn/winter time- dunno why- must be something to do with the weather/mood/the time this genre is really pushed in the book shops or something. I’m also trying to balance out my reading pile by wading through one fiction and non-fiction book per month. It’s going ok so far. And as I’m off sick from work at the moment I have a bit more time on my hands. The Couple Next Door is about the tragedy that unfolds after a couple leaves their baby alone to enjoy a dinner party at the next door neighbour’s house, only to find when they get back that she is missing. DUN DUN DUNNN. I shall say no more 😉 .

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As usual I have also been buying and downloading more books than there will ever be enough time to read while I’m alive on this planet. But I’m certainly making the most of my Audible free trial (downloaded Ulysses the other day!) and picked up these babies below which I’m excited to get started on next month!

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Writing…

Haiku

Had my first go at writing poetry in the form of haiku this month. This is a Japanese form of poetry based on syllables 5-7-5 across three sentences, creating a distinct rhythm. I learnt about this last year during my writing course and decided to give it a go after looking through my notes. Here it is:

Top Five Regrets of the Living

I was inspired to write my top five regrets to date after reading the famous top five regrets of the dying. I really enjoyed writing it and reflecting on past events and seeing how I want to move forward.

World Mental Health Day (10th October)

I’ve wanted to write my thoughts on mental health for ages and finally got around to it after watching 13 Reasons Why. I will be publishing the post shortly so watch this space!

Focusing on…

Fitness goals

My cut has officially started. I have been messing around with losing the excess weight I have gained this year and it has not had a good impact on my mentality. Finally got my brain back in focus and have been ‘cutting’ i.e. in a calorie-deficit for a week now. It can be challenging when it seems like all your Mum or siblings want to do is sabotage every attempt to lose weight by buying all the junk food in the world and cooking the most deliciously aromatic Asian food. But I am in like my CRAZY FOCUS MODE – which means if I want something, I will be like a machine and just work towards that goal relentlessly. Like, don’t ever challenge me on something because I will rise to that challenge like that fat kid in Matilda who demolishes that chocolate cake in front of everyone to a round of deafening applause.

Mental health

I tend to overthink things and wallow a lot I find recently. Certain events in the past few months have left me feeling down and blue so trying to stay positive and do little things everyday that keeps me busy and productive, yet simultaneously trying not to overwhelm myself. It’s all part of me getting better and recovering ❤ . Reading and writing, lots of coffee, buying books, detoxing off social media, gymming to get those endorphins going and eating foodstuffs which make me feel good are just some of the things I’m doing to get myself up and running again 🙂 .

Top Five Regrets of the Living

Top Five Regrets of the Living

Inspired by the article Top five regrets of the dying published in the Guardian a few years back, but which recently came up on my feed again.

DISCLAIMER: these ARE MY REGRETS and MINE ONLY. To date.

1. Worrying about my reputation too much

Now that I’m a cynical 26 year-old, I have realised that literally no one cares or thinks about your reputation (unless you’re Asian and looking to get married because yeh – Asian ppl are JUDGEMENTAL AF, even if you’ve never left your house or hurt a fly or shown an inch of your wrist – THEY’LL FIND SOMETHING ON YOU TRUST ME). I grew up being anxious about my reputation a lot i.e. not wanting to be branded a slut or being seen as easy or desperate or whatever. I had a bit of a ‘slut’ phase during my teens (who doesn’t?), but literally my ‘slut’ phase was a total joke – I was more like a middle aged nun who wanted to have some fun but didn’t know how to go about it. But yeh – growing up in an Asian family, if I barely looked at a guy flirtatiously I was committing the CRIME OF DA CENTURY. I was so worried about my reputation that I gave every guy who tried to make a move on me during uni such a hard time. Hard to get? Pffft. I was like a rock. Layered with more rocks. Super-glued together. Barricaded by like a wall of rocks. Like the Great Wall of China kinda rock formation. I legit wouldn’t flirt with people openly because I was so worried they would think I was coming onto them too strong. Which in hindsight is like the DUMBEST THING EVER. BECAUSE I HAVE REALISED THAT I DON’T EVEN KNOW HOW TO FLIRT. I would just sit there willing them to read my MIND. YAH. THAT’S MY IDEA OF FLIRTING. READ MY MIND SEXYY.

2. Not telling people how I feel about them

This is specifically in a romantic context. I am usually more than happy to express my feelings and opinions openly and loudly about all other manner of topics in the world, but when it comes to telling someone how I feel about them, I’m like a goldfish-comedian-helium-balloon-person-thing. I will literally make every joke in the world or try and detract from expressing how I feel. I don’t know why I do this. Reflex action?? I wouldn’t say I was worried about getting hurt or rejected; I think it’s because my guard is so high all the time I don’t really know how to be vulnerable in this area of my life- and being able to be vulnerable and open with others is the key to generating closeness. The annoying thing is I will draw what I feel or write about them but I just won’t tell them!! Wtf. Honestly, sometimes I feel like my walls are so high an army with machine guns is required to break them down. Sigh. I regret this a lot. I don’t know if it’s partly to do with my upbringing and the values I’ve been raised with e.g. must always be independent and self-competent because you cannot rely on others. Being in a relationship is a symbiotic thing, so you do need to show that you rely on someone in some capacity – otherwise they’ll just feel like you don’t need them in your life. I know this now but wish I knew it earlier – so I wouldn’t have to shy away from it or assert my independence so much. You can be both independent and rely on others. Needing someone else’s support and affection does not mean you are any less independent. Knowing and acting on it are two different things however, but this is an area of my life I really want to work on. Giving up your heart to someone is scary, and I’ve never been fully able to do this. But I’ve discovered that if you’re not open or express how you feel you run the risk of just pushing people away in the end. They can’t read your mind so just be explicit about it. Be explicit about it Razwana!! I dunno sometimes I just think if people look at me directly and into my eyes they should be able to read MY SOUL AND EVERYTHING IT’S CRYING OUT FOR, but nope people are not face readers -_- .

3. Not appreciating people enough

Yes I’m guilty of this, and I’m sure pretty much everyone can relate to this point at some point in their lives. Not appreciating people enough when they are a part of your life and only realising this once they are no longer a part of it, is literally the shittiest feeling ever (after tooth pain and heartache). I’ve always felt like I never truly appreciated my best friend growing up. I was absolutely devastated when she died when I was in Year 9. Even to this day I hold feelings of resentment towards myself because I was a selfish piece of shit and always thought I was better than her at everything and more popular (I REALLY REALLY WASN’T BTW). She was an incredible person in my life, and growing up we were the fat duo that everyone knew as best friends. Yes I was young, naive and stupid, but the resentment I hold towards myself never ceases. So much regret regarding this.

I also feel like I took someone who I was seeing recently for granted. It wasn’t intentional but somehow I developed a sense of entitlement that I deserved this good person in my life (after years of encountering lemons), and somehow slipped into this mindset that they’d be in my life forever, which led to a comfortable feeling, which ultimately led me to taking him for granted. It wasn’t intentional, but it was an incredibly easy space to slip into.

Maybe it’s just easier to take good people for granted? WHY DOE. I hate the phrase “you don’t know what you have till it’s gone” – but honestly, it couldn’t be more true. Hindsight such a bitch.

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Adding a random pic in to make this post more engaging.

4. Not standing up for myself

Fresh out of uni, I got my first job in London in an exciting publishing house. I got promoted really fast and had a somewhat militant manager (with very poor people management skills), who had an even more militant manager (the head of the company, and who had even poorer people management skills – sheesh) – so the pressure was ON. I was young and ambitious and ready to take on anything thrown at me – I was determined to prove that even though I didn’t have all the years of experience behind me, I had the skills and brains to pick things up fast and make a difference to the bottom line. It wasn’t very long before I was stressed to the max, taking work home and full on burnt out at the age of 24. There were several occasions where I felt like I was disrespected, guilt-tripped and just really under-valued and underappreciated (the shitty pay which was not reflected at my job level/role and responsibilities being one among many things). The work environment was awful and gloomy af – I literally felt like I was in a prison – and it was only when I was getting seriously ill, falling into depression and pretty much calling my mate everyday on the phone during lunch times to have a good cry and just breathe, did I realise that I had to leave the company or it would kill me off. Don’t get me wrong, I learnt some incredible skills and I learnt them fast, but it was not worth the impact it had on my mental well-being and self-esteem at work.

Ultimately, I regret the fact that I didn’t stand up for myself; I was naive and was definitely taken advantage of. I became a shell of my former self and completely lost any sense of who I was. I had became a mouse and was stuck inside this hell of a corporate world where I felt like my life had no meaning. I was inside a building all day long staring out the window thinking about life outside, or on the tube like a zombie. I was absolutely miserable. After a wonderful two week holiday in New York and Chicago where I felt somewhat human again, I had an epiphany and quit on the first day back. It took a whole year in my new job in Southampton with an incredible and supportive manager to build up my self-confidence and esteem back up at work. Now, I refuse to take shit from anyone even though people try and shut me down sometimes. I nod and smile and usually ignore them because 9 out of 10 times I know better. I really regret not standing up for myself, as I feel like I betrayed my character; but it was really tough for me to get perspective – I genuinely started to believe all work environments were horrendous. But sometimes you need to go through it to know what you will not tolerate in the future. So although I hold a lot of regret regarding this situation about how I let others treat me, I am grateful for the life lesson.

5. Trying to fulfill cultural expectations

Being Asian, British and Muslim is HARD. I have three conflicting identities and it’s tough trying to make it all work. Everyday, I am faced with things or scenarios that put one or all of my identities into question, and I have to navigate these with all my various cultural values impacting on my decision making process. Sometimes it feels like there are literally three conflicting voices arguing back and forth in my head all the time (the Bengali one probs being the weakest as it’s where I identify the least; the British and Muslim ones being the strongest). The problem is, these identities don’t merge into each other seamlessly; trying to decide where I stand in any situation is a constant work in progress. I am always figuring and re-configuring where I stand or where my values lie, especially when I encounter a new situation which pulls all of my three identities into question. AND I MEAN ALL OF THEM. FML IT’S SO HARD. And you also have to understand these things evolve and change over time through life experience. The struggle is honestly never ending. And the struggle really exists because I am trying to please those who hold certain cultural expectations or notions dear to them i.e. Momma Quadir – which mean my Bengali and Muslim principles impend on my British/Western upbringing and values.

Trying to fulfill or uphold certain cultural expectations or practices that I don’t really believe in or value anymore, but stuck to in order to avoid displeasing or upsetting my mum or family, has ultimately left me regretful and bitter. It’s also hard to dispense of these ideas or ideals, even if you want to. When you grow up with such strong cultural influences, they become ingrained in you no matter how much you think you’re past it. Many times I felt unsatisfied and angry for the actions I felt like I had to take, and counter-productively, took out the anger on my family, blaming them for the mental shackles which tie me to a sense of shame and guilt. What I’ve realised is you can’t please everybody, and although it might be a noble idea to do all that you can to make your parents or family happy, if you’re miserable at the end of the day, they are too. So yeh. I regret bothering trying to please them. My advice is don’t bother. YOU DO YOU BOO. >> [I’m sure you’ll be glad to know that I’m taking my own advice going ahead btw :)]

I don’t think anyone alive/dying/dead could say they genuinely don’t have any regrets. The good thing about being alive and thinking about the things you regret is that there’s still time (one hopes), to learn from them and/or avoid regretting similar things in the future by making a change in yourself – if you wish to of course. I certainly do. I don’t want to get to my deathbed and be like I REGRET X, Y AND Z or I WISH I WASN’T SUCH A POTATO AND WISH I HAD THE BALLS TO DO O, P, Q AND T ETC. You get it. For instance, I value my friendships very strongly as a result of losing my best friend when I was younger, and I make a point of letting these people know. I now make sure to tell my friends regularly that I appreciate them and how grateful I am to have them in my life.