We Used to Be Friends

We all have those used-to-be friends. Ones we used to be so close to and now, the distance is inevitable. Whether it was your kindergarten bestfriend who you no longer even make eye contact with in the halls, or your sister-from-another-mister who’s guts you wouldn’t mind shredding out. We all have those people in our lives.

There’s always different reasons as to why friendship ties fade away. It could be abrupt like ripping tape off your skin. The pain is massive and all at once. Your skin may be red at first, but eventually the pain fades away.

But it could also be like a candle. Some friendships are like a fresh lit candle. Sure it’s bright at first, but slowly the light dwindles away.

A fight that went too far, or just slowly creating distance. That’s the worse way to lose a friend. A slow, gradual, going apart from someone. When you look back there’s nothing to reconcile, nothing to fix. It’s just that awkward distance between you and them. Sure there’s the occasional glancing in the halls and the casual hello, but the closeness that feeling- it’s gone. It’s been replaced with awkwardness and a flutter of memories. That feeling isn’t there, but it’s little remnants are still present.

With a new school year coming up ahead, those faint we-used-to-be-close feelings emerge yet again. Seeing someone after 3 months is a little shocker itself. When you find out that your ex-friend is in one of your classes, it’s a confusion between happiness and do I really want to be around them?

But-

To all of my used-to-be friends: Thank you.

Thank you for all of the amazing memories. Ones where I was laughing my heart out and all my problems disappeared. Moments where I felt happy and secure and contempt with life. Thank you for giving me your shoulder to lean on, for all the tears and complains you listened through. Thank you for being my friend.

Thank you for the not-so-amazing memories. For showing to me that with every downfall I will be able to pick myself up. For helping me grow into the person I am today. For showing me the reality of this world, that not everything will go the way you’ve hoped for it to be.

To all my used-to-be friends- I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for whatever hurt I caused you. Whatever pain you went through because of me.

Friends come and go, but memories will stay forever.

So to all my used-to-be friends, your memory will be with me forever. I wish you the best of luck with your future endeavors and I hope that you won’t forget me, for as I will never forget you.

-Lubna

The Girl With The American Flag Hijab

In my last post, Islam and Muslim Are Not The Same ThingI had addressed very briefly about the woman on July 4, 2013 who had received a shameful amount of hate for wearing an american flag hijab. 

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Last year a woman on July 4th had had her picture unknowingly taken and was bashed on the internet where thousands of proud “Americans” wanted to “rip it off of her head” and even threaten to choke her. But its okay though, because they are TRUE Americans right? Ones who respect freedom of privacy, equality, and the freedom of religion.

The United States of America which promotes freedom of religion and equality to all; The country which accepts immigrants with open arms and is against discrimination and equal opportunity and treatment for everyone. This is the country which terrorizes an innocent woman for wearing an american flag imprinted scarf. 

Who knew that just because someone was muslim, they weren’t allowed to be deemed American.

There is a common misconception that muslim is a race. I’ve gotten asked a countless amount of times if I was muslim, and people automatically assumed that was my race and were in utter shock when I mentioned to be born in India. How can you be muslim and indian? This kind of goes back to the Holocaust when people considered Jews a race. We look back and consider that to be so stupid, but yet we still do this today. Just because someone is muslim, that doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t be Indian, or Chinese, or even caucasian. 

Islam is a religion- not a race.

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The amount of hate this woman received is absolutely disgusting to me. It shocks me to see the ignorance of some people. The amount of degrading comments she received. People talking about how they would urinate on her and even rape her. This woman did absolutely nothing to them, yet they still said the most hateful comments to a woman they’ve never even met.  

How is wearing an american flag a disrespect to one of America’s “most cherished” symbols? Please explain the logic to me of how its socially acceptable and “respectable” for an american girl to wear the american flag in forms of booty shorts but not for a muslim american to wear it as a scarf.

Wearing the American flag on your butt, is not respecting the “cherished symbol” its literally sticking your butt on it. Someone You might as well poop on it to while you’re at it. Someone compared the american flag to the Quran talking about using it for toilet paper. The American flag while on someone’s shorts is basically like it’s getting urinated on. You cannot justify that a girl wearing the most “cherished” american flag on her butt is more respected than a headscarf. But you wouldn’t tell a girl who wore it in the form of shorts that many disgusting things. You wouldn’t threaten her and degrade her like that. 

The problem is not the hijab, but the fact that a muslim wore an american flag. 

Muslims can’t be American.

If you saw any other “American” girl wear the flag, it would not be deemed disrespectful. Even if I was born in America, I’m a following citizen, and I even say the pledge in school everyday, I’m not American. Why? Because I’m muslim. Ever since 9/11 all muslims are stereotyped to be “un-American” and even anti-american. It’s a shame because the country which valued freedom and equality for everyone has its “finest” citizens bashing a woman, for what? Being proud of her country and not only representing her religion but her patriotism? Shame on those who gave her such hateful comments. Muslims are americans. Many of us today were born and raised in America and there is no way you can say we aren’t american just because of our religion. 

Your Flaws, Are My Strengths

As much as we hate to admit it, our society revolves around gossip and drama. Just walk into any store and go into the magazine section. You’ll see literally tons of tabloids with labels of “MILEY CYRUS PREGNANT AND DRUG USE” or “KIM KARDASHIAN WEDDING FAIL PART II”. We tend to forget sometimes that yes, celebrities are real people. And real people do come with these horrible little things called flaws. The flaws turn the rest of society into hungry insecurity bottom-feeders.

Why are we so obsessed with others, and especially celebrities? Why is it that certain people can dictate what looks good and what doesn’t?

I remember watching shows like Fashion Police or What Not To Wear and what we may find as funny, is just degrading of ourselves and our character. We bash others on what we deem is right, not necessarily what they consider. We criticize their flaws as if we’re God. We judge and make fun of others for their flaws, but don’t look twice at our own.

In all honesty it’s because we do the same. When we look at ourselves in the mirror and spot a flaw in the blink of an eye, we degrade ourselves. Words like fat and ugly just flood our minds. Then when we see an imperfection in others, we feel better about ourselves. It’s kind of like, “I may have flaws but his/hers are bigger than mine so therefor they’re worse than me”.

One day, I asked myself as to why I was so obsessed with the life of Kim Kardashian or the marriage of Beyonce. It technically has no relevance in my life. Who was I to dictate what looked pretty on someone and what looked hideous?

We can’t judge or hate someone for their flaws. Flaws are what make us

We do it to feel better than others. As if our flaws dictate who we are.

Sometimes we forget that others indeed too, are human. That we all are flawed and imperfect. That’s the reality of life. But just because we are flawed, that doesn’t mean we should feed off of the insecurities of others. We shouldn’t make fun of other people just because they are different than ourselves.

Fear

If there is one thing every human shares, it’s fear. There is no such thing as an absolute fearless person. Whether it’s you being a poor little brown kid who just received that B+ and you know your parents are going to murder you, or just simply being afraid of the dark.

The thing with fear is that we aren’t necessarily born with it. When you were born you weren’t terrified of anything. Sure you cried and screamed when you wanted something, but if you were a new born baby and stuck in a room with a murderer you wouldn’t even flinch.

The thing with fears is when we see others are afraid, we realize that it is something to be afraid of.

When I was younger, I used to love watching Arthur. One episode was about how Arthur was terrified of the dark. As I started thinking about why Arthur was scared, instead of me learning that the whole lesson of the show was so that I wouldn’t be scared, I actually did fear the dark. At first as babies no one was scared of the dark. As we grew older that is when we started to process something to be “scary” which developed our fears.

One thing that strikes me is my little brother and scary movies. When it comes to ghost and scary exoticism movies I would literally cry in the middle of the movie. I guess I am the worst person to watch scary movies with. Yet my sisters had forced me on the couch and in between them with absolutely no escape route for my fear-stricken self. My little 10 year old brother while watching the Conjuring didn’t even flinch, and sometimes he even laughed. I was astonished at myself. How could a 10 year old not be afraid of the same thing I was. When I asked him he calmly told me that he knew whatever was on the screen wasn’t real. And if you pay attention to all the makeup and the effects it actually all just looked funny.

Fears are things we aren’t born with. Fears are developed. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re stuck with you forever. You can overcome your fears. They are not a permanent part of your life. Fears do not define you.

I believe the reason we have fears is so that when we overcome them, we become stronger. Everything on this earth has a scary side, and a not-so-scary side. It’s up to you on how you want to see things.

Islam and Muslim Are Not The Same Thing

There are many things that are the same yet different. For fruits example. All fruits are from nature and are characterized to be fruits. Yet at the same time an apple can’t be the same thing as a banana. Nor can a pineapple be associate with a grape.

When we look at the girl with a hijab, or that teenage boy with a beard we commonly associate them as muslims. All muslims follow Islam so they must basically be the same, right? WRONG. 

Both words are interrelated, but are not necessarily synonyms of each other. I’ll explain further:

Islam comes from the arabic root word “salema” which means peace, purity, submission, and obedience. Spiritually, it means submission to the will of Allah (God) and listening to his commands which he has set for all of humanity. To me, Islam is a lifestyle. Islam is perfection.

Muslim is the name for a follower of Islam. It is defined as one who literally submits to Allah. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, black, white, Indian, Arab, if you submit to Allah you are a muslim. 

As quoted by one of my most favorite speakers Yusuf Estes, 

“Both “Muslim” and “Islam” come from the same root: “S”, “L”, “M” (silm) meaning; “to submit in peace”; “surrender in obedience”; and this immediately implies a relationship between two entities, one being superior to the other or in charge of matters.”

As you can see, both words are related with a relationship between them, but they’re not the same. Islam clearly is higher than muslim. And that leads into my main point of discussion in this post:

The common perceptions of muslims in the United States today.

Many of us are aware of the so-called “muslim” terrorist groups around the world and especially the middle east. Many of us are also aware of the September 11, 2001 attack on the Twin Towers in New York. What we fail to be aware of is that a handful of muslims, do not define the whole religion.

As clearly stated before, muslims and Islam are not the same thing, so then why do we associate one group of extremists with the whole religion? A religion who’s name literally means peace and not destruction and terror. We don’t associate one radical extremist terrorizing christian with every single follower of Christianity and even Christianity as a whole? If anything radical terrorizing Christians don’t even appear in the news. Same applies with every religion in this world. No one jew or hindu or buddhist can define every single follower. No one person can define an entire world.

You can’t judge an ocean by just one drop of water.

As a young muslim teenager living in America I’ve seen tons of prejudice and stereotypes against myself and others in the community. I’ve had people give my mother who wears a head scarf the finger and shout curse words and things like, “go back to your country” while passing us on the highway. I’ve been through airport security with extra “random checks” and many more questions than others do in line. Why? Because I’m muslim. And because of that i’m automatically assumed to be a terrorist. I’ve seen people give hate for a woman who wore an american flag hijab on July 4th, but its okay for American girls for wear it on their butts in forms of booty shorts, right? (This will be addressed in another post)

What people fail to understand is that muslims are flawed.

Humans in general are flawed. Islam is not.

 Islam is perfect. Muslims are not. 

With that being said, how can we call all muslims terrorists for the few who are? Those so-called muslims who hurt innocent people and oppress others are not following the true path of Islam yet we label all muslims the same. We live in a world where we’re well aware of everyone being different, yet its okay for all muslims to be labeled terrorists. Injustice, right?

The Point Is:

Muslims are followers of Islam, but Islam is not defined by a muslim. Islam was created by Allah. Islam is perfect. Muslims are followers of Islam but as humans we are no where near perfection. All muslims around the world can not be labeled the same. The mistakes of some do not define the whole. Every person in this world is different. Not everyone can be associated the same. 

Failure Is Not Inevitable, But A Choice

Throughout our lives we face a series of ups and downs, high and lows, maybe even lefts and rights. We have successes and not-so-much-successes. What we believe is that when we get that big fat F on our math test, we’ve done it. We’ve failed. But recently I’ve discovered something-failure is not inevitable, but a choice.

What exactly is the difference between failure and success? Why are they both on opposite ends of the spectrum? We associate failure with sadness and success with happiness. One is good and the other is bad, right? But to me, the difference between failure and success is work. And not that super easy kindergarden time work. This work is HARD. Its kind of like a measure in growth. At first everyone starts off at the bottom. The bottom meaning failure. Failure is doing absolutely nothing. Failure is being contempt with the bottom. In a sense to me, we all start off as failures. But that doesn’t mean we are doomed to stay there forever. We can move forward. We can move towards success

Now lightbulb moment- how could that be true? How can failure not be destined to happen? Not everything can end up the way we want it to. Even when you tried your hardest it still wasn’t good enough? This could be applied to literally everything. School, problems, relationships, I mean it when I say everything. But whenever you get that big fat F and the teacher’s gut-wrenching “See Me” comment at the bottom we tell ourselves that we’ve failed. We define ourselves as that F. It’s not like the F was tattooed on your forehead for the whole world to see.

But in an essence, we let it happen. And we settle for failure.

You decided that instead of reaching out to the teacher about that problem you just didn’t quite understand, you’d handle it. Instead of the scary old teacher you’d ask a super smart friend. But in reality you didn’t really handle it you just kind of shoved your math homework to the bottom of the pile and right before the test you’d just “wing it”. But then “winging it” turns into looking at the test like its mayan hieroglyphics making you want to cry just staring at it. But we contend ourselves with failure. We decide that success is not worth trying for. We stop at failure and do nothing towards moving forward. The blood sweat and tears aren’t worth the fight. Failure is easy. Failure is lazy.

In life we have choices. Failure is one of them. You can take the easy route which looks sunny and easy at first, but in the end your final destination is lower than where you started. Then there’s the other route. Its this awful path called hard work. Its bumpy, there’s a lot of puddles, its not exactly all rainbows and sunshine, but after a while it turns into that. What may started off as a storm and a complete nightmare turns into a rainbow with a leprechaun waiting for you at the end.

The Point Is:

Failure isn’t just destiny. Failure is the result of lack of motivation. Failure is the indirect result of our choices. Choices of laziness and settling for less. Life and school at times can seem hard. But instead of letting ourselves be defined as failures, we can get through moments of hardship for the sweet taste of success.

Women in a Man’s World

In the midst of our creation, we are struck with the choice of either two choices, XX, and XY. XX being female, and XY being male. Little did we know that the change of one simple letter enjoined next to an X would change the life of the little zygote forever.

As much as we’d like to rave over our equality and freedom-bleeding country, the truth is, we exist in a patriarchal society. We reside in a male-dominated society, it truly is a man’s world.

Just centuries before there really was no value for a woman other than a piece of property and a legacy-maker. Women were just for a man’s entertainment and for babies to put it bluntly. The ideas of daughters was so disgusting that little infant girls were buried. No man wanted to have to deal with the ever-so-cursed daughter.

As time went on, more rights were established. Women entered the workforce, women got the right to vote, women got the supposed same pay as males, women were considered “equal”. Yet there is this a gender gap today.

A few months ago, my friend and I had a raving discussion on women in today’s society. My friend pointed out something that struck me:

In order for a man to give a woman respect, she must give him something to respect

This got me thinking- are women truly respected in today’s society? and in all honesty, is it the complete fault of the male population?

If you look at the entertainment business today, sex sells. You don’t see Victorias Secret models being praised for their intelligence and kind hearts. Definitely not for their determination and skillfulness. What they’re praised for is their body. Hours of botox and plastic surgery- that is what society deems to be “sexy”. Our whole culture is encompassed around the idea of a woman’s body. The perfect “rack” as some put it. Even if you look in today’s music, women’s bodies are glorified. Women are viewed as a sexual object for the enjoyment of men, but it’s not necessarily all men’s fault. Women do have some blame.

Before I have angered feminists shouting asking how I could have possibly just said that, hear me out:

We let ourselves be treated like this. And in a sense, we almost embrace it. We want men to look at us to tell us we’re sexy- isn’t that why some women wear the most revealing and tight dress they own to the club? We want that attention. Little do we realize that we are giving into the male-dominated society. We are letting ourselves be that way. I’m not saying all women dress solely for the purpose of a man’s attention, but some do.

Now don’t get me wrong, I believe myself to be a feminist, but I also do believe that respect isn’t just given, but rather earned.

(Sorry I am playing the devil’s advocate here)

Why is it that some girls play dumb when they’re trying to get their crushes attention? Because they want him to feel superior and be the damsel in distress. Now I’m not saying this is the way to get a man’s attention. And not all men are solely based on being attracted to a woman’s body. There are good men in this world don’t get me wrong.

The point is:

When women learn to respect themselves, men will also respect them. Girls who don’t value themselves shouldn’t rely on man to give them some. Value can’t be given. You have to have it yourself. Men perceive what a woman puts herself out as. If you show yourself to be driven and intelligent with goals and morals, that’s what a man will perceive you to be.

The Tragedy Called Highschool

People consider these 4 years the best times of their lives, I beg to differ.

Though some may consider me a sadistic teenager just trying to find her way, but I believe that people give High School too much of a strong title than it deserves. I consider high school a tragedy.

To me High School is the time where the innocence and puberty confusion of middle school comes to an end. Kids try to grow up, and fast. We are so preoccupied in impressing our peers, we focus on others rather than ourselves. In the end all of us are focusing on each other.

We judge each other for who’s makeup looks “cakey” and who looks absolutely hideous without any makeup. Who’s Nike shoes are fakes and who’s outfit is just a disaster. As much as we’d like to consider ourselves drama haters in all honestly that’s what we all crave in highschool.

To me, none of this is worth it.

I have lost so-called friends to fights and drama and immature reasons. Entering junior year, I’ve decided a new outlook on high school.

It’s not worth it.

You shouldn’t have to beg someone to be your friend. You don’t need to impress the world with some one that isn’t you.

We look at high school like we have to make people like us. In the end, it only provides temporary comfort. That feeling of belonging and being wanted. We don’t look at how we have that every day of our lives.

It doesn’t matter if you have ten true friends or even one. Having one genuine best friend will in the end be much more than friends you’d never want to talk to outside of high school. I for one would much rather have 3 best friends than surround myself with a fake “clique” because as the point of this whole blog goes, it really isn’t worth it. Surround yourself with people who care, not make you look good.

The second we graduate from highschool and look back, the girl who was always stuck with school and never did anything fun will be on her way to success with her full ride scholarship to her dream school. And the boy who cared about what everyone thought by constantly partying is headed no where.

The point is:
High school is a place where you grow as a person, but instead of being preoccupied with how other people look at you, look at yourself. Focus on your education and your real friends. Be your own you. In the end when our caps are thrown up in the air, high school will be nothing compared to what you have in store for your future.