Today, as it concludes yet another week in a global pandemic, I want to write about the four things I’m grateful for. It’s something I haven’t done before and I’m hoping to make this a weekly, or maybe a fortnightly, thing, as I believe it helps us to step away from the ghastly nightmare we’re currently living in and really take a look at our lives. Despite all the negativity and tragedy consuming our world, it’s still important to look at what good is happening, especially within our selves and our own lives, to have something to be grateful for, no matter how minuscule it may seem.
Spending time with my nieces
They’re not my nieces from siblings, of which I have none, but my cousins’ daughters’–in the South Asian culture, I am their aunt. Not their ‘real’ aunt, according to their (K & A) dad’s sister, but semantics aside, I am their favourite and the one they can actually talk to about things, since I understand their lives, the changes they’re going through by stepping into adolescence and getting older, more so than the others. With this understanding comes the art of being able to relate and properly empathise, especially when it is to do with matters surrounding mental health, religion and studies. This past week, I’ve spent more time with them than I have since lockdown really began, and it’s meant a lot.
K and A’s house is where some of my childhood trauma stems from, which is why I try not to go there so often, because of the memories attached to the walls. It lingers, like some kind of pungent smell you can’t erase, no matter how hard you scrub and wash and cry and plead. It doesn’t fade. But despite my own issues, I know the girls, being nearly 16 and 14 in a few months, need to have someone in their life who they can talk to, without fear of judgement and endless lectures, especially surrounding religion and Allah and everything being a sin. Being a teenager is hard enough, but being a South Asian Muslim is harder. Because of the changes that arrive with puberty, going into a new school year and stupid (though not at the time) teenage dramas, I’m trying to make more of an effort to be involved in their lives, as well as S’s (their cousin–their dad’s other, older, sister’s daughter), so I can be there to help them through whatever happens, to try and guide them toward making better choices, and ultimately, not make the same dumb decisions I have. But thankfully, the three of them are a lot smarter than I was.
Ultimately, this past week, I’ve seen more of them than I have in months, and being able to just sit and talk to them, especially Khads, about their feelings to their studies and future hopes and aspirations, amongst other topics, meant a lot. There is a semblance of worry coiling in the pit of my stomach when I think about them growing up in this world, and I hope they never have to face the same hardships I’ve had to deal with, and I’m glad, so happy, they haven’t so far. Our time together now involves sitting upstairs, having snacks and telling their younger brother he can’t have anymore chocolate as he’s had enough, listening to their grandma, my aunt, shout at the younger two kids for making a mess, talking about the shows we’re watching and just generally having a laugh.
I plan to try and spend more time with them, at least once every week, and savour every moment as it comes.
As I write this, I’m at his-slash-our room; he’s chilling on the beanbag and I’m on the bed, both of us enjoying each other’s company whilst doing our own thing. I am always grateful for him, my best friend and entire life. I know he’s always supportive, dedicated and caring, but this week, he did even more to show how supportive he is, especially of my writing. I couldn’t have asked, and prayed, for a better partner than J. I’m grateful, and so happy, just to have his presence in my life, and at this very moment.
Being able to just look at him and see everything–my love, my peace, a major part of my happiness but not the mere reason for it, my support, my best friend, our future–holds so much weight, worth every hoop of fire we may have to jump through because of my family. Above everything, I’m grateful he’s still here, knowing how hard and difficult and tiresome the journey to get to our end goal and our happily ever after will be. I’m grateful for him full stop. Spending time with him this week has been so uplifting and peaceful.
This week, I’ve written about a variety of topics, from telling you guys about my favourite foundations, to my essential beauty products for summer, finally writing a book review after months and uploading a short story I wrote for my Creative Writing class and another I wrote a few years ago about how ‘family’ is a forever changing word and not necessarily the one we’re born into but one we create for ourselves, to sex education in Asian (Muslim) culture and how it needs to change. I wrote about the dangers of sexual double standard, the reading list for my second year at uni, and pretty important and sensitive issues about self-love vs self-hate within body image, and about hyperpigmentation as a brown woman.
Whilst the pandemic obviously is not ideal and an awful thing, lockdown hasn’t necessarily been such a bad thing, particularly due to all the time we have to find ourselves more and focus on things like self-care, which is super important. Of course, lockdown does have downsides to it, or it did rather since it’s basically been lifted, due to not being able to see family, friends and other loved ones. (I really hope, and pray, the people we love continue to be okay and in good health!)
Writing more this week, especially about issues I care about, has been therapeutic and restorative especially as I feel more like myself by doing this, what I love, than I have in a really long time.
Learning to accept my flaws
Since writing the first part of my series on body image, it’s helped to me to accept and love my flaws and the parts of myself that don’t fit into society’s ‘ideal’ body image of perfect of sexy. Beauty standards constantly change, and are subjective, so it’s fair to say that they’re bullshit and shouldn’t make anyone feel any less because of it, or because they don’t mould into the categories set out by the patriarchy, Hollywood and dumb social media platforms. Of course, I may have days where I sink back into despising myself and my physical appearance, but these things, and self-love, take time and it is a constant, shifting journey.
For now, I am able to be content with what I have and the way I look, without wanting to shed it and step into another, more faultless, body. This crazy period has helped me to see myself more clearly, and love myself fully, wholly, completely.