my top tv show recommendations!

as a 17 year old girl as you may guess, binge watching netflix is quite high up there on my to do list. i love finding shows i can connect to and i actually feel rather distraught when I’ve nothing to watch; speaking of which, after reading this piece, you’ll get a good idea of what genre and what kind of tv shows i indulge in – and so, if you have any recommendations on shows i could watch, please send them my way!

i figured since im always looking for someone that has similar taste in me to tell me about more shows maybe someones looking for the same & i could be of some help!! so i figured id write a blog post on my favorite tv shows and why i love them so much!

so getting right to it; my top 8 favorite TV shows in no specific order (since i can’t decide which i love more!):

1. one tree hill – one tree hill for me, was one of those shows where it hits home. and no, i wasn’t in a love triangle, nor did i know anyone who was a bastard – it was just one of those shows that makes you feel. i watched OTH atleast 2 years ago and it is still probably the only show i will forever call my #1.  this is one show i will forever be attached to and hold close to my heart, i mean, when i was done watching i had convinced myself id get a tattoo saying “there’s only one tree hill” thank god i never went through with it. there was so much about this show that i loved, the development of brooke’s character into a strong, empowered young woman, the transition of nathan going from a young, careless boy to a loving, responsible, family-man. And most of all, OTH wasn’t one of those shows that just ended once high school was over for the characters, no it actually takes you years down the line to see what kind of people and adults and parents these kids grow up to me; and to me that was some sort of closure, i can never be entirely satisfied when a show ends, ill always want more – but OTH gave its fans everything they needed to know before they ended. p.s – biggest heart eyes for nathan scott!

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2. jane the virgin – i cannot sing its praises enough! jane the virgin is one of the most cutest, funniest and most lighthearted (mind you, doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of plot twists) shows i’ve ever watched. this show is one of the few on this list that is still on air and that makes me so happy because i literally spend my days waiting for a new episode. jane the virgin is a show that talks about mistakes, broken marriages, pregnancy, abortions, immigrants, education and so much more. for once, the main character isn’t a shopaholic or if she’s smart, she isn’t a geek – she’s a beautiful, young, latina woman that loves writing and teaching and i love that. because its about time we portray smart young woman as a norm. it also doesn’t hurt that rafael is an absolute BABE and rogelio is the funniest man alive!!  p.s – justin baldoni is a gem of a human irl – i have never seen an individual so down to earth and loving. pls check him out!

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3. the bold type – this show hasn’t been out very long but its already found its way to my heart. the bold type is a show that i love so so much and with time i will only grow to love it more. it focuses on the lives of 3 young, super talented women working for a magazine in new york. (side note: my absolute dream) but what i seem to love most over here – is the CEO of the magazine – jacqueline. for the first time since as long as i can remember, the CEO is not someone who treats her employees like trash or is stone hearted and a real witch – but instead, she empowers her writers, she trusts her employees and she understands them. im the kind of girl that loves chick flick nights and this show is literally the best chick flick ever – except you get another dose every week!! i absolutely love it and id be lying if i said it didn’t leave me feeling empowered after almost EVERY episode.

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4. skam – im not one to watch foreign shows and i could never understand how people did because reading subtitles is hardly equivalent to understanding what they said, but not only did i end up watching slam – i freaking loved it. skam talks about what its like to be a closeted gay, a visible head-scarf wearing muslim and what its like to deal with a mental illness such as being bipolar. skam was such a beautiful, beautiful show that showed the true essence of friendship – girls sticking up for each other and guys understanding and being there for each other. one thing that was super different and amazing about skam was the take they took on it and how real they made it out to be. the episode were uploaded in parts in real time so you would think everything is happening literally right at that moment. and every character even had their own instagram account where they would post quite often – almost as if those characters were real humans. skam would even upload screenshots of text messages between characters on their website between/during/after episodes!! everything about this show was so new and different yet so great and moving. this was the show i didn’t even know i needed in my life!

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5. gossip girl – ahhh this show. gossip girl is forever my guilty pleasure. if im ever out of shows, or im having a night in by myself with some ice cream, or im feeling low, this is the show im going to turn on and watch in bed. starting with the obvious – GG is set in new york and who doesn’t love new york!? infect, i think i fell inlove with new york because of this very show. sure GG was ridiculous in its own ways and if you read into it a little too much some stuff may have been uncalled for and wrong – but i think the drama kept the show interesting. and i think we all need to admit – dorota was the best part of this show, officially taking applications for my own dorota!! okay jokes aside though, everything about this show all led up to it being so great. the fashion was to die for, the friendships were heart warming, the love lifes – surprising more often than not and new york; breath taking as always. GG is just aways going to be one of those OG shows that you can never let go of and you’ll probably even tell your kids about (or they’ll find out about it when they catch you binge-watching it 20 years from now) but either way, all the craziness helped take your mind off things for a while and just allowed you to immerse yourself into the world of the upper east side.

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6. this is us – the newest show on the block but oh so full of emotions. this is us is a show following a love story that evolves into a family that evolves into many separate families and new storylines. i don’t know quite what it was about the show, maybe it was jack’s love for rebecca or the wholesomeness of the family, or the bond between siblings, or the reality of it all – but this show is so. warm. thats all i can say. i know I’ve used the word heart warming far too much by now but i truly feel this show makes you feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside. it makes you want to relish in love and appreciate your life. it makes you want to call your family and tell them you love them. it makes you want to live life being more grateful everyday. this show is still in its early stages but it seems to be so promising and so great and i honestly cannot wait to see it progress and blossom.

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7. the fosters – the fosters is the only show i have ever watched in my whole life that religiously talks and depicts modern day issues. racism, sexual assault, rape, sexism, adoption, foster care, school shootings, drug abuse, illegal immigration – the list goes on forever. every single time there is an issue at hand in our world, the fosters takes it upon themselves to shed some light on it. this show has all my respect and gratitude for just that. aside from the fact that it is an absolutely heartening show, it gives a voice to minorities. it shows solidarity with the people when the system is wrong. it empowers and encourages people to take a stand and fight for what is right. fight for OUR rights. not to mention, the super mature relationship stef and lena have with not only each other but with their children is so amazing to see – the fact that they validate their children’s feelings and allow them to make their own decisions shows that at some point in life you need to treat your kids as adults. on the whole this show is so so great in so many ways and is definitely worth the watch.

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8. the vampire diaries – tvd is that one show – that once you start watching you can’t stop!! i remember binge watching this for days at a stretch just to catch up once i found out about it. honestly id be lying if i said i remembered what it was about it that i loved so much but i think when everything came into play, it was just a super interesting show to watch. the romance between elena and the salvatore brothers, her friendship with caroline and bonnie, her bond with jeremy – this show was so cute yet always had some element of surprise in it. something was always bound to happen that would keep you at the edge of your seat. tvd, at a point in time was definitely my favorite show however, this is the only show on this list that i did not watch till the end because i felt it got quite boring in season 7. up until then though, it was super interesting and amazing.

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now with all that being said, i don’t have much more to say because I’ve written far too much already. however here’s a list of ALL the tv shows I’ve watched so if you’d like to recommend any that aren’t already on this list, please by all means enlighten me, ill be waiting!!

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  1. skam
  2. one tree hill
  3. jane the virgin
  4. gossip girl
  5. famous in love
  6. limitless
  7. scorpion
  8. 13 reasons why
  9. designated survivor
  10. touch
  11. drop dead diva
  12. the oc
  13. switched at birth
  14. the bold type
  15. this is us
  16. 24
  17. the fosters
  18. the vampire diaries
  19. big little lies
  20. 90210
  21. hart of dixie
  22. teen wolf
  23. glee

what’s a curfew?

you know how sometimes people throw the phrase around “your parents are so cool!” or “you’re so lucky, your parents are so chill!” well, i got that a lot while growing up, and in fact, i still do.

allow me to explain.

my parents are not what is deemed ‘strict’ with nor my brother or me. we’ve always had a very casual, friendly and tight relationship with our parents.

my friends would come over to ours when they didn’t feel like staying at theirs, and would talk to my parents about anything and everything. i remember walking in the lounge one day and seeing my dad and my brother’s friend talking about his break up to my dad and both of them trying to have a laugh over it and see the good in a bad situation.

but im not writing this blog post to put my parents on display for no apparent reason – im writing this blog post to shut down the biggest misconception people have about children with lenient parents:

kids with lenient parents turn out horrible.

my parents are super chill, we can talk about anything and everything with them and they let us go out with whomever and wherever we want as long as they are aware and it’s safe (for the most part at least – my mom would still never let us go skydiving)

and in turn, we’re honest. we’re truthful kids that don’t have to lie about our whereabouts or what we’re doing to our parents.

in turn, we have a bond with our parents that i believe possesses a unique strength.

 

for every unreasonable rule a friend’s parents would set for them, i saw they’d be more inclined to disobey and go against them.

 

my brother is a straight A student and has been for as long as i can remember. he was pretty much the smartest kid in school for all of the time he was there.

im quite the social butterfly and that has taken me to loads of places – all of which im so thankful for.

we both say please & thank you, smile at strangers on the street and hold the door open for the person coming through.

we love talking to our family and other adults, delightfully and with respect.

we love spending time with our little cousins and having family movie nights.

we love sleeping on our mothers lap and on our father’s chest.

you see, any relationship is always a two way street. our parents gave us freedom and trusted us, and in turn we have always done everything we can to be the best we could for them. we did our best to make them proud and always reflect the great upbringing they’ve given us, in action.

a lot of times when teachers or other adults compliment my brother and i and speak highly of us infront of our parents, they say “you’ve such well mannered and bright kids, you have brought them up so well.”

and that speaks for itself.

i wasn’t as bright as my brother was, and thats not because i didn’t try, i just wasn’t as smart as him. maybe in other ways, sure. but it wouldn’t always show academically and i wouldn’t always excel in school. my parents never punished me for it, infact they told me it was okay and that i didn’t have to thrive in math or science to prove i was smart. they believed in me when i didn’t believe in myself and now I’ve won numerous competitions, worked with great companies and have my own blog.

my parents would never threaten to log in to our Facebook accounts or check our phones and so they know of every friend we have, every fight we have and every crush we have. infact, more often than not my friends would add my parents on facebook and instagram and maybe even send them a WhatsApp occasionally!

as i grew up and had this conversation with a lot of my friends, I’ve always said, i want to be a parent just like my parents. im going to give my child freedom and be their best friend before anything else.

maybe its time for us to move past the notion that we need to grill our kids and keep them “as straight as a stick”. maybe it’s time to trust your kids, let them grow and give them the platform to make both the right and wrong choice, but trust them to make the right one.

 

i understand that every parent may have different parenting styles and only a parent would know what would be best and most fit for their child, but im talking solely out of my own experience at first hand and what it taught me.

 

we always tweet how we’re the better generation, how we don’t wanna be behind and how we want to revolutionize the world; so let’s start in our homes.

lets rid ourselves and the world of the mentality that tough love is the only way to go. dont get me wrong – in some situations, tough love is exactly what it takes but it isnt always the answer.

so here’s a shoutout to my beautiful parents – thank you for the love. thank you for trusting me and thank you for believing in me. i am better today because of how you raised me.

i want to acknowledge that ive been blessed and am fortunate enough to have two lovely parents who care so much for me – and that parenthood can be a sensitive topic for some, but again, im just sharing my perspectives from my own experiences. so i’d also love to hear from you. what are your views on parenthood? what sort of parent would you like to be? or rather, what makes up the ideal parent? 🙂

travel 101

im quite the oxymoron. i hate traveling but i love traveling!?

let me explain myself – i hate flying and being around unknown people and being far from home and being out of my comfort zone but i love trying new things and taking instagram worthy pictures and shopping in a new country and learning more about different cultures

to my luck i have friends and family that push me to travel whenever i get the chance and help me through the bits that i worry or get anxious over!

i decided id write a segmented post on things that could help any of you whilst you’re traveling!

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the different things ill be talking about are:

  1. travel tips
  2. what to pack (necessities, while on board/in your purse, etc)
  3. how to get the most out of your trip / make your trip easier

TRAVEL TIPS

1. make pouches!

this is my number 1 rule – ALWAYS make labelled pouches. it helps so much! i usually make a separate pouch for the following: accessories, cables, toiletries, makeup, hair ties and medicines. its always much easier to find what you need on vacation when they’re in separate pouches as opposed to all in one! it’ll save your time and the headache 🙂

2. put your clothes in sets! bonus: if you can, slip them into transparent clothes packing plastics so that you don’t get them mixed up while taking them out!

this makes choosing an outfit so much easier. you don’t have to pair a top with the same pair of jeans you’ve been wearing for the past 3 days because you don’t know what else matches, neither do you have to struggle with wondering if you left anything behind while packing and it just saves a plentiful amount of time.

3. sometimes sets don’t work because you may need to use an article of clothing in multiple outfits – that’s ok! the next best thing is rolling!

roll your clothes instead of folding them so that they take up much less space and you don’t have to haul around an extra suitcase! (trust me, a week ago i got off a 16 hour flight only to be welcomed by 2 massive suitcases because i didn’t manage my space right!) apparently, rolling also reduces the chances of wrinkles as well!

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4. ALWAYS carry a portable charger!

and if you don’t have one, buy one! i can’t stress on this enough. you will always need a portable charger, no matter where you’re going; island hopping in bali, disneyland in california, a safari in africa or even a tour of the eiffel tower – all of these very memorable and exciting activities are usually long hauled and if you’re like me and like to capture all of it, it often drains quite a bit of your battery; a portable charger will save your life (and your memories!)

5. make a checklist!

this is so satisfying and calming, atleast to me!! i feel like if I’ve written it down i don’t have to stress about forgetting it or keeping things at the back of my head 24/7. it just makes your trip so much more hassle free and relaxing 🙂

6. take a few empty plastic bags! fold them and tuck them away into your suitcase!

these will come in handy more than you know. you could use them for dirty clothes, shoes, etc etc! also: take a few gift bags! if you’ve bought gifts from back home for anyone you’re visiting, you’ll need something to give it to them in! often times, we carry gifts but forget bags! so slipping a few in won’t take too much of your space & will make you seem quite prepared and thoughtful.

WHAT TO PACK ON BOARD

honestly id say take whatever you think you need, but more often than not i do see a few constants in my purse every single time! so i figured dropping them here might just help anyone who feels like they’re forgetting something!

1. chewing gum – to help with ear pressure in the cabin!

2. a glasses case/lenses case (if you wear either) – during a long hauled flight, you’re gonna wanna get some shut eye. so get something to keep your eye aid safe!

3. travel size body spray – sometimes after a flight, you might wanna refresh yourself and just prep before getting out of the airport. plus, a travel size barely carries any weight so whether you use it or not, it won’t make as much of a difference!

4. sanitizer – to de-germify before meals!

5. headphones – although most airplanes do provide them – those dont fit into your phone and sometimes you may just need to listen to your own music while you relax.

 

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6. wipes/face spray – both do a great job at refreshing you and are especially useful on long flights so you can feel revitalized!

7. snacks – its always important to have something you can eat incase you get hungry in between meals or don’t necessarily like the food being served on flight. its always good to keep something on you to avoid staying hungry and possibly feeling ill!

8. a book (if you like reading) – it’s a good solution to passing time and serves as a good break from watching movies.

9. a charging cord/portable charger – most airplanes have sockets to plug your cord in, so if yours does, use that instead of your portable chargers so you don’t drain your charger out! charging your phone on your flight means you can use it for the whole flight and still have a full bar of battery once you’re off the plane!

10. i personally like to carry my laptop so i have my personal favorite movies and tv shows on me & also to get work + writing done. but for those of you that don’t need to get anything in specific done and aren’t picky with what you watch, you can pass on this one 🙂

TIPS TO MAKE YOUR TRIP EASIER!

1. download your dedicated airline app to access your e-tickets, check in early, get flight updates, etc!

2. tie a colored ribbon on the handles of your suitcases so you can easily identify them at baggage claim and make sure you’ve got the right one!

 

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3. look up phone + internet packages before you leave, either with your local subscriber or the ones in the country you’re visiting. it’ll help you get back in touch with the world as soon as you land.

4. use travel websites such as kayak, time out and more to find out the hot spots of your destination! bonus: ask your Uber driver for recommendations! you might find some hidden gems that you knew nothing about.

apps that you can download!

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  1. download the (free) XE currency app for hands-on currency conversion so you don’t have to spend hours calculating in your head at the counter before you purchase something!
  2. this is gonna be a life saver – download flushd on the app store for free to find the nearest washrooms around you no matter where in the world you are!
  3. geosure is an app for paranoid people like me! geosure is a free app that tells you how safe the environment you’re in is. it takes into account: recent crimes in the area, environmental threats, any recent uprisings/protests etc.

although this post was super long, id like to think that if even one of these tips has helped anyone reading this, it was well worth it! if you’ve got any travel advice of your own, shoot me a message or drop a comment! i’d love to hear them 🙂

 

lastly, here are some printables to help with the process!

what i need to take

My travel trip checklist

my favorite beauty discoveries! (yet)

im all for the latest trends and the talk of the town, but the joy in discovering products that changed your life and are SO underrated is overwhelming!! im not going to ramble too much & so im just gonna get straight into it:

1. sephora cream lip stains

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these are the most beautiful, creamy, non drying mattes i have ever used! ive used a range of liquid lipsticks from colourpop, NYX, kylie cosmetics to kat von d and much much more, but these somehow seem to be my go to lipsticks 99% of the time. these lip stains are so creamy on your lips which make them feel so light and weightless & since they aren’t drying, you don’t expose every chaffed bit of your lips as some other lipsticks do!! although they are a bit steep for sephora’s brand at AED 75 dirhams, i promise they’re worth every cent of your money! im not one to splurge on a product if theres a perfectly equivalent dupe for a much cheaper price but i haven’t come across anything which has a formula even similar to this. im actually still in awe that these don’t have more hype to them.

2. keratin protein smoothing conditioner

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the cute pink packet is the answer to all your prayers! source: beingzhenya.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/rvhls7SruHFxYch9qLrQ_Hask_Keratin-Protien_Family-Shot_Photo-Shoot-3.jpg

this is my holy grail! the texture that follows once youve used this conditioner instantly after youve washed it out (and straight after your first use btw!) is insane. this conditioner leaves my hair soft as baby’s butt and smelling like bubblegum! if im being a 100% honest i don’t really pay attention to the ingredients of my products all too much and just sort of rely on the results to tell me how good it is. but for those of you that do care: the conditioner is infused with hydrolyzed keratin which helps in reducing fizz and blocking humidity. this is sure to revitalize any type of hair! im not sure about the pricing or where you can find it because i got mine in a box subscription but im almost positive that it isn’t exorbitantly priced.

3. vatika hair mayonnaise

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im quite specific with the brands i use and tend to only use reputable brands, be it high end or drugstore. and i don’t experiment very much out of my comfort zone, and although i haven’t used any of vatika’s other products (though i hear their hair oils are great), this hair mayonnaise is quite the catch. its a pre shampoo treatment that is used to condition your hair naturally! it contains good ol’ egg protein, honey, olive oil, castor and more! it basically comprises of everything our mothers have been pestering us to put in our hair for a ‘natural’ treatment all in one mask thats already ready and available! i don’t know about any of you, but i was always too lazy to make myself a mix of all those but now this hair mayonaise makes things so much more convenient. the hair mayonnaise can be found at any of your local supermarket chains at quite a reasonable price. its definitely worth a look.

4. indian aztec healing clay

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this has quite the hype already although personally i wasn’t convinced and was infact not too bothered about whether i got my hands on it or not. after a nudge from a friend, i did purchase it and im quite glad i did. the biggest plus that i find is the fact that a little goes a LONG way. the tub says it could give you 10-15 facials but i assure you theres a lot more than that. ive had this for somewhere between 3-6 months and my tub looks like its brand new even though ive been using it atleast every other week!! it can be used with either water or apple cider vinegar, although i prefer the latter because id just like it to be as effective as possible. it does cause slight redness once the mask is washed off but its nothing thats permanent or long lasting and usually disappears within 15 minutes to 30 minutes tops. if you have acne prone/oily skin you could also add a few drops of tea tree oil to your mixture and if you have normal/dry skin you could simply add a little bit of rose water! alternatively, you could also mix aloe vera into your mixture to give your skin a cooling effect and to feel more refreshed!! although i haven’t noticed a very noticeable change with my acne (perhaps i wasn’t paying much attention), i have immediately felt that my skin felt a lot more soft, clean and breathable. it definitely lifts and cleans all the dirt from your skin and pores. it is officially the only mask i religiously use and swear by!!

p.s – you can snag this off souq.com!

5. ginkolium lip balm

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i barely drink water and in turn that affects my skin and no matter what i do theres no ultimate fix for it besides drinking more water but I’ve been trying to find the next best thing, something to speed up/aid the proces! ive gone through loads of lip balms from every brand possible: maybelline, eos, boots, the body shop and the list doesn’t cease to end! a friend recommended this and after trying it, i won’t lie, i wasn’t convinced at first. i thought it was just like any other lip balm and it didn’t really do much good. however I’ve noticed my lips are in a much better condition. this lip balm repairs dry, chapped lips and leaves them plump, hydrated and healthy looking. i don’t need to use lip balm that often and even if i don’t use it for weeks on end, my lips will still be okay and not require constant care and attention as they would before. a lip scrub once in a while and this lip balm does wonders and leaves you sorted for life! check out boots to grab yours!

6. garnier micellar cleansing water

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i completely forgot to add this to the list until my mother reminded me! this drugstore cleansing water is probably one of my best investments ever. it’s basically quite the dupe for bioderma and is probably less than half the price! it lifts off all the makeup off of your skin, including waterproof makeup & doesn’t require you to wash your face after. it is incredibly gentle on your skin, doesn’t require too much rubbing & works great on sensitive skin as well. if you’re splurging on makeup removers, you need to stop and buy yourself one of these! it is an absolute life saver! you can grab this from most/any supermarket chain 🙂

7. inglot breathable (halal) nail polishes

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for as long as i can remember not being able to put on nail polish always bummed me out and if i ever did have some on my mum would quickly ask me to take it off before i pray or ask if i was done praying for the day. being quite the girly girl, this used to bum me out more than you’d expect! so you best believe when inglot came out with the concept of halal nail polishes, i was thrilled! this is a must-have product for every muslim girl that loves nail polish. they come in a wide range of colors and some are even matte! i’ve already got myself 4 and i can’t wait to stock up on more. check out your nearest inglot store or their online website to see the different shades!

im still discovering more products as i explore and if you know of any hidden gems, shoot me a message or drop a comment! id love to try them out 🙂

to-do (or not to do?¿) lists

when you pass a specific age, you realize you’re getting closer to the real world. a couple of months ago, i had this realization. and i thought to myself 

“zainab, its time to get your shit together”

ive always been an unorganized organized person. i don’t always have my life sorted and my room isn’t always clean. but when i need to get work done; youll find sticky notes and to do lists, white boards and reminders and notepads and pens everywhere.

i know a lot of people go through the same thing and often it can cause a lot of unwanted and frankly unnecessary anxiety and stress. so i figured i could talk about how i went about it.

1. prioritize

first and foremost, make a list. figure out what it is that is most important that you need to knock off right now and get started on it.

2. research

research always helps. if you’re unsure about what it is you want to do, or even if you are sure but aren’t sure how to go about it: research. find answers, dig deeper, until you’re satisfied with what you’ve got.

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3. be productive

you’re at a point in life where there’s no room for slacking. im not gonna be the person who tells you, you can’t do everything. ill tell you quite the opposite; you can do everything. if you have time to take AP classes during school hours, go for football tryouts after school, study at night and volunteer over the weekends – do it.

now dont get me wrong, im not saying overwhelm yourself. if you can’t handle the pressure, don’t. but if you’re just lazy but capable, you need to realize now’s the time, make the most of it. build up your college applications & your CV and your future self will thank you – i promise.

4. make a timetable

plan your days ahead. set goals for what you want to achieve in a day and you’ll find yourself getting ahead of your game. use printables, apps, a whiteboard or just simple paper – whatever works best for you.

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5. try to have fun with it

you want your reminders to be something that catches your eye when you glance across your board. use markers, colored sticky notes – remember being productive doesn’t mean you have to be boring. if you’re starting something new, try to get a friend to do it along with you, you’ll have all the more reason to be devoted to it.

these aren’t game changers but id like to think they can make a difference. a little goes a long way; you just gotta start somewhere. 🙂

why im unapologetically a hijabi

my hijab was something i put on for myself. not because my parents or society asked me to. infact when i decided to put it on, my parents weren’t even aware. i simply just entered their room and said “mama, baba im going to start wearing a hijab” and that was that.

as i grew up, i found power in my hijab. i often resonated with it to be my identity. whenever id be writing a description about myself be it for a job or for my twitter, id always sneak in the word hijabi. it was an integral part of me that i loved to share.

id spend my days vigorously searching through ASOS for hijabi clothes to flaunt and watching youtube videos to learn new ways to wear my hijab (which, just for the record, never worked out) as i grew up, my hijab was something i was proud of. i felt like it empowered me. that it showed me that i could still be the person i was yet remain modest & in tune with my religion & Lord. and the idea to keep a part of you hidden just for your husband would touch my heart; because theres something special about sharing a piece of you only with the person you spend your whole life loving.

i always grew up as the social, friendly, talkative and easy going girl. alhamdolillah, i’ve never struggled socially. not in school, not online & not when i met new people. my hijab never stood as a barrier between something i wanted to achieve & myself. i have always been a strong advocator for whatsoever i believe in. id speak up against any injustice that i felt strongly in disagreement with & never hesitated to make my voice heard. id be told that even whilst wearing a hijab, my personality and confidence was attractive. & in a way i was proud of that. that there was more to me than my skin & hair, that my personality and intellect were enough to captivate somebody else.

one summer i interned at a company surrounded by (most) people who lived their lives to the fullest. they would go out every weekend, get drunk & have a good time. these people were fun to be around, and so i quickly fit in & made great friends. one day, one of them said something to me that got me thinking. “zainab, i don’t think youll wear  your hijab very long. you’re far too much fun to keep it on.” to which i responded with a chuckle and reassurance that she was wrong.

recently since a couple of months, i found myself really enjoying my social life. being out almost every weekend, trying new things, meeting new people & going to new places. i felt like i truly was making the most of my life & not missing out on anything. it was then that this voice in my head crept up and asked me “is your hijab limiting you? wouldn’t you be more free without it?” and then the self-doubt began. with everything that was going on in the world & islamophobia becoming more real, the fear that crawled up my spine didn’t help either. i never felt this way before but i had to ask myself, was it? i never spoke to anyone of my hesitance and uncertainty until last december when my brother came to town. i told him how i felt & the first thing he said to me was “zainab, the choice is yours at the end of the day and i won’t tell you what to do, but didn’t you always feel really passionate about your hijab?” and to which my response was “i don’t anymore”

i think it is times like those that makes you want to contemplate every choice you’ve ever made and whether it still stands true to you or not.

for the longest period of time i couldn’t seem to pinpoint what went wrong, or rather; what changed? don’t get me wrong. i’ve always believed change is good. infact im a firm believer that little to no opinions that a person has, ever stay the same. when you grow, you learn. and as you grow and your knowledge and your ability to consider different perspectives and ideologies advance, your opinion may naturally and incessantly change.

i don’t think i was looking for a justification or explanation to give my brother, my parents or even society, but rather i was looking for an explanation to give myself. i wanted to know why i felt the way i felt. and more importantly, did i really, truly feel this or was i just subconsciously making the opinions of others my own?

time passed & i pondered day after day. and only after a few reminders of why i actually put this hijab on, did i realize. my hijab is a part of who i am. i put it on for the right reasons, for my lord & for myself. (shoutout to my future husband too)

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i realized i could be exactly who i was and my hijab would ALWAYS keep me grounded and remind me who i am. majority of my doubt was out of fear; islamophobia gets more real everyday and ive realized that instead of trying to exclude myself of the problem, i should contribute to finding a solution. a lot of why i felt what i felt wasn’t because of individual reasons but rather situational ones. like islamophobia. like a lot of women i knew taking off their hijabs and saying it felt so much better. like people suggesting i would feel better if i took mine off. in no way do i blame anyone who’s given me that sort of advice because perhaps they just wanted to see me become the best version of myself and live my life to the fullest and for that, i am grateful. but moreover, im grateful because ive learned to give the benefit of the doubt to myself and not rush to hasty decisions. ive learned that when a feeling may overcome me i must take my time before acting because id be living with the repercussions or consequences or simply a life other than what i want if i don’t.

everybody struggles with self-doubt at a point. and im not ashamed to say i hesitated with my hijab. its good to ask questions. its good to be reassured. its good to find the deeper meaning & to resonate with yourself. because now, i know im stronger. ive always stood up for my rights & if my hijab is ever threatened or asked to be compromised, i know i won’t hesitate to fight for it.