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? 🙂

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.