It’s been a minute since I’ve done a book review. Remember when book reports were a thing? Honestly I wouldn’t mind doing a drawing that represents the book and leaving a few hundred words of thoughts on this one.
I’ve been in a pretty eh mood when it comes to TV and reading these day, and its been a while since I read something that spoke to me. In this desperate climate of mehness, Akilah Hughes’ new memoir “Obviously: stories from my timeline” has spoken to me and said words I am all about.
I’ve been hesitating to share this post because it’s a bit vague and like taking a walk through my mind without me sharing concrete examples and just yammering as I gaze off into space. It’s the first of many posts I hope to write in unpacking some of the things I get at, so perhaps clarity awaits.
When it comes to seeking the “life we want,” Pinterest and #mondaymotivation philosophy can be oversimplified, and I’m in constant danger of pushing it myself (in daily casual remarks and “advice,” as well as on this blog). There’s like, no context for different socio-economic backgrounds, racial/gender/sexual orientation inequalities, the behind-the-scenes relationship dynamics in a person’s life, bananas experiences humans go through, and all of the mental health challenges that come with all of it.
I have a bunch of privilege like time and energy (like not needing three jobs to make ends meet), as well as resources (like occasional therapy and, you know, the luxury of basic psychology which my parents generation of immigrant hustlers in their catch-22 lives could not afford to give mind to in survival mode). Not all of us have the luxury (or desire) to sit and unpack our traumas. Sometimes we just gotta shove it in a bag and keep going (or even run for our lives).
That being said, this post is about the tangled ball of thoughts and emotions in my head, overcoming habits, and trying to be more honest with myself:
Brene Brown calls herself a recovering perfectionist, and boy, is that an apt description.
At the bottom of my need for perfectionism is one of my deepest fears: that one wrong move and people will see what a fraud I am, how unworthy I am, and completely disown me. To put it in other words, I’m the baby and I’m (constantly) afraid (/anxious/terrified) of getting thrown out with the bath water.
It’s directly linked to my struggle with imposter syndrome, which, after several years of denial-anger-bargaining-and-depression led me to realize and accept that I’ve been dealing with this since I was a child, and it’s time for me to build a new way of thinking in my mind. That and unpacking a series of experiences from my teen/early 20’s has been the chief business of my interior life for the past few years.
A little while into Operation Stop Numbing Nida, I am learning to:
Explore what’s really going on inside my head (or like the truth I’m desperately running from).
Wade through my own vulnerability (read: FEAR! FEAR! FEAR!) to answer myself truthfully.
Summon the courage and bravery to admit what I want/how I want to move forward (while hurling the whole way there).
This ranges from concrete things like what I want to do in my career to abstract things like how I was affected by certain situations and the walls I then put up (which started out as emergency boundaries) that I now find limiting.
It is scary. Mostly it’s scarier navigating the waters of my mind. It’s been easier to kind of tread the waters of unhappiness and confusion (but also, you know, things take time) and lash out (mainly at myself) than to admit what is going on inside my own mind (which can be, you know, a shit show that we sometimes simply don’t have the capacity to deal with and bury and put off for years and years sometimes until we die).
When my thoughts and emotions are a tangled ball, it’s so easy for me to dismiss myself as like, wild, wrong, high-strung, problematic, and to label myself as a hopeless neverending problem that’s all my fault.
But when I start to untangle, or even just become willing to get tangled in my own problems, suddenly, it’s like… for a while I’m lost and flailing (sometimes for days and sometimes for years and years)… and then…
There’s clarity. And I’m like. Oh. That’s what I want. Or how I feel. Or what’s going on with me. Oh. That’s not so bad (or okay, but also sometimes it’s a disaster). I can deal with that (or ignore this until I’m ready to deal with it?). I can figure it out (through introspection and maybe with resources and support). I can build mechanisms in my mind to overcome this (though I may take a while, patience grasshopper). I can form words and a polite way to vocalize what I think and desire (hashtag prayer hands).
And yes, it is scary. Yes, I am scared. I am totally scared. And yet, after engaging this process, of kindly asking myself what’s going on, like, “Why am I feeling this way?” and of being less afraid of admitting, “Oh, this triggers your habit of perfectionism,” or, “Oh, this stems from your patterns of imposter syndrome…”
I’m finding how surprisingly simple (or complex) and empathy-inspiring my own issues are (for me, to myself. You might be like, I hate you, you hideous beast). Like, it’s not like I am being a monster (on purpose at least). And from this honesty, I’m able to cultivate new ways to move forward that are much less miserable, and dare I say, can at times be joyful.
I’m steadily unsteadily moving forward.
P.S. I recently read a book that was gifted to me over a year ago, called “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown (the tagline is “Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are”). I highly recommend it (and hope to write a review soon). It’s definitely informed a bunch of my thoughts as of late.
I haven’t done that, ever? Not since I’ve been on Instagram, which is for several years now (I’ve done a few clean sweeps on my account so the earliest post I can find in my archives is from 2012).
I was, not coincidentally, sick at the time, and (this hurts my ego to admit) I was definitely feeling like nazr/evil eye was a looming factor, but not from others – my own.
For a while now, I’ve struggled with my relationship with my own work. It’s a toxic one. I am no fan and not proud of what I do or have ever done. If I have had moments of joy, they were singular dots bridged by long periods of darkness and self-hate.
Here I am at a junction, as is everyday that we choose to live. A junction, a moment, a choice, a choosing of how to proceed. How will I proceed? The words hang over me, in the moment. The words hang in me, in my blood.
I lived in New York City for five years and never had the courage or balls to go into Bergdorf Goodman’s once. It’s on the corner of Fifth and Central Park, directly beneath the Plaza and across from that one toy store in Home Alone (the store is now closed). I always wanted go to Bergdorf’s because it was on Gossip Girl and because Fifth Avenue window shopping is iconized by Breakfast at Tiffany’s (also known for its portrayal of yellowface). But I felt like such a poser/imposter, like I would immediately be sniffed out by the money police: ooo, she doesn’t have the wealth. She does not belong here.
It’s been seven months since I moved back (more like back back) to California, and I recently returned from my first visit to New York as a free agent – no work, just play, following whatever whim I had that week. As my whim had it, after a glorious day at the Met, I found myself walking toward Fifth, through the Plaza, and smack dab in front of Bergdorf’s. I went in.
I’m definitely experiencing a JT/Britney breakup worth of emotions (audience perspective) as I surround myself with packing boxes, preparing to move for the ::counts on fingers:: two, three… five… fifth time in six years.
This time, my mini-family unit (male partner man and feline companion) and I are heading back to California to be closer to family. I hesitate to say for good because as I’ve just mentioned, our track record says otherwise. Either way, we’re movin’, on the move again.
When I was growing up, there were like three people proud of being Muslim in American media: Muhammad Ali, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and honestly, I can’t even remember. Non-Muslims looked at me with confused, empathetic eyes that said, “You’re like, Kwanzaa, right?”