Just be yourself?

It sounds like winning advice, truly. And yet in application, it’s like opening pandora’s box to find a million different Ikea parts and no instructions or idea of what to build.

“Just” be yourself

Just. Like it’s so easy. My God. Just take out the trash. Just turn on the TV. Just call your mom. Just be yourself.

Yes, just “be” yourself.


Being myself is not easy. It requires:

  • Knowing myself
  • Examining my past
  • Thinking about my future
  • Being honest with myself
  • Learning about my “strengths” and “weaknesses”
  • Bringing out my best qualities and fighting through the bad ones
  • Loving who I am
  • Appreciating who I am
  • Accepting who I am
  • Learning why I hate myself so much to begin with.

What I need in place of the “just” is a hard hat and instructions, and a really good health insurance plan that covers all the things.

And what if you, heck I, don’t like myself?

The reality is, myself is full of lots of struggles and dreary droopy dark days. This does not make for a great self to be around. Yet who I am has been a constant navigation of these trepid waters.

I think just be yourself assumes that we’ll all be sunny rosy laughter when we’re being ourselves. What if we’re gloomy? What if we’re honest? What if we’re raw? What if we’re uncomfortable AF – ourselves and for you?

Just be… yourself?*

*but like everybody else.

Because what if you don’t fall in line with the values of the beholder? What if you’re queer? What if you’ve lost faith? What if you’re politically dense or demonic?

We don’t want everyone to be themselves. It’s pretty darn conditional. We kinda really want people to be like ourselves and/or within the parameters of our comfort.

If I was myself, like myself myself, I’d be a hazard to myself. Do you know why people are afraid to be themselves? Because people can’t handle the truth. (That’s my OOTD = Overstatement Of The Day)

And what if your self? Your self is unaccepted the way that it is? What if you are Black, what if you are fat, what if you have melanin, what if you are Muslim? What if you’re Muslim but the kind most Muslims don’t agree with? What if you’re what if you’re what if you’re?!?!?!?

To be oneself, one must know thy self, to know thy self, one must see thy self.

And what if you grew up rarely or never seeing yourself? In stories, in books, in TV, in movies, in magazines, on billboards, on the beach.

Just being yourself is like putting together broken pieces of mannequin made out of lunch meat. It’s a terrible process.

And yet…

Just be yourself.

There’s something Godly and spiritual and purposefully impractical about it – a caution to the wind, a go hard or go home, a sinking ship fancy Titanic party.

Alas, it’s not all bad, like my blog may lead you to believe.

To you, to myself, I bequeath us:

Dig hard, deep, with your blood, sweat, and tears; to learn yourself, to appreciate the self you have come to be; work hard, so hard, to form a self that doesn’t harm others, including you; and embrace yourself, the gift of you, no matter how un-Brady / un-Instagrammable / imperfect you are; and accept that you are the sum of all things in this very moment, nothing less and nothing more – yourself… being… you. already.

We’re just being ourselves all along.

I’m a hermit

Nida Chowdhry, blog, writer, hermit, introvert, cartoon, I’m not hanging out with anybody, Mindy kaling, is everyone hanging out without me

I’ve been feeling really, really guilty about something for the past few years, and I recently realized – hey! I’ve always been like this!

As a kid, you could find my siblings playing outside, and me? If there was a statistic based on us, it’d be:

2 out of 3 kids are playing outside. The other one’s reading a book.

I very much preferred and prefer the company of books and television to actual human beings. Just saying that out loud makes me feel like a total monster!

My parents would push and push for me to go play outside. At around 5pm everyday, they made me see the light of day. I got sneaky and tucked a book into the back of my pants, or ‘made an appearance’ at my neighbors’ house before climbing over our fence and reading in a nook in our backyard. My God!

I would read in the bathroom all night. I would read by moonlight coming through my window in bed. I thought I was really smart, but it turns out my eyes could only handle this for so long before I had to get huge glasses. By which I mean actually huge gigantic glasses with polarized lenses. Yeah.

Anyway, books are my friends. I was and have been pretty darned introverted most of my life. But there’s a huge part of me that loves people very much. I love seeing people happy. I love being a wallflower and I love being center-stage making people think and feel things.

There’s also a huge part of me that suffers when I’m around people too much. It’s like… too much to process. I go haywire. I can’t hear my own thoughts. I start to make mistakes. I don’t have enough time to read people and evaluate my mistakes. (This sounds like the ramblings of a mad perfectionist.)

I’m really intense and better suited to one-on-one’s. And even then, I’m really intense and better suited to my couch and chromecast.

Speaking of introversion, just saying that word out loud makes me feel like I’m listing a phony symptom so I can get out of class! What would my South Asian tough-it-up heritage say! My ancestors are probably rolling their eyes ten generations back into their heads.

I have realized that I need to make more time for my loved ones, so it’s something I’ve been working on for the past couple of years. It’s tough figuring out the balance between isolation vs. solo-ation, aloneness vs. loneliness, time vs. boundaries, but as long as I’m working on it… ::nervous laughter::

What I have been doing lately is working on letting go of the guilt. For the two seconds someone might be thinking of me and hating me for being a hermit, I’m spending 24/7 feeling bad about who I am and how I am, and it’s just not helping anyone. I think if I stop making myself feel so guilty it can open up some emotional real estate for me to be a better friend (insert more guilt here). Here’s to silently hoping.

Maybe social media makes me feel like I need to be more social. It definitely makes me afraid that people think I’m all talking to people and hanging out with people 24/7 and trying to make 1,000 million billion new friends, when I’m really in my pajamas researching a new show. Meh. It seems like I have a conflicted relationship with social media. What did Twitter ever do to me.

Then there’s the apocalyptic part of my brain that’s like *shakes fist* It’s a sign of the times! Maybe it’s a sign of *french accent* modernity and *some American president’s accent* urbanization and maybe Tolstoy has something to say about this. I don’t know because I don’t know anything about Tolstoy and I’m just trying to sound smart – everyone else is doing it so why not.

But really, I wonder if my ancestors had so much pressure to socialize. I feel like they were probably busy dusting the insides of their house and making meals to feed their 10 children i.e. their retirement plan. They probably went out to the market once in a while and ‘tweeted’ their neighbor across the balcony. Their entire life was an Instagram live with the chickens in their backyard.*

P.S. In case you’re wondering, I do very much love my Kindle! If you weren’t wondering, you’re like, what? Okay…

*This is historically inaccurate AF.

‘Secret of the Nile’ on Netflix is so, so good


I just finished watching Grand Hotel or as it’s known on Netflix, Secret of the Nile. It’s the first Egyptian show on Netflix, and it’s actually a remake of a Spanish drama series, Gran Hotel. It’s Downton Abbey meets Cable Girls (also a Spanish drama, also on Netflix, also I’m obsessed), and I’m not the only one who thinks so.

The original Gran Hotel is 39 episodes, broken into 3 seasons. Secret of the Nile is 30 episodes, 45 minutes each, and it plays out as one long season (it was originally released as a Ramadan special in 2016). I learned about it this past Sunday and just finished marathon-watching it at 4am this morning… LOL.


The acting is so rich and complex, the cinematography is riveting, the sets are stunning, and the wardrobe and hair/makeup are fire. But the reason I literally watched 1,350 minutes of TV in three days is because of the drama. Oh the drama! Egyptians. Know. Drama.

I never knew the true meaning of the words “the plot thickens” until now. The plot is so thick it’s a vat of cement and I am here for this concrete mixture of deception. Grand Hotel also has some phenomenal villains who’s character development is… to die for… and it somehow carries on through 30 episodes. I am here for these scary Tants (Aunties)!


It’s in Arabic and I watched it with English subtitles. I’m proud to say I’m learning such important Egyptian Arabic as, “IDKHUL!” (Enter) and “Nazarthu. Dul. Alayya. ANNA… UMMIK!” (You sided with them against me, your mother!) Wow, this is really going to come in handy when I visit the Pyramids.

If you enjoy period dramas (low-hanging pun intended) and you’re looking for a new show to be obsessed with, I recommend watching two episodes before you judge.

Also, in case your watching and you’re like, Who does Ali/Fouad (played by Amr Youssef) remind me of? He looks like Joshua Jackson (Dawson’s Creek):

You’re welcome.

P.S. ABC is remaking Grand Hotel, too!

The bar gets higher

A few years back, I met someone at an NYC networking event and we got to talking about what we were up to. When I told them I just finished the UCB Improv program, they were like, “Advanced?” (referring to the UCB advanced classes) and I was like, ::sheepishly:: “No.” And they were like, ::disappointed:: “Oh. Well… keep going.” (Read: DO YOU EVEN LIFT???)

For me, everything really has started with a step. And taking a step at a time has added up, and I have gotten further and further on my own path. But it turns out that the further I get, the length of the road ahead is all I can see.

My friends used to come to my improv shows and lovingly tell me how funny I was and how I compared on stage. All I could really see is how good everyone else is, and how much I need to improve.

Maybe it’s classic imposter syndrome. But also, I think it’s that thing people talk about. The thing where they say, you’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with. And the other thing, if you’re the smartest one in the room, you’re in the wrong room. Nevermind that both of these things are a bit pretentious sounding. I think what they refer to is making sure that we always challenge ourselves. If we’re not in a place where we see room for improvement, if we’re not feeling like the weakest link, it means we’re not challenging ourselves enough, we’re not asking ourselves enough. (And I think it’s possible to feel like the weakest link in any room if we see each person’s unique gifts and ask ourselves to work harder.)

I haven’t really figured out the look-around-and-appreciate-the-milestones part. I am still focused on the climb. And yes, it is exhausting to think like that. I’m sure I’d be better off if I marveled at the distance a little more, but I don’t/won’t/can’t. If instant success were a thing I’d gladly give up the hard work and sit on the throne of my ginormously cushy ego. But it turns out it’s not a thing (mostly) and there is only one way: the hard way.

I do find something both humbling and exciting about constantly feeling like the loser in the room that has the most work to do, the longest way to go. It’s thrilling really, because there is potential. It’s like… knowing how much burn one has to feel in a workout before getting to the next … goal? Idk muscle language/talk. But yes, there is a sort of thrill/adrenaline rush attached to it.

I guess I’m writing this to share something I didn’t know when I was 22. There is no instant satisfaction or award awaiting the end of each milestone. There is what I have in myself. Knowledge, and also, increased knowledge of how little I know and how much more there is to learn. I think and hope this is how I will always feel. Which is cool and exciting. No matter how much I accomplish, how much I do, there will always be bigger achievements, people who have contributed “more.” And “we can always do more,” but also, “we’ll be dead soon anyways.”

So there is a built in dissatisfaction in achievement that I had no idea about. And witnessing the pattern of my life, it’s clear now. There really is no such thing as “winning” in the solo sense and it really is about how we get there together (even when we think we got there alone). And… winning doesn’t really feel like “winning.” It feels more like, “wow! that was fun! okay cool, now let’s get some rest, and then… onto the next.” I think that’s pretty cool, and grounding.

And also P.S. I’ve met lots of cool people on the road who are like, oh cool! and lot’s of people on the road who are like, oh. that’s it? The road giveth medicine for thine ego.

I love Grace & Frankie


You guys, I love Netflix’s Grace & Frankie. I can’t believe I just finished watching Season 4 – four seasons in and it’s just as good / getting better. Let me count the ways:

1) Who doesn’t love a good Lucy/Ethel, Thelma/Louise combo? Grace/Frankie have a dynamic worthy of its ranks. I appreciate the consistent stubbornness of their qualities, and how their flaws (and virtues) balance each other out. And cause chaos.

2) I haven’t been blessed to watch Golden Girls just yet, but I can’t think of another show that appreciated / embraced older women since then. How do we not? It’s embarrassing and we’re missing out. Grace and Frankie helps me appreciate who I might be and feel seen rather than slowly disappearing off the face of existence.

3) The humor is just. Next level in every way. I appreciate how honest and vulnerable the comedy is, that it stems from Grace and Frankie’s genuine struggles, hopes, and concerns in this chapter of their lives / f*ck you for calling it a ‘chapter of their lives.’

4) I love being able to see these beautiful humans with their beautiful wrinkles and not so beautiful joint pain, struggling with all of the above. It’s not just refreshing to see two women in their 70’s as leads – it’s necessary.

I can’t wait to rewatch it this summer and I’m looking forward to Season 5. Bravo to show creator Marta Kauffman, and the incredible forces that are Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin.

Is there a show with older lead characters that you love? Leave a comment with your recs. I’m putting together my Summer Watchlist right now and would love to learn your favorites.

Hoping to blog more

nida chowdhry, blog, writing, writer
This is where I got re-started a few years ago. I was sitting in my apartment living room in Hell’s Kitchen, surrounded by four Thai restaurants of the same name. My couch and coffee table were my office, dining room, and living room. I sat there and cried and tried to figure out my life. I often curled into a ball unable to leave my apartment. I had a telecommuting job from that same spot. And that is where I recommitted to write as a way of life, for life, for living.

I had felt suffocated for a while, like I was holding something in – myself. Everything I believed and felt, everything I had to offer and give, even if it didn’t matter to anyone else.

I thought back to these moments in life when everyone around me used their voice, took up space with their thoughts and opinions – with ease – even when bigoted. They struggled aloud. They spoke.

And I stayed silent. And processed. And brooded. And struggled to speak. To open my mouth. To bring what I felt to fruition.

I don’t know exactly why at this moment that I decided to dust off my blog. Maybe because I had been contemplating the larger question of what to do with my life. How to give from my life. Maybe because writing had been my way before. Reading had been my way. The way that I came to understand life – at my own pace, from the safety of a book. And writing, it was how I waded into the pool of my thoughts without drowning. It was a life raft, a boat.

This exact place – an internet space – was where I got started. Re-started. Re-connected with what I want to do in my life. To write and figure things out. To share and be honest. Vulnerable and raw. To go out having been myself.

So here I am. Dusting off my blog again. Finding and typing my way through existence life.