Explaining Me

It started a few months ago when I heard my mother try to explain to someone about me, “She’s got her own principles”.  The next time I heard her tell someone else, “She’s very particular.”

Those times I saw it as my mother being apologetic for my behaviour (they were related to sale of cats and cruelty-free makeup), that soon I should be expected to transform into a poise and demure young lady. I imagined myself as a debutante, faking her smile and agreeing with everyone and everything. Socially pleasing.

Ha, ha, ha! Can you imagine that? No? I knew it. You’ll know that this does not fit in with my character. As I’m unfolding the meanings behind these truth about myself, and seeing how my mother was actually not apologetic but was rather using them as statements to describe me, I found that there’s nothing really wrong with how I choose to live.

I understand that people don’t understand what I do or why I do so I sat down in the midst of writing my crazy, lack of detail fiction book to list 22 Things I Hold On To:

(because I’m 22 uhh uhhh uuuuu)

1. Never Tell Lies

I grew up inspired by the story of our Sufi guide when he was a young traveller: robbers attacked their caravan, demanded money. He told them that he had money stitched under his sleeves. The robbers didn’t believe him, but when found that he spoke the truth, they repented and never robbed again.

I may tell a white lie to safeguard a reputation or life, but if it’s about how that dress looks on you I wouldn’t. Better hear it from my own mouth than to have it whispered between others’ ears, right?

2. Do Not Pluck Flowers, Leaves or Kill Insects

Have you thought about how cruel it is to deny life from blooming? You cut the stems for the flower, put it in a jar of water or a vase for “freshness” yet it’s just for your selfish decorations. If you want to give me flowers give me the whole pot. I’ll water it and put it in the Sun in my garden.

Insects are icky little creatures, I know. But I won’t use the insect spray directly on them. It’s mean. I will put a sticky trap or clean the house with lemongrass, but I will not lure them with biscuits to trap them. Or feed poison cookies to cockroaches. I cannot handle the cruelty in this.

3. Do Not Hang Out With Smoking Smokers

If you want to be respected, first you’ll have to start with respecting yourself. I respect the honour of this body given to me by not smoking, and I love my lungs to not secondhand smoke either. If a smoker refuses to understand this and chooses to smoke in front of me, I will walk away no matter who you are. I choose me.

4. Never Buy Pets

First of all, there are plenty strays and ferals who require love and attention too. To buy a pet is only feeding to the greed of breeders. What do you get from stroking a beautiful purebred? What’s the difference with stroking a stray cat? Send them to be cleaned and they will be clean.

Second, I feel that it’s wrong. Pet trading, to me, is equivalent to human trading. If you think it’s wrong to buy and sell humans, what makes the sale of animals not for consumption any difference? Yes. Stop going to the zoo.

5. Always Play On Defense

Let that car overtake you. The only thing you gain from not allowing a man to speed past you is your ego. But what good is that? Nothing.

In a conversation, allow yourself to crouch when with people. You can stand later. It’s okay.  If both heads are standing head to head trying to prove a point, there’s no listening involved. Allow yourself to back away, let the person explain literally everything he has to say and then come back with your point of view. At the end of the day you want to keep relationships, harmony, and peace. You don’t want to lose anything.

However, this is only when I don’t know that person well. Once I’m comfortable enough with you that I know that there’s nothing to gain nor lose in our relationship, I’ll argue with you..only if I know that we’ll still be okay. Consider yourself special if I’ve bothered arguing with you.

6. Finish Your Food and Never Overspend On Food

If I have children, I will never allow them to be “okay” with not finishing what’s on their plate. When you eat it’s not only for yourself. Keep in your thoughts the people who don’t even have the luxury of eating one meal per day. It’s senseless to allow my child to not finish their food while trying to teach him or her how fortunate they are, and how they should be grateful. Doesn’t make sense.

At the same time I wouldn’t buy a twenty dollar burger with fries at the side. The purpose of eating is to live, for energy. To savour and enjoy the delights in your mouth, fine, but not often. In the end what you consume gets flushed down your toilet. Think of how you could put that money to better use.

7. Smile At Everyone

We’ve all practiced smiling. Sadly, for many, it’s only reserved for pictures or presentations or meeting new people at parties. You can never lose your front tooth for smiling too much. Make eye contact. Smile at people. Acknowledge, and then look back at your phone. Do not totally ignore people, even if you don’t know her.

If you’re a woman and he’s a man then don’t give your full smile. Give a half smile then look down and protect your gaze instead.
Same goes if you’re a man and she’s obviously a woman. Give a half smile then look down and guard your gaze instead.

We don’t want anybody to get the wrong messages.

8. Love Everybody

Everybody wants to be treated with love and respect. Nobody’s giving it to you because they feel that nobody’s giving it to them. So why shouldn’t I be the one to start giving love and respect?

If you can love one person, you can love everybody. Extend your love energies to everyone around you. Love is selfish when it’s only to one person. I don’t live to love exclusively. I live to love expansively. My love is not expensive – it doesn’t come with a price. But bear in mind that I treat everyone the same….and this is not romantic love I’m talking about.

9. Give Compliments

Real, meaningful ones, though. You don’t know when somebody needs a boost of confidence. If it’s going to help strengthen relationships, productivity, and love for thyself, I’ll do it.

10. Assume The Better of Others

Is this the same as giving people the benefit of doubt? The truth is, everybody has their own version of the truth. A person might be lying about something, but what would be the reason behind it? That reason would be what’s absolutely right for him at that moment. Dig and uncover the truth before passing a judgement.

I think it’s absolutely important to know how to put others accountable for something, but before you do, look into it first. Understand the reasons people do something. A person may be addicted to smoking and if you understand that addiction is due to the lack of connection, be the connection. A person may be lying because he lacks confidence to tell the truth. Show him that you are the confidant that when he tells the truth, you do not judge him. You listen.

Always assume that that person first has reasons for doing something. And after listening and you deduce that he doesn’t, you step in and tell him he’s not right.

11. Do Not Date

While my love for humanity and everything is free for all, my romantic love is not.  It wouldn’t be fair to be able to put me on a “Compare” list. I do not think it’s fair for more than one person to be able to find out what I am like, romantically. To be honest, I don’t know either. Find out by marrying me,  ha ha ha.

Let’s define dating: a man and a woman going out together, to dive into the ocean and swim with her currents, before deciding if you’d want to live with this water.

It’s also because dating is haram in Islam, but that would not be my main reason for not dating. It should be, but it’s not. The main reason is  because I don’t want to give just anybody the privilege of knowing who I am. If I had agreed with the principles of dating, then ten guys would have known me intimately. What am I? A book for rent?

I’m that restricted beach you can look at but you can’t and won’t know what my waters are like until you bought this beach. Like that restricted beach, I still support life and the ecosystem. I still love, but I do not date.

12. I Don’t Care About Pretty

I bet that nobody’s ever said it to your face about how unattractive you are. But for me, I lived seventeen years of my life with a huge birth mark on my face and grew up with people calling me names. I had it surgically removed due to some complications, but seventeen years of living that way is not a short period of time. People somehow find it all right to make fun of the way someone was born.

Thankfully, I believed my personality overrode my face. That people would like me no matter how ugly I was. And people did. People saw me for who I was beyond how I looked. I was actually proud of being not pretty because I had a stronger sense of who I am. That was how I learnt to have confidence in myself; through people’s insults thrown at me.

That’s why sometimes I bluntly tell my siblings or whoever about how we’re not blessed with good facial genes. I’m only trying to tell them: but that means we’re damn good at other things. Everyone’s created perfect. You may have nine fingers but you’ll have a smile brighter than the moon. Your face may be the best composition but maybe your nails are chewed. The percentage will be 100%. That’s how we are created.

13. I Care About Nice Skin and How I Smell, and your nails

I do not believe that there’s nothing you can’t do to your acne-ridden face. If you say you’ve tried everything, you clearly haven’t. All illness in the world is paired with a cure to it. There is a cure to everything but death.

What I believe the cure to acne is? Genuine happiness and content with self. Your face is a reflection of your true emotions and/or your personal hygiene.

Someone sneaked a sniff at me and asked, “How do you manage to smell so good even after a whole day out?” I’ll admit I smell bad too sometimes, but there are two things I hold on to:
1) Good deodorant and
2) Good thoughts.

Good thoughts will emit goodness and that goodness comes with a smell too.

And I think long nails are not clean. Imagine the germs you’re harbouring under them. Is this a new Yakult live culture breeding plant? It isn’t. Trim your nails.

14. Eat Halal

If I wasn’t Muslim and I didn’t know about halal, I would be a vegetarian. It’s cruel the way animals are slaughtered. It’d be cruel too to know that I’m eating animals that died an unfair death. To put a chicken’s head under that spinning blade thing is cruel. To electrocute it is cruel. To boil it to death is cruel.

Halal requires the animal to be calm and that you do not slaughter one animal in front of the other. They die an immediate, no-pain death. It also requires the environment and animal to be clean and free of diseases. I take that animals may be raised for food, but I cannot take the cruelty that comes to consume its meat.

That’s why I eat only halal.

15. Manage My Emotions

I am only human.

There are three emotions that if you do not know how to handle well, will cause destruction in your life. They are:

  1. Disappointment
  2. Sadness
  3. Anger

I put them in order because I feel disappointment is the first base of emotions. I  like to take things straight to anger. So when I’m disappointed, I’d go to angry. Or when I’m disappointed, I’ll be sad, and then I’ll be angry. I’d hate to stay being disappointed or sad, but I’m okay with being angry.

Why? Because I know how to handle my anger better than I know how to handle my sadness and disappointment.

How do you douche sadness or disappointment? I don’t know how. But I know that I can put out fire with water. What form of element are sadness and disappointment? I don’t know.

It’s like me being sad that Pippi died. I blamed myself for not taking care of him well enough (anger) but then I’m able to forgive myself, and therefore Pippi’s passing felt more peaceful to me.

If you make me sad I’ll be angry at you for making me sad, but then I’ll pour water over the problem. Water is everywhere. You’re made up of 70% water. Remind yourself of that.

16. Who Cares What You Think?

I do. Go on, tell me about it.

17. Treasure Words As Good As Gold

I may be ironic. There are hints of sarcasm in everything I say. But I treasure promises and words. I’m sad that people don’t, and since I don’t know how to translate this sadness to anger, I make it a point to treasure my own words as good as gold.

18. Always Do It For Literature

I like to write creative non-fiction. So when something happens to me, I’d like to take it, exaggerate it by ten folds and then put it into my writing. It’s harmless when you understand I only do it for literature.

19. Recycle and Save Electricity

It breaks my heart to see plastic bottles into the dump bin! I cringe when I see paper being crumpled and tossed into the bin with food waste in them. How could you not recycle tins!!! RECYCLE PLASTICS, PAPER AND CANS!!! We’ve already removed so much trees and revoked the habitats of animals in the trees and forests for paper. I feel so much guilt living on a piece of cleared land, thinking about the squirrels who’s lost their lives, the monkeys, the birds…

And why would you leave a room without turning off the fan and lights? Do you have so much money to burn? I don’t get it. People find me baffling but I find people’s absentmindedness on the Earth’s situation unfathomable. People say I live in my own head but they voluntarily throw bottles into the dump bin. Very funny.

20. Clean Your Toilet

No matter what time it is, no matter how tired I may be, if my toilet is dirty, I will clean it. Face it: the toilet is the most intimate and private place you have for yourself. It’s the place where you remove all your veils and masks and clothes and nobody else is judging you for anything you do. It’s your own private little space.

Give yourself a bit of respect by regularly cleaning the only space in the whole wide world that sees you for who you are.

21. Laugh It Off

Self-explanatory. I laugh many things off, I think people who know me know this.

22. Don’t Be Shy

They say that one of the things that makes a Muslim woman a real Muslim woman is her shyness and modesty. I like to take things to my own context and believe I am a real Muslim woman no matter what they say.

I don’t like to be shy because when you’re shy you shy away from opportunities and people. These are crucial to self-development and understanding how life works. I’d prefer to go out, make a fool out of myself, experience, and learn new things. Will I get to do any of these if I were shy? I don’t think so.

Am I modest? I don’t know. Why don’t you tell me?

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There you go! I hope this list has given you a bit of understanding on how I act or why I act the way I act. Let’s all take a step to understand each other. I’m putting all these out in hopes that…..readers will understand whatever they want to understand.