Sunday, 30 November 2014

17 Things I’ve Learnt in 17 Years

It’s currently 1:02pm. This morning I had a mind-blowing surge of profound inspiration and I’d like to talk about it. It just so happens to be my seventeenth birthday and disregarding the scary fact that I’m rapidly growing closer to my death (if only we were immortal *sigh*), I feel infinity electrifying at my fingertips.

I feel like being seventeen is neither here nor there. I feel like seventeen is the year where I want to take a gap year from life. To just think. To become the ideal self I’ve always desired to be. And though it feels like a wishy washy filler year in the grand scheme of things, I’m determined to create something beautiful out of it.

I have existed for seventeen years. How crazy is that?! Through the blissful days where the sun beamed against my skin contrasting with the miserable dim days filled with hate and loneliness; I’ve survived. And here I am, ready to take the world with all the courage and energy I can muster. If I am to take one message, one positive from this day, it will be that turning seventeen is a privilege, an accomplishment, a gift that should never be taken for granted.

Original source: here
Edited by Nabsticle

I created a compilation of seventeen things that I’ve learnt, and will most certainly never forget, over the past seventeen years…

1. Death is okay and in fact it’s a necessity. Grief hurts but you have the choice to rise above it. Death isn’t always a loss, it’s a wakeup call and a valuable lesson. Use it to your advantage.

2. Building strong relationships with people will never happen overnight. Take the time to understand the other person, listen and don’t rush. Finding something beautiful at the end of a long troublesome road is so much more rewarding than taking a shortcut.

3. Trust your family more than anyone. Friends come and go but family is the safety net that will always catch you when you fall.

4. Never be afraid of venturing into new opportunities. For me it was starting a blog and joining an online magazine company, it can be a risk and even a mistake but go for it anyway, what’s the worst that could happen? The key is to just say yes.

5. If you look at someone and admire their mannerisms, their intelligence or even their dress sense, tell them. Start a conversation and spark the beginning of a beautiful friendship, people like that are rare gems. And you never know, they could be thinking the exact same thing about you.

6. Never speak idly; whatever you say should have substance, power, impact and meaning.

7. That detrimental mistake you made back in Year 8 may stay with you throughout high school and it may make your life a misery but it’s temporary. Don’t let it get you down. (That was more of a personal one.)

8. School will never teach you everything. In your spare time read articles, read a book, go out and explore the real world. You’ll learn much more that way. Always stay inspired. Remain curious and you will never stray from the true purpose of life.

9. It’s okay if you don’t feel like talking. Everyone needs and deserves their alone time to just think things over and figure things out. Likewise, if you notice someone who’s being quiet then let them be.

10. Letting go of people who aren’t making you a better person will boost you immensely. Trust me on this, you’ll feel lighter and it will make you realise that they weren’t such an important part of your life after all.

11. If there are masses of people, especially online, talking about controversial topics that you don’t really have an opinion on or care much about, then don’t join in. It’s okay to avoid certain discussions, just because it’s in your face 24/7 doesn’t mean you have to voice an opinion on it.

12. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Your entire life is an accomplishment so be proud of yourself. The ability to change the world is in your hands. You are a crucial cog needed for this world to keep spinning around. Don’t waste it.

13. You be the reason you wake up every day. Once you start doing things for yourself rather than others you will truly understand the meaning of living. Be your own anchor.

14. Remember that time is a man-made concept. Essentially it’s a lie. You create your own time scale and live by it however you want. No one can tell you when to do things. Like they say, there’s no time like the present.

15. Never fear death as it’s the one thing in life that is certain. Never think that life is just a ticking time bomb and when the counter hits zero your time is up. Life wasn’t given to you for you to fear it.

16. Never wait for life, get up, become a fighter and go after it. Chase it until your heart trembles at a dangerous pace and your feet burn with blisters and bruises. Feel the buzz, the adrenaline, the electricity flow through your veins. I promise that small baby steps will get you to your dreams.

17. The world will never be perfect. But your world can be. Be the best version of yourself and screw everyone else. Breathe in the good and exhale the bad, make every second of your life count. Be strong. Be smart. Be you.

Thank you to each and every one of you who have stuck with me on this crazy and inconsistent journey I call life; you mean everything to me. Together we have all survived and the future holds so many everlasting opportunities for more greatness, live it with me.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Dear November // Mini Series #5

Dear November,

The crisp leaves continue to crackle beneath my heavy feet as the sparks of vibrant orange and red dot along the streets. The only significant variation is the subtle glint of white frost that thinly ices the world. But as the seasons change, we mustn’t change with it; we must evolve.

November, I’m afraid I had to retrospect and ponder over my diary for a very long time to spark the memories that you held. You arrived and left far too quickly. The dim mornings and vaguely lit evenings blended and became one long stretch of a fast-paced dream. My mum, brother and I went out for an evening where I devoured in my first ever Nandos and cherished every bite. To top it off we went on a few fairground rides in the area and I spotted my mum truly laugh; something I hadn’t seen for a very long time. Thank you.

You paraded us in glorious celebration too. Seeing my brother turn nineteen showered me with joy but also shocked me with the realisation that we’re not just little children anymore expecting our parents to come to the rescue when we fall. We will never get these moments back and as terrifying as that sounds, it’s mind-blowingly beautiful. You have blessed my brother with some fantastic news November and I am grateful; I can’t think of anyone else who is more deserving.

Source: Nabsticle

However as all good things have to be balanced out with the bad, we received some tragic news. My uncle sadly passed away. I don’t want to talk about it too much but I know he’s in a better place now. Moments before he slipped from our clutches he told us that his father - who passed away many years ago - has come to take him. And in that moment, we all realised that he had seen a glimpse of the other side. This provoked many deep thoughts but also an odd sense of happiness.

Predominantly in the past few weeks I’ve been feeling very awkward in my own skin, an anxious outcast around others. It’s nothing serious because I’m a bit of a wallflower as it is but it does affect me. So I overcame it; I took it by the scruff of its neck and confronted it. I am awkward and timid and secretive and full of trust issues but that is who I am. I can speak my mind when I want to and I can stand my ground when I need to.

Let me share a story with you. The other day I wore my hair in two plaits, something I haven’t done since primary school. I’ll be honest, I was nervous. What would people think? But I plucked up the courage and did it anyway. And let me tell you, that day I felt so proud, content and even a little excited to wear this new hairstyle. It was nothing special, people probably didn’t even notice, but to me it was everything. Since that day I haven’t felt an ounce of anxiety run through me.

I realise how long this letter is becoming November and the last thing I want to do is bore you, but there’s a lot to get off my chest.

I’ve been ill. Headaches, a nuisance of a cold and the desperate need for sleep and cosy jumpers. I need to take care of my health. Life is too short.

On the 30th it will be my seventeenth birthday and quite honestly I’d forgotten about it. To put it in simple terms; I don’t want to grow up. The mere thought of it scares me.

You’ve been a reflective month November. There has been an abundance of highs and lows but a lesson all the same. See you next year.

Yours faithfully,
Nabeela


You can find my 'Dear October' post here.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Be Your Own Anchor

The spots of sunlight filtered in through the blinds as I wept. Waterfalls of uncontrollable tears, profound and lost. Please give me something to grapple onto as I am declining, descending, decaying. The skyscraper of life has eradicated my final chance and has sent me flailing into the depths of dark solitude. The hands of the clock spiral like graceful birds yet I am still

falling,
         quicker,
                   deeper…

Just moments before I was to hit rock bottom and meet my calamitous fate, I felt a familiar hand slide into mine, a perfect fit. Using all of her courageous strength she lifted me back to Earth’s surface. She was effortlessly grand. Her character radiated from her entire body as if the world’s beauty had settled under her caramel-coloured skin.

Power.
Hope.
Curiosity.

I repeated the same words all the way up as I floated in a wondrous trance. Gently, like an angel’s touch, she placed me onto the ground. Her hand slowly escaped my firm clutch and slithered away. My eyelids fluttered open but were immediately hit with blinding lights and flashes of movement. I was a butterfly exploding unexpectedly out of my cocoon, finally beginning to understand my purpose in this perplex world.

Original source: here
Edited by Nabsticle

I never encountered her again; my friend, my saviour, my last hope. When the world overpowered me she came, but happened to leave too quickly for me to fully register the cathartic deed she had performed.

Two years later.

I was sitting absent-mindedly staring at my book on the bench outside Block 4, not really concentrating, until I happened to glance down towards my open bag. A scrunched up piece of paper peeped out and almost screamed at me, begging me to pick it up. I ironed out the creases with my fingers and discovered three blurred words imprinted into the paper like the veins of a leaf. Only when I held the paper close to my face and squinted did I realise what it said.

Power.
Hope.
Curiosity.

The epiphany collided violently against my mind and soul. I knew exactly who had rushed to my rescue all those years ago. I knew exactly who had revived my evanescent heart. It was me.

Only I contained the immense strength that was desperately needed. Only I could wipe away the tears and only I could slap myself in the face and put my life back on track. It was tough and at times excruciatingly soul-destroying but I did it. And I couldn’t be more thrilled for the promising future.

In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.’ – Albert Camus

Thursday, 13 November 2014

My Near-Death Experience…

I was four years old when it happened. An unblemished child overflowing with good deeds, not one single sin flowing through my veins. I was an innocent, thrust into this intimidating universe, expected to understand. In my chestnut brown eyes that twinkled with hope, nothing was wrong. No liars. No crime. No evil.

My mum was spiralling a roundabout when the incident occurred. I don’t know where we were headed; it was all a blurry chaotic mess like a tangled tape of a broken cassette, unable to be detangled and put right. A part of me thinks that my mum doesn’t want to remember, the traumatic memory overwhelms her despite it being over twelve years ago.

She drove as I stared dreamily in awe at the cars, the streets and the people rushing in smudges of colour outside the window. I’d brought a small purse with me for the journey but had clumsily dropped it. I frantically searched for the purse and stirred in panic at the thought of losing it. Clearly I had an excessive amount of money in there…

My eyes darted around the floor of the car but it wasn’t there. So as an oblivious four year old I concluded that it must have fallen out of the car. Click. My seatbelt slithered away. Moments later the sound of the car door clanged back and forth and the realisation that I was no longer in the car hit my mum. Gone. Just like that. I had vanished into thin air.

Me when I was younger
Source: Nabsticle

My shaking mum pressed fiercely at the brakes and stopped at a harsh halt. I can’t even begin to imagine her reaction; the sheer horror of her daughter slipping through her fingers like minuscule grains of sand. To my mother’s relief I was found curled up in a ball at the side of a road, stunned and unable to speak, but surprisingly not a single tear sprang from my eyes.

I could’ve died. My existence instantly destroyed in a flash of confusion. But death stared into my wet eyes that day and mercifully gave me one last chance. Power and courage had managed to find its way back through my veins and into my heart. I lived.

How would things be different if I had been placed in a terrifying grave all those years ago? Would my mum have birthed my little sisters? How would my brother have coped knowing his little sister died at a very young age? Scary isn’t it? I look at my little sister now, who is coincidentally four years old, and can’t imagine life without her. We are all a huge piece in our family jigsaw.

Me and my mum
Source: Nabsticle

My death would have haunted my mum forever. She would never have forgiven herself. I wouldn’t have forgiven myself. It’s grief that kills people, not death. I wouldn’t have been able to have an education, I wouldn’t have had the long 2am chats with my brother, I wouldn’t have pushed myself out of my comfort zone and started this blog and I wouldn’t have known what life really felt like. From this tragic event I know that I would be an utter fool to waste this second chance. We, as humans, take the ability to breathe for granted and this escape from death’s clutches has taught me to never take my existence lightly. It is truly a gift that I am most certainly going to cherish.

*

Thanks so much for reading! I’ve decided not to post on Mondays and Fridays like I have been doing as I’ve realised that there’s a lot of unnecessary pressure to write posts so that they’re up on time. I want this space to be a hobby, not a chore, so I’ll now be posting whenever inspiration comes to me.

Have you had any near-death experiences?

Friday, 7 November 2014

Thoughts on the ‘Existence Precedes Essence’ Philosophy

I was sitting in class, minding my own business, daydreaming, when something my teacher said compelled my ears to perk up and listen intently. He digressed in a bit of a tangent and delved into an extremely fascinating topic. I’ve never studied or even willingly researched philosophical matters but it seemed to make a lot of sense to me.

Let’s start with a bit of background so that I don’t confuse you. The first prominent existentialist philosopher was called Jean-Paul Sartre and he stated:

‘Existence Precedes Essence’

In simpler terms this means that our existence overpowers the hopes and dreams we may originally have planned for us as miniscule particles of dust.

Take a rose for example. The essence inside the seed determines what it will become. It contains the essence of a rose therefore it will become a rose. Nothing can change it because it is its destiny. However Sartre believed that this is in fact the complete opposite for humans. We are all born the same, we arrive alone, naked and helpless. Yet the beauty of humanity is that we can break free from that and decide for ourselves which path to take. We can create our own identities through the clothes we wear, the music we listen to and our mannerisms.

Source: here

Our lives and how we choose to live them are in our very own hands. Perhaps a rose has its fate set out for it like a strict manual but we don’t. Us as human beings are conscious, independent and individual. Essence in other words are the labels and preconceived categories that society so easily defines us with.

What’s so beautiful about this concept is that the ball is in our court. If you wish to be a vegetarian you can, if being a dancer is what you desire to be then no one is stopping you. We can develop our own persona, our own values and live by them. I strongly believe that the omnipotent God has a plan for us but I also believe life is a huge demanding test. How we choose to answer the difficult questions and pass it with high grades is up to us.

So as I sit in class and my teacher continues with the lesson I realise the incredible power I possess. I hope that ten years from now I retrospect my many tiresome years of education and know that I’ve learnt at least one meaningful thing.

I, a microscopic seed in a field full of roses, refuse to remain a mere essence in a universe filled with infinite opportunities to become the epitome of existence.

Monday, 3 November 2014

The Conflict between Writing as a Hobby and Writing for School

Source: Nabsticle

I’ve just sat down to do a bit of free writing. Just on a spontaneous whim. Just to let my thoughts flow, to splash messily on a blank page and allow my words to dance in majestic twirls so that it only makes sense to me. However as my fingertips hover over my keyboard, my eyebrows narrow in deep concentration, nothing happens.

I’m not writing for a piece of English coursework or for my blog, I’m simply doing it because I love it. I hit a bit of a barrier as if a mystical force had built a dam and no water was being allowed to pass through, not even a faint trickle. And it made me unexpectedly realise that sometimes when I write to please and impress others with strict word counts or elements I’m forced to include, it can steal and trample the fun out of a hobby.

When writing for others it can sometimes bring about the need for justification. Why did your character have red hair? Are you trying to foreshadow the fiery explosion that is going to happen at the end? No, I’m not. My character has red hair because I want my character to have red hair.

Writing is a form of art. Perhaps an outlet to express, to convey a message to the world, a scream for help, a means of fitting into this abstract world. It’s beautiful. Yet when people create impediments that force me to think differently or in a way that makes sense to others rather than myself then that’s where a problem arises.

Being an English student I’ve been told how and what to write and it quite honestly sucks. I have a limit to the word count and find teachers getting irritated when I try to express my personality through the words I write. It’s not arrogance and I really am grateful for all their help but I want to write in my style. They’re my thoughts and what runs wild through my mind at the strangest of times so why are other people trying to change what I’m thinking so the examiners can understand it? Maybe I don’t want to include parenthesis or some form of hyperbole because it’s just not me.

When I spend countless stressful hours putting 110% effort into a piece of coursework for my teacher to tell me to change it after hurriedly skimming through because it doesn’t match the criteria it hurts. When I’m told to justify my choices for what my characters said or the choice of clothing they wore it hurts. A writer should not be forced to validate why they did something, creative juices flow when they do and inspiration comes to us at the most unexpected times. The last thing I want to do is force dishonest words into my work.

I understand that I won’t get the desired grade if I do things my own way and perhaps I am being stubborn and difficult. But when others are stealing the joy out of something I so immensely enjoy then I’m going to have to put a stop to it. To make things even worse their friendly faces transform to disgust and annoyance when I question them and defend my work. Why should I have a semantic field of light or include a religious theme because that is certainly not what I was going for. Am I so inferior to them because they have a degree? A mere piece of paper does not give anyone the right to put others down.

No one is going to steal my passion for something I love so dearly, for something that has taught me lessons I wouldn’t have learnt any other way, improved me and brought me so much elated joy. I refuse to allow anyone to change my writing and muzzle me for having an opinion.  I’m not going to allow them to suppress my outlet, my message, my screams for help and my way of finding my place in this world.

I know my writing is insignificant, minuscule and simply nowhere near as good as some of the talented bunch we have here in the blogosphere but that’s okay.

To some it may be a matter of putting random shapes and symbols into some chronological order to form words, sentences, stories but that’s not the case for me. Writing to me is like breathing life back into a lost soul, allowing the thrill and adrenaline, the adventure and confidence to flow through my body and dance to the beat of my fingers tapping away at the keyboard. The conflict is rife and often troubling but I will not allow the education system to destroy the strong devotion I possess for writing; something that, for me, creates meaning and purpose in this disorientating world.