Thoughts in Process

My expressions on certain things, opinions I share, and ideas that are around my every day life.

Different Feels: Culture Clash vs. Culture Infusion

I know, I know…just lay it on me! Guilty as charged for not posting for a long time. The truth is, I’ve been going through a tough time, which has made me anxious to blog. However, I have realized that I should embrace the things that I like to do as opposed to push them away in times of need. So here I am 🙂

Part of what I wanted to talk about today is a mixture of relating to people, feeling the need to get along with everyone, and catching yourself between a culture clash. Or should I say culture infusion?

When I first moved to America about 3 years ago, I wanted to go to college and go back to what was home (Middle East) at the time. A few years later, I’ve come to realize that this has become more and more home for me. I have gained so much in just a few years (besides almost having my Bachelor’s Degree.) I met incredible people whom I am blessed to call my second family, I’m lucky to have an awesome job, I fell in love, and I never felt so out of my comfort zone in my whole entire life.

Yes. The funny thing is that the more that I live here, the more that I realize that although I do have somewhat of a westernized mentality, there are so many more things that I have learned about myself being here that go back to my roots, values, and culture (religion being set aside.) I thought I was living through a major culture clash, but now I am finding out that it is more of an infusion of cultures. I am embracing my past and my present and merging them together. I am taking the good from both of my backgrounds and making my own set of beliefs, ideals, and values.

I have always thought I was a naturally curious person, my family calls me “too curious” which is not even a thing I’m pretty sure. It’s part of the reason why I moved here, because I was curious about the world, wanted to learn, experience, and adventure at the same damn time! So my curiosity took me here, to Florida, where I learned and still am learning so much about myself through ways I never thought I would.

How, you ask? For many of you, you may not be able to relate (story of my life) but it’s really the little things that make you think. For example, I don’t get most of the American sayings that they use here. What the hell is “take it with a grain of salt” ??? I still to this day don’t know what that means, most of the times I just nod and give a little “heh” when someone says something I don’t understand, to hide my confusion lol. I also have a lot of language gaps (i.e limited vocabulary, grammar sometimes, etc.) Even though I don’t speak with an accent, it’s still kind of my second language. Many times its just me not being able to relate to people, their lifestyles, childhoods, and little norms that I never had while growing up.

This makes it hard, to this day, to relate to people and reach common ground. Sometimes it feels awkward and uncomfortable, as I don’t fit in 100% with people here or back home. The weird part is that even when I’m home, I also find myself feeling different (culture wise, personality wise, etc.) I have a lot of opinions, my Middle Eastern ones are highlighted in America, and my American ones are highlighted in the Middle East. Weird, right? I’m basically like a culture milkshake. Yum. As a result, I used to feel insecure to be different and basically paranoid because I would be thinking “omg these people think I’m just this foreign weirdo. Just stop being yourself, and remove yourself from the situation.”

Now I am beginning to realize “umm I’m actually pretty badass. I am well-traveled, educated, love diversity. So what if this makes me a little different?” What I’m trying to say is, it’s okay if you ever feel like you can’t relate to people, the whole point isn’t to make yourself likable to everyone. It’s OKAY if you don’t have things in common with every single person you meet, and most of all, its OKAY to be yourself at all times, in fact, its encouraged. 🙂 Even if that means some people may not like you, that quite alright. Don’t ever feel like you need to change yourself to be able to relate to others. That defeats the whole purpose of being yourself. If anything, being immersed somewhere outside your comfort zone makes you learn the most about yourself.

Be yourself

I like to be goofy, tell jokes, and do silly things. However, I also enjoy politics and discussing public affairs. Then again, I enjoy reading, shopping, and manicures. I love diversity, learning about different cultures, and having an open mind. Even though I don’t fit in to a specific category of being “from” somewhere, that’s ok. I kind of like it, it makes me feel connected to the world in general and fits into my curious nature. At the end of the day, it’s not where you’re from that counts, it’s what you make of yourself using your past, present, and future. And if people want to judge, then let them have at it, because at least you’re being true to yourself. So embrace it! I know I am. 🙂

I hope you enjoyed this piece, and I hope this inspired you to embrace your background just as it is and to continue being the you-est of you!

Bisous,

-SH ❤

Squeeze A Summer’s Day!

Summer is finally upon us! Raise your hand if you’re as excited as I am. *raises hands*

With a new season, new goals will be set. Priorities are re-prioritized, and objectives are re-evaluated.

Especially this summer, where some of us who are in college may be looking to work more, or take summer classes, or just graduated and looking for a job, there will be a shift in your daily routine and you will eventually ease into a new one. To make this transition as productive and smooth as possible, I’ve compiled a set of objectives you should set for yourself. I for one, am going from taking 5 classes in the spring to taking 1 online class this summer. I’ve been trying to figure out how to fill up this free time by setting new goals and things that I would like to get done this summer. So here’s some stuff I’ve been working on that would be of use to you:

1. Pick up or continue a hobby. I’ve decided to explore photography as a hobby this summer and I’m looking forward to buying a new professional camera! Hopefully I’ll be able to learn how to use it before the summer ends, haha.

2. Spend some time outdoors. You know what this means: beach weather! If you live in a sunny place like I do (yay Florida!) being in the sun will be the easiest thing to relax yourself but also have goddess-like sun kissed skin(yasss). If laying under the sun for hours is not your cup of tea, which I totally get, try out outdoorsy activities like kayaking, hiking, etc. This is a double whammy as you will be active AND will get some sun. Work it! I usually like to be under the sun with a good book. Speaking of books, my second book review will be coming out soon, so stay tuned!

3. Make a list of things you want to achieve by the end of the summer (example, save x amount of cash, find a job, learn how to play the violin.) Going back to #1, my goals are to learn how to use a camera professionally, and look for post-grad jobs. Yikes.

4. Maintain a balance. Although bumming it under the sun all summer sounds like heaven, you still gotta stay on your hustle and get things done! But who’s to say you cant do it all the Boss Ass Bitch way? No one. So have fun, try new things, get shit done!

With that being said, I will be taking a short hiatus for the next week or so (going on a cruise!) but I’ll hopefully be back with some nice photos to share with you! As for sarahalwani.com, I’ll be incorporating more (amateur)photography this summer as I try to fumble and practice with the new cam, so bare with me! I will also be adding more cultural posts as that is something that is very near and dear to my heart.

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Yyyyeaaahh

Yyyyeaaahh

Until next time, my habibis! ❤

Bisous
SH

Eat.Sleep.Read.Repeat

The 4 things we do whilst studying for finals. Ah, what a bittersweet week. The Final Stretch. How can summer seem so close, yet so far away at the same time?

Between all this chaos, I wanted to take the time to remind my college readers: You’re almost there!! Give it your all. And if you’re just having a stressful week in general, this will apply to you as well.

I have compiled the 3 most important things to remember during this time of year to keep yourself sane:

1. BREATHE. It is going to be OK. Don’t push yourself to the point of frustration and no return. This will exhaust you as the week goes on. Instead, pace yourself, and remain calm.

2. Take it one day at a time. Yes, sometimes I find myself putting studying off by just reminding myself how much studying I have to get done. This automatically freaks me out and kickstarts a cycle of procrastination. But I’ve found out that by breaking things up- home works, sample exams, and reading the text, things look a little less intimidating and become easier to tackle! However, everyone has their preferred method of revising, so if this doesn’t necessarily work for you, find a routine and stick to it till the end!

Wise words from the man himself

Wise words from the man himself

3. Have a pre-study ritual!I promise you, this works. For example, I will usually get into some comfy clothes, make myself some tea, gather everything I may need to go to town on this study sesh so that I dont need to get up 100 times, and eliminate distractions. If I am at home, I will usually take a break every half hour for 10 mins to grab a snack, relax, and refocus. Create a routine that will help you get into the study mood by doing things that motivate you and make you feel better.

I hope this helps! Let me know of some effective studying tips, I could use a few! Good luck on finals week. May the curve be ever in your favor 😉

Bisous ❤

-SH

The Art of Confrontation

“You’re about to confront someone.
You’re nervous.
You’re sweating.
You’ve rehearsed everything you wanted to say and it sounds fantastic.
You approach that person, and suddenly you feel butterflies in your stomach and you start forgetting everything you rehearsed.
Confrontation ends.
You feel frustrated for not saying everything you wanted.
As you walk away, you start remembering the things you’ve rehearsed.
You start coming up with points you should have made.
Damnit!”

A little fun fact about this common phenomenon

A little fun fact about this common phenomenon

This was my thought process not too long ago and I’m sensing that I’m not alone in this (I hope not!)
Confrontation can be a difficult thing to many people. I, for one, used to dread (and still sometimes do)confrontations with people, especially ones I was not particularly comfortable with. I even had a hard time confronting people who I WAS comfortable with.

To put it bluntly, I just hated it.

Very often when you are confronting a person about something that has been bothering or upsetting you, and if like me, you hate them, your nerves get the best of you and you eventually lose the point you’re trying to make. The reason why I call it an “Art” is because it takes a lot to confront someone in a civil and polite way, understand each other, get your points across, AND come to a conclusion on the issue at hand.

But confrontation is an important thing to do when necessary, as it is a sign of maturity. It is also a great communication tool. As you get older, you will have to confront people at your work place, family members, friends, S/O, etc. And as much as you hate having them, you will be thanking yourself later.

Confrontation

Gone are the days of being tacky, high school-like, catty, gossipy and nervous to confront people with something that bothers you. In this post I will lay down some tricks that will have you become a pro at confrontations in no time!
What you need to do/know before you confront someone:

Confronter=you Confrontee=person you’re confronting

1. Try to do it in person. If time/location prohibits you to do so, then e-mail is fine. I don’t personally believe in text/internet confrontations because you lose that personal connection and often many things that are said can be misinterpreted which can lead to bigger issues.
**If it is a business/formal confrontation, having it written (like e-mail) is usually best. This makes it recorded and avoids “he-said she-saids” If you can, try to do both in person/written ones**

2. Be confident, do not let the nerves get the best of you! If you’re at fault, own it. If you feel that the confrontee is at fault, express your concerns in a calm and civil way. This will make them more comfortable and susceptible to opening up to you and treating you in the same way. 🙂

3. Listen to the confrontee and give them time to speak. Just as you want your voice to be heard, they want theirs to be heard as well. If something needs clarification on their part then DEFINITELY let them speak! Don’t ramble on about yourself and how you feel without giving them room to say anything. Chances are, they will get frustrated with you and it may not end well.

4. Make sure you are calm and in a good place before approaching them! Especially if it’s regarding a heated issue. Too many times I have confronted people out of anger and it did not end well. You say things you don’t mean and usually get crazy eyes(or maybe that’s just me? Yikes!). Acting on impulse is the worst thing you can do for yourself. Make sure you give yourself enough time to let things settle and simmer before you approach them. This is probably the hardest thing to do, but practice makes perfect.

5. Be willing to compromise and be accountable for things you said/did. Yes you feel certain things for justified reasons, and yes you are on a mission to express those feelings but at the end of the day communication is a two-way street. In order to solve something you must be willing to compromise and take responsibility. Of course this is easier said than done but you gotta give your ego a break sometimes!

Follow these 5 tips and you’re golden. And also remember at the end of the day, we’re all human. You’re not perfect. The other person isn’t perfect. But you’re all human, so cut them some slack when need be and don’t sweat the small stuff. Pick your “confrontations” (because they’re not battles lmao) and you’ll be set.

I hope this helps and puts things into perspective! Do you guys have any other tips/tricks on confrontations? Or perhaps an instance where you lost it/maintained perfect poise and composure? I would love to hear your advice and experiences!

Bisous

-SH

Rich Life

And no, I do not mean money-wise rich, ya big sillies!

For this motivation Monday segment, I want you to take some time to reflect on what it means for you to live a rich life. What do you want it to mean for you?

Although having money and being that kind of “rich” doesn’t buy happiness, it sure as hell makes it a whole lot easier to be happy, and I understand that. But aside from that, having a rich life can mean many things, depending on the type of person that you are.

#nocaption

#nocaption

For example, having a rich life for me means to have as many adventures, experiences, ups and downs as I can. It doesn’t necessarily correlate with good things only. It simply means living life prepared to feel a full spectrum of emotions. And that takes a lot of courage. You don’t have to travel the world in 80 days or make millions of dollars to experience these things. Depending on who you are, it can be something as small as going to the sale rack at Zara and finding that top (in your size, bam!) you’ve always wanted to buy but was out of your price range. It could also be a breakup. Or you could have went on a summer Euro trip. The feels that come along with those experiences trigger certain emotions that make living life just a little but fuller. If we always had good times then these experiences would be worthless and meaningless to us. If you experience bad times, then when the good eventually comes along, you’ll automatically appreciate it more and know how valuable these feelings are. This is what it means to live a rich life for me.

A life full of experiences is worth SO much more than sitting in a million dollar house with none at all. I’ve had so many ups, downs, and changes in my life but as I look back, I’m realizing how much I learned and am still learning along the way. I look forward to this roller coaster called life and I’m ready to take on the next big thing!

So tell me, what’s your definition of a Rich Life?

Bisous

-SH

The Ultimate Boss Ass B*tch Guide

What I’m about to say is partly for laughs, partly serious. I assume you’ll be able to tell what I mean, when I mean it!

In this post, I will be providing you with the low down on what it means to be a B.A.B and what it takes become one. I myself try to follow these guidelines as best as I can. They not only classify you as a B.A.B but they also help you practice what are considered to be honorable qualities in our society. They also help you become a more refined version of yourself.

Alas, I have put together a quick guide on the essentials of being a B.A.B.
Being a B.A.B is not just an attitude, it’s a lifestyle. To become a B.A.B, you will need to practice 3 fundamental things:

1. A “no bullsh*t/zero tolerance attitude.” (be careful to not cross the line with being a bitch though)

2. A “kill them with kindness” motive.

3. A classy and graceful demeanor. You also know what you want and you don’t care what people think about it/you. A triple threat right there.

21st birthday present from the roomie. Perfect morning inspiration mug

21st birthday present from the roomie. Perfect morning inspiration mug

Of course, these are just the basics, but you gotta start somewhere, right? These are the tools you will need to start this transformation. How often you practice them will determine your true B.A.B status. Let’s get down and dirty:

1) Having a “no bullshit/zero tolerance attitude” does not necessarily translate into you being a bitchy, mean person. It’s actually encouraged to refrain from doing so (see #3). It simply means that you will not put up with people’s BS, their fake-nice attitude, and you will most certainly not engage in backstabbing activities with these type of people. Hence the saying “a person who talks about people to you, will talk to those same people ABOUT you”?
Yes. So please remove yourself from these situations and refrain from digging yourself into a hole you can’t get out of. There is obviously a difference between friendly banter with your friends and poking fun at each other. I’m talking nasty and grimy gossip, back stabbing, rumor spreading, shit talking type of people. That has got to go.

2) A “Kill them with Kindness” motive is also related to #1. Actually, they’re all related to each other. This mostly plays with how you handle certain situations and certain types of people. Dealing with confrontations in a civil way is of utmost importance. Whether it be in the workplace, college, school, or home. If you come across people who behave towards you in a negative manner, retaliating and stooping down to their level will make you look bad in the long run. A B.A.B should always behave in a civil manner, even if the feels are not reciprocated. That’s actually when you become stronger. You become in full control of yourself and you truly embody a Boss Ass Bitch. At that point, give yourself a round of applause, a pat on the back, and get yourself a drink. Being nice to nasty people is easier said than done. Your “haters” are the ones who you should be the nicest to even though you’d rather be socking them in the face. Don’t forget to maintain a balance and not turn this into being fake and pretentious. Just be a civil, genuine you. People will be like “damn that’s a nice ass, genuine person. What a boss ass bitch.”

3) Be classy. Always. Being classy and handling things with grace is what ties everything together with a bow AND puts the cherry on top of being a B.A.B. Having respect for yourself will almost demand respect from people around you. But you probably already know that. You gotta have your own style, know what you want, and how to get it. And even if you don’t know what you want; own it. Fake it till you make it. Pretend like you have it in order to get it, that’s what a true B.A.B will do. Now I’m not telling you to pretend you’re rich because that’s whats going to make you rich; I mean you have to exude a type of confidence that pertains to your personality. What I’m trying to say is, having class can go a long way.

As you can see above, all these rules require a balance. Too much of something can go against you.

“Good things happen to people who hustle” and B.A.B are definitely hustlers. Classy Hustlers.

With that being said, these are the tools you will need that will get you on your way to becoming a Boss Ass Bitch. Other things might include; being independent (emotionally and/or financially), hard-working, and humble. These things will come naturally as you start practicing the 3 rules I mentioned above.

Combine the 3 rules, add on your personality, flare, and style and congratulate yourself. You’ve become an elite member of the Boss Ass Bitch community.

Questions?Comments? Share below!

Bisous

-SH

When Good Things Happen

Hello lovelies!

I apologize for not posting as often as I usually do this week. But good things have been happening!

This Life-Cleanse has been really kicking ass, and not just physically, but work-wise, college-wise, and mentally, its been very rewarding.

I do not want to reveal too much just yet, not until everything is solidified. But I will definitely keep you posted!

In the meantime, I have been thinking about something; when good things happen, is it because of your determination, luck, or faith? Perhaps it can be a combo of all 3 but I feel kind of strange to give myself so much credit without thinking that something such as luck played a big role in everything. Your feedback would be appreciated.

On another note, I have decided to officially launch sarahalwani.com within the next week! By “Officially launch” I mean telling my friends and family about this. This has been a personal project for me for quite some time and I find it ironic how “personal” to me means sharing this blog with the rest of the world and not the people in my life. I feel a little nervous but also excited!

By sharing this with friends and family, I am also committing myself to writing more and investing more time and energy into sarahalwani.com. This makes me feel equally anxious and happy.

These upcoming weeks will be quite busy as i try to balance work, classes, student organization matters and attempt to have a social life. Usually this will have me feeling overwhelmed but I recently bought a new planner and there’s just something about a new planner that makes me feel super refreshed and ready to take on life. Is that strange?

To combat my stress I also workout on a regular basis, which proves to be very helpful for you physically of course, and mentally.

What do you do to deal with daily stress?

Until next time!

Bisous

-SH

Nothing Personal

“Its nothing personal. Just business.”
“Don’t take it personally.”
“Don’t take it to heart.”

It can be so difficult to NOT take things personally sometimes, especially when they sound like those cliché phrases that I’ve mentioned above. I, for one, get defensive super quickly and that’s something I’m trying to work on. As part of my Life-Cleanse (read about it on You Just Gotta Want It) this will be this weeks challenge, and for those who do take things personally: don’t take it personally.

By taking it to heart, it gives the other person an advantage and makes you, to be blunt, feel shitty about yourself.

And why should you? Whether it’s someone in the workplace, friend, family member, or significant other, you shouldn’t feel less than what you think you are. Chances are, that person may be having a shit day and taking it out on you and others. There’s also always the option that they’re just a shit person in general.

People can suck sometimes. Don’t be too hard on yourself. The words “perfect” and “human” will never go hand-in-hand. Just be the best version of you. Put on a smile and kick some non personal ass!

” Try not to take things personally. What people say about you is a reflection of them, not you.”

Bisous

-SH

You Just Gotta Want It

About a month ago, I woke up and came to the following realization: “I want to be a better me, I want to be a happier me.”

See at that point in my life, I wasn’t very “happy” but I also wasn’t depressed. Life was just a series of things to get through, go to class, go to work, study, and go out every once in a while. For the most part, I was very self-conscious in the things that I said and did, making it hard to be 100% myself. I don’t even know who 100% myself is yet because I had become so accustomed to feeling self-conscious. Plus, lets just say I did some unhealthy things, and was planning on quitting. So I figured, why not start a “Life-Cleanse?” Not just physically but also something internal to shift my perspective and change my attitude to a more positive one.

As awful as it is to say, I tend to be a natural pessimist or a “harsh realist”, so whenever something happens, the first thought that comes to my mind is “what do I do if it doesn’t work out?” half assuming that it won’t work out. I very badly wanted to change this way of thinking as well. And so I started the Life Cleanse. First, I stopped unhealthy habits cold turkey and started working out on a regular basis. Being about 105 lb., I obviously didn’t start working out to lose weight, but to tone and feel good about myself. And it worked. I would start my day with going to the gym about 4-5 times a week and would feel so much better about myself as the day went on. This created a domino effect and made me feel good about myself on the inside, as well. Next, I wanted to become more efficient and productive. And in getting more things done and not procrastinating as much, it boosted my attitude even more. Third, I wanted to surround myself with people and things that made me feel good. And if I couldn’t help in doing that 24/7, I wanted to avoid the negative people in my life, or people who don’t make me feel good about myself and rather uncomfortable and awkward.

I even picked up an old hobby I had abandoned and started reading again. This turned out to feel very therapeutic and soothing. My perspective has shifted immensely since then and it has only been a month. Everyone around me was very impressed and supportive, yet surprised that I am still sticking to my “Life-Cleanse” and even started a blog to top things off!

Looking back at things, I feel like I was somehow trapped in my own mind. I was insecure in who I was and had trouble with feeling inferior to others. However, I feel like a big part of that was all in my head. I wanted a stronger presence and this only comes when you were comfortable with who you are, know you where you’re going and who you are striving to be.

Yes I did get an amazing opportunity from my family who sent me halfway across the world to go to college and I appreciate that and am very grateful. But with that comes a lot of responsibility and courage. I believe moving away has made a positive effect overall on me but it also presented its downsides. Imagine being thrown in a country where you don’t know anyone saying “Ok off you go, see ya in 4 years!” That was what basically happened (more or less) but it has made me a better and stronger person in the end.

I still have my down moments when I ask myself “what am I doing?” or “this is never going to last.” These feelings are quickly replaced by positive and reinforcing ones, which is something I am slowly but surely getting used to. I am coming to terms with this not new, but rather improved version of myself.

What I’m trying to say is, all you gotta do is want it and that will prompt you to work for it. Really, there is no big secret or complicated formula. You.just.have.to.want.it. When you do something positive, you will feel positive. When you feel positive, you will want to do more and try more, and it becomes a cycle. The bonus part is that people will also feel positive when they are around you; especially the ones you care about the most. 🙂

Think about it, what is one thing you want to change about yourself to help you be a better, happier you? After all, we are all essentially a “work in progress.” If you’ve had a similar experience as I have, please share it below! I wanted to give a little insight on how my Life-Cleanse came about to inspire and support others who want to do their own version, or are in the process of one, like me. 🙂

Bisous

-SH

Pinegate-Road-Embrace-Change-Desktop-Wallpaper-1600x12001

Brain on Fire

Hello readers! It feels great to finally be posting on my very own blog, something that I have dreamed about having for quite some time. It is also quite amusing how my first post is a book review, as reading has been one of my all time favorite things to do ever since I was a kid.

So I’ve picked up this book a few days ago to have a “Spring Break Book.” A “Spring Break Book” to me is a good read to pick up during Spring Break while tanning, relaxing, or going on road trips. Basically, something to do while relaxing over Spring Break (that is, if you’re not into the party scene or are taking a break before going ham tonight.) While I was in Georgia visiting some friends, I stopped by Target to get some essentials and couldn’t stop myself from going to the magazine/book isle. This book caught my eye very quickly. There was something about her, maybe it was the look in her eyes or the cover itself that intrigued me. So I skimmed through it and it and in 0.5 seconds I knew I had to buy it.

Now I don’t know about you, but when I read a realllly good book, it becomes very difficult to put it down. I develop this kind of obsessive disorder where I don’t want to do anything except read the book. I get so emerged and excited that I cannot wait to read the ending and so it becomes a sort of race to see how much I can get through in one sitting. What I’m trying to say is, this was one of those books.

Brain on Fire, written by the ever so talented reporterSussanah Cahalan, is a true story that happened to her explaining, medically, how her brain went on fire. In this narrative, she explains how she was almost diagnosed as psychotic, her descent to madness, and finding her way back. With the help of a team of medical experts, of course. Although she does not remember that time of her life very well as she was basically a different person, this book is a combination of interviews, vague recollections, friends and family members’ diaries and journals. She talks about how hard it is for a person to not have a diagnosis and the suffering they go through in the midst of all the “craziness.”

Simply put, it was like watching an episode of House through the eyes of the patient. I highly recommend it, as it was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. It was captivating, exciting, and most of all; real.

I had a wonderful time writing this blog and I hope you enjoy it at least half as much as I enjoyed writing it. 🙂

Bisous

-SH

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