2013 was the year of so much loss and so much more gain. I got rejected from one college, got into two others, and took a year off. In this ‘gap year’, I learned so much, met so many people, laughed, and cried. Since this is New Year’s Eve, I thought it only fitting to write down all the things I’ve learnt to (and not to) do. A new way of deciding resolutions per say…
#1: ALWAYS SEE THE BEST IN PEOPLE
“Nabay, I’m sure they mean well, and their hearts are in the right place…” – Zara Nadeem
Ahh, my unbiological sister of 13 years. I’ve grown up with you, fought with you, laughed my head off, and cried in front of you with no inhibitions. We’ve had the best and worst times together, and we’ve always known we’ll be friends forever. I’m so sure we’ll call each other in the middle of the night when we’re working girls, complaining about bosses, colleagues, or salaries. And then later, husbands, children, who knows what will happen? The one thing you’ve taught me always with so much sunshine is to always always see the best in people. You yourself deal with people in the cleanest way possible: ignoring their flaws and determinedly supporting them no matter what. Thank you for the lesson, I’ve seen you live it for 13 years.
#2: IGNORE FORMALITIES, STOP HIDING, AND CONNECT
“Why do you want to call and see if she’s okay? Just show up…” – Mehar Umer
Mehar, we became friends rather unexpectedly in Business class. I honestly didn’t think we’d ever end up friends but when we did, it was wonderful. You were always full of energy, happy, and hilarious. Oh, and super well dressed of course. One thing I learnt from you was to dismiss the tiny formalities people make around each other. I don’t know if you remember, but a friend we hadn’t talked to in years was sick and instead of waiting to text her, you urged me to just show up and check on her. Yes, if you need to connect with someone, do it now. No formalities.
#3: DON’T BE TOO HARD ON YOURSELF
“Sometimes you don’t get A’s and that’s okay. You have to be happy with the learning process.” – Syed Owais Ali
Ahh, Owais. One of the first people I met when I came to Northwestern. You did (and still do) your very best to help and guide all of us who arrived with stars in our eyes. The best thing you’ve ever told me is exactly this. I was crying my heart out because I got rejected from something or the other and was emotionally killing myself over it. You patiently explained that quitting was not an option because sometimes, you can’t get A’s, but it’s not the end of the world. It took you some time to come to terms with that too, and I’m glad you chose to share it with me.
#4: SPEND TIME LAUGHING, NOT HATING
“You waste your energy on disliking people. Stop.” – Areeb
I’m referring to you as just Areeb because you’re the last person I could ever be formal with. When we met, I remember thinking you were loud, hyper, and insane. So just like me. You’re one of the most brutally honest people I’ve met here which has turned out to be a blessing in so many ways. Yes we’ve had our clashes but then we’ve also had the best times in the world. We’ll always be playlist soul mates and whiny best friends. Recently we went out, and you told me I spend way too much time picking out the bad things in people. And that maybe I should stop using my energy to dislike, and instead do something better, like have fun. You don’t know how right you were. I’ve started practicing that, and it’s been amazing.
#5: UNDERSTAND, DON’T JUDGE
“Everyone is an amalgam of past events and current issues, therefore I try not to judge them.” – Rhytha Zahid Hejaze
Rhytha…when I first met you I was quite taken aback. The first thought that came to my mind was “loud, brash, how do I get along with her?” It was quite a confusing time, trying to understand what sort of person you are. A couple of days ago though, you talked to me about judging people and how you always consider their past events and current issues, and then try to understand who they are. So I realized what i’d been doing was judging you all along. And a lot of other people. I never used to be like this you know. Something happened earlier this year which sort of made me bitter; it has stopped now. A lot of thanks to you for that. I feel like I’m becoming my old self bit by bit and it’s an incredible feeling.
#6: STAY OPTIMISTIC
“I take all the negative thoughts I have and turn them into positive energy. This helps me stay optimistic.” – Urooj
Urooj! The face you always make pops into my head everytime I think of you. Remember all the crises I had when we met initially? I worried about this or that, got pessimistic about a lot of things. And then we took a walk where you told me what you do to deal with problems and everyday stress. You thought about things in a positive way instead of letting negatives cloud your emotions or judgement. This is really the best thing about you, and something I’ve learnt to try and practice.
#7: AS LONG AS YOU LIKE YOU, YOU’RE OKAY
“Not everyone can like you, but as long as you like you, that’s okay.” – Rizan Baig
Who hasn’t had to listen to censure or criticism? People can be cruel sometimes, and they can break down the strongest soul out there with words and insults. We bonded on the 24th of August because we found out how alike we were. Worriers to a fault, perfectionists, and mushy. I was feeling particularly low one day and Rizan, you basically dragged me back out of the mire. You told me that I can’t make everyone like me, and it’s more important that I like the sort of person I am. I’ve seen you do this every day. If you find out someone doesn’t particularly love you, you don’t bat an eyelash. You continue being your own person and doing what you have to do. It took me a while to learn and come to terms with this one though. I’ve finally got it now. Thank you for that.
Happy New Year, all of you. And thanks.