Playing it Cool

I’m not cool.

There, I said it.

Most of the time, I’m a bundle of thoughts and emotions. I have all these things running through my head; thoughts I want to say out loud, but there’s a voice inside my head that keeps saying, Be cool. And then there are my emotions. Don’t care too much. Okay, you can’t help it if you care that much, but, for goodness sake, don’t let them know how much you care. Okay, cool it with hugs already! Don’t show that you’re upset. Don’t let them know you’re hurting. Don’t hug that hard. Don’t laugh that hard. Don’t love that hard… Just – play – it – cool.

It’s exhausting.

But, like I said, I’m not cool. So, I go ahead and I care a lot about things and people who matter to me, and I try to let them know it, because what’s the point in caring about someone if they never know they’re cared about? And I get upset, I get hurt; I hug hard and I laugh hard (though, still trying to maintain my lady-like, hijabi composure while doing it… uhem…). And… I love hard. Sometimes it ends up leading all the way back to getting hurt, but how do you stop yourself from loving without losing out on all the fun and most amazing parts of loving? And we can’t control how much we love someone–believe me, I have tried (when I was still naïve enough to believe that I could ‘play it cool’).

Sometimes, I still have that little voice in my head telling me to ‘play it cool’ in certain situations, but I shove it away, because, why would I want to play? This is not a game. Life does not have a scorecard keeping track of how hard I hug you in contrast to how hard you hug me back. If I love you, and if I missed you, I’m gonna hug you–and I mean really hug you! And you just better deal with it. And, in addition to giving suffocating hugs, I often say (really) silly things, and ask (really) silly questions. No, I mean, like, really silly. And, back when I was in high school, I used to keep them all in my head, wonder all these weird things only to myself, never letting my thoughts see the light of day. But, now, I’m a little more grown up and I understand a bit more about how the world works, and, with that, I’ve been blessed enough to have friends along the way who laugh at the silly things I say and the silly questions I ask, but love me anyway. And they’re kind of silly, too, so I laugh right back at them.

So, ultimately, I’ve come to learn that life is not about playing it cool. Life (or maybe just one small part of life) is about opening yourself up to being hurt and being laughed at, because that’s the only way you learn to feel, and the only way you learn to laugh at yourself. And I sure do enjoy a good, hard laugh at myself.

And, in conclusion, after all this talk about not playing it cool, I’m not going to play it cool and pretend that I don’t care how many people read this blog, and how many people comment on it. I WANT COMMENTS!! If I didn’t want people’s feedback on what I write, I’d open up a document in MS Word, type all this stuff in there, and save it in a folder on my laptop where I save all my other writings and poetry that I don’t particularly want to share with the world, because I don’t want people’s commentary and feedback on those pieces of myself. This blog, however, is designed for the purpose of people reading what I’ve written, and commenting on it.

So, I look forward to reading your comments 🙂

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Where Do You Go to be Brave?

You’re not a teenager anymore.

That is what I keep telling myself.

You’re not a student anymore. This is not your university campus. This is NOT the student life.

Tired nights, followed by lazy days… they can no longer be passed by moving from lecture hall to lecture hall in a student haze, strategically picking a seat far enough away from the lecturer, but close enough so that it does not look as though I’ve intentionally selected my seat so that I may go unnoticed by the lecturer, still recovering from the all-nighter of the previous night — by catching up on some sleep to the soothing melody of my lecturer’s voice.

I am a teacher now. I must set the example. I must teach. And my students will not sleep in my class — and neither will I.

So student life is behind me now. And adult life looms before me. I have responsibilities — not only to myself, but to others. To my students. To their parents. To my employer. To the generations that are still to come, the children that my students will nurture and raise!

I have responsibilities.

As a student, I only really had a responsibility to myself: to ensure that I handed my assignments in on time (and that it was well-researched and well-written), that I study for exams, and that I show up for exams — on time. If I had failed to do these things, the only one who would have suffered the consequences would have been me. The only one who would be failing would be me. The only one who would be repeating a module would be me. And I would probably have had to find my own way to pay for it, since it would also be me who would have been suffering the punishment and wrath of my parents for failing, thus resulting in them not paying for the module I would have had to repeat.

But now, as an adult, I don’t just report to myself at the end of the day. It’s not just good results on an exam that I am working towards. It is so much more than that. I have to think of budgeting and saving, of short-term and long-term. Being an adult is scary. Leaving behind my Chucks because they’re no longer appropriate footwear to wear to work was daunting. Going to bed at a sensible time because I have to wake up sensibly early the next morning and be at work a sensible ten minutes before the time was challenging — no, is challenging. Making sure my car is filled up with petrol because I’m no longer leeching off my father by driving his car — horrifying (to my purse).

But if being an adult is scary, being a teacher is absolutely terrifying. As a teacher, I have so many young minds before me, waiting for me to actually teach them. What could I possibly teach them?? The thought sometimes paralyses me. At times, I feel small and inadequate. I feel as though it’s all going wrong. I feel scared. But then I remind myself to be brave. But that doesn’t always work. I sometimes have a difficult time actually listening to what I tell myself. And then it’s time again for me to just suck it up and do my job: go into the classroom and teach those girls. Give them something to learn. And that’s when it happens. That’s when I get my courage. That’s when I’m reminded of why I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. That’s when my passion grows. And I fall in love with all of them all over again. When I need to be brave, I just step inside the classroom. I am greeted by my students with zest: “As-Salamu ‘alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh!May the Peace, Mercy and Blessings of Allah be upon you! What more do I need? What more do I need  to be brave than the Peace, Mercy and Blessings of Allah, and the students whom He has guided me to teach?

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Do you get scared sometimes? What scares you? Where do you go, or what do you do, to be brave? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.

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What a Croc: What Can You Learn from a Shoe?

Croc-a-doodle-doo! Rise and shine! It’s the weekend and the Croc Outlet is having a sale! It’s going to be wild. It’s going to be crazy. Prepare for madness and mayhem, for pushing and shoving, for long queues of surly, brooding, Croc-loving people and for tempers getting lost — along with one half of that pair of Crocs that you really want — somewhere between the perfect shoe in the wrong size and the wrong shoe in the perfect colour.

Crocs is popularly known to be the shoe of comfort, but also the shoe of bright, funny colours and weird, bulky designs…

 

I used to look in wonderment at people who donned these grotesque-looking, laughable excuses for shoes, and I couldn’t fathom that they would wear them in public, regardless of the supposed comfort. But lately, I’ve noticed that there are more ‘stylish’ designs in these oh-so-comfortable-but-oh-so-hideous-looking shoes. Friends and family have sung its praises to me, convincing me of its comfort and benefits, and they’ve shown me the beauties among the beasts, and this was life-altering to me: I now found myself wanting a pair of Crocs. But not the big, colourful ones that could stop traffic — I’m not that Croc-crazy.

So, anyway, as we all know, anything of true comfort and quality comes at a pretty high price, and just because you’re a funny-looking shoe it doesn’t mean you get priced any differently. So, naturally, being a student who only works part-time, and therefore, only gets part of what one would call an actual salary, I couldn’t afford to buy myself a pair of these longed-for Crocs. Or so I thought…

For a few days now, word about town has been that there is a little Croc Outlet shop in Access Park, Kenilworth, and they’re having a sale. Their shoes have been priced ridiculously low, so that even I could afford it. So bright and early on Saturday morning, mother, sister and I went on our merry little way to get ourselves some Crocs. At 08: 50, we were early, since the store only opened at 09:00. Our plan was to be there early, get in, get what we want, and get out. We didn’t quite expect that that was the plan of twenty or thirty other Croc-loving people too. By the time we got there, there was already a line of people waiting at the door, already with their ‘sale’ faces on. As I stood waiting in the line, I thought: This isn’t going to be pleasant. But lo and behold! This particular sale experience was not what I had expected; in fact, it was quite the opposite. The most noteworthy occurrence for me was finding the perfect shoe, in just the right colour… but I only had one half of a pair. I held on to that one half though, refusing to give up on finding its partner. I kept looking all around the shop, squeezing in between the flood of people, darting my eyes to every corner of the shop, but alas, it was not to be found. Eventually, I resigned myself to give up on looking and went to stand in the queue that snaked along the entire length and breadth of the shop — but I still kept that one shoe with me. If you know nothing else about me, know this: I am an eternal optimist.

Standing behind me in the queue came a woman who looked none too happy to be there, and she didn’t look too keen on making small talk either. But hey, you know what they say about the covers of books, right? And the same goes for a surly-looking woman standing behind you in a long queue — don’t judge her. She might just be the one who finds that other half of a pair of shoes that you’ve been holding on to for about an hour now. And yes, she was indeed the one who found it — hiding inside a massive display Croc that was resting atop a shoe rack. When standing in a queue with someone for as long as we had been, you get to know some things about them, like that she was looking for the other half of her one half of a pair of shoes as well (I overheard her asking the sales assistant if he could find it for her), at which point I took the liberty to share with her that I, too, was in the same situation — and this is where our beautiful relationship started, and I discovered that I had judged her wrongly.

In the end, I had been schooled in people’s goodness and in the right way to do sale shopping. It’s not to fight and push people aside so that you may reach that pair of shoes before they do; it’s to be civil, polite and calm in the face of what could get chaotic.

At the end of all this, I realised that I had not only been schooled in shopping, but rather, in life. The woman standing behind me didn’t choose to be nasty by refraining from giving the missing shoe to me. No, she helped me, even though she had no reason to. And more than that, a gentleman standing in front of me also eventually heard that the woman behind me was missing a shoe, and without previously having engaged in any conversation with her at all, he proceeded to look around him at the random shoes scattered on the floor, in the hope that one of them might be the missing shoe. And such should be how we conduct ourselves and how we interact with others in life; if we know someone needs some help, and if we are able to, we should do what we can to help. It takes nothing away from us or our own successes in life to help others succeed. In fact, it may even contribute to our success, maybe not the material kind of success defined by our worldly achievements, but the kind of success that defines us. It defines who we are, and it defines our path in life. And all this, just from shopping for a pair of Crocs!

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