Career Education Now + Beyond

If you’re heading back to school, you need this advice for extracurriculars

I’m not going to lie to you. Everything you do in school is not going to follow you for the rest of your life. Your grades won’t define your future, those certificates will stay piled up in your cupboard, your friend group might not stay together, and you’ll never use calculus to figure out your finances. 

When I graduated high school, I wondered, should I have put so much effort into extracurriculars? Maybe I shouldn’t have spent so many years in the Student Council, putting hours of effort into drafting minutes of meetings, writing emails, organizing my team, and being a bridge between students and teachers. When all this hard work couldn’t get me into the university that I dreamt of, what was the point of the hustle?

The answer came to me in little revelations. Putting effort into activities and extracurriculars does pay off. Whether it be a painting competition you participated in, organizing a sports event, or running a literature club, it makes a difference. I cannot guarantee that extracurriculars will help you get into university. But in a few years, you’ll realize how much it transformed you as a person. 

A few months after I started university, I found it very easy to put myself in new environments that would otherwise seem daunting. I could easily market my skills and manage my time productively. Furthermore, I was open to opportunities that came my way. 

Working with a team at school events is an opportunity to figure out what you want in your future career. Almost all activities in school are unpaid, but they help you grasp the idea of intrinsic motivation or satisfaction. You learn what motivates you apart from money and this can be the key to success in your life. It’s a chance to invest time and effort in the things that interest you. 

In fact, some aspects of our personality stay hidden until we challenge them. We’re meant to get out of our comfort zone and take chances. Putting yourself in tough situations doesn’t make you a bad decision-maker. It means you’re willing to see yourself grow and have faith in yourself. Confidence doesn’t come on its own. Having faith in yourself and your skills can tap into your true potential.

While clubs and organizations do so much to help you learn about yourself, they also help you learn how to interact with others. Extracurricular activities and student leadership keep you constantly in touch with your peers and teachers, whether you like it or not. Even text messaging or email help you develop a style of communication that sets you apart. You learn the dos and don’ts of interacting with people who work with you and the people you work for. 

Furthermore, if you become a leader in an organization or group, you learn additional skills. Leadership is NOT about being the best in your team. A good leader can recognize their teammates’ abilities and push them to do their best. Extracurriculars can help you learn these skills and even notice them in others. Being a good leader also teaches you to be responsible and accountable for your actions and decisions. Managing an event or participating in a competition with a team is a completely different experience than a group project. You will notice that the people you form teams with are motivated to perform better since they’re doing it out of their free will. You will also find certain people you cannot stand, but trust me on this: It helps you figure out ways to deal with people you don’t like. 

With all that communication, you also learn to manage conflicting interests and priorities. High school does this thing where you’re packed with everything: exam preparation, the biggest competition of the year, and a charity drive all at once. It can also give you a taste of multi-tasking: Learning to manage your academics and perform activities outside of that sphere is a very underrated skill. 

Assume that you’re part of a school club. That experience can answer so many questions you wouldn’t otherwise know. What kind of people get along with each other? What leadership style is necessary when your club isn’t doing well? What is the best way to assign duties? How do you deal with freeloaders? Do you need to stay back at school to finish decorating the auditorium or is there someone you can assign it to? How will you finish your artwork due Saturday when you have a big test the day after? Simply being a part of a larger organization can give you so many insights into how people work.  

School may be a nightmare for some, but we need to realize good things don’t come on a silver platter. The subjects you study in school today may not even be relevant by the time you graduate and start working. Instead, look for creativity in yourself and around you. Learn from the people you admire and stay open-minded. Invest time in yourself and your abilities. I assure you, it will make a difference.

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No, I will not be taking my hijab off for my wedding and you can’t make me

We often talk about how the hijab is viewed negatively in the Western world. But I don’t think that many people realize that discrimination against the hijab doesn’t only happen in western society. In my experience, it also occurs in my home country, Pakistan, and my own family members are a part of the problem.

My sister and I started wearing the hijab when we were 15 and 13, respectively. For us, it seemed like a natural choice since we’d spent most of our childhood in Saudi Arabia, where the hijab was mandatory. When our family in Pakistan found out we still wore the hijab after moving to Canada in our teen years, they were ecstatic. They thought it was wonderful that we chose this for ourselves and praised us for making seemingly religious choices. 

But that all changed when my sister turned 20 and someone tried to propose to her. Our mother rejected the engagement and it sparked a debate within our entire family. Most of them believed that more proposals would come her way if my sister took off her hijab. I still remember my mother arguing with our aunt who said that hijabs are only meant to look good on girls who are “white, thin, and pretty.” She thought that I was too dark and my sister was too fat, so we were ruining our prospects by sticking to our hijabs.

The worst part about all of this is that my aunt wasn’t entirely wrong. The hijab didn’t make men jump at the chance to marry us. Due to pressure from extended family members, my mother was constantly on the lookout for potential matches for my sister. But every guy who approached would run away just as fast once he heard that she wouldn’t be taking her hijab off for him. 

After a while, my sister did it. She found a guy who seemed accepting of who she was and agreed to marry him after a year. Suddenly, the tune the family was singing changed, but not for the better. Everyone asked if she’d be taking her hijab off for the wedding and discussing how beautiful she would look in this or that hairdo. They tried to talk my mother into making my sister buy lehengas, which would show off her midriff and arms. This completely goes against the very purpose of wearing a hijab.

To reach a compromise with my family, I nominated myself as my sister’s makeup artist and hairstylist for the wedding day and began experimenting with different hijab styles. We naively thought that if we could show them that the hijab could be dolled up, they would accept her decision. They did not. In the end, when the engagement was broken off, they simply returned to their earlier comments about taking off the hijab to score a husband.

The sheer amount of criticism that came with all this has my sister unsure about whether she ever wants to have a wedding, let alone one in Pakistan with our family. It hurt to watch my sister try and deal with the harsh judgment and then come to realize that her opinions hold no value in our community. It hurts more to think that other Pakistani brides might have to put up with the same level of harassment all over one headscarf

My sister was always much more staunch in her love of the hijab. Truth be told, I started wearing it on the condition that it would be pink and glittery. If you asked me just two years back, I might have given in to the family pressure and agreed to take off my hijab for my wedding.

Yet, knowing the struggle and judgment that comes with making a choice has given me an appreciation for the fact that it was a choice. However petty my reason is, it is my choice to put on the hijab, and I will be damned if I let someone else try to make decisions about my body and my attire for that one day in my life.

Now I can say with confidence that I will not be taking my hijab off for my wedding.

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Hair Lookbook

I chose to go natural after 11 years of relaxing my hair – here’s how it went

For Black women, hair is a huge part of our identity, esteem, and culture. Unfortunately, many of us have grown up relaxing or perming (straightening our hair using chemicals) our hair to hide our natural curl pattern. Relaxers were so common among us because kinky hair has been historically viewed as unkempt, unprofessional, and undesirable. Personally, I began relaxing my hair when I was 8-years-old. After that, I spent the next 11 years chemically straightening my hair, and in turn damaging it repeatedly. When I turned 19, I finally decided to do what Black women call “the big chop” (cutting all the chemically damaged parts of your hair off) and fully go natural. 

The emotional process while chopping off your hair can be tough. Like I said, for Black women, our hair is a tremendous aspect of our self-esteem. Undergoing the big chop feels as though you’re shedding dead weight in an attempt to release the insecurities that led you to continuously straighten your hair to the point of damage.

However, my natural hair journey has not been linear. As perfectly encapsulated by Giselle La Pompe-Moore in her i-D Vice article, “Natural hair journeys are as diverse as the spectrum of afro hair textures experiencing them.” Like many other Black girls, I initially struggled with my confidence while being natural as I had always been insecure about my kinky curls. It was particularly hard to see my hair so short after I spent my whole life having an unhealthy obsession with length. For a while, I would even use protective styles like braids or wigs to hide how short my hair was. And in between styles, I would wear scarves to avoid having to embrace my short length. It took baby steps to gain the confidence I sought in my natural hair.

First, I had to learn how to upkeep my 4c hair texture. 4c hair is very particular in how it grows, how it’s styled, and how it must be managed. So, I had to trial and error (emphasis on the error) my way through finding products that worked best for my hair. Then there’s the detangling process. Honestly, it took me years to learn how to effectively detangle my hair. All of which came with years worth of tears and frustration as well as me trying to refrain from hating my hair all over again; this time, for its difficulty to manage.

Though, once I figured out how to manage my hair, I had to learn to style it. Unsurprisingly, this took another long while before I perfected my signature slicked updo with laid edges. Admittedly, it was the easiest style I could manage learning, so now it’s my signature look when I’m not wearing a protective style. After I found a way to make my hair presentable enough, I would periodically tease showing my natural hair outside of my house. For example, if I was going somewhere I was sure no one I knew would see me, I would test my confidence while wearing my natural hair out of a protective style or scarf.

However, three years since embarking on this hair journey, I’m in love with my 4c hair texture and kinky edges more every day. Going natural taught me how to be truly confident, for being natural allowed me to work towards loving myself in ways I never could before. It forced me to get to know a version of myself I hadn’t even seen since I was a child. Regardless of difficulties along the way, I began to find comfort in my nonlinear road to self-acceptance and love because I thoroughly liked the person I was getting to know. 

In addition, many Black women seem to be undergoing the same journey of acceptance. Thanks to social media and Black female influencers who started the hair love movement, Black women everywhere are embracing their natural hair texture. In fact, a short film titled, “Hair Love” won an Oscar last year due to social media’s strong support of the project, which has been further impactful to the movement.

To any Black girl reading who is thinking of going natural, despite how it may seem on social media, the process is not easy, but it is worth it. It’s likely you won’t immediately fall in love with your kinks, and it’s likely you may even feel self-conscious for a while. However, there’s so much power in our natural hair as well as the way our hair connects us to our identity and lineage. We should’ve never been made to feel insecure about the hair that grows naturally from our scalp in the first place. Simply being natural feels like you’re a living act of resistance. A resistance that firmly rejects Euro-centric beauty standards pushed onto Black women and allows us to reclaim our confidence on our own terms.

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Music Life

Here are four female rap projects from 2020 that boosted my confidence

2020 was undoubtedly a stand-out year for female rappers. For example, Megan Thee Stallion has collaborated with the likes of Beyoncé and Cardi B, earning her two number 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100. Flo Milli made her debut into the music scene this year with her first-ever EP. In response, artists like Rico Nasty, Janelle Monáe, and Missy Elliot expressed their excitement and support for her new project on social media. In addition, CHIKA made XXL’s freshman class of 2020 and has been nominated for Best New Artist by the Grammys. CHIKA has also been featured in publications such as Rolling Stone and The Cut, highlighting talented new artists to pay attention to.

For the past couple of years, female rap has been my go-to music of choice, as it has addicting energy of assertiveness and self-defining luxury. Recently, I’ve been finding comfort in music influencing me to feel like my best self. 

Here are four albums by female rappers that have been boosting my confidence lately:


[Image description: Cover of CHIKA's album titled Industry Games.] via
[Image description: Cover of CHIKA’s album titled Industry Games.] via
INDUSTRY GAMES is CHIKA’s debut album. On this project, CHIKA speaks on her journey throughout her career thus far as well as her mission to continue creating a lane for herself in the music industry. CHIKA also mentions some of her own mental health struggles while dealing with oppressive expectations from others. In the song “Crown,” she offers empathy for listeners who also may be struggling with their mental health saying, “This is for the kids with depression. The one’s whose parental expectations got them stressin.” However, CHIKA continues to grind, which also encourages me to keep persevering when life gets hard. Overall, INDUSTRY GAMES reminds me having humility doesn’t negate reminding myself and everyone else- I’m all that and then some. 

Megan Thee Stallion: Suga

[Image description: Cover of Megan Thee Stallion's EP titled Suga.] via
[Image description: Cover of Megan Thee Stallion’s EP titled Suga.] via
Megan Thee Stallion’s fourth EP titled Suga is the epitome of confidence with just a dash of humility. She opens the EP with “Ain’t Equal” which recognizes all she’s lost while assuring fans of her willingness to still relentlessly grind. At the same time, with songs like “Savage,” “Captain Hook,” and “Rich” Megan reminds us she’s a boss b*tch with enough confidence to conquer the world while looking good doing it. I admire Megan, so anything she puts out, I support. Notably, SUGA prompts me to never forget I’m that B.I.T.C.H. and motivates me to be my best self.

Flo Milli: Ho, why is you here?

[Image description] Cover of Flo Milli's EP titled Ho, why is you here ?.] via
[Image description Cover of Flo Milli’s EP titled Ho, why is you here ?.] via
As previously mentioned, Flo Milli’s EP Ho, why is you here ? is the Alabama rapper’s debut within the mainstream music scene. Despite Flo Milli’s young age of just 21-years-old, she comes hard on this EP with her signature, paradoxical bubble-gum tone, and hyper-confident lyrics and delivery.

Flo Milli has expressed in her music her struggles with family support. However, she perseveres and is still doing well in making a name for herself within the industry. With how young she is, how dedicated she continues to be on her craft, and her confident attitude despite whatever setbacks she’s experienced, I have no choice but to stan. And trust me, after listening to this EP at least 10 times through, I stan Flo Milli harder than ever.

Qveen Herby: EP9

[Image description: Cover of Qveen Herby's EP titled EP9.] via
[Image description: Cover of Qveen Herby’s EP titled EP9.] via
Qveen Herby, formally known as the pop duo Karmin, began making viral covers on Youtube alongside her now-husband Nick Noonan. In 2017, Qveen ditched her label to become an independent artist; in turn, she changed her look and sound to represent her more authentic self. Qveen’s ninth EP embraces the challenges she faced in terms of criticism from others as well as the differences that set her apart from other artists. 

“Farewell,” the fourth song on the EP serves as an ode to her past and provides listeners with points of reflection regarding growth. Speaking directly to listeners she sings, “Never know you’re capable if you do not evolve. Give yourself some credit, self-improvement takes some balls.” Despite not knowing what the future would hold for her as an independent artist, Qveen took a chance on herself that has paid off immensely, providing a great lesson for myself and other fans of Qveen’s music.

Female rap has seen a resurgence in the past few years and rightfully so. Between all these artists, as well as other female rappers, the albums they’ve put out in 2020 emphasize self-discovery, confidence, humility, and success. This new generation of female rap is definitely helping me and other young people find our voice through difficult transitions in our lives. Overall, female rap has undoubtedly shaped my formative young-adult years and is quickly becoming a genre laying a foundation of the confidence necessary for the rest of my adulthood.

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Health Care Mind Mental Health Health Wellness

11 ways you can gain your confidence back

I’ve always had trouble with my self confidence because I’ve had an issue with thinking everyone hates me. I lost my own self confidence, and it took so much to build it back up. Regaining confidence, or even gaining it in the first place takes continuous time and effort. A common misconception is that you can have confidence as long as you say it. In reality, you have to have determination and grit in self improvement and growth. However, if you’re having trouble with finding ways to gain your confidence back, here are 11 ways you can improve your self confidence.

1. Follow an affirmations Instagram account.

[Image Description: A light box reading "Reach for the" and a moon next to it.] Photo by Designecologist from Pexels
[Image Description: A light box reading “Reach for the” and a moon next to it.] Photo by Designecologist from Pexels
Contrary to popular belief, social media can be an empowering network if used the proper way. An affirmation is a statement of emotional support or confidence. For example, the statement, “You are beautiful,” is an affirmation. Affirmations can greatly help with self confidence because even simply hearing or seeing those words that you are amazing can help your brain see that you truly are wonderful. They help you keep in control of your life and more.

2. Help someone else

[Image Description: Two hands reaching for each other.] Photo by youssef naddam on Unsplash
[Image Description: Two hands reaching for each other.] Photo by youssef naddam on Unsplash
As crazy as it may sound, helping someone else does result in helping yourself. The satisfaction from helping a friend, family member, or even a stranger is incomparable to any feeling in the world. Let’s face it– being selfless makes you feel crazy good.

3. Set a routine and stick to it.

[Image Description: A bullet journal calendar with a yellow pen laying on it.] Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash
[Image Description: A bullet journal calendar with a yellow pen laying on it.] Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash
This is something I’ve been doing personally. Every day I get up at 9 AM, exercise and have a shift at work for two hours. The accomplishment I feel after that work shift is one of the best feelings ever. It makes me feel as though I could do anything. If I can stick to a routine, I can love and believe in myself, right? 

4. Set smaller goals for your day

[Image Description: Piece of paper with words, "Goal Review" and three pens laying on it.] Photo by Isaac Smith on Unsplash
[Image Description: Piece of paper with words, “Goal Review” and three pens laying on it.] Photo by Isaac Smith on Unsplash
Setting bigger goals for smaller amounts of time is setting yourself up for failure. For example, saying that you will finish an entire book in one hour is unreasonable, unless it’s an incredibly small book, or you can read extremely fast. Setting smaller goals, and chunking them make them much more achievable. After reaching those goals, a similar sense of satisfaction and confidence will appear. Knowing that you could reach that goal helps you be more confident in your abilities.

5. Dress up sometimes

[Image Description: A woman stands in a white romper on stairs.] Photo by gbarkz on Unsplash
[Image Description: A woman stands in a white romper on stairs.] Photo by gbarkz on Unsplash
In quarantine, we often end up wearing our pjs all day. Honestly, it kind of makes me feel crappy when I’m in my pjs. I feel unproductive when I’m still in bed at 2 PM. Dressing nicely can force us to get out of bed and actually do something. It’ll also help you feel more successful and presentable.

6. Smile

[Image Description: A long brown-haired woman smiles at the camera.] Photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash
[Image Description: A long brown-haired woman smiles at the camera.] Photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash
This is easy to say, but hard to actually do. Our minds can sometimes be hardwired to think negatively– especially when we see this much negativity happen around us with COVID. However, being positive can make you feel infinitely better about yourself. Becoming aware of your speaking and what you say about yourself– for example, are you saying i can and i am or the opposite– can allow you to view yourself in a different light. The Facial Feedback Theory in Psychology also states that your physical self can affect your mental self. This means that if you smile or laugh, you’re more likely to also feel the same afterwards.

7. Focus on the solutions

[Image Description: A solved rubric cube held in a hand.] Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash
[Image Description: A solved rubric cube held in a hand.] Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash
It’s very easy to hyperfocus on what’s wrong with everything; what’s wrong with you. If you lost your confidence, don’t focus on the fact that you lost it. Focus on the ways you can get it back. When you focus on the solutions, you will also automatically become more productive. Fixing the problem is more important than the problem itself.

8. Practice gratitude

[Image Description: A pink notebook with the words, "Today I am grateful" on it.] Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash
[Image Description: A pink notebook with the words, “Today I am grateful” on it.] Photo by Gabrielle Henderson on Unsplash
Simply being grateful for the things that you have not only is a self care practice, but can also increase your confidence. Self love, care, and confidence all come hand-in-hand, so it’s important to practice gratitude to lead a healthier lifestyle. Being grateful is incredibly humbling and can improve the way you see yourself.

9. Drink more water and eat healthy

[Image Description: Water being poured into an almost full glass of water.] Photo by KOBU Agency on Unsplash
[Image Description: Water being poured into an almost full glass of water.] Photo by KOBU Agency on Unsplash
Physical and mental health health are interrelated. Your physical health can affect your mental health and vice versa. This means, if you want your self confidence, image, esteem, or anything to improve, you’ve got to focus on treating your body right. Knowing that you drank that extra glass of water, and chose to treat your body right can be incredibly empowering. However, do it because you want to. Do it because you love being healthy. If you prefer to eat a different diet, then respect that and be confident in your decision.

10. Face your fears

[Image Description: Man wearing brown leather shoes stands on an object at a height.] Photo by Dalton Touchberry on Unsplash
[Image Description: Man wearing brown leather shoes stands on an object at a height.] Photo by Dalton Touchberry on Unsplash
Again, this is easier said than done. However, facing your fears means confronting whatever is stopping you from being confident and believing in yourself. Getting back control means attempting to eliminate irrational fears. Conquering your fears can help you gain a great deal of confidence because you feel more in control. Although this is difficult to do, there is an immense amount of self satisfaction and confidence that it will bring.

11. Step outside your comfort zone

[Image Description: Person wearing gold wedding band grasps onto another hand for comfort.] Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash
[Image Description: Person wearing gold wedding band grasps onto another hand for comfort.] Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash
Whether it be trying a new food, or quitting your job to pursue your real passion, do it. Doing something you’re uncomfortable with will only make you more comfortable with it. Being comfortable with the unknown is confidence. Knowing that you can take on anything in your way is confidence. And by stepping outside of your comfort zone, you can do exactly that.

Everyone works in different ways, these are just some tried and tested ways that helped me on my journey of rebuilding my confidence.

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Food & Drinks Life

Cooking makes me feel guilty about food and here’s why

One hot summer afternoon, a hollow void was growing where my stomach had been. I was starving but had been putting off rectifying it after consulting the kitchen cabinets and finding nothing that I could eat with zero cooking. Even the early-2000’s America’s Next Top Model could not distract me and I began to feel lightheaded.

I could easily fry some paratha and be more or less satisfied but thinking of all that oil on the sizzling pan made me feel sick. From the corner of my eye, I spied an unopened box of couscous. Somehow, I had the patience to let the water boil before I poured in the couscous, adding in the tiniest pinch of salt. I brought half a bowl’s worth of plain couscous with me and returned to my little nook on the couch. 

The thought and act of cooking are certainly daunting for me.

It wasn’t laziness that had caused me to be this way. Well, not entirely. Preparing food is always perceived as such a technical and calming thing. Some people even plan their days around exciting meals. Yet, there is actually a recognized phobia of cooking that comes in many forms, ranging from the fear of following recipes to the fear of harming one’s self in the process.

I am not entirely sure if what I experience is a medical phobia, but the thought and act of cooking are certainly daunting for me. One on hand, I may be internally defying forced gender roles by refusing to be good at an act traditionally taken on by women. However, I know the real reason is something far more complicated and twisted.

When I’m in the kitchen, I am hyper-aware of the ingredients that are being put into my food and feel almost sick to my stomach. I can’t bring myself to follow recipes correctly because who knew everything needed so much butter? I skim down on the ‘unhealthy’ ingredients when I cook, and predictably, the food doesn’t turn out right.

Now, don’t get me wrong, while I have tried tracking what I eat, I mostly allow myself to indulge in food that I enjoy. Yet, in order to do that, I have to adopt a sort of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mindset. I don’t want to see how my food is being prepared so that I don’t feel as guilty when consuming it. Knowing how much sugar went into it is sure to make me feel too distressed to eat it. When I don’t see it, I can fool myself into thinking it’s not a big deal. It is a coping mechanism I need.

Preparing food for myself triggers something toxic within me. If I am being honest with myself, I am scared that it will blossom into a condition that is more serious. Right now, I am just wary of cooking for myself. Yet, it could escalate into being more strict with calories, or skipping meals completely. I know I can’t continue having this relationship with food. I am holding myself back from enjoying life by refusing to be self-sufficient in this simple way. 

My own self-esteem issues were manifesting in the way I cook– or rather, refused to cook, impairing my lifestyle.

Acknowledging this behavior of mine has been crucial to overcoming it. Having someone cook alongside me as helped to ground me in reality and hold me accountable. A friend had told me, “Well, like it nor not, we need to add butter otherwise the carrot cake will be a sad brick.” Their words are brutally honest and correct. Why bother cooking if I am going to consciously mess it up anyway?

But more than that, recognizing the source of my cooking-induced anxiety is important in defeating it. While I could dismiss ANTM as a silly, ironic pastime, it does wire my brain a certain way. The bodies that these shows promote or bash creep up on me. These things subliminally plaster onto my mind, without me even consciously recognizing them. In an era of self-love, it may be difficult to recognize the self-criticism that lurks beneath. My own self-esteem issues were manifesting in the way I cook– or rather, refused to cook, impairing my lifestyle.

I know it will take a while for me to unplug the wires and reset them. With time, I hope to confidently cook food that I will enjoy without breaking a sweat about the amount of butter in the recipe. Continuing to learn how to cook can break me out of this cycle of guilt. While I don’t think I will get to the culinary level of needing a personalized apron, I am hopeful to see where this journey takes me.  

Fashion Lookbook

13 reasons why Kelly Kapoor is an underrated fashion icon

Kelly Kapoor, more so than any other character in recent television history, embodies unapologetic confidenceIn Season 1 of The Office, Kapoor, played by Mindy Kaling, wasn’t yet fully fleshed-out as a character, appearing in run-of-the-mill office wear and the classic low office bun. As the seasons progress, so does Kelly Kapoor’s wardrobe, rising gradually from the ashes of everyday office wear before eventually taking her rightful place as the fashion icon we all know, and feel compelled to love.

Her fashion philosophy is relatable, her style was not quiet, and her confidence was a magnet for attention. She knew what she wanted, and she dressed like someone who either already had it, or wasn’t going to stop until she did.

Here are 13 fashion lessons we can all learn from the inimitable Kelly Kapoor.

1. Special occasions only count if your outfit is equally special

Kelly Kapoor shakes her head at the camera.
[Image description: Kelly Kapoor shakes her head at the camera.] Via Tenor.
Kelly Kapoor knows that the right outfit is what sets the tone for her day. Birthdays, toxic ex coming to visit, etc. – Kelly sees the sartorial opportunity in them all, and she stays prepared!

2. She knows what she likes and doesn’t let decency get in the way

Kelly Kapoor saying, "I look really good in white".
[Image description: Kelly Kapoor saying, “I look really good in white”.] Via Tenor.
Is wearing white to a wedding disrespectful to the bride on her big day? Probably, most likely, yes. Does Kelly Kapoor care? No. Should she? Yes.

But even when she’s wrong, there’s a lesson to be learned from her fashion philosophy. When you look your best, you feel your best, so you should always look your best. (Except maybe don’t wear white to a wedding and potentially ruin someone else’s special day. Be cool, Kelly.)

3. She commits to costumes

Kelly Kapoor dressed as Katy Perry complete with green wig, mini top hat, and bow tie.
[Image description: Kelly Kapoor dressed as Katy Perry complete with green wig, mini top hat, and bow tie.] Via Seventeen.
Halloween is the one day of the year you can embody whatever person/animal/thing that you’ve always wanted to be. Taking advantage of these moments is how you take advantage of all that fashion and clothing have to offer. Take a leaf out of Kelly Kapoor’s book and grab this opportunity with both hands, and milk it from the last week of October until at least noon on the 1st of November.

4. She knows the value of a power suit

Kelly Kapoor saying, "You guys, I'm, like, really smart now. You don't even know".
[Image description: Kelly Kapoor saying, “You guys, I’m, like, really smart now. You don’t even know”.] Via Giphy.
She dresses for success (before she works for it), teaching us all that cute clothes and a catchy slogan are as important as success itself. Kelly Kapoor, the business bitch.

5. She  understands that accessorizing is key

Kelly Kapoor wears statement earrings and a sequinned jacket.
[Image description: Kelly Kapoor wears statement earrings and a sequinned jacket.] Via Screen Rant.
The bold lip, the statement earrings, the sequinned jacket. This particular combination automatically imbues you with all the confidence you need to accuse your friend’s ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend Jessica of farting at the office Christmas party.

6. She’s not afraid to experiment

 Kelly Kapoor in a cap, boots, and denim jumpsuit.
[Image description: Kelly Kapoor in a cap, boots, and denim jumpsuit.] Via Seventeen.
The heeled boots, the pocket chains, the rings, the cap, the deliberate nonchalance of the over-the-shoulder gaze! That’s all. Gotta go find all these items and ship them to myself ASAP.

7. She gets music video fashion

Subtle sexuality in the 'Male Prima Donna' music video.
[Image description: Subtle sexuality in the ‘Male Prima Donna’ music video.] Via
She understands her audience and gives them what they want: the absolute most. Then she gives them some more of what she wants: the absolute limits of the most.

8. She made fashion fun for everyone

Kelly Kapoor enthusiastically encourages a "Fashion show! Fashion show at lunch!"
[Image description: Kelly Kapoor enthusiastically encourages a “Fashion show! Fashion show at lunch!”] Via Giphy.
Fashion is for everyone, everywhere, at any time. Fashion-show-at-lunch is how much fun we should all be having with fashion.

9. Her hair transformations

Kelly Kapoor asks, "Which time?"
[Image description: Kelly Kapoor asks, “Which time?”] Via Tenor.
She’s done the bangs, she’s cut it short, she’s grown it out, and she retained her confidence through it all. No bad hair days in Kelly Kapoor’s world!

10. She didn’t shy away from colour

Kelly Kapoor saying, "Sometimes I get so bored that I want to scream."
[Image description: Kelly Kapoor saying, “Sometimes I get so bored that I want to scream.”] Via Giphy.
Kelly Kapoor isn’t here to be subtle. She’s here and she wants you to notice. Prints, color blocks, textures, you name it, she’s done it! She was by far the most colorful Dunder Mifflin employee.

11. She knows her strengths

Kelly Kapoor stating, "I am one of the few people who looks hot eating a cupcake."
[Image description: Kelly Kapoor stating, “I am one of the few people who looks hot eating a cupcake.”] Via Giphy.
Confidence is all about playing to your strengths, and Kelly knows exactly what hers are.

12. She knows that any event is just an opportunity to dress up

Kelly Kapoor saying to her colleagues: "And, oh, I got the raddest outfit. It has sparkles..."
[Image description: Kelly Kapoor saying to her colleagues: “And, oh, I got the raddest outfit. It has sparkles…”] Via livelovecaliforniadreams on Tumblr.
Carrying on from point 2, Kelly Kapoor understands that your outfit can make or break an occasion. It can make an already exciting event that much more exciting, or help you look forward to an event you were dreading. The satisfaction of finding and saving the right outfit for exactly the right occasion is truly unmatched.

13. “Too much” is just for people who don’t have the confidence to pull it off

Kelly Kapoor tosses her hair.
[Image description: Kelly Kapoor tosses her hair.] Via Giphy.
The most important lesson to learn from Kelly Kapoor is that fashion is fun and dynamic and should be all about you. Rules are made to be broken, and nothing is off-limits!

Whether you abhor or delight in Kelly Kapoor’s wardrobe, she showed us that spending the majority of the day in a solitary nook at a mid-sized paper company shouldn’t take away the enjoyment of dressing up for the day. Everything she wore was accompanied by the ease and confidence of someone who was having fun and not taking it too seriously! What’s not to love about that?

Celebrities Fashion Lookbook

Marilyn Monroe and fashion as a shield

“‘Do you want to see me become her?’ I didn’t know what she meant but I just said ‘Yes’ — and then I saw it. I don’t know how to explain what she did because it was so very subtle, but she turned something on within herself that was almost like magic. And suddenly cars were slowing, and people were turning their heads and stopping to stare. They were recognizing that this was Marilyn Monroe as if she pulled off a mask or something, even though a second ago nobody noticed her. I had never seen anything like it before.” – Amy Greene, wife of Marilyn’s personal photographer Milton Greene.

The name Marilyn Monroe immediately conjures a certain image – diamonds (a girl’s best friend!), white dress billowing over a subway grate, Andy Warhol’s pop art. All visuals that have become synonymous with the blonde bombshell, actress, singer, sex symbol, and the many other roles Marilyn has come to occupy in popular culture.

Confidence is a quality often associated with icons and tastemakers. To make an impact you must be unapologetic – Rihanna, Cher, Josephine Baker, Audrey Hepburn, and even Marilyn Monroe herself join these ranks. Despite the fact that her life was cut short, the fashion statements she made – immortalised in countless photos – are memorable, timeless, and recreated often, making her one of the most recognizable fashion icons ever.   

The archives of Marilyn’s own writing, however, paint a drastically different picture of the person she was underneath the bombshell. Plagued by crippling insecurity, the fear that the mental illness that had claimed her mother would come for her next, an absent father, a childhood spent between foster homes, betrayals from those closest to her, and a teenage marriage to escape the orphanage, she was a young woman trailed by her many demons. Her writing reveals someone who was terrified of disappointing the people around her – worlds away from the breezy, disarming confidence she projected on-camera.

She writes about a dream she had where her teacher, Lee Strasberg, cuts her open ‘and there is absolutely nothing there…. devoid of every human living feeling thing — the only thing that came out was so finely cut sawdust—like out of a raggedy ann doll.’

Monroe’s debilitating insecurity and complete lack of confidence left her entirely at the mercy of external opinions from husbands and co-stars. A member of the latter group, Don Murray, highlighted this paradox when he said, “For somebody who the camera loved, she was still terrified of going before the camera and broke out in a rash all over her body.”. 

He was right about the camera loving her, there’s absolutely no trace of insecurity in Marilyn Monroe, the persona that Norma Jean referred to in the third person, and could turn into at the drop of a hat. Marilyn Monroe was a vessel for Norma Jean’s own talent, a vessel she would often critique in the third person – “She wouldn’t do this. Marilyn would say that.”.

Marilyn Monroe was as much a part of Norma Jean, as Norma Jean was a part of Marilyn. Amy Greene’s anecdote about Marilyn “becoming” the larger than life force that persists to this day attributed the Marilyn effect to an inner force from within the woman herself. It wasn’t just about the clothes she wore but how she projected herself in them that would transform her into a timeless icon.

The image of Marilyn Monroe that persists today should be more than the one-dimensional figure of tragic fame. Her magnetism on-screen is a testament to the talent and skill that she never could recognize in herself, and the work she was able to produce despite her personal troubles leaves room to imagine how much she was capable of achieving if she had more faith in herself. 

Marilyn is a reminder of the transformative effects of confidence, and how much this one quality can alter our perceptions. Norma Jean felt she needed to become Marilyn Monroe to have the impact that she did, but would she still be the icon she is today if she hadn’t projected that particular persona, or that particular shield? 

Whether you think of Marilyn Monroe dripping in diamonds, performing the opening number from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in red sequins, photographed on the beach in her final days, or as a writer who revealed her true self on the page, she wasn’t just a bundle of insecurities in beautiful clothes – she possessed all of the skill, talent, and depth she never thought herself capable of. 

Monroe is a fashion icon whose influence has inexplicably grown to make her a historical figure characterised by glamour and confidence. By sticking to this narrative, we reduce her legacy by only sharing the fragments of her story that were seen on camera. Her reality is a harsh indicator of how blinding insecurity can be, and her lasting legacy is a mark of the achievements she barely acknowledged.  

It is difficult enough to simply exist, let alone occupy the status of an icon, when you are your own worst enemy – and yet, the narrative that persists of Marilyn Monroe’s time in the spotlight might be her best performance of all.

Skin Care Lookbook

My acne acts up when I’m really stressed — and I’m really stressed right now

All throughout my preteen and teen years, I’ve been locked in battle with my acne. I just feel like I’m never able to get it right for any substantial period of time before it flares up again and I’m left right back where I started: confused, frustrated, and uncomfortable. I tried everything I could before consulting with a dermatologist, who guided me in the right direction in terms of managing my skincare. But still, my skin is nowhere near perfect, especially right now. 

It’s hard to maintain and keep up with a solid skincare routine when I’m worried about keeping track of everything else. On top of that, my acne acts up when I’m under stress. So needless to say, quarantine has been a never ending fight between me and my skin. And I am losing terribly. The worst part is that my acne just makes me even more stressed – it really is a terrible, endless cycle. 

It feels ugly, too, because no one on TV or in magazines really has acne. Their skin always seems to be smooth, radiant, and totally flawless. I know that most of it is probably photoshopped, but still, it doesn’t really help my self-esteem. Plus, some people I know just have better genetics for skin, which means that they don’t really have to worry about it. When I see these things, though, I almost always feel like I’m doing something wrong, like my acne is something that I should be embarrassed about or ashamed of. Sometimes, I even feel like I want to hide. My acne has held me back from making progress in building my confidence because every time I look in the mirror, I see something wrong and flawed. 

Most of the time, when my acne gets really bad, I try to drink an exorbitant amount of water, eat healthier, and use a ton of aloe. During quarantine, however, I have fallen back into old habits. I don’t really eat very healthy and I am not exercising a bunch or getting much sunlight. This has not only brought out the worst of me, but also the worst of my skin. I thought that giving my skin a break from makeup and the wear and tear of everyday life would be good for it, but of course I was wrong. With all of the added stress of living through a pandemic on top of my normal stressors, my acne has gotten progressively worse. Surprisingly, I’m more dehydrated than I was before, and I eat much more junk food too. I’m also guilty of not really doing much to take care of my skin right now because I’m not seeing anyone or getting dressed up, and have just been incredibly lazy these past few weeks.

But now, I’m fed up. I don’t want to feel unattractive or upset with myself anymore. If I don’t do as much as I can to feel beautiful, both inside and out, then I won’t make any progress elsewhere. In any case, my skin certainly won’t heal itself. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that if I want to take care of my skin, I have to take care of myself and my mind first. So what I’ve been doing lately to work on this is listening to a lot of soothing music, doing some yoga in the mornings, and sitting by the window while I work so that I can feel the sun on my skin. I try not to go overboard with my skincare regime during a breakout because it will drive me crazy. Especially since the results are not immediate, which can become very frustrating after a while. I’d rather focus on doing things that make me feel good or feed my soul, because that is what will help me achieve an overall sense of beauty and confidence.

My issues with acne definitely won’t be going away anytime soon, so I think it’s important for me to realize that dwelling on it won’t solve anything. I just have to keep on keeping on.

Family Life

The men in my family taught me how to love and be loved properly

I have spent nearly every day of my life actively trying to keep up with the men around me. They are spontaneous, excited, proud, and empathetic. They’re damn hysterical too. 

Take my father, for example, the first and only man that I trusted to treat me right and to love me all the same. I get my goofiness, and of course my obsession with The Beatles, from him. He doesn’t take anything too seriously, even though sometimes I wish that he did. Nothing seems to bother him, meanwhile, everything bothers me. I don’t know if I wish that he reacted more or that I reacted less. Regardless, I want to be able to let things roll over me, un-phased, like he is able to. I’m still working on that.  

My father is incredibly kind and generous, and he cares tremendously about any person he comes in contact with. One day, he spent hours showing me how to do the time warp dance from Rocky Horror Picture Showwe did the combination repeatedly until I got it down. That’s when I learned that he and my mom met on a blind date at a live viewing of the show. I’ve been obsessed with it ever since. My dad never fails to make me smile, too, even when it’s the last thing I want to do. Seriously, I could be bursting into tears and all he has to do is make a silly face or say something bizarre, and I’d feel like a million bucks again. That’s my dad for you. Always the pleaser. So, although he never taught me how to ride a bike, I am willing to replace that life skill with another one that he did teach me. That is, the keen ability to conduct an entire performance in the car to practically every song from the ’80s.

He was my first friend, and even my first date given all of those daddy and daughter dances that I spent cradled by his side. He is the gentlest man that I’ve ever met, but because of him I like to think that I am much tougher, more resilient, and a hell of a lot funnier. I found confidence in our moments of bliss together, knowing that this is all I’d ever need to lead a complete and fulfilling life. 

I have four older brothers too, with whom I have spent days upon days fighting for things like the last pancake at breakfast, and, eventually, for the car keys. It has certainly never been easy, but I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. They are all different in their own right and if I were to tell you about the uniqueness of my relationship with each of them, I might as well write a book. But I will tell you this: these men are my forever and a day’s. 

They are my history holders, sharing with me all of the turbulence and tribulations that we have ever and will ever endure. Because of them, I’ve learned to be quick, but not sloppy. They taught me how to tie my shoes, swing a bat, draw a car, and build a make-believe fort in the middle of the living room. We’d trade candy every Halloween, spend hours with a deck of cards playing go-fish, and watch movies on the DVR. For every holiday or birthday I’d make a personalized, handmade, card for each of them and now, years later, they are quick to show me these sentiments of mine, which they have all kept and deemed precious. 

So, maybe it took a while for me to realize, but I can tell you with certainty what it feels like to be loved, respected, protected, and appreciated because of my brothers. They never treated me differently just because I am a girlexcept when we played football in the basement with my dad. I was the lucky one who got to wear the only helmet we had. 

Sure, to this day I am always the one sitting in the middle seat during car rides since it’s the smallest spot, and I am always the first one to cry. But, I’ve also always admired each and every single one of my brothers since the day I was born. They seem infinitely cool and I am desperate to emulate them, even just a little bit.

Growing up, I remember that I’d do anything, and I mean anything, to be like them. So, I’d sit and watch and do everything I could to imitate their actions and behaviors. The catch here is that they believed in me, the real me, all along.  I was the one who had a hard time believing, until now. 

My family is my backbone; they are constant and reliable. I have learned a lot from them, but one of the most important things that they have taught me is how to love and be loved properly. Because of them I am stronger, wiser, and more independent. I can stand on my own, even though I would prefer not to, all because of the lessons that they have enriched in me.

Health Care Mental Health Love Wellness

I need a coping mechanism for my coping mechanism

Ever since I was young, I have been very nervous. I get anxious about trivial tasks, I am a perfectionist, and I have a problem saying no when someone asks for a favor regardless how busy I might beI always say yes. A lot of this has translated into intense migraines, lip chewing, nail biting, and hair pulling. That last part is what I hate most about my anxiety. It is called trichotillomania.

For people with trichotillomania, hair pulling is a way of dealing with negative or uncomfortable feelings like stress, frustration, or loneliness. It involves recurrent, often irresistible, urges to pull hair from areas of the body despite attempts to stop.

Psychology Today says, “it is an impulse-control disorder and one of several body-focused repetitive behaviors currently classified in the DSM-5 as Obsessive Compulsive and Related disorders.” 

Most people do not even know what trichotillomania looks like.

I have experienced this since the fourth grade, and I want to stop desperately. It distresses me, it’s incessant, and often makes me self-conscious about my appearance which only exacerbates the hair pulling. Some days I don’t even recognize the girl looking back at me in the mirror; she is not who I want to be.

Mine mostly focuses on the eyebrows and eyelashes, and usually occurs without me even really realizing that I am doing it. I could be reading, sitting in class, or watching TV and I am completely unaware….until I realize and curse at myself for it. The worst is when I realize that I have been standing in the bathroom, the door shut, hyper focused on pulling for an hour.

For people with trichotillomania, hair pulling is a way of dealing with negative or uncomfortable feelings like stress, frustration, or loneliness.

My mental health disorder is unpleasant, silent and lonely. Most people do not even know what trichotillomania looks like, or frankly what it is, which makes it difficult for me to talk about candidly or even to explain. 

You see, the thing is that I am the only person I know who lives with this, and I have a hard time putting my anxiety into clear words because of it. It doesn’t even make sense to me! I only found out that I was trich after a series of long and exhausting nights spent with my parents, who sat across from me for hours wondering why I would do this to myself.

It is more than just a habit. It is a disorder and I was alone.

Why can’t I just stop? They would just keep saying that I was beautiful and smart hoping that this would persuade me to stop. I’d sit there red faced, my body hollow from crying so much, wanting it all to just stop, too. They’d beg me to tell them what was the matter. And the truth is, I really did have no idea what or why. I still don’t.

One day I decided that I didn’t want to upset my family anymore because of this. I wanted answers. So, I typed what I did to myself into google I immediately knew this was something serious. It is more than just a habit. It is a disorder and I was alone.

I can’t help it and I can’t “just stop.”

This realization just made me feel more helpless. Sure, there are a lot of people who love me and wanted to help me, but no one understood exactly what this was. They don’t understand what it feels like to be completely out of control. I can’t help it and I can’t “just stop.” It doesn’t work like that, regardless of how much I wish that it did.

What doesn’t help either is that trichotillomania is not a part of popular conversation surrounding mental health. You only know about it if you are directly affected by it, but at that point, shame has surely already kicked in. I used to pray that no one at school would notice, even though I knew that it was hard not too.

If you just take one look at me it becomes obvious that something is wrong. I felt weird, trapped, and very angry. I quickly learned how to color in my eyebrows to make them look full, or to appear to be “normal.” This, of course, was only sustainable for some time. 

Eventually my parents brought me to a therapist, and I hated it at first. I didn’t want to talk about it anymore. I think I was either really nervous or in complete denial. But the therapy helped and we talked about things that I could do to ease my triggers. We tried so many things.

Getting it all out of me, and put somewhere else feels better, and I like that it gives my hands something to do.

One suggestion was that I put vaseline on my eyebrows to stop my ability to pull. Another was that I wear a hair tie around my wrist and pull that when I’m nervous. My parents even bought me a prayer bracelet and a worry stone, which is known to reduce anxiety and create some sense of calm.

This helped me the most, but now that I am older I rely on my writing a lot more. I fill journals with streams of my consciousness, all of my thoughts,  my nerves, and my perfectionist tendencies until I feel like I rid myself of it. Getting it all out of me, and put somewhere else feels better, and I like that it gives my hands something to do. It keeps me busy so that I don’t dwell on it.

No, I am not cured and I never will be. I know that this is something I will live with and have to treat for the rest of my life, but I am okay with that. I am glad to be a work in progress.

Of course, it won’t be easy and will require a lot of discipline, attention and self-love to handle, but I am so grateful to finally be confident enough to open up about my trichotillomania. I don’t want to be quiet anymore. 

Dear Madame Lestrange Love + Sex Love

My boyfriend is more experienced than me. What will the first time be like?

Dear Madame Lestrange is The Tempest’s love, sex, and relationships advice column. Have a question? Send it to Madame Lestrange here.  It’s anonymous!

Dear Madame Lestrange,

I’m planning on having sex with my boyfriend soon. It’ll be my first time but not his and while I’m very excited, I’m also very nervous. I want to make this a pleasurable experience for us both and I have no idea what I’m doing. I gave him my first handjob too and while he did cum, I feel like I could’ve done better.

Anywhoo… could really use some advice here!

—Virgin Distress

Dear Virgin Distress,

My first piece of advice would be to not overthink it. It’s good that you want it to be pleasurable for both of you but guaranteed the more that you attempt to do so, the less it will be. Make yourself completely comfortable in the environment. Play some music, dim the lights, and completely relax. Don’t allow yourself to wonder if he is having a good time because trust me girl, you will know.

I’ve always found that sex is always better when the couple communicates their needs to one another.

Most importantly, if he does something you don’t like or you want him to do something more then tell him! Communication is sexy and it’s a sure-fire way for you both to understand each other’s bodies better. I’ve always found that sex is always better when the couple communicates their needs to one another. It means that you don’t have to assume that someone will like it or have to worry that they don’t. It’s totally fine to air your opinions and needs during sex!

The key thing to remember is that there is no right way to have sex. People do it in very different ways that is pleasurable to them. Don’t worry yourself with the right way to do it. When you have him that close and you’re kissing and touching the ‘right’ thing will happen. It will happen at the right pace for both of you and in the right order. The key thing is that you both enjoy that time and not worry about doing it in a certain way. If you wanna improve your game, my ultimate advice would be to talk to your partner.

When you have him that close and you’re kissing and touching the ‘right’ thing will happen.

Now, I don’t mean this in an evaluation kind of way but whilst you’re giving him a handjob or going down on him, ask him. Also, follow his cues: if he moans more when you do something, then do it more. If he moves your head then let him guide you because ultimately he’s been doing this for years and he knows what feels good.

Don’t just give all your attention to his penis, play with his balls as well, mix it up a little between your hand and your mouth and trust me, you’ll drive him wild. 

You’re welcome, 

Madame Lestrange

More Dear Madame Lestrange

My girlfriend and I recently started trying out oral sex. Truthfully, I’ve been struggling to know how to please her down-there. What can I do to make my girlfriend come? How do I start?

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