Our codependency habits can be traced back to our childhood

 Oftentimes the habits that we form (good or bad) are learned in our formative years and carried into adulthood. When you enter your early 20s these habits make themselves known to you and are mirrored in the relationships that you form with others. Habits can be formed in early childhood or as you get older. These habits determine how you treat others and reflect how you feel about yourself. 

Habits are rituals and behaviors that we knowingly and unknowingly perform that help us carry out everyday activities such as brushing our teeth, taking a bath or a shower, fixing our hair in the morning, and unwittingly following the same routines every day without much thought put in.

There are three subcategories habits fall into. The first category is the habits that we don’t pay much attention to because they are a part of our daily life, such as tying shoelaces or brushing teeth. The category is habits that we have worked hard at establishing and are beneficial to our wellbeing like exercising, following a healthy diet, or sleeping early to get your 8 hours of sleep! The third category of habits are the habits that are not good for us, these are habits such as smoking, procrastination, overspending and finally the habits you form of codependency 

Codependency is the mental, physical, emotional or spiritual reliance on a partner, friend, or family member.

The word codependency was first forged in the 1950s, by members of the Anonymous Alcoholics as a way to support the partners of individuals who were involved in substance abused. 

However today, the term covers a much broader topic.

Codependency is a learned behavior. When we observe the behaviors of our parents (good and bad) as children, we make them our own. They can stem from having a parent or guardian who had difficulty with setting boundaries, could never say ‘no’ to others, was the martyr, had poor or unhealthy communication skills. These behaviors are learned early on and brought into our close and intimate relationships. 

Adults who grow up with parents that were emotionally unavailable are more likely to become codependent adults. And as adults, they will mostly find themselves in relationships with partners that are emotionally unavailable , exhibiting the wound that stems from their childhood. At first, you may excuse this behavior from the other person, in hopes that they will change or believe that you can be the one to change them. 

Our subconscious may hope to dream that one day the other person will acknowledge the love that we give and be inspired to change. And maybe if we give them more time, they will finally return all the love that we so desire. This kind of reasoning is harmful. It is more so when the other person displays abusive behavior. Codependency does not only exist in romantic relationships but can be seen in platonic relationships and friendships. In trying navigate relationships in my, I have found that I too have some codependent habits that have been not only harmful to the relationship but harmful to my wellbeing. Before starting my journey of healing I was unaware of these habits and I would find myself repeating the same unhealthy cycles when it came to my friendships and relationships. This all came to an end once I started becoming more self aware of myself and how my own behavior contributed to having to repeat these cycles.  Being aware of my codependent habits was the start of my healing process.

If you believe you are in a relationship where you carry out habits of being codependent, the first thing in becoming independent is to take a look at yourself first and not at others. Signs that you be codependent include feeling responsible for the actions of others, doing more than you should in your relationships to keep the peace, being afraid of being alone, needing the approval of others to attain your self-worth, challenges with adapting to change or making decisions for yourself, and having your own emotions determined by the thoughts and feelings of those around you.  

But here is the good news, codependency is a behavior you can unlearn. In order to hold space for all healthy relationships in your life, you need to heal yourself first. Start with being honest with yourself and others, in your communication and in expressing your needs and desires. Practice having positive thoughts and higher expectations to counteract the negative ones. Learn to not take things personally, not everything is yours to fix or change. Take breaks! Taking breaks is important in grounding yourself and remembering who you are. And last but not least establish boundaries. Establishing boundaries is one of my favorite things to do lately, not only with others but with yourself as well. Having boundaries has taught me where my needs begin and where the other person’s needs end.

As you navigate your way in trying to break the cycle of codependency, it may seem as though you are being selfish and unfair. You’re not. Putting yourself first is not selfish but rather self-care. Unlearning unhealthy habits needs one to be patient with themselves and allow for mistakes along the way, as you won’t always get it right. If you start to experience feelings of guilt when you make the initiative to put yourself first, know that it is okay and that you are still learning.  

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We need to start complicating our conversations about consent

Contrary to popular belief, consent is not just verbally or physically agreeing to have sex. There is a lot more to it than just saying yes. It baffles me that people believe agreeing to one thing means an agreement to everything. When an individual consents to one thing, it does not mean they consent to everything – and consent can be withdrawn at any point. 

Consent can be a topic of discomfort for many but it is an important conversation that should not be avoided. In order to progress individually and as a society we need to keep talking about consent. A common misconception is to take on a “yes means yes” approach to avoid any uncomfortable conversations in the future. This is where the problem stems from. People are not always in a position or state to say no. 

Sexual consent does not exist within the context of hegemonic power structures because hegemonic power is inherently abusive. The phrase ‘abuse of power’ is redundant because the only function of hegemonic power is abuse. In order to be able to consent to sex, you need to have equal power to consent to the person initiating sex with you. Power, however, comes in different forms. It comes in the form of emotional, psychological, neurological, physical, status access, etc. 

Similarly, saying ‘yes’ to sex when one is under the influence of drugs or alcohol is not consent. Saying ‘yes’ to sex when you are emotionally, psychologically, neurologically unwell, or experiencing cognitive/psychological distortions OR influenced by your desire for proximity to power, access, is not consent either.

The argument that ‘they were two consenting’ adults is alarming because a large proportion of people who have been sexually abused do not even realize that they have been abused.

There are several reasons as to why people who have been sexually abused do not know that they were sexually abused. Below are just a few of those reasons:

  1. Misinformation can result in a lack of understanding of what constitutes sexual abuse. 
  2. Manipulation and/or lack of emotional maturity. More often than not, people who have experienced sexual abuse are under the impression that the abuse was a romantic/love affair. It is not until later that they realize that, what they thought was love, was in fact, abuse. It is important here to recognize that sexual age gaps can be problematic. The older person is more likely to convince the younger person that it is love or romance.
  3. Sex is pleasurable (for many people), which is why it can often confuse the victim. They may be under the impression that pleasure signifies consent.
  4. More often than not, victims of sexual abuse may have been deprived of love, affection, and intimacy during their lives. Therefore, any form of sexual interest may be perceived as love or affection.
  5. Dissociation is a common coping mechanism for people that have experienced abuse. It involves dissociating oneself to escape the trauma of what they experienced. 
  6. People may experience psychological, emotional, neurological, and cognitive distortions. This can be due to mental illnesses such as depression and other neurological issues.
  7. Many people are in a state of denial. They refuse to accept they have been abused due to fear, pain, or shame. Additionally, former victims often go on to become sexual abusers themselves. Therefore, they deny admitting to their own experiences of abuse to avoid having to recognize themself as an abuser.
  8. Fear plays a crucial role in sex abuse. More often than not, there is a power dynamic, and victims of sexual abuse face fear and not entirely acknowledge their experiences as abuse. They may not have the power to control their narrative and feel helpless. As a result of this, people are more likely to suppress or deny experiences of sexual abuse to avoid shame or feeling helpless.

It is more than likely that victims of sexual abuse have ‘consented’ to sex due to one or a combination of the aforementioned reasons. It is impossible to progress and reduce sexual assault until we expand our conversations about consent and acknowledge that it goes beyond a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. 

While we are at it, it is also important to draw attention towards the illusion that ‘women are sexually liberated’. The sexual liberation movement has fallen into the hands of men.  Women’s sexual liberation is reframed as sexual availability for men in patriarchal structures.  This is more apparent in the media where women’s sexuality was once censored in film, art, and literature. It is now explicit and sexualized. Either way, production structures have always been patriarchal and exploitive.

The de-stigmatization of sex was expected to liberate women. However, it has further reinstated the patriarchal perception of women as nothing more than sex objects intended for reproduction. And this is why we need to complicate our conversations about consent in today’s age of freedom and liberation. In patriarchal structures, men actively exercise possession and abuse towards women, which is institutionalized and protected by the law. Essentially, women do not have humanity in a system of male domination.

Dismantling patriarchy is another conversation on its own. It is, however, imperative that we realize consent goes well beyond a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Therefore, instead of shutting someone down the next time you hear them open up about their experiences of abuse remember that consent is not always black and white.


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History Historical Badasses

Madam C.J. Walker was the first Black female millionaire

Earlier this year, a mini-series on Netflix was released called Self MadeThe mini-series is inspired by the life of the first self-made Black female millionaire Madam C.J. Walker. The life and work of Madam C.J. Walker is an important story to tell because it celebrates the success of a Black woman and the beauty of Black hair.   

A few months ago, Kat Graham from The Vampire Diaries did a morning routine video on Vogue’s YouTube channel called “Kat Graham’s Natural Hair Beauty Routine.” During the video, she explained to her viewers that this is the first time that she has been completely without additional assistance when taking care of her hair. While Graham was talking about a hair care product that she was introduced to that really helped her hair throughout quarantine, she started crying and getting emotional.

Watching the video made me reflect on my own experiences with my hair as a Black woman. It also made me reflect on how having Black hair is an emotional, personal, and empowering journey. Madam C.J. Walker is a woman who truly understood the emotional and empowering experience of having black hair. And ultimately, she was able to use her experience to become a successful entrepreneur and help other Black women. 

Before she was known as Madam C.J. Walker she was born as Sarah Breedlove on December 23, 1867, on a Louisiana plantation. Her parents were both enslaved before the Civil War ended and later became sharecroppers. At the age of seven, her parents passed away.

After their deaths, she moved to Vicksburg, Mississippi with her sister and worked picking cotton. At the age of 14, she got married to escape her abusive brother-in-law and had her daughter A’Lelia Walker at 18 years of age. Two years after giving birth to her daughter, Walker’s first husband died. After his death, she and her daughter moved to St. Louis, to work for $1.50 a day at a barbershop owned by her four brothers. In St. Louis, she joined the St. Paul A.M.E. Church and the National Association of Colored Women. She also got married to her second husband, but the couple eventually divorced.

A newspaper Ad for Madam CJ Walker's for Wonderful Hair Grower product that is titled "Is Your Hair Short?" On right is a picture of her and on the left there is an article promoting the product.
[Image Description: A newspaper Ad for Madam CJ Walker’s for Wonderful Hair Grower product that is titled “Is Your Hair Short?” On right is a picture of her and on the left there is an article promoting the product.]  Image Source
Walker’s hair care journey began in the 1890s and early 1900s. She was struggling financially and developed a scalp disorder that caused her to lose her hair. In order to work on growing her hair back, she sought advice from her brothers and experimented with home remedies. She also tried hair products by Annie Malone, another prosperous Black hair-care entrepreneur. After using Annie Malone products, she became a commission agent and moved to Denver in 1905.

In Denver, she met her third husband, Charles J. Walker. Soon after meeting her husband, she began her brand. Her husband encouraged her to use the name “Madam C.J. Walker” so that her brand name would be more recognizable. She began traveling throughout the South and Southeast for almost two years selling and promoting her “Madam Walker’s Wonderful Hair Grower, which was a scalp conditioning and healing ointment.

By 1910, she was able to settle down in Indianapolis where she built a factory, a hair salon, a nail salon, and a hair care training school. Throughout her life, she used her own personal experience of losing and regrowing her hair to build a prosperous Black business.  Today, she is known not only as the first Black self-made female millionaire, but also as a Black woman who supported her community as a pioneer of hair care for Black women.

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Culture Life

Why I am constantly drawn to lavender

I find that my most blissful moments remind me of the strong, calming scent of lavender. For one reason or another, I relate it to a lot of the more meaningful aspects of my life. To me, lavender is like a feeling; like the wind brushing up against your skin.

While I think that lavender is largely optimistic, I also find a certain sorrow that is comfortable, even humble, in its presence. I’ve come to appreciate it in every shape and form – the color, the flower, the scent. Its hard to place; not sweet or bitter, but rather musty. 

Lavender manages to incorporate itself into my life seemingly on a whim and in the most fleeting of moments. We have a peculiar relationship. I am stomach-knottingly anxious in the presence of many, especially when I first meet them. But, with some, I sense lavender, and I know that something great is about to happen. It is more of a feeling than anything else. Just talking to some people can be rejuvenating, and perhaps it is because our meeting reminds me of that warm, soft smell of a mid-spring day when the sun is bright and pure, and the entire day lies ahead.

Nowadays, when I am feeling an emotion that is simply beyond words, I say that I am overflowing with lavender. 

According to etymology, the English word “lavender” is derived from the Latin “lavare,” which translates to “to wash.” It is a necessary refinement – a cleanse. I am purified with every utterance of the word. 

Perhaps it’s not just me. In literature, lavender has been used significantly as a token of love. To me, it’s more like a notion of love at first sight. Shakespeare offers a bouquet of “hot lavender” in The Winter’s Tale. Cleopatra also roots lavender with love, as she is said to have used its sultry perfume to seduce both Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. Christians are also known to have used it as a repellent of evil. The plant is said to have been taken from the Garden of Eden and is sometimes found hanging in a cross shape above the doors of some Christian households as a means of protection. There are so many songs with the title lavender, my favorite being by The Beach Boys, and there have also been many poems written about it, too. Take, for example, this quote by an anonymous writer, “as rosemary is to the spirit, lavender is to the soul.” 

Lavender is swift, like a movement, carrying me in and out of perfectly imperfect moments. The vision of it is rather uplifting as well. It stands delicately tall among the rest, but it is not intimidating either. I adore its confrontation. In fact, I look forward to it. 

Mind Love Life Stories

You say I’m emotional, I say I’m powerful

Growing up, I have always been known for being hyper-empathetic and sensitive. As a woman, this has been a bit of a mixed blessing due to the stereotype that women are “too emotional” or even “hysterical” to begin with. As a result, at times I have been made fun of for my sensitivity.

Earlier in my life, I saw my empathy as a detriment and something to hide. However, over time, I have come to view my empathetic and open nature as a real strength in terms of forming connections with people. 

I am the type of friend that will cry during any movie, regardless of its genre or content. Just to give you an idea of the severity of the situation, I cried at Dawn of The Planet of the Apes.

On the other hand, I am also the type of friend that will share in my friend’s sorrows, sit up at night to give them advice, and really feel their pain when they are going through difficult situations. Personally, I think the advantages outweigh the detriments.

In a world where so many people push down their feelings and put logic over emotions, I feel grateful that I am unafraid to be sensitive and express myself openly.

I will never apologize for feeling deeply because it is what makes me who I am. I wouldn’t undo it if I could.

Crying is viewed by many people in contemporary society as a sign of weakness. People associate crying with feelings of shame. For men in particular, crying holds negative connotations. Many boys as socialized to believe that men don’t cry and that they have to shove down their emotions in order to be respected. This type of indoctrination can have damaging life-long effects.

The truth is people shouldn’t view crying as an admission of weakness. It is a sign of strength. Allowing yourself to feel your emotions deeply and deal with them in a healthy way signifies emotional maturity.

Crying is also a great form of catharsis and release. Sometimes, when there is no solution to a problem I am having and it’s getting to me, I have a good cry and everything seems just a little bit better. Sure, the circumstances of the situation haven’t changed, but I have given myself a moment to validate my emotions.

Bottling frustration and sadness tends to only make these feelings intensify and bubble up. By crying, you are allowing yourself a healthy outlet. It definitely beats the alternative of accidentally lashing out at others due to your own inner frustrations.

I understand that not everyone is comfortable crying. There are endless reasons why this could be the case, socialization being a big one. I respect however people choose to deal with their own emotions.

I am not recommending that everyone should cry all the time. Rather, I am suggesting that people be gentle with themselves and allow themselves to express their feelings in whatever healthy way they choose.

If you’re not an emotional person by nature, there’s nothing wrong with that. But, nothing is wrong with me either for being sensitive. Being empathetic is something so central to my personality.

I won’t apologize for it anymore.

Love Wellness

Working from home wasn’t what I thought it would be – here’s how I survive it daily

Working from home isn’t exactly what you imagine — or what you see on television.

I’m no Carrie Bradshaw typing by my New York window after a night out with my girls. I’m more of a stay in bed, skip a shower, make some coffee, write a paragraph here and there type worker. It’s not always conducive. It’s definitely not romantic.

But hey, I’m working on it.

Working from home has a plethora of benefits. I wake up when I please, take breaks on my terms, and stop for the day whenever my fingers begin to cramp. I am a women’s health and sexuality journalist. I dabble in interviews, focus on the arts, but most of my work is centered around women and their vaginas.

It’s a rewarding and satisfying job, especially in today’s political climate. I feel like I’m fighting the good fight from the comfort of my bed.

But what happens when you suffer from anxiety or manic episodes?

I find myself pacing around my apartment, distracting myself with my phone, or retweeting Cardi B.

What happens when you don’t talk to anyone all day, no co-workers to share a laugh over, or gossip about? What happens when you’re talking to yourself and pacing around your small apartment? You start to become unhinged.

In today’s society, 24 percent of people complete some or all of their work at home. Cubicles and offices are too expensive. Everyone can make a space at home. However, as much as I hate set-plans, clocking in, and being a slave to an office, I miss it from time to time.

My days blend together while working from home.

I have no set regimen and loneliness creeps in. I find myself working crazy overtime. I don’t take lunch breaks and sometimes I forget to pee. Yes, sometimes basic bodily functions are abandoned in order to meet a deadline. My fingers work constantly as I grasp for some sort of schedule to make my day go by swiftly and productively.

I first began to notice my changing moods when I took on full-time freelance writing a year ago.

My manic episodes became more prevalent. I wouldn’t calm down until after I’d left the house for an hour, abandoning my work to center on my mental state. This became exhausting and more importantly, I was losing out on money, catapulting me into even more of a frenzied state of mania and anxiety. My inability to create a routine for myself was obvious, I had to make a change.

Timothy Golden, an associate professor at the Lally School of Management & Technology at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute says that when working at an office, “chores, family members and piles of laundry are out of sight, providing a physical barrier to the conflict.”

Whereas, when I work from home, I see my conflict. I see my outside responsibilities and I can’t seem to differentiate the two. In between writing paragraphs about the best new sex toys, I’m cleaning the bathroom, making my bed, and scrambling to make a meal.

My two worlds collide and my cup, definitely, runneth over.

A schedule is the first, and most difficult, task in creating a harmonious workspace at home. I commute on some days. Whether it’s a coffee shop or my art studio, peeling myself out of my apartment is a must. It doesn’t have to be every day, but creating an environment away from my home has a huge impact on my energy.

I wake up, eat breakfast, shower, and begin to work. Before, I would remain in bed, lug my laptop under the covers with me, and remain there for the rest of the day.

Talk about a bad office environment.

Getting up and getting dressed as if I’m leaving for the office has been sufficient to my professional drive and mental stability.

I’ve also invited friends to come work with me. In an age where many of us are working from home, or have more days off, I can use a little social interaction throughout the day. Studies have shown that water-cooler chatting can be beneficial for your health. Since we don’t have a water cooler, a cup of coffee will do. Brigham Young University in Utah found that lack of socializing can negatively affect your health in the same way that smoking 15 cigarettes a day can.

Lastly, I move.

This is an example of how working from home can be the opposite of damaging to my health. I live ten minutes from Lake Michigan and in the summer, I take an hour break between writing articles and run along the lake.

Sounds like a dream, right? Well, it sort of is.

On days where I don’t feel like leaving the house, I squat, do a few stretches, and practice some Pilates when I’m feeling a lull in my routine. When I do feel a spark of mania coming on, I schedule a break to organize my thoughts in order to remain balanced. Staying energized and active is pertinent to my success in my work.

Sometimes, I yearn for the 9-5 and I daydream about work meetings.

Working from home requires a little bit more prioritizing. I don’t get to clock out, therefore I work way after the typical work hours. Organizing, scheduling, and making lists are ways to combat any lack of discipline.

Most of all, I’ve learned that my Google Calendar is my best friend.

I don’t let my work overwhelm me. I take breaks. I let myself breathe. I stretch. I yawn. I somehow give myself days off. Tuesday’s are for visiting museums, Sunday’s are for lounging at the beach.

On Monday, I drink a lot of coffee and I do the dang thing.

Love + Sex Love Life Stories

I was ghosted by my soulmate – after he promised we’d be together forever

The moment he told me the news – that he was to be transferred to another state, I was crushed. It was far away from where we both lived, on the other side of the country. We were both unhappy about it and in a second, everything just turned gloomy.

I was hoping for him to stay when he said he was going to refuse the job transfer. But the hope was broken as his employer’s decision was final. With great reluctance, he had to agree. It was either that or find another job. We couldn’t let that happened just for the sake of our unwillingness, so sacrifice had to be made.

For his own good, I had let him go.

The first two months were tough, living far away from each other while still trying to keep in touch. We couldn’t live without hearing each other’s voices every day and we had video chats every week. At first, we were talking about adjusting to our new long-distance relationship. We shared stories about what happening to us every day. Sometimes we stayed on the phone, without talking but just doing our own thing.

It felt as if we were next to each other. It was nice to feel his presence, just not as much as before.

But it was better than nothing.

On the third month, he started to get busier. He gave excuses for working overtime or being sick. We stopped video chatting, and then our phone calls got less and less until we finally stopped talking completely. The only thing we did was texting, but it wasn’t as much as the first two months.

That’s all we did for the whole third month. On the fourth month, we barely texted. There was no longer good morning or good night texts like he used to do. It took him hours to finally reply to my messages, sometimes he ignored it. But I was the one to text him first the whole time. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t hear anything from him at all.

At first, I thought it was nothing. I believed him when he said he was getting busier. But it had been two months and I could feel that something was wrong. As if he tried to avoid from talking to me. Or that he found someone new. I convinced myself that it wasn’t true and he wasn’t a cheater. But I couldn’t shake the feeling.

I started to have a fear of losing him.

Until one day, he blocked me.

He completely blocked me in everything. My number and all my social media. He made sure that I could never reach him.

I couldn’t describe the intense the shock, the pain, and the heartbreak. It was so overwhelming. I tried everything to find him but to no avail. He really wanted to completely cut me out of his life.

Broken-hearted, I waited for him. For weeks I sat on my bed, staring at my phone and waiting for his name to pop up on the screen. I locked myself in my bedroom. I spent my time in tears as I hopelessly waited for him to contact me. At the same time, there were a lot of questions on my mind.

What is happening? Did something happen to him? How could he do this to me? What have I done wrong? Does he not love me anymore?

After what seemed like an eternity, I came into a realization – I’d been ghosted.

He was just gone. He left me confused and powerless. It was torture – living in ambiguity after what he did. I still kept hoping he’d contact me, but I knew the chance was nil. To say my life was miserable was an understatement.

Ghosting is the worst way to break up with someone and it was selfish for him to do that, leaving without saying anything. Our relationship ended without closure. He didn’t let me have a say in it. I questioned my self-worth because I felt disrespected. Was I not even worthy enough to merit a breakup?

To me, this was absolute emotional cruelty.

But in the end, I realized that I wasn’t at fault in this. Being ghosted says nothing about my worthiness or my value. There was nothing wrong with me. If anything, it was he who didn’t have the courage to deal.

It took me forever to completely get over being ghosted. The only thing I could do was to let go and focus on the things that make me happy. And that’s good enough closure for me.

It has to be.

Movies Pop Culture

9 times Bollywood movies taught us incredibly valuable lessons

When I hear the word Bollywood, I automatically think of love, romance, dancing, singing, gorgeous outfits, and the like. One reason this industry is so successful is that each of its movies evokes a rainbow of feelings.

Sure, there are some pretty trashy and cringe-worthy movies, but on the flip side, there are also tons of amazing ones.

Here are just a handful of Bollywood movies that teach life-changing lessons:

1. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara


If you want to look as relaxed as Hrithik Roshan over here, then watch this movie so you can gain some valuable reminders. It makes you want to pause and realize how good your life is despite the hardships. It makes you appreciate your true friends.

But the biggest thing I took from this movie was to push yourself out of your comfort zone and face your fears.

2. Jab We Met


The biggest lesson Geet taught me was to not take life too seriously.

She is so spontaneous, adventurous, and authentic in the way she interacts with the world. She also inspires us to love ourselves and be independent – refusing to take crap from anyone.

Pretty sure that’s the sort of self-confidence that attracts people (especially Shahid Kapoor) towards her!

3. Kapoor and Sons


This movie gives me the chills every time. So damn good. It shows how no family is perfect and reminds us that we are all flawed creatures who need to accept and forgive one another.

[bctt tweet=”We are all flawed creatures who need to accept and forgive.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Kapoor and Sons also portrays how important it is to communicate honestly with our loved ones, whether it is expressing positive or negative feelings. It’s the only way to get through life because conflict is inevitable.

4. Dear Zindagi


Who wouldn’t want Shah Rukh Khan to be their psychologist? This movie takes us on a journey to see what it may be like to experience therapy. I love seeing mental health being promoted and destigmatized! For anyone who hasn’t watched it, good news: it’s on Netflix!

My favorite line from the movie is: “khul kar ro nahi sakogi to khul kar hass kaise pao gee?” Translation: “If you don’t know how to cry openly, how will you learn how to laugh wholeheartedly?”

5. Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani


Bunny teaches Naina to realize that she is good enough just the way she is. She doesn’t have to try to change herself to fit in with the people around her, and through that, she learns to embrace her true self unapologetically. Naina teaches us that no matter where we go in life we will always be missing out on something.

So we might as well enjoy and appreciate where we are.

6. Baar Baar Dekho


Not only does this movie have an amazing soundtrack, but it also gives us a huge reminder to live in the present moment and appreciate the people in our lives.

[bctt tweet=”We can never get our time back, so we should spend it wisely.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Not going to give any spoilers, but I will say it’s a feel good movie that will make you want to enjoy where you are right now, rather than living for the future. And in our day and age of constantly being connected to our gadgets, it’s a great wake-up call to disconnect every once in a while and fully experience life.

Because no matter what we do, we can never get our time back, so we should spend it wisely.

7. Dangal


I love Bollywood movies that empower women! Dangal is a must-watch film – it shows these two young women breaking stereotypes and gender roles. It also teaches us not to be too cocky or full of ourselves when we do become successful.

It shows that women can do anything men can do if they just drown out society’s messages telling them they can’t.

8. Kal Ho Na Ho


In this movie, Aman teaches Naina how to open up and be vulnerable, which allows her to address the emotions she had repressed. Sometimes we need that reminder to share our struggles with someone who is trustworthy.

The overall life lesson I took away from this was to remember that every single day we are alive is a gift and life should not be taken for granted. As Shah Rukh Khan famously states, “Hanso, jeeyo, muskaro…kya pata, kal ho na ho,” which translates to “laugh, live, and smile, because who knows –  tomorrow may not exist.”

9. My Name is Khan


I loved every minute of this movie because it addresses extremely important issues that we are facing in the world today, including Islamophobia. My name Is Khan reminds us to judge others based on their actions, rather than their religion. This film is an emotional roller coaster and the actors did an amazing job.

There are way more Bollywood movies that have meaningful lessons for us. In fact, most things in life have lessons if we just look deeply enough. So sit back, relax, and indulge in a Bollywood movie! You won’t regret it.

Gender & Identity Life

I grew up told by my Sunday School teachers to be terrified of God, but now everything’s different

I have always been a very curious person, who wants to know the meaning behind everything. But I found that sometimes when I asked an elder relative why we had to do a certain thing in Islam, the response I received was something along the lines of “Because God said so.”

This answer was not very reassuring to me, and I felt like it was the end of the conversation. I wanted to know why certain things were not permissible; I was not challenging the word of God. Many years later, I learned that Islam actually encourages us to seek knowledge and ask questions.

[bctt tweet=” I learned that Islam actually encourages us to seek knowledge and ask questions.” username=”wearethetempest”]

As a kid, I would dread having my Quran teacher come and teach me how to read in Arabic. I would pretend I had a sore throat, make excuses to go to the bathroom, or get a drink of water- I was pretty creative in making excuses to escape my teacher. The truth is that I was extremely bored and had no idea what I was reading. I understand that there are blessings in reading the Quran in Arabic, but I’m sure my love for Islam would have increased had I been taught the meaning of what I was reciting.

I also did not look forward to going to Sunday School each week.

It consisted of sitting in a circle with other women, reading the Quran in Arabic, and constantly checking the clock to see how much time was left. The vibes I got from the people around me were serious and intimidating. The highlight of my day would be getting our pack of chips and juice box while waiting to get picked up by our parents.

Looking back, I realize that the majority of my experiences with my religion focused on this: having a fear of God rather than love.

I can’t pinpoint when and how I began to associate God with fear and anxiety, but I know that that’s how I felt for most of my life.

I remember hearing messages like, “You will go to Hell if you don’t fast, God will be angry if you don’t pray 5 times a day, We must be fearful of the Day of Judgement.” For any young child to hear these kinds of things is pretty scary. We are susceptible to believing what our elders tell us; it’s hard to know what is right and wrong or think for ourselves.

[bctt tweet=” For any young child to hear these kinds of things, it’s pretty scary.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Maybe the fear of hell fire is more motivational for some people, but for me, the concept of love, compassion, and hope are what keep me going in this turbulent world.

So why is this issue even important?

Regardless of religion, if someone is feeling distressing emotions when it comes to their faith, they will be more likely to turn away from it. When I think of my religion, I want it to be there as a safe haven, where I feel connected to the universe and humanity.

[bctt tweet=”When I think of my religion, I want it to be a safe haven.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Because of this, I started being very hard on myself. No matter what I do, I will be sinning. There is always something I can work on in order to please God. These were the thoughts in my mind; I was not even aware of them until now.

I also started to fall into the trap of perfectionism, expecting myself to be hitting all the targets in terms of what a “good Muslim” does. I felt that no matter how hard I tried, I would not be good enough.

Through spending a lot of time journaling and self-reflecting, I had this epiphany: God knows me better than I even know myself; He knows my intentions and sees that I am trying my best.

So why beat myself up over my weaknesses? Why would the One who created me, punish me for being imperfect, when He is the One who made me that way in the first place?

[bctt tweet=”God knows me better than I even know myself.” username=”wearethetempest”]

112 out of the 113 chapters in the Quran start with the words Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim, which is translated to “In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.” Also, a hadith states that Allah loves His servant 70 times more than his/her own mother.

Now that seems like a lot of love.

My mind can not even begin to comprehend how much God loves you and me.

For a long time, I have had a greater fear of what other people think of me rather than what God thinks of me. But now, I feel at peace knowing that I don’t have to prove myself to anyone besides God.

Love Life Stories

I used to think something was wrong with me for feeling this way – until the day everything changed

A couple of months ago, I was going through a phase of pretty gloomy and down emotions. I just couldn’t put my finger on what was the cause.

So one day, as I was sitting outside the library, I had an urge to go walk over to a bookstore and start reading The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*** by Mark Manson. I had heard great things about this book so I decided to trust my intuition and go check it out. I was already feeling like Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh, so thought I might as well give it a chance.


As soon as I began reading, I felt this huge sense of relief. I started having little epiphanies. The first wake up call I received was this:

“The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.”


This was the reason I was having so much anxiety and discontentment! Because I was anxious about being anxious which made me even more anxious. I had unknowingly been trying so hard to be happy that I ended up making myself miserable in the process.

As I continued reading, it hit me that the majority of my negative feelings were completely valid.

I was about to start a new chapter in my life (grad school), so any person in my situation would be at least a little bit nervous. I had also just gotten back from Pakistan, where I was constantly surrounded by family, so being back in America made me feel very lonely.

I realized that most of the time when I feel nervous, sad, or afraid, it’s not because there’s something wrong with me; I have legitimate reasons for those feelings. It’s easy to forget though, as society tells you to slap a smile on your face no matter what you’re going through. But that just causes more issues than actually acknowledging where you’re at, to begin with.

Another realization I had was how much time I used to wallow in self-pity. Boo hoo, poor me has to deal with all this stuff, nobody understands what I feel etc.

For instance, last December, my whole family reunited in Pakistan last year, and I was the only one missing. I didn’t go because I wanted to work on my grad school applications and personal statements.

I felt extreme FOMO. I would see Snapchat stories of people having a blast while I was struggling to work on my work. However, now I am so glad that I prioritized my future goals over short term pleasure.

Mark reminded me that there is really no need to feel sorry for myself.

Who decided to go to grad school? Me. Who wants to become a super skillful counselor and help students? Me. Who decided to apply for this Editorial Fellowship and write five articles a week? That’s right—Me! So there’s really no need to complain and be so whiny. There’s a difference between acknowledging your stress and simply wallowing in it.

Here’s the truth: Nobody forced me to make any of my decisions.

So now, whenever I find myself in victim mode in the story I’ve made up in my head, I remind myself that I am the boss of me. I can quit anytime I want to. But I won’t because I want to live according to my values.

No matter what I do, the ball is always in my court.

It’s empowering when you remember that you’re in charge of your life. There comes a point when you just have to quit blaming your circumstances for your unhappiness.

It’s time to take ownership of the only thing I do have control over in life: myself.

Love Life Stories

When I finally decided to show the world my real self, I was terrified nobody would like me

I’ve always been a pretty bubbly, positive, happy-go-lucky sort of gal – to the outside world. However, up until around a year ago, I felt like I was living in conflict with myself. I would be smiling and joking around with friends and family, but when I was alone with myself, I would become my own worst enemy.

It pretty much started when I graduated from college and moved back home. The transition was difficult for me. I missed my roommates and didn’t realize how much my happiness had depended on being surrounded by friends.

Around that time I developed this fear that if I showed my authentic self to others, I would not be accepted or loved.

I thought that if I showed my “negative” emotions, people would want to stay away from me. I created a double standard for myself; if someone opened up to me I thought they were brave, and yet if I opened up to someone else it was an act of weakness.

These irrational beliefs felt like the truth to me. I realize now that it’s actually the opposite; showing vulnerabilities is what brings me closer to my loved ones.

I began to have such high expectations of myself. In order to be the best daughter, cousin, niece, friend, employee, etc. I had to hide my true self. While my intentions were good, they were causing a lot of damage in the self-esteem department. In order to avoid displeasing the people in my life, I ended up disliking who I was.

I had some trustworthy loved ones who I felt like I could be a hot mess in front of, but at the end of the day, the person I was stuck with 24/7 was myself.

I don’t remember the exact moment, but a point came when I finally decided I would break this cycle of self-loathing- even if it meant facing the darkest and scariest emotions. I realized that you could be surrounded by all the loving family and friends in the world, but if you don’t love yourself, then nothing will feel good enough.

I began going to therapy. I reconnected with my faith and begged God to help me learn how to help myself. I journaled about my feelings and began to look at them with compassion rather than criticism.

I created a box of letters, notes, and anything positive that loved ones had given me over the years. Whenever I felt low, I would turn to the box and go through it, reminding myself that I made a difference in these people’s lives.

I went on retreats. I got involved in my community. I basically forced myself to do the things that I knew would make me feel fulfilled.

And that’s when little miracles began to take place in my life. I was nominated by a lovely author, Tami Shaikh, to be a part of a South Asian Women Leadership Retreat, where I met incredibly successful women who got deep and personal. Through this, I was able to break free from the illusion that I was alone. I also began to find life-changing books, YouTube videos, quotes, and mentors who believed in me.

It’s not considered cool to talk about your self-doubts and insecurities, but I believe that when we avoid these types of conversations, we miss out on valuable opportunities to truly connect with others.

One powerful exercise for me was something my therapist, Linda taught me. “Find a few photographs of yourself when you were a little girl,” she said.  “Then put them in some nice frames around your living space along with the wallpaper of your phone. When you’re being hard on yourself, just look at the photos and see if you still feel the same way.”

I was amazed at how this one small act led me to actually start liking myself. Every time I saw the photos, I couldn’t help but feel love and compassion towards myself, because deep down in my 24-year-old body, was an innocent little girl who simply needed to feel safe and protected.

One of the photos I used for the experiment

Now, whenever I mess up, I think of the photo of the sweet, little girl and ask myself how I would speak to her if she made the same mistake. It would be cruel to yell at a child for not being perfect, so why is it okay to beat myself up just because I’m a so-called adult? As my therapist taught me, adults are just children in grown up bodies.

Through this bump in the road, I learned that it’s okay to not be okay sometimes.

Disliking yourself is natural at times, as long as you aren’t stuck in that rut. And self love is not just some cheesy phrase, it’s a key ingredient for contentment and inner peace. Now, I am more than happy to show up and be seen for who I am, and I hope that nobody has to feel like their true self is not worthy enough to be seen.

By choosing authenticity, we begin to attract the right people and situations into our lives.

It may not happen overnight, but it’s definitely worth the struggle.