Love + Sex Love

Food is my love language – and resistance to every ad telling us not to eat

I believe strongly in the power of cooking and eating a single meal: that it can boost your mood, comfort you, and help you heal. Cultivating a healthy, positive relationship with food has been extraordinarily helpful for my physical and mental health.

Food means a lot to me – which is why cooking is how I show my love for others.

[bctt tweet=”Cultivating a healthy, positive relationship with food has been extraordinarily helpful for my physical and mental health.” username=”wearethetempest”]

My relationship with food wasn’t always positive. Since I’m an anxious person with PTSD, my anxiety would reduce my appetite. As a result, I developed some disordered eating patterns. I also have a tendency to obsess over new things, which means I’ve had issues with continually tracking my food and restricting the food I ate in the past.

When I lived in a university residence, my stomach was always homesick for cooked meals. We couldn’t cook our own meals in the dorms, and my budget as a student was limited. The cafeteria food wasn’t awful, but because it was mass-produced it lacked the hominess I longed for. I used to think about the love my family poured into their cooking. Food tastes better when the cook knows who’s going to eat it.

My memories of residence are cloudy. I think it’s because I cried nearly every day: in the spacious, unfamiliar showers, on my bed, in the bathroom stalls. I was depressed, fatigued, and constantly dissociating. I needed a lot of support and therapy. Something else I needed? Food. I needed to know I was worth cooking for and worth feeding.

[bctt tweet=” I needed to know I was worth cooking for and worth feeding.” username=”wearethetempest”]

My life has changed since I lived in a residence. I now work full-time, I have a kitchen of my own, and I know how to cook and bake pretty well. I’m now in a position to ease the homesickness of my past self. My mind is clearer and my brain chemistry feels more stable now, but my friends aren’t always as lucky as me.

Many of my friends are younger than me. Most are students, meaning they have a limited budget and not much time to cook. Many of them also live in a university residence or dorm – and not self-catering ones, either – so they don’t get the opportunity to make delicious meals for themselves. In other words, they’re in a similar position to the one I was in.

Like I did, they often battle with homesickness and mental illness. And as many of us know, cooking when you’re depressed or burnt out is a challenge in itself.

Recently, a friend of mine went through a tough time. Their pain was so visible to me, it was nearly contagious. When I hugged them I could feel their muscles aching. “I don’t know what to do,” they said. “I’m so out of it, I don’t know what to do.” It threw me back to the times I lived in residence, and the times I was in a deep depression. I know what it’s like to feel so broken you’re not even sure what you need because I’ve been there.

But now, I knew what could help my friend. It’s what I needed in my darkest hour: food. So, I made them a nourishing meal. As I cooked, I finally understood what it means when someone says they made food ‘with love’. When they ate my food, they seemed happier, like they had a short respite from the difficult circumstances that surrounded them. I was happy that I could bring them a little joy. That’s exactly what I needed when I was at my lowest point.

[bctt tweet=”I finally understood what it means when someone says they made food ‘with love’.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Cooking isn’t the easiest thing in the world. It involves skills, planning, time, money, and energy. It’s laborious. But this also means cooking is a brilliant way of showing love. It tells someone they’re worth the effort. 

I’ve healed broken hearts in between mouthfuls of soup and salad. I helped tired, stressed people by saying, “Don’t worry, I’ll cook tonight.” I’ve made people’s lives easier by telling them I can cook to suit their allergies and intolerances. I’m not always great at giving advice to people in need, but I can always make food. That’s my superpower.

It’s hard not to be bombarded with toxic ideas around food nowadays. In a society that glorifies thinness and discriminates against fat people, food is often seen as a means to an end. We’re encouraged to restrict ourselves. We moralize food and judge it as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ based on how many calories it contains. Even in ‘healthy food’ spaces and the body-positive community, people often discuss food in terms of how it will affect their weight, not how it can fuel, delight, or heal them.

This makes it all the more important to think of food as a potential tool of love and nourishment.

[bctt tweet=”Our society has toxic ideas about eating – which makes it all the more important to think of food as a potential tool of love.” username=”wearethetempest”]

When you consume nourishing food, you aren’t just eating something delicious. You’re telling your body that it’s worth fueling. Similarly, when you give food to someone else, you’re telling them you want them to be nourished.

To me, that’s love made visible.

Gender & Identity Life

I’m Desi and just got married – but here are 6 reasons why I won’t stop hanging out with friends

For a Pakistani girl, tying the knot means welcoming massive life changes. Usually, once a girl gets hitched in Pakistan, she is expected to focus on her domestic life and forget about with things/ activities she used to practice pre-wedding.  One such expectation is to leave behind her career, social circle, her friends and her recreational activities. It would not be wrong to say that when a Pakistani girl enters matrimony, it creates ripples in her other relationships.

I can relate to it really well, as I just got hooked up a few months back. As per quintessential standards, I have very caring and valuing in-laws and spouse and my life is a perfect picture of a happily-ever-after wedding. Let me clarify here that I belong to a community where the optimum standard of female education is high school. Despite being surrounded by close-minded people, I ended up breaking the norm and pursued my education through university. In the meantime, I also managed to secure a job in a renowned local news channel and worked there for around two years. Then I got married and quit my job putting a temporary full-stop to my career growth.

Before marriage, I was quite active with my social life. I used to hang out, on and off, with university and office buddies.  After my engagement, my fiancé asked me to cut off relations with my male friends as he is very possessive and can’t tolerate my frankness with the opposite gender. I felt weird but since love was in the air, I consented and later removed almost all male colleagues and friends from all my social media accounts and changed my contact number as well just to make my spouse feel secure. The only friends I was left with were my “girlfriends.”

Now fast forward to one month of my marriage. One day, I asked my husband that I want to meet my bestie from university. He was kind of shocked as if he was not expecting such a question. He simply refused, to which I further argued asking him to give me a valid reason for his refusal. He had no reason other than the typical reply that I was no longer single and should put a break to meeting friends now. I had a fight with him that day and felt very disheartened. As per him, going out to meet friends was against the norms of his family and that no women of his family had ever done so. This left me further appalled.

Well, somehow or the other, at times by convincing logics and at times with emotional appeals, I managed to make him understand the importance of this problem and since he loves me a lot, he had no choice but to be convinced as I would whine and whine over this matter (which was trivial for him). Now he, himself, drops me whenever I want to meet any of my friends. I believe I have changed his mindset regarding this aspect of my life as now he lets me see friends every once in a while.

1. Girl-time is so, so crucial.

sassy make it pop GIF by Nickelodeon
[Image Description: A gif of three girls snapping and saying “Girl time!”] Via giphy
You always need that ‘girl-time’ to talk about and discuss girly-stuff and problems that you cannot do in the presence of guys.

2. Socializing is important, no matter what your relationship status is.

fifth harmony dancing GIF
[Image Description: A gif of girls dancing.] Via giphy
Socializing is your right. It is your right to get going with your social life and you should not let anyone snatch it from you, not even your husband.

3. It’s your chance to really, truly relax.

relaxed dog GIF
[Image Description: A gif of dogs lounging in the sun.] Via giphy
You need time to relax. After marriage, your responsibilities increase and at times you feel stressed and frustrated. Meeting your friends is the best way to combat stress and worries.

4. Spending time with your friends does the obvious: it strengthens friendships.

african american laughing GIF
[Image Description: A gif of two women laughing together.] Via giphy
It strengthens your friendships. Your single friends start valuing you more when you take time out for them from your busy married life.

5. It makes you a better spouse!

marriage love GIF
[Image Description: A gif of a cartoon marriage.] Via giphy
It will make you a better spouse. Spending time away from your husband gives you a chance to flush your worries and relax your mind by talking it out with friends. Later, you will return to him fully refreshed.

6. All the memories. ALL. THE. MEMORIES.

happy tom and jerry GIF
[Image Description: A gif of a cartoon mouse and bird dancing around.] Via giphy
It’s a good way to reminisce memories. Meeting friends makes you cherish and relive the happy and crazy days you had spent together which feels like a wave of cool breeze post-wedding.

Spending time with friends is always a great recreational activity for an individual whether he/she is single or hitched. This quote sums up it up quite well: Sometimes being with your best friend, is all the therapy you need.

Gender & Identity Life

11 simple steps you can take towards re-building the sisterhood

You don’t owe your audience anything. But you owe the women in your life a great deal.

Last month, I was lucky enough to attend many events, conferences, and workshops for women, from women. One topic that kept coming up was the “natural” lack of solidarity between women: why do we play a game of cat and mouse amongst ourselves, victim-blaming, slut-shaming, instead of supporting each other? Why are we so quick at pointing fingers instead of listening to the entire story and defending our sisters? The general answer that we came up with is that it’s a cultural issue, deeply rooted in our mentality after millennia of patriarchy.

Well, that doesn’t sit right with me. Just as we say time’s up to patriarchy and rape culture, we should say goodbye to this petty, catty woman-to-woman behavior. Let’s (re)build the sisterhood.

Dramatically changing the way we relate to one another will surely take time and effort. It’s a systemic issue, but one we can start fighting in our daily life. So I compiled a list of 11 easy actions we can all do to improve our interpersonal relationships, made of little things to do or avoid every day.

1. Be happy for other women.

happy joy GIF
[Image Description: Minions cheering.] Via giphy
Celebrate their successes. Don’t see these instances as your losses, but as another woman’s triumph. I know this might be hard for some people who are really competitive but try your best. It helps no one and nothing to pit yourself against other women.

2. Be genuine.

michelle obama thumbs up GIF
[Image Description: Michelle Obama giving the camera a thumbs up.] Via giphy
When confronted by another woman, say exactly what you think. If you like a project they did, make sure to tell them. If you don’t like something they’re wearing, don’t go out of your way to say that it looks nice if you don’t really think it.

3. Listen to what other women have to say.

[Image Description: A woman wagging her finger at the camera.] Via giphy
Listen to their stories and experiences. We all have a lot to learn from others. Listen to their opinions. If you agree with them, make sure they know it. If you disagree, build a constructive dialogue.

4. You have no idea what a good impact you make on another person by simply smiling at them.

happy toddlers and tiaras GIF
[Image Description: A gif of a girl smiling.] Via giphy
Even if it’s someone you don’t really know but always see in the hallways, smile at them. It costs you nothing, but it might really help them. They might be having an awful day. They might really need that encouragement.

5. Inspire other women to be confident about themselves.

cute jill marie jones GIF
[Image Description: A woman saying “I’m cute” while snapping her fingers.] Via giphy
Go out of your comfort zone and you’ll both be less insecure. Be unapologetic about who you are, and you’ll inspire other women to do the same.

6. Stand up for other women.

turtle helping GIF
[Image Description: A turtle helping another turtle.] Via giphy
And stand up for yourself, if you’re being discriminated, oppressed, mistreated. Don’t stay silent; if you do, you’re being complicit.

7. Make alliances.

left hanging donald trump GIF
[Image Description: A gif of Trump being snubbed for a handshake by a woman who shakes Melania’s hand instead.] Via giphy
I cannot stress this enough. It is everyone’s struggle, one that we should fight together. This way, we all come out victors.

8. Let go of past grudges.

let it go GIF
[Image Description: An gif of Elsa, from “Frozen,” saying “Let it go.”] Via giphy
We’re humans, things happen, and it’s fair to have that one person that you’ve got a complicated history with. Be it because of a past fight, be it because of gossip, just let it go. Be the bigger person, forgive and forget. Hopefully, they will do the same.

Why be frenemies when you could be friends? A little drama can be fun, but it’s also toxic for all parties involved. Which brings me to my next point.

9. Don’t spread gossip.

Gossip Ugh GIF by Walk Off The Earth
[Image Description: Two girls gossiping.] Via giphy
Even if you have proof that something is true if you know it will put another woman in a difficult position, keep it for yourself. Make sure you’re the last person that piece of gossip reaches. Keep it a secret, you’re sparing another woman from an uncomfortable situation.

10. If someone continues to try to bring you down, approach them and be straightforward.

talking about me schitts creek GIF by CBC
[Image Description: A gif of a woman saying, “Are you talking about me?”] Via giphy
Tell them they’re hurting you. Maybe they didn’t understand the extent of their actions. And if they’re doing it on purpose, don’t aggravate the situation. Just walk away.

11. Always bring positivity and good energy.

monster energy nascar cup series GIF by NASCAR
[Image Description: A gif of a happy girl raising her arms.] Via giphy
We all need it, and it spreads like wildfire, except there’s absolutely nothing destructive about it. Laugh, express your happiness and your gratitude, radiate your love.

These may seem insignificant and inconsequential things, but they do have an effect on others. Little steps can get you a long way. Remember, we rise by lifting others.

Humor Life

20 bunnies who are far too cute for this world

Let’s face it, bunnies are quite underrated. There is so much talk about how great cats and dogs are (let’s face it they are pretty great) but there are other kinds of pets!

Ever since I was young, I wanted a pet rabbit, but my parents never agreed.

1. They love to cuddle.

[Image Description: Two white bunnies are on top of each other and sniffing.] Via Giphy
I mean look at them! They are cuddling! They are cute!

2. They plot world domination.

[Image Description: Three bunnies putting their heads together.] via Giphy
These cute buns are putting their heads together to brainstorm.

For what you may ask? I’m not sure, maybe world domination?

3. They have Netflix & chill companions.

[Image Description: A white bunny running towards the brown bunny on the couch.] via
Yes, we all love watching Netflix alone, but it’s not as fun as watching it with your fluffy friend.

4. Sometimes they steal from babies.

[Image Description: A white spotted rabbit stealing a cracker from a baby.] Via
Not all bunnies are nice.

5. They love to eat.
[Image Description: A black bunny chewing greens.] Via
I relate to this on a personal level. The only difference is bunnies like to munch on greens, not pizza.

6. They care about personal hygiene.

[Image Description: A brown bunny playing with toilet paper.] Via
All bunnies know that you never leave without wiping.

7. They like to take breaks. 

[Image Description: A brown bunny sitting in a pink bowl looking tired.] via
Sometimes instead of hopping around and eating greens, you just want to lie down and do nothing.

8. And they like to be pampered. 

[Image Description: A bunny standing while being groomed.] via
Bunnies are basically just furry babies.

9. They fight with their friends (which is totally okay!!).

[Image Description: Two bunnies fighting over greens.] via
Most bunnies are cordial until you take their food.

10. This bunny is all about taking care of her look. 

[Image Description: A white bunny in front of a mirror getting her face brushed.] via
Bunnies don’t just look this cute without work. It takes effort!

11. Some bunnies just love hanging out with their kitty friends!

[Image Description: A white bunny being licked and cuddled by an orange cat.] via
For the most part, bunnies can live among other animals. They don’t discriminate.

12. And don’t forget, bun-buns love a good massage. 

[Image Description: A brown bunny getting rubbed by a human.] via
Bunnies love to be petted and rubbed. It brings them joy and happiness.

13. They have to work (really? really).

[Image Description: A white bunny falling asleep at work.] via
All those hours they put in the office, just so they can buy those carrots.

14. And after work (?!), bunnies love to exercise.

[Image Description: A brown bunny rolling around on a mat with a colorful ball.] via
Bunnies are quite active animals and love rolling around.

15. They’re talented…

[Image Description: A gray bunny playing the piano.] via
You haven’t lived until you’ve heard the sound of those little paws hitting the piano keys.

16. …and always well-dressed.

[Image Description: A white bunny walking around in a pink dress.] via
The best-dressed animals? Bunnies. It’s a fact.

17. You might catch bunnies at amusement parks…

[Image Description: A bunny riding around in a blue teacup at an amusement park.] via
The tea-cups is not a favorite, but it’s still fun to ride.

18. …or competing at the Bunny Olympics. 

[Image Description: A black and white bunny taking a rod in its mouth.] via
Yes, bunnies are quite athletic.

19. They love fruits.

[Image Description: A white bunny eating a raspberry] via
This bunny is eating a raspberry, but those red marks could easily be the blood of their enemies.

20. AND they love humans.

[Image Description: A group of bunnies surrounding a woman.] via

Love + Sex Love Advice

I ignored what he did with my friend, because I just wanted him to love me

As wise as I often attempt to sound, I’ve been the poster girl for toxic relationships for as long as I can remember.

As a 16-year-old who was an ardent fan-girl and bibliophile, I pretended like I had ultimate worldly wisdom. The only relationship that I had ever been in was perhaps with Draco Malfoy (in my head). I was convinced that I was too evolved a human being to fall for just another boy. The plot twist that I had failed to foresee was that behind the facade that I had conveniently put up, secretly hid just another naive 16-year-old.

At school, I was friends with a boy who was the quintessential nice guy. As much as I detested his loved-by-all character we ended up becoming close friends.

As someone who does not open up to people easily and has had multiple massacred friendships, I was baffled at how I voluntarily let down my guard with him. We texted each other for hours each day. Our walk back from school seemed like the most anticipated walk of the day (and I hate walking). He was the friend I knew I could talk to no matter what and he’d be there for me.

[bctt tweet=”As wise as I often attempt to sound, I’ve been the poster girl for toxic relationships for as long as I can remember.” username=”wearethetempest”]

I gradually began to realize that I started developing feelings for him. Soon after, he admitted to like me as well and I couldn’t have asked for more. As much as I valued him as my friend, a part of me hoped that our feelings would materialize into something more than friendship. But the fear of having to deal with the repercussions of a possibly messed up romantic relationship (which could end our friendship) consumed him and stopped us from taking things forward.

However, his reluctance towards a relationship and the differences in our opinions regarding the situation made things more complex than I imagined it to be.

Initially, the feeling of having someone that close was so overwhelming that I refused to notice the red signs that kept blinking right before me.

I wasn’t the only one he had in mind.

He ended up hatching a similar “almost” scenario with a close friend of mine at the same time as me, who also happened to be his best friend. But honestly, that wasn’t the worst part. The worst and the most crippling part was that I knew about it and compelled myself to be cool with it. Just because I had agreed to be someone’s “almost” I decided it was okay to trivialize my feelings for that transient and frivolous sense of joy. I deceived myself to believe that the feeling of being wanted was more important than my happiness.

[bctt tweet=”I deceived myself to believe that the feeling of being wanted was more important than my happiness.” username=”wearethetempest”]

I fabricated a bubble of self-doubt and insecurities, believing that I wasn’t pretty enough, smart enough or good enough. My friendship with both of them began to crumble as I started pushing myself to hate them and knowing that I’d never get those friendships back.

I started loathing myself in every possible way until I realized that it had to come to an end. I was finally left with no choice but to make him choose between her and me. And the moment he said it was her, the only feeling that prominently stood out for me was the relief.

While he and I managed to mend things and let go of the past, I lost her as a friend in my futile endeavor of being happy.

We’re all guilty of having an unhealthy obsession of surrounding ourselves with people just so we can evade the stigma of being a loner. We tend to equate happiness with other people even if they bring nothing but toxicity and misery to our lives and their absence often makes us feel like we’re shrouded by a cloud of loneliness. We allow ourselves to go through the worst just for that momentary feeling of being loved.

[bctt tweet=”We allow ourselves to go through the worst just for that momentary feeling of being loved.” username=”wearethetempest”]

The most underrated concept of all time that is so deeply buried under the shenanigans of companionship is finding happiness in yourself and the life you lead.

As beautiful as the feeling of love may be, our mental health and personal well-being come before any inane relationship. Believe my favorite K-Pop group, BTS, when they say “Love Yourself” because that is the only love that one needs to lead a complete life.

You deserve better than relationships that do not help you grow.

Love Life Stories

When I first met my best friend, I couldn’t stand her. Then one day, everything changed.

Aside from the officiant and photographer, there were just three guests at my wedding.

One of them was a former coworker-turned-friend, a relationship I’ve only managed to make work a total of twice. While I keep up with several former co-workers via social media (don’t we all), there are only two I would actually count as friends.  It’s hard to go from spending forced time with someone wherein you’re both getting paid, to spending time with them because you enjoy each other’s company.

This friend is particularly special because of just how different we are.

In many ways, we are polar opposites—her, the “hot sorority girl” (which I tease her about constantly), and me, the “fat alt-girl”; her, the straight, professional caterer, and me, the lesbian kitchen witch—yet somehow, we’re closer than I ever would have expected.

When we first met, I didn’t think we’d even get along at work, so to see how far we’ve come is genuinely boggling.

The first time I met her, I was on the clock and she wasn’t. She came in one afternoon and ordered a drink with a dairy-based syrup and nondairy milk. I asked, “Is it okay that there is dairy in the syrup?” She met my eyes, rolled hers, then flipped her hair over her shoulder and replied, “I know that. I work here.”

I had never seen her before; the reaction immediately turned me off. But in my best customer service voice, I introduced myself, apologized for the mistake, and laughed when another barista on the shift with me told her to put the claws away.

Obviously, first impressions aren’t the be-all, end-all, but they sure do last. After that first interaction, I wasn’t overly keen to work with this person. I assumed she had an attitude problem, which wasn’t helped by the fact that my manager at the time didn’t like to schedule her “because she was difficult.”

I would later learn that in fact, this manager thought most employees were difficult, and it wasn’t a reflection on my friend at all.

The first few times we worked together, our interactions were halting and awkward. One night, she offered me food, which I declined with the statement, “No thank you, I’m vegan.” This put her on the defensive, which made me want to tell her off for taking my personal choice as an attack on her character.

Another night, she went on for a while about her sorority sisters and I had to fight not to tune out because I know so many people with sorority horror stories that I have a hard time supporting them. We continued like that, in fits and starts, until one day, some months into our working relationship, things just clicked.

We discovered that we worked well together; I could trust her to complete her tasks and she could trust me to not only complete mine, but handle customer incidents and other disasters in the store. Slowly but surely, we started to bond over TV shows, movies, and music.

She offered me rides to and from work (seeing as I don’t have a car and live in New England, where the winters can be harsh, her offer was a lifesaver). We shared recipe ideas and interesting facts about our lives. When she broke up with her boyfriend, she told me about it, and when I got engaged, I gushed to her about it. We split the tab on takeout, started texting about non-work-related subjects, and steadily developed a friendship that has lasted, despite her leaving town after graduating and both of us being wildly busy with work, relationships, and other obligations.

Having her at my wedding meant the world to me.

She brought me coffee, drove me to the officiant’s house where my spouse and I got married, told me about her life and helped me do my makeup. She held my bouquet while I read a poem for my vows, cried with me before we all took photos, and generally did all the things I wanted her to do, often without me having to ask.

I tease her constantly about the first time we met because it was such a disaster compared to how comfortable we are with each other now.

She tells me that I was a know-it-all snob, which isn’t untrue, although I felt the same about her.

In the last 15 months, our relationship has changed drastically, and we’ve both grown up significantly. Watching her turn what I thought was an attitude problem into a voice for the voiceless has been absolutely incredible; seeing her succeed in her chosen field fills me with a pride reminiscent of what I imagine a sibling must feel, though I have no siblings of my own to compare.

Being her friend has taught me a lot, but mostly it’s taught me this: second chances can change your life, not only when you receive them, but when you give them. I don’t know where I’d be without her if I’m honest.

And if you had asked me, two years ago, what I thought about this woman, I would have said she was a brat and walked away.

Love Advice

23 simple ways to support your friends when they need it most

It seems like a lot of people have been going through a rough period lately. I know that for me, this year has been very stressful, however, I got through it with the amazing support from my friends. Here are a few simple things that you can do to show your friends love and support them when they need it the most:

1. Send them supportive text messages

[Gif description: animated hands texting with bluebirds and rainbows in the background and coming through the phone] via Giphy
[Gif description: animated hands texting with blue birds and rainbows in the background and coming through the phone] via Giphy
When I randomly get a message from one of my friends saying “you got this” or just one sending me motivation, I instantly feel loved and have a better attitude about everything that’s on my plate.

2. Just check in on them

[Gif description: Lisa Simpson walking up saying "Hi! How are you?"] via Giphy
[Gif description: Lisa Simpson walking up saying “Hi! How are you?”] via Giphy
Simply asking your friends how they’re doing shows that you care.

3. Listen to them 

[Gif description: a kid sitting at a desk saying "Listen. Listen. Listen."] via Giphy
[Gif description: a kid sitting at a desk saying “Listen. Listen. Listen.”] via Giphy
Sometimes, your friend is having a hard time and just wants to vent. Let them.

4. Get them something that they would love

[Gif description: Octavia Spencer sitting at a table saying "I love that" to someone] via Giphy
[Gif description: Octavia Spencer sitting at a table saying “I love that” to someone] via Giphy
Maybe their love language is gift giving, consider surprising them with a small gift like a face mask or something that reminded you of them.

5. Offer to accompany them somewhere

[Gif description: a man and a woman smiling and laughing while walking down a street] via Giphy
[Gif description: a man and a woman smiling and laughing while walking down a street] via Giphy
Sometimes people just like company during errands or when they need to be productive. 

6. FaceTime homework date

[Gif description: A woman kissing her phone as she says hi to someone] via Giphy
[Gif description: A woman kissing her phone as she says hi to someone] via Giphy
This is specifically for long distance friendships. Personally, I like having company and motivation when I need to get a few things done. So, I’ll FaceTime my friend and we’ll both motivate each other to work and even brainstorm ideas with each other. 

7. Give them a big hug

[Gif description: two women embracing each other in a warm hug] via Giphy
[Gif description: two women embracing each other in a warm hug] via Giphy
Everyone can use a warm embrace.

8. Make or bring them food

[Gif description: A woman telling a man "food makes you feel better"] via Giphy
[Gif description: A woman telling a man “food makes you feel better”] via Giphy
Food instantly brightens my mood. It’s even brought some tears to my friends when someone brings them food after a hard day.

9. Hype them up

[Gif description: a woman praising someone saying "that is genuis"] via Giphy
[Gif description: a woman praising someone saying “that is genuis”] via Giphy
Be their personal hypewoman. 

10. Tell them a funny story

[Gif description: a woman laughing] via Giphy
[Gif description: a woman laughing] via Giphy
Sometimes people just need a good laugh to keep on keeping on.

11. Organize a movie night

[Gif description: cartoon kids jumping on beanie bags in front of a TV screen] via Giphy
[Gif description: cartoon kids jumping on beanie bags in front of a TV screen] via Giphy
If your friend is anything like myself, a lighthearted movie can be the perfect way to de-stress. 

12. Tell them you love them

[Gif description: Kris Jenner in a car saying "I love my friends"] via Giphy
[Gif description: Kris Jenner in a car saying “I love my friends”] via Giphy
This seems very obvious, but it can go a long way.

13. Send them a cute picture of a puppy

[Gif description: a puppy pawing at the camera] via Giphy
[Gif description: a puppy pawing at the camera] via Giphy
Everyone can use a little puppy love.

14. Buy them flowers

[Gif description: a man giving a woman a single flower] via Giphy
[Gif description: a man giving a woman a single flower] via Giphy

15. Have an at-home spa day

[Gif description: three girls with green face masks on with one holding a spoon full of the green mask] via Giphy
[Gif description: three girls with green face masks on with one holding a spoon full of the green mask] via Giphy
Spa days always make me feel rejuvenated and instantly more confident and ready to handle everything that I have to do.

16. Go out for drinks

[Gif description: two girls shotgunning a beer] via Giphy
[Gif description: two girls shotgunning a beer] via Giphy

17. Plan a fun day activity

[Gif description: a beluga whale blowing a kiss to a little girl] via Giphy
[Gif description: a beluga whale blowing a kiss to a little girl] via Giphy
Go to the zoo or aquarium, or even try visiting an animal shelter (again, puppy love).

18. Go to Marshall’s or Target

[Gif description: a woman saying "retail therapy!] via Giphy
[Gif description: a woman saying “retail therapy!] via Giphy
Retail therapy is very real.

19. Take them for a hike

[Gif description: two girls laughing together while on a hike] via Giphy
[Gif description: two girls laughing together while on a hike] via Giphy
Physical activity and fresh air can be just the reset they need.

20. Listen to their favorite music

[Gif description: a woman dancing to music as she's holding a phone with music notes jumping up and down] via Giphy
[Gif description: a woman dancing to music as she’s holding a phone with music notes jumping up and down] via Giphy
I don’t know about you, but a little dance party and/or karaoke session instantly puts me in a good mood.

21. Group nap

[Gif description: a little girl curling up in a nap on top of a sleeping cat] via Giphy
[Gif description: a little girl curling up in a nap on top of a sleeping cat] via Giphy

22. Bake them cookies

[Gif description: a cartoon chef checking on cookies in the oven] via Giphy
[Gif description: a cartoon chef checking on cookies in the oven] via Giphy

23. Plan a game night

[Gif description: a scrabble board spelling out "simple game night"] via Giphy
[Gif description: a scrabble board spelling out “simple game night”] via Giphy
Games can be a great way to destress and offer some fun for a hectic schedule. So consider throwing a game night to relax a little with some friends who need it the most!

I’m sure that any of your friends will appreciate any of the things on this list, stressed or not! Going into a new year, only accept supportive and healthy friendships.

Love + Sex Love Life Stories

My best friend just got engaged. If you ask me, I wish she’d dumped the guy.

When one of my close friends got engaged this past summer to a guy she’d been dating only a short time, I can admit that I wasn’t as thrilled as all her other friends. Yes, I was excited for her, but the proposal seemed to come out of left field, and I had mixed feelings.

Let’s just say, I’m not a huge fan of her fiancé.

He has an irritating tendency to mansplain everything. A lot of the questions he asks and the comments he makes are pretty condescending. I can tell he’s not actually trying to be malicious or an asshole. It seems to be a habit that he’s either been exposed to or engaged in for so long, that it’s just a normal part of the conversation for him.

Nonetheless, I can barely stand 20 minutes of that shit, so I don’t know how my friend is going to spend a lifetime with him.

He is also materialistic and easily impressed by how much things cost. He loves the performance of wealth. He can talk endlessly about expensive cars, exclusive neighborhoods, and how much revenue the company he works for generates in a day.

I’m all for having nice things, but I find the constant talk of money smothering.

This is why I was so surprised when she announced her engagement. Instead of congratulating her, I wanted to scream, “Why the fuck are you marrying this dude? He’s insufferable!”

I legitimately thought the photo of the ring she sent was a joke at first because I didn’t think she would marry someone so asinine.

As I slowly got used to the fact that she was engaged, I had to ask myself whether or not I should keep my mouth shut about how I genuinely feel about him. Obviously, if he was abusive or if I thought he might harm her, I would speak up right away.

But telling my good friend that her fiancé is an air-headed jackass… just makes me look like the jackass.

Even though I desperately want to tell her that she deserves better, I realize that confronting her about her engagement is invasive. I may be dumbfounded that she wants to spend the rest of her life with this guy, but to her, marrying him makes perfect sense.

I know that if I questioned her decision, it would hurt her immensely and our friendship would be over.

So, I quickly learned the valuable lesson of biting my tongue.

It’s never the right move to make someone justify their engagement or marriage. No matter how delicately you lay the groundwork, you’re going to come off as rude and unsupportive. You may have good intentions, but they don’t actually matter; you’re not the one getting married to said obnoxious person, so your opinion doesn’t technically count. There’s no need to butt into someone’s exciting moment and leave everyone with hurt feelings and resentment.

That’s wrong and it won’t accomplish anything positive.

At the end of the day, I know it’s not my business, or my place, to point out her fiancé’s bad habits.

Maybe she sees them and is fine with them; maybe she doesn’t see them at all. Just because the qualities she wants in a partner are not the same as mine doesn’t mean that she’s wrong or that her relationship is invalid.

It’s been an interesting experience that I’ve learned a lot from. I’ve learned that your friends don’t always end up with who you think they will – or should – and that’s okay. I am pretty outspoken, but I’m realizing there’s a time and place to speak your mind.

I’m figuring out how to maintain bonds as our lives shift and change.

I would much rather keep a friendship intact because I care more about my friend, than I do about trying to prove I’m right.

Gender & Identity Life

It’s a liability to be born a girl in Pakistan. I’m proof of that.

“It’s a girl,” stated the nurse dully as loud cries erupted out of the O.R.

For any other family, this would’ve been a moment of pure bliss, but in this case, it felt like a decade’s worth of grave despair.

“B-but we, we asked the head of the mosque to pray and he said it would be a boy this time, as long as we didn’t get any ultrasounds,” replied an elderly woman with wrinkles on her face.

They desperately wanted a baby boy. Why you ask? 

Well, that’s simply because a girl was considered a liability; a girl would get married and start living in a new house, whereas a boy would earn money. He would be their sole support system in times of dire need. He would cater to the needs of his elders when they’re old and gray. 

He would bring home a wife who would devote every single one of her breaths to keeping them content; serve them cups of piping hot tea every second and massaging their broken backs, legs, and arms for as long as they desire.  

But reality had struck them hard so, disappointed as ever, her in-laws and her middle-aged husband walked into the room where the tired wife lay, with shame painted all across her beautiful face. “I-I’m so sorry”, she said naïvely, guilt lacing her every word.

“Ahh, she’s no good, giving birth to girls is as good as being infertile. Son, you need to find yourself another wife.” These were the exact words of that elderly mother-in-law.

The young woman on the stretcher bawled her eyes out and begged them for another chance, but they just didn’t want to listen.

None of them felt a single ray of pity for her.

And so, started the torment.

The exhausted young woman came back to, what she affectionately called home, from the hospital, only to see all her belongings stuffed in suitcases. “What’s going on?” she stuttered out, anxiously, even though her gut had long alerted her to what was to come.

“This is it for you, go back to your maika (mother’s home).”

They kicked her out, threw her on the streets like she was as dead as a doornail, with a wide-eyed child gazing at her, adoringly.

That ill-fated child was me. I was the jinxed soul she looked at with gallons of tears in her eyes for she felt the clouds of darkness looming over me, but she didn’t give up. She fought relentlessly for both our lives; worked at five different cafés as a waitress, came back home in the early hours of the morning, and a couple of hours later, went back to work again after dropping me off at her friend’s place.

Her broken heart was a weapon that anyone and everyone used against her.

She was deemed characterless simply because her family was absent of men who could “keep a watchful eye on her.” Her kindness to any man was constantly taken as “flirtation” because what else was to be expected of a woman whose own husband couldn’t bear to stay with her, right?

I was forced to grow up feeling like one huge sin.

All through primary and middle school, no one wanted to interact with me. I would always hear moms whispering to one another saying things like, “Oh god, so she doesn’t have a father?” “I bet she’s one hell of a spoilt brat because she’s being raised by a single parent.” “Hmph, like mother, like daughter.”

Living my life took courage.

So much, that by age sixteen, I had to spend every P.E. period at the counselor’s office.

With every passing day, I was beginning to hate myself more and more. I never opened up to anyone about how I felt. I didn’t think my life had a purpose. The hatred everyone threw at me was deemed acceptable because it was somehow my fault that I had been born to a prick of a father.

My self-destructive behavior was at its peak when I met Maira, a girl with a very similar past to mine.

The only difference between her and I, though, were our attitudes.

She didn’t listen to people who wronged her. Instead, she befriended those who didn’t give her too hard a time. She actually used to smile, brush her hair till it was as straight as an angel’s flight, smelled of cheap perfume but still didn’t stink like I did, and made sure to wake up at 5 in the morning to make sandwiches for herself and her tiny group of friends, which now included me. She was nothing short of a living legend. Maira made me realize that I was not responsible for the things that took place before I was born.

Because of her, I thought to myself, “enough is enough.”

I was not something to be looked down upon. I was my own person. I didn’t have to let others define me or determine the way I felt about myself. Maira made me perceive just how beautiful life could be.

With her around me, I felt safe, like I wasn’t the only one living this life. I was NOT a stain to be hidden away, but a living accomplishment.

After countless years of hating on myself and my past, I, for once, came home, content. I held my mother in a tight embrace and said, “Mama, today I am happy,” something I hadn’t been for as long as the both of us could remember. She hugged me back a billion times harder, kissed me on the forehead, and said she loved me.

I felt so energized. Like someone had just breathed some life into me.

My grades went from D’s to A’s, I started making friends, and those backstabbing moms didn’t seem to bother me anymore. I started going to school every father’s day. I stopped letting narrowminded people tell me that not having a father was an infirmity of some sort because, for me, it wasn’t a choice.

I still have dark memories that get the best of me now and then, but overall, I love my life.

I consider myself a survivor and not a victim, only because I found Maira. But my advice to anyone out there who is going through the same is to learn how to become your own Maira.

You are as valuable as any other human being, regardless of what anyone thinks about you.

Don’t let societal pressures coerce you into treating your own self like trash.

And most importantly, treat yourself to a pat on the back, now and then, for how far you’ve come despite all the hindrances that could’ve held you back.

Love Wellness

I couldn’t take a moment to stop working – until something terrible happened to my best friend

“And I’m here to tell you today, if you’re going to be successful you gotta be willing to give up sleep. You gotta be willing to work with 3 hours of sleep, 2 hours of sleep. If you really wanna be successful, someday you’re gonna have to stay up 3 days in a row. Because if you go to sleep you might miss the opportunity to be successful.” – Eric Thomas

My whole life has revolved around one thing – success. My only goal in life was to be successful and I’d do anything to achieve it, no matter what cost. Time, money, sleep, and people I loved too – I’d sacrifice anything at all costs. For success, I’d be willing to lose it. If I slept too much, I’d miss the opportunity to be successful. I only had one life, and there’d be no do-overs if I missed anything. I thought there was no time to waste in life.

Opportunities come only once, so I had to grab them when I got the chance, no matter what I had to sacrifice.

I was a highly-motivated woman.

Hard work always pays off. That was my life motto and I’d hold to it for as long as I lived.

So, I worked really hard to achieve my goals. To be honest, I was a total workaholic.

I woke up at 4 am to start my day.

My morning started with a long list of things to be achieved for one day. The moment I opened my eyes every morning, my mind already reminded me of the visions I had about my future. It made my motivation hit to the extreme level and nothing could stop me from working hard to accomplish all my dreams.

There was no specific time for bed, just when my work for the day was done.

24 hours in one day was too limited for me, so I hustled all the time to make sure everything got done. If there was even one minute of free time, I’d use it for work.

That was how I used my time wisely.

I was listening to Eric Thomas, one of my favorite motivational speakers, when I got a text from my best friend asking me to visit her. It was rather peculiar, but there was no reason to decline. After all, she was my closest friend and we shared the same level of enthusiasm when it came to success.

She was a workaholic just like me.

Spending an hour or two with her couldn’t hurt. So I grudgingly set aside the day’s work and went to visit her on that very day.

When I reached her house, I was expecting to find her buried in paperwork and books…

… but instead, I found her in bed.

Her face was as white as a sheet.  She was way skinnier than the last time I’d seen her. No cheekbones should be sticking out as far as hers were. It looked as if there was no life in her, except that she was still breathing.

I was even more shocked when she smiled and started to talk.

Half of her face was paralyzed. The right side of her lips didn’t lift upward when she smiled and her eye didn’t blink. She could barely utter one word. Nothing was functioning on her right side of her face.

It looked as if it was disfigured.

I was utterly shocked.

She told me that stress brought her to this state. She’d been going days without sleeping, just for the sake of achieving her life goals. She’d been working so much that her health deteriorated.

She was a workaholic like me, but the pressure had gotten to her. According to the doctor, it weakened her nervous system so badly that it couldn’t function properly.

Thankfully, it wasn’t permanent and would go away within weeks.

I couldn’t be more grateful hearing that.

From her bed, she begged me to stop overworking.

She had been doing it for months, and now she was paying the price for neglecting her health. That’s why she’d asked me to visit; she wanted me to stop before I faced the same consequences.

Having dreams and goals in life is never wrong. Everyone has a purpose, and achieving goals is the way to fulfilling that purpose. But my best friend’s illness taught me that achieving my goals should never come at the cost of my physical and mental health.

If I was sacrificing my physical and mental health for my success, then it was time to take a step back. It became clear to me that there was no point in neglecting my well-being and happiness by being a workaholic, especially since happiness was actually the main purpose of my life goals.

I’m so grateful I was able to really hear her advice that day.

Today, I know that my health is far more important than my success.

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Love Life Stories Advice Wellness

You are absolutely allowed to cut toxic people out of your life

It took me a really long time to realize this but I eventually did get there – if someone tries to critique you (about everything), makes you feel bad about yourself, and does everything, but make you feel good about yourself, then they are not your friend. They are toxic and they don’t deserve to be in your life. 

Dealing with toxic people can be really laborious because, most of the time, we don’t even realize they’re toxic. it’s not easy to identify them. They hide behind the guise of being “the blunt friend”. Their so-called straightforwardness is supposedly the reason why you’re lucky to have them in your life.

“I’m so honest that I’m your true friend” is their catchphrase.

Honesty isn’t the same as outright hurting someone’s feelings, though. So cut the crap.

The place where most of us, including me, falter is that we think it’s not right to leave a toxic relationship. This is natural because inherently, we’re all good people and we don’t want others to suffer at our cost. And a lot of times, we just continue putting up with their bullshit because we think we owe them something.

But you have to realize that waiting for things to get out of hand is extremely dangerous and perilous for you.

Take it from someone who made this mistake – don’t be a good person for once. If the relationship is harming you in any way – big or small – just leave.

I put up with my toxic friend for years until I finally decided it was getting too much for me. I made a huge mistake there because I allowed myself to be manipulated into believing that I needed her more than she needed me. I had become dependent on her and I always tried convincing myself that she wasn’t that bad. When in fact – she was.

I thought a toxic friendship would be more intense, more outright harmful. I thought I was simply over thinking it because nobody around me had pointed out the fact that she was toxic.

But you don’t have to believe anyone’s “standards” as to what a toxic relationship is in order to decide whether it’s worth leaving or not. Only you can understand how and when someone truly becomes toxic to you. What might be toxic to you, may not seem so harmful to someone else and vice versa.

So you have to trust your gut, completely, and if you’re uncomfortable in the slightest – leave.

Here’s the real deal – you don’t owe your toxic friends anything – not even basic decency.

If you realize that a person in your life is toxic, you are allowed to ghost the hell out with no explanation whatsoever.

You don’t owe them your time or energy. You don’t have to stay with anyone who doesn’t help you become a better version of yourself. You don’t have to stay with anyone who harms you – even emotionally. Emotional abuse is a reality that most of us ignore under the pressure of being decent human beings.

We should not be expected to put up with misbehavior of toxic people – no matter how close we are to them.

Friends can be toxic, partners can be toxic, family members too can be toxic. You don’t owe them anything. The only person you owe something to – is yourself.

You owe yourself a good, fulfilled life, that you are happy living. 

That life doesn’t include toxic people.

Love Life Stories

I always thought I was strong enough to survive on my own, but I was completely wrong

All this time, I believed I was a strong woman. Strong enough to survive on my own.

I’ve learned that life isn’t always a bowl of fresh cherries, sometimes we find rotten and moldy ones. Life is full of happiness, along with pain, heartbreak, and failures. And I managed to recover from all those moments of difficulties. It was tough, but I bounced back like a superball once I overcame them all. I even called myself a ‘comeback queen’, believing that I could handle anything that was coming.

A major source of strength came from the inspirational, motivational and self-help books I’ve been reading since I was 13. My encouragement came from the positive quotes I put on my vision board. I thought I knew how to handle anything, and even if I didn’t, I always pretended I did.

I started my first year of college with eagerness and determination. I made many new friends and people came to know me as a positive and wise woman. A lot of them asked for advice from me and I was more than happy to help them. It gave me great satisfaction to see them gain their strength back after listening to my counsel and guidance.

I had some life crises too, but I never told anyone about how I felt. I had friends, but I never went to them to pour my heart out or when I needed a shoulder to cry on. I never told anyone what was really inside my head. I believed I was strong enough and I could handle everything on my own.

Some people knew about difficulties I faced, but I refused their help and always told them, “I’m fine.” I pushed them all away because I help people, not the other way around.

That was how I wanted it to be.

I thought this showed how strong I was.

But soon I was proven wrong.

He was one of my friends in college. Of all my friends, there was someone different about him. He was the person I was most comfortable with. I had a lot of friends, but they weren’t close friends. Even in high school, people were friendly with me, but there were no real friendships.

Our friendship was different, and little did I know, he was better at helping people than me. He could always sense if I had a problem or something was troubling me. Unlike others, he didn’t offer to help right away.

He let me try to figure everything out by myself.

One day, he asked me to sit with him where there was no one around, and he told me he’d figured me out.

He told me he could see that I was unhappy the whole time. He could see that I kept all my emotions bottled up inside me, all the pain, misery and disappointment. He could see that I faked it all the time. My happiness, my smile, and my laughs, were all a facade.

When he was done talking, I couldn’t help but cry.

It was the first time in years that I’d cried in front of someone. I just sat there, sobbing for God knows how long. He didn’t say anything. He just kept quiet, waiting for me until I was done.

I told him everything after I stopped crying. Everything that happened to me, all the issues I’d faced in the past few years. It took hours for me to finish telling him the story of my life and he just patiently listened. It felt good to have someone to listen. My shoulders felt lighter as if the weight of the world has been lifted off from them. All this time, I’d been carrying a burden and I didn’t realize it.

This time, I didn’t refuse his help.

We’ve been best friends ever since. I’ve realized that I never really a best friend. I never opened up to people, instead, I shoved them away so they couldn’t see my vulnerability, so no one could get close to me.

I’ve missed out on real friendship. But not anymore.

I started opening up more, not just with him but will all my friends. Putting my trust in them made me feel more connected. It was time to take off my armor and start embracing everything that I feared in my life. Fear was what motivated me, not strength.

I also realized that strength isn’t always about fighting – sometimes it’s about letting go. That’s why sharing what’s inside our heart and mind is helpful. A problem shared is a problem halved.

I understand now that seeking help is not the sign of weakness, in fact, it’s the opposite.