Sweet land of liberty…?

The long stretch of Spring marked by hunger pangs and tongues dry as cacti lounging in our mouths came to a close on Saturday night. Thirty days of Ramadan culminated last weekend with the celebration of Eid-al-fitr, a day that, fittingly, is observed by stuffing yourself with as much food and delicacies as possible in the span of 24 hours.

Surprisingly, Muslims worldwide were able to settle on observing the holiday on the same day without too many arguments breaking out on a global scale. All five boroughs in NYC marked their calendars for Sunday, with public school children enjoying the following day off as well. I myself participated in last minute Chaand Raat festivities, opting to line the back of my hand with traditional henna patterns.

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Mine wasn’t nearly as intricate.

But Muslims can’t catch a break for longer than a week, so it seems. The days leading up to and following Eid were inundated with a string of grim occurrences worldwide targeting Muslims.

  1. The murder of 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen in an apparent road rage incident.
  2. A van crashing into a street full of Muslims after prayers in London.
  3. Reinstating Trump’s travel ban, with odd caveats–as the New York Times so aptly put it, “Stepsister, yes: Grandma, no.
  4. Acid attacks against young Muslims in London–the severity of the event notwithstanding, please note the Metro’s notable URL tags in their coverage.

As it goes, the rhetoric that tends to follow aligns with outrage, followed by a slew of blogs and news articles examining, over-examining, condemning, or defending the events.

The quiet.

And then the period of discomfort and unrest, before yet another incident occurs.

Despite all statistics highlighting the fact that crime rates are at its lowest point ever, it sure doesn’t seem that way for targeted groups. Disasters may seem exaggerated by way of social media, but the upside is its influence in making people more woke

Filter out the facts from all the noise.

 

 

30 days in 3 hours.

The word of the day: grateful.

The experience in feeding the hungry when you’re fasting during Ramadan is extremely humbling, to say the least.

A few coworkers and I gathered at the Holy Apostles Church this morning to serve a meal to hundreds of New Yorkers from all walks of life.

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I was assigned bussing duty, a task that allowed me to stretch my legs and pass the time more quickly. I hovered around tables 14 through 16, watching visitors like hawks so that the second anyone rose to leave, I’d dash over to their seat and wipe down the area for the next person. (May have taken my job a little too seriously.)

In these few hours, I’ve come across some of the kindest and most appreciative people. I know, I know–this story reads as super cliche. Girl who has always had a roof over her head and a hot meal to eat goes to soup kitchen, meets people who know the real meaning of hunger, feels slap from reality.

The thing is, it’s not that I’m not appreciative of the things I have. But running about today with my tummy rumbling and helping hundreds today led to an epiphany of sorts.

I realized that regardless of the purpose of fasting, the fact that abstaining from eating or drinking for myself and everyone that I know is ultimately a choice–because sunrise or sunset, sustenance is readily available to us at all times.

The lessons of Ramadan were encapsulated this morning.

As the great Kendrick Lamar has said, “be humble.”

 

 

Tizzed out on a Tuesday.

I don’t know about you, but I’m the type of person that needs caffeine in order to achieve any sort of productivity.

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Roll your eyes if you must, but it’s true. Whether it’s a trick of the mind or not is up for debate, but I’ll divulge a secret–I drink decaf too. My body’s dependency on a hot cup of anything, really, is key here.

Now, with the start of Ramadan this past weekend, you see the issue here: no more daytime caffeine breaks for poor Tania. As logic dictates, that must mean the productivity rate sees a sharp decline.

Well…yes, yes it does.

The problem at hand should be apparent–it’s not possible for a working, professional adult to remain in a slump for 30 days without detriment. Actively working in your career, striving towards your goals and staying fit for a month without any sort of sustenance during the day, as well as a now-dysfunctional sleep schedule, is difficult, to say the least.

How to get around it? In the last 30 seconds since starting this post, I’ve devised a solution: FAST.

Find ways to occupy your day.

Always keep the bigger picture in mind.

SLEEP as long as you can.*

TIME is of the essence.

As a 24-year-old early in her career and in the midst of a serious existential crisis, all of the above serves as a testament to the ideas that I try to hold true.

Time is truly of the essence in all respects, Ramadan or not. It is a crucial step towards success to keep that in mind (stop keeping that internal countdown.) There will always be some sort of obstacle on the road, but the key is to stop using it as a reason for procrastination.

Lesson being: there is no true reason to a decline in productivity. These are all excuses in disguise.

*technically this is cheating, proceed with caution.

Life Pro Tips: On Taking Risks.

Here’s the thing: in the year 2017, reaching the the ripe old age of 24 feels like the end of the world. In your mid-twenties, having been exposed to the seemingly endless list of accomplishments the Mark Zuckerbergs and Evan Spiegals of the world, you are convinced that you’ve reached the peak of your youth and capabilities.

The crippling self-doubt that often permeates the thoughts of my mind and many others I’m sure, the insecurity and lack of accomplishments, the already sky-high stack of problems on my plate too often serves as a self-fulfilling prophecy leading to failure, because you’ve already convinced yourself that you can’t do it before actually trying.

If you find yourself teetering on the edge of an enormous decision, it is because there is always a nagging voice in the corner of your mind reminding you of the challenges ahead.

Discontent at work and want to quit? Where will you get money? You should have started on this years ago. You should’ve known better than to study liberal arts. You’re too old to get the hang of new skills.

Want to travel far and often? With what money? Why do you get to travel and leave family behind with their problems?

Have passions you want to pursue? Who is going to pay the bills and support family while you do that? You’ll be so behind others in the field. What if investing in this thing doesn’t pay off and you’ve have wasted time, money and have to climb over a mountain of disappointment?

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Anyway, you get an idea of the self-deprecating whirlpool of thoughts that is my inner monologue.

The internet is filled to the brim with motivational quotes,  inspiring videos and articles telling us how to get it moving. But it’s not until you get some sort of proverbial slap in the face that really gets you moving and as cheesy as it sounds, it comes from within.

Yesterday, I came across the Facebook status of a classmate. He was in my debate class in college and one of the most well-spoken and level-headed people I’ve known–during controversial class discussions, he would coolly dismiss arguments with flawless logic and appeared unscathed by provocative comments. This is likely due to his being a top performer on the debate team, but the traits were nonetheless highly admirable.

He discoursed on the topic of risk-taking in a way that resonated with me: here’s a few highlights.

YOU must start re-engineering your brain towards risk.. LOOK, in order to gain courage, you have to start doing activities that require smaller amounts of courage and keep doing different, slightly outside the box activities in order to start moving on to the bigger and, ultimately, more impactful work via risks that will then change your life and those around you.
Most people never take any real risks because they have been engineered and wired not to. You have been conditioned especially because of school and other structural constraints to have a worldview that not only limits the field of what is possible, but also, and more importantly, always dissuades risk tasking and attempting to find meaning/purpose outside of a pre established framework…
But I know one thing, you can’t know without experimenting. Ruthlessly. Relentlessly. Constantly. And it doesn’t even have to be that big the first few times. You don’t have to be unrealistic about it when you first start out…
Risk taking, especially at a smaller level, is the only way to deal with the main reason people don’t ever take risks: fear.

For some, taking a risk comes with a higher price tag than for others. Not everyone can bounce back.

But really, it is all about how to hard-wire your brain to think differently than the way you have become accustomed to, and that means saying no to fear.

It is true that you only have one life to live, and the depth of that notion becomes deeper ingrained with every passing year of passivity, of no action because of fear.

Don’t let the fear of taking risks for its potential repercussions control you.

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As the saying goes, you are a prisoner of your own mind. You must do all that you can to break free of the chains.

This is how I have been striving to accomplish this: small goals. Once you achieve those, you begin to gain the courage and confidence for larger goals until there are no more zero days in your life.

Granted, there will be moments, days and weeks of despair–but as the great Gary V (only half sarcastic here) intimates, the journey is your drive. You gotta love the journey.

Internet Safety 101.

Today we’re going to talk about internet safety, or how to keep your privacy on lock–starting yesterday.

On Wednesday, the House voted to overturn the FCC’s ruling that protected citizens’ rights on the Internet. If it passes, every single American can wave goodbye to privacy for their web activities. This means that every single byte of information you consume–your browsing history, habits, trends, location data, etc–is available for purchase.

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Why is this scary?

With a changing media and web landscape as well as trickier advertising like programmatic on the rise, it means that nearly everything you see will be manipulated and tailored to you. You will no longer hold 100% accountability over everything you do, because ads and copy will be manufactured specifically for you. EVERY piece of information you put out there–think auto logins where you input your SS or home address–is up for grabs.

What steps can you take to protect yourself?

I recommend doing everything in your power. This Medium article is extremely helpful in explaining these measures, such as creating a VPN and using anonymous browsers like Tor to safeguard information like your browsing history. You should also become educated on the FCC’s policies as well as become increasingly hyper-aware of changes like these that are an invasion of the very foundation the nation built itself on and still trumpets: freedom.

STAY WOKE.

Don’t ever become desensitized or numb to these rulings.  Remain alert, and have a safe day.

*ding ding*

A country’s scars revealed, the wounds never healed.

*Opinion piece

In a paradoxical sense, I am at once a skeptic and simultaneously a fan of serendipity. But if the latter exists in its happiest form, then its less-positive counterpart must exist. I don’t believe coincidences are really just that.

That being said, my commute to work this morning was riddled with coincidences. I usually dread the hour-long ride to Midtown in the event that one of the following occurs: train delays, broken escalators, NYPD waiting just inside the station waiting to search frazzled travelers, that one person who stands on the left of the up escalator and prevents the steady stream of commuters from moving forward.

Oddly enough, all of the above happened on this dreary morning of November 9th, one day after the results of the United States election. Minor annoyances yes, but coincidence? Doubtful.

We’ve all heard the news: Donald J. Trump has won the majority of electoral votes and is slated to be the 45th President of the United States. The House and Senate belong to the Republicans. Many in the nation, primarily those along the border of the Northeast and West Coast, in concentrated cities and countless overseas nations are reeling in shock. Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Stanton and other women’s rights leaders are turning over in their graves. The stock future is careening downward fast. Tears are being shed, while fists are triumphantly thrust into the air at the same time.

Our current state of affairs.

What went wrong?

The Democratic party was convinced that we had it in the bag. The Clinton dynasty was set to reign on. We would proudly proclaim our first woman President. The same way Barack Obama paved the way for future black American presidents, so would Hillary for any woman citizen, period.

Last night, all the hope we had set on her platform came crumbling down at the feet of our new president to-be, a remarkably self-centered billionaire who can neither identify with the majority of his voters nor the demographics he has offended and condemned throughout his entire campaign.

So what happened, exactly? It’s not simply the fact that Donald won the election that is causing the uproar, but the fact that every shred of “evidence” pointed against him. Polls, surveys, observations, mainstream media, everyone had  us convinced. I don’t think anyone honestly, truly considered a potential Trump presidency. Sure, he’s the opponent, but his candidacy is too farfetched to ever make it far, we thought. I recall sitting in a waiting room in a Bronx courthouse last summer, waiting to be called for jury duty. Watching open-mouthed as Donald Trump declared his candidacy in a speech inundated with racist and xenophobic insults. Firmly casting away any aspersions that he may one day be the President of the most powerful country in the world.

I think it’s safe to say, given last night’s results: holy fucking shit.

Though it hasn’t quite sunk in yet, we should never be led to fall to our knees. Yes, the results have exhibited a clear message: we are a nation divided. Yugely divided. Why is this the case?

I think the true culprit here is a lack of listening skills on the Democratic part.

When you listen to a friend lament over their problems, are you really listening, or just impatiently waiting your turn to contribute your own problems? The fact that all of our predictions was wrong was a huge slap in the face, but was it such a surprise? Let’s ponder.

Most of us never cared to explore why Donald Trump has so many supporters in the Midwest and other red States to begin with. By simply casting aside these voters as “uneducated, white country bumpkins”, we have pushed a large demographic farther away in our deliberate refusal to understand or even empathize. Truth be told, the average American is severely misinformed or even uninformed on the ins and outs of politics. This passive nature is found in the so-called Southern rednecks and the allegedly sophisticated city dweller alike, so there’s no pointing fingers in this sordid scenario.

This election has been the ugliest in American history, completely transforming the country into adopting an “Us vs. Them” mentality. This is just the tip of the iceberg, friends. It is the bitter truth that Trump will be taking on the presidency, but as soon as the reality sinks in, we have to be ready to mobilize.

Mobilize. This isn’t a call to war, to condemn Republicans in the way that many of the party has condemned the Democratic party and Obama the past 8 years. It means that being a social media warrior and sharing memes and bemoaning the fact that Trump is poised to be the leader of the free world will not do anything to abet the current situation. We must learn to fully educate ourselves on how to effectively create change, not riot and bitch about what has happened.

What does this mean for the future of this country?

As my mother, a working class immigrant mother of three who shares one of countless stories of the immigrant diaspora who sought the United States to create a better life for children than the one they had lived–or, you know, Trump’s target demographic of people who are destroying this country–had said to me on the phone a few moments ago, “We can only wait and see.”

This much is true, for now. It hasn’t even been twenty-fours since the news was announced, so we Democrats will be sitting shiva for a few days now. Countless publications are steeling themselves and trumpeting their disbelief at the outcome of this election.

We the people–black, white, Asian, Latino, gay or straight or trans or veteran or disabled, anything and everything in between–must show courage in the face of unprecedented strife.

But for the rest of the day, I will weep together with the New York City sky.