Its All Made Up

imagination_by_akiraalion-dawk529.jpgWe always hear about the ideal man or woman, and why shouldn’t we? The ideal individual has everything to produce a long healthy relationship with very minor flaws that could cause issues. Now, this ideal man or woman has a degree, is family oriented and has a high paying job. In simpler terms, they have the right tools that can help two people grow in many aspects.

What do I look for? Well, exactly what an ideal woman should have. A degree, a career, family oriented and someone who can be my best friend; and I found just that last year. Yet, I realized I wasn’t happy with those qualities alone because they didn’t excite who I really am from the inside. Do I really care about what research lab you are working in? Honestly, I don’t. Do I really care that you are on the road to a six-figure job? I actually don’t. What I actually long and care for is someone with depth — the ability to make me laugh, someone who knows when to be serious and someone who I can vibe with on every level, not just the levels I have made up in my mind.

What I realized through my personal situation is that we as humans have made up someone in our mind that we see ourselves with. So naturally our list of people on our radar is very small. What about the people who don’t quit meet your “qualifications”? Now, I’m not saying lower your standards, but maybe try someone who you wouldn’t usually give a chance to. There’s no equation in this world that can help you find the right partner, but don’t shorten your own list with made up things that are highly unlikely or impossible (such as one of my friends who wants a 6 foot 4 inch man, works in IT, loves animals and is a gym rat). I’m not saying that doesn’t exist, but shit, that’s very particular. You aren’t baking cake guys, you’re trying to find someone you can connect with.

What’s your ideal man or woman? What qualities do you hold important and what can you sacrifice? Next time you bump into someone, ask yourself one thing: does this person meet the qualities I have made up in my mind or do they truly excite all of my senses from the inside out? Nobody is perfect and nothing in the world will be 100% to your liking, but you have to learn to love it.

Knives Dipped in Honey

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I have sat away from my computer for a few weeks now: thinking what can I write about now? What new approach can I take on these topics I have been talking about? After many weeks I have come to realize that the most pain caused is not by an intimate partner, yet the ones who are closest to you in other ways. It’s the ones who laugh with you, break bread with you, and are apparently understanding of all your pains. In Urdu we call these people “Mithi churiyaan” which literally translates to “sweet knives.” These people will become really close to you and harm you when you least expect it.

I read a quote a while ago on the back of a car and it always stuck in my mind: “The higher you go, the lonelier you get.” Reaching new heights can be anything. For example, getting a degree, landing your dream job, falling in love and getting married. It can be anything that can help you start a new chapter in your life. The sad reality is that this new story often sets you apart from the people who you consider to be close. I remember when I got into university I lost a few high school friends because our mentalities and life goals didn’t always match. When I graduated I lost people because we went towards different goals and passions.

So what do you do when you’ve known someone your entire life who isn’t happy for you? What do you do when someone you’ve held so high is waiting for every opportunity to see you fall? What I have come to learn is to be lowkey and not tell everyone about where I am and where I am going in life. With time, the people around me will find out the things they need to know. It’s not a beauty pageant, it’s my life and it’s truly nobody’s business where I am. At first this transition was very difficult, but now I rarely let anyone into my intimate circle. Call it trust issues, but I’d rather be alone instead of being surrounded by people who will find any excuse to cut my wings. It’s always the ones closest to you. It’s always the one who you thought had your back, but it turns out they were just knives dipped in honey.

Give and Take

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“The energy you put into the world is the energy you will get back.”

While I was growing up I had a hard time accepting others who were doing better than me in life; whether it was school, how they dressed and especially those who were doing the things they loved. Others being happy made me very uncomfortable and it made me put this fake cocky mask on to feel better about myself. A few years ago my energy was too negative and because of this energy I pushed away so many people and presented the wrong version of myself to others.

     My cockiness didn’t provide me comfort when I wasn’t included into plans with friends or when I wanted to do things with others. My words would often be hurtful and stung the people around me. I was the guy that would find a way to rain on someone’s day because if I can’t have it, nobody can. The further I went down this road the more internal damage I took along the way. Saying I was sad is an understatement, but I knew I had to work on this internal issue because I was pushing away positive people who could teach me a thing or two.

     After much thought I realized my internal issue is not being happy with where I am in life. So my easiest way to get rid of the internal guilt was by blaming everything and everyone around me, but myself.

     After much trial and error I became a magnet for the people around me. I became confident enough to do the things I love to do. Since I started following my own dreams I became confident enough to not let someone else’s success make my personal accolades fall short. I started tasting success when I graduated from my university because I realized I am a different individual and I have a lot of talent to give to the world. Which is why, when someone around me succeeded even if it was more than me I felt internal happiness for them. If someone needed to vent or needed a shoulder I became just that for them. A few years ago I was negative so what I got back was negativity and now I promote love, care, positivity and growth. I swear those exact same things are being thrown right back at me and I can’t express the happiness I feel nowadays. This didn’t happen overnight and to be honest I didn’t realize that the change happened until this morning when I was reflecting on my life. Every morning we are blessed with a new day to start something new, to try new things, to be better than we were yesterday. So the choice is yours, what will you throw at life today, but be careful because that’s what you will get back.

1 Year Later

depression“Dhoor ke dhol suhaane lagthe hai”

which means the sounds of the drums from a distance sound amazing.

I’ve never been the one to put my problems on a silver platter to share with people. Yet, I always laugh to myself when people assume I have a perfect life. What I put out on social media and show to my friends is perfect, but nothing is truly perfect.

I’m constantly praised about how well I dress and how popular I am and then those same people follow up that statement with, “you wouldn’t even know what having a hard life is about.” Clothes, a nice car and friends are nice, but people can struggle in other ways as well. Even with the nice clothes and all these friends, I went through the darkest alleys all alone because I wasn’t happy about a lot of things. I would often look over at others with envy because I wanted to have the smaller things in life that I could never attain.

I’ve been on this hunt since 2015 to find true internal happiness in this thing called zindaagi (life). I met so many people, bought tons of things, but the happiness wasn’t everlasting. At one point or another I always seemed to be down; was it depression or just a boring life? I don’t know.

2015-2017 have been the toughest years for me on so many different levels. I lost my 3 year girlfriend in early 2016. Then May of 2016 I graduated with my bachelors of arts in psychology, but realized this is not what I want to do in life. Then in June of 2016 I found out I got accepted into a master’s program in NYC for speech pathology, but realized 3 months into it that I absolutely hate it. Then 2017 brought many life changing events that were beyond difficult. Back in 2016 I didn’t realize what was wrong with me or why I felt so down — maybe it was my recent break up, or maybe I just didn’t seem to have anything figured out. Then by late 2016 I was having such a lack of emotion with everything that I couldn’t ignore it and knew I had a problem.

Even with me accepting I had a problem, I snapped 2 weeks before my graduation and for some odd reason I decided to take pills. Not enough to end it, but enough to cry out for help, for someone to listen to me. I took the pills and I was expecting to pass out, but I didn’t. I just got very drowsy, but in fear I made myself throw up. Then I called my best friend and cried to him and told him something is wrong with me and I need help.

15 minutes later he came rushing to my house, put me in his car and made sure I was okay. Then he made me drink water to flush out my system, just in case. Once he saw I was okay he pulled over to the side of the road and literally beat me up. I will never forget what he said to me that night: “You selfish piece of shit, how the fuck you gonna do such a stupid thing? How are you only going to think about yourself and not for once think how much everyone loves you?” Instantly I cracked a little and started crying because I was selfish, I was only thinking about myself but in that moment, I was so clouded I didn’t know what to do.

I was ashamed at what I had done and even mind boggled that I got to that point. To this day I have never told my parents. The handful of people I did tell were an amazing support group that helped picked me up. Then with mild therapy, I was able to let that cloudy feeling go that always hovered above me. I had a degree in psychology, but I ignored my own signs of depression. I had a huge family, but not one person saw the lack of emotion and happiness in my life. I blamed everyone at first, but it’s nobody’s fault. Depression is thought to affect people with lower self esteem. Whereas I was super extroverted — I danced on several bhangra teams, loved being on top of all men’s fashion and new hairstyles, yet I broke.

Depression doesn’t look at your gender, race, social class and age; it happens because your own thoughts eat you up. You never feel good enough about yourself, you always feel like it’s an uphill battle and you will never be liked by anyone. Let that sink in for a moment? I had friends, I partied, loved looking good, but I was depressed?

My birthday is this Wednesday and it’s been a year now since I have overcome my depression. Within this year things haven’t gotten better, but I just changed my perspective on things. Within this year I realized that “Khushi cheezon se nehi, rishtoon se baanthi hai” (Happiness isn’t attained through materialism, but through relationships). I am also proud to say that through my entire recovery process I never touched any medication besides my daily allergy pills.

While I was going through all of these things I had one thing that always kept me sane and motivated me to stay positive. Luckily I’ve been able to reach a very large audience through my blogs and the love I get now used to seem so far fetched at one point. So when you guys take out a few minutes to message me about how much you loved my blogs, it means the world to me. Everyone who has messaged me, emailed me or even read my blogs helped make my dream a reality and pull me out of this sink hole I was so far into.

Ever since I pulled myself out of this hole I have been called “cocky”, “arrogant” and many other things. It’s not cockiness or arrogance, it’s pure confidence because I walked one of the darkest roads by myself. I completely broke from within and built myself back up to be a strong person. 1 year strong and many more years of good blogs and happiness are on its way.

Now this blog was probably the hardest piece I have written because it is so personal. I just want to remind you that this post is not a way for people to be on my side or feel bad for me. It’s not a way to show off my strength, but rather it’s a way to spread awareness. Depression is a very real thing, it’s not just long term sadness. So when a friend reaches out to you do not be dismissive, hear them out and help them.

When you come across someone who seems to have a perfect life, take a step back and think about how much they are showing you.

Therapy

IMG_1429About 3 months ago I partially tore my Achilles and went through excruciating pain. The process of being on a boot, crutches and painkillers was an unfamiliar road for me, but I “manned up” and got through it. Now, in my head when I got off the boot 3 weeks ago, I figured this is it — I can start running around and going to the gym again. Instead, my doctor signed me up for physical therapy for 3 months and showed me exercises to do at home. I was bummed and frustrated because I wanted to be done with this seemingly never ending process, but something clicked within me which made it easier.

Two years ago I was madly in love with someone but it quickly turned into something toxic. No matter how bad the fights or arguments got, both of us would find some stupid excuse to hold on.  Maybe we were hoping that something would change so we didn’t fight, disagree, or find each other annoying. It soon became a vicious cycle because the same arguments happened, and truth be told at one point all respect for each other was gone. Due to many other reasons, our relationship slowly burned to the ground and I had to learn to live without my best friend. Now after everything turned south, I wanted to go running back to her because she was my home. I felt safe with her because she was the only person I’d ever clicked with, but I had to move forward.

I told myself to move on but everything was a constant reminder about the times we’d shared.  Every place was linked to a memory, and hearing anything close to her voice or name would trigger a mini anxiety attack. In my mind the logical thing to do was just find someone else, which I did, but I didn’t give myself enough time to come to terms with my internal sadness. I kind of rushed through the sad part and jumped into the next best thing, and when the girl wanted something serious I would run — not because something was wrong with them, but because I was scared to go through that again. In my mind, I believed something would happen and I’d suffer all over again.

That was until my Achilles tendon tore and I realized that us humans also need “emotional therapy” for something devastating that happens. Even with my injury I pictured myself getting out of the boot and start running right that moment, but that’s not how things work. Whether it’s a break-up or a physical injury, it will take time. If you try to pick up where you left off you will only inflict more pain on yourself and unconsciously to someone else.

Concrete Roads

Broken Concrete Wall

“Jab dard mein yaar na ho”

Life has its mysterious ways of showing you the top of the mountain and then suddenly dropping you to the bottom. That drop from the mountain is usually painful, lonely and causes a major shift in your character.

For a few weeks now i’ve been noticing this sudden drop in my emotions. I don’t laugh and I don’t feel pain as much. For me to let any emotions “out” I have to watch something super sad or listen to some sappy Bollywood songs. This feeling within is like a concrete layering over every single emotion in the world. What I do know is that this is not healthy and as much as I want to blame life, some of the blame goes on me.

My biggest flaw is not reacting the right way when I have the time. For example, if a death happens in the family, I probably wouldn’t cry. Instead I would hold it in for 3-4 weeks and then drown in my own emotions. For some odd reason I feel like i have to be strong for everyone, but in the end I am the one suffering without a shoulder to lean on. The best way to explain this emotion of suffering is like putting a 50 pound bag of concrete on your chest. It’s constantly there but I have no where to drop this bag of concrete, so I end up feeling mentally and physically exhausted. I just want to get up and toss this damn bag of concrete somewhere, but the question remains, where? I need a break and just want to go somewhere where It’s quiet around me and in my mind.

I’m on a road that is making me go in circles through very noisy and cluttered places. Sadly, I have to travel on this road alone because nobody else will take out the time to understand my journey or ask me how I am doing. The reality is jab dard mein yaar na ho then why would anyone else help? Its my pain and whether I have to cry it out or laugh it out, I will. Being a man has nothing to do with how much you cry but rather understanding your own emotions. It’s about climbing back up to that mountain that you fell from, but this time around you will have a few battle scars that made you stronger in the process.

 

The Blossom Effect

 

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“I blossomed before you and you stopped growing as a whole”

Mistakes of all forms happen and heartaches happen at different magnitudes, but Imagine hearing that from the person you were supposed to marry. I always remember telling her she is my sidekick, my day 1 and wife. We weren’t married and just had the title of boyfriend and girlfriend, but I wanted to do everything with her. Not that I was unable to do it alone, but simply because her being with me, made everything better. There was not a snapchat she didn’t send my way that I didn’t take a screenshot of. There was not a dinner where I didn’t sneak a picture of her. There wasn’t much I didn’t take a picture of because I wanted to hold those memories. Unfortunately, through the process I lost touch with me and my world became her happiness. So naturally, I stopped growing from the inside out. Yes, I figured out my style of clothing and starting smiling more, but that was really about it. Whereas now when I look back at the pictures I can tell the exact moment in time where she lost touch with me. I can tell the exact moment in time where she blossomed and I was the same guy she met. Maybe it’s good thing or maybe it’s a bad thing, i have no idea how to feel about it. I have just come to accept the fact that she blossomed before me.

The unfortunate thing about toxic relationships is it leaves its scars on you permanently. You can move on, you can grow and be different but something about that toxicity, stays with you. The easy way is to blame her, but as a man I have to admit both of us together just didn’t work. I had to swallow my pride and accept the fact that I didn’t do enough to keep her around. I simply became boring and stagnant.

The first year was difficult in all forms because I had to adjust myself to doing things alone. I had to be okay with her doing her own thing or with friends, instead of me. I had to face the truth of me being the same guy as the first day she met. I had not grown in any way, so I really had two options? one , I could drown in my own pain and sorrow(which I was already doing). Two, I could start a new chapter in my life and never hear this ever again.

It’s been two-three years now and those words ring in my ear whenever I relax. Those words help wake me up at 5 am to start the day with pedal to the metal. I have taken out the word tired from my dictionary. I have stopped with relying on others to join me on adventures, if anything I love my alone time. I probably have grown the most this year than ever before because 90% of things I have done all alone.

I was sitting with my father one day and he told me a story about an eagle that wouldn’t fly. The eagle would just sit on a tree branch all day even though it had the ability to fly. The owner then decided to cut off the entire branch and the eagle immediately started to fly. Just as this eagle I was meant to soar but she was my branch and my comfort zone. I held on to her for dear life  because I was too scared to fly and now that I am soaring, I only want to go higher. I only want to try new things and be the best version of myself. If you are in this predicament, i’m telling you, cut off that branch. You can love someone without limits but the day you become stagnant and stay in your comfort zone is the day you will hear what I did. I promise you. The day you start doing things alone, is the day new doors will open for you.

Thank You Guys!

 

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This post is for all of my day one followers, readers and daily visitors on my first blog. I hated you guys when I started because I would receive such harsh words. I hated you guys because I would get 1 view a week, if that. At that moment I figured I have no future so I decided to quit and walk away, which I did. Then 6 months later I realized I’m not a good writer, so I had two options. One, quit and never look back at this idea of blogging or keep practicing until I become better than ever before. So for 6 months I went on hundreds and hundreds of blogs to see what they have. All I did was study my competition and practiced different types of writing. After that 6 month period I made a brand new blog called www.kirfanlive.com under wordpress. This website is my baby, my first love and as we say in urdu my jaan(life). I found my voice here and slowly I figured out my topic of interest in writing. I remember being scared to share my blog or tell my friends because that fear of rejection was still within me. That fear of failure smacking me in the face made me shy and my writing weak. Eventually other bloggers reached out to me and told me they loved my first story about a girl named “Anjali”. That was the push I needed and I started mass sharing my blog. I started waking up to texts of how good my writing is and how much they love this new piece.

April 12th, 2015 I got a notification from wordpress that I got 55 views, I was ecstatic! It was the highest amount of traffic I ever got onto my blog. I felt on top of the world and I was telling everyone how many views I got! I wanted to become even bigger and better  so I decided to make a new website, which would be a platform for artists of all forms to display their work under my label. With no other choice I had to change my first blogs name to www.kirfanspeaks.com and the websites name to www.kirfanlive.com . I eventually signed a writer, poet and two photographers to my brand name, who do not only put out amazing pieces but also promote my writing.

October 23rd, 2016 I got another notification from wordpress, stating that I am averaging 41 views an hour! A few days later I found out that my website is pulling in 600 views on a monthly basis which is split between my personal blog, guest blogs, and men’s fashion!

I am nowhere near the top and I have a long road ahead of me. Regardless, I love all of my kirfanlive followers. You guys have been nothing less than amazing! Seriously, I want to thank everyone on twitter who tweet out my links and keep supporting my journey! Some of you guys made my logos, spread the word and continuously motivated me. Others have messaged me to let me know something I said has helped them in some way. I promise I read all of the emails, texts and messages but sometimes I am unable to reply to everyone. I promise I read everything and everything you guys send my way holds a very special place in my heart and keeps me motivated! Today we are over 500 strong and I promise our family will only get bigger and better! On that note,my dream is becoming a reality because of all of you and I am working hard to bring you guys original content. What started out as writing transformed into a place where you can find art, photography and men’s fashion. Not to forget Kirfanlive poetry and Kirfanlive womens fashion are also dropping soon! Thank you for the love and support! If you havent already please visit www.kirfanlive.com then go to www.kirfanspeaks.com and click follow!

Are you mad I lied?

            “Are you mad that I lied or because you realized who I actually am deep down inside?”

I told them this because I was tired of hiding behind the mask of something I was not. I was tired of pretending to be happy about shit that didn’t mean anything to me. The crazy thing is how I knew from a very young age I’m different like really different from my family and relatives. Yet I still pretended everyday and tried to fit in and see the world as my family did but I couldn’t. I come from a family where education is huge. Naturally I felt I had to become a doctor or businessman to make them happy. I even went to college but struggled to sit through lectures and getting good grades but in the end with hard work I got my psychology degree. I even got into a masters program for the fall 2017 semester but I was dry and empty from the inside. I had so much accomplished but so much was missing.

Fast forward to present time and I have a year left before my masters program starts. Currently I am taking care of the family business because after all “I will have to take care of it in the future”. I sucked at every task when I started but at this point “I’m running it better than most professionals”

            “I bet you love the business huh? You are a natural and pretty soon you will be running everything!”

My stomach sank to this but I couldn’t speak up, I just smiled back and nodded with agreement. I think years of just being quiet and agreeing was slowing boiling within me because I just wanted them to see my perspective sometimes.

            “Kay we are so proud of you for learning everything so fast and maintaining a high standard for our family business”

Once again another smile or smirk was given and once again I stayed quiet because If this was the way to make them proud then why not? That was until I said, “NO please stop”. The entire room froze in standstill and they asked me 50 questions as to what happened.

“I don’t want to do this for the rest of my life, I don’t want to live out your dreams”. “If anything I will run one part or one area but I can’t and I won’t run a business forever because it’s not me man”. At this point I couldn’t turn back and fix what I said so I kept talking. “I want to be a writer and I want to write for a magazine or work for a creative outlet”.

This time it was silence but it was able to say the most

The next day during breakfast they tried to reason with me and explain to me why business is the best option. I agreed with so much they said but I wanted to try and see where writing would take me. I could see some disappointment on their faces but I realized I had to reach my dreams and my goals because I have no doubt in my mind I can reach them.

“Mom…..Dad, “Are you mad that I lied about liking the same things as you or because you realized who I actually am deep down inside?”

            I sat quietly when I heard my dad clear his throat and I saw a smile on his face. Then he said, “You better start studying for your GRE because you need to go apply for a journalism program”

I quickly called the speech pathology masters program and told them “Thanks but no thanks”. I didn’t cry or anything I just had a lot of allergies that day because I was finally running after something that made me who I am.