♢❣ A Year in Review ❣♢

Since my inevitable institutionalisation with school, my year begins in September and ends in June and NYE in the middle is like "woo time to celebrate real time!" But in terms of my year, a lot has happened since last June and I thought I might as well document this last year in a master post of little snapshots of things for the sake of pre-emptive nostalgia. Yes, I am a living breathing cliché.

Summer 2014 Turkey // Morocco

 Battle of the Bands

 My Last MUN Conference 

Photoshoot Assistance w/my genius photographer buddy Kareem

The Color Run

New Year's w/the babe

First Concert // Ed Sheeran (ft. cool kid drives)

 It's very nice to do this every once in a while because I've been getting carried away with daily routine and not paying much attention to the lovely times I've had and especially recently, having watched the 2015 Leavers, I want to make the best of whatever time I've got left here with these people in this little place before I'm onto the next stage and everything is shaken up and refreshed and new. It's always a good time to reflect around now because I'm on a limbo between my final exam being on Monday and going off for summer in mid-July so I want to just get my shit together, do things I want to do now that I have a lot of free time and just enjoy it while I'm here and it's easy and simple. I don't know, this has been my therapeutic pick me up post  

Questioning Desire and 18hood

I wrote something the other day and a little part of it I especially loved and reminded me of this playlist I made a while ago:

"We didn't notice but felt the sunset happen outside the huge windows, as everything got darker and more honest. Suddenly we were shadows and fingertips and messy hair and warm chests and carefree hands held and warm breath. I guess it's just a hotel room thing, everything feels distant and nothing else is real, at least for a while."

This is quite an old playlist of mine but I'm incredibly happy with the selection and realised I hadn't shared it on here yet because I've been incredibly busy with AS exams and pretending to be reading the text I'm supposed to have read for my English exam today however it's June which means I'm about to have a lot of time in my hands for free use and I'm at that little transition stage where I don't quite know what to do with my life and I think about how vacant I am while multitasking a show and 3 tabs of tumblr, psychology research and personal statement drafts yet getting the bare minimum done. Oops. 

It's been 2(ish) months since I last wrote anything on here even though I've got at least 4 drafts just sitting there, tantalizing me everytime I open up my posts tab which is a lot more stressful than it sounds. So I got rid of them. Which I probably shouldn't have. But I have been writing or at least trying to silence my inner, rather harsh editor. I can't seem to write anything that sounds mildly decent and every scene I set is a downright cliche so I thought you know what? Don't force it. Let yourself just get into the vibe, write a bunch of nonsense and eventually when you're in the flow it'll all clarify. So that's what I did and I ended up with a mega block of title-less text. Progress?

I've had a bunch of fun little exciting things happen over the past while. For one, I got to see Ed Sheeran live, which also happened to be my first concert ever and I feel very lucky that I got to share it with very lovely people. 

The best friend who also shows up on my other playlist's cover art and my other artsy photoshooty posts also turned 18 recently. Holy shit we're getting old. Well, The Expat Experience couldn't have been complete without a polaroid so technically we're just keeping traditions alive. It's for the sake of culture.

Speaking of 18hood, I've got 6 months to go till I'm on that fun bus of joy and driving and to be completely honest it's very exciting and exhilarating all at once. I can't seem to get in touch with my inner feelings about all this and everything in my brain seems to process very superficially almost to maintain distance with whatever things are going on in there and it's been frustrating because I know I'm thinking too much all at once which makes my brain auto-shut down. I feel like I'm supposed to be doing a lot at the moment; figuring out what field I specifically want to get into, writing a personal statement, keeping my interests alive, w r i t i n g but none of it seems to be getting done and that frustrates me. This always happens every June, because everything is finished and I feel like without any solid deadlines to work towards, everything is flying in the air and I can't keep it under control and that makes me uncomfortable.

I guess writing about it and then posting it to the 1-2 people out there makes me feel like I should do something about it and stop whining. But wahey, whining is my way of processing things in word form and until I figure out a more effective alternative, this is all I've got. Besides, I've only got 6 more months of permissive whining, so let me have my moment.

Tomorrow I will write for a solid hour without any distractions or attempts to do more than one thing at a time. For once, mind, pick a single track.

Incoherent (and Debatably Useless) Verbal Vomit

I've tried mentioning this anecdote from school this morning but everytime I write a sentence, I feel like I'm writing a diary entry and Command-A delete everything, so here I am putting it off and in essence, going nowhere. Okay. It's junior year, I say as I go to a British school and live in the Middle East with no true American exposure with the exception, of course, of the raging media. But anyways, this is my first year of studying psychology after having been interested in for as long as I can remember. I've always been set on wanting to get into journalism because writing things and making films and getting the opportunity to travel and experience things as a means of sustenance, but a week before the start of this academic year, I decided to swap media for biology because after research-filled all-nighters I decided psychology is what I wanted to do and at this point in time, in order for me to be able to do what I want, I need the means by which to pursue that at university. So I went for it and it worked. I'm not one for last minute decisions, in fact I've been thinking about what I want to do at A-Level for so long now that I didn't even hesitate when I realised something has stolen the spotlight from what I've always imagined myself doing.

The thing with living and associating with this particular community at my school is that they all have very high standards. The kind of high standards that slowly build up a fixation on "academic excellence". Essentially, everyone around here could fall under the heading of "Overachievers". And there's nothing wrong with that if that's how you roll, I suppose, but being an absolute perfectionist to the core the last thing I need is people approaching my accomplishments by the same manner that they'd approach someone who does not really put their heart and soul into everything they do. I'm not about to whine about things, like I usually end up doing. Actually, forget that, if I have to censor myself here then what even is the point??? I know it's 99.9% my fault for biting off a whole lot more than I can chew. This is basically like downing a foot-long subway sandwich after having a more than sufficient 3-course meal. You're getting so much satisfaction from all that goddamn food that you just can't stop and let's be real, that most definitely is an accomplishment. Okay I'm sorry that was poor comparison skills. It's 11:20 pm on a school night, you have no right to judge my literary decisions. 

b u t     a n y w a y s 

My point is, my "form tutor" - Mr. S - who also happens to be my psychology teacher (and a "chartered psychologist" if you will (or if you won't, it's not really up to you lol sorry)) asked the class what's one thing we've learned since September, wether it be academic or non-academic and aside from the typical answers of "wow I can now use a binder and since I put in those shiny labelled dividers, i've been acing every single subject" (which, granted, are very valid if it's working out for y'all), there were so many little "valuable life lessons" that Mr. S had shared with us in our 25 minutes every morning and out of those, many have actually sunk in and encouraged me to reflect on my own actions and thought processes. To be honest, I never thought I could be any more self aware than I already was but when something I could improve on is brought to my attention, I physically can't ignore it. And it's hilarious because he, himself, has told me to not burn myself out because I do tend to take on more than I can handle, but by actually taking more brain power to process my actions and thought processes and how they were affecting my well being, I was once again taking on more than I can handle.

Wow, I'm a mess. And this is me at seventeen. How will I survive my midlife crisis actually let's not think about that, shall we.

But the reason I've even remembered to write this is due to another one of the little things he's mentioned about passion and doing what you enjoy. He talked about not having the time to do some of the things he used to be very passionate about and how he sees us doing what we're passionate about now and essentially experiences things vicariously through us. The reason this particularly stayed with me is because I've basically internalised this constant fear of growing up and having my "heart die" as the oh-so-eloquent Allison Reynolds from The Breakfast Club put it. I don't want to lose the spark I have for things, the seemingly unlimited supply of energy, patience (although, that supply is quite limited most of the time) and the dedication to a belief or a cause or a feeling or a concept just so rawly and without any frustratingly but realistically limiting inhibitions that come with time. And I'm not planning on tumbling down that steep cliff of a route but what if you can't help it? I mean, I'm adequately realistic, but I like indulging in talking about things and expressing things and getting mad and frustrated and moved by things even if they serve no bigger purpose in the world's big picture. I'm a speck in the grand scheme of things anyways (and that's generous!) , so why can't I enjoy being a happy self-fulfilled speck for as long as I want. 

I know I can do whatever I want to do, and I know I have the confidence in myself to do whatever I want to do, but it's still a little daunting. I have to make decisions that my later life outcomes are based on. I have to think things through before I do them because of how I may feel about them sometime in the future. I have to take everything into consideration from the pride something might make me feel as a means of motivation to bear through it or the guilt something might make me feel if I do it "erratically" I don't know. I feel at a great advantage to have someone bring things that matter up more often because it does take a lot of time and energy to try and squeeze the mental stimulation from my surrounding. I've got a really good friend whom I can discuss things like this with but the fact that we're at the same time of our lives just doubles our speculation and frustration and confusion, whereas an honest insight or a glimpse at outcomes and consequences and aftermaths is something not everyone can offer. I don't even know what I intended this to be about, I just feel so light after I write things down and this has been another incoherent thought process. Sometimes I write things I don't want to and other times I think about things in a quasi-coherent fashion and assume I've written them. 

All in all, I'm not going to read this through before I post it because that's going to make me electronically bin it and I don't want to be stuck in that originality slump again because in the grand scheme of things nothing matters and if nothing matters I can write what I like. Even the voice in my head is tired of my shit right about now and wants to go to bed. I always start off with a million thoughts and end up verbalising the random ones, sometimes leaving out the really hard-to-swallow ones. But to be fair, they always find a way of escaping so you might be enchanted to meet them at some point in the not-so-near-future when I decide to do things more justice by actually verbalising them. 

The Eternal Crisis

Sometimes I struggle to form one coherent sentence encapsulating how I'm feeling and what I'm thinking. It gets to a maddeningly frustrating stage where I feel my brain overheating and nothing makes sense or sounds eloquent or possesses any originality and that drives me insane because I know I have interesting things in my brain but sometimes I just can't seem to put them down. I understand the importance of keeping a personal diary as a form of therapy but I just can't seem to find my consistency with it. In fact, that seems to be the problem with a whole lot of my endeavours. I'm not a routine person. I like to do what I want, when I want without that much structure. Sure, I'm very Type A when it comes to making to-do lists and ensuring everything is done well before its deadline (except for stupid Tudor essays that I had 2 weeks to do yet put off for the day before our first day back) but when it comes to writing something every night or making sure I do a little art every few weeks or so, that's just not how I roll. And I want to change that. I know that 99% of this problem is my inability to distance myself from the internet sometimes. And I wish I was wasting time so I can at least be justified in yelling at myself but I'm just constantly consuming things. Watching new things. Reading new things. Learning new things. Listening to new things. And that means, by the time it's 10 PM and I still feel like so much is bottled up, I let it out in a frantic blog post that makes approximately no sense. I crave completing the cycle of consumer --> producer and back again because I feel like I am responding to the billions of stimuli I'm harassed by daily and I want to express it in so many ways but everything has been before and there is no way I can do it better. And of course, because I'm a preposterously ludicrous and irrational perfectionist sometimes, I refuse to do the thing altogether because what's the point if it's not going to be brilliant. And that leads to the bottling up and the going crazy because even if what I have to say has been said by every other whiny seventeen year old on the internet, where the s h * t is the reason to not do it again anyways??????????????

I'm extremely impatient when it comes to consistency as well. If I'm not seeing immediate results or feeling immediate relief, then I just lose all motivation to continue which entirely defies the point of any personal change or individual goals I set because everything takes time to manifest into the image I have in my head of the ideal outcome of the regular writing or the regular working out or the regular "no phones before bed". I'm just in such a goddamn rush and I don't want to be. I try to slow things down and just savour every moment for what it's worth. Take in the people around me, the way they speak or the way they touch their hair when they're nervous or the way they bite their lips and you know exactly what's going through their mind because it's what's going through yours. I want to be able to just pace myself because I know I've romanticised the next couple of years to be everything I've ever wanted out of life and I know that I'm 11 months away from 18 and if I keep focusing on that then these days will fly past and I'll get there and think, well wow, time's not going to slow down for me right now. And I know it is far too early for me to be concerned about time running out or life passing me by but that's the scariest part about it, you don't know it's happening. It's silent and it creeps into your life and one day you're not feeling the things you used to and the next you've lost touch with so many significant people in your life and everytime you see their name somewhere or stumble across a memory of them you think about reconciling but that call never gets made and that message never gets sent.

I am incredibly self aware and sometimes it scares me because particularities are enjoyable and sometimes even exquisite but right now there are too many of them running through my thought parade and making everything so loud that I can't even hear myself think over the sound of my own thoughts. Which, granted, makes no sense whatsoever but that's the point. I know that this may not be the best platform to do this on, maybe I should be writing this down elsewhere or whatever but I'm not finding an issue with that. Many say that sometimes one should write or make art simply for the sake of that and that alone, not for a public viewing and that doesn't conflict with me writing here because I'm not working on building a following nor am I even bothered about that. I just want to put things here, in one space, where I can talk about whatever is bothering me and be as vague and elusive as I want to be without the ridiculously condescending moment where I sit down, pen in hand and try to write a 20 line entry in my 2015 agenda that by the 5th line doesn't capture the essence of my vibes on that day at all. It's frustrating to consider yourself to be a pretty decent writer in the sense that even if what you write isn't the ideal perception of Good Writing, at least you can complete a piece of text and not have to think twice about whether that's the one because you've just been honest and raw, when in actuality you find yourself at a loss for words staring at the scrawls on the page that mean nothing to you at a l l. Sometimes I want to scream at myself for somethings I write and just say "I don't care" but other times I think that yet still think, you know what, it's still worth documenting this little bit of thought process. Nothing wrong with sounding like a cliche, which in reference to this post title is what I mean by The Eternal Crisis of Originality and Otherwise. There we go, I should just write a goddamn book about that instead of all this.

Reading through this now, I guess I'm just afraid of failing and never accomplishing the stage of true self-actualisation and self-transcendence. I suppose those are things like learning, for example, that just never ends. One never stops learning long after they leave high school or uni or whatever form of punishment you have chosen for yourself and maybe this is just a long-term goal that never gets checked off the to-do list. Maybe that's why it drives me crazy. I just can't see the finish line with some of my goals and "dreams", if you will. And I need that, almost as a reassurance? I'm not unconfident about my abilities, at least not as much as I could be, but I know for a fact that I struggle when I feel like I'm not doing everything I could be doing. I'm constantly beating my conscience and my brain up for taking some downtime or refusing to function adequately or just thinking things that interfere with the flow of things that could be simple if I didn't have to be so intricate in every thought or emotion or concept I felt manifesting in my Brain Box. The word "brain" is probably used more times in this post than in a goddamn biology text book, I'm sorry. Well that's that, I guess. These are my favorite things to write when by the end I'm understanding things about myself that I didn't know beforehand. I just wish I didn't start writing a couple of decent posts only to delete them a few hours of word vomit later. That's just demoralising because I can imagine writing a few pages by hand of my honest thoughts and then crumpling it up and putting it in the bin but somehow pressing that little delete button on my laptop hurts a little more. Because I had an empty page with the flickering little line staring at me from underneath the other tabs and taunting me for a solid 6 hours only to end it with 1 hour of typing and 2 hours of mental complaint about why I can't seem to wRITE ANYTHING That MaKEs SEeEeEeeeNSE.

Ah 2015 bring me some inspiration, I am begging you.

✮ That Time of Year ✮

Last year I didn't write anything here about the New Year but I remember how it went and I can happily say I'm in a much better place today. So much has happened since, as you'd imagine, things going great and things going really bad, all-nighters trying to get as much work done and weekends of sleeping till the pm and nothing but procrastination, great times with wonderful people and over-rated times with people I felt nothing towards topped up with a whole lot of wonderful books and thoughtful conversations that make you want to take off and learn everything our little earth has to offer.

I like seeing life in the form of little chunks of time, when looking at things retrospectively because I like the concept that it's not always the big picture alone that matters. The big picture would never be of such great detail if the little bits didn't have time and effort and sometimes, just mere acknowledgment invested in them. These little bits of time matter and the new year is just an opportunity to take a break and breathe to be able to wake up the next morning and feel refreshed. I guess I like to see myself as my phone when it's at 2% the night before and I know if I want to use it practically every second of tomorrow morning, I need to let it charge over night and in the morning it's at 100%, ready to be my beloved phone for another long day. That's me, right there. I am my phone and the overnight charge session is new year's. I wake up thinking, well hm let's do this, again but do it better.

I guess I'm a very goal-oriented person and I need to feel like I'm accomplishing things in order to be content with myself and I remember this one piece of advice my best friend Katy used to give me when I was up to my head in stress and workload and that is setting checklists for every little thing I want to accomplish wether it be waking up, washing my face, getting my things sorted, making tea, starting with this one corner of art coursework and so on. And that has really helped me and changed the way I go about things. I already know I have a habit of biting off more than I can chew, but at least now I can manage the crazy amount I'm stuck with and slowly try to break it down until it's all done. I cherish that piece of advice though because I've been trying to apply it to everything. Take things one small step at a time and reward yourself for doing things, no matter how small, because you're still human and you need a break and no, you can't do everything by yourself and no, it's not weakness to not be able to handle everything and it's okay to get rid of commitments that drive you insane and that aren't worth the stress. It has taught me to put myself and my wellbeing first. Because if I don't then those responsibilities wont be fulfilled anyways because I won't be okay enough to manage to do them in the first place.

All in all, though I'm happy about where I am right now. I'm making decisions for myself and trying my absolute hardest with things I want to invest my time into and I know that when things get hella stressful, which they will inevitably as this is my junior year and all that AS level and uni business is bound to pile up, at least I will be able to break it down, breathe and fake it till I make it. My focus this year is on my priorities because I know that I need to set goals for myself and take my environmental and social factors out of it until I figure out what I want because I'm the one who's going to be here for myself at all times, and surprisingly, for the first time ever, it feels comforting to say that. I will stand by my priorities and make my goals reality and just have fun with it all. I'm not going to be stopped by my expectations of things or frustrated at the amount of opportunities or freedom I have available because that's pointless but I'll know when to push the boundaries and when to just take it as it comes. I guess I'll just aim to make this year better than the past one (inshallah, haha) and enjoy my few hours of transition period, because come on, the 31st isn't even a day to me, it's just reflective grey area!

Hope y'all have a wonderful new year and aren't setting goals you only think you want. What matters is to think about where you are now, how far you've come and what you want, not outlining exactly how many times you plan on going to the gym or how many calories you plan on cutting out of your diet. Basically, just have a brilliant time with it all and 2015 will be chill as  

Caffeine, Messy Buns and To-Do List Stress

That, guys, is my December in summary. Quite sad if I do say so myself.

I haven't written anything worth reading in so long, in fact I haven't written anything, full stop, and I'm not a fan of that. It's been hectic lately. Everytime I add something to my list of things that need to be done I feel the weight on my brain and the desire to escape any free time in order to avoid thinking about it or how I'm going to go about doing it. It's become so significant that I avoid planning things in the first place which ultimately leaves me sitting at home on a weekend night thinking well, it would've been worth it this one time, despite the fact that this scenario has happened over and over again and it rarely is worth the mental strain. I've somehow managed to make very simple and, allegedly, enjoyable things the main cause of stress for me.

The thing is I don't know where I'm going wrong. Every "10 STEPS TO BEING STRESS-FREE" article has been:

1. Relax
2. Reorganize
3. Declutter
4. Set goals
5. Make lists
6. Get enough slee-

yeah um clearly not feasible, internet.

Okay, if you've read anything else on here you know that whatever I write is an active thought process that sometimes begins as one thing and with one destination in mind and ends somewhere roughly 6 yards off the predetermined destination. I'm thinking, you know what, let's do this systematically. I know what I need to do and I know the reason none of it is working is because it's not a firm and consistent decision and habit-building process. I waver sometimes, whether it be impulsively or out of mere compliance and that needs to stop.

It's the first day of my winter break, hence the time for some decent introspection that isn't taking place in small bursts in between the acres of work of first term of junior year. And I'm thinking these next 17 days are more than enough to sort my anti-unncessary-stress tactics, so might as well start now. The only time I would be at peace with myself is when I have taken these steps seriously, committed to them and then had them not work for me, but until then the goal is to take it seriously and see where that takes me.

1. Identify stressors

Apparently step one is to identify what's stressing you out and getting rid of it. Who would've known.
  • The school workload and the vagueness when it comes to how much I should actually be spending on it 
  • The effort it takes to do things with my friends when it comes to permission and the inevitably reoccurring yet not any less hard-hitting realisation that I'm still under someone else's control
  • The social responsibility I feel for not being understanding of everyone when I just want to be selfish for a while
  • The lack of motivation I feel to do things and get myself out of the mentality that "I gotta do what I gotta do" because I feel like I'm wasting my responsibility-free time of life
  • The fact that I'm seventeen and still can't drive around here
  • The effort and emotional/physical/timing investment it takes to maintain functioning relationships with the people around me
  • The fact that sometimes the passive group pressure to conform to social norms and go out every weekend gets to me and I get that feeling of missing out
  • The fact that sometimes I choose to not do anything, enjoy my time temporarily, but then feel like I've wasted even more time and didn't even get anything done
  • The fact that I insist on making sure my time is spent getting something done and how it drives me crazy 
  • The feeling I get when I make plans and they immediately lose the buzz and become a full on stress-provoking weight - regardless of whether I genuinely want to be part of those plans or not - up until the minute I'm back home and I know I won't have anything in a few days or so.
  • The fact that some people don't understand the effort I invest into a million things and expect the 100% from me in everything
  • The feeling that many things would be different - for the better - if more of the decisions that affected me were solely in my hands.

2. Unnecessary Commitments

Another thing is eliminating unnecessary commitments which I've already tried to do but sometimes I feel like in the moment I'm willing to add to my commitment load and it's not until I'm sitting there looking at the overwhelming and dauntingly long to-do list with a hundred rapidly approaching deadlines that I think, "well. shit." 

BUT HERE'S THE PROBLEM - I won't admit that "well. shit." moment out loud. Hell, I won't even admit it to myself for longer than .3 seconds. I can't have that. I can't bail on things voluntarily and I never do, I see things till the end even when I know the odds are it's 99 to 1 in the can't do to can do ratio. And that is what mentally kills me because I persist and say "nah man, it's all good, i can handle it" and that triggers that tied up small part of my brain to constantly say "nononononono"until 1. i do end up making it happen, which is rare or 2. i don't make it happen and i spend a good 3 days hating that aspect of my personality but not tackling it all. What bothers me is I won't hesitate much to point out or acknowledge a flaw in my character or otherwise, but when it comes to this "perfectionist (?)" thing, n o w a y.

So, I guess more importantly than acknowledging my stressors and unnecessary commitments, I should work on saying "I don't got this" every once in a while. I guess in this aspect many people will just say I do this to myself and I stress myself out so I shouldn't be complaining but I genuinely don't know how to not do that. It's the most resilient and active(ly stubborn) part of my character.

3. Procrastination, 4. Disorganisation, 5. Lateness

These are not my issue, so we'll just put those in the personally irrelevant corner for now unless they make an appearance elsewhere.

4. Control

I've practically talked about this one already. I'm a crazy control freak when it comes to my life events and workload. Which is interesting because I don't have the possessiveness that often comes along with control. I don't want control over people or things, I want control over my personal response and position with regards to people or things and that's not always feasible. I feel like I've single-handedly built up my anxiety to a point that so many insignificant and minor things have the ability to push me out of harmony. But I guess the fact that I have near-complete apathy when it comes to taking control of people I guess I've got half the problem pre-sorted.

5. Multitasking

This doesn't work. At all. Please future self, single-task is the way to go.

6. Energy Drains

Another tricky one.

I can't eliminate my biggest energy drainers because I'm constantly in a position of inner conflict when it comes to them. I want to do all these things that drain my energy because I have this fear of coming to a point in my life and thinking I should've done this or I should've done that. And I know regret or thoughts like that are inevitable but I want to at least wholeheartedly believe that I did everything I wanted to do that was within my reach. But see, I sound so sane and logical when I say "within my reach" but my brain does not aim solely for what's within my reach, I reach for farther and try to make it happen because if not now, then when?  If it weren't for the degree of social responsibility I feel (which also stresses me out, as I've pointed out about a million times) this is the time of my life with the least responsibility and I should be making the best of it by doing what I want and being selfish and stupid and carefree. I miss feeling that, or more appropriately, feeling entitled to feel that.

7. Simplify, Unschedule and Slow Down

I need to make plans to spend time with myself. Keep blocks of time not only event-free but thought-free. There's no harm in not thinking every now and again, the world isn't going to collapse when it doesn't have my full attention. I don't need 19 hours of attentive and detail-oritented consciousness when I could have 15 calm thought-free hour days and a good night's sleep once every a few weeks. Ideally I need to focus on what matters and tone it down with the mile-long to-do lists with voluntary-yet-unnecessary-and-unthought-too-stubborn-to-cancel tasks.

8. Quit Work

Yeah, the word "quit" is repelling as it is.

I've actually quit a couple of things already that have been stressing me to the point of tears, which as you know if you know me well, that's not how I roll. I like to avoid that aspect of human emotion as much as possible and for the most part I'm successful and like to keep it that way. H o w e v e r, right now it's not really possible to quit any more things and sometimes it just feels like this is the time to be doing a million and one things because it's the whole planning for future while trying to stay sane and keep friends time of the infamous Teenage Experience. But hey, I'll try to remain on the lookout for shit that needs to go, for good.

9. Exercise and Eat Healthy

I love how this destressifying technique is in itself a source of stress for me, wow :')

I've been trying so hard to balance out my diet and work out regularly but whenever I have time to go to the gym I'm too deep in disbelief that I have time to breathe something that isn't responsibility to get out of bed, let alone do Insanity for an hour. All my motivation coins are being spent on things that are equally and sometimes more important than exercise but I have to live in my body and see it quite too often and being unhappy about that is not only frustrating because I feel stupid and whiny, but it's just stress that I don't need any of so I'm still trying. As you do.

10. Stay Zen

I love this one because I know how effective good vibes are on me and a 'zen' atmosphere should do the trick, at least temporarily. This usually involves the stupid "declutter !!!!!!!" every article about this topic seems to have but it really does have a profound effect on my productivity and well being. Right now I feel uncomfortable because I know my clothes are still in a mini pile on my bed and my books are on my desk with my brush and my hard drive and a phone case (???) My brain just has a way of transforming physical clutter in my room into this mental clutter that piles inside my head and makes me feel claustrophobic in myO WN BRAIN HOW????????????

Ah. I feel like that might have helped just a little in processing everything that's been going on lately, at least the mental pile feels a little more structured and I know how to handle different little things. And I'm glad I still remember to do this whenever I can because I want to be able to look back at this ages from now and notice how my thought process took place and what changed my mind and how I felt about different aspects of life and coped with them, stress being one of the most significant ones. This website I found that really did help me with this whole sorting out my life thing is www.zenhabits.net which in itself sounds calming! So I thought I'd put it right here just in case anybody was insane enough to read all the way down here...or if you just "tl;dr" it and scrolled down to find it.

Okay wow done.

Where I Come To Terms With Things (And Cross Things Out)

It's October
Yes, you bet you can trust me to be a very precise calendar.
You're welcome.

I felt the theme "Beginnings" for September worked very well considering I've been conditioned to having an extra NYE in September since the school year is practically what my life is scheduled around, but Rookie's Yearbook One's theme of "Secrets" for October wasn't the right vibe for me this month, so let's scrap that idea that didn't survive a month in my very temperamental brain and write what I wanna write. Okay? Okay.

This whole 'Valuable Teenage Experience Best Years of My Life' thing has been quite good to me lately, I think. I'm at a point where I'm supposed to be fairly certain of where I want to go for university and what I want to pursue for the rest of my life or for the rest of however long I want to pursue that something - and I don't know on what end of the popular/unpopular scale of opinions this fits into - but at this point in time I'm not flustered or nervous or confused. I know what I want and if I change my mind, then I'll just know what I want again. It's built up to feel like a do or die moment when it really isn't. I take it very seriously because this is coming from the girl who's had a countdown for the day she finally leaves school and starts living how she chooses, so you know I'm not playing. But see that's a little bit of the problem. 

I've talked about the whole romanticism of teenage years over and over and over again but I just can't help but refer back to it because almost everyday a teacher or another adult in my life tells me that I should be cherishing and enjoying and taking full advantage of every opportunity that is ever presented to me. Some say they want to live vicariously through us but others are almost bitter about the fact that they would be doing things differently if they had the chance. And I don't think it's just pressurising, because personally I don't find it pressurising in the slightest, it's an awful way to go about your life. I understand all the advantages and privileges some of us have in our hands and I'm all for making the best of your time but the whole "best days of your life" is - with all due respect - bullshit.

I wouldnt want these years to be the predetermined best years of my life because that's just fuc

That is how my brain works. I write forever and then hear the voice in my head and she sounds dumb and I stop and I erase it all, but you know what, I'm not going to this time because I need to get over the fact that not everything I ever write or think or say is coherent or of some profound value. It's exactly what it says on the tin and the label does not promise you perfect.

I struggle with this, big time. Because the whole stress of perfecting something that you're assigned or that you've set out to do actually plagues my writing and my art and my brain. It has remarkably gotten better thanks to this wonderful little release zone and I'm not as afraid as I used to be of presenting something incomplete or flawed or just "dumb" because it's perceptual. The whole damn world is going to form an opinion on everything the people in their lives do; regardless of whether they always speak those opinions or not. So why bother pre-criticising myself and stressing to the point that whatever I was going to make in the first place is trimmed and erased and touched up until it doesn't even exist. It's not reshaping an idea or building it up it's deforming it. And there's nothing I hate more than that.

So here you go. This post is practically useless but I've realised this whole mentality shift to "I do what I want because I want to" thing I've had over the summer is a key change and I don't want it to be a "3 steps forward, 4 steps back" thing now that I'm back under the social and academic pressure of the 10 month pseudo-year of school. I want to be able to stand by both my very coherent thoughts and my jumbled mess of absolute nothingness because I am both and I need to accept it because this instilled perfectionism will drive me absolutely crazy otherwise and I like the amount of crazy I have going on for me right now.

(Also why the shit are the pictures on some of my other posts gone. I am hella confused but also too lazy to do anything about it soz)

Junior Year (And Other American Terms That Bother My British Friends)

For Rookie's first year online (and the first issue Yearbook One) Tavi wrote an 'editor's letter' all about beginnings for September and since the book (and the site) is designed to follow the school system, it's very refreshing to read through it as my actual time in school starts (and very quickly, will end) I thought I'd try this year to follow along with the themes of Rookie's Yearbook One and write something monthly for each one. And well, Beginnings seems highly appropriate considering today was my 'induction day' of junior year (and I'm going to repeatedly use the term 'junior year' because I go to a British school and they call it sixth form so it bothers them if I use any American terms. You're welcome.)

Hm. Beginnings. Today was essentially a "get-to-know-people-but-also-wORRYABOUTUNIVERSITYANDLIFE" kind of day, and I'd say it was a sudden change from slow summer vibes to sudden freak out sessions, but I had a week in advance of doing my own frantic university and "life" research, "life" being what I want to study for another 4 years of my life, and perhaps even more. But despite a l l l l l l of that, I still find it exciting because sometimes I forget about the fact that education is still a privilege that I've been lucky enough to get, especially an education of this standard and that makes me feel like I have some sort of purpose in life. 

I mean, I suppose I already know I have a purpose in life and it doesn't revolve around my grades or what unis will be blessed to have me on their campus (totally serious here), but it's still very very reassuring to have a systematic way of going about life. Late high school is essentially all about getting shit done and there is a lot less manic teacher control over every move you make, but I'm glad we're slowly eased out of the Everything Is Structured And Spoon-fed To You thing, because I would be in quite a shock if suddenly it was all just up to me to figure out. That would suck big time. And this is coming from me, someone who is all about being independent and doing things alone without interference or interruptions. It's still daunting, nonetheless. 

And that is why I've decided to embrace these little starters I'm borrowing from the lovely Rookie, to represent my own last years of structure and system in a series of 10 posts from September to June, entirely for my benefit because I'd like to focus on pinpointing the changes and development, and if I look back and think this post sounds ridiculously annoying, then it'll be something to celebrate because thank god, I would've changed.

It's September Already?

Well, hello.

School starts in 2 days and as always it's the time to recap on the summer and whine about how it all flew by far too quickly, but to be honest, I'm not feeling that this year. I feel like this summer has been oddly therapeutic with my non-existent internet connection and abundance of time to actually do things and routine it all up in a way that doesn't make me detest getting out of the bed before noon. I feel like I've accomplished more than I would've if I did have wifi, just because of how much easier it is to just watch things or read things online for hours on end from the comfort of my bed, but thank god that wasn't the case. But the reason I feel it was therapeutic is because I didn't swing right back into my old habits when I came back home, instead I've been very frugal with my time and reading as much as I used to before all t h i s came along.

Last summer was quite magical and I'm not quite sure how to sum up all the reasons that made it that way because some are perplexing and others are just a little bit a teenagery (I'm all for abstinence when it comes to using the word 'angst') but this summer, I felt like I've changed in ways I'm quite satisfied with. And because of the time I've dedicated to just being with myself and my thoughts, I noticed the change. And I really loved that. Because you don't get that sweet pleasure of seeing how you change and grow while you're at school or just throughout the hectic action of the year and you reach the summer and sometimes you're surprised you changed and others you're sad because you haven't really. And despite my discomfort towards certain types of change, I feel like this change is exciting and it's part of the whole Life Experience that I'm trying to absorb every little bit of. 

I reread the Fault in Our Stars very intently over summer for the nth time and came to the realisation that despite my continuous agreement with Hazel on her opinion towards Gus's fear of "oblivion", I might just have a little of that too. Maybe not oblivion per se, but the complex of self-transcendence and self-actualisation. Thanks Abraham Maslow, your stupid pyramid is causing me nothing but brain hurricanes. Self-transcendence is the quality or state of being transcendent; surpassing or exceeding ordinary limits and self-actualisation is the achievement of one's full potential through creativity, independence, spontaneity and a grasp of the real world. And what brought that thought to me was the idea (or more pertinently, the struggle) of choosing what I want to do for the rest of my existence on this planet - otherwise called picking what the hell I want to study at uni. 

And it suddenly hit me, and this is a sad thought that I associate with the inability to notice habits forming or change taking place throughout the year, that I've been putting myself down so frequently that my brain has completely accepted that as being reality. When it isn't. I never had this problem when I was younger and I know it because I took on tons and tons of tasks and knew that I was 110% capable of accomplishing them all to the best of my ability which was going to be pretty fucking bomb.com because I put in every fibre of my being into making everything I did fully represent me and my hardworking qualities. And I didn't know I had lost that to some extent. The thing is it was such a fundamental trait that seeing it deteriorate even the slightest bit, hurt. Really bad. And because of that little twinge of regret I thought I was going to go for what I truly wanted regardless of any misconceptions or fears or hesitations I had thrown at me left and right. 

I think that is a very important reason as to why this summer was less about romanticism and late night thoughts with Lana del Rey as my soundtrack and more about the hard-hitting and often brusque nature of reality. Not to say that I undermine romanticism as being a very important part of my reality, but I've been avoiding this - perhaps subconsciously - for too long. I feel the spirit I used to have within me burning again and I absolutely love that. It makes me feel happy and new and fresh  and like a Hiba 2.0 which is a very lovely way to start the year. I also bought a Femme Fatale shirt that should always remind me of who I want to be, not who I become after months of no true self evaluation and introspection.

My summer was quite photogenic too, so I thought I'd leave a little album here because it makes me happy to look back on while still really looking forward to getting back to work. 

i s t a n b u l , t u r k e y

r o a d t r i p s     i n     m o r o c c o 

m a r r a k e ch , m o r o c c o 

j e m a a    e l    f n a , m a r r a k e c h

j a r d i n s    m a j o r e l l e , m a r r a k e c h

I hope you all had a beautiful summer.

♡ June Favorites ♡

Over the past month I've been enjoying the complete absence of homework and assignments and revision and since it's consequently Ramadan too, my hobby has become to lounge around reading or writing or drawing or most of all, watching every vlogbrothers/crash course video to have ever existed. Ever. And to be honest, it has been quite a fantastic start to the summer. My best friend Haya started a blog which you can check out right here and her summer buys post (and great interest in some brill beauty gurus on youtube) made me want to make my own little june favorites list because why not.

Also if you haven't got your Adblock turned on, you can pick out the items mentioned in this post and buy them off amazon directly from here :)

Crop Top - H&M
This might be my absolute favorite thing in my closet right now especially that I've also got the next item to pair it with

 High-Waisted Jeans - H&M
I found a pair of high-waisted in Top Shop and they were like 90 dollars so I just laughed hysterically, cried a little and left the store. BUT H&M CAME TO MY RESCUE WITH THE MOST WONDERFUL PAIR FOR 14 BUCKS like hmmmmm thank you. I don't know man, it was a good day okay. 

Flower Crown - DIY
Petals - Some department store
Making flower crowns is my favorite thing in the world because it is so much fun when I'm not burning myself with the hot glue gun. I couldn't find any plastic flowers around here so I bought a set of petals (don't ask me why they sell petals but not flowers) and tried to CREATE MY OWN FLOWERS. And then took the easy way out and glued them to a headband - wahey voila.

Crushed Raspberries Home Fragrance - City Lifestyle (Centerpoint)
I don't know what else to say about this except for the fact that it makes my room smell like a meadow of mystique and marvellous crushed raspberries (boom. i can explain scents)

The Fault in Our Stars Soundtrack - Buy It Here
I don't own a hardcopy of this beautiful piece of magic but I've been listening to it non-stop and I swear, I had goosebumps when Wait by M83 played at the end of the movie that I just had to get it the second I got home. 

The Fault in Our Stars - John Green
This is just the all-time classic in my life but since the movie came out on the 12th here, I had to reread it! So definitely definitely definitely a June favorite. And an always favorite. 

Paper Towns - John Green 
This list is a whole lot of John Green but yes since I found out that Paper Towns was also coming out in movie form and I also was having serious cravings for more Green-ness after watching TFiOS, I had to read this for the nth time.

A while ago there was a garage sale in my neighbourhood and I managed to get all 5 books for 4 bucks or so which just makes me happy inside. Over the past few months I've come around to finally finishing all 5 them and I'm thinking about reviewing a couple at some point :)

Franny and Zooey - J.D. Salinger 
A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
The Woman Who Walked Into Doors - Roddy Doyle 
The Accidental - Ali Smith
Sharp Objects - Gillian Flynn 

Wreck This Journal - Keri Smith
I found this book on my doorstep one night which sounds so weird but it was totally unexpected and it had my name on the front cover and even though I mentioned it to my friends, nobody has come forward and told me that it was them who left it so now I'm just really confused. But I thought while being confused I might as well start with it and these are a couple of the pages I did recently and quite liked! 

My last favorite is going to be a YouTube channel actually for all of you who miraculously haven't heard of Crash Course or SciShow because um. You should. You're missing out. Big time!

 You are very welcome 

Annnnnnddddd that's all :) I've been trying to write a little bit more here but I've been writing things for Lifehack.org which you can check out here and here if you feel like it and also got a few things up on Teen Ink if you'd like to give that a look too. I'm going to be travelling soon which is very exciting because that means I'll have lots to write about here and also really good lighting since I want to film a bunch of videos but my room just doesn't understand my absolute need for good natural lighting.