I love BAMEinPublishing! Some of the most talented people I know are apart of this group. I’m so grateful for groups like this, safe spaces for those of us who are outnumbered in society and in industries that still have a lot to do in terms of inclusivity.
Let me tell you the story behind this picture though, well my story. The morning of this day I wasn’t even in London, I had a meeting so I commuted in from Birmingham, I was wearing salwaar kameez and I remember this because I messaged a couple of friends to ask if wearing salwaar kameez would make look odd in my meeting because, well there wasn’t going to be any other Asian wearing salwaar kameez in the entire building so I’d be the odd one out. After some convincing and then because I didn’t have time to go and change in my place in London I went to my meeting in my traditional cultural dress and that was that.
After the meeting I rushed home and changed my clothes because I was desperate to fit into this safe space too. And I did fit in and it was fantastic and I know I did a disservice to every single person there because nobody would have cared if I wore salwaar kameez, but I guess I would have. Because somewhere in my mind I have allowed myself to believe that I should be ashamed of this part of my culture. When I wear salwaar kameez outside of my community I get weird looks and people scrunching up their noses and speaking to me like an idiot because they think I can’t speak English. I stick out like a soar thumb and I guess I just really wanted to fit in here. For me this has turned into a battle with myself where I am one person in one place in one sort of dress and another in another place. My own perversion of my imposter syndrome for myself means I will only accept certain dressed versions of myself in certain environments. I find this odd and interesting especially because I believe this space is one of the the few spaces where nobody would have cared what I was dressed like.
Birmingham. All my life I wanted to be far away from Birmingham. To run away from it. I spent the majority of my university life telling my friends how much I wanted to move to London not being able to explain why because again, as with many things in my life this was nuanced.
For me, moving to London was going to be my break free moment. You know the moment when someone moves out and goes to university well for me that moment came a year and a bit after I went to university and graduated.
It was a surreal moment and then I spent some time in London, with my perfect job and now almost 8 months later I’m moving back to Birmingham and I know I haven’t failed anything but I also feel like when I left Birmingham I knew what I wanted to do and now I’ve come back to city I wanted to run away from and I feel secure and happy that I’m here and I feel sad I spent so many years wanting to run away and not seeing how much comfort it gave me.
I’ve come back to Birmingham to find my best self. To think and explore what the future holds for me and now that I’ve started to appreciate this city for what it is it’s giving back to me. It’s helping me day by day. I’m doing things in my city because even without anyone saying it this city has been holding me secure for a long time and I know it will continue to do so for as long as I ask it to. I am proud to be from Birmingham. And that’s a sentence I never thought I’d say!
I know many people have found ramadan quite difficult this year. I’m in a fortunate place that I can do the odd freelance piece from home and work from here. I feel for those who have to conduct their daily lives and jobs whilst holding an 18 hour fast but I pray that Allah gives you patience, strength and guides you.
This is a time to strength our resolves in purifying ourselves. A time to make our wills stronger, to fight against desires and wants, things we don’t need. A time to make us closer to God. I can’t believe it’s been more than 10 days already. I’ve learnt so much and I can’t wait to learn even more.
Identity and home is something I think about constantly. I’m the daughter of an immigrant mother. On forms I tick “British Asian / Pakistani”. I identify as British, I was born and grew up in the UK, but my Mother didn’t. My Mother was born in Pakistan. She’s lived in the UK for longer than she did in Pakistan though, which I find odd.
Culturally I’m Pashtoon and the land we live on in Pakistan is governed by tribal law I believe. I think if I went back a few generations I could find my family roots in Afghanistan. Maybe. Nobody keeps records in Pakistan from that far back to be honest.
So I identify with the British, Pakistani/ Pashtoon diaspora plus I’m Muslim and that’s just complicated in itself. Because although in many ways my cultural experience has been similar to many Pashtoon girls in Pakistan, it’s also been different. My culture has been amended and filtered to fit into the western world. In reality it’s taken me the last year and a long long digging deep process to come to this conclusion.
I find identity such a tricky area to explore. I don’t “fit into” one place or area/group. I’m a new sort of identity. A mixture of things.
I also find home a complex issue. In the picture the house in the middle is our family house in Pakistan. I call that home when I’m there but I call my home in England home too. Sometimes when I’m there I feel guilty that I have a home elsewhere and the other way around.
I think again, for me, feeling like I belong or could belong in more than one place is complicated because I feel like I’m betraying the other. It’s this idea of always being half a different person in one place and half a different person in the other. It’s complex and nuanced and I guess it all ties in with my identity and me feeling like an imposter like I don’t belong in either places properly. Like I’m just not “right” you know?
Home and identity are complex things to me and I’m 24 years old. I wonder when these things will become less complex. Do you feel the same?
One thing I have resolved to do this month as I am moving back from London for a while is to declutter my life.
I don’t NEED a lot of things that I own. To be honest, this is something I’m conscious of but still over time the things I own pile grows larger. I own many books, several which I’ve bought and not read for almost 3+ years so this is where I’m going to start, I’m going to slowly declutter my book shelves and give away the books to either family, friends, charity or sell them.
I’ll be tidying up my place in London later this week and when I’m going through that I am aiming to declutter everything there. No point bringing back clutter to moms. I might go crazy and put a number on the things I can own.
I think being surrounded by so many things is bad, it makes luxury the norm. If I’ve learnt anything during Ramadan it’s that I, one person, don’t need so many things in this world. Ramadan has reminded me of my self control and empathy with those who don’t have a fraction of what I do and yet I moan about what I don’t have and I’m unappreciative of the things I own. I’ll keep you updated on how things are going!
I feel like I’ve run a mini-election myself in my own house and community. Signing up people who are reluctant to vote and then convincing them to vote. Listening to people’s concerns about things and then doing the research or presenting a sound counter argument for why they should vote for Labour or even just vote or just go and ruin their damn ballot. I believe voting is an incredibly important part of living in a democracy. Having your voice heard. This wasn’t always a right. We didn’t always have the right to vote and I think it’s important to remind people of that, it’s important to let people know that what we take for granted now people have died for.
I’m voting Labour. They are for the people, pro-education, pro-NHS, pro-helping the working class and I’m pro all those things too. I’m tired of seeing Theresa May torture those in society who can’t fight for themselves or who need to be helped by the state. I’m tired of the rich getting richer and the poor being told you need to pay more in tax.
This election is going to mean so much to so many. The results from this election are going to shape our future as a country forever especially with the winning party having to deal with brexit negotiations. I’m praying the people of the UK care about all the things I care about and I’m praying they exercise their right to vote too.
Make sure you vote on Thursday and then make sure you ring all your family and friends and neighbours and ask them if they’ve voted. If anyone needs a lift just give them a lift to the polling station. Do your part, it could be the difference between a win or lose for Labour.
A little while ago I was lamenting life and the very many changes that have occurred in the last 6 months. I ended up watching a YouTube video by justkisssmyfrog aka Leena Norms titled: How to feel chill about moving away from home and so many of the things she said really struck me, but there was one particular idea that really caught me, the idea of having a home online.
A home online: from the beginning
For the longest time, probably since the first time I used social media I’ve been building a social and digital space online and treating it as my home and hanging paintings, words, poems, stories, conversations and debates here. It’s like the mediums we use are walls. That idea, to me, sounds so comforting. In her video Leena calls it “a new way to have a village or to understand yourself.” From Tumblr where you post images and share your favourite quotes funny jokes and the very odd threads where people say some illuminating stuff actually to Instagram and Twitter where I update my status every once in a few months or share a picture, I’m creating a portfolio of my life, my online footprint, a sort of photo album of my life on social media, no wonder it feel so much like home.
Being an online native is part of my identity
I know social media and digital platforms have their shortcomings. Over the last few years I’ve built a massive social media following on Twitter and that platform out of the many has felt in ways a sort of home. I’ve been able to grow up there and share my silly opinions that nobody would otherwise listen to. I’ve been able to discuss, share emotions, learn and make new friends – who are now real life friends all through this platform.
I feel like a lot of people use social media because they think they are being cool or for professional companies they want to reach customers and I think that’s great. But ultimately when I use social media I think of it as an individual telling a story and sharing their experiences of the world and with the world.
As a teen, I often felt overlooked and for most of my teen life I was very good at blending into walls but then I would come online and I would talk to people and they were my friends and the things I was saying online were part of my story and my opinions and my identity. I’m able to look back at things I wrote years ago and cringe or laugh at them. I’m able to in a physical way capture my life and share it with so many people.
The people I know from online are my village, they are my people and I don’t need to live in the same city as them or the same country and it’s okay if they can’t come around for tea because we can still talk and communicate and in it’s own way, it’s like they are in my home talking to me, cause they are in my home online.
Adam Gillen, left, as Mozart and Lucian Msamati as Salieri in Amadeus at the Olivier. Photograph: Marc Brenner
London is a big place and I most definitely have not explored it all, but one of my absolute favourite areas in London is the Southbank. I love walking next to the water, the London Eye always looks beautiful, there are a million things going on including the book tables and random performers – even the Houses of Parliament looks beautiful from afar. And then there is the beautiful National Theatre that of late, I believe, has been pushing boundaries and allowing its stage to demonstrate the diversity of our nation.
I’m 23 year old. I feel like I need to state my age before I tell you: I’ve never been to the beach. So last weekend I thought, well I’m an adult and I’m allowed to make decisions about my life. So I bought a ticket to Brighton from London and got myself to Kings Cross station to start my journey out of London.
Hey team. How are you all? I’ve been a little absent on my blog for a while and that is down to a few key things. Big changes.