Episode 1: Loneliness and Friendships with @safooynissa

So many of you have asked me to either start a youtube or do a podcast, and honestly, I'm absolutely awful on video, so the podcast was the next best option. For the first ever episode I decided to enlist the help of my best friend Saf and talk about loneliness and friendships. I hope you all enjoy!

If you're finding it hard to listen above click on this link below to listen directly on the Podomatic website here

Hijab, Hair and Hair loss

In my opinion, wearing the hijab is one of the greatest trials in the life of Muslim women, and that could be for many reasons, each personal to the wearer. Whether it ranges from the want to actually wear the headscarf, to the conviction on its actual existence and necessity, it all comes down to the fact the hijab practically screams to the entire world that you are a Muslim. The truth is, this announcement of religion was never a real issue until the last couple of hundreds of years, as many women of all faiths and backgrounds historically covered their hair as part of the social codes of those times. So maybe for me growing up as a millennial in the west where the norm wasn't to cover my hair, wearing it sometimes felt like wearing a huge sticker that said "Muslim", which in itself brought all sorts of presumptions without me even having to open my mouth.

With that being said, the hijab itself has never impacted me socially, as I'm thankful to live in a city where my opportunities have not been limited due to ethnic dress. But I know that isn't the case for every Muslim woman around the world. Nowadays the hijab is becoming so widely accepted within the media, that perhaps hijabs wearers, who once wore it as a symbol of resistance to the fashion norms, no longer feel like its portraying that stance as it once did. For others, the media acceptance almost feels like a sly fetishising of women in head veils. But Perhaps, the problem isn’t about accepting the hijab maybe the problem is that as a Muslim woman all we have been defined by is our hijabs. Whether that's from the media to some parts of the Muslim community itself, the conversation about our existence has been continuously about the piece of cloth on our heads. So maybe my connection with the headscarf has shifted, and perhaps it will continue to change throughout my life. I guess right now my scarf has come to mean something new. Maybe this is because of my diagnosis of Androgenic Alopecia.

Being diagnosed with a form of Alopecia at 23, it isn’t the news you want to hear. Because as much as people say they aren’t judging or repulsed at the idea of women with very little to no hair, people are uncomfortable with the idea. I know that some men who deal with hair loss and balding are often afflicted with vast stigma and are often the end of a joke. So imagine what its like for a woman who has little or no hair.

Since being informed of my hair loss, it is interesting how peoples reactions are. Some people assume that just because I cover my hair, it wouldn't or shouldn't bother me. Which sorta made my headscarf an apparent consolation prize. What people often forget is that I see my own hair and for me, my hair is something that is universally identified with femininity, and the prospect of losing it my hair means that I’m losing my femininity.

But it's easy to sometimes just see the bad when you're stuck in the middle of it. The truth is Alopecia has been a blessing. The decision to wear or not to wear the hijab has been something that has plagued my life and losing my hair has taken the choice out of something that I found so hard to make a decision of.  Its also made me realise that I need to stop caring about what people think and that if someone is bothered by what's on my head or what is not on my head, then they're not worth being in my life.

So, What I'm most grateful for?...the fact that I've allowed myself to be surrounded by so many people in my life who have brought a technicolour into my life that I didn't know existed before this. Maybe the truth is that I have a different kind of choice beyond my hijab, and that is the choice to be either angry and curse at the world, or, to be excited about this new chapter in my life...I know what I'm choosing.
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What is love?

I would like to think that there are a lot of things that I believe I understand in life, but for the longest time, love has not been one of them. I based my whole understanding of love and relationships off the big screen, off the fairytales that I gripped so tightly to growing up. Maybe it was my own way of escaping reality, but I believed it none the less.  I used to believe that if you loved someone, you would do 'anything' for them. However, as I grew older, I  learnt that it wasn't exactly true.  

I discovered that for some people I had to minimise my net worth to keep them happy,  and with only the phrase 'you are nobody till somebody loves you' keeping me attached to them. Sometimes we have a very narrow view of the world, and we idealise a certain type of love. Even more so in today's world of social media where the hashtags 'relationship goals' have blurred the lines of what is central in our lives. Love doesn't always have to be that of the romantic kind. Love is whatever you make of it. So, maybe the question we should ask instead is "what does love feel like?" 

Love can be that feeling of warmth in a memory of a time when your best friend comforted you after the loss of someone you cared about. Love can be found in the little things, like popping out to the shops in the middle of the night because someone you care about is hungry and there's no food at home. Love can be that time you graduated, and all your most important people were there to cheer you on. 

Love can also be a different kind of feeling, a feeling of distance. Just as a plant won't grow any better if you watch it, sometimes you have to let things be to allow them to develop. Sometimes love can stop us from moving on. If we go back to the plant, you're watching grow, in some cases your shadow may prevent the plant from getting any sunlight. Sometimes you have to step back to let things develop to their fullest. So if there are people in your life who have distanced from you, it may not be because they love you any less, but sometimes they're doing this because of the very fact that they love you. Its because they don't want to hurt you. 

Honestly, it took me a long time to realise it, but I had 'love' all around me, in different forms and different memories. The truth is it just took me a long time to understand it. It might not have been in the way that movies and novels pushed it to be, but I have love nonetheless. Sometimes it means stepping back and looking at what is in your life. No matter how alone life may feel If we all look close enough love is there. 
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