Musings

On Pressure and Expectations

As someone who places an incredible amount of pressure on myself, crippling self-doubt and unrealistic expectations are two things I am well versed in. I know that this is something that many people struggle with too, and it can be so exhausting to try and navigate.

There is a quote that reads “diamonds are coal that did well under pressure”. These are the types of quotes that make me hate Pinterest. And I love Pinterest. We live in a society that glorifies working yourself to the bone to achieve something, even if it is at the expense of your mental health and physical wellbeing. I’m here to tell you this – we’ve got to stop. And I say “we” because I’m talking about myself too. It can be so easy to get caught up in trying to achieve highly all the time. But sometimes, this is not realistic and can be unsustainable.

Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have goals or aspirations. I believe that having a clear purpose or goal is one of the most important elements to achieving success, no matter what area of your life it falls under. Goals motivate us, keep us going and remind us why we started. But. They can also overwhelm us, and make us lose sight of how well we’re already achieving. It gets to a point where nothing feels good enough. This is not a happy or healthy place to be.

Recently I’ve come to realise just how critical I am of myself. I’ve had to think about whether I’m doing more harm than good, and challenge my thought patterns which I previously just took as “being driven”. I have also realised that when I don’t achieve some ridiculous goal I’ve set for myself, the only person who is mad about it is me.

I’ve learnt that sometimes, it’s not worth the drama. It’s not worth the “its not good enough” dialogue that seems to play out constantly in my head, and that not getting a 90 on a test doesn’t mean much in the grander scheme of things. Life will go on.

So, here’s to being a little kinder to myself. To giving myself a little more room for error. To breathe. To be a human being. I hope you’ll join me.

September Musings

I know I’m not alone in saying that 2019 has simply flown by. Next week we go into the final quarter of the year! It almost feels unreal. My online presence this year has been erratic to say the least. School has been busy and life in general has not left much time for my usual pastimes. I’m back nonetheless to do a bit of blogging – things feel a bit slower right now so it feels like a good time to pop back in.

It’s been an emotional rollercoaster of a month for South Africans. August is Women’s Month, and September saw violent, horrific crimes committed against the women in our country. Like many women and men alike, it has left me feeling incredibly overwhelmed, helpless and scared. All of this  has been weighing heavily on me and I’ve found myself having to take a step back every so often just to calm down and collect myself. It’s been quite a thing to navigate.

On a happier note though, there has also been so much good! The summer is approaching, which means that Cape Town experiences all the seasons in a seven-day period. Think sweater weather one day and beach weather the next. The sun has such a wonderful effect on me and always makes me feel uplifted and happy, so I’m grabbing any opportunity to soak up some sun as the warmer weather approaches us.

I’m hoping to do some more writing over here over the next few months. It feels so unreal that I started this little blog when I first started high school, and here I am, finishing off high school (but hopefully not blogging) next month.

It’s been a wild ride – thanks for sticking it out with me!

Nabeela x

It’s Okay Not To Know

Being young is hard. There is this expectation to be bursting with excitement and full of ideas, youthful and energetic, yet still sensible and mature. No pressure, right? Having said that, being young is also exciting. The world is your oyster and there are many opportunities to make your own decisions and determine the narrative of your life for the first time. 

I’m in my final year of high school, and to be honest, and it all feels quite surreal. Milestones are flying past, and it feels as if life is a treadmill going just a little too fast for comfort. Applying to universities, looking at possible career options and deciding what to do with the rest of my life feels overwhelming to say the least, but at the same time, it feels like a good challenge and something to look forward to. 

Something I’ve been struggling with is how much my mind has changed about things like careers, universities and study choices in the past year. At first, this stressed me out. How was I ever going to decide? There are so many degrees and institutions to choose from. But as I started to think about it more and more, I realised that I don’t owe anyone any explanations (except my parents, of course). If my mind has changed twelve times since I last spoke to that distant relative who seems to have an awful lot of opinions about my life, so what? I am allowed to change my mind. I’m allowed to discover new options and learn new things. I’m allowed to feel good about something one day and be not so sure the next day. It comes with the territory of growing up. And its okay. 

There is also a lot of pressure on young people to make many difficult, life-changing decisions at a young age and in a very short space of time. Again, this is a lot of pressure and can be difficult to cope with. Let me tell you something, friends. Life is not a movie. When the credits to your high school life roll, you don’t have to have your whole life planned out, your bank card loaded, your skin cleared, and ride off into the sunset with the love of your life (although that would be great). I keep saying it, but there is an immense amount of pressure on young people to have it all together and make the right choices. Making mistakes is okay. If you plans change, its okay. You will end up where you need to be.

Nabeela x

(This piece was originally written for and published by Comeback Magazine)

Taking A Moment To Reflect

Every time I’ve planned to sit and write a new post, something has gotten in the way. Either my immense amounts of school work or just that nagging feeling in my tummy that what I’ve written isn’t quite worthy of being read. I’m so glad that I’ve finally gotten around to sitting down to write, and it feels good to be back!

Life has been busy – I’m sure I’m not alone in saying this. The year is flying, and I want to hit the brakes and also want it to be over all at the same time. Since I’ve last posted, I’ve written a set of important exams, turned eighteen, done some travelling with my family, read a LOT of books (don’t ask me how – I don’t know where I got the time to either), and have just generally been caught up in a lot. But so it goes.

The middle of the year has also come and gone, so that, together with having a birthday recently has left me in a slightly reflective mood.

I was going to share 18 lessons I’ve learnt in 18 years but I opted for quality over quantity instead (read: I couldn’t think of 18 good ones). Anyways, here they are…

  • I always underestimate my ability to get on without other people. It sounds bad, but its not really. I just feel that sometimes we feel as if other people are our be-all and end-all. We feel as if we really cannot live without seeing certain people every single day. But, that is not true. We are adaptable creatures, and I’ve found it kind of comforting to learn that I’m pretty okay looking after myself.
  • You don’t have to mold yourself to fit into places where you feel unwanted. This has always been something I’ve struggled with a bit. I’ve always fallen into the minority (in terms of culture, race and religion) in my social circles, and it used to make me insecure. But as I’m growing up I’m learning that its okay to not fit in in every place. But on the other hand, its okay to be in places where you’re different. It doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. It just means you’re different. And that’s okay.
  • Taking care of yourself is important. Enough said.
  • I’m learning that I can get through anything if I just allow myself the time to cry and be upset, and then move on. Suppressed feelings are the ones that tend to turn nasty. Someone once told me that feelings are like naughty toddlers. The more you try to make them go away, the more bothersome they become. So allow yourself to let your emotions run their course and acknowledge that they’re valid.

This year has been crazy so far, and I have many long months of hard, hard, hard work ahead of me. BUT I know that once it’s all over I’m going to be so sad and wish I could go back in time. Here’s to the bittersweet moments.

Nabeela x

P.S. I’m also a monthly writer over at Comeback Magazine now, so if you’re keen you can read my first article here.

Lately 07

We’re almost a quarter way through 2019, and it feels unreal how fast time is flying by. Getting closer to the end of a chapter of your life is bittersweet – you want it to come and you also never want it to come, all at the same time.

I have been busy to say the least! You may have noticed that both my blog and Instagram have been a little quieter than usual, and that is due to the huge workload and other responsibilities that have been consuming most of my time as of late. As a result, making stuff and writing for the blog hasn’t been very high on my to-do list (but I do want to get back into it a little in my one week of holidays coming around soon).

Next week, I’m off for the week on a beautiful river just outside of South Africa and I’m looking so forward to a week of sunshine, sand, paddling, no phone or signal, and spending time with my friends.

Lately, I have been:

listening to: a bunch of music on Spotify, including all the Sabrina Claudio, and Post Malone (always, always, always).

reading: Grit by Angela Duckworth. Just got into this one, and I’ve heard its a goodie, so I’m looking forward to that.

wearing: this body mist from the Body Shop that smells like a garden in a bottle.

using: this face cream from simply bee

writing: lots in my journal to try and keep calm and stay zen. I also wrote for issue 10 of Comeback magazine.

bullet journaling: to stay on top of all my schoolwork

trying my best to: live in the moment, and enjoy every second of my last year of school

all the love

Nabeela x

January in a nutshell

Real talk. It’s been a grand total of 8 school days since my summer holidays ended, but it feels like I’ve been slaving away for years. I’ve found this slightly concerning due to the fact that I still have approximately 107 days (!!!) of school to go, and that’s not counting the total of about 12 weeks throughout the year that make up exam sessions. I guess this is why people keep telling me to pace myself (i.e. don’t turn into little-miss-frantic-study-work-all-night-team-no-sleep 8 days into the game) SO, as much as I would love to write a nice, neat post on staying calm, and being zen, it’s not quite that simple. Namely because I’m still figuring it out too.

Trying to balance all the homework for classes, essays and assignments, and still having time to study and do all the other school-ish responsibilities leaves me feeling like I don’t have time for much (or anything) else. But, despite the fact that the last few days of school have been, well, hard, something I have been getting right (small victories, friends) is making a little time each evening to wind down a little and help my mind calm down. Mostly it involves a few minutes on the Calm app, and reading a few pages of a book, (and not going to lie, some nights I just skip it, using the argument that its 10 minutes extra of sleep). Anyways, let’s see how long I can keep this whole calm thing up, but I would really recommend you try it. If you are forgetful like me, set a recurring reminder on your phone for around your bed time so that it becomes a routine of sorts. Hope it helps!

And if you need me, I’ll probs be in my room, burning too many aromatherapy candles to try and stay calm, whilst going through the 1214363 tasks in my bullet journal.

Nabeela x

New year things

This is going to be quite a year. A year of many lasts and also, many firsts. For one, I’ve got about seven more months of being a minor, and yes, I intend to make the most of my last few months of not being an adult. (It even feels weird to type that word). Also, it’s my last year of high school, which is, of course, bittersweet to say the least. I’m preparing myself for a pretty manic year, but also reminding myself that it’s about 10 months of hard work, and then nearly 3-4 months of rest time. There are lots of big decisions to make this year, but I’m learning to just take each day as it comes, because dwelling on things for too long will most likely just put me in a big panic, and that’s the last thing I need.

So, this year, I want to do lots of meditating, praying and journaling just to keep control over my thoughts and emotions, and I’ll be popping on here to write, because writing is what I love and its important to make time to do things you love, no matter how crazy things feel.

I’ve decided not to set too many crazy goals and resolutions because they often just turn into yet another avenue for me to place unnecessary pressure on myself, and goodness knows that is not a good look. I’m going to try instead to set one or two ‘focuses’ every month just to have something to be mindful of, and see how that goes.

I honestly hope you have the most wonderful year, and that you learn lots about yourself. There will be ups and downs, and you will get through it.

Happy new year, friends.

Nabeela x

Simplify

I have written many posts about minimalism and living a more simple life. However, every year I realise I’ve learnt new ways to simplify my life as far as possible. I’ve found great reward in creating streamlined routines for myself that allow room for everything that has to be done.

Here are some things I’ve done this year that have helped me immensely that I’ll be carrying with me into 2019.

01. / Email

I don’t work yet so I don’t have a huge amount of emails coming into my inbox every day like some people do, but I do know that having a full inbox can be stressful and distracting. Try to stay on top of your emails and try the one-touch rule, whereby you only open emails at a time when you are available to carry out the task (or whatever is necessary) required before you respond. Also, guard your email address. Try to avoid throwing it into every online shop’s mailing list, to avoid getting spammed with hundreds of emails a day that are irrelevant to you. (Some people have recommended this site to manage your subscriptions, but I haven’t personally tried it).

02. / Papers

Papers are the easiest thing to hoard. It’s only too easy to hang onto something, “just in case”. For papers that are important, file them away in a space-saving way. For less important ones that you may need at some point, take a photo and save it into a folder on your phone or Cloud. And for those other pesky ones, TOSS THEM. We are ruthless. I clean off my desk (almost) every night before bed and make a point of throwing away papers that are no longer needed.

03. / Planning and organising

I’ve found that keeping all my planning in one book is highly beneficial because everything is in one place, so you’re less likely to forget something important. Whether you’re a paper planner and list-maker like me or if you prefer your phone calendar, try to avoid having important plans in too many places and work on streamlining your planning and organising systems so they work for you. I’ll be bullet-journalling in 2019, so watch this space…

04. / Time-blocking

I’ve found this really useful. Set aside certain “blocks” of time for certain tasks. You’ll find that you’ll be more productive if you know you’re only working for a short amount of time, plus you’re less likely to procrastinate then. It’ll leave you with more time to relax and do things you enjoy.

Enjoy the holidays with your loved ones and rest well.

Nabeela x

On Prioritising

priority /prʌɪˈɒrɪti/ noun

Life in the twenty-first century is busy and demanding. It feels as if the world never stops and that no matter how hard one tries, one will always miss out on something. Often, it feels as if we are being pulled in hundreds of directions all at once. There are so many tasks that demand our attention, and demand it now. It is the age of immediate action and instant gratification.

The reality is, there is only so much you can do. You are one person, with one brain and two hands. You simply cannot do everything. This doesn’t mean you are weak or inadequate. It simply means you are human. So please, don’t be disheartened by this. In fact, the earlier you realise this, the better for you, and those you interact with. Something I’ve had to learnt the hard way is that it is better to do fewer things, and to do them really well. Quality over quantity, my friends.

So, next time you start feeling overwhelmed by the many tasks you seem to be drowning in, might I suggest you try something new. Take a step back, get out some paper and make a good old-fashioned list or “brain-dump”. Seeing the contents of your mind on paper may surprise you, particularly when you see how many tasks aren’t quite as urgent as they may feel.

Your time and energy are your most precious commodities. Don’t underestimate the value of them, and don’t give of them too freely. Also, make sure you leave enough of them for yourself. Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup.

Nabeela x

A Note on Exams

It feels like I write a post like this every exam season, but the truth is, every time the exam period comes around, I notice new things, and learn more about myself, and others, and what works to get through heavy workloads and stressful times.

I’ve always been a planner, so planning and organizing my studying  feels very natural to me. If you’re someone who struggles to maintain order and stick to a plan, a more brief outline of the content you need to cover before your exams will work just fine. I always find that having a clear plan of what work I’m going to do and when I’m going to do it helps to ease some of my anxiety around exams, because I can see that I have enough time to get through everything.

My friends and I start asking teachers for breakdowns as soon as we get back to school in term four. It really helps to know what content needs to be covered as early as possible. For subjects where these breakdowns aren’t given, I make my own, and just keep a running list as the term progresses.

Try keeping your room and desk area neat. It  can really help to unclutter your mind. So if you have a few minutes, just spend it filing away important papers, recycling the ones you don’t need, taking the dirty mugs down to the kitchen and sorting out your pens. It’ll do wonders.

Making sure that you get enough sleep is important too. As easy as it is to stay up until 3am before a big paper, it’ll catch up with you and you’ll burn out really quickly. Set a bedtime rule and try and stick to it as best you can. (Mine is 11pm – mostly).

Lastly, just remember that no matter how important and anxiety-inducing exams may feel, they’re just exams. You have a life after them. Your self-care doesn’t have to stop. Work hard, but allow yourself enough time to just pause and catch your breath.

Hope this helps a bit. I wish you all well over these exams!

Nabeela x

 

 

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