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The Art of Getting By




Writing used to be therapy. But now, it seems the more I try to do it, the more it feels like a confessional booth of some sorts. As though all that is to be attested to makes an appearance the moment the ink starts to spill. And my God, it is a feeling and a half. Notice how I said feeling – it’s because frankly, I have no idea what this feeling is. Shame? Guilt? Embarrassment? Joy? Contentment? Peace? So many conflicting things all at once, and yet, none of them at all. It seems more a cacophony of a degree of emotions rather than any one emotion itself and my dears, I think we’ll all agree the spare hours in a lifetime are too far and few in between to even begin to unpack and address these. 

If you read between the lines, that was my fluffy way of saying I’m sorry I’m always MIA – writing has not been the same therapeutic thing it has always been and recently, I feel it has been more forceful in its resurrection of those thoughts and feelings that had once been lain to rest. I no longer feel my heart is at ease when I am writing, but rather feel as though the ink taps into the compartmentalised mind and brings together different versions of one’s own truths that need to be kept worlds apart to maintain any sense of sanity – in short, it is no stretch to say I am one disaster away from losing it (yes, dramatic, I know, but you get the point). 

But, I’m doing alright for now. I’ve got my affairs in order and I’m getting by. But that’s sort of the problem. I’m getting by. Over 24 years of life and I’m content with just getting by? Nah. The act is getting a little old now. You say “jump” and I say “hmm, sounds like an interesting idea, maybe later?” instead of “no, I’m good, you do you”? Absolutely not. Being a committed pacifist throughout my life might have allowed me to master the art of getting by, but I’m a bit bored of biting my tongue and clenching my jaw. It gets exhausting being kept up night after night by the weight of the life that could have been lived if you had just said that thing or done that thing. And man, worst of all, it gets real damn suffocating real quick when every thought you have for your own self is interrupted by “is this socially acceptable?” or “will the people in my life be okay with this?” – my fellow ethnic folk, I know for a fact you all know exactly what this sentence sounds like in your native tongue. 

What I’m saying here is: I’m bored. I’m bored of living the life that is expected of me because it’s easier than fighting for the one I want. And I know what you’re thinking – kid just needs a little rebellious phase and she’ll be right as rain – but I’ve had one of those, and that’s not what I’m looking for. I’m just looking to free myself from the confines of my own expectations. I’m looking to separate my truest self from the one that has come to exist in the public eye on the basis of the life that I’m supposed to be leading. 

And this is precisely the life I have started to allow myself to lead now. I am constantly learning and unlearning who I am at my core and stripping back the defence layers I built up over the years. I am stumbling through the road less travelled, and I am so content. Admittedly, there are times when the guilt of being less than what is expected of me threatens to overwhelm me, but here’s what gets me through: it is what it is. Quit that job you hated but had a respected title? Tragic, but it is what it is. Working on things because you love them and not because they assist in your finances? It is what it is. See where I’m going with this? Everything is what it is. Nothing more, and nothing less. 

Take it on the chin, show gratitude to the One who provides, and move. 

In 2020, we move. Wherever that may be. 


  1. Good trail of thought and honesty. I think it’s very relatable. We all (or most) share that ‘feeling’ at some point, especially if you’re from a ‘strict’ background. May Allah make it easy for you. Ameen

    • Ameen! I appreciate this, and I appreciate you – you have been an incredible friend, especially when I needed it the most.


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Ayesha Khanom

Sometimes a teacher, sometimes a student, but mostly caffeinated. This blog is a terrible attempt at writing out my thoughts - think of it as the 'comments, complaints, and suggestions' section of my brain. Nevertheless, I hope that some of these words will find a place in your heart and will stay with you even when I do not. If you'd like to get in touch, send me a message on Instagram or leave a comment on one of these posts and I'll get back to you at the best possible time.

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