34 and Never Been Kissed

wedding-rings

So I’m 34, still single, and a virgin. Yep, contrary to popular belief, those of us still exist – I owe it to my faith and my human biology background (well, the virginity part i.e.). I’m sure you’ve heard that in Islam, we’re not allowed to engage in pre-marital sex before marriage. I take that to heart. Moreover, I’ve studied the effects of different hormones on our bodies and mind from sexual intercourse, and thus, don’t want to offer the cookie, so to speak, unless he’s the right one, which I’m on the look-out for.  Besides, I’ve seen way too many heart-aches to want to intentionally put myself through it.  I’m not ready to start writing poems about it either. 😉

This year, I’ve had better prospects when it comes to love and marriage. (And no, I don’t do that whole arranged marriage thing.  That’s not even from Islam, it’s more of a cultural thing – the subcontinent to be more specific.)  I’m meeting better guys (thankfully), however, I still haven’t met the one that I’m willing to sacrifice the rest of my life and happiness for.

While they teach you that marriage is happily ever after, it’s truly not. It’s a roller coaster ride where half the time you’re preventing yourself from killing this other person whom you somehow once loved, and trying to remember why it was you loved them in the first place. So, if I’m going to put myself through that, then he’d better be the right one. While marriage has it’s challenges, it’s also equally as amazing, wonderful and rewarding too, making that sacrifice worth it. As with anything in life, it has its pros and cons.

Getting married is easy. It’s the staying married part that worries me, especially in our society today where most people carry divorce in their back pocket. People no longer try to fix a relationship. And with Muslims, marriage has become synonymous with having sex. If you want to have sex, get married. While it is one of the perks, marriage is more than sex. Many divorces have happened because couples realized they really weren’t a good match and were merely driven by their hormones. Generally though, many people jump right into marriage blindly to begin with, not really realizing what they’re signing up for.

I guess for some people, it’s just one of those stages of life you’re supposed to go through. You go to school, you go to college, you get a job, and you get married and have children. So, they end up getting married to the first person they fall in love with and figure that love is enough to maintain a relationship. If it’s love as in the verb where you’re constantly working on it, then yes. But if it’s love as in the abstract noun and infatuation, then you’re going to need a little more than that to sustain a relationship in the long run. Many, unfortunately, had to learn this the hard way.

And then of course, you have that pressure from others who expect you to have that box ticked by a certain age or stage in your life. When are you getting married? You can’t keep saying no. You’re clock is ticking. If you want to have kids, you better get on that soon. And even worse, you’ll get these: Don’t worry about finding the one. Just get married. If it doesn’t work out, at least you have a child out of it and you can raise him/her on your own. It’s no biggy. It’s kinda the norm now. And sadly, it’s not only older women who are saying this, but younger ones too.  So, the whole purpose of getting married, apparently, is to have a kid? Not to have a life partner, nor to love and be loved and share your life with someone you consider not only to be your lover, but friend too.

While I love kids and would love to have them, I’d rather raise my kids with a loving husband, who will be there till death does us part (and no, I don’t plan on killing him ;)). I won’t rush into marriage just because my clock is ticking and I want to have children. I believe that every child deserves to be raised by a mother and father and it’s healthy for them to see their parents modeling how to be a mother and father, and wide and husband. I want to marry a man who I’d want my son to grow up just to be like, and my daughter wanting to be married to a man just like her father – setting her standards as high as they should.

Now, because I’ve had many prospects, people assume that I’m just picky. But that’s far from the truth. Every time I sit with someone and go over my mental list (I’ve never written it down), they agree that I’m not asking for too much.

And no, I’m not a gold-digger nor high maintenance.  A man with good character who is kind, generous, educated, puts in effort and chooses to put me as a priority trumps a man with fancy cars, loads of money who pampers me with gifts but doesn’t have character and puts himself first. Well, while I’m at this, I’d also like him to have a fun-loving personality, a good sense of humour, to be athletic/active, family-oriented, and intelligent – yes, I’m a saposexual. Feed my brain and my heart, and I’m sold!

Then, once I’ve established that I’m not picky, I get the… but men are intimidated by you. Look at all the places you’ve been to. Where you’ve lived. What you’ve accomplished in life. To that, I’d have to say, boys are intimidated, but not men. Moreover, it’s also those who come from a different paradigm than me.

While I travel a lot, I’m not rich. For the love of God, I don’t even have a car or house. Women who travel, believe it or not, are actually less materialistic than women who don’t.

While I’ve always been a strong woman, due to my life circumstances, I’m actually not as intimidating when people do get to know me (outside of all the boxes they decide to put me in). Because of my job and where I’ve lived, they assume I was this STRONG BLACK WOMAN, until they speak to me and realize I’m this big kid in a woman’s body – lol – not but seriously, I am.  The Toys R Us commercial jingle was made for me – I never grow up.  Unfortunately, if you’re a single woman and successful (and black in my case), you’re automatically put in the STRONG BLACK WOMAN or the “she’s definitely out of my league” box, shooting themselves in the foot before even trying – smh.

Thankfully, I know who I am, and what I want in life. I won’t rush into marriage, nor settle, just to be married and have kids. Yes, I want to love and be loved, but that’ll just have to wait until I find my Mr. Good-enough. I know he’s out there somewhere; our paths just haven’t crossed yet.  Or as one of my good friend joked, “he’s busy trying to figure out which countries you haven’t been to.” 😉

Marriage to me is a serious commitment, one were both parities have to equally invest in. And, until I find that person who is willing to put me first (as I would him), and puts his words into action, then I’ll continue my life as a happily single woman who lives life.

And to all those 30ish single women who have yet to find their one, don’t rush and give into fear. You’ll find him; he’s out there somewhere looking for you. In the meantime, live your life, follow your dreams, and do anything and everything you wouldn’t be able to do once you get married, settle down and have kids. That’s why I travel a lot. ☺

Footprints Towards a Global Perspective

Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 10.24.20 AM

Forty countries, eh?  I guess you can say I get around.  Although I’ve been to many countries, there’s still much more of the world to see – after all, I’ve only been to 18.52% of the world.  If I want to claim to be a global citizen, then surely, I must earn that badge, right?  Which is why I live this life as a traveller.

While I travel for adventure and pleasure, I also travel for personal growth and development. The interesting thing about traveling is, the more you travel, the more you realize you don’t know.  Just when you think you’ve seen it all, you go somewhere new to be re-baptized into this glorious world of ours, full of beauty, diversity, and wonders.

With each step I take, I shed any trace of pride, prejudice, fear and independence.  For when we travel, we are forced to share spaces, depend on strangers, and open ourselves to the unfamiliar. Only two things remain private to us: our sleep and our dreams – much like when we come forth from our mothers’ wombs, allowing us to be vulnerable again.

By allowing myself to be vulnerable, I create a platform to reshape my perspectives in life and the world around me, and to connect and reconnect with others.

So as I tread the world, I’ll continue to shed; and in its place,  I’ll continue to fill it with love, compassion and understanding.  And what a better way to contribute to this global world of ours with a global perspective?

 

Reducing a Language to 7 Words

Out of over 1 million words in the English language, do you think we could possibly survive only on 7 words?  Be able to understand one another? Well, Khalil Gibran thought so.  He once said, “We shall never understand one another until we reduce the language to seven words.”

This is the prompt that I came across today for my writing assignment in my Blogging 101 course:

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 12.30.26 PM

As I sat there reading the prompt, taking it in, I was trying to think of which seven words would be sufficient enough for people to understand one another, engage in effective dialogues and have healthy relationships with others.  I saw this as a challenge to myself.  Out of all the words, which seven words would be able to stand on their own, and have everyone communicating effectively with one another?

Would the seven words consist of our basic human needs: food, water and shelter?

But wait, we’re talking about understanding one another now, right? So it’s more than just the basic physiological needs then. So perhaps a spin off of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs?

And how about love? Clearly, there’s no life without love and the world definitely needs more love? But… love is an emotion right? And our facial expressions would be able to communicate love, as it would sadness, and anger, etc. So, should we give an entire word to love or any other emotion? I’ll go with no. If my face can tell you, I’ll reserve my words.

Hmm.  What words do I use on a daily basis? Communicative words that is.

Then I started to think about the times I was traveling to places where English wasn’t their first language, like when I was on this local night bus in Thailand, on my way to Malaysia with no one knowing English on the bus, and then when we made a pit stop for bathroom breaks in this small village, I was hungry but there wasn’t any food around. But I needed to eat, so I had to communicate with them to find some food. How did I communicate with them? I pantomimed! It was easy enough. With my hands near my mouth pretending to put food in my mouth and raised eyebrows, I was able to effectively communicate that I was hungry and wanted to eat.

So what things cannot be communicated by our facial expressions? Or pantomiming?

What are words that I like to learn before traveling to a foreign country?

Then I started to think about rules.  Would conjugating the words or adding suffixes and prefixes make it a new word? Or could we stick to the root word and whether it’s a conjugation or not, it’s still one word? I decided that conjugating a word didn’t make it a new word.

So, I sat there at the dining room table, with a cup of tea in my hand, deciding to type whatever words came to mind first and stick with those seven.  I looked at my own life and how I communicate with those around me, going over exchanges with loved ones, strangers, kids, adults, friends, colleagues, and asked myself once more: Which 7 words would I need to express to others, to effectively communicate.  So, I put down my cup of tea, and these were the words which came to mind first:

  1. A word of gratitude: Thanks/Beautiful.
  2. A word to apologize: Sorry.
  3. A word to express happiness for others: Congratulations.
  4. A word to greet others: Greetings/Peace.
  5. A word to express openness and invitations: Welcome.
  6. A word to show you are in need: Help.
  7. A word to negate any of the above: No.

As I finished typing the last word, other words that came to mind were words to show appreciation, kindness and despair. I figured they’d fall under gratitude, greetings and welcome, and help respectively. I also thought of please and excuse me, as these are words I tend to make sure I learn before traveling to countrie’s where I don’t know the language. But greetings and sorry – especially for a Canadian 😉 – should be sufficient.

I still kind of want to add love to the list, but I’ve assured myself that love is something that’s better off shown than said. As many times, it’s quite meaningless when all it is is just a word.  As Extreme said, “More than words to show you feel, that your love for me is real.”

How about you? Which seven words do you think would be sufficient to maintain a healthy relationship with others where we are all understood?

Dear eighteen year old me,

Eighteen, eh? Wow – you’ve got the whole world ahead of you! You are definitely up for quite an interesting journey. There are many things that I can share with you, to help avoid major hiccups and heartaches in the future; but to be honest, I don’t think I’d like to change anything in our life, as I like it just the way it is – the good, the bad and ugly too. Besides, there’ll be too many butterflies if I do. (You’ll understand this at some point in time later in the future when you end up watching this TV show.)

However, if I could share one thing, it would probably be this:

Don’t be in a rush to go into university. Take a gap year or two even. Travel the world alone, abroad somewhere. Pick a place where the language is foreign to you, and the culture is different. Volunteer; get a job halfway across the globe, do whatever – just keep moving and exploring and learning about the world first hand.

You may think you’re pretty big right now, but honey, you’re only 18. How could you possibly know what you want to be in life or what career path you’d like to take if you haven’t been exposed to life yet? You need to know yourself better and see the world out there first.

The world out there is quite big and there’s much to learn. No textbook will ever teach you in the same way.

So what are you waiting for? Book that ticket now. University can wait.

Lovingly Yours,

The Hibster

Advantages and Disadvantages of being a TCK

So, being raised in Canada and other countries, I’m definitely a TCK. As with everything in life, there are advantages and challenges with being a TCK*.

Advantages:

1. You’re a global citizen.
You have friends from all over the globe.  You can even start your own united nations if you wanted to.

2. You have no problem making new friends.
There’s a party, sure, I’d love to go with you.  You can’t make it anymore, no worries, just tell me the address and I’ll go on my own.  

3. You embrace change and know how to let things go.
We’re moving again?  Okay, when are we moving? I want to invite my friends over one last time before we leave.  Just tell me when to start packing.

4. You have a better understand of people.
Yeah, they’re celebrating Diwali.  It’s quite an interesting celebration. I love the colours!

5. You’re more openminded.
Well, you probably know people from all walks of life. So, nothing really surprises you. And you learn to focus on the similarities rather than the differences.

6. You know how to be vulnerable, which is great in relationships.
Moving around a lot and having to make friends quickly makes you quite vulnerable in ways you couldn’t have even imagined.  And then you realize, it’s because of your vulnerability that you were able to connect with people so easily and quickly.  And as science has shown it some recent articles, being able to be vulnerable within the first hour of meeting someone creates an immediate bond.

7. You live your life to the fullest, living in the moment.
Your inner child always comes out, and whether you’re traveling or at home, you make the most of your life.

cropped-dubai.jpg cropped-toronto.jpg

Disadvantages: 

1. Your parents want you to attribute yourself more towards their culture as you get older.
Nope, not happening.  Kinda too late for that. 

2. Your parents want you to go back ‘home’.
 Really?  Now how’s that home?

3. They want you to marry someone from their culture?
If they’re like me, okay.  Otherwise, na ah!

4. You have to constantly explain away the weird stuff your parents do, to your friends.
Yeah, umm… that’s not a skirt my dad’s wearing… and my mom does have fashion sense, it’s just how people dress back ‘home’.

5. You don’t really know which culture you belong to.
You seem to have a foot in each culture.

6. While you’re comfortable with your parents’ culture and are proud of it and align yourself with it, once you get off the plane when visiting your parents ‘home’, you quickly realize that those people are not like you.
Did I say I was from there?  Yeah, I’m definitely not.  When are we going back home???

7. Visiting relatives and keeping in touch involves hopping on planes and a gazillion  phone cards over the years.
And, when speaking to them on the phone, you have to pretend you know exactly who they are and be polite all at the same time, while struggling to maintain a conversation in their native tongue.

________________________

* A TCK is defined as an individual who has spent a significant part of their childhood years outside of their parents’ culture.

I write because…

I write because
It forces me to reflect,
To look deep within myself,
To question myself,
To ponder my existence,
To understand my desires,
And realize my silenced needs.

reflectionsI write because
I have a voice that needs to be heard,
A narrative that needs to be shared,
A wrong that needs to be ‘writed’
A vulnerability that needs to be exposed,
A lie that needs to be liberated,
A truth that needs to be set free.

I write because
There’s nothing mightier than the pen in
Silencing ignorance and prejudice,
Debunking misconceptions,
Curing narrow-mindedness,
Broadening and shifting paradigms
– A true agent for knowledge and understanding.

I write because
Once my thoughts become written words,
They now become a conscious reality,
No longer dormant – out in the light of day,
A montage of my five senses,
A channel into my life mosaic,
A publication of my subconscious.

I write because
It’s an expression of my subsistence,
A product of my imagination,
A platform for my dreams,
A brand of my creativity,
Telling the world, here I am,
This, is me.

I write, because.

__________________

I’m taking the Writing101 course hosted by WordPress.  For our first assignment, we were asked to sit down for 15 or 30 minutes and write a post about why we write, beginning our post with “I write because”.  Hope you enjoyed it. 🙂

Why You Should Consider Working Abroad

20140809_131209I’m lounging here with a cocktail in hand, with my feet submerged in soft white sand – the warmth of the sun hugging my body. In front of me, nothing but clear turquoise pristine water kissing the horizon, with marine life and colourful coral reefs in clear sight. To my left and right, palm trees line the beach facing the sea as if to welcome everyone as they come on the island. I pinch myself… am I dreaming? Nope, this is really happening – just another weekend in island heaven.

That was my life recently when I lived and worked in Malaysia. And before that, I lived and worked in one of the most sought out cities for expats – Dubai – the land of superlatives. Never would I have imagined growing up that I’d be living in places like I have as an expat. Sure, I always dreamt about travelling the world and living in exotic places as a child, but I thought it was just that – a dream.

How’d I get here? It’s quite simple – I said yes. I said yes to new experiences. I said yes to uncertainty. I said yes to taking risks. I said yes to adventure. I said yes to opportunities that came knocking on my door, and I silenced all the fears and the what-ifs and said YES, which opened a multitude of doors!

My traveling began a year after finishing university, when I decided to pack my bags and take on a teaching position abroad. It was a huge risk as it always is when you decide to start a new life overseas. A move like this means you’re going be immersing yourself in a different culture, living in a place where you possibly don’t understand the language, and essentially starting everything anew. You’re entrusting your life and livelihood with your new employers, looking for a place you’ll be calling home for the duration of your contract in a short amount of time in a city you know nothing about, possibly furnishing your own home (if it’s unfurnished), and of course, making new friends. As daunting and stressful as this sounds, trust me when I say, it’s totally worth it!

Why? Not only are you getting international work experience and learning about new cultures and working styles, but also because the cost of living tends to be much lower, and as an expat you’re not only given a salary but incredible benefits, you can save more. So, you’ve gotten your undergrad and a master’s degree, but owe $xxxxx amount in student loans. By working abroad, chances are you’ll be able pay off your student loans in a much shorter time. Looking to buy a house at home? Well, again, you got more in your savings bringing you that much closer to buying your new home.

Having the company you work for take care of your housing, transportation, etc. so that your salary goes directly to your account means a better style of life, a better social life, and new adventures that you possibly could have never afforded at home, especially if you’re living hand to mouth.

Since saying yes and silencing all my fears, my life has taken me to places beyond my imagination, allowed me to cross paths with spectacular people along the way opening even more doors to more career opportunities, and enabled me to have a plethora of experiences that will definitely keep me going in my later years when my little legs can no longer carry me.

And how does this translate to work? Stating the obvious – you have international work experience.  What does that mean?  It means you understand how different markets work and have a better commercial awareness.  Considering the global world we live in today and global economies, that’s definitely a tremendous benefit.  Moreover, you’re more cultured, have better communication skills (and chances are you’ll add a language or two to your resume), have a better sense of self (more confident and self-aware), and generally, you’re more well rounded and will have developed all the key skills that employers look for like: ability to be a team player, flexibility, independence, leadership skills, organizational skills, negotiation and problem solving skills, responsibility, self-reliance, and working well under pressure.

So what are you waiting for?