Why You Should Not Pursue Happiness

Yes, you read that right.

“Happiness” is a word that is tossed around not quite so carelessly as it should be. Or maybe it’s tossed around too carelessly that we’ve forgotten what it actually means. 

We all want to be “happy”, but the concept of this so called “happiness” is so misconstrued that our minds have barely grasped it, let alone experience or enjoy it.

We envision happiness as this ultimate golden ball of sunshine that will miraculously come find us when the time is “right” and/or on a day when all our troubles will magically disappear like soap bubbles that pop and leave no trace behind.

For better or worse, happiness is not merely an ‘ideal’ situation, it is a conscious decision. And like most conscious decisions, effort is required to project its effects on our life. For example, if you’ve made a conscious decision to lose weight, you will have to do mental effort (and that is how you will discipline yourself to follow a certain diet that will control your calorie intake) and the physical effort to actually go to the gym to burn those stubborn calories off so you can achieve your ‘ideal’ weight. This is how your efforts will result in the physical manifestation of your decision in your life.

Truth is, happiness is not the absence of all problems. It is that bubbly feeling that fizzes in our chest even in the presence of all the problems that threaten to weigh us down. Admittedly, it is a diffucult decision, when all you want to do is curl up in a fetal position and mourn all the calamities that have befallen you. You’re allowed to do that too, but then you must make another decision to not let such moments linger on for too long so that they don’t cement themselves permanently in your lifestyle and retain their position as a momentary lapse instead.

We were children once, blissful and ignorant of all that the world had to offer. “Life seemed so much simpler then,” we reminiscence as we think about how complicated life has currently become. We don’t realize that just like us, happiness grows up too. Just like we develop different aspects of our personality, happiness does too. Just as we are not two dimensional, so isn’t happiness. Just as we don’t stay in the same place, both physically and intellectually, happiness doesn’t too.

When you were five, getting that one Barbie doll or a toy car or a box of chocolates had the capacity to make you squeal with delight. As you’ve gotten older, now your happiness comes from getting a newer version of some fancy phone or a perfect instagram selfie or whatever.

Seemingly, the idea of happiness is constant but its shape is not. When you are young, you are just getting the taste of life and happiness is handed to you on a silver platter in its primary form (this is the reason why your happiness stemmed from such superficial things, then. And those things don’t have that much of an effect now that you’ve gotten older). It is when you grow older and start to understand the ropes of life and the world around you, that is when your happiness changes accordingly (notice how I’ve used the word start, we’re not pros at life and that’s fine too).

Happiness becomes more complex and seemingly difficult to obtain because we forget to recognize and cherish it because we’re too busy trying to ‘keep it together’ in life. 

When you level up and proceed to succeed in a video game, the stages get harder but that doesn’t necessarily seem like a burden because with that difficulty, there is a certain validation and the struggle itself is proof that you are getting ahead. Even if you scramble, get frustrated or find yourself in the dark realms of sadness, just remember that in that difficulty, life has given you a level up. And like other things in your life that will change, when you level up, happiness will too.

It’s kind of like love. When you truly love someone, you love them regardless of their flaws and shortcomings. You love them for who they are in essence. Same is the case with happiness, the state of being happy is not due to the complete absence of worries, it is your decision that elevates you from these problems and makes you revel at the beauty of everything despite its flaws. 

In reality, the so called “flaw” or problem will remain as it is (permanently or for the time being) but you can choose to alter your view about it. 

Choose whether you can afford to be happy about it. This decision isn’t always pleasant, but it is worthwhile. I promise.

You’ll realize that when you stop pursuing happiness and make a conscious choice to embody it instead, that is when happiness will start pursuing you, instead of the other way round.


The Hawk Who Was Afraid of a Hummingbird

I wrote this poem quite some time ago, and have recently gathered the courage to publish it. I was about 13-14 when I managed to translate these thoughts on paper (used to write a lot of poetry in those days lol). Originally, this poem was supposed to be a part of my book called Bittersweet (more on that later). Hope you enjoy!


In the broad blue sky

How the sun shone, oh my!

The trees whispered in the wind

The rubies ripened to the rind


The fledglings raced each other

Then chirped their mother

Like a smoky thunder cloud

Engulfing the foamy cumulus ones


The hawk whizzed forth aloud

And attached like the Huns

Nearby trailed a valiant hummingbird

“Kind sir”, it started


“I know it is absurd

But in the wrong direction I darted

Would you care?

To point out

The south lair


I know it is near

The hawk started

But words parted

And fear seized him


His eyes grew dim

“Oh, I pray you

Begone from my sight!

That is all I can do,

I implore you with all my might!”


The little ebon jewel snorted

“Ha, you shouldn’t be afraid

It retorted

“I am not a ghost who’ll fade


It is inconceivable that I am

The sister of a pebble

Not a master you should damn

Kind sir, do not tremble!


You should puff up your chest

In a pompous manner

And kill whom you detest

For you are a cunning planner”


“Stay away from me, you!

The mere sight of you sears, my eyes

Please do…………

Here my goodness dies,


Your smile lights up

Your leaden self

And overflows your cup

You elf!

But alas! It is I,

The brave hawk

Tis, better I die

Life hath failed my might,


Your heart pumps

And forms no lumps

Your wings flap in lavender air

That once was very dear


My worm stung blood

Intoxicates my head

Like mud

And pollutes my bed


My wings you so admire

Are my wreckage

And flap around them

The raffelsia’s hem


I gnashed bones

Pierced innocent fresh

And heard devastated tones

But I tore their mesh


Begone from my sight!

I implore you

And fly to your height

Or I will devour you!”


The hawk hissed

And melted in the mist


“Nowt that hawk

Was mate of mock

He puckered his beak at me

The beast!

And accused my heart that ran free

Our banquets hold our feast

Our skies hold our wings

But we tint our blood

With our deeds and things

Oh God, make our goodness flood!”





Feature image credits:









Not A Mermaid’s Magic Trick

“I want to be where the people are..”

Admit it, you’re probably singing along right this second if you’re a fan of “The Little Mermaid” soundtrack like me. Sometimes it takes the slightest version of a stimulus to trigger a deep and powerful memory within us.

Unlike most people, I don’t shy away from or try to cloak my love for animated Disney films. Especially the classics like “The Little Mermaid,” “Mulan”, “The Lion King”, just to name a few of my favorites. I admit, that when I’m feeling particularly under the weather, I don’t hesitate to watch these films that had me believing in talking animals and enchanting forests in my childhood.

As I grew up, I was told that, factually, this magic does not exist in “real life”. As if facts are the only foundations on which one has to base his/her life on, and quite foolishly, I believed everyone.

Until I saw the color bleed from my life and trickle away like runny watercolors dripping from a canvas, leaving it damp and blank.

That was when I came to a very important conclusion.

Of course magic doesn’t exist in the external environment because I’ve been harboring it within myself since God knows when.

Before you accuse me of being too idealistic or gullible or whatever, I assure you that what I claim to be true will make sense to you once you hear me out, all biases aside (and I’m not referring to the kpop ones, those who know, know.)

“Part of Your World” has been a gem of a song in “The Little Mermaid” soundtrack and I’ve been humming  and singing it since I was six. I vividly remember getting entranced by Ariel’s voice and trying to mimic the high notes she sang as I found myself getting sucked up in her world. I also remember wanting to be a mermaid with a tail as shimmery (if not more) than hers. It couldn’t fathom why such an extraordinarily enchanting being would want to be an ordinary human like me. It didn’t make much sense to me, then.

But I’ve figured it out now (kind of).

We beings always yearn to be someone, or someplace where we are not. As if contentment or the promise of eternal happiness lies in another person or a place that seems to draw us toward it. Things always seem so much greener and prosperous on the other side. Particularly on the side where we are not present. And we police ourselves into believing that if we could just become that or buy this or move there, our smiles might not be so empty anymore.

Granted, new things and experiences are exciting. But are they really worth it if they result in you letting yourself go? Aren’t you all you have?

You can upgrade it or downgrade it or sugarcoat it any way you want to but it’ll still be a stark truth.

You are all you have.

Let that sink in.

Sometimes we forget simple things like this because we get caught up in the whirlwind of life.

“I’ve got gadgets and gizmos..”

“I want moreeeee…”

“She’s got everything….”

For those of you wondering if the writer has finally gone off the bend (which, admittedly, may or may not be true), these are some bits and pieces that are swirling around like ocean waves in my head as I am writing this article.

The point is, Ariel wanted something that we humans already possess. Seemingly trivial luxuries like legs or the privilege to reside on this earth and walk on it. Your lifestyle, however problematic you think it to be, is probably the object of someone else’s dreams.  Someone may be willing to carry your burdens for you if you exchange your problems with theirs. Your mother may roll her eyes after listening to whatever you were ranting about to her and tell you to “quit whining” because she “had it worse” than you.

While she may be teaching you a lesson of gratitude but her calamities are not a get-out-of-jail-free card for you.

Just because she felt compromised during her time (past or present), that does not strip you of your right to feel how you feel. You do not need to justify your feelings.

Your feelings are simply not logical, you can’t make a graph out of them or add them to statistics. However, that does not mean that they are insignificant.

Because they are. If not for anyone, then for you, definitely.

It’s not your fault someone else struggles more than you or less.

It’s interesting how we construct these colossal sculptures of faults in us that aren’t ours to possess after all.

Honey, why don’t you put them on display in a museum instead? That way you’ll actually benefit from them.

We forget in pursuit of perfection, that perfection lies not in the absence of faults, rather in the acceptance and firm belief that yes, even though we are scarred and our flags are torn and worn out, that will not stop us from waving them without shame.

You may be in a position of your life right now that may make you want to curse your life.

Well, Ariel wanted to be you.

She wanted to live your privilege.

So what exactly is the problem? Does one take a shot at optimism because of some Disney character?

If the answer does not lie in the perceived perfection of others or standards of society then where is it?

In a place where you do not care to look.

In yourself.

No place or no body will seem worthy or “enough” if you do not find the magic within yourself first.

But what exactly is this “magic”? And how does one find it in oneself? And why is it so important in the first place?

It’s simply leaning your head back, taking a deep breath and relishing your perspective. Finding fulfillment within yourself. Your little secret against the world.

So what if it’s different? Or weird?

It’s yours and that’s all that matters.

You are the lead character in your life so why bother worrying about what the extras think of you? If they were as good as you, they would’ve gotten the lead role in your life instead of you.

Learn to appreciate the first chirps that break the early morning’s silence, the gradient in the sky, the harmonious melody of silence, your mind’s constant chatter as it tries to preach sense into you or just talk to you.

Believe it or not, silence has its own music and it’s not as haunting as it seems. It’s just a question of listening closely.

You don’t have to know all the answers, you just have to appreciate those that you do have and never stop searching for the ones you don’t. It’s okay if you accept the lack of answers in some cases too.

Not every pair of socks has to match, you know.

Sometimes you have to appreciate the beauty of what isn’t and concoct your own personal version for it.

For yourself and nobody else.

You’ll realize that you have more colors flowing you than the rainbow itself.

And even when it rains, you’ll learn that the sky isn’t sobbing at all because these raindrops look like little crystal gems falling from the sky that sound like marbles and melt as soon as they land somewhere. Or maybe that these tears weren’t because of sorrow but because of joy instead.

And you know what?

Spoiler alert: You’ll be alright, because even though finding your magic isn’t as easy as it sounds, that doesn’t mean that it’s not there.

I’ll be honest with you, the journey to finding your magic and self acceptance is no walk in the park, it’s difficult and an uphill task but the destination will make you glad that you went through that arduous journey, because once you do, you’ll realize that what you have within you is so much more than an illusion or sleight of hand.

It’s true that you can’t control the world or even your feelings. But you do control how you choose to look at things. Your perspective is one thing you can control. Most of the time, it won’t be easy to look on the upside when things are, clearly, going downhill but it’s not impossible. If there dares to be a thunderstorm, then those clouds also have a silver lining, no matter how you convince yourself otherwise.

And that makes all the difference in the world, and consequently, in yours too.

Macbeth’s Letter to Self

(The following excerpt has been translated and modernized as per the standards of modern English language, it was found in a remote cave near Scotland.)

I don’t know where I am right now. But I do know that this place isn’t hell.

Perhaps, I had to bear hell in my life and I’m finally in peace?

Perhaps things do balance out after all.

But then, why do I hear the screams of Macduff’s children? The maniacal cries of my wife? The cackles of the witches, who had managed to trap me!

Why do I lie to myself? I’ve been lying to myself all these years, maybe it is time to tell the truth, to myself. The witches only showed me a path. A tempting one, but it was only a path. I walked on it myself. Only I am to blame for my own fate! For someone who claimed to love himself so much, that he brutally killed the King of Scotland, truth is, I began to hate myself in the end. Isn’t love what gets us into hate in the first place?

Perhaps love and hate are secret partners who scheme together to increase those influenced by them, just so they can enlarge their empire. I will believe anything now, the world is a haven for impostors.

Love for power, love for wealth, love for one’s name to be remembered in the prestigious Scottish history. But alas, it was this love that had gotten my head on a spear. They all seem so happy now. So content. Finally free from my tyranny, I suppose. While I am my own victim. I was a tyrant to myself too. The irony almost makes me want to smile. But I have forgotten how to, so long ago. Should the corners of my mouth go up or down? It seems like a lifetime away.

I can feel the remaining strains of happiness straying away from me. Perhaps I wasn’t destined to be happy after all. But who wrote such a destiny for me? Who carved my murder on the oracle of providence?

I can’t even see anything now, but I know I am not content. Not free. In an attempt to hurt others, I had ended up hurting myself. Maybe it is not so bad after all. When I let myself go, the world had no reason to hold on to me. My wife promised me a splendid future, but in the end, she ended up taking it away from herself. Left me all alone! Treason, I say!

Apparently I have not learned from history, it is not betrayal until it is done by someone you trust. Otherwise, it would just be a standard selfish, human action. Have we become so accustomed to egotistical behavior that we don’t really think of it as a problem, but rather, a convention?

Not sure if I should be thankful or filled with regret at having not been able to witness the demise of mankind. Quite candidly, I would have enjoyed it. Would have loved ruling over those who have no souls. Or possibly, too much of it.

If fate had to offer me a chance to go back and fix it, would I? I don’t think I would. I hate myself too much to make things right for myself. I find that the color red, rather suits me. If I were not the killer, then someone else would have spilled my blood instead and I would have been stabbed to death quietly. No one would have remembered my name in that case, if they would, then they would call me a kind king, maybe? How many times have good rulers made history exciting or shaped its course?

It is hate that drives us anyway. I’d rather be hated than loved. For hate is pettier, if not a stronger force than love and denying humans of pettiness is a truly impossible feat. This way, my name will be branded in history, because in the end, love fades and it is hate that remains engraved forever. Like how I was praised in the beginning and spat on, in the end.


(Cover photo source: blog.echovar.com


The Little Girl

Inside me lives a little girl

All she does is whine and hurl

At the unfairness of it all

She is a victim of circumstance

Who refuses to be acknowledged as one

She has her own pride

So she doesn’t like to glide

I know she is weak

But stubborn as a mule

And not afraid of a duel

I must care for her

So that when things start to blur,

She can finally rest in peace


Truly Dauntless

Braveheart. Courageous. Gallant. Lionheart.

As I write these words, there is an image of brave people with muscular arms and scowling faces that may come to your mind. Or at least my mind, that is. Perhaps we’re driven to consider them brave because they’ve single-handedly ripped a crocodile’s jaws apart. Or perhaps you consider someone like Alexander III of Macedon, brave. Collecting states like one collects stamps.

But I don’t agree with any of you. All these acts of bravery involve something; safety, pride, honor, ego. As if they stand guard over these acts of valor and monitor them. So what exactly is dauntlessness according to my labyrinthine ideas?

True valor is the act of signing your own fate in black. Someone like Macbeth, who created his own torturous reality, even when he knew all the consequences. What greater dauntlessness than the act of writing your own fate on the oracle of doom?

When you are brave enough to skydive without a parachute, just to see how you fare. Those who are rational, would probably scrunch their faces in disgust at this thought. They’ll consider this utter foolishness.

But then again, I’m not rational, hence the immense capacity to self-destruct.

What has rationality given us anyway? That moment of pure thrill and apprehension is better than all the years spent in fear. You can either hide in a damp basement or you can come out to play. You’ll die either way, so why shouldn’t you make it worthwhile?

Perhaps being smart is the way to go. Speaking only when you’re spoken to. Navigating carefully through life. But for those who plan ahead, aren’t they robbed of the joy of the moment?

Carpe diem, a cliche aphorism, is not that easy to embody. The struggle behind it makes it all the more intriguing, if not practical, for some.

True bravery is the act of putting yourself in danger, for yourself and by yourself. Paradoxical? Maybe. Completely against man’s nature to survive? Maybe. But doesn’t nature evolve and change ever so slyly? Handpicking only those who have adapted to the maximum capacity. Perhaps we’ve created such an environment for ourselves that self-destruction is the only way to survive?

Isn’t that quite addicting in itself? Thrilling, even? You do the opposite of what is expected from you. You wholeheartedly embrace everything that was designed to hurt you, until it can’t hurt you anymore. Isn’t that the crux of bravery? Knowing the consequences but still going in for the jump? Perhaps we still haven’t ventured in the true concept of bravery because we lack the proper apparatus.

We are too busy trying to destroy our demons instead of learning how to tame them.

Dirty Socks and Confrontations

We like to run away from things that threaten us. Our first animal instinct. These threatening things can either be tangible, like someone coming towards you with a saw or intangible, like when someone’s words tend to break your heart, for those of you mere mortals who still have one, that is.

Just like dirty socks, you prefer to throw away these situations in a dark corner of your room and not face them till the mound grows to such an extent that it topples over. But that’s the thing with confrontations, they never really go away unless you do something about them. Unless you physically pick up that sock and place it in the laundry bag. Or you could rely on some other  “pretty” analogy to help to understand, because I won’t sugar coat it for you.

Confrontations are best served raw.

The more you try to embellish or avoid them, you’re just complicating things for yourself. Bad news is easy to avoid but hard to face, because even though we all pretend to be realistic in life, deep down we’re all idealists (one or another), who occasionally compromise on their values because we’re too afraid. Bravery is one of those things that can be idealized endlessly but is difficult to implement in the real world.

But then again, the real world isn’t meant to be a suitable place for idealists.

Like the cracks in glass that eventually cause it to shatter, lack of confrontations shatters many things, such as trust, relationships, practical life matters, you name it. It’s always hard coming to terms with confrontational situations, but you have to if you don’t want a life of regrets and constant self torture. Just get it over with and deal with the consequences. Human beings are surprisingly resilient creatures.

It’s basically like when you jump off a diving board  and there’s this moment of pure apprehension when you don’t know what will happen next. So do it, confront matters and sweep them out from under the carpet. Wash your dirty socks, work things out in your laundry and life in general because you’ve had enough of this stabbing guilt, and you deserve clean socks too (let’s be real for once). Oh, and the feeling of exhilaration and relief after confrontations isn’t so bad either.

The Fate of Oppressors

It’s funny how dictators and other oppressors think they can simply kill or hurt all those who differ from them. Come to think of it, killing people is all they all do. Makes you feel sorry for them, to be honest. That’s because it is literally all they can do. Nothing more.

So powerless.

These oppressors can’t defeat the purpose or the impact of those they thought to be so revolutionary that they must be wiped off from the face of the earth. They’re just like a child eating bon bons. He can continuously  unwrap the them and eat them in the process but he can’t do anything if the chocolate stains his shirt and is absolutely helpless in determining the composition of the bon bons. The chocolate may be gone but the wrapper will still remain and there’s nothing he can do about it, except throw it away. But just because you throw something away, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist anymore. This is the same with dictators who don’t like to reveal their true disruptive nature because they are afraid of pointing fingers.

Too bold to commit murder but too cowardly to accept it.

How consistent.

In the end, this is what they must resort to. Torture and murder. Perhaps they think that they are setting a precedent for all those who dare to oppose them but look at all the cruel precedents set by the dictators in history. Even if they were effective, it was only for a brief period of time. Because how many people can you kill and torture? The entire human race, maybe? But then again, you oppressors would be left alone and will probably end up getting the homo sapiens specie extinct. But you don’t really care about the future generation do you? If you did, you wouldn’t demean yourself like this and wouldn’t set such a pitiful and cruel example for them. Perhaps you want them to be as ruthless as you are. Fine then. They’ll end up becoming so ruthless that they won’t even come to your grave or pray for you or even mention you with pride. They’ll  end up spitting out your name and ridiculing you if they don’t curse you first.

Perhaps this is the legacy you want to leave behind, and rightly so. You deserve it.

You see, all those activities you so carefully designed to empower yourself and to wipe out revolutionary ideas, it is you will end up getting hurt and wiped out at the end. Think of it as the domino effect, you disturbed them and now you’ll have to face the consequences. And you will, inevitably.

Karma is not as mythical as it seems.

No matter how much you try to deny it or run away from it. Because even though revolutionaries can be oppressed, you can’t suppress revolution. The world is not formed by mere human bodies but by ideals, beliefs, values, and morals of different people from different regions. And if you’re practical about it, you can’t “kill” ideas. So if you think you can do “anything” and kill whomever, then think again, because that’s just an illusion.

It’s interesting how the intangible things make the world go round. The invisible attraction between the Sun and Earth, the invisible supremacist ideals and values you hold so close to your heart yet you claim that you don’t believe in things you can’t see. The world is being inherited by those who are intolerant and intolerance is the impostor that seems to befriend you initially, but in the long run you’ll see how this intolerance will come back to haunt you. The reason I’m telling you that all your hatred towards others is hatred towards yourself is because I understand that human beings are acutely selfish creatures and the only way to make them consider something is to give them an incentive that will benefit them. Or in this case, harm them. In conclusion, you’re can’t stop those offending revolutionary ideas, you end up damaging so much more than your ego and you are the one who will fall on your sword. But your end won’t be come as some noble suicide, it’ll be torturous and painful. You can’t complain, really. You sealed your fate yourself.

Losing Lashes

Do you lose lashes often?

You find them on your hand as you rub your eyes after salty rivers run down your cheeks.Some lashes end up in your eye. Those keratin based bodies are designed to protect your eye but they end up causing discomfort to them. That is how it is with different aspects in life. Like friends and family. Yes, I consider different people around me as aspects. Bur that is nothing to be ashamed of. Some destined to vanish after a short time, some stay on for a longer period of time. Notice how I don’t mention forever.

I don’t believe in forever.

Forever is just an idea that we humans have come up with that is romanticized excessively, and we like to rely on it to comfort us during our best and worst times.

“These hard times won’t last forever.”

“I’ll stay with you forever .”

Little do we know, that this little comforting idea of “forever” basically goes on to hurt us in the future and we don’t even brace ourselves for its devastating impact. Instead we like to “hope for the best” and rely on our imagination and delusions. Pretty pathetic, I know.

We’re all fragments of DNA, energy, decisions and dreams in this temporary world that is designed to test our mettle. The people around you, like your friends are like lashes. You lose them quite frequently, there’s a sinking feeling in your stomach every time you do so but then you manage to get over it. You have to. Your body will make up for it even if your brain refuses to do so but then again, the brain’s healing machinery will take over too and it will have no choice but to heal itself. And you thought you had control over body.

People drift in and out of your life all the time. What makes them significant or insignificant is the way they exit from your life. Most of the time, it’s not always the big rows and quarrels that end your relationships with people. That is the easy way out, if you ask me. It’s harder to cope with your relationship which have frayed at the ends when you gradually fall apart. You don’t remember their birthdays. You talk less. Small talk substitutes your banter and intimate stories. You don’t confide in them anymore. It’s like the lash that doesn’t necessarily break off but it’s there. It pokes you in your eye but it never really goes away.That is how it is with some relationships that used to mean so much to you, initially.

You end up in this uncomfortable foggy realm with these people who seem like strangers but you don’t know what to do with them. Approach them and make it awkward? Ignore them and wait for the guilt to strike? Will you be too intrusive? Some relationships end with a proper climax scene. You fight, argue and finally decide that you can’t work out your differences and separate. That is actually quite convenient, but it hurts nonetheless, even if you don’t admit it.

Like some lashes that end up hurting your eye, there are also some relationships which end up hurting something much more significant, like your trust. This trust or lack thereof helps you see the best and worst in people. But at the end of the day, they’re all just lashes, supportive but eventually they’ll fall off. Some may grow back, some won’t and you’ll learn to get over it, eventually, but you’ll notice how much or little the shape of your eye is affected by their presence or absence. This is how we humans work. We are resilient enough to get over different relationships but not resilient enough. Because all those relationships will end up framing your lifestyle, thought process and personality. Quite similar to the way your lashes frame your eyes.


Standards of Ugly

“How much does this whitening cream cost?”

“Can I have this foundation lighter/darker than my actual skin color?”

“This foundation in the shade ivory seems about right for you, miss.” A saleswoman told me when I went shopping with my friend. We both gave each other funny looks because no way in hell I am “ivory” or even close. For those who don’t know, I am a brown Pakistani woman. Simply put. Desi as can be and I’m not ashamed of it. Being half-pathan (pashtuns from the northern areas of Pakistan with considerably pale skin tones) doesn’t necessarily “improve” my skin tone because the gene responsible for the milky pathani skin tone got lost among my mother’s brown Punjabi genes. As if genes have different colors. But don’t worry we’ll soon find a way to discriminate against them too, even if they do. This is 2017 and racism isn’t going anywhere ladies and gentlemen. Consistency at its best.

I see some painstakingly sunbathing and burning to a crisp in the process to get the coveted “tan” that most South Asian women try so hard to get rid of.


The trouble is not with those tanning gels or whitening creams, the companies behind them are simply exploiting the ideals of beauty which people base their sole existence on. You see, the problem lies not in the availability of these items but the ideals that sustain them. Our so called “standards” of beauty. More suitably, the standards of ugly which we try to avoid. For example if we associate dark skin with ugliness, we’re setting that as a standard to avoid and hence we’ll end up using tubfuls of whatever cheap whitening cream we can get out hands on. It’s funny how something as versatile as beauty can be forcibly allowed to conform to a certain standard. It’s like wearing uniforms, but not that flattering.

For those of you wondering if I’ll quote something cute like “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” or something along those lines then don’t worry, I won’t. Because thin noses, plenty of lid space, almond shaped eyes are just some standards of beauty that we’ve conjured based on the “eye of the beholder” type sayings. There are about 7 billion people in the world, all with different likes, dislikes, ideals of beauty. So why do you want to seem beautiful to some beholder? Why can’t you perceive the beauty within you without needing admirers? I get it, it’s hard but not impossible. After all you’re doing this for yourself and these “standards” are just mere intangible ideals, nothing more.

Some people resort to cosmetic surgery to be perceived beautiful because even if we don’t admit it, we’re all superficial. Some like me, have accepted the fact that they don’t fit in the standards of beauty  and will remain ugly trolls forever. Just kidding. Truth is, you shouldn’t be able to fit in a standard to consider yourself to be “pretty”. What does that word even mean? I think lizards are pretty and you think there’s nothing uglier than them. What you or I think of them won’t necessarily contribute to their existence in any way.

Get up and look at yourself in the mirror. You can hate yourself for what you have or you can learn to love yourself. Notice how I used the word “learn” when I mentioned the part about loving yourself, because I know it’s hard after all the self-critique we put ourselves through. But that’s okay, the best things in life don’t come easy. There is a reason you have what you have, it’s not just coincidence. Come to think, all those complex genes aligned themselves precisely, the sperm meeting the egg in the exact fraction of a second which ultimately resulted in your existence. As Gary Vee said, “You won the lottery.” But here you are wondering why you don’t look like Bella Hadid. Truth is, you won’t look like her and you don’t need to. The presence of her beauty does not signify the absence of your own, and whoever said that was absolutely right. You are beautiful, birthmark, crooked nose and all. Why do you think a wonderful, complex creature like you should belittle herself/himself for the sake of mere “standards”?

Another amusing thing about these standards is that they’re not constant. They vary from time to time with every region. The things viewed as attractive in Pakistan won’t be be viewed the same way in Korea or Japan or the United States. Because at the end of the day they are just standards and they won’t mean anything if you don’t allow them to. It’s all based on perception.

Here’s what you can do, you can either wish that you were a chameleon so you can fit in the beauty standards of the world and be considered “beautiful” or you can alter your perception and appreciate what you have because your unique self is beautiful whether you choose to believe it or not. Just because you like chocolate cake, that doesn’t mean that vanilla isn’t delicious. At the end of the day, all you have is yourself. You are your own rescuer. If you can’t learn to love yourself then how can you expect the world to do the same?