You're waiting on the platform for your next train into work. The sky is a blended mixture of light pale blue and auburn. The bitter cold from the morning air hits your cheeks, while you're sandwiched between two strangers. As your neighbour taps his boot against the concrete, you can't help but peer over the edge of the platform searching for on-coming trains. Finally, the train arrives, but as it's the early morning rush hour, you struggle to find a seat and are left standing in the crowd. Next to you is a young teen, blasting the latest rap tune gracing the Big Top 40. The beat pulses through the airwaves on the tight-knit carriage. How can you escape the chaos around you for the next hour? How do you entertain your mind from solid boredom?
Podcasts have honestly been my personal life-saver on the morning commute. An entertaining topic and captivating voice can definitely make that incredibly long journey fly by. They can be a great way to brighten up your morning. I've fallen in love listening to engaging stories and found inspiration from the great and passionate. So today, I'm going to share a few of my favourites with you.
I still remember the day 9/11 took place. As an eight-year-old, I was horrified that such an act could even occur in the name of religion; a religion that had taught me I could not even harm a spider intentionally. How could these terrorists really label themselves as Muslims when they didn't even know the meaning of the word? Fast forward to several years later, I remember the dread of hearing of another terrorist attack. Not only because so many more innocents had been injured and harmed by another act of horror, but also because of the inevitable blame that would come towards Islam; towards individuals who had no play in such horrors. I can vividly recall stories and memories of the prejudice and fear I and my fellow Muslims have faced because of these events. In all honesty, every time a terrorist attack happens, I have always feared the backlash of what may occur.
Last week that horror came to life when Trump brought chaos to the world. Our worst fears came true. By creating an order to preventing travel to and from seven Muslim nations, Donald Trump specifically attempted to alienate the population based on religion and race, with no factual evidence to back up his claims. Thousands have been affected by the travel band, including Americans themselves who not only have legal right to live in the USA, but have passed all the necessary measures to be citizens of the state. What Trump fails to truly realise is that ISIS and Islam are not unanimous. Muslims are not the problem. Just like Jews were not the problem during the Nazi Hilter reign. In fact, his so-called measures give ISIS more ammunition to recruit in underdeveloped nations, where Education is considered a luxury. I couldn't believe that I was witnessing humanity take a step back into the dark ages.
But then something beautiful and incredible happened. The entire world stood up against Trump and his ideals. Today I've seen so many people standing up injustice. I've seen the world unite to support those affected. Never have I felt more touched and accepted by the entire universe. Seeing the world unite together and defend my fellow Muslims has been one of the most touching experiences of my life. In fact - in these dark times - it gives me hope that we can get through this battle. I'm so proud of humanity. And while the fight against this injustice isn't over, I take comfort in the fact that we are united as one. Thank you humanity. You've not only restored my faith in the universe, but also made me proud to be human. Thank you to every single one of you fighting for equality. I could not be more grateful to be a citizen of this universe. And in some weird twisted way, I would have never been able to witness this without Trump and his crazy antics. Congratulations Trump, you've brought the universe together, and made us realise we all have something in common - our humanity.
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Last year whilst I was surfing across the interwebs, I stumbled across an article by Teen Vogue stating that '48% of millennials believe the American dream is dead'. Now considering the current state of events taking place in 2016 - Trump being elected for President and ruining the universe - it isn't surprising at all of the results. But it got me thinking, what does the American Dream mean in the modern age and our generation? Can its ideals truly exist in our society?
The American Dream signifies a time when people travelled from far and wide across the globe to the promised land. America was the blessed paradise where dreamers could make a name for themselves and secure their families future. Settlers could work hard and create a home in a suburban county, surrounded by a white picket fence. They would work hard and tirelessly towards the opportunity to succeed and stand up for what they believed in. The American Dream is a nostalgic ideal that transcends beyond the nation of its origin.
Back in the day, things were different. The world was based on national pride. Globalism hadn't conquered the universe yet. In order to be successful, you need to go where success was made. You had to live near where you worked. You would work in an organisation and work your way up the ladder until retirement. That was the norm. Though that principle exists, time has changed. Circumstances have changed.
People don't dedicate their working lives to one company anymore - they move around and test the waters. Teenagers and millennials alike create careers out of bedroom hobbies, producing videos, written content and audio tracks without the help of the professionals. There are thousands of people who work globally and remotely through the use of technology. We can become the masters of our own invention and sell products directly to an audience, through Etsy, Ebay and other online outlets. The gatekeepers have to prove their value and worth, in a world where access is freely and instantly available at the touch of your fingertips. America is no longer the only go-to for success. Success is not defined by where you came from. It's defined by you and what you value you most in this world.
Maybe the American Dream is evolving into that we can relate to. It's our generation and the changes we face that determine what that might be. It's evolving into an ideal of what we'd like the world to be. A world where we can live together and also support each other, beyond labels and prejudice hindering our progress. It's a future we hope that we will come to see one day as we continue to fight the circumstances of society.
So what do you think? What does the American Dream mean to you? Does it still exist?
When Sophia Amoruso was only 22, she created an eBay store called Nasty Gal Vintage. Little did she know that her hobby would continue to grow into a multi-million dollar business, and help her become the youngest member on the Forbes’ list of Richest Self-Made Women. Reflecting on her experiences, Sophia documented her journey to become the woman that she is today through the pages of #GIRLBOSS.
#GIRLBOSS is the ultimate bible you never knew you needed. That may seem strange to say considering recent events (Nasty Gal filing for bankruptcy), but don't let that discourage you from reading this. This book is utter perfection and is definitely one of my favourite reads of 2016. Sophia has beautifully crafted and cultivated a flawless and enjoyable guide into how to conquer your battles, handle setbacks and strive for success. It's raw, honest and genuine. She shares her experiences like an older sister would, reflecting on her fondest and most cringe-worthy memories, and the life lessons she learned from them. Speaking of life lessons, let's get started!
Flashback to 10 years ago, I hated reading with a passion. At the time, I thought books were utterly boring and filled with dull characters, random adjectives and poetic devices thrown in for good measure. But then I picked up Twilight for the first time and I saw the light. Finally I found the true pleasure of reading at my fingertips and gosh, it was beautiful. A genre that spoke to my soul ... All I wanted to do was absorb every inch of fictional goodness out there; to truly indulge myself into any book that made me feel alive and inspired.
As time went by, I discovered the online community of book lovers and never looked back. The amount of engaging conversations amazed me. Sharing your thoughts with fellow fangirls and boys across the world has been such a life-changing experience. I found book buddies who loved discussing plot details at length, enthusiastically recommended books to one another and consumed every inch of news concerning new book and squeal releases. Through this all, I absolutely fell in love the book community. The celebration of new book releases and book hype trends has helped me discover so many incredible reads. I have been very thankful for that ... Well until the beginning of the year when I found myself being to think a little differently ...
When I moved to London in January, I was dedicated to working hard at my new job and spending time with friends and family. Between balancing full-time work and social commitments, I was exhausted. The commute was long, and due to other commitments I had, I just didn't have the time to read anymore. It didn't help that I was suffering from a major case of the classic reading slump. I found myself at an impasse. So unintentionally I took a break. A breather from the echoes of hype and written fiction.
It wasn't long until I started to hear about all these books that I needed to read. Squeals. New releases by debut authors. Established and respected authors releasing new books. Between my current TBR and the new releases coming out, it was so overwhelming. The need to catch up was oddly motivational yet completely putting off. So began the spiral staircase. Where would I even start? I felt like I was drowning in a sea of books, and all of a sudden I just didn't want to hear about it anymore. The hype and book trends made me feel claustrophobic. I couldn't help thinking, how did it even get to this?
When I started reading YA, I read for the passion of the story. I read for the pure pleasure of indulging in someone else's mindset. Now I've begun to feel the pressure to keep up with the popular books, so I can be a part of these amazing discussions with fellow book lovers and immerse myself in the book culture. I feel the guilt of not writing reviews when I've finished reading novels. What happened to the pure joy of it all? Lately, I just miss the teenage me who just read for fun. It's hard to find the balance between staying in the loop and pleasure. But maybe it's time to go back to what started the passion; the beauty of fiction as it's own art form.
What are your thoughts on Book Trends? Has the pressure to keep up affected you?
Share your thoughts below!
London has always been sort of an enigma to me. Several months ago, all I knew of this city was its residential cul-de-sacs and suburban roads, leading to family and family friend's houses. Through visiting over the years, I had been so close to the centre - the pulsing heart of the country, - but yet had bypassed its core. That was until January when I packed up my bags and left for the big city.
Since then, I've been thoroughly inducted as a Londoner. Long gone are the fresh doe eyes as I awoke every morning to take the tube to central, surrounded by natives who could barely notice my excitement through their sleepy daydreams. Instead of pausing to gaze in awe on my journey to work, I now briskly rush down its street and into the dark tunnels of the underground tube system. I zoom past other faces of people I've never known before in solidarity, as we all focus on our own destinations. But there are many times, I still find myself deeply fascinated. I pause midway and begin to admire the beauty of this city. On the surface I may be a Londoner, but my heart beats as a tourist, seeing this city for the first time all over again.