Unapologetically me.

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Me- This picture was taken by my best friend at the Teotihuacán Pyramids in Mexico.

“ Never let anything or anyone dim your light”

“Small body, yet with a big mind and a big heart”

The first quote was dedicated to me by my mom on a poetry book she gifted me.

The second one was said to me by my dad under the strangest circumstances.

Over the last few months, both phrases have fueled me more than ever to pursue certain things I was unsure of doing. Like posting my work on medium.

The basics

I’m Fatimah (the same thing as Fatima but my dad thought it’d be cool to add a silent “h”…


And I’m forever grateful.

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Photo by Mael BALLAND on Unsplash

“I’m not going to be around forever to protect you, so I need you to be strong and independent.”

I was 6 years old the first time my father said this to me.

He was truly one of a kind. I don’t think I’ll ever encounter someone as distinct as him, and I’m sure most people have a similar opinion of him.

He had a unique view on life, an unusual personality, and an unconventional life story pulled straight out of a novel.

As a Muslim Arab, he was raised in a particularly conservative place. An…


We are all flawed, so let's be kind.

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Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash

I don’t like using the word toxic. Especially when it comes to describing other human beings.

Today, pretty much anything can be designated as “toxic.” — a word that is carelessly thrown around whenever we are angered or feel threatened by anything external to us.

Everywhere we go, people talk about toxic relationships, toxic people, toxic behaviors, toxic jobs. I was at a bookstore yesterday; as I briefly browsed the “trending” section, I saw around six covers regarding this subject.

But what does being toxic really mean?

According to WebMD:

“A toxic person is anyone whose behavior adds negativity and…


A composition of colorful, jagged fragments.

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Photo by Ashkan Forouzani on Unsplash

“Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everyone I’ve ever known.” — Chuck Palahniuk

This quote completely resonates with me.

Indeed, nothing is original.

We’ve inherited everything that defines us as individuals. Our genetic makeup determines a great deal of who we are; the rest deriving from our interactions with others and our environment. Yet the combination of these traits is what makes each person unique.

I like to think of people as unfinished art pieces, each characterized by its very own mix of colors, shapes, and textures.

Composed by the bits and pieces people leave…


Seven lifesaving aspects

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Photo by Haley Phelps on Unsplash

The first half of 2020 was particularly dull and difficult. I’m sure many can relate to this.

The sudden lockdown forced me to finally address a build-up of unaddressed past trauma, deeply repressed issues, and long-overdue grief; hence a breakdown was inevitable. Additionally, I had to deal with a range of issues and the demise of a relationship.

However, things began getting better as the summer progressed. For the first time in years, I was able to spend proper quality time with my family.

Despite being infected, my experience was very mild, and I thank God for…


My life in technicolor.

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Photo by Robert Katzki on Unsplash

Thursday has always been orange. Number 5 has always been green. 2009 was dark red. The days of the week are ordered in an inverted semi-circle with the weekend on the flat line.

For as long as I can remember, I have always perceived the world this way, assuming it was the same for everyone. I remember as a child nonchalantly mentioning this to my parents, yet they didn’t seem to think much of it.

It wasn’t until my mid-teens that I learned that this fairly unusual condition is called Synesthesia.

According to LiveScience,

Synesthesia is a neurological condition that…


Knowing when, why, and with whom to do so.

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Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash

I dislike labels. I find them restricting and judgemental.

As an open-minded individual, I welcome a diversity of people into my life believing we can all contribute to the well-being of others. I’m aware that we all have flaws. Despite my possible differences with others, I accept most people as they are.

However, this doesn’t mean I’ll stick around people who display repetitive behaviors that somehow emotionally or psychologically harm me.

Plenty can be learned by observing other’s responses to external factors. Their behavior once their guard is down, what they say about others, their attitude towards life, how they…


SELF LOVE

Face the shadows and follow the light.

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Photo by Kristina Tripkovic on Unsplash

An endless, cold pit. Losing sight of everything around you, darkness invades your mind and your soul.

As you hit rock-bottom, the pain becomes unbearable. Both emotional and physical, you now sense a sharp ache in your chest and a terrible weight on your back.

Laying in this mud-ridden pit, in complete darkness, you feel as if this was the end. Condemned to never again feel a glimpse of joy or hope. The shadows have come to stay, haunting you day and night. Ridden with sorrow, anxiety, and confusion, it’s emotional hell.

Eventually, the intense agony subsides and is replaced…


Breakdowns lead to breakthroughs.

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Photo taken by me a couple of weeks ago while hiking.

I will never, ever forget 2020.

This year has definitely marked me, and I’m sure many can relate to this.

Despite the pandemic, I have many reasons to feel blessed and to be grateful. I have a stable job with a monthly income, my assumed Covid infection was very mild, and I've learned to love working from home.

I had the opportunity to stay for a few months at my mom’s place, finally spending proper quality time with my family.

Despite the lockdown, I had some great experiences with those dear to me while also walking away from people who…


And the impact it can have on our lives

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Photo by Haut Risque on Unsplash

“The paradox of talking to strangers: We need to talk to them. But we’re terrible at it.” — Malcolm Gladwell

I have always enjoyed talking to the people I randomly encounter.

Sometimes it's just small talk, superficial interactions. Other times, a deeper connection is forged where we mutually share personal things that aren’t normally discussed. On special occasions, they’ve been real lifesavers.

Despite being in the midst of a pandemic, over the past few months I had the opportunity to share long, meaningful conversations with several strangers.

Confessions came out, regrets were told, advice was given, laughs were shared and…

Fatimah Alayafi

Third culture kid | Unconventional life story | Creative overthinker | Writes on life experiences, psych, travel & human nature | Twitter: @fatimah_alayafi

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