Blogging from A to Z Day 25: Yusufisms

Y is for Yusifisms


After a month of serious topics, I wanted to end on a fun note. 🙂

Today’s post is dedicated to my adorable little cousin, Yusuf.

I am the oldest of my cousins and he is the youngest, but despite our 15 year age difference, we are pretty close. I have always loved playing with him, taking care of him, and just talking to him. I have so much love for all of my cousins, and him being the youngest, I have always had such a soft spot for him.

Sometimes, he says just the cutest things. For the past few years, I have kept a list of Yusufisms: all of the cute, innocent, and funny things he has said. Now that he is finally growing out of toddlerhood, it’s time I shared what I have collected.

Without further ado, here are my Yusufisms:

Age 4:

Yusuf: Everyone run for your life!

Me: Why?

Yusuf: Because I like running for my life!

Age 5:

Yusuf: (sitting in front of the TV) I’m watching football.

Me: Oh really? Who’s playing?

Yusuf: (points to the TV) A bunch of guys.

Age 4:

(while playing a video game, older sister threatens younger sister that she will take her controller away if she keeps messing up the game.)

Yusuf: Yeah! We’re gonna dead your control!

Age 4:

Yusuf: It’s time for pancakes time!

Age 4:

Yusuf: (while doing homework) What does “chair” mean?

Me: I don’t know. What do you think it means?

Yusuf: (after thinking) …You sit on it. You sit your butt on it. Like “sit on a chair.”

Age 5:

Yusuf: (while in the bathroom) I can’t say “Allah” in the bathroom because Shaytan likes it and I can’t listen to Shaytan!

Age 4:

(Yusuf tries to hit older cousin with a ball.)

Older Cousin: (blocks the ball) Not today!

Yusuf: (getting mad and trying to one-up him) Not today tomorrow after that!

Age 4:

Me: Did you take a bath or a shower?

Yusuf: I took a shower in the bathtub.

Age 4:

Older Cousin: You’re a baby.

Yusuf: No I’m 4!

Older Cousin: Yeah, but you’re still a baby.

Yusuf: (getting mad) No I’m 4 and my name is Yusuf!!

Age 4:

(Yusuf and older sister fighting)

Yusuf: You’re cheating! I’m gonna email all your friends not to play with you because you’re a cheater!

Age 4:

(Doing homework that requires him to write “yes” or “no”)

Yusuf: (groans) But “yes” is such a long word!

Age 4:

Yusuf: (showing me all of his pencils) This is our white colored pencil. It doesn’t work.

I’m really going to miss him at this age. He is growing up so fast.

Do you have any cute little ones around? What things do you catch them saying?


Blogging from A to Z Day 24: Xenophobia

X is for Xenophobia


Xenophobia is “an unreasonable fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange” (courtesy of 🙂 ). It is the discomfort with what is different from us.

I didn’t even know this word existed until this year, when I took a class on European politics. It is an interesting concept, and I’m glad there is an English word for this term. It is so appropriate in so many contexts.

Nowadays people seem to like to easily dismiss something as “racist” or “closed-minded,” but the more appropriate term for a lot of those situations is xenophobic.

We may not like that this concept exists, but it makes sense. Humans crave familiarity. When faced with something unfamiliar, it is only natural to recoil.

All animals do this. It is innate.

Where humans differ from other animals is that we have the capacity to decide to be more open to the unfamiliar.

If we want to change our quick-to-judge society, we each have to make the conscious effort to be more open-minded. All this takes is the willingness to understand.

After we make an actual effort to understand, only then can we choose to accept or reject the person or group or idea with which we are unfamiliar.

After that, then we can embrace it if we choose to.

We don’t have to accept every new concept that comes our way, but it is only fair that we as cohabitants of this earth make a sincere effort to understand.

Blogging from A to Z Day 23: What Do You REALLY Want?

W is for “What Do You REALLY Want?”


Since I started college, this is a question people keep asking me. In terms of my career, I keep being told to do what I really want to do.

“Don’t limit yourself.” That’s another one I get a lot. Directly, from my family. Indirectly, from society. As in, don’t just settle with something that you aren’t really interested in.

It’s funny because I don’t buy that the people who say this really mean it. Really? You really think I should just do what I want?

It turns out, when I venture out and tell people what I do genuinely want to do, my answers are suddenly not good enough.

I want to be a psychologist, more specifically a therapist.

But, what do I really want to do? If I didn’t settle on psychology, what would I have wanted to do?

I want to be a film-maker, or at least a film-critic.

More than that? I want to be a full-time blogger.

More than that? I want to be a novelist.

More than all of that put together, I just want to be a mom. I want take care of my family.

Notice that the farther I get into the “what do you really want” question, the farther from practicality I am. The farther from a steady income I am. I know that money isn’t everything, but it is pretty important. Money = food + housing.

Back when I was a freshman, undecided on my major, my academic adviser told me to think about what I really loved, or what I really wanted to do as a career. Go into the field that I have passion in. Well, that’s great for my morale, but in terms of advising me on what career to choose – how I am going to make my living – was that really the best advice? Because if we’re talking about what I am really passionate about, I will have no way of making an income.

People ask me all the time what I really want, but I don’t think my answer is what they were expecting to hear.

Blogging from A to Z Day 22: My Voice

V is for Voice


Every writer has a voice.

I’m not sure if I have one voice. I think I change depending on what I am writing. In fictional writing, I focus on the feelings of my characters, which may come from my psychology-inclined brain. When talking about music or movies, I talk with love. Someone once told me that I write with so much love when talking about K-pop. I wish I would write like that about other things too.

When talking about life, I feel like I always sound angry or as though I am ranting. Judging by the way I word some of my posts from this past month, you would think I’m a bitter, easily-irritated person, but that is not the case. I am happy a lot. I am thankful and grateful and I get full of wonder, however when talking about something as real as life, it gets hard for me to verbally express my happiness. It’s much easier to express anger or irritation. When I’m happy, I just feel happy. But when I’m angry, that’s when I get the motivation to write.

That doesn’t sit right with me. I shouldn’t only be motivated to write about something real (as opposed to music or celebrities) when I am irritated. Something about that just doesn’t sound right. But I guess it is what it is.

As Yu Hua says in China in Ten Words:

“Writing enables me to claim ownership of two lives, one imaginary and one real, and the relationship between them is like that between sickness and health: when one is strong, the other is bound to fall into decline. So, as my real life becomes more routine, my imaginary life is all the more brimming with incidents.”

Blogging from A to Z Day 21: Understanding Me

U is for Understanding Me


The following is actually something I wrote three years ago, but for the most part it’s still relevant today. It is something that very few people seem to understand about me:

I always ironically said that I love writing so much that I can’t put it into words, but finally, after years, I found the right words.

 Is it weird that I am secretly really happy that there’s no one I know in my new study hall? I mean, I love talking to my friends and being around them, but I just as equally love being by myself in my own little world. I love being somewhere quiet and just being able to sit with a notebook and write whatever I want. Whether it’s part of a novel, or a blog post I may never publish, or even a journal entry just for myself, I love it. If it’s not completely quiet (or sometimes even if it is), I just pop in my ear buds and let my carefully chosen music drown out everything outside and enclose me in the world my mind created completely as my own. MY music, MY emotions, MY memories, MY ideas, all here for me to dwell in and enjoy.

These are the ideas, stories, and daydreams that scatter around my brain like confetti flying around with no rhyme or reason at all. Many times, the only way for me to express them in a coherent way is to write them down in an exposition.

I know writing fanfiction is kind of cheating because they are not actually my own original characters, but the ideas are all my own. My characters are my own unique interpretation of existing characters, and their experiences and the way they are portrayed in my writing are all my own.

My answer to those typical stranded-on-an-island questions: Just give me a pen and paper and I could occupy myself forever.

I love writing. I need writing.

Blogging from A to Z Day 20: Tenacity

T is for Tenacity


I have worked harder this year than any other time in my life. I made a goal at the beginning of the school year that I was really going to try hard in all of my classes, and that has proven to be tougher than I thought. But not unmanageable.

I wouldn’t say my grades always came easy for me, but in most classes I have been able to get by without putting in hours of work. With a few exceptions, I generally didn’t have to put in as much work as my fellow students to get a good enough grade, and I was able to rely on my previous good grades to make up for the moments when things got extremely difficult. Obviously this method didn’t get me straight As, but like I said, I got the grade that was good enough for me.

Now, however, rather than simply do the minimum and hope for that guaranteed “good enough” grade, I am trying to go above and beyond to make the most of my education: reading the entire article rather than just the intro and conclusion, getting ahead on my papers rather than leave them for the last minute, shoot for the A instead of the A- or the B+.

I’m not learning pointless trigonometry or chemistry anymore. I am learning counseling techniques, how to do real research, and how to speak a language. My classes are useful now for my future career and life, and I am really pushing myself to make the most of them.

It’s tough though. I’m tired, both physically and mentally. But I am proud of myself. Rather than simply try to make it to the next day, I am planning ahead and investing in my future. All of the effort I am putting in my undergrad is good practice for what I will have to do in grad school and eventually when working in the real world.

Finally, I am starting to get better in my work ethic. I’m not all the way there, but I am definitely much better than I was this time last year. Now I just need to get time management down.

Blogging from A to Z Day 19: Small Acts of Kindness

S is for Small Acts of Kindness


Small acts of kindness can do wonders for a person. I have been able to come home from genuinely horrible days with a smile on my face due to some small deed someone did for me. A couple of weeks ago, on a dragging Monday morning when I wanted to be anywhere except my university, another student totally went out of his way to hold open a door for me, and I couldn’t help but smile for the whole rest of the day.

When the person in front of me slows down to hold open the door, or when the lady at Starbucks wishes me a good day with a genuine smile, or when I run into another Hijabi who smiles at me despite us never having met before. It is moments like these that completely make my day and restore my faith in humanity. Small deeds are perfect examples of “think globally, act locally.” If we want to make a positive change in the world, it can start with simply being kind to each other. Once you improve the mood of another person, that person may improve the mood of another and so on until we get a chain reaction of kindness spreading all around us.

It doesn’t take a lot of effort. One small example that I have implemented in my life: No matter what my mood, who I’m with, or how crummy of a day I’ve had, I will always thank my bus driver. Just two words, that have the potential to make another person’s day worthwhile.

So let’s get the kindness started! What act of kindness have YOU received recently? Also, what small act are YOU intending to make a habit?