A Little Less Square, a Little More Round

Photo Credit to Erez Attias

Lately I’ve been feeling rather soft, like some kind of pillow full of fluffy stuff. Maybe more like the fluffy stuff than the pillow itself. That softness has become the core, the foundation, the essence of who I am. Or have I become the softness?

Have you ever shifted into a consistent state of being, a state of being different from states of being you existed in for the majority of your life, but one that was absolutely and undeniably familiar? You never want to leave this place, because you know if you do you might get swallowed up whole by an unforgiving world that is more unrecognizable the more you try to understand it?

Somewhere along the way of quitting my job, moving to Arizona, realizing I no longer want to work in tech, making the decision to become a life coach and writer, leaving Arizona and moving to Albania, settling into a life very different from the one I thought I’d be living around this time, deciding to move to Africa to join my family, and releasing every single atom into the unknown of what I thought I was and just allowing myself to be swept up by the river of life, giving it permission to take me to exactly where I need to be…somewhere along the way I found the feeling that I always want to exist inside of. The core, the foundation, the essence of who I’ve always been, but that was hidden beneath layers of the person I was told or made to believe I was supposed to be.

Not too long ago I entered the 33rd year of my life. I’ve known for a while that my 33rd year would be a catalyst for what the rest of my life would be like. It’s already begun. I’ve started to carry the weight of a person who has a large library full of esoteric literature, the kind of library that has two stories worth of books with worn spines, gold lettering, and stories hidden between the lines of written words.

That’s just how I feel. Round and like I have a large library with lots of esoteric books.

It’s almost like there was a particular timeline that didn’t exist until I entered the wormhole that opened up on my 33rd birthday.

Things that don’t make sense hold no realness to that aspect of myself that doesn’t speak, but only listens and observes. The square world, the world of capitalism and cold-hearted technology that does very little for the prosperity of the many, doesn’t feel real to me anymore. The more I distance myself from the Imperialist American Empire, the less I’m gripped by that feeling of desperation to become something that is foreign to the natural world.

Is it all in my mind? Maybe. Maybe I’ve drifted into a waking dream that only makes sense to me. Maybe I’m all alone here. But I’m absolutely sure that I’m not. I’m sure that you understand me on some level, and that you, too, are wondering the same thing as me.

Anyway, now that I’m here, now that I’m in year 33 and destroyed many of the ideas of what I’ve been told countless times life is, I’ve slipped into the person that I’m supposed to be. Maybe not fully, but I’m close. Like I’m pulling the pants up of my waking self onto the self I’ve always been and will always be. Things don’t fit quite well just yet, but we’re getting there.

I feel a little like Alice, but I also feel like the Cheshire Cat, too. In this story, though, I’m not chasing the white rabbit; I’m chasing my own shadow.

– Aminah Jamil

Career Change, Website, and Medium

Hello my friends. This will be a quick and straight-to-the-point post. I recently began posting on Medium, which I am enjoying very much! The platform, the ease of use, the community, and much more has me hooked.

My most recent post is here, if you’d like to take a gander:

Embrace the Pivot: How to Rock Your Career-Change Like a Pro

I also launched my freelance writer website here: www.aminah.io

If you have any feedback, I’d love to hear it! In the meantime, I’ve got to jet to a training. We shall talk soon.

∞ Aminah

A Poem About the Insidious Nature of Writing

Photo by John Jennings on Unsplash

I’m always f$*%ing writing—
No matter where I am,
No matter what I’m doing,
I’m always f$*%ing  writing.

I’m always f$*%ing writing—
Even in my head,
Even when I’m eating,
I’m always f$*%ing writing.

I’m always f$*%ing writing—
No matter where I go,
I could be drunk af,
I’d still be f$*%ing writing.

I’m always f$*%ing writing—
I might not have a pen,
I might not have a notebook,
I’m always f$*%ing writing.

I’m always f$*%ing writing—
Especially when I’m sleepy,
And even when I’m sleeping,
I’m always f$*%ing writing.

I’m always f$*%ing writing—
I finally realized,
It came as a surprise,
I’m always f$*%ing writing.

I’m always f$*%ing writing—
Probably even till the end,
I’ll being breathing my last breath,
I’ll still be f$*%ing writing.

– Aminah Jamil

I Should Change My Middle Name to “Pivot”

Photo by Windows on Unsplash

Hello there!

It’s been a minute, but hopefully not too long.

I thought I’d come back through with some updates.

As I mentioned in one of my previous posts about a huge change of plans that forced me to re-evaluate my career, things have really, really been changing for me, as I’m sure they’ve been changing for a lot of you all with the craziness going on in the world.

I used to get really self-conscious about how much I changed my career, and especially when looking at people my age and how much they’ve accomplished thus far in life.

I’ve since come to accept that this is just part of my life. Until that thing that makes me financially, mentally, and emotionally comfortable comes along and sets up shop in my career department, I’ll be pivoting, again and again. 

Luckily, somehow, the universe continues to clear a path for me to do something I’m wonderful at, something that comes quite effortlessly to me, and something that, if I’m being 100% authentic, doesn’t feel like work, and I am actually happy doing it.

That thing is writing.

Despite the pivoting I’ve experienced throughout my career life, the one thing that’s always been consistent is writing. Every single job I’ve had to do, writing was a big part of it. So I guess I should cut myself some slack, huh? 

If you’re like me, a middle-aged millennial (meaning your birth year is around 1985-1990), and you keep finding yourself wondering what the heck you’re supposed to be doing in this life, please don’t give up. But also please give yourself a pat on the back for how hard you’ve worked thus far. And also please don’t give up on any dreams you’ve ever had in your life—try them out, if you have the chance. 

Look, if the only thing that’s stopping you from going after a dream is fear, whether it’s your own personal fear or fear from naysayers, PLEASE KEEP GOING.

Maybe You Still Don’t Know

Even after winning the young author’s contest in the 3rd grade, I still had no clue that I wanted to be a writer. It wasn’t until my adolescent years that I even started writing creatively, and not until my early twenties that I took writing seriously enough to consider just doing it on the side.

Plus, think of all those famous writers who didn’t become famous until their forties and fifties. Kids, we’ve still got time, okay? Not that we’re trying to get famous here. Let’s call it “meeting our definition of success”. 

We still have time to meet our definitions of success, no matter how many times we need to pivot; we will make it there. 

You heard it here first!

Tl;dr – be okay with the pivot, it’s okay not to know what you want even if you’re in your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 100s, 1000s, etc.

∞ Aminah Jamil

Learning the Art of Writing Well

“I already freaking know how to write!” I used to say to myself when I felt my writing was monotonous, but wasn’t honest enough with myself to take ownership of different possibilities to change things. “To hell with going to school to get an English degree or whatever!”

While I am still pretty adamant about not returning to school to get a degree, I am pretty jazzed about the fact that you don’t really need to go back to school to brush up on your writing and English skills (or other languages if you write in a language other than English). There are so many programs that offer the exact courses you need to brush up online. These programs are either standalone MOOCs, Massive Open Online Courses, or live on platforms like edX and Coursera.
 
Through my state I’m able to get the certificates from Coursera for free (which you normally have to pay for), so I use that platform for all of my learning needs. With these programs and platforms there are no more excuses. If you want to be a writer and you don’t feel like your skills are up to par, there are free curricula out there to help you get better.

Now that we’re in the 2020s getting a college degree for career paths like writing and such may be a bit unnecessary. Unless your parents are paying your way through school, you get a ridiculously amazing scholarship, or your schooling is somehow paid for, I personally wouldn’t go back to school for a writing degree in any form, whether it’s English or Communications or what have you.
 
Some young people might want to go for the college experience, but if you’re like me and way past college age, it’s probably best to stick to the resources available, whether they’re free or cost a teeny, tiny little bit of moolah.

It was a hard pill for me to swallow, not having a writing degree tied to my name and with no intention of attaching one, but at the end of the day, becoming an author doesn’t really require that. Many of my favorite authors did not go to school for writing. Some of them didn’t go to school at all. It’s all about perspective, perseverance, attitude, and a willingness to fill in the gaps on your own.

∞ Aminah Jamil

Day 3 – A Vessel for a Trip

She sat in the passenger waiting area, her frustrations deflating from walking behind inconsiderate individuals unaware of their surroundings, those people who’d stop right in front of her to look at their phones or to turn around or to pull scarves out of their pockets to blow their noses. Despite a pandemic having changed the travel industry, it did not, unfortunately, increase those people’s awareness.
 
The passenger area was less chaotic, though, not too many people traveling these days. She feared that she might be labeled ‘crazy’ for not having a ‘proper’ reason to be traveling. What was ‘proper’ though? Should she sit around in her hometown, in between comfort and discomfort, waiting for something to happen that never would? On top of that, should she allow some disease to prevent her from living her life? Or, in the least, figuring it out?
 
She wasn’t as young as she used to be – old enough to drink and have lived through those days, but young enough that, unless she had the misfortune of having had acquired a secret terminal illness, she wouldn’t be dying any time soon. She was tired of life making all of her decisions for her, no matter what in the world was going on.

So she sat, and waited, and watched the people. The people with their faces covered, the people who ushered children, the people who talked on cell phones a little too loudly, the people that hugged one another, the people that social distanced. She was, for the first time in a long time, comforted. And comfortable with her decision to fly over halfway across the world to a country she’d never visited before, to teach English to children.

In a way, she felt she had to go. To end the monotony of her life, she had to go. 

The airline attendants began their preparations for boarding. She could tell they’d done this many times, for instead of it being a mechanical display, they were almost fluid, water-like in the way that they opened the terminal door, announced any last-minute standbys, and began pushing those in wheelchairs up to their designated waiting spots. This was their thing. She felt solidarity with them as she went to go find out if teaching was her thing.

She got up and walked over to the window where she could see the giant bird she’d soon be embarking. This is it, she thought, I’m about to leave this country for a year. And, almost ceremoniously, she placed her hand on the cool glass in a silent goodbye. 

Haruki Murakami – How His Writing Style Has Changed My Life

I’d use an image of him from the internet, but I’m feeling a bit too lazy to search for one that’s royalty-free

Back in the days when I used to read voraciously, I’d stuck to some of the more well-known female authors like J.K. Rowling, Amy Tan, and Zora Neale Hurston. I’d loved their styles of writing, but within the pages of their books, I couldn’t seem to awaken to my own. Pair that with super low confidence in my writing abilities, it seemed impossible to pull out my true voice.
 
A book I was recently reading on writing had a list of quotes by famous authors and writers. Funnily, the list had Hayao Miyazaki as one of the authors of the quotes, but when I went to search for him on Amazon.com, Haruki came up instead. I’d typed the name wrong and so the algorithm must have decided that I needed Haruki more than I needed Hayao.

And the algorithm was right.

When I read the excerpts from some of his novels, I thought to myself, almost literally, “are we allowed to write like this?” I could’ve cried. The quirky, smirky, mystical, and salient voice that Haruki writes in is eerily similar to the voice that I often write my novels out in my head in. It was a voice that I translated for years into something I thought needed to be tamed and tempered to be able to withstand the world in which I sought to publish in.

He writes in a matter-of-fact, unapologetic kind of way, as if he’s telling the readers, “here’s what it is. You can take it or leave it.” And I was writing in a way where I was unsure how the readers would interpret it, sort of telling them, “I’m not sure if you’ll like this, but I did the best that I could to make it easy for you to read and understand. I’m really sorry if it’s not good enough!”

After reading his work, it was Haruki that gave me the confidence to write how I now write. Years of writing inauthentically were erased by Amazon.com’s silly algorithm.

🙏 Haruki Murakami, the dopest.

∞ Aminah Jamil

Getting Over Career Fear

Technology will always have a place in my heart. Always. But I recently realized that the only reason I started working in tech to begin with is because it is safe. Well, not necessarily safe as in you could never get fired, but safe as in it pays well if you’re willing to put in both the time and the work, and you can (usually) find a job in some area of technology within a few months with close to zero experience, having built up your experience through learning within those few months.
 
I love creating. Anything. And when I was building my first blog on WordPress some 10-odd years ago, I found that I had a lot of fun with it. Though I wasn’t serious about it until 2017, I’d continued to dabble in web development, building things for freelance clients here and there, not fully understanding the world of code, but knowing my way around it enough to be okay at it.

Now that I’ve had experience in the corporate tech world, I never want to go back. There is no bone in my body that wishes to return to that overly competitive, non-diverse place, but it’s the only thing I have actual working experience in.

So what now?

I’m not alone in being a late-blooming career-changer. There are many people, like me, who gave up their dreams for financial stability just to find themselves wanting their dreams back. Maybe they had a near-death experience and know that, if they don’t live their dream, they’re not really living. Maybe they found their current career to be so oppressive that they’d rather starve than to continue working in it. Or maybe, like me, the universe threatened to kill them if they didn’t write the damn novel. Maybe they’re somewhere in the middle. Maybe they’re none of these.

At the end of the day it’s up to us. No one else can make the decision for us. Many people choose to stay in their current careers and push through by working on their dreams during non-working hours. Ain’t no shame in that. I wish I had that ability when I was working for my previous employer, but we came out with new products and features every year, over 100 of them, so my non-working hours were spent learning those new products and features.
 
It was fun while it lasted, but something called out to me that needed to be set free, and here we are.

Some might say that my point of view is an entitled one. I’d have to say that I disagree. My point of view comes from experience of both good and bad, both with their relevant lessons. I won’t be standing on a cliff screaming that I only deserve the best, better than what people who’ve worked hard for that same thing deserve. In fact, deciding to go back to writing requires that I start at the bottom, unless I’m believed in enough to be given an opportunity to start higher. It’s the idea that in order to be and do something great, we have to suffer doing something that we absolutely hate, something that makes us miserable just to make a living in the meantime that I really despise. Or getting into a field because of how lucrative it is, not because we find purpose and value in the work.

Do I think I’ll ever become so desperate that I’ll try for a tech job again? I’d have to say nah, I don’t think so. I’ve reached a point in my life where I can’t put up with BS anymore, BS being doing something because of fear. All of my decisions are now based on love – love of myself, love of my dreams, love of my freedom, and love for the world. The world deserves us at our best, does it not?
 
∞ Aminah Jamil

Day 1 – Outside the Window

It’s Thursday, post-afternoon, that lazy time when things simultaneously slow down and speed up, but for different reasons. Outside of my window a plane is in the process of landing, and I can hear the robotic voice of the train system letting passengers know that they must wear mask in order to board.

A man screams, “Go away!” at someone, and I imagine it’s either a stray cat, maybe the one that’s been crying outside my window for the last couple of nights, or an imaginary friend who’s overstayed their welcome. 

The wind blows, swaying the thin, dry leaves of the palm trees. I am not comfortable here any longer, I think, but I just arrived. What has changed? I don’t have to open the sliding doors to know how unbearably hot it is outside. Is it the heat? Was I inadequately prepared?

The thoughts tumble around in my head as I gaze without a focal point off into the distant mountain range that is surely home to aliens. Here, in this daze, I let the discomfort fade into the background and just enjoy the view.