noun: the period of 365 days (or 366 days in leap years) starting from the first of January, used for reckoning time in ordinary affairs.
Currently, it’s 3:18 AM in the morning of the last day of 2017, and I’m reflecting on what I’ve actually accomplished this year. In all honesty, I haven’t accomplished much. Living in San Francisco, the incubator of start up technology, I haven’t started my own company or created a crypto currency. Nor have I purchased a car or done anything to provide for the higher social good aside from donations here and there. And that’s okay.
Sometimes, a year is used simply for growth, social adjustments, and internalizing our surroundings when experiencing difficulties and victories.
Looking back, 2017 was my first year I began to officially live independently away from family as a minor college freshman. It seems as though I entered “premature” adulthood during this time, especially living in an apartment rather than a dorm provided with college culture, food, good friends, and easy access to resources. Through trial and error of learning how to maintain different aspects of my life including social, nutritional, and academical, I adapted the quality of resilience when meeting failure.
Exploring Academia: Business Economics
Growing up, I was always curious to understand why we purchased what we purchased as heavy consumers in America and why they sold what they sold to consumers. I wanted to learn about the exchange that has been controlling our society since the beginning of time; one of self interest in exchange for another self interest through commodity and chance of profit restricted by the laws of supply and demand.
“It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”-Adam Smith, father of economics
My lower division courses were more life applicable than I expected. For instance, my business courses explicated how my family relocated to an affordable area in Southern California due to the gentrified Silicon Valley’s rapidly increasing rent and that our consequential move to Saudi Arabia years earlier was a result of AT&T Bell Laboratories’ outsourcing strategies that relocated my father’s work. Additionally, my Macroeconomics class clarified how implementation lags caused the stock market crash of 1929, how exploitative fashion industries like ZARA are accountable for suicide rates among cotton farmers in India, and why it was ideal for Americans to purchase homes with decreasing mortgage rates during Brexit. I enjoyed assessing John Stossel’s unconventional arguments about price gouging during critical times and natural disasters helped the economy. Most importantly, all my courses taught me about maximizing results with limited resources and the art of decision making through the field of business economics. For me, assessing situations on a quantitative level through evaluating marginal costs and benefits allowed me to come to a better educated consensus on different matters. The goal for me was to achieve efficiency in all aspects of life.
Amidst a sea of weekly college exams, presentations, and work, I would intensely stare at my reflection in the bathroom mirror and contemplate my role in human civilization as an impecunious college student, and more critically, as a young and independent woman desperate to seize an education despite the opportunity cost. Additional courses about the struggles of college homelessness, social privilege, and intersectional feminism inspired me to become more aware of the injustices in society. In the near future, after attaining my bachelor’s degree, I hope to start my own non-profit organization based on female empowerment.
Around my birthday, I learned about the misfortunate passing of my cousin in New York in his sleep from internal bleeding in his brain. He became deceased at 21; life hadn’t even begun for him. In tears and shock, I looked through our last Facebook messages to cope with what little remained of him virtually. His last message to me explained that although he was diagnosed clinical depression, he was managing to counter his Xanax addiction. I later discovered that a week before his passing, a gang member in downtown New York violently beat him, leaving bruises on his back and head. It wasn’t a simple passing; it was a murder; news concealed from the public. A part of me berated myself and took responsibility of his death. His confidential disclosure to me about being clinically depressed due to the accumulated traumas in his life should have forewarn me to help him to the best of my ability. His passing taught me to be conscious of people in desperate situations. He was young and free but alone. As empathetic human beings, it’s our job to help others before it’s too late.
Around the spring, Dialogue SF booked an interview with me for a marketing internship. On my way to catch the appointment, I almost lost my identity, monetary wealth, and confidential documents on Caltrain if it weren’t for one of my closest friends covering for me that day. When the train conductor instructed me to step out and tap my clipper again, the doors closed behind me and Train 151 North Bound abandoned me at Belmont as it continued along the tracks to San Francisco with my unattended laptop, passport, social security card, and penicillin antibiotics. My interview was in less than two hours. As I uber X’ed to 4th and King St. Station, Barakah left all her priorities and responsibilities during work at The Mix to catch my belongings from the transit conductors before 151 departed. She’s the reason why I aced my job interview with a perfectly protected bank account, and secured proof of citizenship that day. Out of 1,725 Facebook friends, only a handful will embody the principles of true friendship. And clearly she was one of the gems who were worth mining.
In terms of personal family matters, I reconnected with one of my sisters now living in Los Angeles and unfortunately burned bridges with the other one during the summer. In 2017, I was living a life that lacked female solidarity and sisterhood. A relationship of two daughters born from the same mother nurtured and stabilized for 17 years suddenly grew drastically apart in two months as both split their lives in separate schools and communities. As a result, I reconnected with my older half sister in New York who, I later realized, had other motives and pursuits of reconnecting with me, her mother’s ex husband’s daughter living 3,095 miles away from her. Although family is meant to be an institution of love, trust, and support, certain family members can pose a subtle threat. In order to protect yourself and others, burning bridges with those you genuinely love is necessary. After this incident, it was quite difficult for me to trust others. 2018 is a new year of letting go of misused trust.
Ever had those close childhood friends who you barely talk to anymore? The ones who inform you out of the blue about their engagement to a questionable potential life-long partner? Over the summer, I made a spontaneous trip to New York to save my childhood best friend from getting married to some guy at 17 years old. As a protective friend, I wanted to make sure Mimz made the right decisions when it came to love and seeking partners. In the most strategic way possible through unblinding her from bound love, I advised her to accept the proposal a year or two from now. True friendships are sustainable so as long as both sides advise one another honestly and sincerely.
In terms of numbers of what I’ve done “quantitatively”, I’ve waited a cumulative total of 2 days, 16 hours, and 21 minutes for my Ubers to pick me up. I successfully landed four different jobs and attended 48 different events according to Facebook.
Coming to Acceptance
Throughout this year, certain goals were not met due to unforeseen circumstances. The successes that I longed for were not necessarily meant to be. I couldn’t accept the idea of failure; the idea of not seeing the tree of effort bare any fruit for other reasons. Sometimes, things remain unjustifiable and not guaranteed. Whatever happens happens. We are not the cause of any effect. Nor are we entitled to any success despite the effort put in. This year, I’d like to achieve this state of mind in which acceptance of negative and positive events are constant; in which I sincerely embrace gratitude and enter into a state of grace by accepting the unacceptable. A friend of mine shared this with me on my birthday:
“There is a world of difference between an interference and a feeling. You can reason that the universe is a unity without feeling it to be so. You can establish the theory that your body is a movement in an unbroken process which includes all suns and stars, and yet continue to feel separate and lonely. For the feeling will not correspond to the theory until you have also discovered the unity of inner experience. Despite all theories, you will feel that you are isolated from life so as long as you are divided within.”
After a long discussion about cryptocurrencies and startups with ICO’s, a friend said to me, “See, the difference between you and I, is that I’m in my 30’s and you haven’t even hit 20 yet. Don’t put yourself on a time crunch like me. Stay young while you can.” After I disclosed my age to people in some instances, they seem shocked in disbelief; perplexed as to why I was immersed in such an older social setting rather than watching Family Guy at home. Due to socially associating with older people whom I look up to as aspiring individuals all on their own separate journeys toward social impact, I’ve placed myself on the pedestal to achieve what they have achieved in their mid-twenties to thirties at eighteen. As a way to adapt to my social surroundings, I subconsciously suppressed and challenged my callowness. Thus, such age displacement created a social barrier between me and fellows my age who were having fun in college and embracing their youthfulness. So this year, I’m reminding myself that it’s okay to act like an 18 year old; to be immature and goofy at times, to watch make up tutorials on Youtube instead of V-Sauce or reading The Economist. Time can be generous, and I have a lot of it.
“Obama retired at 55
& Trump started at 70.
New York is 3 hours ahead of California,
but that doesn’t make California slow.
Someone graduated at the age of 22,
but waited 5 years before securing a good job.
Someone became a CEO at 25,
and died at 50.
While another became a CEO at 50,
and lived to 90 years.
Someone is still single,
while someone else got married.
Everyone in this world works based on their time zone.
People around you might seem to be ahead of you,
& some might seem to be behind you.
But everyone is running their own race, in their own time.
Do not envy them & do not mock them.
They are in their time zone, and you are in yours.
Life is about waiting for the right moment to act.
You’re not early.
You’re not late.
You are very much on time.” -Scott Herman, Kazbah member
Embodying my Name
One of the most crucial and important resolutions I’ve vowed myself to commit to is to live by my last name, Rahman. My last name in Arabic means “Merciful”. In essence, we are embodiments of our names, and to live by them is crucial to understanding our identities. A core value my father possesses is to forgive, despite betrayal or deceit by looking upon everyone with mercy. Whether it comes to friends, family, partners, and managers, it’s important to keep in mind that they, too, are human beings with shortcomings that must be pardoned. Before looking upon others with mercy, it’s crucial to set ourselves to high standards but also to look upon ourselves with mercy and accept our flaws in order to move on from any misfortunate situation.
The transition into the oncoming year shouldn’t be about coming up with more resolutions and unofficial promises. It’s about refreshing our wants, wishes, and intentions and understanding what would be best for us.