I come from what we call, The City of Lights – Lahore in Pakistan but I spent my childhood years in a small town far away from the big city life. My mother recalls that I used to play in the garden outside and arrange, rearrange fallen leaves and petals and call her from the inside to show the art pieces I had made. I don’t remember it. I was probably too small to remember it. She said I could spend hours and hours doing just that. Sounds blissful! I long for that similar kind of blissful unapologetic and creative living. I remember falling in love with painting, the materials, colors, the infinite possibilities, freedom and the way I was good at drawing and how much I really enjoyed it. For me, it was the definition of pure joy.
On the contrary, whenever someone used to ask me what I would like to be when I grow up. My reply was always, ‘I want to be a doctor’. I was totally in awe of my father’s profession and the way I saw him constantly trying his best to serve people. Back then I thought it was the only way to make a difference in the world. I wanted to make one. I still adored my father’s profession, but it took me a while to accept that it just wasn’t what I was meant to do. As soon as I accepted it, new ways of making a difference opened for me. I started seeing my passion for creating and art as means of creating the quiet difference that I wanted to make.
There was only one problem, I found myself wrestling to believe that I am enough. Or that I can be enough. I grew up believing that my voice, my story, my ideas, and my beliefs don’t matter. As a brown girl, growing up in a small town it was the only given. I was made to believe that the male counterparts hold more value and have more say in the matter whatever that matter might be. I hated being a part of that narrative. I am the ambitious type who wanted to play her part in making this world a better place, the empathetic one who wanted to make a difference with her existence and the rebellious one who wants to challenge the existing narratives. So, I set out to model an example of what I was in need of but couldn’t find any.
I found myself protesting against how we perceived arts in society. I started challenging the way I believed the lies that art is just something you do as a hobby in your spare hours of the day, it could be a luxury but not a real career, you cannot make a difference if you are not saving people, art can’t be something that will make any kind of difference in the world. I wanted to change that! I needed to change that for myself. For me, being creative was the way of life. With time I learned and realized a few things which for me forever changed the course of the future. I learned to redefine two important things on my own terms for myself; the difference I wanted to make and the success that I wanted to have in my life to feel fulfilled. At that time, I didn’t know I was redefining these for myself. All I knew was that I was staying true to who I am and who I wanted to be. I was simply following my curiosities. In retrospect, I can say now that I was following my intuition. I wasn’t ready to accept the preconceived notions even at that tender age.
Most of the work that I do now is based on mindset shifting and a lot of reframing. It is about uncovering the stories we have been telling ourselves for years, stories that stand in the way of us showing up and claiming our voice, stories that stand in the way of us creating and being unapologetically ourselves
and the stories that make us question our worth. It is about giving ourselves permission to try, to share our stories and ideas with the world and to take up some space for ourselves and the work we do. In a way, it feels like I’m sharing a permission slip for other inspiring creatives to hold space for their dreams, to feel worthy, to feel ready and to feel enough. Nobody can do our lives for us but sometimes we need to hear it. Sometimes we need gentle handholding. Sometimes we need to see it modeled. I don’t believe, anyone else can be the best judge of what’s right for us. But I do believe, together we cultivate ways in
which we can nurture that kind of self-belief and a connection to our intuition.
I have had my fair share of experience with such stories, fears and limiting beliefs that stood in my way of creating, showing up and sharing my work with the world. I draw on that personal knowledge and years of experience now. I’m wildly passionate about holding space for creatives like myself and helping them live their truth out loud in a way that feels right for them. Through my own personal journey, I’ve come to deeply understand aspects of the creative process and how creatives can cultivate the courage and the mindset that’s needed to push past limitations and find the connection back to themselves and their art. You can find out more about my approach through my blog. I believe, owning our stories
and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.
My everyday difference looks like me living my truth out loud and inspiring others to do the same.
My truth is that I like to explore my curiosities as I go. For me, art in all its forms is healing, fulfilling and something that I can lose myself into which is the representation of pure joy and joy is one of the values I hold dear. Connection, creativity, courage & vulnerability, intuition, and truth are some of the other
important values my work is in alignment with.
I’m sharing my story, showing up, walking the talk, living my truth out loud and inspiring, encouraging and empowering others to do the same in a way that’s true to them.
I don’t believe in one solution fits all approach. I believe we are all wired differently and contain multitudes. Our stories, ideas, and message deserve to be shared with the world. By sharing our stories, we can learn so much more and can end up making each other feel less alone. I’m building a community that believes in encouraging, cultivating and nourishing creativity and courage as a value. This is how I’m challenging the status quo and making an everyday difference in my own unique, messy and human way:
- Challenging the way we see difference and impact.
- Challenging the societal version of success and fulfillment.
- Challenging the way we show up in our creative work and lives.
- Challenging the should do’s in life, encouraging must do’s instead.
- Challenging what it means to be an artist.
- Challenging the way we perceive arts and being creative.
My why is rooted in my truth, experiences, feelings, connection, and compassion. It is the words that I write and those that I long to write, it’s the stories that I share, the experiences, moments and feelings that come to life via visuals sometimes in the form of paintings other times in the form of photographs. It is rooted in my desire to keep showing up and in becoming a lifelong learner, in growing and evolving as I go, in thriving and living out loud. The very heart of my why the intersection of is myself, my life and my personal becoming.
I’m an introvert and a shy human being but I’m one of the quiet revolutionaries.
Claiming my voice, going against the grain and living my truth out loud in a world that is eager to fit us in boxes feels like a radical act. It is hard at times. That redefining of the kind of impact I wanted to have and the kind of success I was rooting for comes in handy at those moments of despair. I still try my best to show up as unapologetically me. If my story, my message, and my approach can help someone feeling less alone and more hopeful in their journey that is the kind of impact I want my work to be having in the world.
I call this journey of wholehearted creative living.
For anyone who is aspiring to live a wholehearted creative life, my advice would be to start with the mindset. Start by redefining what difference you want to create in this world, give yourself permission to start small and scrappy, cultivate courage and nourish your creativity slowly and intentionally in a way that feels right for you.
To read wholehearted creative living’s manifesto click here.
Resources that have helped me to come this far are Brene’ Brown‘s Daring Greatly & The Gifts of Imperfection and Elizabeth Gilbert‘s Big Magic.
P.S. This story was first published as a part of The Everyday Difference Community Project curated by Ruth Poundwhite.
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