Feature Friday: Hello? Its me I’m looking for – Aamina Ali

A lot of people have been asking me why I choose to be single. Honestly? Because I’m so in love with myself that it would take a pretty awesome person to catch my eye. Now that’s not to say that I don’t find a lot of people interesting, because I do, but that’s just because everybody is interesting and unique and there is so much to learn about every single person you meet! Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying I’m perfect. Before you start calling me a narcissist for being deeply and madly in love with myself, let me explain.

I’m all about building relationships. But I’ll be honest. Real, romantic relationships? Those kind of scare me. I mean, they inspire me and make me feel great and warm and fuzzy and all, but if I’m being really, truly, honest with myself here, the idea of tying myself down to one person for the rest of my life with the expectation of never, ever being able to pursue anyone else that may evoke my interest ever again? That kind of scares me. Doesn’t mean I can’t do it – of course I could, for the right person, but that’s just it. I could really only do that for a really special sort of someone. I mean, like, out of this world special. Some people are so afraid they’ll never find someone right for them, that they just rush blindly into the first relationship they find.

I think it’s safe to say that most people long for some sort of human companionship – it’s only natural. But I have never allowed myself to settle for anything that is important in my life – my career, my apartment, my car, my phone, my friends. Everything that I have, I acquired with a set of standards for myself, and a set of expectations for what I would and wouldn’t be willing to put up with. So why should the thought process be any different for finding a potential SO?

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Anyway, point is – I’m 24, and according to some people I should be married by now. After all, my mother was getting married when she was my age! Several of my friends have even gotten married well before that age. I always thought I wanted to go down that path, I would, admittedly, on somedays, even wallow in self-pity for my lack of companionship that seemed so prevalent and readily available to everyone except me. But after a period of intense personal growth, I realized that I was actually quite content with being single. In fact, I loved it – I had been the happiest I have ever been in my entire life, when I was in a place where I had zero long-term romantic interests in my life. Isn’t that nuts? It was for me.

And you know why I was happy? Because it was the first time in my life when I was doing something for myself. I pursued hobbies because I liked them. I stopped caring what the world would think of me, to be quite frank, and started prioritizing what I think of me. I went to concerts alone, and I travelled alone, because I wasn’t going to wait for some SO that may or may not ever come into my life to do the things I wanted.

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Underneath all that though, I also took a close hard look in the mirror, and I didn’t like the person I had become. I realized that I wasn’t anything more than a product of my own experiences, and every single person I had any kind of relationship or connection with, changed or influenced me in some way. I had started taking other people’s word for things. I trusted that other people were more experienced than I was, and so they must know more. I stopped questioning myself. At one point, I wouldn’t have even been able to tell you what my own values were. I felt completely lost and isolated, and it wasn’t until I started building a relationship with myself that that started to change.

Through some vivid introspection, self-reflection, and one-on-ones with myself, I realized that my own self-image was vastly different than the image that other people saw me as. Other people seemed to think I was beautiful, while I thought my self-esteem would shatter under the tyrannical rule of my never-ceasing acne, which I battled for years. Other people seemed to admire my ambition, while I thought I would never be able to get out of bed under the crippling weight of my depression. Other people seemed to applaud and praise my intelligence, while all the while I thought myself incapable of many things, even some of the most basic things. Wrap all that up with my anxiety, and what do you get? Just a regular girl who might look like she has her shit together on the outside, but is actually just trying to hold all the different pieces of herself together on the inside.

Anyway, point is – if you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends. Sorry, couldn’t resist. POINT IS – if we can accept job applications to find high-quality candidates for an important job, then why the hell not accept relationship applications to find high-quality romantic partners, FOR LITERALLY THE MOST IMPORTANT JOB IN THE WORLD? [That’s the job of life-mate, in case you missed it].

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So yeah, out with biodatas, in with ACTUAL DATING APPS:

  1. Full Name (It’s for legal purposes, and so that my siblings aka life security guards (love you fam) can run a background check on you)
  2. Preferred Name (Some people are named Mohammad Abdul-Azeez Ibn Ansari and they like to go by Mo-Town. Some people are named Khaled and they like to go by DJ Khaled.)
  3. Preferred Contact Method (Call = classy/confident AF. Text = direct/to the point /probably a pretty normal person tbh. Facebook Message = I want to talk to you but I don’t have your number so I’m going to continue talking to you on Facebook Messenger until you give me your number under the premise that I’m just highly interested in your status but let’s be honest the only status I’m interested in is single.)
  4. In 500 Words or less, please describe which Pokemon you most identify with, and why. Please use specific examples where relevant. Also be sure to include your sources. (Plagerism is not something to be taken lightly you know. Bonus points if you can write it in cursive.)
  5. List 10 reasons why I should go on a date with you. (Because 11 is just too many)
  6. Which of the Following Basic Tasks Are You Capable of Doing? Please provide pictures where relevant because everyone knows, pics or it didn’t happen:
    • Cooking
    • Cleaning
    • Taking care of a cat
    • Taking care of a plant
    • Doing dishes
    • Doing laundry
    • Budgeting Your Finances
    • Paying your bills on time
    • Taking care of yourself
  7. Name 5 Things on Your Life Bucket List. (Because it’s more important than what your grandfather’s cousin’s husband’s did for a living)
  8. Do any of the following Fuckboi Tendencies Apply To You?
    • I only call you when it’s half past-five
    • Snapchat is how I attempt to initiate communications
    • I’m overly forward to the point that I’m completely oblivious to your obvious discomfort
    • I think feminism is overrated
    • I think Netflix and chill is a legitimate date
    • I’ll say I want to hang out with you, but then make no effort to actually do so
    • All of the above
    • None of the above
    • Who you callin’ fuckboi bruh I ain’t no fuckboi do you even lift
    • I don’t want to admit I’m a fuckboi

So there you have it. How can you possibly know what you are looking for when you don’t know yourself? How can you ever hope to attain it without having a set of standards and values for yourself? Life is all about lessons learned, and if there is one lesson I have learned from singledom, it is this: never let anyone compromise your self-respect, integrity, or dignity. Paths to happiness come in all different shapes and sizes. Some are straightforward and paved roads. Others are like a military obstacle course. And yet some paths unwind as you go, and the only constant on them is the traveler.
So in case you didn’t get it: Stop telling me to settle. Stop telling me I’m getting old. Stop telling me I need to get married. Stop telling me that all the good ones will be gone (because seriously do you even realize how stupid and subjective that sounds? The good ones are the ones that love themselves and don’t settle for anything less than the standards they’ve set for themselves.) Stop telling me I better hurry up if I want to have kids soon (because do you even realize how presumptuous that sounds?). Stop telling me to lower my own standards, stop telling me to stop being picky. Stop telling me that there is no happiness in singledom – because yeah, it sure would be nice to have a forever friend to share your life with, but that doesn’t mean that’s the only thing that makes life worth living. Being in a relationship is not the only thing that makes life worth living. Stop telling me that it’s not good enough to be in love with myself.

One more time for the people in the back: Stop telling me it’s not enough to be in love with myself. – Aamina Ali 

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Aamina Ali is a musician, entrepreneur, dreamer, and lover of all things and people. She aspires to inspire others to be the truest version of themselves they can be, and strongly believes that being in touch with yourself is the key to a happier, healthier you. Raised in a Muslim Indian American household, each of these unique identities has played an integral role in her experiences navigating the world as a young adult. By day, Aamina is known to most as a business analyst, but by night, she is a pianist, a reader, an ideator, and at heart, just a kid trying to get the grasp of this whole adulting business.

If you are interested in writing a Feature Friday post, don’t hesitate to email zuni@thephdream.com or just fill out this form!

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Hi, I'm the founder of The PhDream. I'm a second year doctoral student who wasn't satisfied with just sitting behind a desk and writing papers. While my research may have an indirect impact, I wanted to engage more directly with the community and provide a platform to discuss neglected and sensitive issues. Along with that, I try to stay sane in my program by stress baking, glamming up even when I'm down, and sharing my dad-joke captions on the gram -- if only that creativity could translate into my research... Anyways, I'm always looking for contributors, collaborations, and people to eat my zelicious creations, so don't hesitate to reach out or follow me @ZuniJilani :)

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