So You’re an Undergraduate and You Want to Get Published

This was wonderful, and gave me new hope in trying to publish.

The Geek Anthropologist

If you are thinking of pursing a career in academia or as a writer in general, you might want to attempt to submit your research to a peer reviewed journal. You may find this intimidating (like I did at first), but it shouldn’t be too scary if you have read about submitting.

Start at home

For your first time, I would suggest to go local. See if your department has an undergraduate journal. I was able to get published in my own department the first time. If your department doesn’t have a journal, then here is a good list to choose from.

https://flic.kr/p/oRaEm6 - “The Writer” by Brian Stetson “The Writer” by Brian Stetson. My anthropology department accepts papers from students outside of our university. So even if you don’t attend say, Caltech, they still accept undergraduate submissions from around the world. This will allow you the experience of peer review without the added pressure…

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Some days, I do need to remind myself…(MeTalk #22)

That I have far more to be grateful for than to be sad about. I’m in Malaysia, I’m actually free to exit my home and come back as I please. I actually go shopping for my own groceries, a store in my neighbourhood sells Hot Cheetos and I have halal Subway. I have a balcony I can stand at, overlooking a gorgeous city.

I have my breath, I have my ever-shifting dreams. Haha, Ammu is actually opening her own crochet business on her facebook page and I’m designing her logo and getting a commission. These things happen… and miraculously. InshaAllah she’ll do well. If she can do it, maybe so can I… someday. I have no real problems. Sometimes money gets a little tight, but so far I’ve never had to ask Abbu for extra money because I have learned how to squeeze through these tight spots.

I do get tired. I do get frustrated. Sometimes I blame… and I blame in order to get rid of the pain. Sometimes I feel like the roads I wish to go down aren’t meant for me. The work I usually find pleasure in doing makes me feel like shooting myself in the face.

Tomorrow, I’m going to get my results, and I have no clue how I did in Psychology. I’m probably going to do very badly, but it could be a fail too. But who I am going to blame? No one. My cousin is one of those people who takes advice from me because he’s failing his studies. I say this to him and everyone else who comes to me worried about their futures, and so I say this to myself too. If you put in the effort, you will get results. There is no excuse there. He will fail if he doesn’t change… and I’m afraid, like most people who ask me for advice and then don’t take it, he won’t change. That’s something I have to live with too, and not be hurt because it’s his life. That kid can do things, but he’s just lazy sometimes, simply saying “I can’t” and sitting around wishing for a damned miracle. It’s tough, being a confidant. Because you have to watch them… and understand it’s not in your hands.

Thus, if I do badly in Psychology the truth is, I didn’t try. I was frustrated, I was angry, I got sick of it and… I gave up on it because it felt like it wasn’t worth it. If I fail, it’s my fault and I’ll deal with it like I deal with every little thing that goes haywire. Everyone would believe that I don’t fuck up my studies or other things. I do, perhaps less than others because I put in crazy levels of effort solely into NOT fucking up.

I’m going to run for elections next year, and it’s going to be HELL. Running for elections in Monash is serious business. You actually have to have an agenda, a manifest that people vote on. You debate your opponent and you have to win. Plus I’ll be the Treasurer of the Toastmasters club. I have to ask Abbu for that money. That last part upsets me a bit, I don’t like asking him for money at all.

Recently, I’ve learned to accept a harsh truth. I have very specific tastes, and expensive ones–despite the fact that Abbu can pay for those things, I cannot. Somehow that has spurred my motivation a little higher. I can’t afford the kind of life I want to live. People like me, who has never run into that financial ceiling needs to forcefully realise that there IS one. I need to earn money. I need to support myself even though I can live off my father–because I’m capable of doing great things, and I simply want to, due to my luxurious tastes. I’m definitely not saying that I’ll make it, but hey, I have a greater than average chance of being a trailblazer. I’ve done many impossible things, but only when I’ve really wanted to. Hey, I think I really want to. Someday I want to walk into an Alexander McQueen store and buy myself a suit. Why? Because satisfaction.

See, my dreams change with the months, depending on how tired or bored I am, or how reactive I’m feeling. My ambitions shift and reform too–but my potential will never falter, insha’Allah. I have this annoying habit of only reaching higher, which means I get good, then I get better. And better. Because why will I keep my potential low? Why won’t be good enough to blow the world wide open for my taking? Why not be ambitious so you can be best you can be?

I think the most important I keep doing this is so that I can tell people that they can do it too. I think it’s so I can tell people we all limitations, but with the work put in… your limitations may be expanded. Everything is possible.

In the end, again, I have to remind myself. Life is good. There was once a time I believed my life was worth nothing because, if I went away, I would not be missed, and no one would truly mourn. I wasn’t making an impact. But now, I am. I’m alive and well, Alhamdulillah. I still feel melancholy sometimes. I feel like “What’s the point?”. And then, like this, I remind myself. This. This is the point. Life doesn’t always have a purpose. Sometimes I just lose it, and later on, I find it because ‘I’. I am the point. I am a human being who’s contributing to society, one person at a time and DAMMIT, I AM WORTH SOMETHING. I am supposed to breathe and make a difference. I found a purpose. I have people who love me, and I have people who care. May it be that they will not mourn me for long, may it be that they will not miss me every second of the day. May it be I don’t truly have ‘family’ yet. May it be all that, but I have worth. I will breathe. Because I can.

Mom, where do opportunities come from?

Being generally brilliant and making friends who are ambitious as hell, that’s where opportunities come from, kids.

Capture

Apparently, I’ve garnered something of a reputation. As a badass debater and leader. As awesomeness. As a good partner to run for office with. As I’ve discovered, I do prefer to be number 2 at points, because a good number 2 may have more power than people seem to think.

But besides that, THIS IS WHERE OPPORTUNITIES COME FROM! With Allah’s grace, I’ve managed to make real friends and earned the respect of people besides. I’m so exciiiited!!!

I’m not really telling anyone besides Atiya and Tashfia, and the people I’m running with. I AM SO EXCITED!!!

*DANCES THE SAMBA*

If we only die once

Just a lyric from a song that is amazing to vocalise to.

I think there are a few things I’m particularly happy about now:

  1. I’m starting university classes next week and I’m not 20 yet! WHAAAAT. Mission accomplished!
  2. I don’t need to return to BD for the next 4.5 years- well the next 3 years at least (except in, Allah forbid, emergencies). I have a unit overload in my degree, so I’ll have to… Idk, I;ll figure it out, orientation week isn’t over yet.
  3. I’m not freaking out about my uncertsin future anymore, I’ve got solid subjects and progression plans by which I can create a definite career for myself at amost any point in life, if only because I have confidence in my own stubborn-to-a-fault determination.
  4. My weight loss is so noticeable that people commented on it over video call. OMG, REALLY? (ignores the fact that I’ve been stress eating for the last week)
  5. I only occasionally burst into random tears because I’m scared to death about the things only The Omnipotent can control. I call that mental progress, since I don’t have high blood pressure related issues either.

Alhamdulillah. I’m realising Malaysia is increasingly pleasurable to live in. If I didn’t have a major issue with the climate, I might decide to stay here. But I can’t- thank you,  allergies and hatred of hot temperatures. I have Cheetos, Halal Subway, Bubba Gump STEAKS. What else does a hangry girl need? Nothing. (Food-ly speaking)

And I don’t wanna jinx it by putting it in writing,  but who’m I kidding? I write everything down. Tashfia maaaaaaaaybe joining me next year. InshaAllah. I crazy crazy hope so. I need her,  even if I’ll probably never admit it in spoken words. Maybe one day if I’m high on pain meds or something. MAYBE. She’s a good friend, and maybe in her own way,  one of the best kinds. Speaking to her kinda takes the edge off the lingering pain. Or maybe I should say everlastnig, but hey,  I ain’t complaining. We all need loss in life to keep us grateful for what remains. Always stay grateful. InshaAllah,  that is what brings the good things coming our way.

First day of Ramadan

Yay, it’s tomorrow. Here goes first attempt at independently ACTUALLY waking up two hours before suhoor time. I do wake at 5 every day anyway, what’s an hour early? 

Yeah, this is gonna beee difficult.

I love how casually people can hurt other people they claim to care about and- here’s the truly asinine part- not even realise they have because they’re completely out of touch with another person’s emotional well-being. I’d almost forgotten, and during my this “return to positive” phase, I managed to set myself up for more pain. Because I started expecting again. I mean, seriously, these are the same people who were there when I was at my lowest. Why should I expect that anything has changed? It’s me who has changed. Again and again and again, because I want to be better than who I was yesterday. They haven’t changed shit about their lives, or their understanding of me. They simply haven’t.

I think I need to lose this disease of wanting people. I once lived my thinking I was the only one of my kind.  I’ve since learned better, and I have people physically around me, unlike back then. It’s not like last time, and plus, I’m not a little kid having my eyes opened for the first time. Yet, I still make the same mistakes. I’ll be DAMNED if I’m labelled as someone who “needs” attention from the same self-absorbed assholes I had then.  I’ll be damned if I do that again. Then I have to lie through my teeth and pretend to be just peachy, because saying otherwise is just cruelty- they’ll never understand. I hate feeling like a victim.

Thus, I did start reading again. Who needs humans? They’re mostly useless anyway. They say you need to start loving your own company to stop feeling the need for other people’s company. Well, I had that, I managed to fuck that up too. Of course, they payoff was more than worth it, but I digress. I’m slowly coming into new realisations, and it amazes me how we never really stop growing, as long as we can refuse to get comfortable. Fighting my own instincts is pretty great, assuming my new disposition doesn’t go south along with it. Maybe I’m just sick of feeling I’m not good enough.

This is war. And I don’t lose.

The day in pictures

Here’s where it started:

Took some photos by the info board:

This scary clown made me a balloon heart:

Around the 4th kilometer my plantar faciitis started acting up… But I finished the walk then walked home. Tomorrow’s gonna be painful. But I broke so many records- I started after the flag off, but ended pretty up in the first 2-300 participants. It’s not a competition, but hey, I like winning. 

The certificate:

Higher purpose

I just read an article on finding your purpose, doing what you love. So what exactly is it? I previously said how conflicted I am about my purpose and my teachers said I shouldn’t pressure myself, and I guess a lot of people really don’t know what they’re destined to do until years down the line. I guess it doesn’t really matter what I’m studying, or planning on studying.

But I thought make a list of things that bring me real joy, something I consider real success for myself, in no particular order, no matter how egotistical it sounds:

1. Being asked for advice

2. Helping a person work through a problem

3. Being a confidant

4. Winning an argument

5. Thinking my way out of a difficult situation

6. Beating someone (or myself) at something

7. Being praised

8. Being recognised

9. Seeing a person follow my advice and actually succeed

10. Actually seeing someone succeed (although there are moments of competitve jealousy if they end up beatung me at my own game, in which case, yay, motivation to kick some ass and improve myself at the same time)

11. Proving my point with definitive evidence

12. Making a difference for the better in anything (quantitatively or qualitatively)

13. Having the power/money/influence to push forward what I have proven to be the best way forward

14. Talking down ignorant people (though if I’m too rude, it eats away at my mind after I’ve calmed down)

15. Being physically strong

16. Having the true affection of the people I care for (whether emotionally or professionally) because that also leads to all those things up there. Yes, even the power, which makes me a dick, but never said I’m a nun.

——-

So that’s all I can think of currently. Class is filling up with noisy people, so I cant really think, even the Band Perry on my earphones. Also the gum pain is having a ball. Though it’s not as bad as last night. Hopefully my wisdome teeth will grow without much trouble cuz I actually i got rid of all my milk teeth pretty early. Let’s see.

One day at a time

At times I realise the differences between being in school in BD and getting closer to the top. As I get closer to my career prospects, the people in the room are getting far more competitive. I’ve always been the one student who had an “edge” over others. 

Teachers always noticed me first, with an expectant gaze wanted me to respond first. Every teacher knew me by name. Even here, it actually surprises me sometimes how many teachers address me by my first name. My globalisation teacher jokingly introduced me as a “Future Parliamentarian of Bangladesh” to the one of the MUFY coordinators. 
But as I get further into the courses, my classes are filled up with more people with an “edge”, and I realise I have keep upping my game, at every stage. I have to do SOMETHING out of the ordinary to get noticed. I’ll admit, sometimes that thing is enough to earn me a couple of rivals despite it being perfectly allowable. The teacher also notices my argumentative streak sometimes.

This whole train of thought kinda sprouts from what happened in Globe class today. We were having the QA session for another group’s seminar on Women’s Rights. I brought up the recent Health plan passed through Congress in the US which takes away women’s insurance coverage in pregnancy. After a while someone asked a question about Obamacare and the teacher laughed and said, “Yeah, Nafisa, you answer. She asked about Obamacare and how it could’ve helped women in America,”

I laughed too, with the rest of the class (funny, a year ago I would’ve been offended), and I realised that despite the laughter- as usual- it was my edge. That was what set me apart. That was what gets me noticed. My passion for keeping up with real life issues. With US issues, but current issues.

The teacher never pointed out anyone else in class. Other students have an edge too, so I’m not always the OBVIOUS sore thumb like I used to be, but now, I have an area of specialization, but only where I can succeed in claiming my stake. 
Currently, the dilemma I face is that of… Which career path should I pursue? I actually left off deciding that for now, best to focus to just get my university education done. I’m great at babbling on in the socio-political sector, but I’m more interested in working in the corporate sphere. I need something that melds both these specialities of mine together.

People can’t tell in most cases that I do have a confidence issue- especially where I’m not in top form (e.g. when I’m ill), or I personally feel at a disadvantage, or if I’m simply not passionate enough about the subject.

So, I pick my battles. I back down where I don’t see a viable solution or a victory. I’m learning to get used to the sensation of accepting loss. Not every fight is a win, because not every fight should’ve been fought. Every little stupid thing I’ve done before March of this year, the stubborn arguments I got into… They shame me. I always venture to live my life without a regrets, especially regrets over words I’ve said or people I’ve hurt, those are the worst. Feels like an open wound every single time.

I’m not gonna say I’m improving, because improvement is subjective. I’d say I’m learning to make peace with my demons. Not by denying their existence, but by constantly being aware of them. 

Everyone has a past. Every single person has pain and they have things they would’ve done a little differently. A little bit. So do I, but it doesn’t mean those things have to haunt me every day, or I have to cite their existence to validate my pain today. I don’t have to bring out a litany of my grievances to say ‘I told you so’ to myself every time I face a similar experience, or the same pain. I don’t HAVE to tally the number of people who’ve left or been taken. I don’t HAVE tally up how many times my parents or my family fucked up my day. I don’t have to keep track of how many unfortunate events have occurred in my life. I can just take it one day at a time… And wash my face of yesterday every damn morning.

Yesterday’s sadness belongs exactly there- in yesterday. I have plenty of things to be happy about today or look forward to tomorrow. I don’t have to drag yesterday’s happiness into today either. Live as a blank slate- able to take in every crappy and happy experience and dump it that night. Say screw you, sorry, thank you and goodnight. Literally live one day at a time.

Which brings me back to the first question: How much do I think about the future?

Well, I think I’d take that slow too. The days are gonna pass at their own pace and I’m going to have to pass them at my pace. But, nevertheless, they must be passed. Today, I decided to consult my Globalisation teacher to talk about possible career prospects. I NEED to make that decision, but I do have two to four years to evaluate how far I reach… And most importantly, the ethical and moral implications of that career prospect. 

The things I specialise in are fun to work with in the classroom, but no less than three people have begged me to never enter politics because they don’t want to hate me. I would succeed there, but of course, besides people ‘hating’ me, I’d have to live with myself. Unfortunately, in the business world, it’s just as bad, but only you don’t always deal with thousands of people’s lives. I don’t want to enter politics fully (yet) but whatever I’ll do will probably be concerned with spinning words and that can be seen as… Not so ethical by most people. I don’t even know what that would do to me.

All in all, I accept that I have almost nothing “figured out”, but it’s not like there’s a gun to me head, until there is. It’ll be difficult for me to head my own firm unless I find my edge not in the classroom, but in life. I can’t handle working under someone else’s orders, so I’ll have to consider how long I’ll be able to deal with doing so, and then there’s the whole…family thing to consider. Sigh.

But, hopefully, life is long enough and I’ll be able to get my shit together. Right now, I’m only focused on not stressing about what I can’t control, keeping myself cheerful {reminiciest of 11 year old me, I feel joy again :’)}, and simply blowing people’s minds with my health plan/weight loss. I think my weight loss has a LOT to do with my cheerfulness now and I think my decision to keep my mind clear of clutter and sadness has a lot do with my successful health plan. 

Oh well, small victories. Life doesn’t seem all that difficult unless I make it so. 🙂