Thirty(One) Days of Q

At first glance, I think the skeptic would assume this post is just about another selfie-obsessed, narcissistic individual…but, it’s definitely more than that alone (haha!). Yes, you will see a lot of pictures of me as you scroll through this post but I believe that in itself was an important task that I subjected myself to because I learned quite a bit from it. Before you read further, I want to challenge you to complete a self-love challenge. It doesn’t have to be daily. It can even be weekly! And for as little or as long as you would like. I know if you’re reading this you are either curious, or have previously thought about something of this sort. So here’s your push. DO IT! It is rewarding and no one can say anything to you but yourself!
 
 
5W1H
Who?: The idea of this post and this challenge is to focus on yourself. Not only to appreciate yourself for who you are, but to learn from yourself about yourself, by focusing on specific things pertaining to yourself. This is all about me, myself and I.
 
What?: A challenge a day. Quite simple is the task, but not as easy as it seems. What I allowed myself to do was to curate the challenge to my own liking. I researched a few different lists from the web and picked from them what I thought I would like to do for myself. This took some time, but I didn’t go for entirely easy tasks either. I picked ones that would challenge me and ones that would help me grow. You can choose whatever you want, you don’t even need to look online for help. You can create your own challenges. After all this is all about you and what you want for yourself.
 
When?: Once a day for 30(1) days, at anytime in the day. Or, once a week for three months. Whatever fits your own schedule. This shouldn’t be a nuisance. This should be something you look forward to doing!
 
Where?: Wherever. You can plan to complete the task in specific places or at home, as long as you get it done! Some days you might even have a challenge that requires you to go some place in your city. Whether for a walk, or to a new coffee spot you’ve been curious to try. Allow yourself to explore all options. Set challenges that are very different from each other, this way things will stay interesting and you will definitely learn a thing or two.
 
Why?: Simply put – we tend to focus our attention on the external things in our lives. Work, school, relationships, etc. Quite rarely do we allow ourselves to give our own selves our complete attention. No, brushing your teeth in the morning, looking in the mirror at the funny faces you make does not count! We don’t give ourselves enough time to really understand what we’re feeling, to check in with ourselves and see how we’re doing. To maybe think about the things we can do to improve even the next hour in our lives. This self-love challenge is so that you can appreciate your own presence, be content with it, and look forward to spending the rest of your life with you, first.
 
How?: Everyone works differently. Some people work better when they are physically writing things down. Others are visually inclined and tend to sway towards the more colourful and picturesque methods of working on things. I am a bit of both, so I did just that; I created this challenge into something physical by writing down each day as a list in my notebook, and also, allowing myself to fully use my resources of social media to hold myself accountable for each day. You can do whatever you find easy, challenging or rewarding and work at it that way. Keep an open mind, there are so many ways in which you can complete a self-love challenge. The world is your oyster.
 
I wanted to use social media to share my challenges with my family and friends. I also wanted a check system so-to-speak, so I decided what better pictures to use than pictures of myself? After all, this is a challenge about loving myself and I should feel comfortable with how I look, even if just in photographs (for now). Of course, my choices are 110% biased because I picked the ones I found appealing as opposed to just some random pictures. But in doing so, I became more familiar with my own face – reflections aside, I don’t know anyone who just sits there and looks at their face in a picture for long. (If you do, great! You do you!) It’s not that we refuse to look, but we refuse to understand how we look, why we look a certain way, etc. Sometimes our pictures become so familiar that we only glance at them but don’t truly observe them.
 
Initially, I wanted to do pictures as I go – same day pictures of same day challenge but I realized I was setting myself an even bigger challenge. Now, for some reason if I wasn’t looking so photogenic that day, it might prevent me from completely my challenge. So instead, I opted for older pictures of myself or even recent ones that I had taken maybe a week ago or a month ago. Anyway, this was not that big a part of the challenge, and not even necessary at all. This was my own check system, but yours could be something completely different. Whatever works for you!
 
If you follow me on Facebook, you’ll have probably come across my album for this challenge, but below I explain in detail how each challenge went for me, which is something I didn’t do in the album on Facebook. If you’re not entirely up to read all thirty days, I recommend you pick your favourite number from 1-31 and read that day! It might lure you in to read more, or you might learn something you didn’t know about me, or about loving yourself! 
 
You be You & Let the World Adjust
 
Day 1 
Raise your consciousness. Tell yourself you love yourself. Write it down. Be conscious about how you treat yourself.
 
 
Today was harder than I thought it would be. Telling myself I love myself is most difficult when I’m swimming through troubling waters. But that’s when it’s the most important as well. Through your thick and thins, you must know that there are better days ahead, and you must not beat yourself up for your mistakes today or yesterday. Instead, you should smile through, cry if you must and still celebrate your battles. Remind yourself what a blessing it is to be alive.
 
Day 2 
Pamper yourself. Give yourself a manicure/pedicure. Buy that non-alcoholic breathable nail polish and polish your tiny toe nails!
 
 
Although I have yet to purchase that nail polish, I spent some time fixing my eyebrows, cleaning my face and exfoliating my lips. It felt really good. I fixed and painted my nails after a very long time. It was good relaxing me time and I’m so happy that I did it! I took care of myself, even if just for that hour.
 
Day 3
Make a list of the things you are grateful for in your life.
 
 
Writing down a list of things you’re grateful for also allows you to take a minute and appreciate these things in your life. A lot of the things that I’m grateful for are things that I take for granted some days. Like waking up in the morning after a good night’s sleep. Being able to move and walk and talk. Mostly, you allow yourself a moment to reflect and that’s important. It’s important to appreciate the past and its lessons. And it’s important to be thankful, whether to a higher power, family or yourself! The top three things that made my gratitude list were: 1. Being able to use my motor functions and senses. 2. The ability to be rational (sometimes {haha}) and; 3. My family and their love and support. 
 
Day 4
Meditate. Give yourself 15-20 minutes, find guided imagery audio on YouTube and allow yourself to relax.
 
 
Luckily, I had discussed my challenge of this day with a very close friend and she suggested an application to me which I tried out on this day (Headspace). It felt so good that I am going to make it a thing that I try to do for myself every day! It’s a good habit. It allows you to relax and not worry about anything in the world for at least ten minutes and it’s tests your patience. Something we could all work on!
 
Day 5
Spend on yourself. Buy the pricier version of a product you use regularly. When you use it you will feel happier. When you purchase yourself something nicer, you’re telling yourself you love yourself.
 
 
Even though I didn’t quite get to this today, I did sit and brainstorm about what I wanted to spend more money on… face wash? Lotion? A cooking item? A cosmetic? It really got me thinking about what I use regularly that I would like to upgrade. I did end up changing one thing because of this challenge: my skincare routine. Now that I’ve “upgraded” my product, I feel so much better and I hope that it benefits my skin so that I look so much better as well!
 
Day 6
Clean your space. Declutter, reorganize and decorate! Add fresh flowers and candles! “We feel best when everything and everyone around us is in harmony and in balance. The peace and the beauty of your home will raise you up, and give energy to your goals.”
 
 
I changed up my list a little today because it was my day off of work, I spent the entire day cleaning and decluttering, so I switched my challenge with a challenge from a different day for today. It was really good. I felt so good after I cleaned everything. I know I still need to clean some more but I will do that as days go by. I reorganized too and changed the setting of my furniture. Now I just need to buy candles and flowers! Which I know is a challenge for a different day, so I’ll wait until then!
 
Day 7
Write down three imperfections you have and their silver linings.


Today wasn’t all that challenging because I tend to be very critical of myself. However, yes, it was a little harder to see the silver lining in my flaws. This didn’t mean that I’m okay with my flaws and that everyone else should be too. This meant that I recognize and understand the places in which there is room for improvement and that I am working to improve these imperfections, however, sometimes they can be a good thing too. Imagine being perfect, how boring would that be? My three imperfections and their silver linings are: 1. I am emotional, but at least I can channel my feelings instead of bottling them up 2. I eat too much sugar, but, hey accepting is the first step to improvement! and; 3. I spend uselessly, which usually amounts to temporary happiness and I suppose I am living in the moment by doing so! 

Day 8
Write down a list of attributes you like and appreciate about yourself. It’s easy to criticize and be hard on yourself. Turn the tables around for once.
 


Because this was a list and not a write and explain why question this was easier and it allowed me to understand myself and truly appreciate the things that I believe define me. The top three things on my long (haha!) list of attributes I like about myself are: 1. I am a listener 2. I am usually approachable and; 3. I am punctual.

 
Day 9
Write a love letter to your least favourite part of your body. Be honest about why you’ve had a difficult time with it in the past, but then get mushy about why it’s actually an amazing thing. What does it do for you, what does it allow you to do? Why are you lucky to have it?
 


Today I was reminded of the scene in Mean Girls where four of the main characters are standing in front of a mirror and each one says something they do not like about their bodies and Cady has nothing to dislike about herself so she says she has really bad breath in the morning (which, almost everyone does). I think it’s important to love yourself, definitely, but to also accept yourself. In accepting our flaws or things we do not like about ourselves, we are one step closer to fixing/accepting these things about ourselves. If it’s something that you’re born with and have no control over changing, then that’s something you should work towards accepting about yourself if you already do not. For me, my trouble area, and least favourite part of my body is my love handles. This is something that I know I can change with the right diet and exercise routine. It’s not always the best feeling when you can’t do up those jeans that finally fit perfectly everywhere else! I know these hips will be useful in the future but the access on them must go! For me, it’s a sign that I’ve been eating too much sugar, and well… that’s something I’m working on as well! 

Day 10

Dress up, look good, set a timer and have fun! Have a photoshoot with yourself, or ask a friend to take pictures of you! Allow yourself to appreciate your outer beauty and uniqueness.


Okay, I didn’t really set a timer. I felt a little silly. But I did dress up. Nothing out of the ordinary because I do have to dress up for work EVERY day, so this was just another day, but this time I allowed myself some time to snap pictures of myself! It wasn’t all that unusual because let’s face it, with all these pictures so far, and more to come, I’ll just award myself selfie queen. 👑

Day 11
Hug yourself! Hugs are therapeutic, even when you give them to yourself! 


Most awkward thing I’ve done…um, on second thought, maybe second most awkward thing I’ve done – first being, slow side hug (cringe). But it was a little fun too. Try it! After some reflection I realized that I hug myself while asleep. I lay on my side and usually toss my lower hand/arm around my other arm.  

Day 12
Write down a positive memory from the past year that made you feel really good.


When I sat and thought about this, it was in itself such an uplifting approach because I started to go over positive memories in the last year and there was so many! Sometimes I think it’s easy to forget those moments in the midst of feeling glum somedays. The one that really stood out to me was my trip to New York when I surprised my best friend Raeesa. I had planned it with her husband Harun and the timing of my arrival matched so perfectly with the timing of her returning home from the movies. It was so funny because she was completely shocked and was not expecting it at all! I spent most of the weekend with her and it was really fun! 

Day 13

Write down your value system. What are your morals? What virtues do you believe in and try to follow?


Be kind. Be generous. Be gentle. Be just. Don’t take what isn’t yours. Put family first. Apologize frequently, but know your rights. Admit when you’re wrong. Ask for help. Put health before wealth. Be curious. Seek new opportunities. Travel often. Print out good memories. Smile. Just smile. Meditate, even for ten minutes a day. Always have a goal in mind; small or big and work towards it daily. Appreciate! The blue sky, they grey sky, they’re both a blessing. When in doubt, say Alhamdullilah. Thank your God. Pray when you can. Be mindful of the hereafter. Thank your parents, for everything and anything! Send them gifts and care packages. They deserve more, show them. Follow all yours signs. Don’t fight the universe, some things aren’t meant to be. Be okay with that! 

 
Day 14
Buy yourself flowers – create your own garden, instead of waiting for someone else to bring them for you!


Flowers are expensive. Why? Anyway, I did buy myself flowers. Pink roses in fact. I went through a process of elimination before deciding. Red was too typical and I’d bought myself white roses before. Orange didn’t feel meaningful enough. Pink just seemed perfect. Apparently pink signifies admiration, gentleness, grace, gladness, joy and sweetness! 

 

Day 15
Eat cake for breakfast! It’s your birthday!


I am guilty of eating cake randomly, not just on birthdays. But I allowed myself more cake today! I love cake, so why not eat more on my birthday?
Day 16
Set yourself boundaries! Write them down to remind yourself what you want to say no to, and what you want to say yes to!
 
I tried to focus on things related to but still different from my “values” and I found that my boundaries were at the limits of my values system (see Day 13). 

Day 17
Be naked for at least 20 minutes! Be comfortable with your body!


This won’t be easy if you live with family and they tend to walk into your room without knocking. But, if you live alone or have a lock on your door, this is a lot of fun. Weird at first, but totally liberating! Clothes feel overrated after this twenty minutes of nakedness. 

Day 18
Dance! Just play some music and dance! You don’t have to be good at it!
 
I do this randomly sometimes on my days off, or before getting ready for work. I play music and dance while getting ready. But to set myself some time to dance without it being spontaneous was a good feeling. In fact, I looked forward to doing it when I got home from work. It always gives me a burst of energy, not to mention, it’s fun and I get to practice my new found dance moves. 
Day 19
Write down a quote that motivates and inspires you. Put it up somewhere to remind yourself of it every day!
 

 

After a while you learn the subtle difference between holding a hand and chaining a soul. And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning. And company doesn’t mean security. And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts and presents aren’t promises. And you begin to accept your defeats with your head up and your eyes open with the grace of woman, not the grief of a child. And you learn to build all your roads on today because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight. After a while you learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much, so you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers. And you learn that you really can endure. You really are strong. You really do have worth and you learn and you learn, with every goodbye, you learn.

 

 
You Learn – Jorge Luis Borges
 
Day 20
Go for a walk with your camera 📷 and take pictures of your walk.
 
 
I found myself with a blank agenda, no errands to run, no friends to see, no assignments to do, so I allowed myself to step out in the okay weather, for a walk down lakeshore. I took a bus first to Sugar Beach in Toronto and the sun was perfect, about to set. Of course, it wasn’t as chilly when I first left but then it started getting colder. I enjoyed being alone with me and my thoughts. I don’t think I was listening to music even. I spent some time taking pictures at Sugar Beach. I’ll share some below!
 
 
Day 21
Take a selfie with no make-up (okay, maybe just fix your eyebrows a little because you look mental if you don’t). Be comfortable in your own skin and be proud of who you are!
 
 
If it was up to me, I would be makeup free for most of my days. I’ve come to really appreciate the skin I’m in, however, that is not deemed appropriate for my work. In fact, I did go to work a few times with minimal makeup and was called out on it. Some time ago after my acceptance of having to cover up everyday, I came across this excerpt in a magazine about Alicia Keys giving up makeup. Her remark really resonated with me. She said, Cause I don’t want to cover up anymore. Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing.” If you’re interested in how all of this began and her mission, I highly recommend you take a look at her powerful words here
Day 22
Write a letter to yourself. Words of encouragement. Reminders. Anything positive. Post-mail it to yourself! Dear me, love me.
 
 
I already sealed my letter to myself, so I can’t really share it. I plan to mail it out some time in the near future when it’s been out of my mind long enough for me to not recall what I wrote. I spoke to myself quite frankly because I feel that when I read it, I will understand that I was being real with myself. 
Day 23
Write down your biggest dream. The one that seems so absurd you don’t just tell anyone. The one that would take a lot of work and time to reach. Say it out loud, maybe even tell someone you trust. Now write down the first five steps to reach that dream, no matter how small. Say you’re going to do these first 5 steps in the next year, and make an effort to work towards #1 TODAY.
 
 
I actually had to come back to writing about this day because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to share my biggest dream on my blog. When I shared it with some close people in my life, I was sort of discouraged, so I think it’s best to keep it to myself. But this day was a good opportunity to get me thinking about long-term goals. Sure, I want the things most people want in their life, but to dream of something that has a greater impact on the world and my own life, that’s something that I want to work towards every day, no matter what others have to say! 
Day 24
Date night with yourself! Plan it out like you would with anyone else, turn your phone off, and enjoy your company! Be open to spontaneity.
 
 
I tried to plan to cook for myself, but that was a complete failure, so instead I ordered in and watched a movie. I usually don’t do this because by the time I get home, it’s time to sleep, or when I wake up, there are just so many errands to run. So, I kicked back and relaxed and it was a good way to destress. 

Day 25 
Today, say yes! 👍 Say yes to every opportunity that comes your way. Don’t be afraid, see what happens!
 
 
This day was perfectly aligned with my almost spontaneous trip to Windsor to visit my family. I had planned to go a while ago since I was off for three days, but somehow after paying all my bills, I couldn’t find room for it in my budget. It never helps that last minute tickets are always so high in price. Anyway, I happened to be lying awake at 6am on WhatsApp and my dad noticed I was online, so he rang me and asked why I wasn’t coming. After telling him, he quickly offered me a ticket to Windsor immediately (leaving at 8am) to which I delightfully said yes! And just like that I was on my way to Windsor! Once, I arrived, almost every opportunity was a yes! My parents went shopping for renovations to our house, and asked if I could come give them a second opinion and I said yes! My brother insisted we get McFlurries and not share them with anyone else, 😈 and I said yes! My sister asked me if I wanted to go for a walk to which I hesitantly said no because it was really cold and gross out! I mean, I can’t expect perfection from myself, but I’m so happy I said yes to the things that I did! 
Day 26 
What is something that you’ve always wanted to learn but never got around to? Make a timeline of how you will start to incorporate steps into your life that will eventually allow you to learn this new thing over a period of time.
 
 
Sadly, I’ve always wanted to learn how to swim, and each summer I’ve told myself, this will be it! I will learn! The problem mostly is not having access to a pool or a trainer with experience, who won’t let me drown. But I have to work towards it this year for sure. Last fall, I did a brave thing by jumping into a lake (with a life jacket), I’d never been under water before, and it sort of gave me an idea and allowed me to face the uncertainty I felt when attempting to learn how to swim.
Day 27
Revisit your bucket list and revise it too! Scratch off the things you’ve done and add new things you want to do!
 
 
I am so grateful for my grade 12 final summative evaluation (FSE) for phys-ed class because a part of it required my classmates and I to create a bucket list of 100 things we would like to do before we die. I used that bucket list in the last few years to revisit and revise and to remind myself of the things I want to do in life. I have had so many revisions, mostly because some of the things on the list were last minute hopeless cramming and brainstorming random ideas with my friend, i.e. bring a mouse to where there are a lot of elephants. Creating bucket lists can be fun and rewarding, especially if you are very realistic about your goals in life. But also allow yourself to jot down ideas that scare you, or make you think it must be impossible, because those are the ones that we grow from and those are the ones that are the most rewarding! 
Day 28
Draw something! Use crayons, coloured pencils, or paint. Whatever is accessible. Draw for 15 minutes at least!
 
 
If I shared my drawing you would probably laugh or throw up. It’s the most cringeworthy piece of “art” that I have done. I literally had zero colourful pencils or pens so I just wrote and scribbled. Anyway, it was relaxing and I allotted myself enough time to zone out the world and focus on the creating of something random. I was relaxed.
Day 29
Exercise today! Make it really count today if you’ve been working out regularly. Write down how you feel before, during and after!
 

 

Okay. I’ll be honest. I thought that I would be working out regularly by now… Alas! I did have to work out hard today, but at least even my minimal efforts were harder than what I have done regularly (aka nothing!). I felt demotivated prior to starting working out, but during it I felt like I could keep going and going. Afterwards, I felt so energized…and I generally felt really good throughout the day. Although, I can’t say the same for my muscles. 
Day 30
Write down a mini biography. Where you started, where you’re headed. Sometimes it’s good to remind yourself of your life mission and accomplishments! Try writing in third person!
 
 
I didn’t focus too much on my late past, more so on my most recent past and how much I have learned about myself and how far I’ve come after having gone through a life altering experience. I think this allowed me to accept my recent past, and to be okay with the troubles in it. It also allowed me to write down where I plan to go with my future and to look forward to things in my most nearest future, as opposed to being overwhelmed by focusing on a later future. Things like, marriage, kids, etc was not in my “where I’m headed” because I feel I’m still young and have a long way to go before I can start worrying about those things!

 

Day 31
Ask your friends to describe you. Write it down and how this makes you feel.

Relatively speaking, this day was the most rewarding of days – mostly because my friends are amazing and love me dearly! And I love them just as much, if not more! I specifically asked them to be honest with me about what they say and to not shy away from being critical. I want to learn from what people have to say about me, and I want to be able to reflect on my relationships and myself in general based on the closest people to me! This is what they had to say about me:

Qurat is such a learning soul. Her self-love challenge not only serves as an example to others, but also an awesome memory peg of her journey. She will look back to when it all began and probably feel a lot of excitement. She is a Pisces, who has already experienced that ‘lost everything’ episode. It’s awesome because now she is aware of how much there is to grow. She is already calling on the cement trucks to fill in the potholes on her streets, even adding new lanes to some of her personal adventure avenues. Obviously she is experiencing expansion and massive changes, which are inspiring. Thanks for sharing your journey with the world! – Egemen Aktas

Q is my oldest friend. She’s also my best friend. It’s hard to find people like Q because she goes above and beyond to do everything for you, she’s caring, has an innocent giving heart, she tries to see the good in people. Q is also creative, she is always finding cool things to do, mostly for self improvement, whether it be mental or physical or social. I am constantly inspired by her drive to try different things. I love her! – Raeesa Habeeb

You’re a loyal friend as I mentioned before. Meaning I know no matter what happens, our friendship will be there. You’re caring, compassionate, understanding, and always so comforting in times when I need support. I’m lucky to call you a friend and I value the fact that we have been friends for almost 7 years now since we first started uni together. We’ve been through ups and downs and I will always consider you a close friend. You’re also super spontaneous and up for new and exciting things, like trips and game themed birthday parties, and I love it! – Kate Harold

 

 

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