For someone who spent most of her life in land-scarce, urban Singapore, a place like Iceland feels almost unreal. To be able to lay eyes on mountains as breathtaking as the ones we casually drove by on our road trip, and witness the efforts of thousands of years of unrelenting water activity take shape in the form of awe-inspiring fjords and waterfalls was an immense privilege that I was thankful to have. No photo or video can do justice to the true magic of the moments you spend on glaciers, hills or craters, taking in the vastness of the Icelandic terrain.
It was then that I learnt to silence the hundred and one thoughts that I usually have swirling around in my head, and focus my attention on the multitude of sensations and emotions that surfaced in the moment. Those feelings of wonder, gratitude and exhilaration are permanently etched in the deepest corners of my mind, serving as reminders that we are but specks in the greater scheme of things, and that the world is so much bigger than we know.
It’s a question I used to get a lot but never really knew how to answer. It’s probably because I didn’t fully understand what it meant to be uninspired. (You see, I have a habit of getting involved in too many hobbies at once. Keeps the brain busy.)
That was before I finished school and entered the real world. You know, the one that everyone around used to talk about constantly. As if everything that happens prior to that is just for play, or has-beens for us to reminisce about when the responsibilities of the real world become too much to bear.
But when your identity is shaped so much by the experiences that you collect pre-real world, it becomes so easy for you to get lost in the routines of working life. Things also get a little more complicated when you work in the creative industry – where do you draw the line that separates your professional space from your personal one? Is there a need for these spaces to be made separate? Can they coexist as one to become an even larger space that benefits both your career and personal development? Is work finally driving you insane?
Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy what I do for a living. I really do. Crazy hours, crazier co-workers and all. But I am unsettled about how my sense of self got a little lost in the transition from Liyana the fashion lover/sometimes blogger/music person/aspiring creative to Liyana the copywriter and fitness lover. I think this is perfectly natural and not really a quarter-life crisis type of moment. Feeling the need to step back and reevaluate my growth as a person, and taking note if I’m really moving forward as best as I can.
It took all of two years for me to realise that inspiration needs to be chased. So that’s what I’m doing now. A little self-recovery. Reconnecting with passions that I lost, and yearn to explore again. It’s not going to be easy, but if that’s what it takes to feel the exhilaration in creating once more, then I’m on board.
Inspiration comes to us in many forms. There are so many inspirational hijabis in the world, and today I will only be sharing with you four of my personal ones, as part of my little blogging series for World Hijab Day. These wonderful women inspire me in different ways, so forgive me if my list appears to jump from one point of discussion to another.
Now, in no particular order, my hijabi inspirations:
I follow Saufeeya on Instagram and her feed is MAD. It is so carefully curated and her outfits are always so on point. I love how her confidence radiates through every photo that she publishes and how she treats her Instagram feed as a creative space rather than a platform to document everyday activities, which most of us use it for. Saufeeya inspires me to push myself creatively and explore social media spaces in different ways. Everytime I revisit her feed, I am reminded to think out of the box and be unafraid to express myself through my outfits and photography.
I first gained interest in hijab fashion when I came across photos of Hana Tajima on Tumblr many years ago. I was intrigued at her effortless sense of style – it was never flashy, but more relaxed and contemporary. Whenever I needed a dose of inspiration, I’d take a look at her photos. Even the way I style my hijab is influenced by her! Since then my sense of style has developed to include other influences but Hana Tajima will always remain the first hijab style icon to pique my interest in this art and inspire me to develop that interest into something more.
Reading about Malala never fails to make me question my life choices, all at once. She has my utmost respect and admiration for her accomplishments and her determination to create change and fight for what she believes in. A lot of the times I make the mistake of taking things for granted and not realising how fortunate I am to have been born and raised in a society where education and safety aren’t out of reach. When I think of Malala and the ordeals she went through, I remember that I have so much to give thanks for and also so much that I can do affect positive change. Her strength and courage inspire me so much. I don’t really know how to put this into words… in the course of my years on Earth, I hope that I’d be able to create real, tangible change, the way Malala is doing right now. What a goal to strive for.
I learnt about Niloofar Rahmani through an article by Buzzfeed which listed her as one of the “Badass women you probably didn’t hear about in 2015″. Niloofar became Afghanistan’s first female fixed-wing military pilot since the fall of the Taliban. And at just 21 years old! Unfortunately, fast forward a few years later, death threats from members of the Taliban and even her own extended family has forced her and her immediate family to flee her home and, according to this article, she is currently in the US training to pilot a special plane. I think it is so admirable that she still has the determination to succeed and live her dream despite the terrifying amount of danger that it puts her in. Her story really inspires me to push myself to achieve the things I want and serves as a reminder that we all have the capacity and the strength to succeed within us. All that’s left for us to decide is how much effort we are willing to put in to get there and how much we are willing to sacrifice to reach our goals.
Do you find inspiration in any of these women as well? Share your thoughts with me!