Hi. I’m Jay. This is my life.
When I was a little girl, my parents wanted me to be a doctor when I grew up. No matter what far-fetched career dreams I thought up for myself, they always had an answer that grounded my future firmly in the medical field. I wanted to be a teacher – I could teach medical students. I wanted to be a computer programmer – I could program medical technology. I wanted to be an engineer like my father – I could create new diagnostic machines. There was always a way in which my ambitions could be redirected to be more in line with their ambitions for me.
What I wanted to be before any of those things, and after all of those things, and even after four years in medical school culminating in a very dramatic exit, was a writer. And no, I did not want to write medical textbooks.
This is me. I’m twenty-three years old. I’m Muslim, for a given definition of “Muslim” that does not line up with any scholar’s but lines up rather well with the way I see the universe. I suffer from bipolar disorder and need three different kinds of medication in order to function. I’m bisexual, maybe pansexual. I call myself “queer” because it’s the only label that doesn’t feel like a label. I’ve been in a committed relationship with a wonderful man named PJ for more than two years now, and I think I’m going to marry him some day. I’m named after both of my grandmothers. I was a feminist until I decided feminism didn’t have any room in it for women like me or my friends, at which point I decided “intersectionalist” was a cooler word anyway. I was raised in a white society by migrant parents. I work with refugees and volunteer when I have time. I rant on Twitter a lot. I am a lot of things to a lot of people.
But “writer” is the label on my soul.
The problem with being all of these things to all of these people is that I don’t get much time to write any more. There’s always something I need to do. There’s always someone who needs me. It’s very tiresome being needed, I’ve found. I’m pulled a million different ways, and my soul – the thing with “writer” scribbled all over it in my messy, flourished handwriting – is pulled with me. It is an uncomfortable feeling, rather like being forced through a cheese grater, with each resulting shredded piece being handed to someone else.
So I have made myself a resolution. From now until the end of this year, I am going to write a blog post every day. Sometimes I will write long blog posts, and sometimes I will write short ones. Sometimes I will write about the things that make me happy, and sometimes I will write about the things that make me angry and hurt and sad. Sometimes I will write like the words are being revealed to me and I am but a conduit, and sometimes I will write as though the act is like walking across broken glass. But I will write something every day until the end of this year. I will take all the little shredded parts of my soul and piece them back together so that you can see the label that says “writer” – written in pens purloined from my father’s desk by my five-year-old self, in glitter gel pen by my thirteen-year-old self, then in fountain pen by teenage me at two o’clock in the morning, then in a neat, nondescript typeface by the me I am today, the me that only ever writes things on computers because typing is faster than writing – once more.
My hope is that this will make me feel more whole. My hope is that it will encourage me to focus on other writing projects long left untouched – the novel I barely started, the fan fiction I used to love to write, the letters I hardly ever pen any more. Mostly, my hope is that I might find the soul I seem to have lost somewhere in between ranting on Twitter and volunteering and working and being all of these things to all of these people. My hope is that I might, perhaps, reveal some of that soul to all of you, that you may come to know me just a little better.
For now, this is me – a writer coming back after a long hiatus, hoping to find the light that used to guide her, the spark that used to drive her, the fire that warmed her when the world seemed lonely and cold. I welcome you to join me on this journey, wherever it’s headed (for if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that I don’t know where I’m going). I hope to entertain, engage and maybe even educate you. But mostly, I hope to find myself again. I’ve been lost a long time. It would be nice to find my way home at last.