I’m taking this time to sleep-in, catch up on reality TV trash, see my grandmother more, get a massage, and dive headfirst into several chocolate cakes. Mostly, however, I’m on this vacation for one particular reason.
To step back from my life for a second, and re-evaluate.
Because here’s the deal: in the span of the last two years things have been feeling different.
Like wake up with a different face, in a different house, on a different planet and not even have enough time to fully register it kind of different.
There really is no better way to put it. My life has been exactly that feeling for the last two years and no one is more gobsmackingly shocked by it than me.
I’m not the kind of person I thought I was or could be. I’m not living the life I lived before or thought I eventually would. I’m not pursuing the same goals, the same milestones, and the same ‘dreams’ that I thought I had planned for my whole entire life.
And, y’know, that’s a little scary.
Because for the longest time now, I couldn’t figure out what it was exactly that had led to this monumental, unseen, overwhelmingly powerful overhaul in pretty much every single part of my life over such a short period of time.
But in the spirit of this zenned out, chocolate induced, detoxing stay-cation, I got to thinking about it. And I’m happy to say that, after many contemplative hours of heavy chocolate-binging, I’ve finally and totally figured it out.
It was just a blog.
This blog. This tiny, sporadically updated, totally non-particular, drop-in-the-Internet-ocean blog.
A blog that literally only happened because I was feeling bored and hungry one late night some few years ago. A blog that I thoughtlessly named ‘Owl Olive,’ for a reason that is ridiculously cutesy and kind of meaningless, really.
This one blog–OwlOlive.com–has incurred more life-changing events in the last two years of my life than almost all other things in my human existence so far have.
And, in celebration of this wondrous, sublimely beautiful, and miraculously true realization, here is a list of 10 life-changing things that would have NEVER EVER HAPPENED to me if Owlolive.com didn’t exist:
1. I Would Have Never Experienced the True Power and Comfort That Comes With Being A Feminist
I didn’t start calling myself a feminist until I took a graduate class on Feminist Theater at 21 and I realized that that’s what I was, which was about a year before I started this blog. TURNS OUT I’ve actually always been a feminist but I just never had the right name for it or I didn’t understand what the word feminist even really meant.(I was totally one of those people who used to support and represent really female-empowering stuff but then I’d ring it off with something stupid like, ‘but I’m not one of those crazy feminists.’ If you do this, even subconsciously, congratulations: you’re a feminist.)
Before I started this blog, however, and even as an already admitted feminist, I didn’t realize how much power that word gave me not just as a woman, but as a person in general. Writing, sharing, and talking about posts like this, this, and this (and really anything to do with this), over so many mediums and social platforms has taught me that a) my words and thoughts on ANY SUBJECT are more powerful and important than anything I could ever wear or own and b) that there is a HEAPING TON of people in KUWAIT specifically and the world generally that care about this stuff just as much as I do and really want to talk about it too.
2. I Would Have Never Grown Such Thick, Drama-Resistant Skin
If I had ever come across situations like this, this, or this (plus about 50+ other horrible emails, comments, and actual real-life threats) before I started blogging I would have probably combusted into a pile of blithering mush. Now, however, I’ve learned to deal.
3. I Would Have Never Found So Many Kick Ass Readers-Turned-Friends
The amount of people who have become real-life friends of mine because of this blog, many of whom I now call, WhatsApp, email, and/or regularly interact with on social media is so many and so extraordinarily beautiful, that it makes me want to keep blogging just so I can keep meeting people like that. Also the fact that I even have something that remotely resembles a ‘readership’ is, frankly, a little bananas to me and it has humbled me in ways that I have never been humbled before.
4. I Would Have Never Gotten to Know and Work With Lana Al-Resheed
Okay, the only reason that this deserves a point on it’s own and didn’t get included in the previous point is very simple: my meeting and interaction with Lana Al-Resheed THROUGH THIS BLOG SPECIFICALLY AND EXCLUSIVELY didn’t just give me one more new, awesome friend like it usually does.
It changed the path of my professional and personal life in a very real and profound way, through the following series of blog-exclusive events:
- I first met Lana for about 10 seconds at this event that I was exclusively invited to as a blogger a year and a half ago, during which time I told her I was a huge fan–something which, apparently, stayed with her and made her aware of me as a blogger for the very first time.
- Six months later I started Running With Heels on the blog (note to self: revive that!) and chose Lana as my first feature interview. The post got plenty of comments; plenty of interaction; plenty of Lana lovin’ all around! A great kick-off to a cool blog segment but not much else, right? Right.
- Unbeknownst to me, however, it was that interview and that blog post that talked Lana Al-Resheed into contacting me two months later, working with me on a small project, and offering me the position of General Manager at THE CITY Magazine all before she had learned my last name AND ENTIRELY BECAUSE she liked my writing on this blog and liked my interviewing style, which she had experienced firsthand also on this blog.
Which leads us to peppy number 5…
5. I Would Have Never Realized What I ACTUALLY Wanted To Do With My Life
All my life, I was told by friends, by family, and by myself that I wanted to pursue a career in English Literature academia.
I studied for it in college; went on to get my M.A. in it; had plans to eventually earn a PhD and teach with it.
I lived day-in, day-out without ever questioning my future plan as an academic because everyone around me from professors to friends to work colleagues all kept telling me how good I was at it and how this was so clearly what I was meant to be. And, all the while, I completely agreed with all of them.
I really was good at it and for the most part I really enjoyed doing it. But did I dream about it?
Was I inspired by it?
Did I imagine all the ways that I could enrich my life and the life of others through it?
Nope. Never. Not once.
And the more I blogged, the more I wrote creatively, and the more I connected with people through stories and conversations (instead of theories and analysis), the more I realized it. I realized how much I loved editorial work, loved journalistic writing, and loved content creation (all of which I actually had extensive experience in but that I never truly concentrated on because it wasn’t in ‘the plan’).
It was something that Lana Al-Resheed saw in me and saw in this blog before I even saw it for myself. And the minute she offered it to me, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was exactly what I had wanted to do all along. This is also one of the reasons that I will never not owe Lana Al-Resheed for pretty much changing my whole entire life.
6. I Would Have Never Found My Sense of Humor
Through blogging I’ve learned that a) It is absolutely possible to be PLEASANTLY sarcastic and cynical about stuff, which has allowed me to laugh at myself and at the world a little more, and b) this makes me a funny person, which I did not know that I was.(Attention, trolls: I know that you are all so excited about this big, gaping troll-hole I just presented to you, and you can’t wait to tell me that you don’t think I’m funny and you could totally blog waaay funnier than me. That is totally fine. A lot of people don’t think I’m funny. But enough people DO think I’m funny that they have actually taken the time to comment SPECIFICALLY on my funniness on this blog, in emails, on social media, and in real human life. The end.)
7. I Would Have Never Gotten Over My Privacy-Phobia
When I first started this blog and established it’s ‘Owl Olive’ social media accounts, I was dead set on maintaining my anonymity (as a lot of Kuwaiti bloggers usually tend to do). This is was pretty comforting for me because I used to have a lot of hang ups about sharing personal details about myself and my life with strangers or, really, anyone who wasn’t super duper close to me.
At the same time, I was sharing more about myself, my mind, and my heart on this blog than I had ever previously shared with any amount of people before in my entire life. It didn’t feel half bad. Eventually, that made me want to share more stuff in places like social media, and made me want to identify the blog with other daily parts of my regular life–things like my work, my family, my home, and my actual name. More and more, I stopped caring as much about being private and started caring more about being selective instead.
(In case you don’t know this already: my real name is Shaza Ayesh, which beats the hell out of ‘Owl Olive,’ I must say.)
8. I Would Have Never Really Figured Out Where I Stood On Things Like Age, Marriage, Religion, Parenthood, Politics, or People In General
Self-explanatory really. The truth is that a whooole lot of things that I learned about myself as an adult 25 year old woman out in the world I learned because, at one point or another, I thought it would be a really good subject to blog about. Might not have realized it at the time, but it’s actually turned out to be the main reason that I always return to blogging no matter how long it’s been. It helps me find out who I really am.
9. I Would Have Never Realized My Deep, Unabiding Love FOR ALL-CAPS
I LOVE ALL-CAPS. I LOOOOOOOOOOVE THEEEEEEEEEEEEEM. ALL-CAPS ARE MY BEST FRIEND AND MY FOOD AND THE DEFAULT TYPEFACE OF MY GODDAMNED HEART.
I LOVE THE UNFILTERED, UNAPOLOGETIC PUSHINESS OF ALL-CAPS. I LOVE THE BREAK FROM PROPRIETY. I LOVE THE HONESTY OF IT. I LOVE LETTING LOUD FEELINGS BE LOUD. I LOVE HOW ALL-CAPS HELP ME FILTER OUT PEOPLE WHO PRIORITIZE CONVENTION OVER CONTENT, BECAUSE I DO NOT CARE VERY MUCH ABOUT IMPRESSING THOSE PEOPLE.
OH, ALL CAPS ARE “UNREADABLE”?
CAN YOU REALLY NOT READ THIS? (GET REAL PRIORITIES, WORLD. LOVE, SHAZA.)
10. I Would Have Never Known The Delightful Positivity and Hopefulness That Comes With Ringing Off Every Blog Post With ‘All My Love!’
And with that…
All my love!