I am so bad at expressing myself. Oh my gosh, you guys, I am so bad at expressing myself.

I can pump out boring, essay-like pages in a quick second; they won’t be perfect, but they’ll be readable. They’ll make sense. But putting my feelings and thoughts into coherent words is just an entirely different journey, and the thought of doing that on a regular basis this semester makes my skin crawl with uneasy, jumpy nerves.

But I want to.

(I am already halfway regretting writing this but I’ll soldier on in the most self-deprecating way possible.)

Having followed Michigan in Color, the corner desk of The Michigan Daily, for a long time, I have seen talented, intelligent writers draft up the most wonderful pieces. The thought-provoking, heavy and nuanced discussions have genuinely prompted me to examine the way I wanted to present myself in the world.

My relationship to my identity has been a paradox of stubborn belief in who I am mixed in with a shit-ton of insecurities. The stubborn belief part came a little late. My life story goes: Born in the United States, spent years abroad living in four countries, came back to the U.S. for high school and steadily becoming hyper-aware of my capital O, quotation marks “Otherness.”

I think we all have a complicated relationship with who we are. I think it’s a mess of emotions and deep thought. I think a lot about how I present myself, the ways I suppress myself, the ways people see me, my culture, my language, my home life, my strained relationship with my kind-of hometown Lahore, Pakistan. I think, in the U.S., it’s hard to pin yourself down and make yourself a place because the ground beneath you is always shifting and rejecting parts of you. But I think that MiC is a pretty great place to be around others who might feel the same. We can be unsure together.

In the future, I want to do this whole journalism thing — for better or for worse, against all family wishes because they are pretty brown. But, I am not cut out for three years of law school, sorry Mom! And to do that, it is so important, vital, necessary, to read as many narratives as possible — to know all of the corners of the story, the whole picture. It is so important in journalism to represent people and their identities as responsibly as possible. It is up to the writers to train themselves. I want to help bring stories to the spotlight. I want to make sure that race isn’t just an angle for someone to take, but a voice seamlessly woven into the account.  

I am beyond excited and honored to be heading over to Michigan in Color. There is so much we could be talking about — so much. I can’t wait to be a part of that discussion. I can’t wait to help cultivate and open that discussion. Oh my gosh, you guys, I can’t wait.

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