For someone who's as uncomfortable talking about themselves as I am, this takeover was pretty daunting! And yet, here I am.
A few days ago, my mentor and colleague gave me a book she said changed her life. I was intrigued. It was a short essay by Elif Shafak called "How to Stay Sane in an age of Division".
One line in particular resonated with me, "Ours is the age of contagious anxiety".
To say the pandemic changed the world—and me—would be a gross understatement. It left me with the exact same sentiment Shafak describes. My mental anxiety manifested itself into physical conditions. To the point where I often googled my symptoms and WebMD would tell me to write my will.
I grew recluse, unhealthy, watched Schitt's Creek on repeat, and baked banana bread till I thought my head would explode. Until—metaphorically—it did.
I needed to make some changes.
On her first visit to Pakistan, Rebekah impressed me with her workout regimen. She told me Apple had gamified fitness and had her hooked. On her advice, I invested in an Apple Watch.
I began counting my steps, and actually started doing the workouts on the Fitness app, instead of watching them in bed. Sydney Cummings, Grow with Jo, and Kyle Ardill were my lockdown heroes.
That battle still continues, as it has all my life, but I'm taking (baby) steps to win it!
The Luckiest Girl in the World
My dad always said I was very lucky. I never felt it, so I just assumed he was lucky to have me. But now, I know I am.
There's nothing particularly exciting about my life, other than the fact that I almost died when I was one. And, that I didn't speak until I was three.
I grew up in Karachi with Kashmiri parents, an older sister—almost a mother figure—and a younger brother. Yep, a middle child, with all the nuances that come from being one.
For some reason, I don't have any recollection of my childhood. I do remember that I hated traditional schooling. I went to a convent, got yelled at often for either not doing my homework, or sleeping in class.
But, I got through that—don't ask me how—and went on to study design. That was my true calling. Good packaging made me swoon and walking into an Apple store makes me weak at the knees. I'm not ashamed to admit I used to kiss my red iMac G3 every night before going to bed.
I met Sam almost a decade ago, and Rebekah soon after. I was going through the toughest thing I ever had to live with. I had lost my father, my guiding light, and my way. Nothing seemed charming and flowers didn't smell as sweet. It was then, that Sam introduced me to something new, something to completely occupy my time, and my mind.
I had to gain digital marketing superpowers in 2 weeks!
A Few of my Favorite Things
Growing up, I loved to read and I still do when I'm not interrupted by Netflix! I'm a romantic at heart. I love Sinatra, romcoms, and sitcoms. On the flip side, I watch a lot of true crime too, just to keep Sam on his toes.
I'm a full-time mommy to my four furry babies. I love crosswords and Ryan Gosling. And, oh...imagine my surprise when the daily newspaper combined the two.
My other lockdown heroes were Marie Kondo and the Home Edit. I discovered a lot of things I had that did not spark joy. I cleaned up, got organized and arranged my books by color. Those habits have thankfully persisted past the lockdown phase. Obviously, with my shopping habits I needed someone like Kondo to whip me into shape. However, I still do enjoy roaming aisles and looking at things I don't need.
I love reading about, and staring at art. I love Rothko, Frida and Miró—not the whiteboard. Before I was introduced to digital marketing, I taught graphic design to college students. I was fresh out of college myself, so made my way up from a teaching assistant to assistant professor.
After six years, I needed a change. I joined a boutique book-publishing agency. I LOVED it! From conception to completion, the process was enthralling. I still remember how the books used to smell fresh off the press.
Nope, not for me. If I could, I'd care less.
Anything less than extraordinary is a waste of my time.
When I was in my teens I watched a movie about a girl looking for love. She says there are too many mediocre things in life to deal with and love shouldn't be one of them.
I learnt the hard way that life is way shorter than we'd like. There's no point in holding grudges or being too busy for the people who make time for you. It's a lesson I repeat to myself and to everyone I love.
I'm blessed with the best set of friends like family and family like friends. They've been with me through thick and thin. Wow... my takeover has been way more emotional than I would've imagined.
3 random questions
Tuco, Coco, Nacho and Juno (L-R) My four fur-babies posing for their favorite human.
- Do you want kids? I take my job as a doggy mama seriously. The four of these monkeys have my heart. I also like sleeping at night so prefer being the favorite aunt to my other babies from other mummies. I'm going to give them a shout out for making my life complete: Arianna, Armaan, Arshaan, Faiz, Faris, Rumi, Scherezade, Suleyman, and Zara. 🏽
- Coffee or Tea? Don't know if I mentioned, but I can never make decisions! Can't in this case either. I like the best of both worlds. I start my day with tea and then switch to coffee.
- Favorite flower? The unassuming narcissus.
For someone who didn't have anything to say, I sure said a lot.
About Ambreen Dar
Ambreen designs for thrillseekers. She left the classroom behind to chase adventures in publishing, then dove into digital marketing's deep end. New tricks abound, but Ambreen's four furry fans still think she's top dog. Alongside Rebekah and Sam, Ambreen makes BRIL.LA's magic - and wouldn't have it any other way.