Mutasim Billah

Tweaks and transformations that just can’t wait

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Photo by Hamidreza Torabi on Unsplash

Hanging Out With the Wrong Crowd

If they don’t help you live better, be kinder, work harder, sleep deeper, smile bigger, know further, aim higher — you don’t belong there.

You need critics, not people who bring you down. You need reality checkers, not serial killers of dreams.

Chasing Perfection

It’s a moving target.

What you believe to be perfect today won’t be perfect tomorrow. You’ll know better, even if you’re absolutely sure at this very moment.

From others, from yourself, from the work that you do — don’t expect it. All the great things you give up for one thing perfect will leave you at loss.

Worrying About What Others Think of You

Do what you think is right at any given moment. Be a constant student of life. Your idea of right will evolve. …

Essentials overlooked too often

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Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash

“There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

We fall in love, stay in love, and do our best in a relationship to accept, make up for, and improve upon each other’s limitations.

We are all imperfect by nature and shouldn’t burden anyone, even ourselves, with expectations that turn into added weights.

Years down the line, you also don’t want to look back and regret you didn’t set your priorities right.

Some seemingly big things can become insignificant over time while the little things ignored can add up to set limits on the quality of life you can enjoy. …

Great things happened when they were least expected

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Photo by Anastasiia Chepinska on Unsplash

What a year of collective chaos it was. Even people who were physically unaffected by the virus itself lost in other ways — unemployment, depleted savings, end of relationships. Although the chaos remains, the year is gone, and it’s going to take a while to get used to mentioning it in past tense.

I’ve spent many days wondering if calling 2020 my best year yet would make me come off as insensitive. But then slowly I started to crawl out of this undeserved self-shaming because I did not choose to have a great year during a global pandemic.

But I had one. …

When merely surviving is an accomplishment

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Photo by Michelangelo Buonarroti from Pexels

For many of us it’s been the most difficult year of our lives. Even if worse things have happened to us in the years before, most of us haven’t spent a whole year in confusion and paranoia.

Even the most powerful governments and renowned experts were not prepared for this, so we can’t blame ourselves for waking up into chaos one morning and not knowing what to do next.

At first, it may have felt like we’re handling this pretty well, but the cost of living in lockdown kept piling up week after week.

Maybe that’s why showing some kindness to ourselves is overdue.

Turn a global tragedy into a personal turning point

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

We’ve lost a lot this year. Many of us lost loved ones. Many more of us lost jobs. All of us lost a sense of normalcy, and we wonder if it will ever truly be the same again, despite silver linings shown by science and politics.

Even the most privileged, the seemingly invincible of us have learned to acknowledge vulnerability afresh this year.

We’ve realized, no matter how different are the paths we walk, the lives we live and the beliefs we carry, we share the same world. We’re all humans — a species indomitable in spirit yet extremely vulnerable.

And these realizations of collective vulnerability did one thing to all of us — it softened our hearts.

They’re defining it wrongly

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Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

They say you can’t find the perfect partner. I think they’re defining perfect wrongly.

The perfect partner isn’t flawless, or a verbatim reflection of every little feature we would want in someone.

Instead, that’s someone, any divergence from whom would only make you worse off and you can’t be better off elsewhere.

It’s that poetic inertia of being stuck at a single point, and being terrified.

Not because you’re stuck there but because you can’t afford to be unstuck.

You need to earn all of it

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Photo: Dollar Gill // Unsplash

We don’t mean to disappoint, but your “back in our days” doesn’t fly with us. When we question your advice and you respond “because I said so,” it doesn’t register with us as acceptable logic. When you expect us to respect you and your views simply because you were born a generation earlier, we find your expectation devoid of reason.

Let’s clear one confusion right away. Just because respect isn’t readily given without question doesn’t mean it isn’t given at all. We’re not a disrespectful generation. We simply don’t believe in handing out respect for its own sake. …

Your writing advice can take a hike

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Photo by moren hsu on Unsplash

Enough. Quit pushing the unsolicited advice on how I should cut my paragraphs in half, use simpler words, shorter sentences; on how I should research what people want, how I can go viral, get trending, make cash.


Maybe I will. Maybe I won’t. Actually, for a change, I really won’t. I decide.

I’m tired of seeing writers gather like sheep under your shepherdhood listening to your one-size-fits-all advice that has too much to do with cosmetic upgrades and nothing to do with pouring oneself out in courageous honesty.

Where’s the fucking honesty?

I’m not angry with you. Well let me rephrase, I’m not just angry with you. I’m angry with me too. I allowed this to happen and kept going down that pathetic rabbit hole of “nobody’s gonna read your shit if your piece don’t look like mine” narrative. …

If you’re going to seek attention — own it

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Seriously, just admit it — you did it for attention.

You post 17 times a day. You never run out of photos. Or quotes. Or memes. Okay, the memes have little to do with you. But you post non-stop.

Hey, it’s your wall. Do whatever the heck you want. Nobody gets to tell you otherwise. Your posts don’t bother me.

What does hit a nerve though is when people ask you about why you spend so much time on social media and your response is —

“I just post for myself. I don’t care who sees it.”

How do you say such chicken-poop to people’s faces? No, not rhetorical. I’m actually asking. …

A slow but magnificent transformation

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Photo by Liliya Grek on Unsplash

We’re naive and rigid when young. We group our thoughts, feelings and beliefs and treat them as one.

As we grow older, wiser and start to familiarize with newer dimensions of the world around us and ourselves, we learn to compartmentalize. We identify dichotomies and learn to see different parts of a whole under different lights.

When we’re young, if we hate someone we hate everything about them. When we love someone, we want all of them. We put our passions on pedestals and our battles in secret diaries.

We swing between utopia and annihilation.

Then we grow up and find a spot inwards of extremes. …


Mutasim Billah

“Sugarcoats are not in fashion” • Economist, teacher, photographer • Stockholm, Sweden • All posts:

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