I saved the best for last. Grace is my very best friend, my sister at heart, and my lover if I don’t ever find a guy I can be as comfortable around as I am with her. Ours is a friendship built on immediate honesty, and that trusty foundation is pretty immovable. I’m super proud of her for chasing after her dreams and moving to New York to work with a fashion startup called Of A Kind. And I’m even prouder that she’s sticking it out through the hard times. Also, she photo-blogs here. Without further ado, here’s my bestie!
HMHW: What do you look for in a group of friends at this age?
Grace: Since moving to New York after graduation, I feel like I’ve been looking for people like my college friends, which is harder than it seems. It would be really awesome to find friends who are interested in the same things I am, and who accept you for who you are. They don’t necessarily have to be on your side all the time, but having supportive people would be nice. And basically, I feel like I’ve already met those people but it’s hard because I left for a completely different place and I had to start from scratch. It’s hard to make friends in a new city, and that’s not to say that I don’t want to hang out with the friends I’ve been hanging out with here, but there’s a very specific ideal I have for friends that is kind of hard to meet because I’ve met them already. It’s sort of like your first love – you compare everyone else to them.
HMHW: Do you believe in types?
Grace: I think jokingly I always say that I have a type, and I think people can be attracted to a certain type of physical appearance. And I guess I tend to gravitate towards people who have similar personalities, but I think it’s just a way to generalize people. I don’t think I have a type; even though I obviously gravitate towards certain people, it doesn’t mean I won’t give others a chance.
HMHW: Do you have career goals? Do you see yourself remaining in the same career for the rest of your life?
Grace: I thought I had it figured out when I graduated. I was in a really good situation where I got this awesome internship in New York and at the end of it I wasn’t sure I would get hired, but I did. And it was sort of this magical playing out of events, and here I am seven months later, and I don’t really know what I’m good at or what I really want to do. It’s sort of hard because there was that illusion that it had all worked out for me. It’s kind of like the movies where a romantic comedy ends when they get together, but they don’t show anything after that. Everything takes work, and you’re always growing. There are definitely things I wish I could explore, like working in a museum or working with nonprofits – there are just so many careers that I don’t even know about right now that I’m sure I’d be interested in trying.
HMWH: How valuable are your friendships with other women?
Grace: SO valuable. I like being one of the dudes and joking around with them, but I think there are just some things that guys don’t really care about or can’t really relate to. The women friends that I’ve made are the sort of people who are crazy supportive and are really strong people who inspire me. I’ve met some really great women in New York who are so supportive, and such great listeners, and I would have a much harder time if I didn’t have them around.
HMHW: What about your friendships with men?
Grace: I think I used to be in the school of “guys and girls can’t be friends without one being interested in the other.” Yes, that may be true in some cases – I think everyone’s always wondering if things could work out romantically. But I think it’s also nice to have a male perspective on things. This is a very gendered outlook that I have, but a lot of my guy friends are really logical and straightforward and it’s a really good complement to my personality where I overanalyze the shit out of everything. So it’s nice to have their logical perspective.
HMHW: Do you believe in the one? If so, do you believe they were chosen for you from before time, or that they become the one when you choose them?
Grace: I don’t believe in the one. Do you remember if I ever have?
HMHW: Maybe around freshman year? But other than that, I wouldn’t say so.
Grace: I don’t think so. This is going to sound like a cop out, but I haven’t really thought about that lately. I haven’t really thought about having a relationship with someone, and I can’t really see myself in ten years with someone. I just have so much on my mind with where I am right now as a young woman in my early twenties. It’s interesting to contrast how boy-crazy I was back in college, and now, I don’t even have to force myself to not think about them. So no, I don’t believe in the one; I think relationships are 90% work.
HMHW: How do you make decisions about your future in this season of life? Has that changed from before?
Grace: Well, I’ve been rolling a die so that’s a pretty big change. No, seriously, it’s been really hard. The way I make I decisions is the same way I’ve been doing it my whole life – it’s about deliberating and weighing the consequences of things. I feel like I don’t handle consequences very well, and I’m really hard on myself. I think it’s interesting to look at how people make decisions. Some people make decisions, then discover it’s wrong and then try and correct it, and it turns out fine. But for me, I don’t like feeling like I made the wrong decision, but I know that’s silly because it’s all about the process and how you deal with it. It’s hard to let go of weighing everything because it lets me feel like I have control over things.
HMHW: What’s your perception of the differences between masculinity and femininity? Do you think it varies from gender to gender or from person to person?
Grace: I think there’s a range in there. Gender is interesting because a lot of times when we talk about it, we talk about polar opposities. But I think gender is a spectrum, and it varies from person to person. We usually talk about gender as defined – women are supposed to do this and dress like this and act like this and say these things, and men are supposed to do the other things. I don’t think that’s the way it works, but it’s simpler to classify gender that way. On an individual basis, you can communicate being in different places on the spectrum. But in a society, I think it’s harder to be that specific.
HMHW: What would you say is the most important lesson you’ve learned in the last year?
Grace: It’s important to get out of your comfort zone. To be honest, it’s been a really challenging year, uprooting myself from a place I was really comfortable in. It was really exciting at the beginning, but you get there and it’s not what you expected. It’s really hard to be in that situation, but it’s also really important because I think the hard parts of life are where you’re growing the most. And it’s important to embrace situations like that.
I also learned that relationships are work. I obviously have to keep up my relationships with friends who live in Colorado, and my parents live in Saudi, but it’s interesting living in New York because you don’t necessarily see your friends here. Some people you see once every few weeks, and it takes a lot of effort and energy to make a friendship work here. You have to get on the train and travel for thirty minutes, or find time in your ten hour work day to send someone an email or text message to make plans.
HMHW: Do you feel any pressure to be thinking about/preparing for marriage? If so, is the pressure from within or without?
Grace: Right now, I don’t actually. If anything, that pressure would most likely come from my parents above anybody else, or maybe an internal fear of being alone for the rest of my life. But that really hasn’t hit me yet, and I don’t know if it’s going to hit me. Maybe it’s just this time of life, but I don’t have a fear of being single for the rest of my life. I mean, sometimes I do, but that’s mostly after watching rom-coms and seeing cute couples. But for the most part, I don’t really have that feeling.
HMHW: Do you think you’re making the most of your single life?
Grace: Yeah, definitely. Not that I’m making out with everyone I see, but I like the attention that I’m allowed to receive without worrying about a boyfriend’s feelings. I enjoy flirting with people – which is a new thing for me because I’ve been such a one-guy-at-a-time type of person. And the other thing I’ve been thinking about is that I don’t think I’d like sharing a bed with someone. Living alone is really nice – coming home and eating whenever you want, and having things running on your schedule is really nice. I’m definitely not taking that for granted. The thought of living with someone for the rest of your life and planning out when you’re going to eat breakfast is just exhausting.
You’re nodding your head a lot, which means you must agree with me.
HMHW: Or maybe I’m just a good interviewer…
Grace: Nope, because you don’t nod your head after everything I say.
HMHW: Yeah, I agree with you. I’d miss my autonomy a lot when I got married.
Grace: I know you would; it’s such a nice thing to have.
HMHW: What are your thoughts on modesty and its effect or lack thereof on daily life?
Grace: This goes a couple ways. First, I’ve noticed that no matter what you’re wearing – even if you’re wearing baggy clothes – you’re still going to get yelled at or hollered at on the streets. And I think it’s unfair that just because of my inherent physical traits, like long hair or my face or my butt or breasts, it’s apparently okay for someone to holler at me or make comments about me. No matter how “modest” I dress, I don’t think it’s a preventative measure in terms of being harassed on the streets. But on the other hand, in terms of your interactions with people you want attention from, I feel more comfortable not showing too much. I just think there’s a double standard with modesty, and it’s crappy because I’d like to have ownership of my body.
HMHW: Do you believe in the ability to be ready for marriage? Do you have factors that will indicate your readiness?
Grace: My first instinct is to say no. I think you can prepare as much as possible for anything, but you can’t predict what it’s actually going to be like. You can have an idea of what it’s like to be married but part of being married is constantly learning about another person, and that’s the propeller that keeps it going. You can’t be ready for marriage, just like you’re never really ready for most life decisions.
HMHW: What are your opinions on being pursued/pursuing based on gender roles?
Grace: Okay, this is a question that I have had on my mind. Honestly, when it comes down to it, I am sort of old-fashioned in the sense that I prefer to be pursued and to not have to make the move. I’ve found myself in situations where I make the move and it seems to work in getting the ball rolling, but I don’t like it because I like to feel like I’m worth someone going out on a limb for. On the other hand, I don’t like the idea of being so entitled to the idea of a guy initiating. I think it’s important for women to also be encouraging and open and helpful.
HMHW: What’s been the hardest part of being a 20-something?
Grace: Aren’t all my answers about the hardest part of being a 20-something? *laughs* I think the decision-making is the hardest part because I feel like a lot of decisions we have to make right now are make it or break it decisions. When you graduate college, it feels like you’re given a reset button and that’s why it’s so difficult because you have to make a whole new set of decisions that you’ve never thought about before. That’s the scariest part of being a 20-something. But the thing is, everyone has to go through it.