Femmerang’s One on One with Marium Zara

Author of Project Illuminae

I’m sure you have heard the term calm within a storm. That is the best way to describe this young woman, Marium Zara. She is wise beyond her years. Her work, her passion for what she wants to achieve speaks for themselves. She describes herself as someone who wants to do a lot more in her life. Someone who is just getting started, to us she struck as someone who is well on their way to achieving what they have set out to. 

She’s the author of the book Project Illuminae, which is a poetry collection about life. It entails her life and a mix of what she has learned over the years from her surroundings and other people’s experiences. According to the author herself, “I tend to internalize everything around me very quickly. That plays a big part in my poetry as well.”

Marium is the youngest of her siblings. That already puts her in a league of her own. One does become insightful growing up as the youngest in a family, especially if you have educated older siblings and one is in the mental health profession. She learned a lot about life, watching life happen to others along with her and watching her elders deal with it as she grew up among everyone. She comes from a conservative family, but they never restricted her dreams.

She says she has had an existential crisis all her life because “when you are the youngest, you have to fight for your voice to be heard because everyone thinks that you are not making sense, or you don’t know how the world works.”  Writing became a release, a way to keep her voice and her identity.

In fact, her father was an avid reader, and she remembers him talking about authors and encouraging her to pursue the field of English literature. She has a Graduate Degree in English Literature from the Islamic University of Islamabad. She graduated last year; speaking about going to college and getting her degree, she explained that it helped her understand the language that made it easier for her to write and comprehend what she was doing on a higher level. 

She started with writing short stories and even a novel, then somewhere along the way, she realized that was not for her. She realized that she was more comfortable using “metaphors” and “language that would suggest something.” ‘When you live in a conservative family, you are not able to speak clearly and be straightforward with everyone. Poetry felt very safe to me, and it helps you be more open without being very upfront.” These statements ring true for all of us no matter what kind of family we come from, whether we are writers or poets or not. This young woman has it all figured out. She understands why she chose what she chose and how this will define the rest of her career. She started writing poetry when she was in 7th grade. The inspiration hit while in the car. She looked out the window and got this sudden urge to write something. There you have it, folks. That’s how stars are born. We are full of cliché’s today.

In her book, she discusses the limitations of her freedom, her mental health issues, and so much more. She is very vocal about her mental health issues. Here at femmerang, we find that to be a courageous move. Not many people own up to what they are going through because of societal pressures and what people think of them. To be this brave and wise at such a young age is admirable. 

“Whenever you want to go to a psychologist, everyone deems you as pagal. They don’t see that you need help with your emotions. It’s just like an illness that you get a cure for; if you have the flu, you take medicine. If you have a mental illness, you go to a therapist so they can help you.’ She dealt with depression during her teen years. We often ignore young adults’ depression with the shrug of a shoulder, saying it’s just a phase. Explaining her symptoms of depression, Marium said, “You don’t even want to get out of bed. I wouldn’t go to school for days; I wouldn’t do my work; I was like, what’s the point of it. It was hard to focus on my studies. I was surprised that I got into a university the way my grades were going down. There are also up days. I used to think that it’s hormones, but I don’t know now.” 

“when you are the youngest, you have to fight for your voice to be heard because everyone thinks that you are not making sense, or you don’t know how the world works.”

She didn’t get help until university when her friends persuaded her to see a psychologist. “The therapist helped me a lot. She told me to write everything down that was burdening me. That also led me to write as well, and I wasn’t suppressing anything anymore. That’s what mental health is all about. When you suppress things, you’re not your true self.

Her brave endeavors didn’t stop there. She finished University and wrote a book. She was scared to show her work to people because of the fear of being judged. “I don’t show myself on social media because when you’re out there, you are vulnerable. More vulnerable than with your actual words. Whenever a person reads a work like this, they think the person who wrote it must have gone through it.” On Instagram, you can tell people that it’s not your life, but as an author, that’s not possible. 

So, what does the future hold for this young woman who has already accomplished more than most? She says she is working on something new. She has no plans of stopping. There is much to do. She feels like Millennials are always thinking about what is coming next, and if they stop for even a moment, they feel like they have lost so much and are left behind. She is not someone who is behind in anything. She can be sure of that and relax. Relaxing is good for our mental health as well. However, something tells us she has got her psychological health covered.

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