Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Winning Woman: Fatma Sultan

Another Wednesday, another inspiring woman on the blog. Meet, Fatma Sultan, an architect (she holds 2 degrees in the field) a dreamer, a creative and a blogger. Her blog she says is 'a way for her to go out more and attract more positive vibes along the way', this in turn uplifts her readers, you vicariously live in the moments through her blog and adventures, i know i did. Here's what this free spirit had to say.

                                              Photo Credit: Neema Jodie @thebongolese

1. Tell us a little about yourself, who is Fatma?
I am a dreamer who is growing every day and working towards making my dreams come true.
My major goal in life is to simply live a healthy and wholesome life, in all aspects of the word. Happiness, having a healthy level of love and respect for myself and those around me. And making my heart’s desires come true. I do realize now that it all takes work, and I try to unravel these mysteries and share with others on my blog
Professionally, I am an architect. I hold two degrees; a Bachelor of Architectural Studies (B. As) and a Bachelor of Architecture (B. Arch), which I pursued for six years at The University of Nairobi. I took a gap year between the two degrees to work at Morphosis Architects Kenya (where I am currently employed) so it actually took me seven years to complete my formal education. This gap year greatly shaped who I am today as it was probably one of the first decisions I made for myself as a young adult.
As a creative, I don’t restrict myself to this one field. In fact, I think being an architect opened up my mind to many more possibilities as to how to maximize on my talents. I am a novice painter, and very amateur photographer. In my mind, I also think I’m very funny – a comedian - but not too many people share this enthusiasm. Haha.

2. Have you always wanted to be an architect?
I’ve always known I was a creative from a very young age, always day dreaming – drawing and singing at the same time. As you grow up, you may hear things like ‘Stop day dreaming. Your head is in the clouds. The world doesn’t work this way – be practical. Grow up’. You get the drift. Basically, creativity became an impractical trait and I found myself putting my ideas on the side – to focus on books, facts and formulas. I became more two dimensional. I actually applied for medicine at first but missed by a point and I’m very grateful for that. Everything happens for a reason and Allah knows best. With some help and guidance, architecture seemed like the next best academic field to pick up, and I haven’t looked back since. Alhamdulilah.

3. What’s the hardest and the best part about being an architect?
Creativity, while at the same time being original and innovative. See the thing is, in 2017, there is nothing new, really. Coming up with new and original ideas is the hardest and best part of the job. It could be a stressful process but there is nothing sweeter than bringing your own idea into fruition – from a formless idea floating around in your mind, to a drawing on paper and eventually a real project. It’s exciting. This process can be very painful but if you can get over the emotions and just focus on getting the job done, growing every day can be a wonderful process.

4. Aside from your job, I noticed you have a blog called ‘pilgrim chic’, tell us more about that?
I’ve never been too confident talking about my blog until recently when a few readers would comment on how uplifting they thought it was. Which is exactly why I have that blog.
I see it as a way to attract more into my life. And not for popularity or monetary gain (that would be great haha). But more like it forces me to get out and do more, and so I attract more good and adventure into my life. On my own. How wonderful a concept, yes?
I’m currently working on myself – on just being better. I like to think about personal growth, and share these ideas with my readers. It is something I’m passionate about and hope that whoever reads my blog leaves feeling happier or inspired. I express my vulnerability and talk as a human who just wants to be better.
Currently I just take pictures on my phone but I hope to invest in a camera this year so I can share even better quality pictures with my readers. I’d love to see how much more creative I can get, it is an accomplishment I do fantasize about – capturing beautiful images.

5. In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up?
First of all, I cry. Haha.
I feel the emotion. But I don’t stay in it for long. I try to centre myself, breathe and come up with a plan.
I don’t like to get stuck in that place so I pick up a notebook and write everything I’m feeling – in a logical manner. It helps me understand why I’m feeling what I’m feeling. Then I come up with a plan.
This can take a few minutes to an hour sometimes, so when I’m done I do feel the need to take wudhu and pray if it’s time for swalah. And then I get started on a small achievement – whatever it may be. Once I’m done with a task, I reward myself with something I enjoy – like go on my favourite blogs for inspiration, scrap book, treat myself to a coffee or outing with a friend.
I like to reward myself with experiences and not things. And if it is a thing, then it’s something that I do see as a long term source of good vibes haha. Like a book. This year, it’s that camera I’m saving for.

6. What does success mean to you?
Wow. I don’t think I’ve thought of it as an ultimate destination so it’s quite difficult for me to answer this question. I just want to get by every single day happy and healthy. And my idea of happiness and content is just be proud of myself. I want to be proud of myself.

7. What quote or saying or book do you live by or rather inspires you?
I started reading a lot last year and I’ve come across so much material I would love to share. If I had to choose just one I would say that the most impactful reads have been books by Maya Angelou. I highly recommend these to young women. My favourite book so far is her book of essays, ‘Even The Stars Look Lonesome’. Please go get it.
Also! I don’t know if an affirmation is a quote but I repeat this to myself all the time – “My ability to overcome challenges is limitless, my potential to succeed is infinite”. And in difficult moments, “This is temporary”.

8. Which of your traits are you most proud of, why?
My ambition, which I think is my will and determination to just be better every day. Some days the growth is more than others, but just to ultimately keep growing and becoming better.

9. What characteristic do you most admire in other women, career women or otherwise?
Strength and balance. I admire strong kind women more than strong arrogant women because they become relatable and easier to love. I feel that when you’re strong and balance it out with kindness, people love you more, like Maya Angelou and Oprah. I want to master how to balance that strength so no one can walk all over me, and at the same time be kind so I can stay humble and help others.

10. What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received in your life and what advice would you give to girls who want to be an architect like you?
When my mother, grandmother and aunts would tell me to work hard and focus on my studies.
If you’re reading this and your mother, or any other woman in your life, has told you this – listen to them because they know what they are talking about. Education will empower you, and the younger you are when you realise this you will be much better off than realizing it at a later age.
Stay focused. Seek out education. Read more. Watch inspiring videos. Even as an architect, this is a trait you will need to cultivate. Seeking out new information is the only way to be inspired, know more and be aware of international standards.

And if you fail, it’s okay. Just don’t stay down. Pick yourself up and keep going. Blood, sweat and tears. The victory will be that much sweeter in the end.

 Happy face

Some of Fatma's adventures on her blog

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