Nazhah Khawaja is the Women’s Editor for The Demureist, a digital magazine focused on lifestyle and culture. She will be MC for MALA’s Open Mic party in Chicago on September 29 – join us! We sat down with Nazhah and chatted with her ahead of the event to get to know her better.
Nazhah, what does identity mean to you? How do you engage with your own identity?
Identity is being able to understand who you are at your core, being able to understand what makes you “you.” How you view yourself, your values, what’s important to you. Engaging with identity means sitting with yourself, tapping into your psyche, and figuring out how you are being true to yourself, within yourself.
I like to grow the parts of me I identify with, and this is how I engage with my identity. I make and spend time thinking of those things which center me, things that ground me, things that make me feel human and able, alive and apt. Then I go out and I do me.
Who has been the most important influence in your life thus far?
My mother. She’s shown me strength and perseverance. She’s shown me the benefits of patient discipline and she’s taught me how to trust the courage that turbulence yields.
Can you talk about one of the important triumphs in your life?
One of the most important triumphs in my life is becoming a mother. I get to triumph every day!
Being a mother has taught me diligence, it has pushed me to the limits of my sanity and capacity and has shown me how much bigger, better, greater I can do and be. I am provided with opportunities to challenge my approaches and my dealings, always on the hot seat, and am naturally required to be mindful and present each day. It’s the most demanding yet fulfilling sensation to choose responsibility and love as the driving force in my every waking moment.
What do you love most about living in Chicago?
I love that in Chicago you can experience that which your heart desires at any given moment. Sometimes that means you’re looking for quiet, or noise, reflective solitude, or enhanced social experiences, nature, or spectacular urban finds, if you’re looking for a history lesson, or looking for edgy and contemporary. When in Chicago, all of that is possible.
Where is your favorite place to go in the city on a summer afternoon?
I’m not a huge fan of hot temps, so on a Sunday afternoon I’m looking for an engaging experience indoors but also a place that provides an impressive views of this gorgeous city. I choose the popular and well-visited Museum Campus for a Sunday afternoon. Pop into one of the museums (check calendar for free admission days!), take a walk on Northerly Island, and picnic alongside Lake Michigan. Nothing beats the view of the impeccable skyline from Museum Campus.