"Sometimes people will recognize what we're doing, but at the same time, you could be working on something for a long time and no one will ever know about it. And that doesn't make that thing any less amazing, you know, or any less about to change the world."
Hey, I'm Jen Landis, founder of Pincurl Girls. And this is the GIRLBRAVE podcast. In this episode, I chatted with Noor a sophomore in college who has been practicing self care the last few years, as she heals herself from an eating disorder she had in middle school today, she is shining her light and talents with the world. I can't wait for you to meet her, so let's get to it. Hi Noor, how are you?
I'm very, very good today. How are you?
I'm good. Thank you. Where are you at today? Where are you calling in from?
Good old Los Angeles, California.
Have you lived in Los Angeles? Your whole life?
Yeah. So born and raised here, actually. Yeah.
Awesome. So you are a blogger and an activist. When did you start blogging and when did you start your YouTube page?
Okay. So funny thing about YouTube is I technically had a YouTube channel when I was like 13, but I quickly deleted that it was just like horrible videos that were like commercials and like old skits and stuff. So I deleted that, but when I actually started my blog and my YouTube channel the same year, actually back in 2017, I was nearing the end of my sophomore year in high school. I think I started both at the same time or around the same time, like within the same month.
What made you decide to start your YouTube channel and your blog?
I was actually, I am a dancer and I had gotten a knee injury. And so I was out of competition and I was pretty much like, I was pretty bored and I felt like in a, in a sense, I felt useless. I was like, what am I doing here? I'm not dancing anymore. And I have all this passion about all these things. I had so many things that I wanted to write about and make videos about. And I'm doing nothing about it. So why don't I try start doing something on line?
I had always been into photography and videography because of my dad. He always has done photography as a hobby. So I've grown up around cameras. And I started the YouTub channel when I was like 13. Like I always liked editing software. I loved messing with clips and like telling stories. So I was like, all right, let me take this and actually apply it.
So I started a blog and just started writing about random stuff that I cared about or like was passionate about, or even just like things that were on my mind that I wanted to talk about. And then I started a YouTube channel, because I was like, let me start blogging and making videos and like documenting my life. So I just did that partly out of boredom, but also out of like, I had all this fire and I didn't know what to do with it.
Your videos are fun to watch. I was doing some research this morning and watched your brother putting on makeup.
Oh my goodness. Yeah, it's hilarious.
And it makes me want to do that with my son and just try it. That was fun. And then you've done some traveling videos and when I watched that, I thought was really creative was where you, you wrote a blog and you could see like typing in the blog and then you voiced it over, which was great with a bunch of B-roll clips.
Yeah. That was my most recent video. Yeah. Right before I went off to college, basically, I had felt bad about my YouTube channel because I wasn't being consistent with YouTube. It really helps if you're uploading every week or every month or like every something. And because of my senior year and college apps and just life I wasn't being consistent. And I was like, man, I feel horrible. And then I was like, you know, I'm a human. And this happened for a reason. I'm like, let me just make a video talking about like, why that happened and what I'm nervous about. And like, it was like probably my most honest video, I think.
Yeah. You could, you could really tell out of all those types of videos that you've done in the past, what kind of video do you enjoy making the most today?
I think honestly the video, like my most recent one, because I think that's closer...so I'm a film and media major now that I entered college, hopefully that'll stay. I don't know things change, but as of right now, I'm film and new media. And the video that I most recently filmed was I think closest to like actually like my film style or like editing style that I'm trying to work on and build upon in pursuing films.
So I really liked like using like B-roll and voiceovers and like, it was more technical than any of the other videos I had done, which were just fun, vlogs. Those I really loved doing. Cause I liked messing with the editing. I liked putting in text and zooms and making it really funny. But I think the video like I made most recently is probably the one that I enjoy the most and that I would like to do more of in the future.
I was curious, what camera do you use and what do you like to edit with?
I love camera nerd stuff. I've been, I've been using the same camera since I was 13. Actually I have a Canon Rebel T5i a lot of people have that camera. It's a very, very good one, but it's not the camera that makes you, it's like the person. And as long as you know your gear and like, you love it, then you can make anything work. I cause a lot of people would tell me that it looked like I was shooting on like a Canon 50 D or something, which I took as a compliment.
I was like, thank you. But it was just like, no, yeah. I just knew the settings of my camera. I have two different lenses. I have a 50 mm and then a zoom lens. So I switched between those; editing software. I use Adobe Premiere and yeah, that's what I've been using.
Alright. Do you take your camera everywhere you go in case you wanted to film something?
Yeah, it's really funny. I've taken...if you see any pictures of me anywhere that I've traveled in the world, I most likely have my camera bag or camera on me, like in the picture. And it's funny because even if I don't actually turn anything into videos, I always always take videos and pictures of where I am, no matter what, like if it was true at college, it was true when I've traveled. It's true, even, I mean, not so much at home since I know home pretty well, but I still take my camera with me pretty much everywhere.
I need to start doing that. I've got a camera too, and it sits in the closet over there in a bag and I just need to get it out. I'm I'm really, I'm very guilty of using my iPhone to shoot to lots of things.
It's just as good though. Like I think as long as you're taking the pictures, you know,
That's true. So your travel vlogs, you went to Qatar, I saw on one of your videos to present at the Empowerment Youth Leadership Conference, which sounds amazing. Can you tell me a little bit more about that?
Yeah, so that happened about a year or two ago now I joined this program called YALLAH (Youth Allied to Learn, Lead and Help), Commit to Action, which was run through QFI, which is Qatar Foundation International. And in that program you create a project based off of the United Nations, sustainable development goals. Cause there's, there's these things called sustainable development goals, SDGs. And that the UN came out with also a couple of years ago and they focus on different humanitarian, issues and subjects.
When I joined the program and I applied and I got in, I knew that I wanted to deal with mental health because I had been doing a lot of my activism, I'd say majority of it has to do with mental health because I struggled with an eating disorder back in middle school and then wanted to start doing mental health advocacy and talking about the importance of getting help and having access to resources and all that stuff. So I went into the program knowing that I wanted to do a project on mental health. And so the sustainable development goal that we ended up picking was education. And then under that, we were doing mental health.
We created this project called the education emotion project or EAP. And our main goal was for that to be a resource in which students around the world could go to, to just do research about mental health and to get access to resources that they wouldn't otherwise have. And our biggest focus was for it to be a program in which students could start a chapter at their school or, or just start their own version of it and collect local resources so that if anybody local to them ever went to EAP, they could find those resources. So it was a pretty big project and we, we put a lot of work into it. It took us like, I think six or seven months to finish.
Then we got to go present at the Empower Conference, which was insane. That was like super cool. There was a bunch of bunch of student leaders there from all over the world. Literally every country, we got to meet people from everywhere and our presentation went really well. And we actually did well enough that we got to come back to Qatar a second time to present again at QLC, which was another youth leadership conference basically. And people from our first presentation from like the first round that we went, came to the second one. So we had people from our, he first time we went to Qatar at our second presentation, telling us the updates on how EAP had been integrated telling us like the things that they've been talking about in mental health that they'd never talked about before.
And it was like, I don't know. It was just really, really amazing. And it, like, it was mind boggling to see that the project actually was implemented and did, did some work. And I remember they were talking to us that there had never been, I mean, this wasn't us, but basically in the Middle East mental health, isn't really talked about that much. It's, it's a pretty taboo topic, but a Qatar didn't have a suicide hotline until after we presented, like in between the time you presented the first and second time they'd gotten one. And so people were saying like, we, we started doing a lot more research and like we backed up this hotline and like, it was really interesting to see like people were interested in what we were talking about. And yeah. So that was the project.
That sounds absolutely amazing. How do you even get to know about those types of projects and to apply?
Yeah, I mean, I just got lucky in that I heard from my mom about the program, the Yella Commit to Action Program and I just applied and I know a lot of kids, like they were, it was presented at their school, but yeah, so like it was, it was truly luck and it worked out and I was like really grateful that I happened.
It was meant to be.
I think so.
So you're going to be a sophomore in college. Is that right now?
Yeah. Oh my gosh. I feel old.
I know you're so old now. : ) So your video that I watched this morning about you basically saying that you're growing up and, you know, apologized for being inconsistent for your videos and stuff, what, after that year has passed now, what have you learned about yourself that you can look back and say, wow, this is how I grew in the last year, for anyone that might be going through a new transition in life.
Yeah, I think I learned Just how to trust myself more and also how to forgive myself a bit more because I tend to hold myself to a very high standard. And I think we all tend to do that. Like we tend to be very like unforgiving with any of the mistakes we made. And I know for me, like for YouTube, that was a big source of guilt for me of like, why aren't you uploading? Why aren't you making videos? Like, why aren't you like doing new blog posts every week? And what I discovered in college is like I was going at my own pace, you know, like I was still a student on top of that. I was still dancing on top of that.
I was still in extracurriculars and college that first year was really about like, discovering more about myself and who I am, what my values are, what I stand for, what I want to do. And in discovering those things, like I also discovered being able to forgive myself and give myself the space to like take my own time and go at my own pace and just know, whatever you're doing is enough. Even if you're pausing a certain hobby of yours, like, for example, like if I took a break from You Tube, like, Hey, like I'm not a flawed person because of that. It's just, I'm going at my own pace. And like, that's the pace I needed to be at. So I think that that first year of independence and like figuring stuff out on my own really gave me that, that sense of like, it's okay.
I think we do put ourselves through a very high standards. What other things do you, can you tell yourself, or do you tell yourself or advice that you can share to anyone that has done that too about, hey, you are okay with where you are right now and not trying to internalize all the pressures from what everyone else is doing.
Yeah. I mean, it's hard. It's really hard because like, we naturally seek, I think like validation, right. And we just really want like everyone to be happy with us and we want everyone to be like, you're doing so good. And it's, sometimes we will, we'll be getting that validation. And sometimes people will recognize what we're doing, but in the same sense, and at the same time, you could be working on something for a long time and no one will ever know about it. And that doesn't make that thing any less amazing, you know, or any less about to change the world.
So, knowing that and knowing that everything that you do is valuable and everything that you do is a part of your journey, no matter what, your bad thing, whether you're going through a struggle or going through a really good time, it is a part of your journey. And it's useful to you and finding that value in yourself is I think the advice that I've been trying to take of, I would always want for a YouTube video or for a blog for other people to like it, right. I would always want, you know, my parents and my friends or my whatever to like read it or watch it and tell me if it's good. And it's like, that's good and well, and having feedback is very important, but what matters most is do you like it?
When you watch it, do you feel something? Do you feel like your message is the message that you want it?
So that was really hard for me to wrap my head around and like start implementing. But that's what I've been trying to do more of, if I made this thing, do I like it? Do I think it's making a difference? And if, if I think yes to those answers, then I'm on the right track. And no matter if somebody supports me or not, I'm on my right track, you know?
Yeah. Do you have those internal dialogues with yourself while you're making something? Like, what would my mom say about this? Or what was my best friend say about this?
Yeah. It's like, it's a constant battle. Like with everything I make, I try and like step back. But of course, like the first thing you think of is like, what are the people gonna think, like, what if this person hates it? And it's like, it's not about that. It's not about, but it's hard. Yeah. The dialogue, I mean, even when I've been implementing this self love and this, this, I don't know, self-validation, it's still hard not to think about external.
Yeah. I mean, I do it and I'm in my, you know, mid, mid forties and I still do it. I mean, it does not get easier. You can be more strict with yourself and say, okay, now that's not true. And you need to do this for you, but it's still there. Which I don't know if I thought it was going to go away. Hopefully it'll go away for, for the younger generation more than it has for me. But can you tell me a little bit more about how you're using self care and self love that others might be able to learn from?
Yeah. I mean, self care, self love are both things that I've talked a lot about being somebody who talks about mental health. With both of those things. I feel like there tends to be, I don't know how to phrase this, but like an idea that like you have to do it perfectly, or that there's like one way of like doing self love or self care. And that it's all very pretty and fluffy and nice and face masks and baths. And it's like, I've found that my self love and self care can be hard work sometimes.
And it could be quite literally the opposite of a relaxing bath with a face mask on, but it's still self-love because for me, self-love means doing things for me, which is hard again, when you're somebody who's like a people pleaser and somebody who tends to, I dunno, a lot of internalized stuff tends to come out as trying to please others. So turning that into, I'm going to do something for myself, no matter what anyone else says, I'm going to today buy myself a nice thing.
Today, I'm going to, when I look in the mirror and my brain tells me that I don't look good, I'm going to actively fight against that and say, nah, I look awesome. Even if that's hard now. So it's a battle and it's a journey. But I think just figuring out what it is that you need, figuring it out, figuring out what it is your body needs and being aware of what those things are and how to meet them is what I would say is the start of that. And it's a journey and you're going to go up and down and like, I am not perfect at self-love. I am not perfect at self care. I, there are days where I know I probably should be nicer to myself, but I'm just not because it's hard, you know? So it's just a matter of really trying to support yourself as best as you can, you know, with the tools that you have.
Yeah. That's good. I liked the part where you said self-love, isn't necessarily a beautiful picture of you with a face mask or, you know, relaxing at a spa. It's definitely harder.
I like that could be it. That definitely could be it, but it doesn't have to be.
Yeah. So you touched earlier about your project with mental health and your eating disorder in junior high. If someone was listening to this that might be struggling with body image issues, what advice would you, what would you tell her?
Yeah, I mean, well, first of all, if it is in any way, an eating disorder, professional help, professional help, professional help, I can never say that more even disorders are the number one, most fatal mental illness. A lot of people don't know that, but those things are serious and they can have real, real health detriments to you. So seeking professional help is really hard and it is very brave. And anybody who does that, I respect them and they're on the right track.
But if it's to a lesser degree, maybe it's not an eating disorder. It's just body image issues. You know, it's really hard. It's hard out here. Like for me, I personally, I struggle with like body dysmorphia and just not being able to handle, like, for me, it's hard for me to look in the mirror, like at my body. Cause I just like, mean it's just like, ermh nope, but learning that, at least for me, I started applying body neutrality, which is the idea that you are a lot more than your body.
Like you, you have your personality, your interests, your everything outside, things that have to do with how you look. And I know for me that started helping me because there were some days where I just looked at the mirror and I could not think a positive thing. And then I just felt horrible. And I was like, all right, so what are we going to do with this? How can we turn this into something positive? And I was like, all right, I'm just going to direct my energy somewhere else and say, you know what? I might not be good at thinking that my body looks good, but I am good at taking pictures. And I know I'm a damn good photographer, or I know that I'm a damn good writer and I would just switch the subject.
So it definitely is a subjective thing, figuring out what it is that your brain needs to calm down, but working on self love and self care helps with that a lot, because the more you start to accept yourself for who you are. And I really think self-love one of the most, most important parts of it is accepting that you're a person who is made up of dark and light. Like we are very complex individuals. There is no one person that is just positive because that would be not good. Like if you were just positive all the time, like that wouldn't be beneficial.
So acknowledging in myself that I'm a very gray, complex person made up of dark and light, that helped me accept myself and in turn made, looking at my body and accepting my body a lot easier because I was like, even if I don't like my body, I can know that that's okay. You know, and I can do work on liking it, which is what I've been doing because it's taken a couple of years. I've, I've, I've been dealing with this since I was 12 and I'm 19 now. So that's like, it's a long time and it's a long journey, but you, you get better with time. You get a lot better with time. So just give yourself the chance to heal.
I think that's so smart about what you said about, if you look in the mirror and you can't just think of anything positive to say, to switch subjects and talk about what you are good at, because your brain can only think one thought at a time. So instead of trying to force your brain to think something that it's not naturally thinking, right. Just go and do something else and be distracted and constantly does make you feel good.
Instead of forcing the positivity, find something that's already there and build upon it.
Yeah. All right. So thank you for, for being brave and sharing that story. This podcast is called GIRLBRAVE, and I'd love to hear your definition of being brave. And if you think you are brave.
I think my definition of brave would just be standing up for what you believe in no matter what, no matter what anyone tells you, including the people that you hold dearest. Cause I think probably the most brave thing to do is to stand up in opposition or, or just, even in your own sense to others. In terms of if I think I'm brave, I think, I think yes and no. Sometimes I am and sometimes I'm not. And I would love to be more brave and say black and white.
Sure. There's black and white, you know, in all of us. Right? Sometimes I consider myself brave and sometimes I don't and last weekend had deliver care packages to houses and we're supposed to put them on the ground and bring the doorbell and say, this is a free gift. And I was so petrified of ringing the doorbell and talking to people. It's like, what is my deal?
No, that's totally valid.
I was not brave.
It's still brave. It's still brave. Like, do you know like the amount of times, like I've rehearsed it in order in my head before, like, I'll be like, it's a mocha with no whip. It's a mocha with no whip. Yeah. I got this,
Especially at Starbucks where like a half pump, do I even say that
Is that to annoying if I'm personalizing your drink? Like totally.
That's what they're there for everyone personalizes their drink there, right?
Well, I love your saying that you say at the end of some of your videos about be anything but NOORmal. Thank you. Tell me a little bit about that.
Yeah. Basically like my friends and I would just like have this like game where we would put each other's names into like normal words. And my name was really good for that because one, it rhymes with a lot of stuff, but it's short. So you can just put it until like we would, I don't know. You could put it into anything, but something that started happening, you know, when you introduce yourself, like people will have a thing to say about your name, always like, or they'll just be common things that people say to you.
But the common joke that I would get is like, not your, not normal, but something along the lines of like, you're a very abnormal, like I'm a very outgoing, weird person. And it's funny that my name would fit into normal when I'm not normal. And so I was like, you know, it was, it came from strangers, but also like friends. So like I got it from everyone where people would say something along those lines. And I was like, there's something here. Like I was like, there's is a tag line. There's like a saying. And then one day I was just in my room and I was like, anything but NOORmal, like I'm anything but NOORmal. And I was like, that's my new phrase? Like, that's my new thing. And it just became a thing.
I started saying it at the end of my YouTube videos, but then it, like when people at school saw it, they were like, she's anything but normal. And I made a shirt, it became like a joke, but also in a weird sense, like something that was really validating for me and something that like kept me going and like, yeah, I am anything but normal. Like, I'm on my own path. I'm doing my own thing. Like, I'm my own person. Like I have my own name. And like, it just became like sort of motivational in a way, like as much as it was like a meme and like a joke, like it actually like had some substance to my life.
I love that. I want to think of one for me now.
Yeah. Everyone should make one, make yourself a little tagline. Why not?
I love it. So I have, that's all the questions I have, but I have this idea and I don't, I can't find the actual questions, but I think I can remember some of them. So I have a series of like six questions that I thought I'd ask that just like random questions.
Okay. So which person inspires you the most? Or who inspires you the most?
Oh, man, this is really hard, can I give two answers? Okay. I'd say first, my dad, which is like stereotypical, but like dead dead ass. My father is a genius science man. And it's funny because I became like an artsy girl, but he really, I don't know. He instilled a lot of like good sayings and like that man was just like really, really so there for me and helped me a lot in my life and gave me good guidance and inspired me when I was uninspired and supported me when no one else did. So he always pushed me to like go farther.
But my second person would be this guy Donald Glover, he's who I look to artistically probably the most he's considered like the Renaissance Man of our generation, because he does comedy. He does acting, he does singing. He does producing. And I had always been somebody that was interested in multiple things. Like I was into writing. I was into dance. I was into film and my whole life adults would tell me like pick one thing and stick to it.
And I hated, I hated when people would tell me that cause I was like, but what if I want to do all the things? And this man just did all of the things and was successful and all of them. And I just, that always inspired me and just like it made me know that I was on the right path and I could be doing multiple things at once and succeed in like all of them. So yeah. I look up to him a lot.
Awesome. My next question is, what is your favorite app right now?
Yeah, that's tough. I mean, I would say Instagram cause I'm on that a lot. I probably would just have to say Instagram. That's probably the main app I use. Yeah. Or YouTube because you know, if I ever need something to turn to at night, that's where go.
Cool. Jeans or leggings?
Leggings, just for comfort.
Salty or sweet?
Right now, salty. Although I used to, like, I used to be such a sweet tooth and weirdly I'm like losing it right now and I'm just like craving salty things.
What is the favorite thing about yourself?
Oh man, you are good at this. This is tough. I'd say maybe my ability. I tend to be like a cup, half full person. I can always see like the bright side of things, even if it's a really not good thing. I'll make the most out of any situation. So I'll give him that credit.
Awesome. And then my last question is if you could have any superpower, what would it be and why.
This, I literally think about this a lot. So like, cause there's so many powers that like, I think, I think I would use the power of healing and I would try and use it to heal the world. Like that's like, it seems like a pretty big goal, but like I would hope to have the power of healing and then I would hope that it's a power that can just like change per each person, you know? Like it heals them in the way that they need to be healed. So then we can just have like a nice healed world.
I love it. I think you should work on that. Meditate on it and yet put your light out to everyone.
Absolutely. My name means light in Arabic.
So there you go. There you go. It's true. Thank you so much for being here. This was not much fun.
This was so great. I had such an amazing time.
Awesome. Well, I will be in contact and have a great rest of your summer. And will you be off to college again in a couple of weeks?
I'm staying online, but I am starting school. So cool. Well, I can't wait to see some more of your videos, especially as you study film and new media or what did you say that you were studying? What was your major film and media that's correct?
Yes. Okay, great. Great, perfect. Awesome. Well, good luck with everything.
Thank you so much. We'll talk to you soon. Bye.
Thanks for joining us on the GIRLBRAVE podcast. Go to PincurlGirls.com to hear more interviews with inspiring girls. And if you want to get on our daily texts list, go ahead and click the encouraging text tab at the top. We'll see you next time. Bye.