Learning To Survive our 20s With Noor Sheikh

Everyone’s a little lost and confused in their twenties. There is immense pressure on individuals to figure out who they want to be. Many struggle with questions like where they want to work, what values they want to live their life by. Amidst these existential questions they are also exposed to more possibilities than they could dream of. No one knows this better than Noor Sheikh. Daastan recently hosted a Live session with the author to discuss her debut novel called ‘How to Survive Your 20s’. We are inclined to take her advice because she is navigating that decade well, with several successes under her belt already.


Who is Noor Sheikh

Noor Sheikh is a researcher interested in forced migration and identity politics, currently lecturing at a public university in Islamabad. If that weren’t enough, she also has an extensive history of being published in multiple reputable journals. Upon being asked about the source of her inspiration, Noor Sheikh pointed out how the Pakistani youth were an overlooked demographic. For that reasons, their concerns often went unaddressed and undocumented in Pakistani literature, even as they need advice more than ever because the challenges they are facing are unique. Structural neglect meant a national failing of the Pakistani youth.

Important Lessons for Your 20’s

Noor Sheikh’s solution was to begin dialogue. She chose writing because it would allow nuance and elaboration the way digital spaces couldn’t. That dialogue must then be carried on by other writers, few as they may be. She credited her own introverted childhood with inculcating the two most important habits for writers: reading and writing. It was that loneliness that made her yearn for the gift of articulation, that taught her the power of language.

Adolescence is lonely for everyone, to an extent. The privacy of journaling is helpful, so you can retain your connection with yourself while you reevaluate everything you know about yourself and the world. Even as other writers’ work gives you something to hold onto when everything is confusing, you must also have a space for your own thoughts. That is key to self-improvement and growth. When you learn to be vulnerable with yourself in that space, you will develop the bravery you need to be vulnerable enough to submit your work for publication.

The Best Take-Home Advices!

Noor Sheikh emphasized the importance of not being your own worst enemy and letting fear hold you back. Part of being able to confront fear and not back down was taught to her by the author that impacted her most growing up: Manto. It was his works that helped her realize how important it was to brace for the world’s ruthlessness and to learn resilience like a skill. Publication teaches one to look within and to work on oneself so they can speak authoritatively on their own reality. It allows them to learn the beauty of simplicity and precision in communication so their writing can be more effective. Ms Sheikh imparted these pearls of wisdom to an eager and grateful audience.

We here at Daastan are thrilled about connecting such capable writers to under-represented demographics. We enjoyed learning these useful advices to better adapt to the changing world. Let us know how you’re spending your 20’s?



Samin Qureshi
Samin Qureshi is an undergraduate Art student at NCA following her passion for writing through various online avenues. Samin takes a keen interest in empowering women and advocating for their rights. In her free time, Samin loves to cook and listen to old music.

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