Aly, Illustrative Storyteller

I was hooked from the moment I read her metaphorical snowball.

Just like when you read her writing, she has a way of inspiring you to act on the infinite number of back burners you have laying around. Oozing with so much passion for life and connection, I found myself almost in a constant state of ‘What
the F#%*’ when I got to know a little bit more about the blogger of PersonAlyMe! and co-founder of Alita Co. Not only is she well versed in imagery and breaking down endless medical jargon, but if go-getter was a person, it would be Aly, aka Alyanna.

Rhey: What is the most expensive drink you have ever ordered?

Aly: Covernotes – Smores Mocha Latte

Rhey: What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?

Aly: I never close my blinds. I have a whole wall of windows and I’ll try to catch a glimpse of the sunrise.
Then I’ll check my phone. And then after I am done that, I’ll play music to help me get me out of bed.
Because I need that to get my day started.

Rhey: Describe your life using a 3 song playlist.

Ok (Anxiety Anthem) by Mabel – It represents my anxious side and calms me down when it’s unleashed.
Most Girls by Hailee Steinfeld – It shows my side of acceptance of who I am.
Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield – The idea that life is unpredictable and to love life as it’s unfolding (also it’s such a happy song).

Rhey: If you need comforting, what is the one food you will eat every time?

Aly: Smartfood Cheddar Popcorn

Rhey: What is your mantra?

Aly: I am not an artist and I never took a single art class in school. But one day I decided to sit there, and recreate a sketch that I found online. I believe that if you have the discipline and put your mind to something, even if you don’t have the skill set, pour yourself into that particular thing. That way you can achieve anything.

Rhey: What is the most uncomfortable thing you have worn?

Aly: It was a Barney outfit I loved as a child. I refused to wear any other costume till age 7 for Halloween, when the Barney outfit would barely fit my body anymore.

Rhey: If you didn’t take nursing, what other program would you have taken?

Aly: Actually, nursing wasn’t my first choice. I started with taking a Bachelor in Life Science specializing in human anatomy and cell biology. I genuinely loved anatomy. Hated cell bio. At the time, I really liked genetics. My ideal job was to be a geneticist. I really love working with puzzles, especially those Punnett squares. I wanted to help families who would come in to figure out all the different possibilities between their recessive and dominant genes. Once I actually went to school, I learned that I didn’t actually like what we were being taught since it was so heavily based on cellbiology and micro-details. Also, based on the only 3 universities that offered the geneticist specialized program post-undergrad, the job prospects were really low. I also thought to myself, am I going to like working in a lab? I changed a lot during my first 2 years of university and became more of a social butterfly. Working in a lab used to be appealing but wasn’t anymore because I needed more social connections and interactions. I met people in the nursing program and I heard their stories of how they actually worked with patients and saw the positive changes they made in patient’s lives through their presence, kindness and actual discipline. And even seeing the application of what was learned through clinicals. From what they said, I thought it would be a good fit so in my second year of university I transferred over to finish the nursing program after 3 additional years.

Rhey: What would the name of your alter ego or stage name be?

Aly: Mindset Machine

Rhey: What is the most common advice that people ask you?

Aly: It varies, but I get asked about stuff like personal finance. Recently, a lot of my friends want to get into it. And I have been exercising a lot more than before so I get asked about that too… Yeah mostly those two – those are the top two.

Rhey: What are things that you love about your culture?

 Malaysian – I love the taste of the food that I grew up with. It has become a social tradition. Every time we go out to eat with my mom’s side of the family, we eat Malaysian.
 Ugandan – Growing up, my parents would throw Gujarati, Swahili and Malay terms all together when they would talk to me. Like my grandmother would use the Gujarati word for knife. But when I took the Swahili course in university, the word I thought meant knife in Swahili was wrong. Realizing this now, it makes me believe my family is a little different – we are unique. 
 Indian – I love the ceremonies that come with weddings. I’m Ismaili Muslim with some roots in India ancestrally which means that some of our cultures and traditions overlap. We have 3-4 day ceremonies for weddings and the little traditions that do overlap between different religions and cultures are fun to have and interesting to learn about!

Rhey: What was the life lesson that you learned from the most toxic relationship you have had?

Aly: Trust yourself over anyone else. Have faith in your own abilities. You know yourself best. There will be a lot of friendships and relationships that will challenge you and may make you feel lost in where you are going, especially through manipulation. At the end of day learn to put yourself first. It’s so easy to get caught up in putting others needs above your own.

Rhey: What would you say to someone who is dwelling on a regret even after a long time?

Aly: It shouldn’t be a regret if you learned something from it. Life always goes on. Try to take what you learn from that regret and apply what you learned moving forward. Don’t stay stuck in the rut. Of course, it’s always easier said than done.

Rhey: What advice would you give to someone who is having challenges following values that are different from their own?

Aly: I feel that it is important to bring it back to what is most important to you. Know your limitations and act based off that. If you know you are on a budget and you can’t afford to eat fancy every day, because you are saving for your own survival or something big, prioritize this. You don’t have to do things like go out every single time at the expense of your own ability. Vocalize what your values are, especially if they are different. Don’t be afraid to find a middle ground.
If you are having some trouble identifying what is important to you, think about it this way. If it’s something you can’t imagine living without, this is essentially something very important.
Don’t forget about it.

Rhey: What would you tell someone who is being judged by a person whose religion differs from theirs?

Aly: I feel like I try not to judge someone based on their background. Making generalizations because of a group they are a part of feels very wrong. I just wouldn’t associate with those who pass judgment on people they barely know. If someone makes you feel bad, remember that you are whoever you choose to be in this world. You are not the generalizations or preconceptions of wherever or whomever you identify with. You shouldn’t feel bad about it. It’s who you choose to be. There will always be people like that. What can you do?

Rhey: What is the one moment you believe everyone has gone through – where you can say they have
not lived until they have experienced it?

Aly: I feel like everyone has a moment in their life where they will lose themselves. It is at this point where they are trying to discover who they are. There are a lot of things that can trigger this to happen like losing a friendship or romantic relationship and getting lost in the different stressors of life. It may feel really painful in the moment, so much that it feels like your heart is breaking. But, if you do go through this, you will learn to love yourself through that period of time. Putting in very general terms, it presents in every shape and form. Sometimes you have to lose yourself to find yourself in the end.

Notes: 1. Aly is currently based in Toronto, Ontario (Canada).
2. Discovered in-person through circumstance.
2. If Aly was given one million in tax free dollars she would spend the money on her parents, giving back
to the community, investing it and getting a property of her own.
3. When asked which celebrity is most like her, she answered Selena Gomez. Like her, Aly always felt
overshadowed and never got to be herself. But more recently, she is working on being her true authentic

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