Love is Freedom of Choice: Fatima

“…we should never stop loving ourselves even at our lowest points.”

What is love? 

I’ve always defined love as a healthy distance between intimacy and independence, whether that love is family, platonic-slash-friendship, or sexual-slash-romantic in nature. They say that “love has no boundaries,” but I feel the opposite. I feel that love understands and respects boundaries.

When I was younger, I used to think that love was about having people in your life who would take a bullet for you. As I’ve grown, I’ve come to understand that this combative imagery isn’t love. In fact, love is actually about loved ones who will teach you how to avoid that bullet: in other words, gently guide you away from threatening situations that are not in your best interest.

Love isn’t always passionate and forceful. It can be a quiet, unassuming friend or family member who offers advice from behind the scenes. It can be the subtlety of someone removing that bullet, even when the bullet is you developing toxic mechanisms to cope in day to day life. 

Can you reflect on a time you felt love—either given or received? 

The amount of emotional support I’ve had from friends and family as I navigate the world of entrepreneurship speaks volumes about love! The past two years have been incredibly difficult—financially, mentally and emotionally—but I am thrilled to have all of this positive energy in my life. I was also a bridesmaid twice in the past two years, and I love nothing more than seeing cherished friends happy. I’m a hardcore pragmatist and a “facts and analytics” girl, but I am also a sucker for a fairy tale ending. I grew up on Disney, after all! 

I give myself fully to every interaction I have with others in my life, whether that’s family, friends, business friendships and partnerships, clients and staff, and I believe I do the same whenever I am in a relationship. However, I took the last two years to stay single and focus on my goals and interpersonal development, and I’d like to think that self-love is also key. 

I used to think that I loved my dream job as a digital editor at a major publication. I believed it was my ticket to social acceptance, a rewarding and fun lifestyle, and career opportunities. In many ways, it was. But I’ve realized that we should never love places, projects or things in this short life.

We should only love people who love us right back, and we should never stop loving ourselves even at our lowest points. Once again, self-love is key. Stop wasting your energy on sources, which are never going to return that energy. 

What is Love? FatimaPhoto by Jamai Photography

What or who influenced your view of love growing up? And if it’s changed, how has it changed? 

I am the oldest child of three and the only daughter in a family headed by a single, widowed mother. I lost my dad at 15, and I sadly spent my formative years disappearing into my imagination and searching for a very specific form of affection.

I wanted to be famous, admired, and revered. I wanted to be loved on a grand, global scale. I wanted love on the world’s terms, which is the worst way to look for any form of love in this world.

But being naive and young at the time, I threw myself into Toronto’s fast-paced media scene as soon as I started journalism school. At 20, I began an internship at a major fashion and entertainment magazine. In Toronto’s fashion, media and entertainment industries, I felt like a princess for the first time in my life. I was invited to exclusive events at high-end hotels, had luxury gifts from companies sent to my desk, sat front row at fashion shows and even attended Paris Couture Week.

Just a couple years before that, I was wrangling cardboard boxes at a grocery store and taking trash out at the Eaton Centre. It was a Cinderella story, and I felt I had found my happy ending in the world. As a wide-eyed young woman of humble means seeing an upscale lifestyle for the first time, I felt loved. In a strange way, this invite into elite society made me feel warm, accepted and included: all things I had been wanting to feel my entire life. 

Years later, I realized that the mainstream media industry doesn’t love young women back and is the most toxic place to search for family, meaning, and inclusivity. I commend myself for working in media since I was 18. The fact that I handled reporter life and public figure life, while also growing as a young woman in my personal life, is something that I’ll always pride myself on. 

Today, I prefer catching up with my brothers at a dive bar or meeting close friends for dinner. I have great industry girlfriends who are fellow millennial fashion or media entrepreneurs and we support each other fully. Love doesn’t have to be from everyone.

What is Love? Fatima
Photo by Ashley (Rich Chroma)

And I can tell you really love your current role as your own boss. What inspired you to pursue that? 

I never felt like a correct fit for the mainstream media environment, and I wanted to transition my career from editorial to public relations, marketing, and communications. I also had a need to mentor younger girls, to work on my business acumen, and to extend my creativity into the world. In 2018, I launched FATMO Media Group, a fast-rising Toronto-based PR and communications start-up. 

Since then, we’ve worked with major corporations, served a number of entrepreneurial fashion, lifestyle, and design brands, launched our blog, expanded the team, and co-founded the Toronto Corporate Show and #FashionVirtualReality events.

Honestly, I was inspired by not having a strong mentorship in my own career, and having to develop a very independent and entrepreneurial mindset from day one. Now, I hope to become a serial entrepreneur and eventually a venture capitalist, as well.

Do you have any advice for women pursuing their passion and dreams?

Your new young company is not going to love you back, at first. A business needs passion, commitment, dedication, and a support network. It has far more in common with a relationship dynamic than a job dynamic.

It’s your unrequited crush, but it’s the only one that deserves your heart.

My advice to any young woman reading this is to push past barriers. You will have dark days, and you’ll face mental and financial barriers, elitism, ageism, and sexism.

You will pack gift bags while your friends receive their second corporate promotion in as many years. You will go months without pay. You will have young employees to look after, who understand even less about the entrepreneurship landscape than yourself.

But it’s the age of opportunity. And you’re the right age for opportunity. I don’t care if you’re only 22, 25, or 28. Get on that today!

You can say “no” to anything that makes you uncomfortable. Except for your own dreams, which should always make you slightly uncomfortable. 

Love is…? Fill in the blank with one word or two and explain why.

Love is freedom of choices, emotional intelligence and respect for everyone involved. Love should never be possessive, demanding or clingy. Love is about understanding that the room always has a door, and that door is always open. Love is about flexibility, mobility and opportunity. 

 

*Photos provided by Fatima, main headshot photographed by Niki Kavakonis

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