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"This Is Uncomfortable" host Reema Khrais Ben Hethcoat/Marketplace
"This Is Uncomfortable" Newsletter

This is a season of transformation

Reema Khrais and Marika Proctor Apr 19, 2024
"This Is Uncomfortable" host Reema Khrais Ben Hethcoat/Marketplace

Hey y’all, 

Reema here. I just wanted to share a personal note, reflecting on our ninth season of “This Is Uncomfortable,” which wrapped up this week. I’m really proud of this season, which is a little different from past ones. We started it off with a very personal story from me and my dad, reflecting on his life in Gaza and the horrors our family has been experiencing there since last October.

Now that I have some distance from the episode, I’m surprised I had the emotional capacity to share it with you all. Just typing this right now, I can feel my chest tighten. The weight of grief has felt especially heavy recently. It’s an impossible thing to process, dozens of family members, my sweet cousin Iman, her husband and their seven children, killed by Israel’s bombardment. None of it is normal. 

These past six months have been marked by an incredible amount of cognitive dissonance and emotional whiplash: One minute, I’m reading a headline that shakes my worldview and personal life. The next, I’m on a Zoom call, chuckling at a co-worker’s joke. Some things have helped me navigate the incongruity and grief: talking with family and friends, lots of internal family systems therapy and reading books like Pema Chödrön’s “When Things Fall Apart.” 

All of that has prompted me to look both inward and outward lately, reflecting on my personal values and how I want to live my life, while also questioning the systems we’ve entrusted to run our world. Unfathomable events rearrange and force a magnifying glass on our lives. And I’m learning that if you don’t let them collapse you, they have the potential to change you and those around you. 

And while I’m reluctant to make too many direct comparisons, I think a lot of our episodes this season featured stories with that tension: meeting adversity with transformation. Faced with the harsh realities of South Korea’s beauty culture, Haein Shin rejected the standards at great personal cost. After experiencing weight discrimination on the job, Lindsey Niehay took her employer to court to challenge a system with few protections. And when Lorena wasn’t receiving a livable wage as a garment worker in Los Angeles, she discovered a newfound courage by standing up to her boss. In all of these stories, things beyond their control urged them to look within, interrogate their beliefs and make decisions so they could live more authentically. 

My favorite part of this job is talking with people like Haein, Lindsey and Lorena. People who push through discomfort to share their most vulnerable selves and challenge the status quo. It reminds me of our connectedness and shared humanity in a world that can feel increasingly dark and dystopian. I’m excited to spend the next few months working alongside our producers Zoë Saunders, Hannah Harris Green and Alice Wilder to find more stories like those to share with you, stories that I hope resonate with you all just as much as they do with me. 

Please stay in touch with us until then. You can always reach me and the team at uncomfortable@marketplace.org with any comments or story ideas. We’re also launching a summer reading club, which you can read more about below.  

Thanks for listening and your support. I appreciate you all so much. 

— Reema

Defend Your Splurge

Two women pose for a selfie with fake noserings in.
Courtesy Allie Volpe (who’s on the right)

Money messes with all our lives, but sometimes the right purchase at the right time can make things a little better. Tell us how you’ve treated yourself lately, and we’ll include the best stories in our newsletter!

This week’s splurge comes from Vox senior reporter Allie Volpe. We really enjoyed her recent guide to moving in with a partner, and her most recent piece about the scourge of the self-improvement mindset is the perfect companion to our latest season. Here’s Allie:

When it comes to body modification, I have very little impulse control. As a result, I’ve suffered through an excruciating grow-out process for bangs that really didn’t work for me, and a tattoo of an avocado that looks more like a pear. So when I was struck with the urge to get a nose piercing, I surprisingly took a moment to pause and consider the choice. A friend suggested trying out a temporary piercing for a while to see if I wouldn’t be terribly annoyed with a ring in my nostril. Not one to go through a social experiment alone, I purchased four $11 fake nose rings from Amazon for a handful of friends. We look very cool in my humble opinion. I’m still considering going through with the real thing, but, hey, I actually deeply weighed the decision this time. Growth!

The Comfort Zone

What our team is into this week

Introducing the Uncomfortable Book Club!

The pod is on hiatus this summer, but the newsletter isn’t!

Every other week we’re coming to you with a new book about life and how money messes with it, plus a conversation with the author or an expert.

We’ve got fiction, nonfiction, new releases and classics. There’s something for everyone, so grab a friend, make sure they’re subscribed and let’s get reading! First up: Naomi Alderman’s “The Future.”

This newsletter was written by Reema Khrais and edited by Tony Wagner and Zoë Saunders. Marika Proctor produces “Defend Your Splurge.”

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

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