Find Your Tribe

As a person I am passionate and I am very highly driven. Most of the time I follow my heart and my emotions, but I am fully aware of the situations where I need to use logic more than emotions. I make my choices consciously and I embrace who I am, because I simply won’t have myself be any other way.

I dream big and I take risks and I refuse to be scared or to back down. I stand up for myself and I stand up for others, I speak my mind. I am vocal, I am assertive and I am comfortable in my own skin.

I know that I am different, simply because we all are. We are all unique and we are all different in our own ways. I understand that one size doesn’t fit all, and I believe that if I was created and came to be then I have a purpose.

I appreciate my talents, and I praise my strengths, I am aware of my flaws and I embrace my imperfections. I know that my flaws make me human, and that in the imperfections lie beauty and balance. I am real, I am true, and I am me.

Along the path I will evolve and I will develop, I will grow and I will change. Along the path of life my desires, my aspirations, my likes, my dislikes, my passions and my tolerances will vary; change is the only constant in this world, so why would I be an exception to the case.

I believe that how others treat me is on them, and that I deserve to be respected, to be loved, to be safe, to be appreciated and to be acknowledged. I have the right to exist within society and no one has the right to violate me. I am a woman, but that is just my gender, it doesn’t rank me in society as superior or inferior. It is simply a trait assigned to me like my hair color, my eyes, or my age. My gender is simply that, a gender.

I am not strong for a woman, or assertive for a woman, or smart for a woman or independent for a woman; I am just strong, assertive, smart and independent, that’s it.

The one thing that I am also fully aware of is that I haven’t always felt that way. This is a process that took three decades of mental and emotional evolution. It is a process that entailed me accepting so much that I should not have accepted, before I grew into my own skin.

Growing up as a female is hard work, I’m not victimizing us, but this is the reality of it all. I used to think that it’s just part of being an Arab female, but let me tell you ladies and gents, no matter where we are; the struggle is real, the fight is real, and the statistics don’t lie.

As women we are taught that our gender plays a much bigger classification role than it should. We are made to apologize for things that men don’t, we are placed in molds and boxes of society norms, cultural expectations and gender appropriations.

Out intelligence is undervalued, and we are taught to expect a different treatment, people constantly believe that they need to simplify things for us, and that there is this weird and rather unrealistic notion that we cannot handle tough situations. We are viewed as irrational and weak; sometimes told we are too “emotional” and that we need to “toughen up” like being in touch with our emotions is weakness, or that our physical appearance structure automatically places us in the weaker gender column.

Yet us women, are the same ones to blame for men’s inability to use their words and process their emotions when they abuse and beat us. The same women are the ones to blame when men feel insecure when their wives/partners make more than them at work or outperform them in sports and life. The same women are the ones to blame when men are incapable of handling their hormones and their emotions and sexually abuse women.

We as women are blamed for other’s insecurities, other’s incapability and other’s inability to express and handle emotions. Yet, we are the weaker sex and the inferior sex.

Somewhere along the journey of life we are told not to be too vocal, not to be too assertive and not to dream big. We are sold the notion that the biggest accomplishment of our lives is to be wives, and to be mothers and that as women on our own, we are not enough, that we need to be associated to someone, as their daughter, as their wife, as their partner or as their mother to be of value. The labeling was so essential to our upbringing at certain stages.

The first time I was violated, I was a child. I was a little girl in a supermarket aisle, this older man, as old as my father kept brushing up against me. First time I thought it was by mistake, but he kept doing it, and he whispered something about how I shouldn’t be wearing shorts. I was seven, I was a child, I was told that the reason this creepy person was violating me was my fault, because I was in shorts. Every time I was groped, violated or inappropriately touched, I didn’t talk about it, because I blamed myself. I would first go through a checklist of what was I wearing, what was it that provoked him, what did I say, how did I act. I always put myself at fault. We all know, that this is one small part of what happens out there in the world, I don’t need to tell you how horrifying the stories are or how painful it is to read about women being forced to marry their rapists, and even bare their children!

I remember when I started my career, my ex was still in university, it really wasn’t his thing and he just wasn’t graduating. Year after year, I started making career advancements, I started making more money, and I started investing more in my career because I loved the self-fulfillment and the growth, and because I was good at what I was doing.

It was during that period that I suffered most of the mental and emotional abuse out of him, it was the constant putting me down at every chance, the constant feeling of guilt because I was “working too hard”. Before I knew it, I was apologizing for my achievements, I was apologizing for my work, I was afraid to be vocal about my promotions and my advancements. I always felt guilty for developing my own career and my own life. The abuse progressed, and along the lines I always justified it, because I always felt that I was in the wrong doing for wanting a career, for wanting success, for outshining him. The height of it all came when I had to choose between him, and my career, two different choices that had nothing in conflict with one another, but to him, I couldn’t have both. If I wanted to be with him, then I needed to be a stay at home wife, I needed to forgo my dreams, my hopes and my aspirations, he said that I shouldn’t want anything more than to be his wife and the mother of his children. He believed that my association to him should be my biggest dream. Years later when we met and we spoke, he still believed that I was in the wrong for choosing my career, he believed that his abuse was justified and that I brought it upon myself.

I am not the first or the last person in the series of women who have been downplayed, degraded, or abused; and I’m also not the first or the last of a series of women who are taking matters in their own hands now and refusing to conform to the boxes and molds we are placed in. We are the women that are fighting to break through the glass ceilings.

To all the women out there that are fighting for their place in society, their rightful place, thank you. Thank you for being part of my tribe, thank you for inspiring women to keep fighting and for changing the current situations so future generations have it better than we do.

Thank you to the single mothers who decided that they can do it on their own, to the mothers who decided to embark on motherhood. Thank you to the ladies that taught us that it is ok to be single, and that it is also ok to be divorced or separated and to stand up for what you want. To all the women out there choosing careers, or motherhood, thank you for making a choice. It’s not what you choose that concerns me, as long as that choice is yours. To the mama’s raising their daughters to take no shit from people, I am happy to have you in my circle. To the female entrepreneurs and teachers, you are inspirations and guides that have touched more lives than you know.

To all the women who walked away from abuse, who put themselves first, and who chose their wellbeing over everyone else, thank you for setting an example, thank you for re-calibrating the bar. To the women who embarked on careers that were deemed “men’s jobs” thank you for breaking the stereo type. To everyone who pursued what is rightfully theirs, and was never afraid to dream big, I admire you.

They say find your tribe and walk with it, and when I reflect on the women in my life, the circle of women I associate myself with, I am proud to walk amongst them. A lot of the women I have worked with, I have trained with or I am friends with have proven day in and day out to be strong, to be independent and to be someone who has shaped me into who I am today. To all these women, thank you, thank you for walking along this path and not giving up, for getting back up and fighting every time you got knocked down. Thank you for all the lives you have touched and all the lives you continue to inspire.

Happy women’s day ladies! Happy everyday to you, and may you continue to grow, to prosper and to be successful till your last breath.

Be You…

How many times have you looked at someone else’s life and compared them to yours, thinking they have it all, and if only you could be like them?

If I had a penny for everytime I did that, I could probably buy one of these beautiful English houses I spent the first day of my vacation thinking all these people who live in it must have it all.

All of us see our lives most of the time as lacking, too plain, too “white”, but what we often fail to see is that white is composed of all colors, it’s a rainbow that we hold within and sometimes forget to see, and what we forget to know is just like paintings we only see people as final results, sometimes without digging deep into their layers, we compare the surface and not the composition and sometimes we feel lacking when in reality none of us are

I remember at around the age of 26 or so, a few of my friends used to say they envy me cuz I had it all, and all I wanted to do was laugh, not in a Haha funny way, but in a sarcastic and slightly bitter way. On the surface I did look like I had it all, but on the inside I was a mess!

That job everyone was saying I made it big in? I was beyond miserable and the stress was eating my alive, I was losing sleep, lived out of a suitcase,stress eating and smoking two packs of cigarettes a day

My engagement and 9 year relationship was falling apart, I cried myself to sleep every single night, I was unloved, treated miserably and subjected to constant emotional abuse.

I was sick, I was lonely, and I was suicidal, and for the first time in my life, I thought of ending my own life.

But never did I speak of any of this, because I’d lose the image of having it all, of being the strong, successful, established person everyone thought I was. The pressure was intense, how could I explain to people why I was miserable, on paper, I had it all, did I not?

I was too proud to let go of anything, and moved on, from bad to worse. I thought if I got a more “prestigious job” with a better pay in the same field, even if I dont like the field, I will feel better. I told myself if I only made it to marriage, all my problems would disappear, that I must keep it together, after all so many people could only dream of what I have. I never stopped to think if this is really what I want, as opposed to what “I should want”

Well it wasn’t, and everytime someone praised me for having it all, I pressured myself to mute the voices in my head, to keep pushing, to keep “having it all”

A year later I got into my car at night, got on the highway, and was going to drive myself straight off of it. I had it all planned, texted my parents I love them, and set out to end what I believed was an unworthy live

I chickened out, because I thought of my parents and how much they love me, and I couldnt do that to them. But I knew I needed help, and went into therapy.

In the begining I was resentful of the idea, too scared to admit I failed, that my picture perfect life was a mess. But my therapist was brilliant, a beautiful woman, who taught me to look at all the colors that make up my life

I let go of my job, and the pursuit of a prestigious job, I got a culinary degree and followed my heart, ended the engagement to the one man I was so determined to marry, because we’ve been together for so long, people just expected me to marry him, or so I thought

I moved, and traveled and followed my feelings. I fail and stumble and sometimes feel like I dont have anything at all. But then I learn to stop and breathe, count my blessings, and if I compare myself to someone, I now know I am only seeing the surface of the painting

I have role models, and aspirations but I learned that there is no such thing as a textbook definition of “having it all”

I learned to count my blessings, and that my life is a beautiful canvas, with layers upon layers of colors being added, till one day I die, and the final painting tells the story of the life I really wanted, not the life I should have wanted

I count my blessings daily, and let go of all that holds me back and doesnt feel right. I learned that what people think of me is none of my business, and that if someone tells me I have it all, I honestly tell them I don’t and am not ashamed of it

I have, what I am meant to have, at this precise moment in life.

So as the year comes to an end, count your blessings, appreciate your story, don’t compare

Be content, be honest, be true and most of all be you!

Have a wonderful end to 2018 everyone. With lots of love