That Which Is Hidden

Inside Out is a film that I was elated about Disney making, and every single time I watch it, I’m more in awe of it than the time before.

I don’t want to spoil too much for those of you who haven’t watched it, but I’ll give a tiny non-spoilery synopsis. The Pixar film revolves around the life of a young girl named Riley as she embarks on the oh-so-wonderful journey that is pre-teenhood, where the audience is taken aboard on a colorfully emotional journey through the eyes of Riley’s mind pals  – her five central emotions – joy, sadness, anger, disgust, and fear.

That film makes me cry such ugly tears, because there are moments that connect with you on an emotional facet unexplored by many storytelling platforms. The most profound takeaway, and ironically profound since it should be such a simple and given concept, is that we need every single one of the five emotions.

So let’s stop being ashamed of that.

I’m going to fixate right now on sadness and anger – two emotions with the most negative connotations.

“Stop being sad.”

“Don’t be angry.”

There are times when you have to play with your demons. They’re your demons after all.

I’ve tried to suppress those two emotions before. It wasn’t until a recent point in my life, where I was very, very hurt and very, very angry (two not-so-fun combinations as you can imagine), that I learned about the importance of owning my emotions. A personal incident occurred, and I instantly tried to bury all my “negative” feelings and kept looking at positive quotes on Pinterest to try and help me let it go. It wasn’t until one evening after the incident when I had reached my emotional breaking point, that I let it all out to a friend of mine who was kind of enough to let me vent, and I mean really vent, to her – all the ugly thoughts, the anger, the darkness. And you know what? I liked it. I liked being angry, and bitchy, and nasty. I didn’t turn into Maleficent, don’t worry. My friend said something that night that stuck with me, though:

“See, that’s what we call a release.” And you have to release to heal.

I’ll be honest – after I had embraced that darkness in me, I held on to it for far too long. I’d try to let go of it, and I’d run back to it because it felt good. It’s easy to revel in anger once you open that door. When you feel angry, you feel powerful. And there is power in anger. It took quite a bit of time and work to let go of being angry, because I enjoyed feeling that power. I enjoyed being cold. Anger is important to acknowledge and own and revel in a bit, but I had to let go of it to keep moving forward.

Sadness, oh sadness. Often times it comes under the guise of anger. I find that it’s easier to be angry than it is to be sad. You can spiral with sadness into a black, dark vortex that takes life out of you, little by little or sometimes all at once. Depression is more terrifying to me than anything. I’ve been in it before, and there are times when it can consume. It leaves you feeling helpless, which is far more terrifying than anger. With depression, you don’t feel life, or fuel, or power. You feel like you’re stuck in a hole and there’s a part of you buried deep that’s clawing to get out, but the rest of you can’t seem to be bothered. Sometimes our sadness, yes even that deep sadness, is something we need to stand in.

And now to the not-so-distressing portion of this blog post. Why do we need anger and sadness? Simply put – they’re real. They’re two emotions that are parts of us, and just like Riley in Inside Out, we hopefully come to realize that there shouldn’t be shame in them. Burying them might help you put on a show for a week or two, but eventually you have to show up and feel and cry and be irrational and crazy and despondent. And it’s not until we allow ourselves to feel those emotions, that we can get to the other side. The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. The flame of the candle that lights up the darkness.

I’ll leave you all with this poem from one of my favorites, Robert Frost, and this quote that I stumbled upon recently.

Acquainted with the Night

“I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain—and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.”

– Robert Frost

“Darkness always had its part to play. Without it, how would we know when we walked in the light? It’s only when its ambitions become too grandiose that it must be opposed, disciplined, sometimes—if necessary—brought down for a time. Then it will rise again, as it must.”
– Clive Barker’s Abarat

Feminism Means Being Extra Kind to Women, and Here’s Why

“If we don’t plant the right things, we will reap the wrong things. It goes without saying. And you don’t have to be, you know, a brilliant biochemist and you don’t have to have an IQ of 150. Just common sense tells you to be kind, ninny, fool. Be kind.” – Maya Angelou

Feminism (Noun):

The advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.

There you have it – the definition of feminism. In my mind, it’s the belief that your gender shouldn’t serve as a handicap, whilst offering both sexes access to their basic, human rights. Thankfully my definition matches Webster’s, right?

Although feminism comes with a fairly straightforward definition, its followers often times view it with a sort of ambiguity. I find that healthy and A-okay, given that the ambiguity is still pro-lady and respectful in the right places.

What I am addressing today was alluded by the title of this blog post, and that is, simply put, that women have to make an effort to be exceptionally kind to one another. Don’t misunderstand me – I believe that kindness should reach women, men, children, animals, etc., but I am addressing women in this particular post for various reasons. The first, and most important reason, is that women have been groomed to despise one another – and feminists have not escaped this indoctrination.

As a feminist, I will be the first to admit that I have stayed in my comfort zone. It makes my blood boil to hear other women speaking ill of women who are inherently and outwardly more liberated in their private lives. Speaking honestly, growing up in a Muslim and Arab community has introduced me to certain women who look down on other women who don’t dress and act conservatively. The collective sneering has put me in my own comfort zone with my more liberal and seemingly non-judgemental friends and acquaintances.

This is wrong of me. Very, very wrong. Women who have different viewpoints than my own shouldn’t be shunned. Granted, I vehemently disagree with certain viewpoints of theirs, but do you know what that doesn’t change? The fact that we are all human beings. We are all women in this brutal jungle that we know as the world. These women are capable of learning from me, and I am capable of learning from them. And, realistically speaking, how do any of us who want to contribute to changing the world for the better expect to do so if we don’t broaden our minds, our circles, our ability to connect?

Ah, connect. That’s the magic word. The human connection. The connection that women have to one another. The understanding we have. The next time you want to shun another woman, think of that woman in her most human moments. Think of her walking around her home, think of her genuinely laughing, think of her crying, think of her heartbroken, think of her in pain. Does she not deserve your kindness, your warmth? Be extra considerate of other women and their feelings because the world is extra hard on women sometimes.

I look at articles sometimes that bash well-known women. Take what happened with Emma Watson, for example. She was pitted against Beyoncé (by words taken out of context, of course) and looked down on because of how she dressed for a magazine photo, and it broke my heart to see that the majority of hateful comments geared towards her were from other women who were self-proclaimed feminists. No, no. This isn’t okay. There are certain feminists who are so ready to jump on other women. These are feminists who want to cheer for women as a collective whole, but not as individuals. Just because a woman is famous does not make her an acceptable target for abuse. Find the next it girl. I guarantee you that people will love her and then love to hate on her because the majority of these people are women and they’ve been groomed to resent other women – whether they realize it or not.

If a woman does or says something that you don’t agree with – get off your high horse and realize that she’s a human being. Are we not all allowed to make mistakes, to say things we regret, to do things we wouldn’t want advertised? We are not the 5 seconds where mistakes find us,  or the years we act foolishly. We are these things and the good things we do. We are bad and good and complicated and human and we deserve to have that.

So, today, I am making a rule for myself. I will not shun other women. I will root for other women. I will root for Victoria’s Secret models as they strut on the runway (although I was already doing that because those ladies are fierce and fabulous), I will root for scientists, I will root for nurses, for doctors, teachers, secretaries, housewives, actresses, writers, engineers. I always aim to believe the best in people, and I will refuse to let that change. If a woman says something I don’t agree with, I will attempt to have a respectful and adult conversation with her instead of automatically shunning her. I will broaden my horizons. I will welcome different perspectives. As long as another fellow woman isn’t disrespectful to me, I will be as warm as I can. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not going to cheer for female dictators just because we both share the same gender – but you get the gist of what I’m trying to say, I hope.

I hope that any lady who is reading is inspired to contribute to this movement. Let’s pay it forward and give each other the support and warmth we all deserve, ladies. It’s about time.

 

If You’re a Highly Sensitive Person, Read This.

I feel like my blog posts have been one self-help tirade after the other, but I promise these aren’t all a desperate cry for help. I would however like to write this blog post to help anyone who is a highly sensitive person (HSP) like myself in dealing with days where the world can feel entirely too overwhelming.

Before I dive in to this, let me just give anyone who isn’t highly sensitive or isn’t too familiar with the term a bit of a brief background on what being a highly sensitive person entails. In technical terms, a highly sensitive person is a person who has a heightened awareness of subtle stimuli. Sounds super sexy, right? People who are highly sensitive tend to notice very vague subtleties in their environment, absorb the emotions of others, become easily overwhelmed by subtle changes, have a low tolerance for pain, get easily overwhelmed by crowded places, have a ridiculously strong intuition, are excellent listeners, and are, of course, considerably more sensitive than the average Joe whilst dealing with people and life’s everyday fun festivals.

Being sensitive often gets a bad rap. As highly sensitive people, we often get told that we need to let things go, are over-thinking things, need to relax, etc. The people who tells us these things of course are trying to help because – let’s face it – sometimes being highly sensitive traps you in this weird hellish phase for a few days here and there, and nobody who cares about you wants to see you suffer for things that are often times not worth stressing over. And, let’s be real, a large majority of what highly sensitive people tend to stress over is exaggerated by a considerable amount.

So, if you’re having a day where your sensitivity is spiraling a bit, remember these things:

 

  1. Being a highly sensitive person is a gift. You care about the feelings of others, and you avoid hurting people at all costs. At the end of the day, that’s brave and it’s certainly something to be proud of.
  2. Remember not to let people walk all over you. This actually isn’t too much of a problem for me. Maybe it’s the Arab in me, but the first sign of someone walking all over me gets my Arab rage going. Thankfully that doesn’t happen too much because I’ve mastered the art of establishing healthy boundaries, but it’s nice to know that I have the ability to turn into the Hulk if need be.
  3. You can see people extremely well. You don’t see people as being purely good or purely bad, and because of that it’s extremely easy for you to forgive their humanity. Remember to forgive yourself for your humanity too. This is crucial. When you’re highly sensitive, you tend to be ridiculously hard on yourself when you mess up because you try to avoid messing up or exhibiting weakness as much as possible, but making mistakes is in living. There’s no better teacher than Mr. Mistake.
  4. Laugh about your sensitivity. This also isn’t usually a problem for me. I know I can be a ridiculous person at times, but so can every other human being on the face of the earth. Anyone who pretends like they’re perfect is lying, lying and lying. I love laughing at how dramatic, sensitive, and ridiculous I can be at times. I don’t go around bawling every day or even most days, but I have had my moments. I laugh about those moments. You should laugh about your moments as well!
  5. Know that because you over-think and dramatize things, everything truly isn’t as bad as it seems. Over-thinking brings mass anxiety because you imagine every possible scenario and magnify the worst possible scenarios or aspects of something. Over-thinking isn’t based in reality, though. Learn to separate the two. Nothing lasts forever, and the same goes for whatever problem you’re facing. If you’ve done the best you can, that is more than enough. Accept that, because every day will get better than the day before. That’s just how life works, thankfully. It also helps to remember other trials and tribulations you’ve been through. Did you make it through those things? Yes. Good. Remember that.
  6. There’s a difference between caring about people’s feelings and caring about people’s feelings to a point that you don’t care about your own. Your feelings and needs are 100% valid. You have to take care of yourself first. Being selfish isn’t always a bad thing. You will destroy yourself if you don’t care for yourself. Learn to do that, and learn to do it well.
  7. Trust your intuition and let go of things that aren’t good for you. Being a highly sensitive person gives you supernatural abilities so to speak. We can tell when something or someone isn’t right for us. Let go of what isn’t right for you so that you can make room for what is right for you. Too much negativity doesn’t leave much room for anything else. Clear that ish out.
  8. Learn not to take every single thing so personally. When you’re highly sensitive, you sometimes work too hard at trying to care for people and their feelings. People are allowed to have bad days. As long as no one is outwardly disrespectful to you, it shouldn’t offend you if someone isn’t particularly cheerful or boisterous one day. We all have our bad days and our not-so-pretty moments. The world isn’t against you, I promise.

I really hope this blog post reaches people – particularly those who fall under the HSP group. Also, read this quote for whenever you need a little something extra on the encouragement field:

“Yes, I value emotions deeply.
Call me sensitive, call me weak, call me outdated, call me anything you may, but tell me the truth, can you deny emotions give life to life?
If emotions are an integral part of being human,
Why do people suppress feeling them?
Does the bruising scare them? Than I wonder who is weak?”

– Wordions 

 

 

Do You Care What Others Think of You? Stop It, Seriously.

I will preface this blog post by being the first one to say that I have my moments when I care entirely too much about what everyone thinks. I tend to be the type of person to give too much, too soon, and I’ve learned, and am honestly still learning, about the art of being formal until you really know that you can trust someone to treat you the same way that you treat them. I’ll never not be nice, but I’ll always be careful.

Sometimes being too nice gets you into trouble. You want to care about everyone, and not everyone returns that favor. Human beings are complicated people with complex pasts. We all have our layers, our deal breakers, our breaking points. No person is going to go out into the world and have everyone love them. That has never happened, and never will. 

People who are sensitive tend to really, really, REALLY care about what people think about them. We never want to hurt anyone, we never want anyone to see us as not perfect (I’m being real here), and we tend to over-analyze everything and, yes, get a tad over-dramatic at times. Just a tad.

We can’t use that way of thinking as an excuse anymore. To base your self-worth on what others think of you is not just dangerous – it’s counterproductive to bettering your mental health as an adult. 

I feel like this blog post has been a long time coming for me, because it’s something that I’ve struggled with my entire life. I’ve been told by those close to me that I can be too sensitive and too willing to please people. I focus on things and I read too much into things when, in reality, sometimes people aren’t even upset with me or have anything against me. I think a good rule of thumb for most of us who are too sensitive at times is to listen to our gut instincts, and to also take our brains with us. Learn not to give situations more attention than they deserve. Make mental notes of how people react to you, but also realize that sometimes people have bad days and nobody, nowhere can be perfect and happy all the time. Also make sure to never dwell on things too much. Good practice for this is to not discuss trivial things with people too much, because it creates unnecessary and often times baseless anxiety. Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.

Also, don’t be too hard on yourself. We all have human moments. We all make fools out of ourselves sometimes. Being sensitive and caring a lot is a wonderful thing. But it is essential to accept yourself for all that you are and to learn that nobody’s opinion of you compares to the opinion that you have of yourself. You have spent time with you your entire life. Are you really going to take the opinion of someone who has spent .00000000000005% of your life with you? I have no idea where that percentage came from, but it seems okay! 

Lastly, learn to never accept disrespect from anyone. Keep that as a general rule for yourself. Disrespect invites more disrespect. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. Don’t shy away from confrontation. And, most of all, don’t put up with anyone who treats you in a manner in which you would never treat them. Be proud of being genuine. Anyone who doesn’t accept that in you doesn’t need to, just as you don’t need to accept them. You will not suffer by losing anyone who doesn’t appreciate you. I promise you that.

“These mountains that you were carrying, you were only supposed to climb.” – Najwa Zebian

 

 

 

 

Celebrate International Women’s Day by Addressing the Uncomfortable

International Women’s Day is one of my favorite days of the year. The unity, the passion, and the love all make a feminist’s heart oh-so-happy. 

I’m a Palestinian-American woman, so I am both privileged and not privileged. I am much more privileged than women in different socio-economic classes in the States, and much, much, much more privileged than women in far too many countries around the world that have little to no rights. 

From the time that I was five-years-old, I was a feminist. It always made my blood boil to hear people speak ill ofmy gender. I was labeled, sometimes jokingly and other times not, as a man-hating, angry female because I dared to voice that women deserved to have their humanity fought for. 

Do you know what’s so frustrating about hearing men (and sometimes women) claim that women are the inferior sex? Knowing that it’s not true. A person’s sex doesn’t determine their worth. I know because I am proud to be an educated, independent, living, breathing, thinking woman. To say that I am inferior to a man because of my sex is absolutely ridiculous. I’ve met some men who, I apologize for saying this, shouldn’t even be allowed to breathe my air because they might clog it with the crap that comes out of their mouthes. I’ve also, of course, met wonderful, passionate, and ridiculously kind men. Case in point – no on should be labeled by their sex. And women need to stop ragging on other women who don’t share similar viewpoints, educational accomplishments, and backgrounds as them. We are all products of our own societies, so let’s try to not be so hard on one another. The world is difficult enough for us.

Now, let’s get to the uncomfortable. If you’re a woman or a man who proclaims to be a feminist and a humanitarian, you can’t claim to be such if you’re not willing to stand by the vulnerable. Hollywood “feminist” celebrities, I’m looking at you. How many have you have stood up for Palestinians, the Black Lives Matter movement, victims of drone warfare in Yemen, civilian casualties in Syria, the scapegoats of private prisons, and so on and so forth? It’s time to move past wearing the “feminist” t-shirt and not advocating for women and the vulnerable. It’s not always fun, but the reason that we need  the feminist revolution in the first place is because the world is not fun and fair yet. With a great feminist mug comes great responsibility. Get responsible and fight, fight, fight for the people who the world has ignored for far too long.

Some of my Facebook friends may hate how politically active I am on social media, but tough, tought, and more tough. The world isn’t a pretty place. We have refugees, child brides, starving kids, etc. If you can’t be bothered to at least hear about those uncomfortable subjects, do me a favor and take some vitamins because you’re obviously deficient in something. I know that it’s uncomfortable to talk about politics, social issues, gender equality, poverty, and everything in between. If you find it uncomfortable to hear about these things, imagine how uncomfortable it is to be the victimized by them?

This International Women’s Day, check your privilege at the door and stand by the vulnerable. And let’s make a pact to do so every day of every year until the world is the place we need it to be. 

28 Quotes That Will Get You Thinking

“Be foolishly in love, because love is all there is.” – Rumi

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” – Ernest Hemingway

“I lost my way all the way to you.” – Atticus

“The mountains are calling and I must go.” – John Muir

“You are far too smart to be the only thing standing in your way.” – Jennifer Freeman

“In spite of all the things I’d done wrong, in getting myself here, I’d done right.” – Wild

“A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

“But all endings are also beginning. We just don’t know it at the time.” – Mitch Albom

“Don’t try to comprehend with your mind. Your minds are very limited. Use your intuition.” –  A Wrinkle in Time

“A ship is always safe at shore, but that’s not what it’s built for.” – Albert Einstein

“I am part of everything that I have ever read.” – Theodore Roosevelt

“My heart is, and always will be, yours.” – Sense and Sensibility 

 “The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it.” – The Lion King

“Be messy and complicated and afraid and show up anyways.” – Glennon Doyle Melton

“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” – Jacques Coustau

“Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It is a way of understanding it.” – Lloyd Alexander

“‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without the words, and never stops at all.” – Emily Dickinson

“A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.” – John F. Kennedy

“Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” – Albert Einstein

“Rule your mind or it will rule you.” – Buddha

“Of course it is happening inside your head, but why on earth should that mean it is not real?” – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

“Without new experiences, something inside of us sleeps. The sleeper must awaken.” – Frank Herbert

“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” – Pablo Picasso

“Thomas Edison’s last words were ‘It’s very beautiful over there.’ I don’t know where there is, but I believe it’s somewhere, and I hope it’s beautiful.” – John Green

“There is no force equal to a woman determined to rise.” W.E.B. Dubois

“The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.” – Oscar Wilde

“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” – Nora Ephron

“The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn but to unlearn.” – Gloria Steinem 

 

Why We Need to Stop Apologizing for Being Human

“Every now and then I could see myself–truly see myself–and a sentence would come to me, thundering like a god into my head, and as I saw myself then in front of that tarnished mirror what came was ‘the woman with the hole in her heart’. That was me.” – Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Pleasing people can be lethal. Or the need to please people can be lethal, I should say. I’ve been there, and I’m still there sometimes.

The very simple truth is that I still need validation…more than other people do. I look at people who are strong in who they are and what they represent and I wish more than anything that I could be the same way. But wait – isn’t the point of this blog to point out that we are all human and no one is really strong every minute of every day? Yep. That’s where I’m going with this.

We look at people on the outside and we think about how together they seem. Look at them in all their perfect glory. Look at that person with their universal sense of humor, or that other person with their ability to be easygoing. Look at them and wish you could be like that.

And then you begin apologizing.

You apologize when you aren’t as funny, or easy going (obviously I’m not talking about myself because I’m the funniest, most easy going person there is ha!). You apologize for being too sensitive, too human some moments. You apologize for making mistakes – mistakes with your family, your friends, your life.

Stop apologizing.

Stop letting other people convince you that you need to be perfect. I promise, they’re all participating in a  charade as well. The glorification of perfection is something that oh-so-really-so-very-much needs to go away.

Now I speak to myself. I am allowed to be human. I am allowed to make mistakes. I apologize for nothing, and I regret nothing. I never intend to hurt people. That’s important. I slip. I’ve loved men who haven’t been good for me. I’ve cried very deeply about things that may seem silly. I’ve hurt people I care about (not by running them over with my car or anything of course, but you get my drift). I’ve put on a show. I’ve been passive. I’ve been manipulative. I can still be those things sometimes. I can still be a human being, and I can still be a good person at my core. I am a good person. I love deeply, I care deeply. I’m also a deep human. I have flaws, as we all do.

If I make mistakes, and I know they’re mistakes, I own up to them. I apologize then, of course. I just won’t apologize for being human. There’s a very, very big difference.

My flaws are what layer me. I am not going to be a dove in a satin blanket. I have scars, marks, imperfections. Today, I am proud of that.