You should read this because I am a very important person.

If I could name one unfavorable trait about my personality, I would say that I take myself too seriously.

It’s true: I am my worst judge, critique, and guardian. I’m sure you’ve heard of the saying “Don’t take life too seriously; no one gets out alive anyways.” I’ve always thought it was absurd. Precisely because no one gets out alive anyways is why one should take life quite seriously. Work hard, change for the best, never settle, or am I thinking of my horoscope sign traits? Anyways, there is no way to be sure every Capricon thinks this way, but I definitely am not one of these people who can just brush things off and laugh at themselves.

Here’s thing though: I want to be one of these people who can just brush things off and laugh at themselves.

None of us is unique. Just log into Tumblr and check the notes showing how many people re-blogged a photo quote saying “I overthink” or “I am drowning in my own thoughts” or that “My problem is that I care too much about people” or my absolute favorite Eminem quote “I don’t care if you’re black, white, straight, bisexual, gay, lesbian, short, tall, fat, skinny, rich or poor. If you’re nice to me, I’ll be nice to you. Simple as that.”

Ah, how amiable.

You see, we are most subjective when it comes to the way we see ourselves. We fancy our thoughts to be deep and meaningful. We like to believe our feelings are significant and special. We are the superheroes of this comic book that is our lives. I roll my eyes at us.

But back to my very important pressing problem

 I take myself too seriously. If I mess up, it’s a whole day –if I’m luck- of self-agonizing analysis of how could I do that, why did I do that, will I do that again, can I ever avoid doing that again, what if I can never change? Don’t forget of course, my telepathic mind reading of everyone involved in my messing up. “She must think I’m a failure, they must’ve laughed about it, he must really feel sad for me- who wouldn’t, they must feel I’m not worthy, they were only nice because they were trying to be sweet, gosh why did I say that they didn’t deserve it.” And so on and so forth.

Again, I am acutely aware of how common this belittling of self is among the general public, but I am the protagonist in this story and you shall cater to my every thought.

For me, everything has to have meaning. Everything has to be deep, Meta. I live my life like a movie: there’s a script (it has to be witty and smart and calculatingly representative of my awesomeness), there are many different tangled plots that should eventually mean something, there’s a bunch of challenges that I either win instantly win or may lose for the moment so I can win later on, there are losses that teach me lessons, and there is of course change.

Change is the tricky part, because I both want and fear it simultaneously.

This is no place to end a piece of writing I suppose, but I am special and also I want to sleep so let’s continue this tomorrow shall we? I will be most obliged.


When in Doubt, Watch a Movie.

Does anyone remember the first movie they’ve ever watched? I mean the very very first, the one that after you’ve seen whether you hated or loved it, made you decide that storytelling through images is cool, and you want more where that came from.

I don’t remember my very first movie, as hard as I’ve tried to. That is very sad, because movies played such a big role in my life, that I feel somehow indebted to the one that started it all for me. Of course, had I known movies would end up affecting the course of my life this much, I would have watched that first movie with great care and utmost attention.

How did movies affect me? I think in some parallel cosmo, had I never started watching movies at all, I would have become a complete different person. An idea as frightening to me as it is stunning.

Dreams are one aspect where movies impacted my life. I started watching movies when I was in third grade. I lived in an Arab country, so I spoke and understood only Arabic at that age, and did not even have adequate knowledge to follow an English speaking movie from beginning to end without translation.

Even the Arabic translation was a struggle; often it would move too fast on the screen, or I’d focus too much on getting every word that I would miss chunks of the movie.

But I loved it.

I often wondered about it, this art of translation. It sounded more exotic and exciting in my head at that age, but it was just that- art. I would imagine this person- who in my mind was nothing less than a knight, worthy of our awe and respect- as a connector of cultures, a messenger between civilizations.

This person, who had the privilege or luck of knowing two languages, was doing more than translating a badly montaged Hollywood movie so I and the less fortunate can understand the plot. To me, this translator built a bridge between the two worlds, two continents, and two opposites: the East and the West. He or she is responsible for my traveling into this new world, and broadening of perspective of society.

Of course at that time I believed the movies I watched actually represented the Western culture, but that’s another discussion.

So, as my love for movies grew, so did my love for translators. I became an expert too. I started recognizing the different translations one English word can yield in Arabic. I could predict the ending of the spoken sentence said just by reading the whole Arabic sentence written on screen. I started understanding new English vocabulary that kids my age did not know. These little victories for an elementary student meant a lot, and that was about the time I decided I wanted to become a translator.

I wanted to study languages to become that knight; that person whose skills would bring different people closer and help the world to become a friendlier place. Fast forward to after I finished my last year in high school: it was time to apply for universities. I was 16 then, and my dream was still intact.

I was going to learn languages. As many as I can.

I felt so comfortable that day, seeing everyone around me confused, conflicted, and worried about what to study, while I’ve got it all figured out.

But something happened along the way that I forgot to mention; I had watched a show that planted an idea in my head: What would I be, if I studied media?

A simple idea, yet it conquered my mind and began to grow slowly, all the while shadowing my long decided dream. I felt like Mal in the last scene of Inception (warning: spoiler) when Cobb admits he’d performed inception on his wife in the past with a little idea. But that harmless small seed grew in Mal’s head day by day until it became the thorny forest of doubts that eventually destroyed her.

Ok it was not that dramatic, but you get it.

Suddenly I was no better than these around me, lost, confused, and worried about the future. A choice had to be made: languages or media? I was certain of one thing: each one would transform me completely, turning me into a new person.

I just had to somehow predict which would get me closer to my envisioned future self: being translator or a media person?

Eventually I did what I always do when I’m confused: I prayed istikhara, and two years later I’m studying Journalism in the American University in Dubai. Had the dice played a different number, maybe I would have been somewhere else in the world, growing into a different person maybe better, maybe worse.

The Mother

Ayesha’s mother died 16 days ago, but she hasn’t cried yet.

The mother’s death was not a surprise, at least not a sudden one. She had been suffering from ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) for eight years now, and as the years went by the symptoms worsened. In her final year, the mother just laid in bed, unable to move or speak, just breathing.

The mother hated hospitals and wanted to be near her family; so medical equipment was brought to the house, and a nurse was assigned to her 24/7 assistance. Her children, who are not really children because Ayesha the youngest of all seven is almost 21 years old, gathered every night to have dinner around her in the room. Years back the mother was able to talk and move her hands, but when I visited their home two years ago, she could not greet me back.

They were not very close, Ayesha and her mother. Although she likes to blame the mother’s illness for driving a wedge between them that was not there before, the truth is, they never got along.

Ayesha’s father and four of her siblings live in other countries, but they all came back home for the funeral. All, except the one who lives in Germany. It was the first time for the family to be in one house since Ayesha was in elementary school, and it felt almost as if their mother could not bring them together when she was alive, so she died to unite them.

Sixteen days have passed, and Ayesha hasn’t cried yet.

Many said she is shook, in a trance, or still not mindful of the tragedy. But I know that is not the case.

Ayesha is not shook or in denial, she is simply angry. She is angry at the mother for dying, and angry at herself for feeling angry instead of sad. By dying, the mother has cheated.

The unspoken one-side agreement was for the mother to get better, so that Ayesha will get another chance at having a normal mother daughter relationship. It was supposed to be a mutual effort.

Every night at 2:00 am, Ayesha would come to the mother’s room, sit on a chair in front of her bed and just talk to her lifeless living body. She would talk and talk and talk until pretending to have an imaginary conversation hurt and she would cry. The next day she would do the same thing again.

But somehow, without any warning, the mother decided that she did not want to try anymore. She gave up. She took the easy way out. She cheated. And that made Ayesha very angry.

Of course, I think the real reason why Ayesha is angry is because allowing herself to feel sadness would mean letting her mother go. Anger gives her something to hold on to. So, instead of facing the departure of the mother she’ll focus her energy on the blame and the pain. Somehow that will hurt less.

One day though, Ayesha will cry. I am sure of it.