I am not sure if it was misplaced confidence or the carelessness of youth. All I recall from my school graduation day is the self-heating polyester gown, uncomfortable heels, and hideous hairdo. There was also excitement at the prospect of freedom -from hard work, commitment, responsibility…
Here’s the thing: I am still waiting. Not for freedom. I have been free all along -free to work hard, honour commitments, and model responsible behaviour. I am still waiting for the cheat sheet. You know, the one with all the answers.
As you choose your heels and hairdo, sweet child, I hope you can take time to reflect on my budding answer sheet. It is a work in progress. It may make your ride a little smoother.
You already have a head start. You are born?a woman. You are strength, fierceness, wisdom, and softness. You not only carry life, you change it. Be?proud. To be a woman. To be Arab. To be who you are. Authentic. Vulnerable. Humble.
Expectations are a hindrance to joy. Try to have few. Just be open and see where the flow carries you. It is highly unlikely you will have earth-shattering, life-changing moments of revelation about the path you should choose to walk. The odds of you figuring out your passion anytime soon are very slim. It will most likely be an uneventful, mundane trajectory that will begin to reveal itself to you. You will know when you are there.
You see, it is much like running a marathon. Crowds will be cheering you as you take your place on the starting line. There will be euphoria when you set off. But when you hit the 15km mark, it begins to settle. Then comes the test, when you are on your own. Grit and perseverance will get you to the finish line. Keep moving. You will soon hear the cheers. Excitement will get you places but it cannot keep you moving. You will have to dig deep to refuel midway.
It is perfectly acceptable -even recommended- to change your mind. A lot. I hope I have done enough changing of my mind in your lifetime to show you that no one has it all figured out. We just need to have the courage to change course. Just don’t give up because it gets challenging. That is what will set you apart from the pack. Give it your all. Remember, the extraordinary comes from the most ordinary.
Listen to the council of those you look up to. Ask questions. Observe. Most importantly listen. But keep in mind that you are your own expert. Really. You are born wise. Trust your heart. Learn how to access that wisdom.
Take time to nurture your physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. This means it is part of your day, as vital as brushing your teeth. This is essential for maintaining your internal compass and guide. Pray. Exercise. Read. Everyday. As often as possible.
Only your sisters can tell you what it is really like to nurse a baby. Girlfriends have the low-down on the sports legging with the best coverage. Take time to nurture these friendships. You are your friends. Choose wisely. When you listen to your heart, you can never go wrong.
You really need to cook. You will get fed up with take-out. And cafeteria food will give you constipation sooner or later. You will have visions of the fridge at home filled with home-made leftovers and colourful produce. Yes, laundry needs to be separated even in 2017. And you will wish you learned to sew at some point in the very near future.
When you get homesick, don’t pretend you are fine. Call when you need to hear home. Cry. I need to be reminded that I am your number one human.
It is going to be you who changes the world. With one good deed a day. Your kindness and humility will get us all there.
Wear flats. They will keep you on the dance-floor. And please, take care of my heart. It needs exercise, sun, and Ed Sheeran.