Change Is In The Air (History Is Being Made)

The 26th of September, 2017 is a monumental day in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It is monumental because it is the day where it was announced that, for the first time following the ban on women driving, women would be issued driver’s licenses in around 9 months. Meaning that, this time next year, I could be driving a car in my own country. By myself. Which is something that I’m finding difficult to process. Not because of its impossibility. I mean, I’ve driven a car before in one of my summers abroad, and I’ve seen countless of women driving cars before, too. (I’ll never forget the first time I saw my mother drive. It was 10 years ago. I was 13 at the time. We were in Oregon, driving from city to city. Mama and her friends were taking turns driving during a road trip up the mountains. And I was scared, because I’d never experienced my mother’s driving before and was terrified it would be bad and that she’d drive us off the edge of a cliff, but then it was exciting because my mother was driving, and it was good, and safe, and normal.)  But… still, there are no words to convey to you the significance of this day (for those of you who do not understand). And the feelings, and thoughts I’m experiencing right now seem to be tangled up together like a bundle of hair, making it hard to make sense of any of it to even myself, let alone somebody else. But I’m going to attempt making sense of them–I’m going to attempt untangling that hair, so to speak–because it matters to me, and I’d like to look back at this one day and see what it is I currently have to say on the matter. Document my feelings, and thoughts towards this change.

So, let me begin by saying that as normal as it (women driving) seems, I’m actually surprised by how it isn’t? At least, to some extent. Like, when my mom, younger sister, and I (dad fell asleep before the news was announced) were talking (more like gushing) about the news, my sister (semi) jokingly said, “OMG, I want a car!” And that was such a foreign concept to me, not because women don’t own cars here, but because, soon, not only could I drive it, but I could also own it?????????? You have family’s here getting cars for their sons, and now…. it’s like, you can get some for your daughters too?????????? That is a very odd thought to me, because whenever I pictured- actually, no, I never even pictured owning a car. I mean, it was definitely something that was in my mind, because I pictured myself driving at some point in my future life (whether it was here, or abroad), but, now that it’s happening, it’s like, I can actually have a car of my own one day, and that day could be a lot more sooner than I thought it would be.

???????

And, also, the fact that it’s happening now, and not “one day”, just… I can’t seem to fully wrap my head around it. That it’s happening has sunk in, but it’s like I’ve gotten so used to thinking about it in the context of “one day” , my brain’s like “Wow, one day is now. It’s actually happening now. Finally.” It’s amazing, but also ordinary because, I mean, it’s just women driving. And I’m not saying that to belittle this step. (Besides, the size of a step never takes away from it’s significance, I believe. Every step towards a better future is relevant, and significant because it counts in making that future possible.) I’m saying that it’s bewildering to me how, despite the fact that I know that this was something that was a long time coming, I am stunned that it’s happening. And I’m not stunned because this news came out of nowhere (some people, I am told, were expecting to hear it), and neither because it is uncharacteristic of my country to do something like this (this country has been in the midst of change for some time now, so this was expected. Maybe not this soon, but it was something that was bound to happen.) I am stunned because… history is being made right now, and I can feel it. I knew that the moment I heard the news from my younger sister, everything I did after would be something I would be telling my kids about one day (should I ever have any, inshaAllah). And I could picture them being weirded out by the idea that women never drove at all at one point in this country, and how it would all be an unfamiliar concept to them, like how women not receiving a formal education is an unfamiliar concept to me. It’s stunning to feel history being made.

And, seeing people in my country, especially women, react and respond to this news just made this day even more special. It’s very heartwarming to see a lot of us united about this positive change. Men congratulating women, and women congratulating each other on this significant change happening in women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. All of us lightheartedly joking about this change’s outcomes. Girls asking each other what songs they’re first going to play in their cars once they start driving. Girls supporting each other. My sister and I weren’t really talking to each other before this news was announced (we had an argument a couple days ago), but she suddenly barged into my room with a smile and all, bearing this very good news, and the argument has taken a very far back seat (for now), because this news is far more significant than any argument we’d have.

This news makes me very happy, and it makes me more hopeful of the change headed our way. I always knew it was coming, and seeing it happen is incredible, and fulfilling. We have a lot more to work on as a country, of course–there’s always more room for progress–but I am happy with this step we’ve taken today.

Congratulations to all women in Saudi, this is just the beginning of what’s to come, inshaAllah. And may we face whatever lies ahead with conviction, and passion, and may we help forge the path for those after us by making a positive change.

 

 

 

 

 

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My One Problem With ‘Beauty & the Beast’

Here’s the thing, I love Beauty & the Beast. It’s an enchanting movie. But I have a problem with it that I was hoping would be addressed in the Beauty & the Beast reboot starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens. (Spoiler alert: it wasn’t.) But, as I was saying, Beauty & the Beast is a remarkable movie. One of Disney’s finest. The characters are well-developed, and memorable, the music’s great, the emotions provoked are real and genuine (I remember feeling nervous every time the Beast got angry)… It’s a good movie. But ever since I found out that the Beast’s name is supposedly “Adam”, I cannot for the life of me figure out why it was never mentioned in the movie. ??????????????

I’ve had this in my head for years now, and the more I think about it, the more it just doesn’t make any sense to me. First, you have Belle, Ms. I-must-go-into-the-dark-and-creepy-west-wing-even-though-the-freaking-enchanted-objects-in-this-freaky-castle-where-a-freaking-giant-and-talking-beast-lives-told-me-not-to. She’s a character that’s guided by her curiosity. Why on Earth does she never think to ask what the Beast’s name is? It really doesn’t make any sense. I mean, not only does it never come up, but she also actually calls him “Beast” at one point. (Please see minute 2:11 in the video below.)

  How does his name never come up? She freaking teaches him how to read! Scratch that, she freaking falls in love with him. How can she not even once think to ASK HIM HIS NAME?

HOW COULD IT NOT BE MENTIONED?

And I feel like mentioning his name would have added a lot more to an already good movie, because, I mean, other than it being OOC for Belle to not ask his name, just think about how it would have added to the Beast’s character development. He spends all those years under the curse thinking he is nothing more than the creature he’s been transformed into. He eats like an animal, he acts like one… He basically is one, because he believes he is. Just think about how Belle asking him his name would probably make him remember a self that he had forgotten long ago (maybe even before he was transformed? I imagine everyone at that point would have only been referring to him as “your highness” or whatever).  Also, I picture the scene to go down like that scene from LOTR when Frodo asks Gollum what his name is, and Gollum’s mind is just blown away because he’d forgotten that he had anything of the sort.

So, why did the filmmakers think that mentioning the Beast’s name was unnecessary? Whether it was “Adam”, or it was undecided, or it wasn’t even talked about, why on Earth did they think that the story worked best without mentioning it? Was it done intentionally? Was it not even considered? Was it because they couldn’t seem to find an appropriate place to add that scene in? Because I have the perfect scene in mind for it. It’d happen as Belle tends to the Beast’s wounds in front of the fireplace, after he saved her from the wolves. And that would be it. Voila! Character consistency, and development all tackled in one scene, and none of them would even have to mention it again.

But it never happens. I had hopes that it would be mentioned in the new BATB movie, but as mentioned earlier, it doesn’t. Why? I haven’t a clue.

@ Disney, I’d really love an answer if you have one. Because the amount of work that goes into making these movies, and the attention to detail is great I am sure. How could this get overlooked?

 

 

 

What I like about reality checks

1- Never am I more aware of the growing that I am capable of as I am when I get a reality check.

2- It’s sorta like a performance review? Of how you are as a human. Either you like who you’re left with, or you don’t.

3- They’re transformative. I hate when things are rearranged in my head, and the struggle that comes along with trying to make sense of your world again can be difficult, and frustrating, but I like the enlightenment that follows. When things click into place. A puzzle that’s always looking to be solved, is my perception of the world.

4- I like that it feels like waking up. But not from sleep. More like from being on autopilot for a while.

That’s all I got.

Peace.

There’s a certain self-centeredness in allowing yourself to believe that nobody around you suffers as much.
And I say this not to criticize, but to remind you that, as usual, the world does not revolve around you at the best of times, so why would it at the worst?

Appearance of Confidence

Today is one of those days where I make a conscious decision to be grateful for having the face that I have. I only have these days when I’m either feeling really pretty, or, as is the case today, ugly.

Today I feel ugly. There’s no specific reason for this. Nothing I can really pin down as The Reason for Feeling This Way. I just woke up, looked in the mirror, and found that my face didn’t appeal to me. It’s too puffy and round, my lips aren’t full enough, my skin isn’t clear, my eyebrows aren’t thick, my nose is too big, my eyes seem to be angeled to the sides of my face, my pores are huge, my eyelashes seem to be non-existent… And blah blah blah. There’s a whole list of things to choose from on days like today. And I’m not saying that it’s necessarily bad to think those things. That it’s bad to not always feel so strikingly beautiful all of the time. I’m just saying that when I find I’m having a day like today, it’s so easy for me to let it get to my head. To wish that I had somebody else’s face. To wish I looked more like (insert name of person(s) I’m comparing myself to on this day in things that I have no control of). To linger on it all for as long as I can. Why couldn’t I look like so-and-so? Why didn’t I get my mom’s genes for fantastic legs? Why don’t I have beautiful wavy hair like my sister’s? (.ما شاء الله) Why why why. But, thinking like that isn’t fair. Letting it get to my head, isn’t fair either.

Why?

Because it isn’t fair to focus on all the positive things that you could have had whilst ignoring the negative, and it also isn’t fair to forget all the times that I have felt so completely beautiful.

There are days, I kid you not, when I look at my face and think “whoever is going to marry me is so lucky.”

And I can assure you that when I have those days, I’m looking at the same face I’m looking at right now. (I’m typing this on my phone as I stand in front of a bathroom mirror, okay?)

So, on days like today, I make it a point to make a conscious decision to be grateful for having this face of mine. This is my face. I don’t feel great about it today, but it’s an off kinda day. I can guarantee that I will be thinking very highly of it some time in the near future, inshaAllah. It’ll still be my face then, too.

When I was a little girl, my mom taught me this little duaa (prayer) to say whenever I found myself lookin’ reeeeeal good. We were in my Teta’s house (الله يرحمها/ may she rest in peace) in Syria, and I believe we were getting ready for Eid when this happened, because I remember myself standing in front of the bedroom mirror whilst I admired myself in what must have been a new outfit. Anyways, Mama saw this happening. Saw me enjoying my new pretty clothes, and, with a smile on her face, told me that whenever I’m feeling pretty, I should make it a habit to say:

‎”اللَّهُمَّ أَحْسَنْتَ خَلْقِي فَأَحْسِنْ خُلُقِي”

Which roughly translates to: (As found online)

“Oh Allah, as you have perfected my outward creation so too perfect my inward character.”

As you can probably tell, I did make it a habit to say that when feeling pretty. But! I also made a habit to say it when I’m feeling not-so-pretty.

Why?

Because the shell matters. Try as hard as you can to say and convince me that it doesn’t, and I’ll still think that it does. But it isn’t what matters most. Looks fade, and beauty trends shift. What once was considered desirable/trendy/beautiful etc., has now taken a backseat, if lucky. Saying the duaa not only helps to remind that it is my aim to have as good a character as I can manage whilst dealing with those exterior changes, but it also helps to make me feel grateful for what it is  that I do have, even if I amen’t feeling particularly appreciative of it at this certain moment.
(Please note that this has nothing to do with my perspective on plastic surgery. That’s possibly a post for another time.)

Accepting Beauty Standards

I first thought about writing this post after reading some random post on yik yak (I’ve got a lot of time on my hands at the moment, sue me) about how “ugly faces can look pretty in pictures, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s an ugly face” (or something like that).   And while thinking about where I wanted to go with this post (what point was I attempting to make and all that), I was initially going to focus on how some people (I’ve got my eyes on you Yik Yak OP) think that their opinion is true enough to set standards for everyone around them, and how that isn’t the case at all. That, “just because you don’t find a face appealing, that doesn’t make it ‘ugly’. It just means that YOU don’t like it.” And how “beauty is very much subjective.”

RIP to that post. I very much agree with all that is stated above, but I feel like there are thousands upon thousands of posts, articles, campaigns even, and yada yada yada like that available online to those who need to hear it. (Or that’s all I seem to have ever read on the topic of beauty standards online anyways.) The point being, what’s stated above isn’t exactly something that hasn’t been said before. And while the point I’m trying to make isn’t either, I feel like it isn’t said often enough. Especially in relation to beauty standards.

I like to write (I swear there is a point to this), and when I was younger I came across this long list of tips for writers that I have mostly forgotten, but I do remember one tip clearly, and it is: When writing something, you should avoid using words such as “I think” and “in my opinion” because they are pointless. It should be obvious that this is what you think , and that this is your opinion, since you are writing it.

So Yik Yak OP thinks that because they find someone “ugly” they will always and forever be ugly?

Ok. That is very clearly their opinion, and you know what? They’re entitled to it, too. What someone finds unattractive–especially when they’re random people– shouldn’t be accepted as the general opinion. Same goes for what people do find attractive. Because nobody speaks for everybody, and this is even more true in online communities. In fact, when someone makes generalized statements about something, you should definitely take it as them stating their own personal thoughts and opinions, and not take it as them speaking as the delegate of (insert applicable group of peoples here). Even if they do think that their opinion is the generally accepted truth, it doesn’t have to matter to you.

People don’t really ever use the words “in my opinion” and “I think” when stating what they believe, and know. And it shouldn’t really matter because, in the end, you are a person with a brain, and you can decide whether or not this person’s generalized opinion matters, or applies, to you or not.

Let’s say your hear your cousin saying, “Big noses are ugly.” It sounds rude, because who are you to say that big noses are ugly, like, so, what? We all have to have noses like Natalie Portman’s, or we’re forever doomed to have something “ugly” on our faces, unless we choose to alter it surgically to fit this standard of beauty?

The things is, who died and made your cousin the Setter of Beauty Standards? No one. Because this is an opinion that goes back to them. It is their opinion, and you don’t have to conform to it. And while, yes, there are people who agree with them wholeheartedly, there are definitely people who do not, as well.

There are people who are going to find me beautiful, as surely as there are those who will think that I am just plain old ugly. It’s ok. You can’t please everybody. It’s a sad (?) truth we all have to come to terms with.

And while it’s ok to try and change someone’s opinions on a topic, and it’s also ok to let your opinion on a topic that matters to you be known, (respectfully, because it isn’t ever nice to bully, or to act as if you are better than anyone) it’s important to note that some people just don’t want to have their minds changed (and those people are usually the ones who start/join arguments), so choose your battles (of wits) wisely.

It’s all in your hands, just as it should be. Just as it always has been. As long as you think you’re beautiful, and you’re happy/content with how you look, and, more importantly, who you are as a person, and how you treat the people around you, then other people’s beauty standards need not apply to you.

 

 

 

 

 

The Period Between Transitions

There’s something exciting about standing on the edge of something big. Or, at least, on the edge of something that feels big.
There’s something exciting about standing on the cusp of The Emergence, especially after having spent a good amount of time wandering through, and waiting in that limbo that is the space between places. Between what was and what will be.
And the journey to that edge is fun. Because that’s where all the possibilities and hopes take root and grow, right? And, even though you don’t really know what it is you’re exactly in for, it’s that very notion that gives way to the thought that anything can happen, and that just fuels that excitement of yours. Makes you carry on walking towards that edge, despite your impatience.
And there’s something so satisfying about making it to that edge after having lived through the journey towards it. Not that the journey is something that needs to be endured, but sometimes the uncertainty can take a-hold of you, and there’s something incredibly satisfying about not allowing it to.
And when you finally see that edge right there in front of you, you can’t help but feel your chest swell with exhilaration, and your stomach swarm with nerves; it’s time to cherish what is left of the journey within the space between places, you will never be here again. Because it’s right there, it’s finally happening. All your wandering has lead you here, and you are finally taking the step you’ve been dying to take. But you’ve gotten comfortable in this limbo of yours. You’ve gotten comfortable in the thought of your possibilities, and the comfort of your hopes. What if it doesn’t live up to what I want it to be? What if it’s better than I imagined? And there’s something so, very GENUINE about those feelings felt when walking- running- jumping into that unknown. Because nothing is guaranteed, and yet, here you still are. Charging towards your destination, ready or not.
There’s something exciting about just watching it all unfold, no matter the outcome.