Reflections

There are a lot of things I thought of lately and I thought I should put them all in a post.

I have a friend who happens to be the most philosophical person I have ever met, and honestly, our conversations really are meaningful. So lately, I’ve been thinking about how everyone you know can change in maybe just a day. There are some people who are forced to leave to other places, so when you talk to them, you can feel a change. However, this doesn’t mean that what the two of you have has necessarily changed. You can still be the best of friends, just far apart. There are other people who meet other people and get affected by the people they meet, so you notice a shift in their behavior, whether it’s negative or positive. It was very clearly stated in a TV show!

  • Cory: “What’s the secret of life?”
    Maya: “people change people.”

So you see, people come and go, and I’ve been thinking that we’re all human beings at the end of the day, and we experience these things. We experience emotions and situations we’ve never felt and been in before, so it’s natural for us to go through a change of behavior. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t want to blame anyone for altering the way they act with me because there’s technically nothing I can do about it. I mean, I could talk about it once, twice, or ten times, but if the other person doesn’t understand or see it, then I shouldn’t bother trying anymore. The people who leave were never meant to stay in your life in the first place. What’s important to keep in mind is that no matter what, respect comes first. If a person you know disrespects you, you step away, cause this might be his/her first time, but it certainly won’t be the last if you don’t take action.

Another thing I’ve been reflecting on was how easy it is to get addicted to something as small as your phone. You know the golden rule: “stick to moderate”. I mean it’s insane how much time one can spend on his/her phone simply by scrolling through social media again and again! Five days ago, I decided to delete my Twitter because, first of all, my timeline’s been pretty boring…it’s a feed filled with the same memes, the same tweets, the same negativity (and surprisingly, it’s increasing), and the same regular complaints. When I deleted the app, I realized that first, it took waaaaay too much space on my phone, second, it totally drained my battery, and third, it took away all my time and focus! It’s insane. I remember taking 6 days off from social media and from my entire phone a few months back. It was a well-needed detox. But the issue here is that, not only is our level of productivity decreasing because we lose track of the time we spend using our phones, but also, we can’t seem to be able to live without it. When it comes to me, I panic if I forget my phone at home. It’s what they want. They want you to get hooked on whatever they offer you as features. So, I’ve been trying to convince myself that it’s okay if I don’t check my phone all the time and if I delete a social media app etc. (I’ll update you if it goes well).

Furthermore, I’ve spoken to my philosophical friend about the education system here in Lebanon. The problem here is that students who attend private universities are paying way too much money, and many of them don’t understand what they’re paying for exactly. Students attending the American universities, specifically, here in Lebanon, have been complaining about the increasing tuition fees and the lack of financial aid granted. Can you imagine that they’re paying approximately 9,000$ per semester to get the education they want? And some of the services offered by the universities aren’t as good as they sound. Last week, the students at one of these universities started a protest to express their disapproval of another increase in tuition fees. My friend told me that they should’ve done that before, because the university apparently looks at the minority of their students – the ones who can actually afford to go to that university – without thinking of the rest. He also told me he was thinking of transferring to another college because it’s become too much. So here we can ask ourselves: is education really that expensive?

And lastly, I’ve been thinking a lot about the kind of person that I am, and how I could ameliorate myself. You see, everyone has that personality trait that makes them go like

why-are-you-752x501

Am I right?

What I really want to change about myself is my inability to confront someone. At many times in my life, someone wanted me to do something I really didn’t want to do or did something in front of me that I didn’t approve of, and yet, I couldn’t get myself to tell that person that I was busy, didn’t want that thing, or what s/he was doing was wrong etc. Sometimes, I can’t even stand up for myself. I really want to build a stronger character and be able to fight/stand up for what I believe is right. I also don’t like how nice I am…kind of brings us back to what I just mentioned. Being too nice prevents me from standing up for myself. I need to fix that.

Moreover, I need to fix the whole awkwardness thing. I tend to stutter a lot, and at many times, I’m shy, awkward, and unsure of myself and my decisions. So, I’m going to try and boost my confidence.

This was all for this post, but I’m pretty sure that I’ll be back with some other reflections. What I want to tell you is that share your thoughts with other people because sometimes, exhausting your mind with a lot of thinking can be bad for you. It’s also important to discuss the issues in society and build strong opinions.
I also wish you a wonderful weekend, and hopefully you’ll help someone today. Until next time. x

Smile more!

 

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A New Me

It’s crazy how a few days can really change a person. I sat with my dad the other day and we had a discussion about my “transformation”.

As some of you may already know, this is my first year in college. We’re already 2 months through the semester, and I believe these two months were enough to mold me into a different person. You see, at school, I had always been a good student…but I used to stress a lot. For as far back as I can remember (probably going back to like 9th grade), I was the kind of student who would stay up late at night revising, just to make sure I didn’t leave anything out. I would explain things to my friends and revise every single example. I was always tired at school; I didn’t get the 8.5 hours of sleep I needed.

Also, my relationship with God had its ups and downs. Well there were those times when I would talk to God only to ask Him for something. It was until the last two years that I’ve learned that no, I shouldn’t ask God for things that are just for my own needs, nor tell Him what He should do. Last year, I passed to the school’s chapel every morning and prayed. It really made my mornings like-able.

And lastly, the last 2 years were really the most stressful years of my life…on an emotional level. As I mentioned previously, I used to stress a lot because of my studies and now add to that the emotional burden I carried with me throughout my last two years at school. For those of you who have been following my posts on this blog, you have probably noticed that I’d written a lot of very sad and depressing posts. The kind of emotional stress I was dealing with wasn’t related to my family in any way, thankfully, but more to my friends. Well, technically, to the way I imagined things with my friends should be.

So here is where I tell you that I have made a few decisions.

First of all, I have decided to throw everything that has to do with my academic past at school behind me and start from zero. I have decided to adapt a new method of studying that involves studying as much as possible on a daily basis. It’s going almost perfectly so far, with a few exceptions of course. I have also decided to try (as much as possible) not to stress. Stress kills motivation. Stress kills focus. Stress kills will. Stress kills energy. Stress is horrible. I don’t want it anymore. I won’t lie to you though; there were times when I DID stress out, but they lasted a few minutes. Good job, Maria. It’s what I like to call progress.

Furthermore, my goal is to do my best. I’m doing everything my professors are asking me to do, I’m studying well, I’m doing well, and that’s more than satisfying. No stress, no staying up late, no uncontrollable coffee consumption.

Also recently, I’ve made another decision. I have decided to be happy. I have always been a very happy and actually a very innocent person. So, obviously, that period of sadness in my life was really tough for me because I had never felt so down in my life before. As we say it in Arabic, “nafsiyyete kenet bel ared” and this means, in a way, that I felt extremely down and was negative about almost everything. To tell you the truth, I had imagined things. Remember how I said I imagined how things with my friends should be? I always had this fear that my friends would leave me. I always had this doubt about being a friend worth keeping or not. Now I look back and say, “Hey. You’re wrong to think that way. You’re a good friend. You were there for your friends when they needed you, and it’s all that matters. You’re a little clingy, but you can work on it.” I am done with delusions. I learned that people will love you for who you are, and the ones who leave were never meant to stay in the first place. So here is where I made a change: I deleted all my sad posts from this blog, and turned this whole thing back to its original purpose which was to write down my thoughts on a certain social problem, or share my experiences and ideas with you.

And lastly, I am working on my relationship with God. See, in my university, we have this small chapel. The situation on the roads in Lebanon is so good to the point where I got stuck in extreme traffic every morning, but that was until I decided to leave very early. Anyway, leaving super early in the morning led to arriving super early to university which gave me the chance to go to the chapel and talk to God.  I’m going to be honest with you and say that my daily 15 minutes of prayer make it easier for me to face the day. I’ve learned to say that whatever happens, I’m still blessed, and honestly it’s what’s most important. God has given me so much, and I’m thankful.

I’d like to add that yes, my major is exhausting and I’m kind of overloaded with work to do, but I’m enjoying it. And I love my university.

I hope that my enthusiasm will persist the way it is now, and that my relationships with my friends will last. I’m a new person now. I’m an adult, I’m independent, I have what it takes, I’m in the choir and the blood donation club, I’m blessed, and I’m happy.  I say do a little soul-searching and see if there are any decisions that need to be taken. Until next time. x

Smile more!

Some Things Need to Stop, Others Need to be Done

I haven’t blogged in a while, but I am back.

I am here to tell you about something that is bothering me in a way nothing else has ever bothered me before.

We are living in a world where women are constantly objectified, catcalled, beaten and harmed, treated like a second-class species, and regarded as projects that need to be enhanced.

Young teenage girls look up to people like Kylie Jenner who, even if she denies it, has underwent more than 5 plastic surgeries to look the way she looks now. They think that thick and full lips, wide hips, big butt, long eyelashes, and an extremely flat stomach are the correct idea of beauty. Yes, Kylie was able to build her own empire at only 19, but she’s far from a natural. Millions of people are going through plastic surgery to meet the idea of “a perfect face”, when in reality, all they did was turn into dolls full of silicon. Looking up the “baddies” of Twitter and idolizing models/TV icons are pushing young girls to hate their bodies and their appearance and thus creating depression and anxiety when they fail to reach the standards of beauty. Girls don’t want their thighs to touch, don’t want their butts to be flat, don’t want to be flat-chested, don’t want to have stretch marks etc. What they see on Instagram is in reality the outcome of time spent on Photoshop to perfectionate the model. People don’t actually look like that. What’s funny is that girls I know always complained about having natural wide hips, when the idol of many (Kylie) had a surgery to have that body shape.

Moreover, I traveled recently and everywhere I went, it was as if girls and young women wore pretty much nothing. Cropped tops look like bras, and shorts are so short you would think girls are walking in their underwear. The questions I ask myself are why would they expose themselves like that? Is that considered “eye candy”? Do young girls feel better about themselves and how they attract people’s attention that way? I don’t understand. What happened to elegance?

Don’t start barking at me with all your “she can wear whatever the fuck she wants” bullshit. Elegance is my standard, and I wouldn’t allow my daughter or even my sister to walk in the streets wearing clothes that look like underwear. This isn’t about feminism, or women’s rights, or I don’t know what other shit people use as an excuse. This is about self-respect. My body is not an object for display. A woman’s body isn’t eye candy. The only things that should catch a man’s attention should be the way a woman treats others, respects others and herself, how she thinks, how she tackles a problem, and how elegant she is. However, this is only my point of view on the subject. But if a young woman wants to wear these revealing outfits, she should not be objectified, and it shouldn’t be an excuse for anyone to attack or harrass this young woman.

HONY

HONYCAP

“YOU DON’T HAVE TO SHOW SKIN TO GET ATTENTION.”

Now, onto advertisements. I’ll start off by showing you these two videos.

It’s disgusting to see and know that women’s bodies are used as advertising material to sell products. What’s worse is that it is not just found in advertisements, but also in video games (as shown in the first video). The graphics used in video games are highly powerful and portray an image of women that is not technically appealing. Video games also give many male gamers a chance to approach the female character in the game in many sexual ways. Night clubs in video games also have strippers in them, so you can clearly see where this is going.

What’s even worse is that kids everywhere are seeing these advertisements. I’ve come across the idea of the effect of seeing naked women and pornography on children in two books. In the first book, Love Won Out by John and Anne Paulk, Anne tells readers that she had found pornography magazines in her friend’s house and seeing the women, in their very unappealing positions, terrified and scarred her. These images made her feel ashamed of being a woman and were one of the few factors that pushed her to become homosexual. In the second book, A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, Mariam, who was married at a young age to a man older than she is, found a pornography magazine in her husband’s drawer. Again, she was scared and disgusted by the women in the magazine. I’ll show you a third video about kids’ reactions to seeing disturbing ads.

Credits: WomenNotObjects

I think the video says enough. We should protect our little ones, before protecting ourselves.

Furthermore, I would like to talk about a phenomenon observed in my country. My country has welcomed many refugees in the past years and there have been a few incidents ever since. Because of these incidents, girls are afraid of walking in the streets. And it’s not just because of refugees, but men in general. It is highly uncomfortable to walk in the streets and to be looked at as if you were a cookie. No, not all men are uncontrollable, bad, trash or harmful. But what I’m trying to say is that the existence of street harassment cannot be denied. Phrases like “Hi ya helwe” (Hello, gorgeous), “Shou hayda, shou hayda!” (their way to say “hot damn”) are quite often heard in public areas, and the number of girls who are uncomfortable walking in the streets or taking a taxi is increasing. Street harassment needs to stop, and that is by educating our younger ones about respect.

Catcallslippery slope of street harassment

Street harassment has many forms, and until the issue is resolved, the only thing we can do is raise awareness.

Also, There is a project known as the KIP Project on Gender and Sexuality  that tackles the issue of street harassment, and when it comes to my country’s case, the following video was done (it’s in Arabic): https://www.facebook.com/theKIPproject/videos/1782181905406104/

The following video encourages the community to stop street harassment through the use of the hashtag #مش_بسيطة (#ItsNotOkay) and by making powerful campaigns. Thankfully, many non-governmental organizations have succeeded in defending women’s rights in my country and in others, so there’s a lot of faith in the KIP Project.

Read full article: http://stepfeed.com/lebanon-says-mesh-basita-to-sexual-harassment-7470?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=PagePost

Now, what I would like to do is tell you a few things.

  1. Your body is something that belongs to you. If you want to set a goal, take my advice and let your goal be HEALTHY. Not skinny, but healthy. If you want to eat, then go eat. Eat whatever you want.
  2. Your standard should be elegant, not trashy. Trust me, the fashion industry is full of classy clothes that you could wear. And if you insist on wearing whatever you find cool then I can’t really stop you.
  3. Do not respond to catcalling. Or, here’s a trick given by a 23-year-old woman: elevate the comment to your comfort level. If he says, “How are you doing, baby?”, she would say, “I’m doing very well, young man”. And if the form of harassment is a whistle or so, she’d just ignore it. (I love this article: https://www.bustle.com/articles/97065-do-you-respond-to-catcalling-23-women-reveal-how-they-reply-to-street-harassment)
  4. Do not look up to TV icons or celebrities. They enter the industry to try and look appealing and make money out of their stupid products.
  5. Protect your children by observing what they are watching and which games they are playing. Make sure everything is under your control.
  6. Encourage your loved ones to talk if they ever encounter a disturbing ad or go through something that made them uncomfortable.
  7. Love yourself. Love your curves, your bruises, your teeth, your stomach, your clothes, your hair. LOVE YOUR FLAWS.
  8. Change is good, as long as you’re not doing it for others. Yes, go through plastic surgery, not because others pointed out your crooked nose, but because you think it’s better for YOU. If you want to try a new dress style, do it. Because you WANT to, not because you HAVE to or you FEEL LIKE THEY WON’T LIKE YOU if you don’t.
  9. People who don’t like you for who you are are definitely losing an incredible person from their lives. Forget them, find people who will love your personality and your natural looks.
  10. Let a man fall in love with your mind, not just your body.

 

Now I support the WomenNotObjects campaign.

I stand up for my future.
I stand up for myself.
I stand up for my future daughter.
I stand up for my mother.
I stand up for my best friends.
I stand up for my dignity.

Stop objectifying women. Stop hurting women. Stop undermining women. Don’t talk to a woman in a disrespectful way. A woman’s place is not under your power, but in the outer world, in the revolution, in a place where she could make a difference. #WomenNotObjects

 

 

 

New Beginnings

We can put it all behind us.

There is no need to spend the summer miserable, thinking of what we could’ve done. There is no need to remember all the tears that have been wasted on people who made us feel bad or unimportant. There is no need to remember that our high school crushes actually never liked us back. There is no need to think of all the failed tests, or all the negative attitudes of others, or all the jealousy that has been born, or all the drama that has been created over the past years.

High school is officially over. I graduated. It’s all behind me now.

I would like to thank my parents and friends for always sticking by my side and for reminding me that failure will never define who we are. They played a big part in molding me into the person I am today.

All I can hope for is a promising future, and a bright college experience.

 

April 30th, 2017

I believe I have gathered enough “life lessons” to write a decent inspiring post.

I would like to begin by telling you that no matter how tough the obstacles you’re facing might seem, and no matter how impossible you think life’s being at the moment, it’s important to remember that time always makes things better. When you give things time, without trying to interfere every now-and-then, things eventually get better. Time offers people the chance to look back on whatever has happened. For example, if two friends had an argument, the logical thing to do would be for one of them to apologize. The problem in many cases is that none of the people involved in the argument accepts to admit that s/he is wrong. However, if this is the case, I suggest that each person gives things some time, because the others would still he enraged, and having a discussion with someone who’s mad never goes far. Give the others 2-3 days to calm down (and don’t bring up the subject before then), and that is when you can try to fix things. Time heals.

Another thing I would like to talk about is learning to not be selfish. And by that I don’t mean selfish as in not giving others anything, but as wanting your favorite people only to yourself. Let me elaborate because I am haunted the most by that bad trait. My best friend and I talk every day, and I introduced that friend to my other friends and I was completely cool. But with the years, I started feeling like my best friend and my other friends clicked so well and I had no place in my best friend’s life anymore (yes, maybe I’m overdramatizing it). The sad part is that I started blaming myself for introducing my best friend to other people! The thing I want to tell you is that people can’t be yours. We would love it if they could, but they can’t. And perhaps it’s all in your head. I’m pretty sure your best friends love you a lot (and I do mean a lot) but you have to give them their space! I know it hurts to see your best friend and other friends bonding so well, when you know it’s what you and your best friend always had, but that’s life, and you can’t really stop it. It definitely hurts, and I get it, but you can’t go up to the person and say “hey, no talking to anybody else but me.” 

The last “lesson” I want to mention goes as follows: 

Never, ever, under any circumstances, think that everyone is better than you are. Certainly there are people who are smarter, prettier, or funnier than you are but that doesn’t mean that everyone is better than you are. I am 100% sure that you are extraordinary, that you have a gift the people who are prettier/smarter/funnier would die to have! You are incredible just the way you are, and somewhere out there is someone who will think that you are nothing less than phenomenal. 

That was it for this post, and I would like to tell all the fellow readers out there that  yes, I do talk to you like I’ve had my entire life figured out, but in reality I don’t. Obviously. But these are things you are taught and things you learn every day of your life, and spreading morals and life lessons is actually a good way to grow and turn to the better. Never settle for less than what you deserve, learn to live and be happy even if it takes time, give without taking, love unconditionally, forgive the haters, forgive your mistakes, and keep blogging. 

Little Random Post

I have to be honest and say that I don’t really know where I’m going with this post. Let’s see…

My 15 years in school are practically over. I graduate this year. MOMMA, I’M GRADUATING HIGH SCHOOL IN A FEW MONTHS! 

Okay now that I let that out, I would like to confess that the idea of “the future” scares me. My dad says to live day-by-day and not to worry about the future but guess who finds that impossible

I can’t help but think of how I’m about to jump from one phase of life into another without going through a sort of try-living-on-your-own-for-a-few-months experience. I don’t know. I mean for the first 18-to-20 years of your life everything you want is taken care of by your parents and you’re still their little baby and suddenly woop! You’re off to college. You’re now an adult and you’re supposed to handle your life, stress, studies and problems all by yourself. Cool.

I’m applying for a major in biology. Many have asked if by “biology” I meant “pre-med biology” and one can clearly see that they lost interest the second I said no. I have repeatedly received comments such as “PURE BIOLOGY? Then what? Teaching career?”
In fact, yes. I’m aiming for a PhD. Soon, you’ll be calling me “professor”.

However, even if I know that I’m passionate about biology and that I find pleasure in studying it, I still have some doubts. Is it really what I want?

***

Another thing that I’d like to talk about is something regarding school in general. Listen, kids. High school is tough. You will  face competition, you will have emotional breakdowns because of grades, you will face a stress that will sometimes lead to failure, you will go through sleepless nights, you will get heartbroken, you will face disappointments, and you will meet new people and let go of the ones you thought will always stay by your side. But if there’s something I have learned from high school, it’s that grades will never define how smart you are. Perhaps in middle school you never fought for your grades, and maybe other people’s results didn’t mean to you when you were younger. Everything was fine. You did your best and that seemed enough. Now you realized that other people’s achievements do affect you, and that you are indeed fighting for your grades, but guess what? You’re not the only one going through this. In middle school, teachers and administration members push you to do your best so that you can make it to and through high school. However, ever since you start your sophomore year, every teacher starts following you, telling you that you have to excel in everything, enroll in extracurricular activities and all that bullshit because if you don’t, university X won’t accept you.

We all want to get into the best universities. I know that from myself. But I think that school shouldn’t push you to do this and that. The school’s job is to guide you in order for you to choose the university that is best for you and whatever major you want. I think that, in the end, it’s all a matter of reputation. You know, a way for administration members to brag and say “yeah well we have a student, X, who studies at Harvard” and “Yes, our students are going to the American University of Beirut”.

Well, I think I made a point. I’d like to wrap everything up by thanking my parents because they never made a big deal out of a certain bad grade since they know that I’m doing my best, my best friends with whom I grew up because they’ve always had my back, the people I’ve met recently (a few years back) because they have been wonderful, and finally, God, because He always listened to my prayers and eased my pain.

Let this be a lesson to you: do your absolute best, all the time. If you succeed, you’re on the right track. If you fail, try again. Don’t let one, two, or even eight bad grades get you down, because life is about much more than academic results. And finally, the stress you will face is only temporary. When you’re down, always try finding a reason to smile. Stay positive, stay determined, and keep blogging.

Smile More!

Honestly, I believe that in a world where danger reigns, our only solution is to seek help, and stay strong. Easier said than done, you might say, but not impossible. I have liked Unicef’s Facebook page a while ago, and I’ll be sharing some of the pictures I’ve come across. This is a short post, I know, and it’s definitely not that much of a moral lesson, but smiling changes you and makes you stronger. A smile can change you entire day, and believe me, when I saw those few pictures, my heart was overwhelmed with joy. I was happy that the world is turning to the better, no matter how slowly. If you need aid, do not hesitate to search for it. Be kind, be good, and smile more!

image

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Credits to the Unicef CHAD, Unicef Rwanda, and Unicef Srevige Facebook pages for the pictures.