A Reflecting Arab Muslim Girl From Around the Corner

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Small accomplishments, not so small

I’m sitting with my back straight – straighter than I can remember it has been for a while. I just came from watching the King’s Speech. In the movie, King George the Sixth is being helped with his speech impediment. He stammers, and has been doing so since he was five or six. The movie is about him overcoming that with the help of someone who ends up taking on the role of a psychologist…but a friend at the core.

The last scene is of the first wartime speech being made by the King…and it was perfect. The actor did an amazing job. But I realized something as I watched him struggle as he made it happen…I realized that something that might look as ‘simple’ as giving a speech…(which by the way he gave not in front of an audience but in front of a microphone as it was being broad-casted on radio)…is not a small accomplishment for him. Some people might find it mundane to speak…but this movie helped me see that what some of us may take for granted is not necessarily the reality for others. It’s relative…accomplishments are relative. No one should compare…because you can’t compare.

Today I sit with my back straight because I accomplished something. I went to the movies alone.

I imagine that someone reading this might be frowning now, or a subtle smile perhaps…perhaps one eyebrow raised as if confused.

I have lived ‘alone’ since I moved for undergrad. 4 years I was in the dorms, and during my Masters too I lived in an apartment on my own…but, he was always a part of my life…age 13-23…I always get my time-lines mixed up…I can’t image it was 10 years…but I know we were ‘together’ throughout high school, throughout undergrad, and throughout my Masters, after which I moved abroad for a bit (which is when it ended).

Regardless…I suppose someone who doesn’t know this story might praise me for my ability to have been on my own for so long…or surprised and asking whether or not I miss my family when I am away. But you see…while we were together, I was never ever alone.

When I moved off to university, we were about an hour drive away from each other, but he would visit during the week sometimes, and almost every weekend I would take the bus down and we would be together. I was so busy on weekdays - I did nothing other than school work and attend whatever meetings I had to for the student groups I was part of. My leisure was spent with him…movies, going out, eating out…yes I’d do a bit of that with my girlfriends during the week…but, I never left campus. It was extremely rare to venture out into the city with my friends. I think I did it once in 4 years.

I grew very used to having someone so close to me. A friend recently asked me what animal I would be if I was asked to describe myself as one, and I said a spider…because I’m clingy. And I know why. I was just trained to be like that..I grew to being comfortable only when I have someone I am close with by my side. Our phone bills would go into the hundreds…when we were not together, he would know exactly where I was each minute. Literally..’I left class’, ‘I’m eating’, ‘I’m attending a meeting’, ‘I’m with my friends’...’I’m going to bed’. Everything.

When I moved countries, I was so blessed with a friend whom everyone knew we shared the same ‘web’…we were communicating and together constantly…and in so many ways I needed that to transition from him being the center of my life. Her friends became mine, we moved back here to attend more school…and now even her family is mine.

I messaged her today about the movie and she couldn’t come because she was busy. But I knew today was going to be different anyways when I woke up – and I knew I would go to the movies...and that I would be going alone. It was time. And I did.

It might sound simple to some of you who are reading this. Or, perhaps a bit odd. Here is someone who has lived away from family for so long…and still does..and someone who has traveled around and ‘been places’…but you know, despite all of that, I always had someone I cared for right with me. After him, it was this friend of mine. And, even though she is part of my life, I am finally learning how to do things on my own. I have never ever imagined that I would ever feel so proud of myself for going to the movies.

So why am I sitting with my back straight? Well, it’s because I’m slowly learning that I can do normal things without having to have someone stuck to me. For so long it was as if I was trained to always need someone by my side or in contact with me every single moment. But I'm internalizing that I am capable of handling things on my own. I am capable of doing things on my own if I want to even if others may not be able to. I do not need to rely on others all the time. I can make my own decisions. I can do it. And I’m not talking about do it in terms of being successful at school or what not…I’m talking about anything… I can even have fun on my own. I can go to the movies on my own.

I must add that as I left the house I couldn’t believe I was going to be doing this solo. I could have just grabbed my purse but I felt very empty as I walked towards the door...and a bit nervous. It’s as if I was buried under sand and I was coming out for the first time. I grabbed my school bag instead…laptop, journal, a couple of books…knew I wouldn’t need any of that. But still. I just felt I wanted some company.

Regardless. A small accomplishment to someone else…but to me…a huge step Alhamdulillah. Sort of reminds me of the first step on the moon :)

I think I have learned a big lesson today. Humans cannot be compared. What is big for me, may be trivial for you, and vice versa. Don’t you agree?

1 comment:

  1. I agree, and I think it's wonderful that you've come this far, mashallah. Inshallah you will continue to grow and get stronger each day, learn to believe in yourself, to love yourself and to rely on yourself.