Take the compliment

How we respond to the world reflects how we feel about ourselves

I’ve been a bit unnerved by the way people in my life respond to compliments. I tell my friend, “You’re an amazing artist,” and she replies with, “Nah, I’m not that good.” Or I tell a girl she’s beautiful and she says, “Oh my gosh, really?” as if she needed to hear it to believe it. I won’t pretend like I’m any better at accepting compliments. When someone tells me, “What would I do without you?” I laugh in embarrassment and try to give someone else the credit.

I’ve questioned why it’s in human nature to not own our strengths like we should. I have to admit I see it more in my female friends than other genders, but this is not a sex-specific thing. We’re all super insecure and we try to hide it.

The thing is: our words and our actions reveal deep beliefs we hold about ourselves.

I’m writing this because I’ve been reflecting deeply on the way I have acted in my life and how it impacts my self-esteem. There was this one small instance that still burns: I was standing in a long line at a fancy party to grab a drink. It was my turn, and I was headed up to the counter to make my order. Quickly, a man stepped in front of me and ordered his drink, cutting me and the entire line. Behind me, people were complaining. My friend nudged me and said, “Say something. You’re going to let that guy take advantage of you like that?”

I figured it was probably not the right time to say anything. I was in a room full of older people, very rich, very high up in the business. I was invited there as a guest and didn’t want to make a scene. So I said nothing. Absolutely nothing. The man ordered and left, never even looking at me. It felt like I didn’t exist.

This is just a small example of what’s reoccurred in my life several times. It stems to other experiences, like when a guy told me he liked my hijab because it left “more room for the imagination” about my body. Or when I talk and several people cut me off. It isn’t just what happens to me that ticks me off, it’s how I react. What I do in response to these situations speaks volumes about how I recognize my worth.

The world is going to be hurtful to us — that is something we cannot control.How we treat ourselves, however, is a whole different ballgame, and it’s within our reach.

So here’s a promise. A promise of less silence and more noise. A promise of less sorry’s and more thank you’s. I want to see more straight backs and raised shoulders. I hope we haven’t let our insecurities become us or erase us. I hope we’ll take the credit we deserve, and stop downplaying our strengths as if we’re only made of weaknesses.

This post was originally published on my Medium blog.

sleepovers & healing

I feel like I’ve been keeping in a lot of emotions for a very long time. Actually, I know that’s what I’ve been doing. Because last night, when my best friends asked, “How are you?” my response felt like I was bleeding. I poured everything out, and told them how I’ve been feeling like a failure lately in all aspects of my life – as an intern, as a daughter, and as a student. I told them all the things that have been going on and I realized that my thoughts have felt so heavy, like I’ve been carrying rocks on my back.

I’ve been mean to myself, truly, seriously, really mean. I don’t remember the last time I looked in the mirror and told myself I’m beautiful. Instead, I’ve been drowning in thoughts like: you’re not good enough. You’re not thin enough. You’re not smart enough.

You’re not good enough, you’re not good enough, you’re not good enough.

I’ve been trying to run away from those kinds of thoughts but I’ve lost direction and I always come back.

“Why do we make ourselves feel like that?” I asked my best friends last night. “Who in the world convinced us that we’re not good enough? That we’re not worthy?”

I don’t know.

I need to say though that I’m a huge believer in the idea that the only person who can save you is yourself. But last night, I have to admit, I didn’t save myself alone. My best friends guided me there. All they had to do was ask me how I am. All they had to do was listen. All they had to do was reflect back love I haven’t been giving myself.

I can’t explain to you how different we seemed when we woke up this morning. We seemed more focused. We spoke with honesty rather than saying things we thought the other wanted to hear. Our humor was different, unforced. The silences didn’t feel awkward; they felt natural and calming. I feel like I’ve just washed my soul, scrubbed it down, taken it out of its cave and dusted it off.

And just as a side note, I also realized this morning that each one of us is going to go through very hard times in our lives and that’s something we can’t prevent. But that people who love us can help guide us through those hard times. Because of those people who are willing to listen, we can feel less afraid.

This is going to sound weird, but I’ve missed myself very much. I miss the carefree, confident, go-with-the-flow, live-in-the-moment, kind of girl I used to be. And maybe I haven’t gotten her back yet completely, but I’m on my way.

3:20 PM, Sunday, July 16 2017