On Stigma and Vulnerability

In recognition of someone I once labeled, and proved to me that he is worthy of all what’s good in life, regardless of any vulnerability he might have.

Every person in this world has a story. No matter how cheerful, impactful, relatable or even incomprehensible, one’s story defines one’s existence.

I am someone indescribably passionate about Human Behavior: Observing how people behave in situations, ‘reading’ their minds, realizing that certain consequences trace back to hidden roots in childhood were all fascinating me. The Human Brain was such a big world waiting for me to explore it.

I studied psychology in my undergraduate years, and the more I dug deep, the more I realized the power of this entity on top of my shoulders: Beautiful yet difficult to be understood.

I used to ‘diagnose’ people in my head, nothing pretty real, yet just a matter of observation: This guy suffers from PTSD, she’s bulimic, seems like he has agoraphobia, and the list goes on.

I was fine with this idea, pretty much actually happy, being able to correctly label those people based on their behaviors. Until the day came, and felt judged.

[…]

Funny thing that when you, yourself is the object of a stigma, you view things differently. And that’s truly tragic, because despite our “human-ness”, we are so ignorant to each other’s well being unintentionally.

[…]

I am a person having an anxiety disorder falling under the name of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, more like having fear of certain situations considered as “normal” for others. Let’s simplify the deal here: people with this kind of disorder can display different kind of reactions/behaviors facing different, normally considered situations.

I, for example, have fear of new situations: A new job, a new decision to be made, a new investment, even a new friendship scare the hell out of me. They shatter my mind, cut straight into my soul and make me feel helpless. Anything that’s new, and that I have no control or power over crumbles me. Luckily enough, people don’t witness this unless I verbalize the matter to them (Extravagantly huge cheer to my close peeps for handling me well).

The good part about it is that my fear is temporary. It stretches between a day of couple of weeks to suddenly disappear, making me return to my initial stage. It doesn’t impact my daily activity in grosso modo, as I try to always control, yet it leaves scars on me every single time it happens.

[…]

I labeled people so many times in my life, not necessarily while conversing, yet more often in my head, and recently, I feel sadness upon doing so. I am not questioning my intentions, yet I am concerned about the person I exploited without considering so.

He is a human being… Just.Like.Me. And for once, I felt that my vulnerability is similar to his (being exploited), even though very different (Different conditions).

We are humans. And we are all Vulnerable. Some socially, others physically or even, mentally and that doesn’t make anyone of us any less of the other.

My vulnerability is teaching me how to accept others, despite/regardless of what makes them different; especially that what unites us is much bigger.  Acceptance is what makes us different. It is what makes us Human.

I want to accept you, the same way you embraced my existence, and encourage you to feel power through your vulnerability… Because it is okay to be different…We’re not forced to be the “Same”.

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Road Trips Season is Back!

Took us a while to get back on track, my friends and I, with the #touristinmycountry #touringlebanonin300days goal that we planned few years back.

After the winter’s season is gone, we planned a day in the breathtaking Bekaa Valley, specifically in Ammiq.

Charming scenery, light spring breeze and my camera. That is exactly all you need there. (An additional cup of coffee there wouldn’t harm as well).

Check out some cool pictures I’ve taken of this beautiful place in my country.

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Cute Ducks 🙂

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Spring is here!

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Ammiq’s Main Road

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Old Bekaai Barn

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Ammiq’s Reserve

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More of Ammiq’s Beauty

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#Blossoming

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Taanayel Ecolodge

New Year Resolutions: Universality and False Hope

Date: 26 till 31 December 2016.

Occasion: Closing 2016’s chapter and opening a Tabula Rasa Blank Slate for 2017.

FAQ: What are your 2017 resolutions?

I bet you can easily recite 2 solid resolutions. Truth to be told, You might have been using those for a couple of years now. You answer the question and smile. You wait for others to answer, and they too, recite and smile.

While asking my friends for their 2017 -New Year, New Me- resolutions, two questions popped into my head:

1- Do all people around the globe have similar resolutions? Do their hopes and dreams pivot around same areas of life?

2- Why do most of the resolutions set on New Year fail to move into Reality zone?

I researched for answers and discovered they are of value, and decided to share them..

Answer to (1):

While surfing the web, I came across an interesting Google Experience.

In the last week of 2012, Google created “Google Zeitgeist” – For those who don’t know the term, it means the Spirit of Time (How deep is that!) – where people shared their resolutions for 2013. Members from all over the globe, with various background and cultures, from the Siberian Glacial lands to the Amazon jungles, participated in this global trend.

The beauty of this experience is that each individual was able to see what others wrote as well. On a larger scale, the entire world can see full trends of regions, countries and even continents.

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Each human being pinned his resolution and made it accessible for others to see it. (That’s not the cool part yet!)

The fascinating part of this experiment is that people from all around wished for 6 things mainly: Love, Health, Career, Finance, Family and Education.

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Not a single continent didn’t have those 6. And if you’d zoom a little bit more, you’d discover that Europe’s densest resolution is related to Love. North America’s resolutions were more focused on Health and Career, etc…

In Grosso modo, people from around the globe share the same “wishlist”. Despite their huge differences from countries, ethnicity, interests, to geographic and language barriers, the world is One. And that is just fascinating – for 7 billion people to be united in thoughts.

Answer to (2):

Hello Frustration. Forget about using proper guidelines, setting SMART goals and determining rewards to small steps. The “New Year Cheer” scenario that starts a day after Christmas will fade away 2 days after year end, precisely, on the first pit-stop when your friends plan for a Burger Night.

And even this part of resolutions is Universal.

Research shows that New Year Resolutions fail to be achieved in most of cases due to something called: False Hope Syndrome.

This syndrome -legitimate psychological term – is described as the Unrealistic expectations of Self-Change. People keep on repeating those self-change attempts despite the previous failures.

People at this phase of year perceive themselves with more control and optimism. They reflect on the year that has passed and look forward for the one to come. Thus, they set tougher and higher goals, hoping that the “new” year will make them happen. Peers also, with their own wishlists help in setting the bar high.

To avoid this trap, it is always important to distinguish between what’s feasible and what’s not among those self-change goals. The key is to review those goals the moment when they start fading (day 2 of the new year) and adjusting them more realistically.

[…]

So here’s to a Blank New Year! Wishing you all Universal wishes and Realizable resolutions!

Leaving you with a laugh on past resolutions in fun tweets…

 

 

For Plus-Size… Accessorize!

Not a fashionista and have never been.

This is how I want to start this blog. Not because I don’t want to, but because I thought I can’t.

Few days back, my friend Lara suggested to style me.

Being a plus-size person (with an over indulgence in Food), I accepted the challenge, knowing that her endeavor might be a total fail (especially that I have tried many times, hopelessly).

To my surprise, she thought of things differently. When all my thoughts were focused on the outfit, she took the periphery and built on it.

Her advice was to actually help me invest in Accessories. When I thought of it, I thought to myself: this girl is right!

I’ve always seen fit girls around me all dressed in black/or any monochromatic outfit yet they looked stunning. What slipped my mind is that they actually wore colorful scarves, trendy hand accessories (from rings to bracelets) and statement make-up.

I agreed to go on with this venture and started noticing that little items like necklaces, shoes or even bags help in building ones unique identity, especially for overweight people.

And this is what we’ve done during this exercise, Lara and I!

Not only did those small items add a nice “flavor” (food related jargon :P) to the outfit, they were easy to have… After all, it wasn’t as complicated as I thought it’d be!

Let me show you some of items we opted to have:

(I was lucky enough to be styled with items from Peer Beirut Shop. The items were so unique, I bet no one in Beirut has the same quality and customer service they had with me).

1- Choker Necklace –  Smart Casual, wear it with plain tops to emphasize on the jewel’s uniqueness.

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2- Amazingly unique Cross bag – Street smart, perfect shape as it fits your essentials (wallet, cellphone, perfume, etc..).

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3- Loafers (Oh those pairs! Leather-printed shoes – super comfy and casual with style).

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4- Le Specs Sunglasses – Mirrored and unconventional. Looks great with Business Casual outfits.

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With small additions to my actual outfit, the photo shooting session ended up being great! For an hour or so during the shoot, I was that trendy person – not the plus-size person struggling to find outfits.

Here’s a glimpse of how the styling, Peer’s accessories and Photo-shoot looked like:

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So to all the plus-size girls out there, trust me, you too can still look trendy…

My advice for you: For plus Size… Accessorize!

 

It is very important to mention that Peer – No Pressure Beirut shop’s extraordinary collaboration made this event possible. This small shop located at the end of bliss street is one of Bliss’s little hidden gems. Targeting women mainly, this place has it all: From full outfits to shoes, sunglasses accessories, bag and even cool gadgets. This place is a must visit if you are one hell of a fashionista (Some of the items were way too cool for me!) or if you want to find items that are funky and unique!

Visit them or check their page via Facebook or Instagram for more updates.

20 things I learned in 2016…

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I have to admit that 2016 was one hell of year for me. From joy to heartbreak, discoveries and disappointments, this year got me into quite a good number of experiences/lessons.

As I am soon to close this chapter of my journey, here are couple of things that 2016 has taught me…

  1. Sharing brings a different flavor to things: From food, books, late night talks, road trips, crazy adventures and even silence… Life is more meaningful when shared.
  2. If you really want something, make effort for it: Whether your favorite childhood gifts that you insist on keeping, or human relationships. Just like plants, to keep them alive, you have to keep watering and pruning them. And even this doesn’t guarantee that they’ll survive.
  3. Nothing in the world beats the love of thy parents: Past beyond childhood and teenage fights, there is no love like theirs. They are here for you… Through thick and thin, literally.
  4. Lipsticks are good accessories: Wear them often.
  5. Fears cripple you, and Truth sets you free:  This comes with a price at certain times, yet letting go of your fears and speaking up truthfully is always relieving. Never be afraid to be honest and true to yourself and others. It saves your soul.
  6. Expectations lead to disappointment: The less expectations, the less boundaries and the more authenticity in treatment. Give people the freedom with you, and you will be surprised how things end up miraculously.
  7. Traveling is food for one’s soul: Discovering new cities, speaking different languages and learning about cultures gives your heart a spark… a passion. So keep on picking destinations, booking flights and venturing the world.
  8. Mandala books are a great stress relief! Buy “Voyages Extraordinaires” color book and thank me later! (And as a result, I’ll have to thank my Boss for that).
  9. Compromise is not always a bad thing: This is a good lesson about setting priorities straight. Not everything/everyone is worth a fight. Choose your battles wisely and know when it is wiser to compromise.
  10. Oh, and stop comparing! No one is equal to you, and no one will ever be, so stop all the drama and focus on your our own journey.
  11. Try new things. Everyday. With every opportunity. With all your might.
  12. Tattoos are the body’s little jewels. Pick what represents you and wear it with pride. Preserve the memory of precious times.
  13. Communication is Key: Not everyone perceives things the way you do. To have things the way you want, you need to express more – for others to be able to understand.
  14. Everyone is good in something. I bet you are great in something. Don’t let anyone make you feel not good enough. Never. And always remember that no one can make you feel inferior without your own consent.
  15. Simple things matter a lot (If not the most): Do not underestimate the power of a smile, a gentle text, a morning coffee cheer or flowers. Little things make a great difference to people’s life.
  16. Appreciate the voice that criticizes: This might sound odd, yet keep these people close. Whether friends, teammates or family, they’re the ones with “balls”- blunt enough. They’ll push you to reflect more and sometimes -believe it or not- they are the people to care the most.
  17. Learn your way to enjoy your own company. It is okay to be alone sometimes. Discovering oneself is as challenging as knowing the world outside.
  18. Do what sets your soul on fire and makes you happy! Not everyone’s going to like it, yet after all life’s too short to care about others opinion that much!
  19. Practice what your preach: or don’t preach it at all. Hypocrisy is everywhere around us. It takes courage to act what you actually say.
  20. And last, embrace life and feel the magic! 🙂

Wishing you a great end of year, and a more joyful, serene start for 2017.

May the lessons you learnt this year brighten up the unknown path of the year to come…

Happy Holidays!