“You are too optimistic it is annoying!”
“You are this ‘once in a lifetime’ kind of person who will change the world” (as per my very close friend E.).
“You are Joy” (as per my sister, Sadness:p)- yup, inspired from the 2015 animated movie: Inside Out.
So, hi and a warmest welcome to my people and my world.
I am going online and putting myself out there, for the first time; I have never felt a greater energy pushing me to add a little kindness to the life of my people, through my small but personal platform.
I am a private person by nature, but one who has received too-many-to-state words/messages of encouragement to share “[my] positivity with the rest of the world”, over the past 2 years especially.
So here I am, ready to leave my comfort zone to share my own life-changing lessons, especially since living in the UK from 2013 to 2015, and on-ward. These years were particularly years during which I made at least one friend in every part of the world:
Malaysia, the UK, India, China, Jordan, Lebanon, Japan, Canada, USA, Germany, Greece, Italy, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Ukraine, Poland, Hungary, Norway, the Netherlands, Iran, Moldova, France, Romania, Austria, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Hungary, Romania, Nigeria, Uganda, Ireland, Pakistan, Kenya, and finally, Spain.
Every country reminds me now of one person at the very least; one who knew the real, true me. This diverse, cross-border lot, “my lot”, taught me about understanding life. Living amongst them, surviving my dramatic accident through them, and putting myself out there with them, taught me the secret of, how I can really get what I want out of life. How do I now reap it, batch after the other?
Simply, my answer is: give a little more of yourself, Joy.
That is, be a little more compassionate, outward- facing in my thoughts, pursuits, and most mundane daily actions.
With my new self-awareness, I started a little chain of daily morning emails. I wake up every morning and manually choose a powerful, thought-provoking, a ‘me-time’ kind of quotation for the day’s motivation, and then send it out to my circle of people.
Every day, believe it or not, I thrive off one, two, or several feedback snippets from one of my people. Their words, comments, or thank-yous warm my heart to the very core. Even on a horrible day, I always get reason to feel good about myself because of ‘their’ happiness, and because they connected one way or another, to a message I had shared.
It’s unbelievable, yet so true.
(PS: snippets of the encouragement I receive daily is shared in the snapshots I took from my email, fb, and other social media accounts).
Who I am
My wordpress platform is my second attempt to ‘test’ my hypothesis on how I and you, can get what we each want in life, and to see where ‘understanding others’ can actually take us.
On the wegrowthroughothers platform, my name is Joy, to remain loyal to the nicknames I get! I am 26 years old.
I had still not found my true calling. I even doubted such a thing exists until today. My emails, accident, foreign exposure, and international friends who you would think are very different from me and each other, allowed me to find myself.
I genuinely believe I have found my passion, or at least got a step closer to it this October 2015, as I took on a new job offer, which felt more like a calling really, as my outward facing awareness unveiled my love for people, people-interaction, development, and motivation.
I have lived in Cardiff, Wales- United Kingdom for the past two years, ‘officially’ pursuing my MSc. in Financial Management. Nonetheless, now I know that then, I was not seeking a degree, but rather an urge to leave my comfort zone; it was a burning ambition to boost my potential and stretch the limits of my professional, personal, and academic achievements. Indeed, my UK experience and people changed my life.
They shifted my career path 180 degrees. I always, always aimed to land a top-job at some hotshot consultancy and/or multinational corporation, genuinely believing I will ‘find myself ‘ and give my full potential under their wing. In my head, they will eventually teach me ‘the holy grail’ of ways to be a finance graduate who ‘has it all’: the money, title, power, success, prestige, dream, and the happiness all around me.
Not to me anymore; I think I was selfish to have wanted that for so long.
I help change the lives of 18 to 24-year old individuals, inclusive of university students and/or friends, family, and acquaintances. My favorite part: I believe in my students and in their potential so much that they start believing in themselves, their passion, authenticity, and abilities. Through each other, we learn to nurture the skills each needs to develop a career closest to his/her personality. We watch each other grow in the process.
Using daily little acts of kindness and compassion, sharing my time, and putting them: ‘others’, ahead of myself, I started building my students’ confidence. I am already part of their life, a mentor, family, and friend. I started to reinforce ‘my people’s’ potential, each in his/her own way of learning.
You get from life whatever you give into it
When you give without expecting a return, you receive ten-folds of whatever you give in –
My rule of life, deduced by someone who’s been there, done that, and whose current career path can only open-up by doing so.
Starting a Blog became the promise I vowed not to break as I left Cardiff at the end of my Masters programme and headed back home to the Middle East, by end-June/July 2015. I promised I would begin to blog, as a way to keep reminding myself every day or with every post, that I have the potential, ability, willpower, means, the people, my people, and the brains to achieve every one thing I set my mind on.
My blogging is/will be a reminder to myself and my people that we all have a hidden potential within us, one which life has never bothered to tackle or unveil simply because we are creatures of habit; we tend to fall into a routine and end up taking the simplest patterns our life folds into.
Today, I am 5 months late in starting my Blog; it’s okay. I actually learned in the toughest of ways that perfection is the enemy of the good, as my mentor C., put it for me on several occasions.
Life cannot have a plan, for it is mostly led by faith and not by sight. That is, the faith that nothing in this world was created to destroy me (you), my ideas, or dreams; the faith that I am the only person capable of motivating myself because true motivation only comes from the change we make or the gratitude we earn from others whose lives we impact; finally, it’s the faith that all we see in our hardships and blessings is only a portion of what the future has in store for us.
For my relatively ‘limited’ time in the UK, I had achieved greatness, in my eyes, why? Simply, because I could see and feel the change my contributions created in the life of others, even in that of elite figures I got the chance to meet in London, as a masters student and an apprentice in international political economy.
I could not have achieved all that I did academically, socially, professionally, nor could I have survived a very defining, life-changing, traumatic accident, if I hadn’t shared a piece of myself, my listening, my knowledge, drive, enthusiasm, positivity, gregariousness, and authenticity with others around me.
My ‘others’ never remain the same individuals only; my others are my circle of people and the new circles I built when I felt most isolated, depressed, helpless, and overwhelmed with life’s burdens and negativity.
These people, my university professors, classmates, my student union directors, trainers, and workshop administrators, as well as my University Chaplaincy mates and mentors, saved my life. Also because of each one of them and his/her feedback, I landed a job in less than 2 months, in a country whose youth, my fellow high school and college friends, have given up on, mainly due to growing unemployment and sky-rocketing corruption.
The accident: my major turning point
On Dec. 17, 2014 around 7 pm, I was blinded by excruciating pain, crippled by numbness in limbs, and could only hear panicked voices, instructions not to budge, and the sound of huge scissors cutting through my clothes.
I was run over by a car in Cathays, Cardiff, Wales- the United Kingdom.
I was pursuing my Masters (MSc.) in Financial Management and was on my way to meet my friend K. for pizza after a long day of writing and research.
It was as devastating and traumatizing as you can possibly imagine; torn knee and hand ligaments, 20-stitches-forehead, broken nose, lacerations, bruises, psychological traumas (no one knew my struggles with these last, until you guys here today on this platform) …
I achieved “the most” in my life, in the second month post-accident.
To-date, the ladder I am climbing has never been climbed more confidently. I mean I achieved more than I ever achieved my entire life.
How did I, a vulnerable ‘international student’ away from Home manage to tame all negativity? How do I survive every single day of the traumatic aftermath stronger and more self-aware than I ever was in my life?
This blog is about having the urge to tell as many of You as I can:
Be confident you can do the same; you can/will survive, overcome, succeed, smile, and understand yourself first and the life of people around you consequently.
No matter the physical or moral challenges, you can lead the life closest to your true character, even if you don’t get as close to death as I did that night to learn this lesson.
We are never, ever alone- Except if we choose to be
Before I left the ER, a nurse asked me if I wished to contact family & tell them of my tragic accident. I stumbled for words and felt the entire universe shrink with me in it. Within seconds, I could only explain that I was an “international student” studying in the UK; the nurse nodded and disappeared.
Under the ‘mess’, I had chosen to be lonely; strong, but solo in my misery. I am almost certain each one of us has experienced this exact feeling. It usually accompanies being homesick, nostalgic, lonely, and weak whenever we encounter the slightest hardship away from “Home”- the familiar.
I spent that first night being monitored in the hospital, almost unconscious, but when I woke up, my legs, hands, and face were ever-more swollen. More painful was everything around me that just felt intimidatingly unfamiliar. To top that, I had hid the news of my accident from my Family back home- scared that it might hit them hard. At that moment, I couldn’t have felt more ignorant, alone, confused, afraid, and utterly lost for words or feeling.
A couple weeks later, still hospitalized & receiving treatments, I found my “happy” and my “strong” again. My friends could tell.
I genuinely did.
Both, my happy and strong, depended on the “change and impact” my optimism, attitude, and perseverance-to-get-better left on my newly established circle of friends, yup, at the hospital, from: nurses (especially Ed), to doctors, physiotherapists (Tom & Andy particularly), and patients (Jane, paramount-ly).
“People will forget what you said […][and] did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”
What I truly remember today from my never-ending stay, pain &pain-killer overdosing, tears, and long nights at this Heath Hospital are the bonds of friendship, security, and inter-dependence I built and shared with “others” in my life as a hospital patient, and at my university’s student union and chaplaincy right after being discharged but still undergoing treatments.
Whether ‘your people’ are friends, alumni, colleagues, family, friends of friends, or new acquaintances, making your circle feel safe and well-cared for identifies the Life Purpose of each of us. This empowers us to practice whatever we feel supremely qualified to do: design, teach, write, train, program, crunch numbers, draw, draft policies, help refugees, rehabilitate, etc. By nurturing these feelings, we spur happiness into everyone rather than one.
For instance, 3 months after my accident traumas, I needed to get my head off my physiotherapy, boredom, helplessness, and pain.
I had always loved to write, in my little diary or journal. This time, I needed an audience because I needed to feel I was being heard. I longed to feel I was still good for something. One random afternoon, I picked up my crutches, myself, and headed to my university campus, determined to volunteer as Student writer for the March 2015-launching of our university newspaper.
I met with the Student Union Editor upon submitting my first article, but also with a team of professional mentors who were touched by my story. They encouraged me to attend a series of workshops they were giving, as a way to meet people and be distracted. I enrolled and attended more than 9 workshops; apparently, I left an impact. I shared with other participants intangibles, like: dedication and commitment to attend, openness, involvement, and a passion to interact and engage using real life scenarios and experiences. Some admired and praised my fortitude post- a recovery from the devastating accident, and how I’ve turned this negative into a positive.
To me, “others’” feedback, comments, support, and interest in me as a person, spoke volumes.
I was drowning in my misery, alone and unheard; yet, when I was pushed out of my shell, I immediately connected with people around me, heard of their misfortunes, their bad days, lives, as well as their accomplishments. Sharing my experiences with workshop attendees & experts, the Newspaper-audience, and collecting feedback from everyone including my daily emails made “Me” feel important, not them; yet, deep down, I was supposed to be ‘drowning in the worst period of my life’, right?
I was not drowning, but thriving; my sharing was authentic, and it was impacting the life of those I shared it with.
I loved it all: the attention, the listening, unexpected understanding, the compassion others showed towards me, not because of my weaknesses or vulnerabilities, but because of the life lessons and feelings I was compelled to share with them at this stage of my life. Like I related to them, each related in his/her own ways too.
I mean who wouldn’t love to be seen, heard, appreciated, and valued like I was then?
These people were my lesson. Only through them, their support, words, fascination, shared ideas, and the skills we taught each other at those workshops and during those days, did I manage to overcome my greatest challenge of all time.
That is a: you are never alone, except by choice-moment. We grow through others. It is not the position or misfortune that helps us grow or fail, but rather the way we treat people, and how much we can learn from others along the way.
Alone in my own bubble of isolation, I would not have made it sane from that accident. When everyone was concerned about me needing a psychiatrist and a lifetime of medical care, I cured myself by putting myself out there and engaging with others. They pulled me up and out of my shell, with our joint contributions. And here I am, exposing my story to you online. Never thought I’d dare to do that, especially knowing that my story, attitude, or ways may not be everyone’s cup of tea; nonetheless, my circles have repeatedly showed me that I may just have a few words that might be exactly what another struggling person needs to hear. We are so different in the life situations we face, or so we think, but aren’t we all alike in our social human nature and interdependence?
Thank you ever so much for the time you spent reading this.
Oct. 31, 2015