Esra

Where madness meets reality

Wednesday

28

August 2013

1

COMMENTS

On being a narcissist!

Written by , Posted in Uncategorized

A couple of weeks ago I met with some friends over coffee and as all friendly outgoing gatherings they can start by simple catching up talks and end with deep intellectual discussions about our futures, our beliefs, and what is next in life?

While sipping my espresso, a friend asked me why I am still based in Saudi, knowing that I’ve worked on many multinational projects over the region and I’ve had many chances to stay in a different country. My answer was: the country needs me as it needs all its youth spirit to build it. His reply was: don’t you feel this is narcissism? You are just an individual who won’t change the world by working in an office all day long or running around town fighting for women empowerment and equality.

I felt that this is where all our issues as a generation fall. We don’t believe in our importance and how impactful our small contributions are in building the national force that will empower us all.

I-love-saudi

A nation can’t be developed without the conjoined effort of all of us. We are going through a boom economically, intellectually, and socially. If you don’t jump in now and give your best and boost it, it will sail without you. It is not about the fina

ncial rewards –though eventually it’ll be rewarding- that make you want to be a part of this boom. It is the whole package; being able to make an im

pact, giving back to the society you grew up in and love, and the people who supported you throughout your life, while at the same time you gain the experience of your life. It is the sense of community and belonging to it.

I might sound overly optimistic or describe Utopia when I forecast our future here while all I am is just a girl who grew up in this country and knows how positive the future seems to be. Just a quick comparison: compare the last 40 y

ears of our history vs. all the positive and blessed changes that happened in the last decade and the ongoing and upcoming projects covering all sorts of developments.

If everything goes as projected, we will witness a massive evolution all through our lives and the quality of our living, managed and run by our youth blood. So, why would I give up all that for a career abroad? Why shouldn’t I be part of this? And why shouldn’t we all be a part of it? If this is called narcissism, then let’s all be narcissists and contribute to our gross national patriotic-narcissism.

Tuesday

20

August 2013

0

COMMENTS

Why being a woman in Saudi is so amazing!

Written by , Posted in Experience

Life has its own way of living itself whether we enjoy it or not. It is part of what we signed up for and this includes being a woman in Saudi Arabia. Nothing can really prepare you for living here; not reading about it, not even living here all your life can make you an expert in how to deal with life in Saudi as a woman, especially a local woman.

You are not allowed to drive. You can’t travel or even apply to a job or college without your male guardian’s approval, but this is not all. You are always judged and whatever you do is strictly monitored by society. The quality of your own living is decided and dependent on your own family’s boundaries –you’ll be among the lucky elite if you happen to be born into an open-minded family. We are still supervised by the tribal culture and values regardless of how big or advanced we are becoming as a country and a nation.

But things are changing rapidly and we have witnessed it especially in the last decade; we are living in the information era. People are able to gain more information easily and adapt changes very easily. One of the most rapid changes we are witnessing is the ability for women here to gain more rights and have more access to things we haven’t dreamt of 20 or 30 years ago and we are overcoming all obstacles and challenges.

saudi-women-men-working

We are amazing because of what we can offer to ourselves, our society, and to the world. We are intelligent, strong, self-sufficient, and independent. We can do what we want when we want compared to what was a burden before. We are more secure and self-motivated and this made us happier.

The government is being a strong supporter in empowering us. Laws are being put in place to allow women to have more freedom at work. Numbers are saying that Saudi women constitute more than 17% of the native workforce. The number of working women increased 280% in the last decade. Mixed gender work places are becoming more acceptable.

In 3 decades female literacy in Saudi jumped from 2% to 82% – with more than 50% with higher education degrees and the number of Saudi women graduating from colleges with high education degrees is higher than many western countries.

We have a female minister, female parliament advisors, female lawyers, and female athletes competing in the Olympics, hundreds of thousands of Saudi women studying or working abroad. Things we never imagined about a decade ago.

I do believe that sometimes we still feel down, we still demand more but let’s admit and accept that there is a moderate progress happening by the government and we shall support it rather than criticizing it. The change is happening and we strong Saudi women are leading it.

For a nation that is relatively considered young struggling between the tribal and conservative parties, the political issues, and the youth along with the government’s urge to develop the human in order to develop the country and be a first world classified country, changes happening here are structured to benefit us while not harming or causing conflicts with any party even if others see it as very slow steps we can rest assured that they are sustainable steps.

Always believe that the best is yet to come and we will get there soon.

Monday

12

August 2013

1

COMMENTS

Finding The Right Path in Life

Written by , Posted in Babbles

As we grew up this was a taboo to discuss or even question. We were taught that the religion or doctrine dictated to us in school is the right path in life without any further questions. You are not allowed to ask or to wonder even though “not everyone who wonders is lost”. I believe questioning and wondering will always lead you on the right path. You need to ask questions to get answers to believe, otherwise you are just a follower to what you found your ancestors doing which all religions came to earth to fight.praying
Religion is not a form of physical acts you do without understanding the rational behind it. It is a spiritual journey that guides you through life to lead you to the happy ending or heavens; the ultimate goal of life.
I was afraid to ask. I couldn’t negotiate or challenge anyone with questions as the answer was always: Don’t debate. Don’t argue.
What you can do is start reading. I realized that to find your right path in life you have to keep an open mind, start opening to others and observe their cultures and beliefs. The more you are exposed to the more you start getting a clearer picture.
Free yourself from all the guides you had built in your head. Start with a clean slate and don’t accept or reject any idea you are exposed to.
Beware of the “gurus” or whoever consider themselves a part of a cult. Cults usually position themselves asspiritual groups that control you mentally or physically.
Embrace uncertainty; nobody is absolutely sure about anything. Knowledge can never be absolute.
Don’t be polluted with what is going on around you: what others are reflecting isn’t a reflection of their religion. Religions have been altered to suit and benefit the strong parties in each culture till it was negatively presented.
Never compromise thinking for social acceptance or just to fit in. You were given a brain to think and challenge.
Religion and faith are more than a dress code, more than a booklet being shared by a tribe, and more than a guru sharing his/her wisdom in a TV show.
Faith is a nonstop spiritual journey of what you believe in.
In the end, I realized I believe in peace, in coexistence,and in accepting others and this is what I found all Abrahamic religions call for especially Islam.
Islam was the most misinterpreted religion. Some Muslims harmed Islam more than they benefitted it, but this will never ruin or affect the fact that Islam was found to help humanity prosper: “Mercy to all worlds”.
Till today Islam is being mistaken with terrorism, jihadists, degrading women, and unaccepting of others while the core values of Islam are peace, equality, and prosperity for all ages as far as mankind exists. In Islam you are asked to never stop learning or working till the end of the world. “If the Day of Judgment erupts while you are planting a new tree, carry on and plant it”. The first word in Quran was “Read”.
After embracing this faith I do believe that it is my role to share this with the world and to be a good Muslim as much as I can to represent a better image of this great religion.

Sunday

4

August 2013

2

COMMENTS

Salary Isn’t Enough… or Is It?

Written by , Posted in Babbles, Experience

money-flying

There was a hash tag that turned into a national case which turned into a worldwide discussion that the majorities in Saudi Arabia are complaining about their income, and that their salaries aren’t enough for necessities due to inflation and all other affecting factors.

I’m neither an economist nor a specialist who can decide whether salaries are really enough or fairly covering the basic needs. What I’m going to discuss here is what each individual in this society can do to help boost his/her own income, which leads to better financial sustainability.

What I do believe in is that fixing or restructuring the salaries scale won’t be useful or benefit us if we don’t, as individuals and as a nation, understand how to properly manage our finances. Not all of us can afford a financial planner, but with a few simple tips each one of us can be his/her own financial planner.

– Did any one of us enroll in a financial literacy program educating us about our financial rights and how to save a few pennies weekly or monthly to build a better financial foundation for ourselves? There are a lot of CSR initiatives such as Riyali on social networks educating us for free about financial literacy.

– Have you ever planned your income budget and stuck to it?

– How about using your talent or whatever you are good at in earning some extra cash? Relying on a fixed salary is never the answer.

For example:

– Do some freelancing, list yourself as an Arabic/English translator, do some audio filing for an old lady looking to convert her cassettes into a digital library, teach Indians or Mexicans online Arabic or about your culture, or use your office skills in doing some virtual assistant work.

– How about starting a blog and exchanging ads or listing your blog in AdSense or AdChoices and earning extra cash whenever someone visits your blog?

– Advertise for products on your Twitter or Instagram account.

– Resell your old stuff on eBay, Mstaml, or Souq.

– Bake some goods, or pickle some carrots and sell them to your family or friends or over social networks.

– Get a second job; instead of spending time watching sitcoms you can get a second job with a decent paycheck that can help boost your income.

– Stop buying things you don’t need.

– Invest in yourself; have you ever saved some of your current income to enroll in a community program or an online course that will help expand your knowledge and experience to help you advance in your career?

– Buy books that feed your brain instead of fancy coffee and chocolates that feed your tummy.

The idea is not whether the salary is enough or not, it is how we deal with our salaries. We tend to brag and spend more than we earn to gain some sort of fake social respect. This needs to stop! We have to live up to our incomes and set our lifestyle accordingly. We tailor our lifestyle to our incomes not the opposite.

Monday

29

July 2013

0

COMMENTS

The Tough Cookie

Written by , Posted in Babbles

strong-smiling-woman

We all love to have an impressive personality stating that we are strong, and in a male dominating society we strive to prove that we have opinions that matter and stand out in our minds. The thing we might lack the most is understanding the differences between the strong character, the tough cookie, and imposing unjustified opinions just for the sake of pointing out our existence. It was often perceived that a weak female personality is the inability to make decisions on her own or not disclosing her opinions freely.

After reading a lot of personal development books and after going through a lot of exercises myself I wanted to share the traits that can actually give me or any other woman the strength in our outstanding personalities.

At first we have to admit and be aware that a strong character is not violent or stubborn; these are far from defining a strong personality, in both genders.

– A strong personality can’t be seen as vanity, there is a very thin line between being self-confident and vanity or pride in yourself which is a huge sign of a weak person.

– Sharpness is not strong. Some might assume that you have to be sharp and violent to put things straight while being strong is the art of being able to deal with others depending on their minds and never underestimating anyone.

– A strong female character uses her capabilities to achieve her goals and aspirations and overcome the difficulties to reach them.

– You find joy and pleasure in helping and guiding others. You don’t wait for anything from anyone in return for what you gave.

– The self confidence and strong personality make you not pay attention to the words of hypocrisy which other women usually enjoy. Your capabilities help you feel the sincerity in the words you receive.

– You are ambitious with targets and goals in life and you set a plan for yourself to work hard to achieve them and never give in to failure and despair.

– You are open to the world, to everyone and always up for meeting new people and building new relationships, which makes you worthy of love and respect.

– A strong woman knows the value of time, energy, and effort being put into tasks and knows how to invest in herself to enjoy and balance her work and leisure.

– In the end, what is most important is a strong woman who is proud of her opinions and not afraid to share them with anyone, not afraid of telling the truth to anybody, but is also keen and considerate about the feelings of others. Even when you have the ability to fight hard you’ll still have the internal power of observation that enables you to read what is going on around you and adjust your reactions accordingly.

 “A strong woman understands that the gifts such as logic, decisiveness, and strength are just as feminine as intuition and emotional connection. She values and uses all of her gifts.” – Nancy Rathburn

Wednesday

24

July 2013

1

COMMENTS

Why should it always be a husband?

Written by , Posted in Babbles, Experience

We live in the most conservative Asian culture –or maybe just a double-faced blind-sided society.

If you look around you in your own social circle, you’ll understand what I’ll be discussing here.

We women were raised with one ultimate goal, which is to get married and procreate like rabbits. It is very rare to find a family that raises their daughter to be a useful member of the society rather than grooming her to be a trophy wife.

equal

How many career-related success parties have you heard about compared to how many weddings and engagement parties you’ve been invited to during a year?

Did your elder relatives ever gather to celebrate a promotion or an achievement in your career the way they do if you get married or have a baby?

The idea of achievements and success are usually gender discriminated. Any achievement you as a woman achieve is nothing unless you have a kid jumping around your legs or a man by your side as if you are incomplete without him. We’ve never seen society caring about a man’s social status when celebrating his success.

I’m not against the idea of building a family or having a partner that supports you through life. I’m just against the concept of making a woman’s life revolve around it.

The perception of being incomplete. The idea that men are complete by their financial independency, but you as a woman will never be unless you have a ring around your finger.

We don’t need the sympathy or the sad looks every time an outstanding strong successful husband-less woman is around, and some might take it to a next level and start discussing how to make her life better by having a husband or being so generous in suggesting an x person as a candidate.

All we seek is to be defined as me, a strong independent woman with no labels and no attachments the same way you always identify independent men.

Tuesday

16

July 2013

0

COMMENTS

Smiling is Not Flirting

Written by , Posted in Babbles

I tend to be the smiling person you run into while grabbing your morning coffee or maybe, sometimes, the person striking a conversation at the airport terminal or while waiting for your dentist appointment.smiling-woman

I was raised in an open free house with a multicultural background and have been living in different parts of the world as I grew up exposed to all kinds of ethnicities being a daughter of my great never stay still family. I do believe that my background made me open to the world and more accepting of others. I really see myself as a friend to everyone.

In the past few years I settled in Riyadh, a dry, emotionless city. It’s sad that I’m giving it this name, but everyone who ever lived or stayed here would agree with me that even with all the urban modern architecture around us, the desert is still affecting the society badly in being strict, firm, and cold, emotionally. It is rarely witnessed, and relatively weird smiling to strangers in the street; same or cross gender.

With all of the strict cultures, the social boundaries, and religious barriers – as they claim-, people became aggressively closed to themselves which resulted in misinterpreting any positive or nice gesture – especially with the other gender- and I really started to notice it heavily and to be honest it is one of the most annoying feelings ever to have your genuine acts misinterpreted just because of the cultural or old social misperceptions.

What I’m writing here might sound self-involved and delusional but I want to assure you I’m not the kind of hair-flipping narcissistic diva tearing hearts apart with her looks and walk. I’m not even aware if physical appearance has any involvement here when it comes to transforming any act of politeness into an invitation to start an unwanted conversation and in worse cases you end up getting yourself a stalker with a set mentality that you were meant for each other because you did give him the green light when you smiled back while exchanging business cards at an event.

It annoys me to find that some might consider my millisecond longer smiles or my ‘have a pleasant evening’ wishes an indication of flirting or a welcoming sign to go further with their moves.

I do understand the mechanism of relationships and how social relations develop; we can see it happening everywhere in real life and in the cyber world. We all start as strangers in the beginning but there will always be body language, a physical distance, or an emoticon that can tell if the other participant of the conversation is interested. You need to pay attention to that.

The last thing I or any other outgoing woman can ever imagine is living in a closed, stressed, smile-less world because of this condition so please let’s all agree:
Smiling is not flirting!
Texting to check on your health after a week of the flu is not flirting!
Holding the door for you at the entrance is not flirting!
A handshake while exchanging business cards is not flirting!
And of course, replying to your tweet or complimenting your blog post is not a flirtation, whatsoever.

Friday

5

July 2013

0

COMMENTS

Believing is just the beginning! All you need is trust and a little bit of pixie dust!

Written by , Posted in Babbles, Experience

“All you need is trust and a little bit of pixie dust!” – J.M. Barrie, “Peter Pan”

It’s all about believing your dream and chasing it. Mandela did it, Abraham Lincoln did it, Marie Curie did it, Cinderella did it—and you will do it.
Never underestimate a dream, and never trick yourself into thinking you can’t be whom you want to be. Life is about dreaming, taking risks, and fulfilling goals.Dreaming and Believing But believing is only the beginning. You can’t sit still and wait for a dream to materialize; all achievers were once dreamers who had not only faith, but also ambition.

To start achieving your dream, you must:

1. Have faith in the amazing power of a dream.
2. Create a vision for the future. Live this vision—fantasize about it, build on it, see it grow, and allow yourself to be

taken over by it-.
3. Develop an emotional yet intelligent attitude toward your dream.
4. Set up an action plan for your dream, and be patient and realistic (Rome wasn’t build in a day).
5. Live with the subconscious belief that this dream is a reality, and is happening even though you don’t see it just yet. Let it be the fuel running your engine, the reason you get out of bed every morning, and the motivation to clear your head and meditate in your room every night.
6. Don’t surrender, and never take no for answer. Be persistent.
7. Don’t let negative thoughts control you or hold you back.
8. Be flexible and open-minded for any detours on the road to achieving your dream (as long as they don’t keep you from your final goal).
9. Review your progress frequently: Are you getting closer? Are you on track? If not, change your approach—before it’s too late.
10. Consult experienced people around you, and listen to everyone. You never know who will add value to your thoughts and give you a free insight you were never aware of.

Whenever the road ahead of you becomes blocked, remember that there is an “outer space”, as Thomas Edison once described it. Simply pray to your god to expand your creative imagination and inner peace.
And at the end, never ever give up. Dreams will simply remain dreams and never become realities if you stop moving toward them.

Don’t stop dreaming—and believing.

Monday

24

June 2013

0

COMMENTS

You’ve Got a Friend in me!

Written by , Posted in Babbles

friends

We all grew up listening to and humming the song (You’ve Got a Friend in me!) We grew up to understand that friendship is the most important relationship between human beings. No matter what your age, gender, location, or background we all need a friend to lean on and to walk side by side with through life.

“Friendship is defined as the relationship of mutual affection between two or more people. Friendship is a stronger form of interpersonal bond than acquaintanceship”. It was never stated yet always debated that friends should be from the same gender. In my personal opinion gender discrimination is only a social barrier that we grew up with but had no fundamental reason behind it.

Society has long considered romance to be based on the prototypical male-female relationship because it keeps the life cycle going by bringing more babies into the world. Cross-sex friendship has primarily been ignored. Our typical men-women relationships were: 1.) families meet; 2.) couple gets engaged; 3.) they get married and 4.) have kids. This is who defined these relationships?

We’ve always been taught that cross-sex friendships are charged with sexual tension and danger.  However, my own personal experience is that men and women can be friends.  This is not only true with your significant other.

Society is different and things are changing rapidly around us. If we go back to 1989 –when Harry met Sally- research said less that 10% admitted to having a close friend of the other sex. However, now with the new media and the cultural shift, people have repudiated this idea. Men and women are working together, networking, cheering the same soccer team, and even sharing the same wardrobe. With everything that is happening around us, the question should be: who doesn’t have a friend of the opposite sex?

The way that men and women respond to things is very encouraging.  It is not healthy to narrow down our understanding of a whole gender to one person – a significant other.. “Men have grown up in a world in which a conversation is often a contest. For women, even a healthy debate—if there is such a thing—is about exchanging information and support.” says Deborah Tannen. Men and women are also becoming more androgynous as their societal roles become more similar. “Men are more willing to have feminine characteristics, and women are a lot more willing to admit to traditionally masculine characteristics, like assertiveness,” said Camille Chatterjee. There are many other testimonials that show you how different it is to deal with the opposite sex.

The main challenges you’ll face in this new relationship are:

– Define your relationship: “People don’t know what feelings are appropriate toward the opposite sex, unless they’re what the culture defines as appropriate.”

– Overcome the attraction by not ignoring it or being unwelcoming to it.

– In a male dominated society, ensure that you bring power to the game and establish equality.

– Deal with doubters with confidence; they will never be satisfied no matter what it is said.

– Where should you meet: working together is a start, online discussions, and surprisingly with time you’ll find other ways to interact.

Cross-sex relationships are not always about physical attraction. It is possible to share all of the qualities that define best friends. However, with time you will both realize that it won’t work in a serious romantic situation. The longer the friendship has lasted, the harder you will be able to see it as a romantic possibility.

You will never be able to experience the best that friendship has to offer until you unleash yourself from the social boundaries and just live the moment friend to friend,  human to  human and with no other labels to identify you.

Monday

17

June 2013

0

COMMENTS

I’m not superwoman; I just never cried in public.

Written by , Posted in Babbles

working-queen-superwoman

Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I’m a multicultural Saudi woman in my late 20s, a daughter, a sister, a wife. You can call me an entrepreneur – the most over used word in the dictionary this decade- taking risks, accepting challenges, and going back and forth between starting new businesses and running projects. I also do consulting work in some agencies and firms in my field. My days are spent either working 12 hours or traveling to meet people and closing deals. On paper, this all sounds mind-blowing, a life every girl will dream of but in reality, it is all that plus the tension and stress.

This fast-paced life I’m living developed in me an inner personality that no one heard about or saw -the struggling warrior- and I believe each woman has her own warrior inside.

Everyone I meet can describe me as an outgoing person, always smiling, laughing and cheering everyone around me. But to be able to maintain the spirit, to wake up every morning with a smile from ear to ear, I developed a technique to balance the life around me. I had to admit I’m not a superwoman, but I’ll never cry in public. And then I started step by step adapting what I can call my remedy:

– Give myself a break for few minutes from everything around me.

– Never react or overanalyze anything.

– Prioritize relations and actions.

– Don’t escape; it will only make it worse.

– Unwind with good music, a book, and a cup of coffee daily.

– Drink a lot of water and get the needed food supplements and vitamins. (You should consult a physician on this first.)

– Always look at the bright side and stay positive; it always gets better.

– Keep a group of positive friends around you and be the friend you look for in others.

– In the end, it is always OK and acceptable to cry alone and wash out what is left of a hectic day or week.

Life is hard and it gets harder as we grow older. It is part of the package we all signed up for. It is how you accept it and react to it that matters. “A calm sea never made a skilled sailor.” So laugh, cry, scream, shout, dance, walk, eat, drink but never give up or let go. We are never superwomen; we just never cry in public.