(Excerpts from the diary of an Egyptian Female…)
I was really confused… I was raised in an environment that stressed that perceived weakness and neediness are signs of femininity; that a lady should have a low voice, be shy, blush upon hearing a compliment and shed tears to show her sensitive emotions. I was raised that any behavior other than that would label me as a tomboy, will subject me to rejection from others and will automatically expel me from the female/feminine society.
Back then when I was young, then a teenager, being that model was not a big deal for me. It is always easy to lower your voice and play the role of a sensitive doll and yes back then, I was well received from others and every one was praising how well I was raised!
However as I grow up dear diary, I found out that the real world is something totally different. I went through personal experiences, heard and saw stories of others that made me wonder a lot where we are actually living. And let me confess that making sense of what was going around me was not an easy phase in my life. There were lots of times when I shed lots of tears (real tears!), suffered insomnia, had my whole body shaken out of anger, patted on the shoulders of my friends who went through painful experiences. I had to witness before my eyes acts of deception, backstabbing and meeting signs of love with wipes of sheer hate even from the closest people to the heart and blood. Further on, I had to personally deal with people who accepted bribes, played politics, lied to the “other” in the face, used higher private values like religion for worldly materialistic gains.
Having been through all this without being well prepared forced me to consciously drop the external cover of the shy, sensitive and emotional female to becoming a real tough hearted, independent person with an acute issue of trusting others. That was not an easy transformation for me or for those around me especially my family but I was determined to go through this change until the very end. I had long fights with my parents arguing with me that a person is not created to live totally independent of others, that I cannot turn into that aggressive character thinking that it is my way out of this “tough” world. However, arguments failed with me and gradually I was transformed into the “strong and powerful” female that I thought I wanted to be; a person whose tears are harder to be shed than a dead person’s!
A confession to make dear diary; I still was not happy! My fights with my friends not doing what I thought was the “right” way of doing things increased, there seemed to be no end for the role of the powerful school principal that I adored playing with those around me, my tolerance zone almost diminished and being empathetic to others was clearly hampered. Obviously, this was not welcomed from people who used to be my dear friends. Surprisingly yet painful for me, I came to know the feeling and meaning of losing others because of my attitude. This was as tough as the experiences I went through or seeing happening before my eyes in the past. The other painful incident I faced was that when I discovered – by sheer coincidence – that the role of the aggressively independent female that I enjoyed playing actually hit my parents in person thinking that I literally do not need them or their help any more even when it came to the smallest things. Adopting the new “safe” shield blinded me from seeing that I was hurting the dearest ones to my heart whose feelings cannot be rivaled in its purity and sincerity.
Once again dear diary, I was forced to think of who I am and who I want to be; the highly sensitive and perceived weak female or the aggressive, highly independent and opinionated one? That was really tough and I needed to find a way out that would shape my character for the time to come. And then it hit me; why do I have to be one of either extreme? Why do I have to put an external cover that does not represent the real me? I kept those questions boiling in my head determining to find an answer for them. I talked to my friends whom I trust seeking their feedback, I interacted more with others and lent them my ears listening to what they think and what they feel. In my multiple trips, I talked to people, I studied their cultures and I tried to imagine myself living their lives. I allowed myself to cry when hit with emotional turmoil! (and how relieving that was!!)
Putting myself in all these interactions led me to realize certain facts that helped lighten my way. First of all is that being strong and powerful does not automatically negate being sensitive and emotional. It is very possible – even urged – to balance both. Through personal experience, I found that a strong female is the one who is sensitive but know how and when to control her emotions. I also realized that a strong female is the one who depends on others yet never fail to lend her hand to help them; she is the one who develops her own frame of right and wrong but does not impose it onto others. She is the role model that lovingly inspires others but not the school principal that goes around punishing the non-conformant. A strong female is the one who acknowledges that there are wrong deeds happening around us but also does not overlook the good ones. She is the one who recognizes that there are good people with sincere feelings just as there are evil ones who are the live representation of devil on earth!
Dear Diary, I finally realized that being powerful and strong never lied in a fake shield that turns me into a deformed character. On the contrary, it lies in being me; in balancing how I see the world and how I translate my feelings and actions. Gosh! I cannot express how my life changed after this discovery and as much as the delivery was tough and hard, the newly born was and will continue to be in a good health; truly strong and powerful!!
And the journey continues…