Direction

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Sometimes in life and in a blink of an eye everything can change. Change can be good but sometimes it isn’t; we are all terrified of change, within every one of us this hidden mindset that is so systematic underneath all the chaos around that all we really try to do is stabilize our lives with very minimalistic efforts in having to face big changes, unless those changes were made for a better future, better financial stability or bettering our existing life. In general, we crave for a better change, but fear significantly a sudden unexpected change that isn’t on the pleasant side. And that’s normal. We aren’t prepared for events that aren’t under our control, or events that might cause us to shut down – but life does happen.

“WE CRAVE FOR A BETTER CHANGE, BUT FEAR SIGNIFICANTLY A SUDDEN UNEXPECTED CHANGE”

I come from a culture, where the vast majorities aren’t vocal or expressive in their personal challenges and struggles, and their struggles are only shared to family. And that’s okay. The only problem is that I –myself, always chose to express few of my battles publically, I’ve always liked being open about everything that’s going on in my life, I have my limits of course – but I do share a lot. That’s my own way of expressing my struggles and maybe that’s my way in getting through them.

 

I made the mistake to go public with a situation that recently happened in my life, as I mentioned earlier, I’ve always been vocal about my life, but this time I felt I was digging a deeper hole than I initially anticipated, I did the biggest mistake in being who I am which is expressing my own struggles publicly because what I got in return to me sharing “my own” struggle was unexpected. I was being judged for expressing my emotions at a time of need and desperation, I was told I was faking it, I was told I was making it seem bigger than it actually is, I was even told I looked ‘too happy’ that whatever I was experiencing in my life at that moment was nothing but a complete lie.

“I DID THE BIGGEST MISTAKE IN BEING WHO I AM WHICH IS EXPRESSING MY OWN STRUGGLES PUBLICLY”

I felt hurt and humiliated more than I could have ever imagined especially having to hear nasty, cold-hearted, unimaginable words from those I thought were the closest to me. I also felt hurt from those who showed no concern whatsoever. But I am thankful that those were only the minority and I am forever grateful for the support system that I unexpectedly had.

 

What most people did not know is that whatever struggles I go thru, I do not dwell on them, I fight, I stay positive, I live my life normally and I pray. All I wanted to do in some way or another is to show people that whatever they may be experiencing in their lives, they can overcome it by not dwelling on it and by being patient; as cheesy as this might sound I wanted to inspire people and give them this push to know that we are all the same, we all go thru struggles and most importantly staying strong, living a normal life dealing with any struggle and praying is of value; but what I got in return and what I truly did not expect was that I was going to be judged from those closest to me. What I did not know was that I needed to rethink my entire circle then and there and to willingly cut them off forever.

“AS CHEESY AS THIS MIGHT SOUND I WANTED TO INSPIRE PEOPLE”

I was in utter disbelief that I had those people in my life to begin with. Not only did I have to cut those people off of my life, but I also had to reconsider my entire circle of people and had to make changes to better my life, my mind-set and my future. I made this decision not based on my emotions like I usually do, but I followed what my mind and the direction I knew I had to make in order for me to live my life knowing that I got rid of people who were only comfortable being there when life was all rainbows and butterflies.

I also realized that I shared too much. Not only throughout this journey but also throughout my entire life. Sharing everything about my life was always a part of who I was. People in a way expected me to share everything while they had their own personal lives that I knew nothing about. I am not saying they are wrong for not sharing, I was wrong for sharing everything.

“I AM NOT SAYING THEY ARE WRONG FOR NOT SHARING, I WAS WRONG FOR SHARING EVERYTHING”

I came to the conclusion that most people did not share. And that’s fine, so I knew I-myself had to change. People’s engagements, pregnancies, life events, even vacations were always kept a secret until a certain time. Again this is the way it’s supposed to be in my culture and its fine. I knew I was being too expressive in literally every little detail in my life right when it happens but life teaches you that in some cases you need to reflect on your life and learn how to be with others the way they are with you. And that’s exactly what I did. And when I did that people thought I changed. I did not change; I only became a reflection of who they are and how things are supposed to be. I did not want to be the odd one no more.

“I ONLY BECAME A REFLECTION OF WHO THEY ARE. I DID NOT WANT TO BE THE ODD ONE NO MORE”

This certain phase in my life changed me to the better, I realized things I was not aware of, or was blinded by. I realized the awesome people I have in my life and held them close. I realized that certain phases that happen in life are just lessons to see a bigger picture of who you truly are and who you surround yourself with. I am glad I can fully close this chapter in my life with the changes I have made knowing that I will no longer look back at this and say this was a struggle but instead this was a direction.

“I WILL NO LONGER LOOK BACK AT THIS AND SAY THIS WAS A STRUGGLE BUT INSTEAD THIS WAS A DIRECTION”

Forgiveness is a Choice

 

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“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” – Mahatma Gandhi

We’ve all been hurt at some point in our lives, one way or another. Maybe someone broke your heart, influenced you on a wrong path, crushed your dreams or betrayed your trust. Even worse, you might have experienced a brutal tragedy such as physical/mental abuse or even worse you might have experienced rape.

When I was younger, I had a best friend, I trusted her with my life; she was someone I could relay on like a sister. Not a single day would pass we weren’t at each other’s houses, just doing our homework, eating junk food, laughing, singing and sharing secrets, like any other 11 year olds.

Five years of friendship to realize what a fool I was in trusting her, to realize she wasn’t who I thought she was; She hurt me so badly that it turned into this feeling of anger and hate, a scar that was forever engraved in my heart, all I wanted to do is to hurt her the way she hurt me, make her feel the suffer I had to go through because of her. I lived the next few years in painful visions of what could have been if I did not trust her the way I did.

It’s very hard forgiving someone and letting go of the pain they caused, you might not be able to forgive and forget, but being able to fully forgive a person who hurt you can actually help YOU in moving forward, finding your path and living in peace with yourself, it has been scientifically proven to relief stress so you’ll be also doing your self a favor.

Just remember one thing, no one is purely evil with no remorse for hurting someone else (unless they are sociopaths) even if their ego is above the sky, odds are they do feel some levels of regret or remorse.

“Forgiveness is like letting a prisoner free and finding out the prisoner was you”

 

So how was I able to let go, move on and forgive? After taking my time in healing I came to the conclusion that its either I forgive her or I will be forever grieving and feeling bad for myself which wasn’t what I intended to do for the rest of my life. Five years of being apart, I decided to write her a text message and asked her if she was willing to talk about the whole thing again (5 YEARS LATER), she agreed and came over, she busted into tears and gave me her side of the story, it was a turning point in my life, it has helped me in so many ways that I am forever thankful for.

So here are some things that helped me forgive:

  • Forgiveness is a choice:

You must truly know that forgiveness is a choice you make; forgiveness lays within you, you can’t say, “I just couldn’t”. Now of course it does take time, and do take the time you need to heal but if you really want this inner peace, and allowing yourself to heal, you could take the decision to forgive, at any point when you’re ready and if the conditions permitted.

  • Forgiveness is for YOU:

Remember that forgiving someone does not mean reconciliation with the person that hurt you, or condoning of his/her actions. It is for YOU to find peace, it is for you to heal and move on.

  • Write down your feelings:

I used to journal a lot when I as younger, I had these dairies where I wrote down all my feeling, I remember having 10 pages of what happened then, how it hurt me, and how angry I was. When I decided I wanted to forgive I opened up the journal, it did hurt reading it again but it helped me process my emotions and re-think the whole situation and look at it from a bigger picture. In a way it helped me better understand why was I feeling that way I did back then and how shall I come about ending the whole feeling of frustration I had.

  • We all make mistakes:

I know that some of you who’ve suffered brutal tragedies from someone cannot relate to this, but in a way it is important to remember that we all make mistakes, we sometimes say or do things unintentionally that could cause pain in others. Try to put your self in that persons shoes, try understanding why they did what they did, what happened to them in the past that made them do it? Are they suffering from past tragedies and experiences that have led them to do what they did?

By asking these questions you are not saying that what they did was right, but just trying to dig deeper to understand and empathize.

  • Living happy is the best revenge:

Instead of focusing on the pain and suffering they’ve caused, and therefore giving them the power to control your life, focus on yourself, learn to find peace, love and forgiveness for that person so that the choices you make in your life are truly based on you and not caused by the actions of others.

I read a book by Lewis B. Smedes called Forgive & forget – Healing the Hurts We Don’t Deserve. This book shows you how to move from pain and suffering to healing and finding inner peace through forgiving and also letting go.

 

Surviving abroad

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The decision to study or move abroad is certainly a big one; it is however a very exciting time in your life; but let me tell you this: “it ain’t easy”.

An overwhelming amount of unexpected problems and issues will arise to those unprepared.

I was 17 years old when I applied for my bachelor’s degree in Switzerland; two weeks later I got my acceptance call! “YAAAY!!” 17 year old me screaming from excitement, not realizing that this “YAY” was soon going to turn into an “OHHH NOO!!” Aha moment.

 

Here are some tips on how you avoid any aha moment:

  1. Study the Country:

Do your homework before leaving abroad, get tips from those who visited before, or those who are already there, you can do that by contacting a student from the university’s / Work’s Facebook page, also if you are a student you can ask your university’s administration to arrange for you to contact a current student, preferably from the same nationality as you are. (Do not be shy to ask for a students contact number; they will greatly help you out!).

Also make sure you are aware of the monetary conversions, (XE Currency) is a very good application that makes it very easy checking monetary conversions for any country!

  

  1. Respect the cultural differences:

Education is key in understanding other people’s cultural differences, and paves the way for intelligent conversations that are interesting as well as respectful. People around the world have very different lives and ways of living. People have different belief systems, cultural values and laws; they usually live their lives according to what they believe to be right and wrong, respecting those differences and understanding what the law stands for in your chosen destination is essential. You can easily search the web for answers.

  

  1. Learn the language:

Learning the language of your chosen destination usually leads to deeply getting involved with that country’s culture as well as easily communicating with locals. Here is an important tip to remember: speaking to locals in their own language will greatly benefit you; they will respect you and immediately see the effort, and not see you as “Just another tourist” possibly charging you more for services such as taxi’s or local restaurants.

 

  1. Stay in contact with your family:

Keep them on speed dial; Facetime and Skype are going to be your new best friends! Staying in touch with your family will give you a sense of safety while you are away specially those first few months where your homesickness level is at its peak! Also talking to your family and listening to their advices will help you settle in, and reduces the overwhelming feeling of being way.

  

  1. Socialize:

Try not to be sucked in your “homesickness” phase, get out! Explore and meet new people. Meeting people from your university or work place is essential, meeting people from different parts of the world is empowering, do not feel the urge of socializing only to people from your own country, meet locals, get out of your comfort zone. It’s interesting!! And you’ll learn A LOT!

  

  1. It is okay to feel sad:

Don’t worry about feeling sad or down when you are homesick, it is totally normal missing mom and dad back home, missing friends and especially missing your room!

 

  • Write down your feelings:

Go buy your self a journal and write down your feelings, writing can actually help in expressing your emotions and anxieties in paper rather than keeping them building up inside you.

  • Get a pet companion:

This might sound like a bad idea to some, but it really helped me survive, especially those cold lonely winter days. Having a pet companion reduces the urge to give up, pack and leave. Plus they are cute and adorable to live with!

  • Get help – in extreme cases:

Do not ignore signs of depression when facing severe homesickness, consult your university’s clinic or even professors, they might have some useful tips and can help you get through it.

 

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