Monthly Archives: November 2013

Where I Think Courage Comes From

I recently started training with the amazing CaiRollers, we’re the very first roller derby team in Egypt. Before I started training, I literally knew very little about derby, I still don’t know the rules of the game very well, and I only attended my 2nd practice today, and I also had no idea that the moves so effortlessly performed by the more advanced girls are so difficult!

During the first practice, I literally fell as soon as I put on my skates. I hadn’t skated in years (at least 10, if not more) and I remembered this to be easier, a lot easier! I was happy with my first fall because it was quick and not painful at all. Eight falls later, I was laughing it off, wondering about how many bruises I’ll have on my butt and thighs when I get home. Even though I got the hang of skating quickly again, I realized that my perspective on this whole thing is what helped me do that, not the fact that I used to skate when I was younger. I didn’t have the memory of bad or serious falls before the first practice.

Derby needs courage in the beginning, and that applies to everything else in life. But the beginning doesn’t only mean that the first time’s the hardest, because on your second time, memories of the first time could either make it easier or harder.

I got to my second practice today, and as soon as I put my skates on, I didn’t want to get off the bench because I was too scared that I was going to fall. I looked at the gravel underneath my feet, and I was certain, that I was going to fall as soon as I got up. I felt uncomfortable and out of control. I eventually talked myself into it, got up, and actually didn’t fall. The thought of falling was still on my mind though. All I could think of were the 9 times I tripped last time, turning my own spinal cord into an accordion, the sounds of cracking bones replacing real music. I dwelled and lingered. I skated, almost freely, but then again, I dwelled and lingered on the thoughts of falling. Until I thought to myself, “Don’t think, don’t try, just do.”

I’ve heard this saying a few years ago, and I don’t specifically remember where I heard it, but I recall it was something related to the law of attraction. Now when I look it up, I can only remotely relate it to Horace (Roman poet). Before you start wondering, don’t worry, I won’t be telling you more about Horace in this post.

When I first heard the saying, I didn’t really feel like I grasped it. I was automatically skeptical about the not thinking and not trying parts. Why can I not think? Actually how can I not think? And isn’t everything really about trying? And trying again if you fail? Well yes, but not quite.

Now I know this is paradoxal, how can I agree and disagree at the same time? This honestly confuses me probably as much as it’s confusing you right now, but hear me out.

We’re raised up to always think about things before we do them, decisions before we take them, people before we become friends with them, and practically everything else in our lives. We’re warned about taking hasty decisions, and we’re labeled as “too emotional” when we base decisions on our feelings or intuitions. We must always think logically about things. All of that sounds safe, just safe.

Also, when we’re attempting things for the first time, this is just what it is, an attempt. We try and we fail, and then we try again and maybe even fail again. And this is exactly the problem. We expect failure. Isn’t that negative?

If you haven’t already noticed, I’ve been really repetitive in the paragraph where I was telling you about the story of my second derby practice. I’ve done this on purpose, because this is exactly how we think when we’re thinking about things we shouldn’t think about.

Thinking makes us miss out on the good stuff. It’s good to be prepared, but it isn’t good to obsessively check whether you are or not. I was prepared today at practice, I had all my protection gear on, and it was very unlikely that I would get injured when I’m covered from head to toe. My thoughts about falling held me back. I wasted some of my own time, and I reached my goals in a longer time than I should have. Maybe it doesn’t matter that much when it comes to playing derby, but it matters a lot more when it comes to other things in life that need courage. Derby’s just a small example.

Trying makes us focus on failure. We focus on failure more than we focus on success. Trying gives us the option to fail, not taking into account the fact that if we don’t even have that option, and if we gather up courage, we’re actually more likely to succeed.

By the middle of today’s practice, I repeated this in my head, again and again, “Don’t think, don’t try, just do.” I skated freely, I attempted a correct way of falling, I fell, not perfectly, but I stopped myself from thinking and just took a leap of faith. I should do this again next time (and more often in my life.)

This is where courage comes from.

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The Imposed Dilemma of Growing Up

There comes a point in everyone’s life when he/she wants to be a better person. Wanting to be that better person doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a bad person now, but you know that the world’s got a lot more to offer, and once you know that, you can’t un-know it. You go into those different phases of doing different things, doing the things you’ve been afraid to do for a while like quitting your dead-end job or finally deciding to move on from that one person who’s been taking up all your head space. Don’t get me wrong, you’re not necessarily unhappy in that dead-end job, and you’re probably very good friends with that person, so you convince yourself that, “at least I have a job,” or, “at least we’re friends.” Then you start realizing, a little bit everyday, that this indeed is a dead-end job that won’t take you anywhere you want to go. You also become brutally honest with yourself, finally letting your thoughts wander, until deep down, you’re truly convinced that this person isn’t even close to what you want, at all, and that you were just infatuated with a projection you’ve built about him/her.

A bit over a year ago, this is exactly where I was. I had an amazing job. The environment was awesome, my bosses were the coolest, I was given opportunities to actually practice things that were completely out of my field, and I’ve always appreciated that. I was happy to be working with such amazing people who not only made a hilarious, one of a kind team, but were also close friends, friends that will always be friends. I was on and off about a guy who was head over heels about another girl, and I wasn’t even in control of the on/off button, it was always his choice to give me some extra attention. I was trying to distract myself with shallow, empty crushes of people I barely even knew. However, the realization started happening, and it was mind-blowing. I have a great job that started out as a great opportunity, but it wasn’t even close to what I wanted. And just like all human beings, I wanted more!

I’ve never been the type to settle, not for a job, not for a guy, not for satisfactory aspects in my life. I’ve always been a dreamer, for as long as I can remember. I wanted the big, important career. I wanted the guy who’s as crazy as I am with my optimistic vision for life, and I wanted happiness, true happiness. I also wanted the balance that’s hard to come with all of it. Obviously, I didn’t have any of that. Again, I wasn’t unhappy, but I’m greedy, and I wanted to come closer to perfection. I also believe that happiness is something you make, it’s a mindset and an attitude, it’s a journey, it’s a realization, and you always want more of it.

So, I decided to start with transforming my life, one more of those things I’ve always wanted to do, but never actually took action with. Then I remembered that I’ve always wanted to travel and explore the world, and I started looking for opportunities abroad. Soon enough, I was matched to go for a 3 months internship in St. Petersburg, Russia, and I gave my one month notice (actually in my case it was 2.) It was scary and exciting. The type of thing you can’t believe is real and finally happening. It would be my first time to ever travel completely alone, as well as live alone, since I live with my parents like most other 23 year old Egyptian girls. I also completely let go of that person I was constantly thinking about, as I believed that when I start doing the things I loved, I will attract the right person. So I’ve decided to not search or even think about it, and just observe as things happen.

My bosses were flipping out back then, since it was an important time for the company, and I was one of the very first people to work there. It was a startup, and I was the very first designer. I, however, reminded myself that I’m not the only designer on this Earth, and that I know for a fact that it will work out for them. I talked to them about my dreams to travel, to work in something different, to get more involved in other projects as well as completely start my own, and that was my plan! Everything was falling into place.

My plans for Russia became more real. I also started working on my fitness, since I knew that when I go there, it will be a lot easier to integrate new healthy habits. Life was looking good, I was more terrified than I ever was before because I felt like what I was doing was risky, who quits a full-time job for a 3 months internship? But again, I challenged it, and I remembered that nothing will ever change if I don’t take initiative in changing it. And to prove my previous point, I, very randomly, came across a guy that seemed right as soon as I had started focusing on me. We were talking day and night, him supporting my transformation, regardless of the fact that he neither knows old or new me, and I, becoming more and more inspired by him everyday because of his own transformation, and how life had the same meaning to us.

About 10 days before I was supposed to finally travel, after I had booked my tickets and confirmed all plans, I got news that the internship had to be cancelled due to problems with my planned internship and unavailability of other relevant opportunities. I was instantly crushed for a couple of minutes. I was at work, trying to enjoy my last few days with the team I knew I’d miss so much, and I started thinking about what I’m going to be doing now, since I’m working the last few days of my job, and then I’ll literally have nothing to do. My more optimistic self kicked in, and reminded me that everything happens for a reason, something I have always believed in solidly (and still do) . It’s just a challenge, I need a break from work anyway, besides, I could just freelance. That was during October, 2012.

Today, on the 9th of November, 2013, I regret nothing. In fact, I’m happy exactly where I am, even though it’s not where I imagined to be. I wouldn’t have said this yesterday, and no, I haven’t transformed over-night, I just shifted my thinking to a more positive mindset. I’ve been dwelling on everything that’s lacking in my life. I’ve been living in fear of failure. I have so many great ideas, but I’m so afraid of criticism or trial and error. I have the same guy I mentioned earlier (who’d proven to be truly remarkable), and I’ve also been so scared of him seeing me fail, that I had sometimes stopped trying. I’ve been so afraid of getting another full-time job, that I’ve managed to completely persuade myself that I will/can never be a 9 to 5 type of person, and that freelancing is my best scenario. I’ve worked at other new places, but I never ever gave myself the chance to actually fall in love with the places, or the people, rejecting anything that I don’t see as right from the very start. I’ve been meeting amazing people, but I’ve also been telling myself that I have enough friends, and that being distant is better. I’ve been aloof. Finally, I’ve only been writing meaningless things in my diary, not realizing that this has been a challenge worth writing about in my blog. I’ve been living in fear, but I’ve been mostly afraid of myself.

Last year at this time, I was confused. I was dreaming big, typical me, and I wanted to accomplish huge things. Have I accomplished what I had vaguely planned? Nop. I haven’t traveled the world, I haven’t started huge projects that I’m totally proud of, I haven’t yet reached my fitness goals, but I have done so much more. Today, I realized that I’ve been beating myself up over not accomplishing things that I still want in my life, but that it’s only been a year of my life. A year might be a long time, a long time to be dwelling on wanting things, and not actually doing them, but it’s still only a year. The amount of things I’ve learned today due to this year is astounding. Just the fact that I now know all of this changes everything.

We all live in this imposed dilemma of growing up. We keep wanting more, forgetting that the more you have on your plate, the harder it is to manage. We have such high expectations, and we forget that we can’t do everything at once. Yes, growing up is imposed, it happens sooner or later, even if we don’t want it, because we want the good parts of it, but not the bad parts. But growing up doesn’t have to be all that bad, remember that it’s called growing up, not growing old. It’s what we do that keeps us young. I had lost a part of me this past year, and even though I can’t quite define what it is, I’ve managed to bring it back and feel it now. I now remember that the past is always behind me, and that when I choose to see it that way, my present is always worth it. I don’t make perfect plans, and even when I do, I don’t always follow them, but I always end up exactly where I should be.

I believe that I, and everyone else who’s going through something similar, should let go of their past, remember to focus on the positive and on what’s there, and be grateful. The past can make us miss out on so many things we have right now, and so many magical things to look forward to in our futures.

Ps: I am currently starting a new full-time job after a year or juggling freelance projects and part time jobs. I have never felt more ready to commit and challenge myself. I don’t know how long this is going to last, but I reckon I’m going to learn a lot from this.

 

 

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