Here We Start – Issue #27

Iman Ben Chaibah (@ImanBenChaibah)

Iman Ben Chaibah (@ImanBenChaibah)

Iman Ben Chaibah, founder of Sail Publishing, a digital publishing house for online magazines and ebooks, and editor in chief of the Emirati Sail Magazine, an online magazine about community and culture written in English by Emirati columnists. Iman is a multi award winner in digital publishing, entrepreneurship, and literature. Iman has also completed the Leadership Strategies in Magazine Media Course in Yale University. Besides her work in publishing, she also lectures in Canadian University in Dubai.
Iman Ben Chaibah (@ImanBenChaibah)

Dear Sail Readers,

As we enter the summer holiday, 2 of our Sail Team are graduating from their universities. Fatma Bujsaim & Hamda AlHashemi grew along and through Sail in their own ways, which is something you would notice through out their columns from their start till now.

Sadly, as Fatma Bujsaim is graduating, her column: “Just Another Undergrad” is coming to an end with her graduation. She will still stay within the team with a different role, but of course, the doors will always be open for her to start a new column of her choice.

We wish class 2012 best of luck in their future. And may the best of their years be ahead of them!

Let’s go through this issue’s brief!

Issue #27 – June 2012

  • Art of Living101: Hamda AlHashemi ponders upon getting somewhere or achieving something, and what compromises you would have to take along the way.
  • Beyond Inspiration: AlAnoud AlMadhi illustrates interesting observations around the question of defining your authentic self.
  • Blunders of a Wannabe Entrepreneur: Rooda AlNeama discusses the importance of supporting local business to sustain communities.
  • Just Another Undergrad: in Fatma Bujsaim’s last article for this column, she explains that goodbye’s are not always the end.
  • Sense and Sustainability: Haif Abdulla interviews Sara Falaknaz from Innovation Machine about Startup Weekend events in the region.
  • The First Years Last Forever: Ayesha AlJanahi studies verbal child abuse in depth, and its effect on children in the long run.
  • Too Blunt for Words: Fatma AlKhaja explains why she prefers to maintain her personal privacy at work, and why should you do the same.
  • Words, Observations, & Ramblings: Reem Abdalla examines the emotional distress the human mind, body and soul goes through and how it affects their life.

Enjoy the reads & don’t forget to check out our illustrations by Dubai Abulhoul & Fatma AlHashemi!

Warm Regards,
Iman Ben Chaibah
Editor in Chief

To Speak or to Remain Silent

Hamda Al Hashemi (@Hamda_alhashemi)

Column: Art of Living 101. Previously as: Living Through The Eyes of Art
Hamda AlHashemi is a 20 something year old interior design graduate, and an SZHP employee. She appreciates art, food, psychology and culture. For her, Arabic calligraphy is music for the eyes; beautiful and calming. She thrives to become an entrepreneur of her own furniture line and aims to get her Phd on the long run. Hamda’s articles revolve around how our psychological thoughts influence our actions, and how to use them to our advantage.

Latest posts by Hamda Al Hashemi (@Hamda_alhashemi) (see all)

“However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you if you do not act on upon them?” (Buddha). I’ve always been the good girl who consistently followed the rules. I never questioned my superiors whether they were my parents, my teachers, or anyone older than me for that matter. But for a while now, the rebel in me has come out. Which led me to question the concept of “authority”. Is it okay to say no sometimes? How far should the translation of ‘no’ go into action?

Thomas Jefferson once said, “When angry; count to ten before you speak. If very angry, count to one hundred,” This quote brings up the question of whether or not one should speak at all? If we see or hear something we don’t approve of, should we go ahead and doubt that, or should we accept it out of respect and reverence. Would it be rude to tell someone who is above you in age, rank, or social status, that they are wrong?

Since my rebel lash outs are fresh, I will use myself as an example. I have never questioned or talked back to any of my teachers. But since I’ve been under lot of stress and pressure lately, I saw something and couldn’t stay quiet about it. Normally I wouldn’t interfere with a situation between two other individuals and I would leave the matter for them to resolve privately. Yet, I did something about it because it felt like it was the right thing to do.

But even at that moment, I kept my calm and tried to remain as polite and objective as possible. Even though it felt good to fight for what I thought was right, I felt guilty because the person I respect and admire, might think that I was defying him.

Conceptual, earth, performance, body artist and lately, large-scale public sculptor, Dennis Oppenheim, had a motorized sculptural piece and installation where he used puppets that represented him. The pieces had some of his facial features at different situations. He tried to show in his work how he as an individual and an artist is attached by strings and controlled by different things, art commerce specifically.

Dennis Oppenheim, Theme for a Major Hit, 1976

Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “Ten people who speak make more noise than ten thousand who are silent.” In Oppenheim’s artwork, it seems like he admits to letting some of these strings control him. To sell his work, he had to compromise his beliefs to a certain extent. In fact, as individuals, we all do that; we tend to sacrifice something we believe in to get somewhere. Is it right to do so? Or does it mean that we have given up to these attached strings.

How much noise do we have to make to be heard, or is it better to just stay quiet? When should we compromise and when shouldn’t we compromise? We all face these similar situations day by day, and we each deal with them in our own way. But the question that echoes is: Should we cut those strings or should we play it safe and keep them attached?

Who Are You? 3 Steps to Identify Yourself

AlAnoud AlMadhi (@aam_alanoud )

Column: Beyond Inspiration
Founder of @BetweenTheSips -a social media initiative that moderates social conversations. Alanoud’s passion is public speaking and designing infographics, reading and researching.
Through “Beyond Inspiration”, Alanoud aims to share personal experiences, struggles, and aha moments that can spark a flame within the reader to reach their full potential.

Latest posts by AlAnoud AlMadhi (@aam_alanoud ) (see all)

This is a philosophical question and the answer to it is the hardest of all. In fact, it is so difficult that one of the famous philosophers and authors of our time, Khalil Gibran, once said “I have never felt helpless as much as when I had been so before the one who asked me ‘Who Are You?’”

Since the beginning of time, this question has been asked in many different ways, and it has been answered unconventionally as well.

A great example of a person who defined himself would be the famous Arab poet Abu Al-Tayyeb Al-Mutanabbi. He was later called arrogant for describing himself as such, and it was also claimed that these very words have got him killed.

He said:

I am the one whose literature was seen by the blind

And whose words have been heard by the deaf

The horses, the night, and the desert know of me

The swords, the spears, the papers and the pen do too

Personally, I’m an admirer of these verses of Al-Mutanabbi’s; as he had defined himself by his passion that he was so proficient at. However, these do not necessarily represent the complete answer to our major question here.

My hypothesis was that people state their accolades and flaunt their achievements only because they have the time to do so. Furthermore, I have a true belief that a human is modest in nature, and would not act so proud had they been taken off guard by the question.

With that thought in mind, I wanted to not only test my theory, but also essentially satisfy my curiosity of knowing how people truly define themselves. So, I asked several people the following “If you were asked the question ‘who are you?’ and you had only a few seconds to answer, what would you say?”

Out of the 35 people I asked, I received 4 types of answers. Most of them gave their names. If anything more, they’d mention where they’re from and/or how old they were. Another group of people gave me their qualities (e.g.: crazy, ambitious, etc.). The third group stated their occupation (e.g.: Student, Engineer, etc.). Finally, the last group gave an insight of what they value (e.g.: I’m a person whose family is everything to them, I’m a person who believes in equality and human rights).

My first understanding of the above was that my theory was correct. The second was the obvious fact that people perceived themselves in different ways. Now, my intention was not to analyze those answers nor judge whether they were right or wrong, but I’d like to share with you an observation that I found intriguing. Before giving me their answers, around 80% of the people I asked were skeptical about the ‘Who Are You?’ query and gave an initial response insinuating a slight disregard to the question and its importance. My only takeaway of that observation was the belief that several people do not understand the significance of realizing the answer to that question.

Going back to the examples mentioned in the beginning, Al-Mutanabbi would’ve possibly lived a little longer had he been careful in the way he defined himself. And Gibran was right by his hesitance and fear towards that question.

You are a combination of what happened to you, who you wish to become, and what you believe in. Therefore, I present the following steps to identifying yourself.

First, write a detailed description of who you are now; based on your roles and qualities (e.g.: sister, lawyer, intelligent), or the painful/joyful moments that you have experienced in your life (e.g.: abused, complimented) and what they made of you. This will allow you to know whether you want to stay the way you described and keep the influences that the past events have made you become, or move on to being better.

The second step is to rewrite your history. This includes the lessons you learned from the past, and a detailed description of who you want to be.

The third step is to define your philosophy. This represents your beliefs (e.g.: “nothing is impossible”) and your values (e.g.: family, learning); as those two are the building blocks to your behavior and decisions.

By following these three steps, right now, you will be more confident, self-sufficient, and clearly aware of how to reach your set visions and goals. Do remember now, that the definition of yourself is not set in stone; as you can always reinvent yourself; whether to be a better you, or to adapt to the changes around you.

There’s a blank white canvas before you. Now paint.

Illustration by Dubai Abulhoul (@DubaiAbulhoul)

Sustainable Busienss Growth

Rooda Al Neama (@ThinkDubai)

Rooda joins Sail Magazine to explore the different viewpoints of current issues. She hopes to share her thoughts and experiences through her column. Passionate about writing, Rooda wants to build up her writing portfolio to eventually include a novel.

Latest posts by Rooda Al Neama (@ThinkDubai) (see all)

Illustration by Fatma AlHashemi (@F_Fotography)

On a recent trip to Lake Placid Lodge, situated in Lake Placid, New York, a two time Winter Olympics host, with a population of 3,000 people; I was reminded what sustainability of a community really is.  Everything about the lodge, from the wooden carved interiors to the art pieces that decorated the place to the ingredients that made up the award winning meals on our plates, everything was locally sourced and made.

This made me wonder about how much local talent we are truly missing by importing.  Just as the chairs where carefully carved and looked nearly identical by the father and son living nearby as they found the perfect wood twigs from the nearby mountains, and then carved each piece to perfection. That fascinating back-story could have only been exposed because the hotel supported the carpenter’s talents.

A friend of mine moved from Denmark to Dubai recently, and her class credits can not be transferred to schools here because the curriculum in Denmark is based on a handful of ‘practical creative’ classes such as carpentry, visual arts, and metal design.  While design classes are found in curriculums throughout the Gulf region, this view that such classes cannot be counted as official academia forecasts how such talent is not cultivated due to perception.

It’s a cycle, it’s not about science versus arts; its about local talents and the need to encourage the production of those talents.  If the perception that what is imported is better in quality, then we are not giving a chance to those who are in our community and are able to rise to that same quality with their own skill and artistry.  Support comes in many forms; it doesn’t have to be a final product, but could also be in terms of supporting local farmers through buying organic produce and lowering the carbon footprint by sourcing products closer to home.  It might seem all these are workmanship’s that are outdated, but if we don’t look at the basics we can never go on to create a sustainable community with successful businesses.

When trying to find a company that would create a website for me I decided to look local first, support the small businesses like the one I hope to launch, in the hopes that I would experience the same in the future.  To my surprise I got quotations in the range of AED 100,000! A price tag I could not see as logical, could not afford as a startup, and thus could not support.  This is another aspect of which local businesses should understand, that while it’s tough and they need to compete with bigger companies in a tough economy, they can’t grow sustainably if they are not supporting similar local businesses without outrageous prices.

It is a dilemma that both sides have to think about, those who are able to nurture local abilities, and for those small local businesses to in turn create a realistic growth plan that incorporates other local businesses and ensure the positive ethical and environmental impact of their products and services in the hope of creating a supportive and self-reliant community.

Graduating: The End is Just a New Beginning

Fatma Bujsaim (@FatmaBujsaim)

Senior Editor. Ex- Column: Just Another Undergrad

After graduating with a Bachelor degree in International Studies and a minor in converged media, Fatma still finds herself hungry for knowledge, which led to her enrolling in a postgraduate program. Her passion for both reading and writing has made her extend her stay in Sail eMagazine so that she can learn & develop her skills. When not buried in her books and novels, Fatma is found on tennis courts or in a classroom learning a new language.
She wrote her previous column: “Just another undergrad” hoping she can give what she didn’t have when she was a freshman: comfort and guidance, and also bring back memories to all those graduates out there. She wonders if things are going to be the same after graduation.

Latest posts by Fatma Bujsaim (@FatmaBujsaim) (see all)

Illustration by Fatma AlHashemi (@F_Fotography)

It is never easy to say goodbye. Especially with friends who have shared moments of randomness and discovery, of hardship and tears, of frustration and anger, and most importantly, moments of happiness and success throughout the years with you. It is never easy to say goodbye to a place where memories were painted, and smiles were drawn, and sweats were broken. It is never easy to say goodbye. Full stop.

Why is a goodbye associated with the end?!  A goodbye maybe temporary, it may also state a new beginning. When we finish reading a book, there is always another one to read. When we are done painting a canvas, there is always a new one to start. With every end, there is a beginning, and with every goodbye, there is a hello.

In a couple of days, we, the class of 2012, will not be students anymore; we will be deemed graduates. We shall all go on different paths, even though we may have shared the same major, classes, and environment, it doesn’t really have to be the end. It is the beginning of a new book; not even a new chapter. Our undergraduate years are behind us, and the future awaits us.

This is not just about us, this is not about graduating; it is about a new journey in life; a new adventure. A Roman philosopher once said, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” We might be graduating, but others might have their own endings and beginnings as well; some may be changing their jobs, while others may even be resigning for good – this may be their end but it is our beginning. Whatever people choose to end, it always results in the beginning of something new in an undiscovered place.

One shouldn’t be sad with letting go and saying goodbye, because a goodbye might actually be a “see you later” – those who want to stay in touch will always find a way no matter where life takes them.

Each one of us has his or her own way of saying goodbye; some will say it with tears and some with smiles of joy, some even with both. Some will write it on a letter while others might say it out loud.

This is my way of saying goodbye.

Not only am I graduating, but my column has also come to an end. Just Another Undergrad will no longer be an undergrad. She will be a graduate.

I leave you with a quote by Jonathan Lockwood Huie, “Celebrate endings – for they precede new beginnings.”

Interview with Sara Falaknaz and SWAD Highlights

Haif Zamzam (@haifnothaifa)

Haif Zamzam (@haifnothaifa)

Column: Joie de Vivre, Ex-Column: Sense and Sustainability
Haif Zamzam is a bon viveur who just can’t get enough of life. Her inflexibility for the norm coupled with her constant hunt for a challenge pushed her to the private sector where she is a professional in a top-tier consulting firm. Haif has an MBA from INSEAD and a Bachelors degree from the AUS. Through her column, Joie de Vivre, French for “Joy of Living,” Haif hopes to show how living with your head in the clouds is highly underrated.
Haif Zamzam (@haifnothaifa)

Latest posts by Haif Zamzam (@haifnothaifa) (see all)

Picture Taken by @HaifNotHaifa

On May 24th, the stopwatches in Abu Dhabi began racing to the 54-hours finish line. Why 54 hours? That’s the amount of time that Startup Weekend claims a group of dedicated entrepreneurs can form the building blocks of a competitive business in the web or mobile industry.

Startup Weekend Abu Dhabi (SWAD) is the fourth installment of similar type events under the Innovation Machine brand. Innovation Machine was founded by Deem Albassam, Sara Falaknaz and Kamal Hassan who share a passion for entrepreneurship. Innovation Machine (@InnovaMachine) brings sponsors on board and leads regional events for entrepreneurs and startup enthusiasts. They’ve left their footprint in Dubai, Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and are headed to Doha next.

I got a chance to speak with one of the founders of @InnovaMachine, Sara Falaknaz.

Q- Why are you passionate about entrepreneurship?

Sara: Why not get your own security? I highly suggest being a part-time entrepreneur while being employed in a secure job. 

Q- How did you and the team begin with Startup Weekend? How successful has it all been so far?

Sara: My partner, Deem Albassam, attended a Startup Weekend event in New York.  We saw a lot of potential in the region and decided to bring the idea of a startup weekend event here.  We’ve been very successful thus far as we’ve hosted four events (two in Dubai, one in Riyadh and one in Abu Dhabi) that have received a high turnout.  We already have over 100 participants registered for our next event in Doha. 

Q- How many ideas were generated and pitched in SWAD on Day 1? 

Sara: There were over 60 ideas presented by the participants on day 1.  On Day 2, they’ve been narrowed down to 25 working groups and tomorrow, we will be awarding the top three ideas.

Q- Why would a participant come to SWAD?

Sara: The participants come from all over the region with an incredible passion towards entrepreneurship.  SWAD doesn’t provide funding for potential ideas, even though one of our winners from Startup Weekend Dubai recently secured a sizeable Venture Capital investment, but we do provide the platform to discuss ideas, collaborate with like-minded people that share the same vision and are able to meet people with different skill sets from their own which will allow a new business to startup, faster. 

Q- What is your gut feeling as to which group might win first place in SWAD?

Sara: All of the participants are winners. Regardless of the cash prize, the true reward is that they were able to transform their raw idea into a tangible startup in 54 hours. 

Q – What was the most ambitious thing you’ve heard at SWAD?

Sara: A participant was on stage and declared, “I will be the next Facebook.”  The great thing about the SWAD participants is that everyone clapped to show support for their fellow entrepreneur. 

Q- What are some of the ideas that are being put together at SWAD?

Sara: Some of the ideas include a social platform that is targeting the elderly.  The group consists of UAE and Kuwaiti nationals that are working together to merge sites such as Facebook, Groupon and Twitter and present them in a user-friendly way.  Other ideas tackle transportation, design, and food and beverage.  The ideas that came out of our event in Riyadh focused on entertainment and transportation. 

Q- How have you been getting support for these types of events?

Sara: We are publicizing the lead-up to the event and the event itself in the social media scene as well as local newspapers, international websites and bloggers from all over the place. 

Q- Do you feel that entrepreneurship could be some sort of bubble?

Sara: I believe that the future of any sustainable economy lies in the hands of the SMEs.  SMEs are the ones that generate new income, create new jobs and are downright crazy enough to come up with the next innovative idea. 

Q- You mentioned job creation, are any of these businesses creating job opportunities for the youth?

Sara: MindTalk is a business idea that was presented in Startup Weekend Dubai.  It’s an Emirati initiative that supports MENA women to become more active socially and participate in events, conferences and brainstorming through their website.  They are three UAE national women that streamed SWAD in realtime as well.  Xpose is another UAE national driven startup that began with four Emiratis and have recruited an additional four Emiratis.  That’s 100% growth.

I also got a chance to speak with two groups that were pitching their ideas at SWAD.  The first group was Young Eager Steps (@YoungEagerSteps) where I spoke with Mohamed Al Olama and Bader Al Awadhi.  They were pitching a YES website to the participants.  The website they are hoping to create would target all age groups and would be more interactive with their target audience and 550+ volunteers.  What caught my eye was their “The Key to Success” booth that was decorated with various ideas that people believed to be the key to success and various colored keys for participants to stay motivated.  To this group, SWAD is not about a new beginning, it is about a strong beginning.

SWAD also catered to a group of artists that wanted to launch an online gallery that brought together photography, art, jewelry and fashion.  Apart from displaying art pieces in all their forms, the group of six UAE national women and two expat men wanted to support and help Emirati artists with their skills through online workshops, discussion boards, promote them through a shared social platform and be able to commercially sell select pieces.  The basis for this idea started with three very similar ideas that merged into one.  Amena, Badreya, Khulood, Hasnah, Ebtesam, Hanan, Kumar and Udana are the artists-turned-entrepreneurs who launched Finazia.com on Day 2 of SWAD.

Once the 54 hours ran out, SWAD winners were announced. HealthMiles took home first place followed by Mongo and Speaking Papers who came in second and third place respectively.

How Abuse During Childhood Impacts Adulthood

Ayesha AlJanahi (@_AyeshaAlJanahi)

Ayesha AlJanahi (@_AyeshaAlJanahi)

Column: The First Years Last Forever
A loving mother of a son who has changed her life and put it into perspective. Ayesha is a senior social media specialist, a Global Leader for young children in the Arab region, and a writer in few Arabic publications. Her column is written in collaboration with the Arabian Child organization, and offers inspiration and an in-depth exploration of early childhood development.
Ayesha AlJanahi (@_AyeshaAlJanahi)

Latest posts by Ayesha AlJanahi (@_AyeshaAlJanahi) (see all)

Illustration by Dubai Abulhoul (@DubaiAbulhoul)

Words can hurt more than sticks and stones. Criticism, degradation, negative comments, labeling and calling children with insulting names can damage their self-esteem and have negative effects on their confidence and future well-being. Some children experience long terrible emotional pain from their parents, relatives and people in their environment during their childhood phase in which their self-confidence and self-esteem get damaged. As a result, during adulthood, these negative elements are reflected in their unbalanced personalities and behaviours.

It is evident that many children due to being neglected or abused during their childhood; they are full of frustration and are like a volcano ready to erupt against their parents and surrounding people. Any horrifying experience in their life would work as an explosion of the hidden volcano of frustration.

As stated in my previous article “Protect Your Child from Abuse”, some parents are quite well aware of dealing with their child’s physical and sexual abuse. However they don’t give ample importance towards the verbal abuse, which could also be one of the causes to damaging child’s self image and respect. Frequent attacks through harsh and foul words could destroy child’s self esteem and could result in damaging the architecture of their brain, which dovetails damage with their personality in the long run.

There are different types of abusive words and phrases used by parents to verbally abuse their children directly such as losers, stupid, etc; or indirectly by use of sarcastic words, teasing or putting them down. Repetitive use of such words and actions actually belittles children and lowers their morale. If children complain of this act to their parents they flatly reply “You know I was just kidding”.

Maha, 25, had the external appearance of a confident woman. However, it was noticed that when she speaks, her voice is so low that it could barely be heard. She is always apprehensive of her excessive shyness particularly when speaking in public. Apparently, the underlying cause was her father’s constant teasing, the most humiliating part for her was when he made the family members laugh at her. This is the time she felt the need to hide herself deep down cause she felt so offended and isolated.

Maha, like any young child couldn’t distinguish the truth from a harsh joke. Positive humor is one of our most valuable tools for strengthening family bonds. But humor that belittles can be extremely damaging within the family.

Other parents are high achievers; they pressure and overburden their children with their high expectations and perfectionism, that by itself is a trigger for severe verbal attack. They have the illusion that if children were successful, that implies that the family is perfect, neglecting the concept that it’s good to make mistakes and discover the world. Sadly, such parents have homes filled with stress and anxiety.

Pushing children so hard toward perfectionism makes them collapse and buckle in the face of challenges. Somewhere inside some adults lies a small, frightened and anxious child that is still alive and that is because of their parents’ high demands of perfectionism. You’ll find them getting into the vicious cycle of: Perfectionism-Procrastination-Paralysis whenever they have large projects.

Sara, 18, who was in her first year in college, had problems in her projects’ deadlines. Sara was shy, unsure of her abilities and lacks in her attention span. She always missed her deadlines and she was about to jeopardize her whole future. When Sara was in school, her mother always pressurized her to get full marks in her exams comparing her with other children of her age. She wanted Sara to be perfect – Perfectionism. Sara’s fear of not having high marks made her postpone her exams revision – Procrastination. The more she postponed, the more she was filled with fear and that what made her unable to study – Paralysis. It is very important to understand that children need to be compared with their own progress and performance and not with the progress of any other child of his/her own age, neither their siblings.

Many adults have their lives controlled by patterns set during their childhood. Some of them have mental disorders and unbalanced personalities and such disorder’s underlying causes are emotional abuse or over protection. Apparently, it depends on the plant of mental and emotional seeds the parents planted in their children’s early years that grow as they get older. Some seeds are of love, respect, independence and other are of fear, obligation and guilt. If you want children to grow up into the best possible versions of themselves, it’s crucial to replace damaging words in your vocabulary with alternatives that help build character and constructive brain development.

Written by Ayesha Al Janahi and supported by Arabian Child organization. Visit www.arabianchild.org for more information about early childhood education in the United Arab Emirates.

Worlds Colliding, Drawing the Line Between Work and Personal Life

Fatma AlKhaja (@fay_alkhaja)

Column: Observing the World, previous column: Too Blunt for Words
Fatma (Fay), Emirati girl, with an experience in Corporate Communications and CSR. She is passionate about anything that is traditional and Emirati. In her free time she loves to watch Japanese anime, read manga, and play videogames. Spas are not the only thing that relaxes her, but cooking as well.
Fay’s columns observe work-life experiences and balance. A lot of her articles are based on first-hand personal experiences and issues she has seen or been part of. She loves to observe her surroundings, and watch how people handle different situations they’ve been put in.Also, she is trying to balance the art of staying positive at work and helping her peers understand that not everything should be a problem. With her writings she hopes to make a difference and make people more observant of the little problems in life, or work that hasn’t escalated to a catastrophe. It’s the little things that matters.

Latest posts by Fatma AlKhaja (@fay_alkhaja) (see all)

Let me begin by stating that I am a very private person. My thought process with this article began when a colleague was discussing a matter with me, and ended it by saying, ‘I really want to meet your family, especially your husband.’

It made me wonder, why would you want to meet them? I don’t discuss family in the office nor do I have pictures of them hanging all over the place, therefore why would you want to meet them?

What is this type of curiosity that makes people want to find out more about you? I have noted that this tends to happen a lot in the office. Not too long ago, I used to know an individual that worked with us and she would come strutting into the office every morning, saying hi to everyone, and when asked how she was then she would go into details of her personal life, what she did, who’s she dating, what she will do, etc.. After that, she’ll stare at you expecting you to share the same type of info that she had shared.

Illustration by SYAC

My rule is that if you’re not asked, then you don’t share. And if you’re asked, you share as little as possible.

Triangle of My Life

The triangle above represents my world. Each part of the triangle has its own rules and regulations, but the most important rule is that it doesn’t collide. There are certain things that you just don’t mix.

The people I know at work will only know me between my working hours, my friends have their own time, whereas my family will ALWAYS have my time. Each side of the triangle gives you that peace of mind that you look for when needing it.

The need to get personal at work never sat well with me, and never will. Regardless of how long during the day you spend with your colleagues, there is always a good reason to be private about your personal life. I don’t mind sharing the basics, like how many siblings I have, where did I went to school, etc… but I do not need to share that I have argued with my friend today, decided to do something new, fell ill, disliked a person, etc…

Sharing with colleagues can be lethal at times. For example, a friend confided in me once that she made the biggest mistake of her life when she confided in her colleague about a private matter. That colleague took her confidence, shared it with their boss while adding negative remarks which ended up compromising her promotion. You never know what the other side is thinking, therefore you can never allow for the worlds to collide.

Another incident I can share is when once a friend fell ill for a few weeks and she had to take an unexpected leave for 4 weeks. She was so ill, depressed and couldn’t move that her family members would force her out sometimes. Coincidentally, when she was out once, her colleague called her checking up on her and when she told her that she was out. She kept asking her lots of questions, and demanding why she was out, and pretending to be ill when she’s working her butt off! Needless to say, my friend never got her promotion that year while the colleague did, although they had both done the exact amount of work that they were supposed to.

Each side has its own rules as mentioned before and with each person sitting in that world they have their own agendas and schemes. Regardless of how well you know that person, how much you can trust them you still better be safe and not involve yourself fully with them when it comes to personal stuff.

I believe a lot of my readers might take this article as me being negative, but I’m not trying to be negative at all. I’m talking about facts, and based my analysis on research and personal experience that I have been involved with. Therefore, I hope the best for all, and would love to hear more-real life examples if your worlds ever collided.

About Emotional Baggage

Reem Abdalla (@Reem096)

Reem, a 24 years old Emirati female who will stand up for any cause she believes in and is curious by nature. She believes in connecting the dots and coloring the world with her magic markers. As a marketer, she likes to sell her ideas. As a female, she tends to listen and support. As a UAE National, she stands by her country and religion.
Reem aims through her quarterly column to explore issues in society and discuss emerging new trends. Listen to other people’s thought and view their perspectives about the subject. Then raise questions and form unbiased conclusions about it.

Latest posts by Reem Abdalla (@Reem096) (see all)

How many of you have been hurt? How many of you have felt pain? How many of you have lost someone you love to death, disease or to the world? How many of you have faced rejection or felt you are not good enough?

We have all faced one or all of the above in a period of our lives. We all carry emotional baggage.  It is a sack that we carry around all the time packed with our experiences throughout the years. It is a sack filled with our disappointments, trauma, fear and everything wrong that we faced in our lives.

When a human is born, the emotional mind and body are completely healthy. Our experiences in life change that.  As humans, we try to protect our emotional wounds and create barriers so we don’t feel the same pain again. However, what we usually do is close ourselves in a bubble. This bubble is made of fear from the outside world.

Illustration by Fatma AlHashemi (@F_Fotography)

 We create different types of fear. Fear of not getting the reward becomes the fear of rejection. Fear of not being good enough in the minds of our friends and family. Fear makes us try to change and create a false image for ourselves. Then we try to project that image according to what they want us to be, just to be accepted, just to have the reward.

We learn to pretend and be in denial of who we really are. To be what we are not, and to practice to be someone else, just to be good enough. We practice and practice until we master how to be what we are not. Soon we forget who we really are, and we start to live our images. We create not just one image but several different images according to the different groups of people we associate with. We create an image at home, an image at school, and when we grow up we create even more images.

When a person gets married, they also bring an immense amount of emotional baggage with them. This includes the idealized expectations and also many inherited cultural and family patterns. Unless the person is aware of the emotional baggage that they are bringing in the marriage, it will interfere with them having a content life and they won’t be able to address it.

Humans pretend to be something very important, but at the same time we believe we are nothing. We work so hard to be someone in that society. Dream, to be recognized and approved by others. We try so hard to be important, to be a winner, to be powerful, to be rich, to be famous, to express our personal dreams, and to impose our dreams onto other people around us.

What we seem to forget is to learn to appreciate our mind, body and soul. Empty your mind and fill your core, learn to love yourself. In order to do that, we need to embrace our fears, learn from our previous mistakes and take chances in life. Move forward towards your goals, be positive and never look back regretfully at your emotional baggage as this contributed in shaping you, making you the stronger person you are today. Move towards a brighter future, a future filled with the company of friends and family that will support your every step.