Accept Yourself, Ignore Others

I spent a lot of yesterday watching the Tyler Clementi/Dharun Ravi case. My heart goes out to Tyler’s family and friends who had to suffer his loss and think about the pain and torment Tyler felt before he committed suicide. Tyler must have felt extremely ridiculed and distressed in order to commit suicide after his roommate invaded his privacy.  What really makes me sad, though, is that he let such a small group of people affect his fate. While he felt embarrassed and mocked by his peers, he must not have thought about the fact that his peers are such a miniscule percentage of this world’s population. If only he thought about the thousands of people outside of his small world that would have accepted him for who he was and known that the majority of people condemn Ravi, instead, for being a cruel, ignorant and closed-minded bully. I am sure Tyler was too ashamed to seek help from his parents or request to be moved to a new university, but he could have. He could have gone to a new place that accepts him and knows about the video and looks down on Ravi instead of him.

It’s a good reminder to all of us that the tiny group of people we know is only a small group of the billions of other people in this world. Why do we let ourselves get influenced by these people? Don’t compare yourself with the ones around you and don’t let them shape the image you have of yourself. Accept yourself for who you are, be proud of the person you are and strive to be your best, everyone else should accept you as you are. There is so much more out there, and there is so much diversity in this world, so much culture, so much understanding. If you have found yourself in an unaccepting environment, move on, move forward and be proud of the person you are. 

Do Some Research

I’m sorry for the slow start to this week…I think I wrote about 15 drafts on Monday, but I couldn’t seem to get my thoughts straight. I felt the need to comment on the death of Bin Laden and the deaths of Ghaddafi’s son and grandchildren, but I was at a loss for words. I realized that talking about death, no matter how celebratory for most it may be, is not something I enjoy discussing. I’ve also realized just how much I dislike discussing politics.  Since the “Arab Spring” began, I feel that most of my conversations revolve around politics. This weekend, I was at a British wedding (not the Royal one :)) and all people wanted to discuss with me, as a Syrian-American, was politics. Although I studied politics for 6 years, the truth is, I simply have no interest in touching upon nor debating sensitive subjects.  I was going to title this blog “Stay out of Politics,” but I realized that I may stay out of it socially, but I love to read about it while I am by myself.

So, what I will say, today, is “do some research.” Too many of us have differing opinions and beliefs, and I think that everyone, as long as they are aware of a situation, has the right to believe what they want, as wrong as others may find that to be.  Someone recently asked me how we are supposed to know “the truth” or what is really going on.  I said that we can’t.  I have family in Syria, and I still can’t get an accurate account of what is happening there. All I know is that people are dying, and it’s barely a priority on most news agendas.  There is no way we can find out the truth from only watching or reading the news, but at the same time, direct sources aren’t always an option either. All news stations have their own platforms, so it is up to us to do our own research and formulate our own opinions of what is going on in the world. Because we find so many conflicting news stories, I believe it’s best if we expand our sources and read from around the world – Haaretz, NYTimes, BBC, AlJazeera, Fox, etc.  I personally enjoy reading the Op-Ed section of newspapers.  Whether I completely agree or disagree with what the person is saying, at least I know it’s an opinion – nothing claiming to be fact.  Find a journalist you respect and read their opinion, maybe you’ll find that it answers many of the questions you have. 

Regardless of what your opinion on political matters may be, I do encourage everyone to “read all about it.”  I believe it is important to educate ourselves so that we know what is going on in our nation and abroad.  Plus, if you happen to end up at a foreign wedding, it will be nice to answer questions that may arise in a political discussion between you and the other guests. 😉

Smiles are Contagious

Have you ever seen someone randomly smiling to themselves and then noticed that you are now smiling too? It’s nice to see that someone is having a nice thought, or that someone just made their day. Little things like that can really brighten up a moment. I know it sounds a bit cheesy, but try to smile a bit more, today…even if you’re not feeling it. It might be nice to let a memory or a thought take you to a place where you smile and the next person sees it causes a ripple effect.  Look around in the next public place you  visit, look at people’s smiles, and hopefully it will make you smile, too.

Forget the research done that proves that smiles are contagious, I think it’s proof enough that everyone has experienced it. Hopefully, just thinking about it makes you think off to nicer moments, regardless of the mood you’re in right now.  This reminded me of one of the great quotes by Buddy the Elf (Will Ferrell in Elf), “I just like to smile. Smiling’s my favorite!”

Just a note: I’ve read that smiling makes a person more attractive, and helps them to keep a positive outlook…so those are just two extra good reasons to keep smiling! 😀

Call up a Friend

How often do we think about calling to check up on a friend, but never actually do it? I feel like I always have an excuse not to pick up the phone, but it’s not even that time consuming! The truth is, if you keep thinking about it, you will always feel a weight on your shoulders. And even better, once you do hear your friend’s voice, you will probably feel an overwhelming satisfaction.

We can’t let distance come between valuable friendships – whether your friend has moved, you have moved, or even if they live in the same city. Whatever the reason for the distance, the phone can always keep us near.  There are many people I think about on a regular basis but never see, and with so much going on right now, I don’t even know their news!

The same goes for meeting up with a friend. A cup of coffee with a friend is even better and more enjoyable then a catch up session on the phone (at least in my opinion!).  We let “life” get in the way of some great friendships.  If someone has been on your mind lately, or you just miss a friend, get in touch with them. It’s always good to hear a distant voice, especially one that brings back good memories.

Have a BBQ!

It’s spring time, meaning it’s the most enjoyable weather of the year! (Aside from the allergies…). If the weather permits, go make the most of your weekend by spending it outdoors.  One of my favorite ways to spend my time is with friends and with food…so organize a BBQ this weekend. Grilling is so easy and there is always one willing volunteer who will offer his/her grilling services.  If you have a friend with a backyard call them up and plan a small gathering. If you have the backyard, take the initiative to call up some friends and get everyone together. This is a good way to wind down and relax.

If you like crawfish, it’s a great time for a crawfish broil, and if you don’t, it’s always the right time of year for fajitas or burgers. Also, throwing some chicken cutlets onto a skewer with veggies or peppers is a really easy and healthy option.  If you just want to contribute to the meal, some easy and nice ideas are corn on the cob (boiling only takes 10 min) with some added seasoning and butter or a tossed salad.

Have a great weekend!