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. 

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Celebrate Independence

This would have been better if posted yesterday, on Independence Day, but I had to share my “I’m back” message :).   Also, I was so excited about coming back, that I forgot to wish you all a Happy 4th, I hope you all enjoyed it! I was inspired by the 4th of July to think about independence and freedom, and how important they are to the self.  Turns out, they are extremely important, as I’m sure you already know.

I have always prided myself on being so independent and, while I think I am in some aspects (I’m happy to spend time alone, or show up anywhere solo, or even tell myself that I don’t care what people think), the truth is, I have found myself to be an extremely dependent person. I have realized that I want people to be on the same page as me, I want people to agree with me, and I don’t want to be alone in my beliefs and opinions.

Then, I had a conversation with my impressively wise and younger brother, and it occurred to me that my personal happiness has been so rooted in what people think of me and whether or not they can understand my feelings.  Even though I think I can physically handle being alone, I cannot stand being alone emotionally! As I listened to my brother passionately explain to me his philosophy and outlook on life, I realized that he must find himself in a minority among many of his peers.  Does he realize that? Yes. Does he care? No.  I was in awe listening to him and at the same time thinking, how can my younger brother be so much more evolved than I? He truly doesn’t care what people think, he only cares about what he thinks and how he feels. Now that’s freedom.

I wasn’t thinking about the emotional dependence that can exist because I was focusing on the physical and financial aspects of dependency. I wanted to write about how, while we will always be in need of friendship, love and people that we know we can depend on, we should know that we can also depend on ourselves, more than anyone else.  Now I see one more element to independence, and that is freedom from caring what people think and what they believe, and the dependency on yourself to be happy. I’m really thankful for that conversation, because it really opened my eyes.  As we celebrate the USA’s independence, let’s also celebrate and embrace our own!

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.

Embrace Other Cultures

This past Saturday I went to a party to celebrate the upcoming marriage of two great friends. The bride has a French mother and a Lebanese father and the groom has an Iranian-Turkish mother and an American father. I cannot tell you how diverse this party was, with all the relatives and friends of both of these families – not to mention the groom’s cousin (Chinese-Iranian-Turkish) and his wife (Iraqi-American) and their families! I was already thinking about how beautiful it is to see so many people from so many different places all gathered at a French-themed cocktail party (in Texas), when one of the waiters asked me if I was Italian. I told him I am not, and we started talking about where we were from, so another waiter chimed in and said “Who cares. We are all one anyway – one human culture, one world.” It was the perfect way to define what I was thinking that night. 

 All of us grew up with our own culture, and I’m pretty sure all of us come from an ethnocentric one – at least I know I do! But, the truth is, as much as I love my culture and love the people I can share that with, my greatest friendships are not those I share a culture with but those I share a greater bond with. I find the least judgment, the least criticism and the most affection from these people. My best friends come from all over the world, and their spouses come from even further parts of the world…when you put all of us in a room you could think it was a UN meeting. So, it’s important to embrace other cultures and find a truer connection with someone. Instead of focusing on the things your families have in common, share your family’s background with someone, and establish a relationship based on what you can bring from your culture to someone else’s. I was talking about it with my friend, and she said it so well “Love transcends cultures.” It’s so true.