I recently had an eye-opening experience. I sat amongst a group of highly reserved women, discussing ways to infuse more of our rich Arabic culture into our school curriculum. Fifty of us - and I promise I'm not exaggerating - with nearly three-quarters mostly in 'silent observer' mode. Imagine a group of fifty, with a staggering 75% remaining silent, perhaps absorbing, perhaps judging. Our dialogues, if any, were short, cold and bored. Quite formal for a group of parents aiming to make school life more vibrant and meaningful for our children, don’t you think?
Sounds thrilling? Ah, not quite.
Our interactions were so sterile that if our group was a painting, it'd be fifty shades of beige. So, in a moment of pure, spontaneous mischief,I deviated from the script. Instead of the usual drab text, I sent...wait for it... a voice note. OMG chathaabaaa (jokes)! An actual voice, with its pitches, pauses, giggles, and all the authenticity of a person. And in my excitement, I messed up - totally forgetting a word in Arabic, and just like described it in English for a long, long time.
The aftermath? Beautiful chaos.
My slip-up opened the floodgates of conversations. There were giggles, cheeky jokes about my blunder, but more importantly, it became the icebreaker we so desperately needed. One by one, voices chimed in, shedding their reservations and sharing their thoughts freely. It was as if my unguarded moment gave them the permission they needed to be their authentic selves.
In environments like these, where caution is the order of the day and stepping out of line is frowned upon, how does one foster true change? By being true to oneself.
To all my fabulous Arab women out there, especially those who are looking to grow and evolve, take a lesson from this little story. Sometimes, all a stifling situation needs is for someone to step up, show vulnerability, and shift the atmosphere from rigid to warm. You don't have to be perfect; you just have to be genuine. My lulu of wisdom from this episode: In an ocean of conformity, be that splash of color. Be fearless, be human, be YOU. It's okay to trip and fall if it gets others to stand up and walk.
Our rich Arabic traditions often advocate grace and poise, but let's not forget the beauty of raw, unscripted moments. The next time you're in a setting that's as thrilling as watching paint dry, remember this: Change doesn’t always begin with a shout; sometimes, all it takes is a voice note.
Remember, darlings, the world doesn’t need more echoes. It needs voices. Let yours be heard, flubs and all.
Eager to share your own tales of authenticity? Drop them in the comments below!
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