Why is it Hard for People to Express Themselves through Words?

IMG_1844

Everyone has a different answer to this question, and others might argue that it isn’t hard at all for a person to express themselves through words. At the core of this question I believe the answer can be found with one single word that expands into many different possible explanations: Atmosphere. Atmosphere includes everything from friends and family, to your location, and even your culture.

I find it harder to express myself through verbal communication, because both of my parents were raised in a culture where it wasn’t socially acceptable to sit and talk about your feelings at the dinner table. They didn’t have complete support from adult figures to express themselves, and as they put it, “Our parents were very narrow minded and they didn’t believe in the whole “Let’s talk about our feelings and ideals.” Even though my parents have tried to change, It has still played a minor factor into my upbringing. Although my parents are  supportive and more than willing to talk to me about anything I feel or have to say, it’s something they’re not used to and it’s quite uncommon. It’s uncomfortable as well, because I always feel like there is a correct answer that I have to give, or else I will sound like too much of complainer or oversharer. Since I don’t have the confident  ability to express myself with words around my family, it definitely harder for me to use verbal expression with friends, classmates, and even distant relatives.

Another example of atmosphere affecting expression through words can be found in the acclaimed novel, The Catcher in the Rye. The main character, Holden, a young man struggling to cope with the idea that he must leave his childhood behind and enter adulthood, has a hard time finding anybody that will listen to him. Throughout the novel, he is very indecisive and he always seems to come off with ideas from the deep end that many cannot comprehend, such as asking taxi drivers where the ducks go when the pond freezes over. In Holden’s atmosphere, he is set on his ideas, but his friends and family have affected the way he chooses to express himself verbally, because Holden has convinced himself that no one can really understand his thoughts and emotions.  It’s almost as if his friends and family have made him anti- expressive through the many times they have tried but failed to understand him. In this particular atmosphere the expressor is not challenged with incapability, but the incapability of others to accustom to what Holden is trying to say. Sometimes, it is not others faults. Sometimes, we express with words that very few will understand.

We fear not being heard because of who we are and where we come from. In a short essay, How To Tame a Wild Tongue by Gloria Anzaldúa, depicts this reality by pointing out that she was made fun of and punished for speaking broken and heavy accented english. The atmosphere surrounded by her did not allow her to express herself through verbal communication, because no one would listen. Even though she was smart, everyone around her would see her as an ignorant immigrant. After a while I can’t imagine how difficult it becomes to express yourself without the fear of being judged or shut down.

There is also an alternative answer to this question. Many others are outstanding at expressing themselves through their actions and body language rather than their words. Their atmosphere has crafted them into efficient action expressors rather than verbal communicators. These are usually people who have a harder time saying what they need to get across and rather show exactly what they mean.

In the beginning of the year I attended a sportsmanship conference on behalf of my cross country team. There were representatives from each sport in our school. As our guest speaker was talking about what it takes to be leader he asked us to move our right arm in a circular motion above our heads. After three minutes of talking and giving us examples he told us we were ready. He asked us to put our hand on our chin and as he said that he placed his hand on his cheek. We all followed him and put our hand on our cheeks when he specifically said our chin.

He started shouting, “Is that your chin brother?”

“ I had no idea my chin was located on my cheek!”

We all erupted in laughter at the mistake we had all made. When everyone settled down he explained that this activity was an example of actions speaking louder than words. He said, “Sometimes, We do things and people will follow, because actions are sometimes more powerful than any words that are said. Whether it’s a good or bad example, others are bound to follow. People might not remember what you say, but they will remember what you did and the impact that you made by your actions.” This was a clear definition of validated expression through actions. And maybe this is why people find it harder to express themselves through words. Maybe because words aren’t enough for them. Maybe it’s harder to express yourself through words, because you simply can’t. No words can ever  be enough to express your thoughts and emotions.

Some of us are shy, and some of us have too much to say. Some of us are great verbal communicators and some of us are better action orientated. I think Holden was trying to communicate that it’s difficult for people to express themselves through words whether  a person’s well at verbal expression, because it can be difficult for a person’s atmosphere to understand and process an individual’s thoughts and emotions. Whether it’s harder to express ourselves through words depends on the person’s willingness to break all difficult emotional and social boundaries to express oneself.

 

-Laura

Am I ___ Enough ?

I believe that one of the worst questions anyone can ask themselves is “Am I __ enough?” Words that usually fill up that blank are smart, good, beautiful, strong and just an ongoing list of them. This question usually arises when someone is comparing themselves to someone else, or just doesn’t feel good about themselves. I ask myself, constantly many versions of this same question, and it honestly just leaves me feeling, very often, not enough. In order to really push my mind away from this question I cannot and should not be comparing myself to anyone else in the first place.

Everybody is different. Everybody comes from a different home setting. And if none of us look or act or think identically, comparison doesn’t even make sense.

In high school I come across brilliant people with 4.0 + gpa’s and when I start comparing myself to them, I instantly feel stupid. I’ll see all these insanely beautiful girls, and when I start comparing myself once again, I don’t feel beautiful enough.

That is absolutely the worst way to think.

I am who I am. The only person anyone should be comparing themselves to, is the person they were yesterday. Working on myself is a far better way to make me feel enough. I have limits, and talents and capabilities that differ from most people, just as other people have those that are different than mine. It makes no sense to compare to unlike things, because the only thing anyone gets out of that is feelings of negativity toward themselves.

The moon isn’t compared to the sun. A rose is not compared to a sunflower. All four of these are equally beautiful, but all very different just like people are. Whether it’s accepted we aren’t all carbon copies of one another. We are diverse in our appearances and personalities.

Next time you feel like comparing yourself to someone, just before you ask yourself, “Am I __ enough?”, remember that you shouldn’t be trying to be as smart or beautiful or strong as other people. You are enough, just the way you are. Improve yourself in a way where you’re being as best as YOU can be and do not focus on other people and their standards of everything.

You are you. No one else. So be different and be your own type of beautiful, smart. and strong.

unnamed (53)

Mary & Beautiful

unnamed (52)

Mary Shenouda

She’s one of those people that you can’t help smiling when you see. Mary is my friend and my team-mate, but she’s also loved and adored by everyone else. I think people who are just positive and affect people in great ways deserve to know how amazing they are, because most of the time they don’t even realize it. 

 

I don’t think there has ever been a moment where Mary hasn’t made someone’s day happier. She makes people laugh and then laughs with them. She tends to bump into walls and falls very often but she embraces it. Her clumsiness has its own ways, and that’s part of her beautiful and unique personality. Mary is also one of the most accepting people I know. She is kind towards everyone, and talks to everyone. I’ve never once seen her look down upon anyone, and that is a trait not many obtain. It doesn’t stop there. Mary is beyond beautiful, but has no idea. Her smile is one of the most contagious things on this earth. It just adds to her beauty and enhances all her features.

 

There are certain people on this earth, that when you look at, you instantly know that they’re making the world a better place and Mary is one of those people. 

Picture This.

IMG_4629

“She drank from a bottle called DRINK ME

And up she grew so tall,

She ate from a plate called TASTE ME

And down she shrank so small.

And so she changed, while other folks

Never tried nothin’ at all.”

 

I spent this past weekend consumed by my childhood nostalgia. Now that AP’s have ended I  have had a lot more free time to be productive with my personal life, or as my mom puts it, “You have more time to clean the house and help around.” During this past semester I have probably only thoroughly cleaned my room once. I use the term “thoroughly,” because I believe there is a big difference between trying to make your room look clean and externally beautiful, versus actually going through the two hour process of a really making sure you clean between all corners and cracks. Some people see cleaning as a hassle, but I have always used cleaning as a stress reliever, a really feel-good thing to do. I think cleaning is also really cool, because you get to go through all your things and reminisce about past memories through inanimate objects.

If you’re like me, cleaning my room takes almost double the time, because I enjoy going through all my old papers, pictures, music, and just about anything I haven’t looked at for awhile. This time around I found one of my old favorite poem books from my early childhood. I found the dusty- spiderwebbed book hidden in the corner behind my writing desk. It had probably fallen over due to the occasional over piling stacks of paper from school I had managed to fit next to my bookshelf. I had a big smile when I realized it was Where the Sidewalk Ends, by Shel SIlverstein, because he has always been one of my favorite writers. To this day, The Giving Tree is a book that I still read to this day, because It has a beautiful timeless message that’s a classic reminder that life’s about giving back through love. Finding the book reminded me of my parents reading and acting out those very characterized poems to my brother and I almost every night before we went to bed. I recall being so happy laughing so hard when my father tried to reenact the poem, Dirtiest Man in the World.

After rediscovering my long lost treasure of a book, it was simply impossible to go back to cleaning my room. I spent the next few hours looking at some of my more favorite picture books I have kept over the years in long forgotten cabinet in the garage. I even found a recording of another Shel Silverstein book, A Light in the Attic. I had practically begged my mom to buy the recording for our car trips. Rediscovering all those books were like rediscovering happy memories. Just like the simple, but impactful messages in those books. I also saw how life was so much simpler and happy, but how also how specific childhood moments have helped shape my beliefs and who I am as a person. Looking at all my childhood books made we wonder why picture books are specifically directed towards children, because almost all of us could stand to use refresher on these simple messages to be better happier and nicer people to others and ourselves; Something that most of us forget to put into effect each day.

Picture Books are meant to have no underlying message. They are meant to have a bright yellow theme tied around them. If we have read so many picture books with the same loving and beneficial messages each day as children, why is it so hard to put it into effect as adults? If they’re so simple, why Can’t we follow? Why, as adults, do we brush these books aside, and deem “Unrealistic” and “Fit for the mind of a child?” I never finished cleaning my room, but what I did this weekend, benefited me more than any cleaning I could have ever completed. Looking back can always help us in unimaginable ways.

 

-Laura

 

Below is a list of some of my favorite picture books definitely worth checking out (: (In no particular order)

  • One Written by, kathryn Otoshi
  • Where the Wild Things Are Written by, Maurice Sendak
  • Miss Nelson is Missing Written by, Harry Allard
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar Written by, Eric Carle
  • Lady Lollipop Written by, Dick King- Smith
  • Harold and the Purple Crayon by, Crockett Johnson

Death of a Daily Routine

IMG_4617

We often complain that we are stuck with a certain routine in our lives. If you look anywhere and I mean everywhere from blog sites to social media posts, you can always find people complaining about falling into a certain routine and  advising others on how they need to try something different. All their posts include the routinely quotes demanding we, “Seize and live in the moment” or simply, “Try something new.” Ironically half of those people making these posts continue on with their routine lives. I call this routinefobia (not actually a legit phobia). It’s a terrible illness where we become convinced that we are okay with these routines. It is a disease where we are afraid to try new things.

I along with others have found myself guilty of the complaining routine crew who don’t do much to change it. A huge part of me does believe that routine is structure and will help keep a person less stressed, but I do believe that it also takes away some of your ability to think for yourself. I made this weekend an experiment to see if I could successfully break away from a smaller routine in my life. This weekend I attempted to tackle my social routine, which usually consists of going to a movie, or spending my night at a shopping mall with friends. I instead, decided to dive into the world of literature by watching The Death of a Salesman in Long beach this past saturday. This was only about the third time I have gone and seen live theatre. The last two times consisted of a musical and the Nutcracker. I was around ten years old and I don’t remember  much except thinking the musical was over when it was really just intermission. I also remember being very disappointed at the fact that the Nutcracker was a show strictly on dancing and music.

I had bought my ticket to the Death of a Salesman, because I  remembered my father telling me it was an outstanding play that had been converted into a book. It seemed interesting, but the whole week, I had my doubts about attending the play. It was a step out of my comfort zone and It gave me a feeling of uneasiness not knowing what was going to happen. Finally on saturday I entered the theatre with an open mind and I was completely blown away. My friend and I were the only ones who looked under the age of twenty. It was better, because I had the feeling of being surrounded by many wise men and women. Before I get into more details of how this play was incredible, i’ll explain a little more about the play itself if it’s unfamiliar to some.

Death of a Salesman is situated in the late 1940’s where there is no option in life, but to rise to the top and become wealthy. A man is fixated on the idea that his older son is going to be somebody big and successful, and he drives himself to his death not giving up on his aspirations for his son, even though his son tell him time after time that his life is not meant for such great things. I couldn’t believe how drawn I became. The acting was no Jack Nicholson in The Shining, but the actors gave you a strong sense of belonging almost as if you could’ve easily been there along in the story development. The emotions in the theatre were so raw that actors were able to create a certain atmosphere to match their feelings, words and actions. I could feel the tension in suspenseful scenes and I emphasized with the characters. I loved every minute of the play. There was so much symbolism to take away from the play, because the play is still relevant today, after sixty years. I did not expect to have so much fun in those short two hours. At the end of the play, I felt as though I had gone through the same experience, as where I know I could not feel that by watching a movie at a theater.

This past saturday was a complete success at trying something new. If I wouldn’t have followed through, I would’ve never realized how fond I am of live theatre. It all starts with something. Trying something new at your favorite restaurant, or maybe going to see a foreign film. Possibly reading a good book for a change. Whatever it is, It doesn’t help to step outside your comfort zone and try something new. As cheesy as it sounds, you might discover a lot about the things that are truly worth enjoying.

 

-Thank you,

Laura

Choices, Choices, Choices

End of junior year and the time to fill out college applications has come. Not for everyone though; I’m only starting right now because my AP Lang teacher gave us a “college project” and part of the requirement of the project is to create a resume and write your personal statement. I’m not the type of person to complain about homework, especially if it’s related to college and its there to make my life easier for later, and ESPECIALLY if its with English, but this time its English that’s hitting me hard.

can't wait for summer because its going to be a breeze #notreally #college

can’t wait for summer because its going to be a breeze #notreally #college

The requirements to build our portfolio made me spend so much time on deciding what should go in there and what wasn’t worth it.” My resume was basically a laundry list, which is fine for a resume (just don’t do that in your personal statement!) and I was quite proud of my list, but when my friend later told me everything she had in her resume, I didn’t feel like mine was good enough.

Its natural to wish that you did more in high school, everyone wishes there was something they could go back and do, but sometimes its too late and everyone just has to accept that.

College applications are going to be stressful, I can already foreshadow it. But they honestly don’t have to be. With the right kind of support (mostly from parents) and hard work this summer(who can’t wait to dedicate their summer to college apps??!) there will be no scrambling in November.

Best of Luck to all those in the same situation as me,

❤ Zainab

A True Friend ?

unnamed (51)

My dad feeding me, when I wasn’t able to feed myself

These past few years, due to situations I was put in, and how certain people made me feel, I began asking myself, “What really is the meaning of a true friend?” But the answer had been there for 12 years of my life, and I didn’t even know it. In the picture above, my dads clearly feeding me a cucumber. Although, its just a cucumber, he didn’t have to stand there and care for me. He could’ve eaten that cucumber. He could’ve left it on the ground and watch me fall as I struggled to reach for it. But instead, he stood there and hand fed me. I’m not saying true friends hand feed you cucumbers. I am saying that true will do everything and anything to make your life, not easier, but easier to live. They’ll be there physically to help you when you fall. They won’t just watch you get up. They’ll help you up. They won’t watch you stumble and fall again. They’ll try to prevent you from falling in the first place.

Now-a-day the amount of friends, followers, likes has seemed to really blur the true image of a friend. The number of people you associate with seems to matter more than the quality of each friend. But what I’ve learned is so many “friends” are going to watch you fall, and not do anything about it. Some “friends” will lead you to a fall, and just walk away. Some “friends” will look at you, while your on the ground, and declare themselves as better than you are. And it will sting, because “friends” aren’t suppose to act that way.

The one piece of advice I would give is never let a bad friend, ever, make you feel like you’re the one with the problem, that you’re the one messing things up. Never doubt yourself. Be the type of friend you believe a friend is and you’ll start slowly realizing who in your life treats you as well as a true friend should. A true friend is someone who helps you be the best person you can be, who wants you to be glorified and isn’t selfish. A true friend is someone who will do everything they can to make you a better person. A true friend will help you to love yourself, through loving you unconditionally.  If you fall, or miss a shot, or mess up with your parents, or fail a test, a true friend will make you get up and the next you make that shot, or ace the test, they will be there. They will say it was you, that you were capable of being better. To me that’s what I’ve learned a true friend is.

They make you stronger, happier, and better.

Can Selfless be Selfish?

travis-kalanick-is-a-fan-of-rand--but-especially-the-fountainhead

For the past few months I have been reading Ayn Rand’s critically acclaimed novel, The Fountainhead. After half a century, it is still known as one of the most controversial novels in print. I say that I’ve been reading the book for the past few months because I’ve really taken the time to digest this novel. Instead of usually combining my reading with my other English class assigned novels, I’ve decided to put my focus on this one particular book whenever I had the opportunity. Something about this novel struck me differently than other novels. Every time I read a few chapters I felt as though I were able to take away a lesson from the character and plot development. Each time that I’ve come back to this book after awhile it’s become almost a reward to know what the next lesson will be.

A lot of people have criticized Rand for her establishment of her philosophy, objectivism. A philosophy where one strives for happiness and will achieve it when one finds content with the facts of reality and the needs of the world. Objectivism does not praise god, but man for new inventions and advancements in society that they achieve independently. While reading The Fountainhead I have watched a few  of Rand’s lectures and although her views of an independent society are thorough, I don’t believe that society is attainable. Rand expressed that everyone should take responsibility for their independence and success. In one of her later interviews with Donahue I completely disagreed when Rand stated that women and men were already equal in all aspects of society. Then, She was asked whether or not she would ever  vote for a female presidential candidate, and she declined hastily saying that no women would ever want that job. It’s 2015 and it interests me to think what Ayn Rand would have commented on our economic state and upcoming elections.

Rand’s point of views have contradicted many of my moral beliefs, but one brief dialogue in The Fountainhead  has left me pondering for a few weeks. In part 2, chapter 13 of The Fountainhead Catherine, Ellsworth Power-seeking Manipulative Toohey’s niece comes to visit Toohey to receive advice and guidance to why she is so upset with her life.

Catherine: “I knew that unhappiness comes from selfishness, and that one can find true happiness only in dedicating oneself to others. Why, all the greatest men in history have said that.”…”I used to feel happy when I helped someone.. Sometimes I think it doesn’t make sense that a human is completely sincere in the act of good will.”

Toohey: “ Don’t you see how selfish you’ve become! You chose a noble career not for the good you could accomplish, but for the personal happiness you expected to find.”


This short dialogue between uncle and niece has made me think about my career path. SInce I was a little girl I had always wanted to help others. I would always perform good deeds without boasting because It has always brought me personal happiness. When I was in elementary school I had already decided that I would become a social worker to help other people be happy. I never realized that a lot of my motives were based on the fact that it would bring me happiness to see others happy. So, in the end, who is really benefiting? Is it wrong to attain happiness through the use of others? Is it even possible to help others without expressing self achievement and happiness for oneself? Is it completely selfish and demeaning to expect so much from “virtuous” acts? I never thought I would back out of this set profession, but I have started wondering whether I really chose my career based on helping others or helping myself.

–Laura

Making Memories

Heard the saying a picture is worth a thousand words?

Well, now its more like a thousand likes.

Now that everyone has smart phones and all forms of social media, most people are obsessed with posting pictures. And I’m not saying its wrong to post a picture of yourself doing something cute, unique, or plain crazy. What the problem is the need for people to post every inch of their lives on social media. But really, I’m guilty of this too…

Sometimes I wonder, do I have any pictures I’ve taken to not share with anyone?

During Spring Break in the second week of April, my friend won a second place award for writing an amazing short fiction story and when she was at my house, I spammed my snapchat story with so many pictures of her because I was proud of her hard work. Later that night she said, “Hey Zainab! Come quick lets take a picture!” And it was at the end of the day, when I was looking my worst, so I refused but then what she said next shocked me.

“Chill dummy. No one is going to see it. Its just for me. For the memories.”

And what made me question, why do I retake photos? Is it because they aren’t good enough for me? Or for instagram?

It made me feel ashamed that I didn’t have a single picture of her with me that I had taken for the purpose of not posting it.

To change my (sometimes) uncontrollable selfie habit, I’m challenging myself, and all the readers reading this, to NOT take pictures solely for the purpose of posting it online and getting likes. Do it for yourself. And YOUR memories.

Isn't she hilarious?

Isn’t she hilarious?

While we were on the topic of instagram, I have to urge you all to follow @iambaker because she makes the pretties cupcakes and cookies with the most clever and funny captions. She’ll make you laugh, trust me.

Zainab

 

Woman Up

unnamed (33)

One of my biggest, broadest goals, is to change one thing in this world. That one thing is to change the way the world perceives woman. The strength, and perseverance every girl has is barely noticed today. Woman are seen as fragile, and to men, unequals.

Every day, I hear phrases such as “Man up”, or “Be a Man”,  when people are put in difficult circumstances that can also stimulate fear. I wonder to myself, why not a woman. Why are all females depicted as inferior to males. We are strong. We are capable.

I am Egyptian and the culture itself is very sexist. When I went to Egypt this past summer, I learned that men are payed more, in all careers. The woman are also expected to be more cautious, and shouldn’t walk outside alone. My uncle would constantly question me for not clearing the table for him, or for wanting to watch a basketball game. Everyone was so idealistic, and the woman didn’t stand up for themselves. Truthfully, it all got me so angry. I feel a woman’s “place” is not at home in the kitchen, or serving her husband and family. Although, in California, the sexism isn’t as severe, it still exists which I find ridiculous. I don’t think any girl should be expected to be or do what the world has molded her into doing or being. Woman need to break this mold.

 “A woman must not depend on the protection of a man, but must be taught to protect herself”

-Criminal Minds

Woman are strong, and have the ability to be strong for themselves. My favorite show “Criminal MInds” really brings out the strength  in females, that is not seen or accounted for. J.J, a female, part of an F.B.I behavioral analysis unit, holds a gun fearlessly, walks into crime scenes, fearlessly, gets captured, and tortured, fearlessly. She holds her head up high, and isn’t depicted as the typical woman people depict today. Although, the character is fictional, she is one of my inspiration’s. She shows her audience that a girl doesn’t need a man to be fearless or strong, for she already has those traits.

J.J isn’t the only female that really emphasizes a true woman’s capabilities. I see many girls around me who are so oblivious of their strength, and independence. The amount of strength and fearlessness girl’s embody is just overwhelming. One day, I truly hope that when someone hits an obstacle in their life, the piece of advice given to them is, “Woman Up.”