Networking is always an interesting setting. It could be either extreme of completely authentic or completely fake.
This past weekend I attended the Harvard Arab Conference and in these two days I learnt a lot about entrepreneurship, investing and technology in the Arab region and met incredibly inspiring Arabs. But I also left much more empowered as a woman because I realized I can say what I used to find to be the hardest word:
My dad growing up told me over and over again that the hardest word I would learn to say is no and I never quite understood that until I had to learn how to protect my heart because not everyone out there has the best intentions for me (basic thinking but I guess I was a bit naive and a super optimist).
At the conference I said many yes’s and many no’s including:
No to BS conversations.
No to bad energy.
No to people who (whether explicitly said or not) want short term things.
No to people who refuse to respect me.
No to people who refuse to hear my story and only want to share theirs.
No to people who didn’t see my worth, whether said through their words and the more telling body language.
Saying yes to the right kinds of people and no to the things that were not aligned with my values, situations and people was so empowering and freeing. Kind of got that same feeling that I had when I was on the Bali swing overlooking the thousands of trees, feeling so free, centered, in-tune with life and empowered by the things I chose.
But a part of me still fidgets and feels slightly uncomfortable as I write this and saying out loud that I am valuable. I hope to one day reach the level of not having a single fidget and saying that I am valuable out proudly and with a humble exclamation point.
Because we must.
Not just for love
but for gender equality in the workforce.
for more seats to be available for us at the table.
for us women to able to support one another because when we each see our values then we will create the space to support each other, and remind each other never to forget what gems we are.
Not to be too dramatic or anything but our future generation depends on us. We are the ones who are setting through our every word and action we take be it an consciously or subconsciously.
When we see our individual value and collective value as a community magic happens.
This magic needs to be continuously fostered by selecting the right partner in business, friendship and love. Getting to that right selection would inevitability mean that you (and I) will need to get used to saying no many times until we meet and are surrounded with people who amplify our value and celebrate it with us. So for Day 34 of 365 Days of Love I propose you take a few minutes to reflect today:
Where are you with your self-worth?
How many times have you said no or yes to something or someone?
Who are the people around you who amplify your self-worth and celebrate it?
And once you identify them send them a thank you message and amplify their amazingness, remind them because God knows in this crazy rollercoaster ride of life we need an awesome tribe who will cheer us on. Life is meant to be lived in amazing, powerful and meaningful communities.
With that, I wanted to thank Nora Yousif, Mona Mofawi, Asma Jaber and Dalia Tarabay for the panel discussion yesterday talking about Arab Women in the MENA region. You were all inspirations to me. Thank you for being models of incredible Arab women doing powerful things unapologetically.