My Why: The reason I splay my heart open on the internet
Ever since I started sharing my writing publicly, which is nearly four years now, I’ve been asking myself: why the fuck do I do this? It can’t be for the attention—I got more of that when I was a model. It can’t be for the money—thus far I’ve been paid in peanuts for my work. It can’t be for the fuck of it—I’m not that gracious with my time.
I think my why boils down to an inherent and incessant need to express concepts that conflicted me growing up because who I am today is a result of overcoming them. Being raised in a Lebanese household in an American society meant countless restrictions...that my friends didn't have. I was brought up to follow what my elders told me blindly, and to keep my opinions to myself. This isn’t my parents’ fault; it’s the culture I come from, and it has its reasons for being the way it is. In the same breath though, I was encouraged by my environment to project what the world wants to see: sexy, fun, and above all, agreeable.
But I’m not always sexy, fun, or agreeable. None of us are. Human nature is far more complex than that. I’ve been stuck in limbo for most of my young adult life trying to give the world what they want to see, only to find that with each effort, I feel emptier inside. This past year, I wanted to get serious with my writing. I wanted to share my work with the world. But I was mislead into thinking that in order to be relevant, I needed to give the world what I think they want.
I missed the entire of point of sharing. Suddenly, I had nothing to say because nothing felt relevant.
It felt as if I lost my voice when I tried to find it.
I lost my authenticity because I didn't remain true to my curiosity. My next book is about the sexual taboo in Lebanon, and everything that comes along with it. The awkwardness of learning what a period is with Arab parents who refuse to have "the talk." The shock of confronting purity culture and sexism in Lebanon with an American mentality. The infuriation of being trash-talked by people who've never met me before. The disappointment when those people ended up marrying my friends. Lebanon is a small country. It's nearly impossible to run away from your past, and since I can't run away from mine, I'm taking on the bold task of confronting it on paper.
Exploring the taboos of Middle Eastern culture, a world that is far out of reach to most because it is so adamant about staying hush-hush, does several things. It melts the misconceptions that outsiders have, and it shows conflicted insiders that they're not alone. The five years I spent in Lebanon were the loneliest years of my life, even though I was never alone. I had friends. I had boyfriends. I had relatives. But I never felt understood or accepted for who I was, and that was very hard.
When we heal the pain that limits our potential, we heal the pain that limits others too. Any attempt at healing others without first healing oneself is superficial at best. I carried around a lot of pain growing up; I was torn between two worlds. I'm ready to share that pain now, because I've done the work to overcome it and be at home in my body. The pain isn't raw anymore, and I think my honesty can be of service to others whose pain is.
So this is my why this year. I don’t know who’ll stick around for it—but I’m learning that it doesn’t matter. The results should never be what push us to show up. Regardless of the outcomes, I am here to do the work.