It takes courage to reveal who you are, yet alone, how you feel- especially your vulnerability. I respect and honour those who entrust me with their vulnerability. I admire them so much in being so real and genuine with their feelings- unafraid to break down the stigma around being “weak” and “asking for help” through expressing and sharing their stages of powerlessness.
Recently, a book I co-authored in was my first step towards declaring my vulnerability. I always talked about it with close friends of mine, sincerely unashamed of my state. I always preferred sharing it with my intimate relationships rather than bottling it up inside. Sigmund Freud once said, “out of your vulnerabilities comes your strength.” Writing, submitting, and publishing my story are just a few of my strengths that came to light.
My story is about knowing how to bike. But the analogy stated is how ironic it is that I barely know how to pedal on a bike and find my balance simultaneously, just as how I strive to find my balance in real life, learning how to juggle all the things that occur and I prioritize, along with the culture I am from and the one I live in too.
The book, An Arab Women’s Notebook, is self-published and was released for sale last December (2016). Along with 19 Arab women from North America, I was proud to partake in this project. The idea came suddenly to the project’s lead, Dana Ben Halim, who jumped right in to it, reaching out to women to submit their stories of love, loss, identity, success, failure and everything in between. The struggle to be a woman is one thing we share around the world; the struggle to fit in as an Arab woman in North America is another thing entirely.
From fighting for our rights, equality, human and economic dignity in the Middle East, we move to the West only to find that we are fighting a different fight: the fight against xenophobia, Islamophobia, and the stereotype that Arab women are oppressed, second class citizens, suppressed in paternalistic systems and subjugated governments. Women are fighters- no matter where they go. And this book is proof that Arab women are achievers who got lost only to be found later on along the way. They have a voice and are unapologetically proud to be both Arab and women. Women who collectively worked together to counter the universal rhetoric by commanding the narrative through an expressive form of art and penmanship. This book is proof that Arab women have a voice, one we are not letting go of and together, we can start the conversation without denying ourselves the right to speak and share. A voice that takes pride in being Arab, woman, and through our own journeys and experiences, we are able to relate with everyone around the world – because we believe there are more common things between us than there are differences.
I exposed myself, expressed losing my balance throughout my journey, and through publishing I found my ability to be proud of being lost, found, Arab, and a woman. Freud was right, you find strength through your vulnerability.
The book launched on May 3rd, 2017 in Toronto’s most beautiful and prominent book store, Ben McNally. Five co-authors signed, read their stories and discussed their experiences in a panel discussion, moderated by an Arab man, community leader and a proud feminist.