The world we live in changes on daily basis. Looking back to twenty-one years ago, or more realistically like fifteen years ago in which I actually remember, it has definitely changed. Even though my parents tried to expose me and prepare me for the real world as much as they could, it tasted different when it became a first hand experience for me. I do not know if this has to do with me being an only child or not, but I was extremely sensitive growing up. Anything my friends at school would say would get to me and sometimes would leave me in tears. It might have been because I viewed everyone in relation to my parents who are literally my guardian angels. As I grew up I learned that people lie, people sometimes say things they do not actually mean, some people do have your back and some do not, and finally that people change. I became more courageous, more confident, not everything said to me gets to me anymore, all in all I became a person with thick skin. I am grateful for this change as this world we live in can be cruel sometimes, and having thin skin is not a good thing to have then. Our world has also changed. Look at how technology has evolved and almost everyone and everything relies on it now, but I am a believer that life only changes because people change. People grow up which leads to them change, people change views and perceptions based on personal experiences which also leads to them change, and much more could happen in which leads people and life to change around us. In a simple way, life has changed around me whereas, I had my first Nokia cell phone when I was in eighth grade, however, today, my eleven year old cousin has not only a regular cell phone, but an iPhone. The way my parents and parents back in the late 1990s and early 2000s viewed raising a child is somewhat different to how parents view it today. Till this day, my parents have a no technology policy at our dinner table, no matter how many times my phone is ringing or how anxious I am to get up and go check it, I have to continue having dinner with my parents and actually have a decent technology-free conversation with them. However, now that both my parents have iPhones, whenever I am home and we are all watching tv in our living room, you can possibly see one or even both of them on their phones either playing games or reading the news. This certainly shows me how people change perceptions and how sometimes this change is technology based. Nonetheless, I am glad I have not gotten to the stage where I have to ask my parents to put away their phones at our dinner table, yet anyway.
Moreover, this will sound extremely cliche, but my parents have had strong influences on my life and helped me become the person I am today. When I was five years old my dad was diagnosed with cancer, I of course was not aware of what was happening, however, my mom was very strong. She continued supporting my dad and never for a second failed to take good care of both myself and my father. Ten years later my dad had a recurrence, thankfully he is a warrior and beat it again, but nonetheless, it was difficult for us to go through. This time I knew what was going on, this time I felt that I owe it to my mom to be strong for her although not for a second did she show any weakness. My mother is the ultimate definition of strength. As I mentioned I am third generation American, thus both my families left Jordan a very long time ago however we went back; she was on her own, had to raise a kid and make sure they still had the love, care and attention they needed, but also had to care for my dad as he went through chemotherapy. When it hit us again, my mom was the first one standing, she is a believer and that has definitely reflected on how she treats adversities. Not to take away from my dad, as he is also an extremely strong person, not for a second did I ever feel that he was actually sick. Trying to cope with the fact that your dad is diagnosed with cancer is extremely difficult, let alone when your father kept it together and tried his best to make you forget about what was going on, if that was even possible.
Speaking of my dad, he has also influenced my life in a different way. He went to America back in the 1960s with little knowledge of English. He literally started from scratch, learned the language, applied to universities meanwhile working to support himself, got into University of Pennsylvania an Ivy League school, graduated with honors and got his PhD from there. He became fluent in multiple languages other than Arabic and English at that point and did not stop striving to learn more. He finally became the archaeologist he always aspired to be, the archaeologist many did not believe he could possibly be, the archaeologist who is an incredible son, brother, husband and father. He influenced me and had me become a firm believer of the saying “ You reap what you sow”. I learned that if I put my time and effort as well as hard work into something it will pay off eventually, maybe not today or tomorrow, but it for sure will. And if for some reason it does not, then one shall not give up. My mom always says: “ when one door closes mama, another opens, trust me!” Karma is a thing, as a result, I have learned to define my goals and work as hard as I can to achieve them. They might change along the way as I grow up and mature and that is fine, but to never ever give up on what I want no matter what happens, is one of the most important things I have learned from my parents thus far.
During high school I surprisingly was actually Head of Media for our Model United Nations Club. I say surprisingly because looking back at my life during my mid to late teens I was heavily involved in basketball which I will touch on in a bit. However, for our MUN club, I ran our entire school conference from start to end. Made sure all the notepads, pens, paper, name tags,... etc are ordered. Personally went and picked some items up. Created a video for our opening ceremony and one for our closing which included all the pictures and clips I took during our conference, and finally gave an on the spot speech to over 200 people at our closing ceremony when our VP was absent because of sudden events that had occurred. This was an occurrence where I had to use my usually absent creativity and entertain the crowd with a speech that lasted ten long long minutes. I was literally informed two minutes before I was on stage and improvisation is what got me through it. Afterwards, as I was leaving my school I got stopped by my high school principal who was informed that I did not really prepare for the speech I gave, she applauded me and thanked me for my courage and creativity that I came up with on the spot. I felt really proud of myself for being able to think on the spot and continue leading the show I have been running behind the scenes.
The best feeling I can experience is the sense of pride my parents have for me. Knowing how proud they are when they sit with their friends and talk about me is a great feeling. It gives me the motivation and will to succeed even more. I was so happy my parents saw me graduate high school and give a graduation speech. My dad teared up and my mom of course started crying. That was a feeling that left me speechless. Hopefully having them attend my university graduation this coming May where I am finishing school in four years, with two bachelor degrees whereas I came in with zero units will be an even greater feeling. Another different feeling that makes me extremely happy where time seems to stop is when I play basketball. Even though I am no longer a professional basketball player, and probably so out of shape; I still enjoy every second I am on the court and I absolutely love it. It is more than just a game for me, I actually do believe that it has become a part of me at this point.
On a more personal level, I am the happiest when I am with my friends from home. Don't get me wrong I adore my friends here in San Diego and enjoy every second I spend with them whether staying in or going out. However, my day one friends are the best thing that ever happened to me. I grew up with them, got in trouble with them, succeeded with them, and most recently traveled the world with them. Having them by my side no matter where we are is an incredible feeling that always makes me feel happy and safe. All these late nights or early mornings spent talking to my best friends Farah and Diana back in Jordan and the United Kingdom are definitely worth every second. Updating them on what is happening in my life thousands of miles away and hearing about theirs is always fun, but the gossip is even more fun. With all the social media platforms we are on now, we definitely have loads of gossip and updates to tell each other. I will never get over the excitement when I get a text from Diana such as: "OMG GUESS WHAT!!!!!" That's when you know my day is going to get a lot more entertaining. Going home and spending Christmas with all my friends as we have our traditional annual Christmas dinner party makes me extra happy about the season. Seeing them after months of separation is an amazing feeling and it keeps getting better the older we get.