One Life Lesson from Working at a Call Center

Salam (peace) everyone,

My first real job was working at a University call center that sucked the funds out of tired and bitter alumni. I called their personal cell phone numbers and even landlines. One lesson, and predominately the reason why I quit, was:

Not every job is for you and putting up a false front will not last.

Sometimes the expectations we set for ourselves, or the ones that people set for us are not realistic. As much as you genuinely try, your natural abilities will shine through in other ways, sometimes by accident, and that is okay. I didn’t land the sale after 20 mins of hearing this woman’s life story, and having her cry in my ears. But I was a good listener, and kept honest to my purpose. Advice: Never say you hate your job or it’s “just” your job.

It’s not ME to beg, or ask for money. I don’t know why this was a job I chose to do. My innate abilities were not fit for this and I simply could not hold up the robotic front. It’s just my job, and the people on the other line knew that. But for me to pretend like it wasn’t- was an unrealistic and superficial expectation.

I hate asking for money and always will. I’m that child that prefers to go to school with a granola bar for lunch rather than ask my parents. Even though we are good now, it is the personal shyness and sense of self-providing that I will always have. I am lucky to be in a profession where I am the provider and one who serves. (I couldn’t be a waitress though…that requires a front and a person with Chronic Resting B**** Face cannot do that) (No tips, no money).

Life long learner, life long server.

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On Realists and Wildflowers: An Essay on the Cycle of Life and How to See It

On Realists and Wildflowers

Society is like a field of wildflowers. There are flowers that tower above the rest with thick roots, flowers that grow in bundles all looking exactly the same, and others with petals that have welted.  Even though the soil is the same, many of these flowers are not allowed the same spot under the sun. As they grow, they look forward to the budding of new life, shedding of stale leaves, and for the wind to caress away the flu of winter. While Spring will come, many believe it won’t. Given the soil of these disheartened plants, it is easy to see why they feel that way.  Such is the case of people of color in America, where despite varying experiences, we feel as if we are “in the same frying pan.” The struggle to have hope for change is stunted by varying experiences, and by a wrestling to be under the sun. With this struggle, comes a cycle of life that never seems to get better. However,  life is a geometric line that continues whether we have good experiences or not, meaning that change can happen no matter how big of a storm there is.

 

In no way do I want to suggest that this thought process comes with ease, because many will reasonably disagree. I respect those experiences and only hope that those who can come to the same conclusion do so without these negative experiences happening to them first.

 

The Arab-Muslim-American flower is one that is royal blue with orange tiles, a strong and thick root, one that seems to stay rooted no matter what. Recently, this flower is had its petals burned at the edges, but not for staying in the sun. As hard as it tries to regrow its tender leaves, they fall to the same battle. For decades the image of Arabs and Muslims in America, as well as other peoples of color, have been subjected to scrutiny and racist tropes that never seem to go away. Speaking from the perspective of an Arab American and Muslim, there are tons of images that do not represent me and my values. They have been around for so long…they are ingrained. These tropes shake our core, and remind us that life can always be made more difficult than it should. However, even though hope can sometimes be the most destructive piece, it can also be the most motivating. That one day, others in the field will see me for my roots, rather than just my petals.

 

In  A Raisin in the Sun, Beneatha argues with Asagai about how life and destiny work. Beneatha, a young and determined African American woman, is stunted by her brother’s careless choices and bad luck achieving her dreams. She asks Asagai, “Don’t you see there isn’t any real progress, Asagai, there is only one large circle that we march in, around and around, each of us with our own little picture in front of us our own little mirage that we think is the future.” Beneatha can be empathized with because it does feel that way when we are born into struggle or disadvantage. People of color  are constantly dealing with the struggles of their histories and the limitations society has put on them. There is a systemic issue that exists that will take a long time to uproot-but there is room for work. Asagai himself is a native Nigerian who is literally living all that Beneatha is afraid of manifesting in her life. He explains that he is the only man that is formally educated in his village, that he is from a village that has been pillaged, and exploited. He refutes Beneatha’s argument by saying, “It [life] isn’t a circle it is simply a long line…one that reaches into infinity. And because we cannot see the end we also cannot see how it changes. And it is very odd but those who see the changes who dream, who will not give up are called idealists . . . and those who see only the circle we call them the ‘realists.’” In seeing life as a line rather than a circle, Asagai acknowledges that we truly cannot see the future despite how life seems now, and that because of that uncertainty, there is room for change, and more importantly, hope.

 

To couple the study of this exchange between Asagai and Beneatha, my mentor and I found a quote by the poet and diplomat, Pablo Neruda. He said, “You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming.” We read Spring as being the symbol for hope and change, which has truth. It is important to realize that many demographics may never see this “Spring” happen, or at least they have been taught they cannot or that it does not apply to them. Each plot has been given its nutritious privileges. Each plot needs different food and care. But each plot resides under the same sun, same night sky, and can suffer-and bear-any change in weather.  Our petals represent either the lack of struggles in our lives, or present the successes and privileges. There are flowers that grow, and they have their petals taken off, or they do not get enough to feed their dreams. So even though they appear in the field, it  does not mean they look good, or that they are even noticed among the rest. This is how some social justice causes are treated in regards to who they concern. The following questions are for us as educators and as people, to think about.

 

  1. How many people suffering would it take for us to care? Does this matter in the grand scheme of the field?
  2. Are there some cases where people do have to give up or trade their dignity in order to survive? What are those cases? Is it worth it?

And lastly,

 

  1. What are things we can do as humanity to better serve and uplift each other?

 

These questions are questions that do not have a right answer. The fact that is that we are able to read texts, and become more understanding and empathic people. Asagai’s infinite line of life, where the end is unknown, provides me with great comfort knowing that I can be an agent for change no matter how difficult life gets for myself or for my students. As we continue to grow from our plots, it is important to remember that others deserve to blossom and know that they are just as deserving of success and sunshine.

 

Why I Write

Salam everyone,

So this is a question that I should have asked myself a long time ago. Usually when things come naturally to us, we don’t question why, and take it for granted. I have been fortunate enough to have been asked “why” I write because it forces me to think about my purpose for doing so. It is safe to say that a lot of writing is inherently personal and for ourselves.  I write because it is my outlet, a cathartic art that allows me to express how I feel about certain issues regarding myself, what happens to me, and world around me. I have been “writing” since I was 7 in a girly and guilty-expensive Lisa Frank diary. I wrote in my diary every day. I still have my diaries and read them every once in a while for some humor. I wasn’t funny, but it is amazing to look back at what I thought what my woes were and how I planned on solving them. As I grew older, my writing grew with me and I left the sparkly journal and got more “mature” materials. I am now in my 20s and have been using my Iphone notes as drafts for posts until I get a chance to formally construct my pieces on here. Writing to me is like magic, but also one of the biggest proofs for spirituality and affirmation for my faith. I imagine the brain being a mess of ideas and thoughts that if valuable, should be shared. I imagine these ideas flowing like blood through veins, then the words drip from our fingers and dance on paper…

This manifestation of writing, as a kinetic activity, proves the existence of something greater for me. The ability to create, out of what seems thin air, pieces that cure us, touch others, and change the world are dangerously necessary. It sometimes scares me that I can create something and it be untamed and open to so many people. There is the accountability, but also the fear of letting go of something that maybe should have stayed in your heart. Writing is a very intimate thing that is not meant for everyone. I mean this to say that I feel humbled to have this outlet that I honestly cannot see any other way for myself to heal or explore. I am no where near my ideal writer-self, but the act of writing needs to continue for me to build myself in order to become the best version of me possible to offer this world.