Monday, 27 June 2011




Ever have that awful feeling of inferiority to those around you? It is quite common to so many of us at least once in our lives. That sense that you are an under-achiever in the midst of a group-regardless how large or small-of truly marathon achievers. Successful people, professionals at whatever it is that they do.

Not that I have necessarily grown into a fat-head about myself any my meager achievements in my adult years-still it has been more or less a lifetime since I have had that gut-wrenching feeling of extreme inferiority in any group setting.

Perhaps it was a good humbling experience. Or at least a wake-up all to my inner self to vividly remind me that I still have much work yet to do if I really wish to make my mark remain on this world and to give some real substantial value to my life.

I am essentially an alien in a life and society that is basically as alien to me as I am to it. But in spite of the natural born alienity, I have grown into the Arab life and society as much as it has grown onto me. Although born to and raised by Americans with no Arab roots nor blood-still I have become so innately Arab not only by association of marriage and acquired nationality, but also by the fact of my inclination towards the Arab nation due to my Islamic beliefs-seeing as how the desert of Arabia is the birthplace of Islam.

And even though I am obviously an alien in this society in more ways than one-still I have become more or less a 'celebrity-type' alien, you might say. I only use the term 'celebrity' for lack of better and more tasteful a term. By this term I mean that I am rather well-known-if not first hand, then by word of mouth-in this rather tight little community.

In the larger more metropolitan cities of Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam, the presence of a westerner in the midst of Arabs is not so uncommon. Nor is it really in our region of the south-Assir-at least not so in professional circles such as the health care sector, etc. But even in the view of the fast development of this region and it's growing modernistic trends, still this particular region of Arabia holds fast to it's original puristic Arab roots and associated traditions. So to see an American who has not only converted to Islam and marry into one of the local tribes, but who has as well not only adapted to but has also blended into the fabric of this society, is a note-worthy thing indeed. Hence the simile of the 'celebrity' status.

I have been blessed to have the ability and conviction to adapt myself to this society in all possible mannerisms to the extent that the only true revealing things about myself are those things I cannot change-namely my skin tone, and my height. Other than that, and my family name, of course, there is little to notify any stranger that I was not born and raised in this society. There have been many occasions when I have succeeded in fooling even the most savvy of Arabs into thinking-although admittedly questioningly-that I am also naturally an Arab.

Now, back to the topic at hand-achievement and under-achievers. Which one do I fit into? I guess it depends upon which vantage point you are looking from, and what determining factor is the subject of the achievement. Kind of like the phrase 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder'. For depending upon the topic of the scale, I can easily fit into either group-perhaps much as nearly any person of this world.

There I was-exepting for my husband and my son-sitting in a room full of strangers. And each one of them-my husband included-was not only an achiever, but an expert in his/her field. ( I have excluded my son out of this description basically because he has not yet finished his college time nor has he entered into the work force to determine his own field of expertise.) True professional to the letter of description. And it was humble lil' ol' me-the muslimah completely covered, the housewife, the mother and grandmother, the college-drop-out, the alien who has adapted to life in the muslim world-who was the center of their attention, their filming, their eventually-to-be-internationally-broadcast interview. Rather a sense of overwhelm engulfed me, to say the least.

I mean, what of my life's story could possibly be so interesting to captivate these people's audience and a future international audience of countless many? The fact that I was attracted enough to Islam to literally leave the only world and family I had known since birth to embark on the adventure of carving out a new life and world for myself? Or perhaps it was my choice in changing my name? or perhaps it was to learn that although differences are notably present in both societies (American vs. Saudi) that the change did not phase me? Or perhaps it was to learn that even though I'm a stay-at-home wife, dress in full hijab, don't drive, etc.-still I feel I have all the freedoms in the world? Or perhaps it was to learn that I'm not judgemental about the muslims who are not so strict as I am in their practice?

To tell the truth, I was rather nervous for the interview. And while sitting there and then afterwards as well, I thought about the whole thing, and felt rather small in the midst of all those professionals who were focusing their attentions on me. But then I came to realize something else as well…I'm not really an under-achiever after all. There is always room for improvement, which I hope, with the help of Allah, to accomplish eventually. But I am certainly no under-achiever.

Perhaps I don't have a college degree under my belt. And I don't travel unless I have at least my husband or one of my sons along with me. And I don't drive nor even will I ride in a taxi alone. Nor do I study or work outside the home. And I cover in complete hijab when I go outside my home. But those are my choices as a free woman.

And so-as I said-I have come to realize I'm not an under-achiever after all. Why, I'm a Muslim convert from Christianity. I've learned how to pray the Muslim prayer, and many other things important for a Muslim to implement Islam into daily life. I've learned how to read, write, speak and understand Arabic. Not a simple task indeed. I've borne and raised 3 lovely children into fine adults-all practicing Muslims themselves. And I have also been blessed with 4 adorable grandsons-who I have a part in their training as well. On the home front, I've developed into a rather proficient cook, helping my husband promote himself in many business circles by entertaining much through the years. Many a business deal was either attained or attracted or realized over our dinner tables. I've also pushed myself, with much yearning, to learn more of Islam from the sources-not only to enrich my own life and that of my family's-but reaching out world wide over the internet-helping fellow Muslims to better learn their religion as well as helping some non-Muslims come to Islam.

And my work is not yet done. In fact, I feel I've just begun.

Another interview anyone?

Perhaps I'll do better next time. For I've come to the realization-I'm not an under-achiever.

By the grace of Allah, and with His Divine help, I've accomplished much. Much more yet to do, of course. But I have been blessed to accomplish much in my life so far, and hopefully more yet to come. My degree? Why-of course!! A PhD in mothering, general teaching & coaching, with an accompanying MS in the field of wifery and all that is associated to it. I'm still working on my doctorate on that one.

My profession? You guessed it! None other than a professional wife/mother/grandmother!! And quite a satisfied one, at that.


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