When the Going Gets Tough

Sometimes the Tough Doesn't Have to Keep Going

A woman glimpses at a child soldier in Beirut, 1976. Courtesy of

In a world filled with wellness blogs, meditation groups and yoga pants, I should have gotten it right by now, in terms of calming my inner demons. Find your inner peace in 10 steps; unleash your potential in 3 quick exercises; grab your happiness by the horns; find who you are supposed to be; who cares what others think?

So many opinions, so little time. 

Let me step back for a minute. I am an almost 40-year-old mother of one, wife, daughter to amazing parents, sibling to two crazy kids, friend to many. I grew up in the treacherous world of Lebanon, managed to survive a 15-year civil war sprinkled with anxiety attacks, sexual abuse and gender violence, then fled to the United States on a full ride scholarship to pursue a Master of Arts in International Relations. And here I am, 13 years later, a proud citizen of the United States living in our beautiful nation’s capital. 

But somehow, something is still missing from this success story.

All those programs and 10-day detox diets cannot rid me from the trauma, anxiety and crazy that I have accumulated during my childhood years. Add to it caring for an elderly, facing and enduring fertility treatments, all the while fully functioning as an adult with bills to pay and a life to live, and you can say I have not stopped for one minute to look behind me or look towards the future. 

So, today, after almost 40 years of running non-stop, from bombs and otherwise, I have decided to take the first step to own up to my shortcomings, and commit to taking a break, repeating to myself:

1- It is okay not to be everything to everyone.

2- It is okay if you haven’t figured it out yet.

3- It is okay that it took you almost 40 years to recognize an anxiety attack.

4- It is okay to say no to people who suck the energy out of you.

5- It is okay to step back and breathe.

6- It is okay not to be the strong one at all times.

7- It is okay not to be ambitious and to reach for what’s reachable. Stars are overrated.

It is okay.

I survived many things in life. And while life is short, there is still (hopefully) much left of it to spend it reeling over minutiae as well as big life events.

Take a break. Relax. The best (and the worst) are yet to come.

And I want to be present to enjoy it.

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