Nadia Elkharadly: Reinvention is a Way of Life

Nadia

I spent most of my night tonight taking out my hair extensions.  You see, I’ve always hated my hair.  Too thin, too short, not what I wanted.  So, I found a way to change it.  It may just be hair, it may just be superficial, but it’s a change; and one I control, even if it’s just temporary.

Long hair, short hair, short hair, long hair.  With every cycle I feel a little newer, then a little older, but always different, yet still somehow me.  A reinvention.

me

How many times have you had to reinvent yourself?

This is a column that I started a few weeks back, actually on the day of our dear Bobert’s illustrious birth.  I know I’ve been an absentee friend to you, DBAWIS, and not only to you but to my dear Robert, who turned a sexy 69 just a few weeks ago. So on that day, and again right now, I attempted and continue to attempt to put pen to paper, or at least fingers to keys, to give him, and all of you a column.  And for some reason, my hair-reinvention sparked a desire to pick it back up.

'I like you new hairstyle. How'd you do it?' 'Open car window.'

Truthfully the usual inspiration that drives me to wax on for the 1000+ words that Bob requires of us hasn’t hit me of late.  Between work, Addicted, more work, and attempting to maintain the vague semblance of a life I still cling to, I guess my creative juices have dried up somewhat.  But on August 28th, as I found myself sitting on a shaky Beechcraft King Air A100, with the president of Factor in front of me, two writers from Vice Magazine behind me, and a wonderful selection of Quebecois craft beers at my disposable, I found myself at least a little pensive about a great many things, not the least of which being what exactly brought me aboard this rickety aircraft in the first place.

Beechcraft King Air A100

I’ve always loved to write.  Ever since I was a kid, I had journals, notebooks full of scribbles.  I started a novel when I was 10.  I took creative writing when I was 13, and with the guidance of an amazing teacher I wrote poetry, haikus and sagas, short stories and essays, and from that Business Woman Sitting At Desk With Multiple Arms, One Arm Answers Red Phone Call, One Arm Holds Mobile Cell Phone, One Arm Holds Folder, One Arm's Hand Operates Computer Mouse, One Hand  Hold Pen To Write And Other Arms Rests On Paper On Deskpoint on I really never stopped.  Well, at least not until I finished university, and realized it was time to grow up and “get a real job!” …whatever that meant.  I toyed with the idea of going back to school, a masters in journalism was calling my name.  But brief discussions with my painfully practical Egyptian engineer dad quashed those dreams relatively quickly.  He was most certainly not going to pay for any more schooling for me, and I hadn’t the means to pay for it myself.  Financial aid was out of the question too.  So being the daughter of practical Egyptian parents, I did what was practical.  The dream stayed quashed, and I started to work.  First at an insurance company, then a bank, then a telecom company, now an oil company.  Gone were my journalistic dreams…or were they?  What had put me on that plane that day was a long series of events that started with one moment, one decision.  It was a chance that I took.  If I couldn’t alter the course of my entire life, I could at least start a concurrent path, so that’s what I did. Thinking back, it was the start of a reinvention.

Keep Calm

How many times have you had to reinvent yourself?

Every one of us is put on a path from the moment that we’re born.  That path is determined by a great many things.  From the moment we take our first breath and open our eyes to this bright world for the first time, those things are out of our control.  Where we are born;  what country, Parentswhat city.  When we are born; what year, what decade, what century. Who we are born to; our parents, our families.  How we are born; our gender, our future physical and mental state. The presence, or sometimes the lack of these things (family), which side of the line we fall in (gender, mental or physical health), these things are all forks in the road of life.  From that early point they determine at the very least how our lives will start, and sometimes how much of our lives are shaped. If we are lucky to have full and caring families, from a young age they determine how our lives will go.  I always envision an invisible checklist that parents carry around when it comes to their offspring.

  • Raise them and get them into school
  • Get them through school without incident or malfunction, and ideally with great success
  • Facilitate some sort of post secondary education
  • Empower them to find gainful employment (usually due to the above checks)
  • See them find love, get married, start a family and start this cycle for themselves

As these children grow up and take the life reins into their own hands, they also take over, or create their own checklist, sometimes with very little variation.  Get through school, get good job, get married, make babies, make said babies do all the same things your parents made you do.  When life cycles in this way, over and over again, for generations, only allowing for the passage of time and alterations due to the current state of the world and society, it can be very hard to break free, to find a new path.

Betty and Nadia

But if we are very strong, very brave, and most certainly very lucky, we can break free.  We can carve that new path. We can reinvent ourselves into something new, something different than what we were brought into this world to be.  And that can be an amazing thing.

How many times have you had to reinvent yourself?

I see it all the time, in the people I know, the people I meet.  People start along a path, sometimes lose their way, only to find themselves on a new path, a different path, and hopefully, a better one.  Reinvention can come from loss; loss of opportunity, even just losing one’s way. A young man, in his prime, travels to Europe to live out his dream of being a professional athlete, only to have to return home to care for his sick parents.  Negativity and disappointment were overwhelming until he decided to reinvent himself.  Taking chances, starting one business, then another, then another.  Success came, and went, and is on its way back again.  Life doesn’t need to stop just because it’s not going the way you thought it would.  Reinvention is the key.  An athlete reinventes himself as a model.  Success comes, is derailed, and there lies the need to start over again. The model turns himself into a business man, and with hard work and a few chances taken, the new path is formed.  And so on and so forth, so many reinventions, all around, all over. Former fashonista into corporate banking goddess. Party girl into wife and new mother. Bar owner into movie industry mogul. Corporate drone into renegade rocker, writer, and whatever else comes along.

TRY

 

What landed me on that plane, on Bobert’s birthday, was a choice I made years ago to start writing again, to carve out a path on my own.  It ended up with me winging my way to Royn Noranda, Quebec, for the Emerging Music Festival.  An opportunity that came knocking on my door, because one day in 2009 I started a blog about music, that lead to me cofounding an online magazine with my best friend in 2012, to now being flung to strange and somewhat faraway places in the continuing pursuit of my new path. And this is just the beginning.

It’s been quite the journey folks, one filled with fails, wins, and adventures along the way.  I’ve made a great many friends on this journey, and sadly had to unmake a few other friends as I traveled along this same path.  Lucky for me, Bob is one of the great friends I’ve made and kept along the way, and as always I’m grateful to him for giving me an outlet to share my meandering thoughts, even if I neglect that outlet far more than I would like, and he is probably far more patient with me in that regard than he should be.  But I know Bob understands what I’m trying to do, this next stage of my life, this new path, because he is no stranger to reinvention himself.  So for his experience, his wisdom, and most of all his support, I am also extremely grateful.

freethem

Last week I had the opportunity to join the 2014 Freedom walk for Free Them, a wonderful organization that fights to end human trafficking and slavery around the world.  It’s a cause that I’ve always supported; in order to make this world a better place, human beings need to start treated each other like actual humans, and not objects or commodities to be abused and sold.  It’s a huge undertaking, and I was glad to help draw attention to the cause.  Before we walked a number of inspiring individuals gave incredibly educational and motivational speeches, but one in particular struck a chord with me, and I thought was worth mentioning here.  He was a law Man in Despairenforcement officer who’d dedicated his career to fighting human trafficking.  Over the years of turning victims into survivors and perpetrators into prisoners, he came into moments of serious doubt and despair.  Over his career, he found himself playing two different roles as a result of those doubts; the epic, and the critic. Both of these roles serve only as roadblocks; they plant the seeds of doubts and fertilize the soil they grow in.  The critic overthinks, overanalyses and demeans action.  The epic cowers in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, and takes no action as a result.  Both roles end in paralysis, in stagnation, in inaction.  If that officer had allowed the critic and the epic that entered his mind to hold him back, countless more victims would stay victims, and perpetrators would continue to commit these atrocities. But he perseveres.  And while not all of us are out saving the world, we can all take this lesson; don’t let your inner critic, or your inner epic stop you from taking chances, living life and reinventing yourself as many times as you want.  Live how you want, be who you want to be, and make your world what you want it to be.  It’s up to you.

Change the world

=NE=

Nadia’s column appears every Wednesday

Contact us at: dbawis@rogers.com

DBAWIS ButtonNadia Elkharadly is a Toronto based writer with a serious addiction to music. Corporate drone by day, renegade rocker by night, writing is her creative outlet.  Nadia writes for the Examiner (.com) on live music in Toronto and Indie Music in Canada and is the Editor of Addicted Magazine.  She has never been in a band but plays an awesome air guitar and also the tambourine.  Check in on Wednesdays for musings about music, love, life and whatever else that comes to mind.

addicted mag

One Response to “Nadia Elkharadly: Reinvention is a Way of Life”

  1. great job, enjoyed every moment of it, keep writing lovely lady

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