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This Is What Happened When I Talked Back to My Parents

This Is What Happened When I Talked Back to My Parents

I was once the good complacent Arab girl that every parent dreamed of; I came to accept the double standard curfew — the curfew that literally did not exist for my brothers, while I was to be home by 9:30 PM sharp.
I would help cook and clean, never uttering a word on how unfair it was that my siblings weren’t asked to do the same. I would rationalize, “Nora, listening to your parents is the key to Jannah” and would carry on my civic duties as a responsible Arab daughter.
But as I was graduating high school two years ago, I realized, I just wasn’t happy. I was so sick of repressive cultural ideals holding me back, which I knew had absolutely nothing to do with Islam. I rationalized that a religion as beautiful as mine would want me to be happy, and that’s when I started speaking up.
It all began when my parents told me I could not go far off to college because I was to be married off next year. I found myself fuming and wishing I was like any other normal “American” girl. 

I found myself hating a culture so intricate simply because I chose to focus on the negative aspects and not the abundance of positive. And so I began to push, and question, and for lack of better words, test my parents.

They would mean it as a joke of course as they were well aware of my commitment to my education, but it was during incidents like these that I recall vowing to never repeat the same mistakes that they made; I was determined to raise my children without the bias of cultural influences.
I would have a rage fit at the dinner table when they would implement strict rules upon me because I was a “woman,” — and what made it worse was that the entire basis to their ideology was simply “it’s the way of our culture.”
I found myself hating a culture so intricate simply because I chose to focus on the negative aspects and not the abundance of positive. And so I began to push, and question, and for lack of better words, test my parents.
Surprisingly, my parents were not rigid in their mindset, and I realized that part of my pent up frustrations were all in my head. My parents were supportive, and when we didn’t agree, we would compromise. It was all a matter of give and take.
As I matured, I realized that it was at this same dinner table that I spent endless hours discussing enchanting conversational topics on the rich, captivating, often intense Egyptian history, and discussing my parents’ life stories that would teach us countless lessons about life.
And the more I delved into the richness of the culture and my parents tales, the more I began to understand that there was so much more to it than old-minded rules. At its core, there were a set of values that had guided me throughout my life and instilled me with love, loyalty and a sense of pride.
My culture and my faith molded me into who I am. I often notice the numerous acquired facets of my character from childhood incidents, ranging from my notions of right and wrong, to my philosophies on certain matters, all directly influenced by my family’s cultural beliefs, values and traditions.
Melting pot and salad bowl theories aside, I am grateful to have grown up in a family that comes from a completely different part of the world. Being blessed with the opportunity to encounter an array of languages, engaging customs, musical preferences, political shenanigans — and delicious foods — has enriched my life and education.

At its core, there were a set of values that had guided me throughout my life and instilled me with love, loyalty and a sense of pride.

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Multiculturalism has deepened my characteristic way of thinking, feeling, judging and acting. In direct yet subtle ways, I was molded by my native culture. Growing up with cultural norms that previously seemed so unbelievably absurd, allowed me to enhance my individuality and established self-standards; more than just the simple acts of etiquette however, these norms provided me with a guide on how to live life and appreciate an open mind.
I have a newfound appreciation for my culture, but I also have a newfound appreciation for myself. When I began to speak up and stand up for what I believed in, even when my parents and I may not agree with one another, it opened me up to a whole new approach on life.
Arguing and debating has allowed me to realize that what one regards as right today might be considered wrong tomorrow. It all boils down to a flow of logic.
Anything you see…rather, everything you see is a byproduct of a flow of logic. One event leads to another, which leads to yet another until finally by some divine miracle of time you come face to face with whatever it is that is in your life at that specific moment. A multitude of variables each shaping the path that you are to take.
We do not need to know the right answer all the time, we just need to pursue it. So speak up, stand up, and find yourself in a world that tells you not to.
Contributed by Nora Khalil

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