Some reflection and a wish

It’s been a busy last quarter for me.

Yes, the home studio took a lot of learning effort from me, not only having to learn a whole lot about the basic audio-visual equipment I need to get but also how to use it all to achieve each purpose I had in mind. The project did spiral outside of the scope I thought of at first, yet it had so far brought me so much joy and excitement as I shared in last month’s post.

Yet back in September, I thought I needed to get some different type of education other than reading books, articles, or watching videos..etc. which I have done for the past two decades. Those free and cheap online courses were not doing it for me and I felt I need something else to push my coaching and consulting business further. Most of the online courses at respectable universities felt too broad and academic and I felt they were sought mostly by people who want to attach such an Ivy League university name to their LinkedIn profile, which is definitely not my cup of tea. Eventually, I signed up for a course by someone I’ve been following for a year already which I felt would deliver exactly what I wanted and I gladly made the investment.

Shortly after I started, I signed up for training to be an effective board member, part of a local initiative to serve on advisory boards for women-led SMEs in Jordan. I got accepted and the second 9-week course started by attending a 7-hour weekly Zoom session.

Moreover, in October I got hired to deliver a workshop about Going Digital to women small business owners which ran twice a week for about 4 weeks.

Crazy, I know. And it was.

I was learning, then teaching, then learning elsewhere, preparing sessions, doing assignments, reviewing assignments by others. I was challenged as a 46 y/o student and as a first-time trainer. At some point there it got so overwhelming, especially that I had to take care of business at Spring as well during all that craziness.

It’s been two weeks since all of it was over and I am still trying to catch my breath and actually believe that I own my time again. Reminds me of a comment mom used to say repeatedly that goes along “you have no middle ground, it's always extremes with you”. Will mom, happy to report that nothing has changed much in this regard :-)

Throughout the year, I wrote about deliberate living several times and here I would like to reflect on how this experience fits within that premise amongst everything that was thrown at us all this year.

Opening myself up to be a student again as I was told by several friends who’ve been through it, is nothing short of a little earthquake to someone in their mid 40’s. Whatever you thought you’re good at, you understand very well or you are a master at, gets tested big time. A humbling experience of a different nature, there you are being bossed around by someone you paid to teach you. Anxiously waiting to hear their feedback on the assignment you just delivered. Gently ridding you from any BS you got away with, especially in Jordan. Their complements, however, are far more reaching, at times more than those of some people you’ve had encountered because they are someone you respect a great deal, at least you chose them for that. And maybe because you get a feeling that even though you choose Amman as your work-life headquarters, that somehow you managed to be still relevant globally to people in the heart of where everything-seems-much-better.

Going through being a student, then midway into being the trainer in a room was nothing short of uncomfortable. Though was not done deliberately, I think training people for the first time while being a student elsewhere made me push myself to do a better job. The insight I uncovered here was that empathy is a skill you can grow, learn, and teach and not only a trait some have while others don’t. You engage empathy on purpose to get better at doing whatever you set yourself to do.

Moving on to reflect on how was I able to live by my own philosophies, amidst the larger madness this year has brought us all, I somehow found ample space to get outside my own story of grief, loss, and the bitterness that tags along, to join everyone’s collective narrative of living through a pandemic. Even though I lost a dear aunt during the early days of the lockdown, I soon got caught in celebrating the birth of a new niece.

A type of freedom I thought was years away, yet found myself living it sooner. Here it was combined with the dance we were all forced to perform, into peacefulness and worry, fear and laughter, and between grief and joy.

Maybe, all of it was instrumental to our continuous attempt at surviving this moment?

Within the realm of this moment, came the beginnings of building a foundation of freedom of whichever systems I thought were caging me. Those defined molds of whatever the world around me thinks I should fit in. The freedom to work from home 90% of the time instead of 25%. The freedom to focus inwards and not be chased with FOMO (fear of missing out), actually my fear is not centered on FOMO in particular, more of a fear of enjoying being alone too much.

Curiosity? Wow. I can’t imagine anyone not feeling a big jolt of curiosity this year, even if it was triggered by fear. I bet you, even the fear-induced one rendered many a lot of knowledge and new perspectives on top of contempt at lockdowns and forced curfews.

Do I wish for a better 2021?

What I wish for you as I wish myself, is to snatch back more freedom, a smoother dance, and to further unlock our curiosity to survive 2021 and beyond!

Razan Khatib

Razan Khatib

Playing at the intersection of culture, technology, and values. Trying to structure my thoughts and share experiences, learnings, and insights. Co-founder of @spring_apps
Amman, Jordan