Thanks to Ali, I found my tribe

Thanks to Ali, I found my tribe

Would you believe me if I told you a YouTuber from London who is twenty years my junior changed my life? 

His name is Ali Abdaal, and his impact on my life goes beyond the productivity tips he discusses on his YouTube channel. His golden rule, “Journey before destination,” taught me to fully embrace my content creation journey. The journey that led me to finding my tribe.

First, let me tell you about Ali. He is a YouTuber and podcaster who recently quit his job as a doctor to pursue content creation full-time. Abdaal began coding at the age of 12 by building websites then went to medicine and started a YouTube channel about how to study for exams. 

Eventually, he managed to make multimillions in profit through his various content creation businesses, including YouTube, his online academy, affiliate marketing, and other ventures. 

His content revolves around productivity, making money online, and living a healthier, happier, and wealthier life.


 Your vibe brings your tribe 


I have been experimenting with creating content in different formats for almost two decades. I have been on Twitter since it first started in 2006, and I have amassed close to 10 K followers and a verified account, but for a long time, Twitter had been a source of immense frustration for me, mainly because I couldn’t find my community. 

I struggled with defining my tribe; who are my people? Are they journalists, authors, people from the Middle East who share my heritage, parents, working moms?  Who dwells in my internet village? 

Except for a few ones, most of my tweets hardly got any engagement, and I mainly was tweeting with little or no engagement. Crickets, crickets, all the way.

But that slowly started to change when I was introduced to Ali through a friend of mine. I started watching his  YouTube videos, and I slowly got hooked. I heard him talk about productivity, books,  how he remembers everything he reads, how he listens to books on audio at an accelerated speed, and how writing online has made him a millionaire.

As I watched his videos suddenly, things started clicking for me, and I reminisced on my career and my writing journey that began when I was in elementary school. Writing online is what I enjoy the most. I was meant to do that full-time. After working on and off for employers for over twenty years, I recently took the plunge and became a full-time content creator, with writing as my focus. Ali played a major part in this decision. He showed me that it’s doable. That if you focus on the journey, the benefits will come later on, and that consistency and passion are all it takes. Writing and creating content became my vibe, and that eventually brought my tribe.


The formation of my internet community  


Through Ali and his content creation machine that comprises of videos, a newsletter, a podcast, and others, I was introduced to other creators, like David Perell, Thomas Frank,  and Matt D’ Avella. 

 I started following them, enrolled in some of their courses, met other online creators, connected with them via Twitter and other social media platforms, and found myself belonging to a community of engaged, helpful, creative creators. 

My connections snowballed, and I built my internet family of creators who were on a similar journey as me. We are all figuring it out as we go. We are all trying to navigate this brave new world, the creator economy with its gambles wins and quirks. 

What I love about this newly adopted tribe of mine is how positive and supportive they are and how generous they are with their time, dolling out information and helpful advice to share and benefit others. 

I’m also in awe of the fact that they stay away from controversy or discussing politics and contentious current affairs and just focus on the content creation journey. I have seen so much vitriols on Twitter and witnessed bullying and shaming within other communities that I contemplated shutting my Twitter account, but after meeting this community, I breathed a sigh of relief.

 This community is different. It’s a haven for intellectually curious, goal-oriented creators who are pursuing their passion. Positivity and reaping benefits from your hard work is their mantra. They don’t get jealous of other creators; they get inspired by each other’s successes and cheer and learn from them.

When I found out that about them. I immediately declared my allegiance. They are my internet people. After more than a decade of searching, I finally found my long-lost tribe.


My content creation machine


Encouraged by Ali’s Sunday Snippets newsletter, I created a newsletter and resumed my dormant blog. I also created my own podcast on the reading and writing journey.

I even took things a step further and signed up for his part-time YouTube academy, created my YouTube channel, and started dabbling with affiliate marking and sponsorship.

 I started my own media creation machine, and I’m doing it full time, and I couldn’t be happier

Also, through him, I rediscovered my love of journaling and learned about storytellers like Mathew Dicks who encourages everyone to journal every day through his homework for life manifesto. 

I finally feel like I have arrived at my destination.  I found my raison d’etre and got embraced by my long-lost tribe.

You never know how what you put on the internet can change someone’s life. Keep sharing your ideas with the world, and hope for the best. And as Ali says, journey before destination. Thank you, Ali, for the inspiration! Keep creating.

Don’t fall for the writer’s con!

Don’t fall for the writer’s con!

Today I’m going to tell you about what I see as the biggest fraud of the writing journey. It is a conniving scheme that still exists, and no one bothers to stop it. 

Not even the US’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. They are all oblivious!

It’s a hoax orchestrated by writers against writers, a devious scheme of the ages, and, sadly, many fall for it. 

It’s the dangerous, cliched term: the notorious writer’s block.

When I hear this term, I cringe and sometimes even get heart palpitations.


Introducing the writer’s con

This treacherous term should be changed to the writers’ con and no by con; I don’t mean a short word for a fancy conference where you feast on shrimps and sip on Californian white wine as you pontificate about not having the time to write. No! I’m talking about an actual swindle here, so pay attention.

The writer’s block is even romanticized in movies and books, where we see writers struggle for years, and then just like a bolt of lighting, the inspiration strikes, and the writer types away all night until they finish the whole manuscript. What a bunch of baloney!

By endorsing this kind of narrative, we defraud writers by telling them that a block exists and that you can’t write until Ms. Muse, with all her might, shows up, a fantasy tale akin to waiting for Godot. 

Those who believe in shameful writer’s block are conning writers by telling them that it’s okay to not show up to write every day.

They are telling them writing is not as important as an office job! No wonder there is no phrase called The office block. You go to the office rain or shine, even if you don’t feel like it.

Writers are being misled by being told is it okay to use excuses not to write.


Feeling stuck? Take a walk

You might object and say that sometimes you do feel stuck and don’t know what to write about. 

I will offer you a compromise; show up and write whatever you can write, take a quick break by walking around the block (the actual block, not the fraudulent one), then come back and keep writing. This is how the magic happens. It’s not going to happen if you keep complaining about your damn writer’s block while waiting for that mystical bolt of lighting. 

I’m not alone here, others have alluded to this con, but they might not have been as vocal. 

Stephen King said: “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work,” while author Dan Poynter said, “If you wait for inspiration to write, you’re not a writer, you’re a waiter.”


Let’s eradicate the monster

So, I’m not going to keep complaining here. I’m going to take action. I’m going to go to the source and eradicate this monstrosity. I’m going to the dictionary.

I’m appealing to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary to remove this madness from their library and replace it with the writer’s con.

Here is how Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines it

Writer’s block: “A psychological inhibition preventing a writer from proceeding with a piece.”

My suggestion for the change is as follows: 

Writer’s con (previously known as writer’s block): “A hoax orchestrated by disgruntled writers to stop people from writing.”

I’m planning to start a campaign where I collect the signatures of all the writers who have been defrauded and lost motivation and their writing careers over this scheme. 

The petition will appeal to this American dictionary to stop this madness.

The campaign will document all these stories and present them to the world to see.

Who wants to join me? Get in touch with me, and let’s do this! Let’s stop the fraud from ruining more writing careers!  

Photo by Ryan Snaadt on Unsplash

The utopian tale of a hymen-less world

The utopian tale of a hymen-less world

John Lennon imagined a world with no countries or religions; I’m imagining a world where my Arab homeland has no hymens.

No, this is not a typo. It’s that hymen. That sacred membrane that marks a woman’s virginity. That revered tissue, which unleashes wars, triggers tribal disputes, and breaks families.

That part of a woman’s body that men call their honor and vow to protect with all their might.

That membrane whose absence can cost women their lives while its rupture is celebrated on wedding nights. 

That obscure body part that defines a woman’s journey.

Imagine there are no hymens, no virginity tests too.

I’m envisioning a hymen-less society where women are born without it due to a genetic mutation that becomes mainstream.

My world is a hymen-less tale, but instead of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid Tale where women are property of the state, it’s a utopian one instead of dystopian.

In my world, Atwood’s Gilead is a place where women don’t bleed on their wedding nights and instead enjoy a night of intimacy without worrying about the menacing gauge of their morality.

In my world, the word honor is not an ugly one, a burden lugged by the whole society; it’s a beautiful word celebrated and cherished by all.

In my world, women are born whole and not turned into female adults after being taken by men.

ّIn my world, that genetic mutation, makes women whole.


A girl named Dalia

In my world, there is a 15-year-old teenager named Dalia who dwells in her happy place. She can ride bikes and horses without worrying about how this physical activity might rupture that membrane, turning her into used goods. She won’t have to think twice about how this will jeopardize her chances of finding a husband.

In my world, she has the choice to explore her sexuality, to love and make love, without fearing for her life.

In my world, Dalia and her twin brother Adam have equal restrictions. They have the same curfew and should be home at the same time.

In my world, Adam can’t fool around in a quest to quell his manly desires, while Dalia sits locked away behind closed doors, wondering why Adam has more freedom.

Both of them have the option to invite their partners to dinner if they wish to and to hold hands around the dinner table.


In my world, Dalia never has to think of ways to fake blood stains on her wedding night sheets using tomato sauce or “blood powder” capsules.

She would never have to find a shady doctor in a dark alley who promises to sew her hymen back for a hefty sum. 

In this utopia, Dalia would never read about 5,000 women perishing each year due to honor killings – where women are butchered by family members for shaming their tribe with a  sexual act.

In this world, Dalia would never be another honor statistic.

She would never read about men getting away with murdering their sisters in the name of honor. She would never have to worry about the pressure imposed on Adam to protect his tribe’s honor.

In my world, Dalia would never hear about the 200 million women whose genitals were mutilated to deprive them of sexual pleasure and protect them from deviation.

She would never be robbed of sexual pleasure.


My utopia

In my world, some might reminisce about their distorted vision of a better time, the old days of the virginity tests and life before the genetic mutation.

However,  the reasonable voices would always outnumber the skeptical ones, and all women would stay equal, no virginity gauge to separate the good from the deviant, the chaff.

My world, my land is a happier place. The youth are employed, conflicts have decreased—nothing to kill or die for. 

That is my vision. That is my utopia.

You may say I’m a dreamer, a foolish fantasizer.

But I sure do hope I’m not the only one.


Surprise, I adored this science fiction book

Surprise, I adored this science fiction book

Science fiction is not a genre I enjoy much, but Klara and the Sun by Noble Prize winner Kashu Ishiguro is one of the books that will stay with me for a long time. It’s a story told from the perspective of an artificial intelligence machine (AI) called Klara who was assigned to keep the company of a teenager named Josie.

They all live in a dystopian world where kids are being “lifted” to give them a chance at a better life so they can excel in education and get better jobs. Most of the kids in this dystopian world are homeschooled, so they are lonely and socially awkward, hence comes the role of the AI or AF (Artificial Friend) as they call it in the novel. Klara, who is the AI or AF, is always watching over Josie, who happens to be sick all the time seems to be getting worse.

The book also has a love story between Josie and her next-door neighbor Rick who seems different from the other kids in Josie’s vicinity, which adds a whole layer of complication to their relationship. Klara finds herself stuck in a dramatic situation that involves Josie, her mom, and another shady character who is working on what we’re told is a portrait of Josie.

Klara has a special relationship with the sun. She needs the sun to power her and give her energy, and also she seems to be worshiping the sun in a godly manner. Her relationship with the sun plays a significant role in the novel that I won’t get into it now, so I won’t spoil the book for you.

Overall, This was an enjoyable, fast read.

Do AI’s have feelings?

A lot of concepts to ponder.

Do AI’s have feelings?

Shall we fear that AI might take over our livelihood?

What will the future hold with the increased presence of AI and robots?

Can there be a bond between a human and an AI? One thing I would have wanted is for the book to be a bit longer, with more details. For example, I don’t know if AI’s fall asleep in this world, and if they do, how do they keep themselves occupied while the world sleeps?Do AI’s change clothes? What kind of clothes do they wear? I also wanted a more physical description of the AI.

So question to you?

Do you like science fiction books?

I’m not a huge fan, but Klara and the Sun is different.

Below is a video in which I review Klara and the Sun.


That damn accent. That beautiful accent

That damn accent. That beautiful accent

“Where are you from?” they ask me the minute I open my mouth. 

All it would take is one word, a simple hello, and they would immediately discover that I’m not one of them, that I’m a transplant from a faraway land. 

After seventeen years of living in the US, I still haven’t figured out how to pronounce one American word correctly before revealing my true colors, my deviation from red, white and blue.

Even though I’m a naturalized citizen who proudly carries her American passport everywhere I go, I was not born in this land. This purgatory is where I dwell—one foot in Rockville, Maryland, and another in Jordan, where I grew up. Having an accent only accentuates that sense of not belonging, the unsettling feeling that the jig is always up, that I’m a foreigner who will die a foreigner. 

When I first moved to the US and realized my phonetics issues, it bothered me. It really bothered me, especially when sometimes the question of where I was from would be followed by, “Do you speak English?”

It infuriated me when people slowed down their speech to talk to me so that I could understand them since, in their eyes, my accent was proof of my language inferiority.

I grappled with many issues as I sunk into the hole of self-doubt. Would my accent affect my job prospects? Would potential employers think I’m not qualified enough even though I had over two decades of experience and a master’s degree in journalism from one of the best universities in the United Kingdom (the birthplace of the English language)? 

Would my accented American English impede my pursuit of a writing job in English? Shall I enroll in an accent reduction class? Can I even afford that?

Although eventually I got various jobs in the US and appeared on TV to comment on international news, was invited to speak on panels, and was published in top newspapers like the Washington Post and Elle magazine, self-doubt never left me.

That damn accent.

My unfair advantage

Everything changed when I attended a live presentation by media mogul Greek-American Ariana Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post. She started her presentation with this one sentence: “I have an accent.” Then she made a joke about her accent, saying her ex-husband thinks it’s because “she never listens.” Everyone laughed, and she moved on. She addressed the elephant in the room first, made it fun, and then went on with her presentation.

That’s when I realized her strategy and how she managed to work it in her favor. She used her accent as her opening line and as a joke that set her presentation on a powerful note. She transformed what I’d always seen as an impediment into an advantage.

I was so inspired by her accent strategy that I started doing the same. I flipped the script using my accent to showcase my worldly experience. I would start any presentation I give or any job interview by saying that I worked and lived across the world “as you can tell from my accent.” My audience would usually react with a smile or chuckle, moving on to the day’s business.

I also use my accent to eliminate the fear of asking stupid questions, especially when I’m on the phone trying to sort out a financial issue with the bank or an IT problem with my internet provider. 

I would ask any question I can think of because of the perception of accented people being less educated, immigrants from a less developed locale who just got off the boat.

“What’s an interest rate again?”

“What’s a SWIFT code?”

“What’s the difference between 5G and 4G?”

All my questions got answered.

I ask and ask and never stop. My biased theory is there is no stupid question if you have an accent. The world is your oyster. In those instances, I embrace the assumption that I’m subpar and ask stupid questions to my heart’s content.

Instead of being an impediment, my accent is now my superpower,  my way of showcasing my unique expertise, my cosmopolitan brand. 

After years of dwelling in self-doubt, my accent now is my unfair advantage; it’s what makes me stand out from the crowd and also lets me get away with asking many questions.

When I usually make a joke about my accent, the response sometimes would be, “It’s a beautiful accent.” Yes, that damn accent is beautiful, after all.