No matter how independent a woman is, the people she surrounds herself with help make her who she is. In my life, I’ve been lucky enough to cultivate an incredible, close-knit group of friends, each of us in different cities and lines of work, but still somehow living our lives in parallel. And regardless of where we are in the world, or in our lives, we are always there for each other.
The roles my friends and I play as advice givers and takers are just as diverse as our lives. I am often the one my friends come to for advice, partially because I usually know which friends need actual advice and which ones just need to vent. As a friend, I’ve learned it’s important to understand that each situation is different and therefore, requires a different approach.
More often than not when I call a friend for advice, I’m looking for a sounding board rather than a direct solution. I’ve found that the best way to solve my own problem is to talk it out – and once I do this, the solution often presents itself.
But when it comes to gaining clarity or a fresh perspective, I always call my father. He has a knack for turning a tangled mess of what-ifs and worst-case scenarios into actionable advice with the simplest one-liners that are chock-full of wisdom.
I’ve truly taken these words to heart and they have become my mantra for tackling problems head-on.
I have learned with experience that when things go wrong, the best thing to do is not to panic, but to take things one step at a time. Fixing a problem is a lot like a game of chess – you may have a strategy to win the game, but if you don’t take that first move, the rest doesn’t matter.
Just as my dad’s life experience is why I seek his advice, my own life experience is why my friends often come to me. Having started out on my own at such a young age, I’ve cultivated an extensive amount of personal experiences and stories to draw upon when offering insight or advice. And similar to my dad, I try to dispense applicable advice, mixed with emotional support and a twist of tough love.
I have two philosophies for dealing with problems. The first is to make a change – whether it’s a large-scale change, such as moving cities or changing the people you surround yourself with, or a smaller one, like shaking up your daily routine. It’s mind-blowing how a shift in your world can invoke a completely fresh perspective – and with it, new solutions. It’s important to get comfortable with being out of your comfort zone. It’s the fastest path to new discoveries, new beginnings, and new solutions. And it’s one of the most powerful tools for self-growth.
My second philosophy is, if you can’t change the way things are, learn not to worry about it. I wasn’t always the best at dealing with stress and when I was younger, I would often get anxious about work or life situations that were out of my control. Now I see that all that time spent stressing out was wasted time and energy. With age and experience, I’ve found that things have a way of working out and once you’ve done everything you can, the next step is to just go with the flow.
Several years ago, I took a personal development course that stressed the importance of “giving to get” – small things, like giving an extra large tip at Starbucks or buying a sandwich for a homeless person takes very little effort on your part, but can yield incredible benefits – and not just for the receiver, but for the giver as well. Knowing you’ve helped someone is an incredible feeling. It reminds you of what is important and what is not – and it leaves you with a sense of optimism about the world.
I’ve found that this is very similar to friendship. My friends and I may be different from one another, but one unifying factor is that we are always there for each other, ready to lift each other up, tell it like it is, or simply listen. Being able to provide that kind of support is just as rewarding as knowing they are there for me. And they’ve made me a stronger person for it.
This article appears in the November 2016 issue of Harper's Bazaar Arabia. Hair and make-up by Blow out & go.