Celebrating Our Dreams and Flaws

Nadia - Cairo, Egypt
Entered on February 14, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50
  • Listen to This I Believe on RadioPublic

  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

I believe in dreaming. More importantly, I believe in doing what it takes to accomplish my dreams. I believe in being bold enough to make mistakes. Without your dreams and without stupid mistakes we get nowhere and learn nothing.

Ever since I was a child I’ve had big dreams for myself and for the world around me. I’m going to do things that make me happy and that make me feel I’ve accomplished something. And I’m going to leave my dent on this world.

I’ve had simple dreams and more complicated ones.

Being a conservative Muslim woman, I had often wondered how I could possibly ever achieve some of my dreams. And only recently have I started realizing that one does not in any way cancel out the other.

Two years ago, I went paragliding over the Alps. I wear the Muslim hijab or headscarf. It did not hinder me from having such a wonderful experience in any way. And no one else seemed to care the least bit what I was wearing as long as I wore the necessary protective gear over it.

One year ago I went bungee jumping in Antalya, Turkey, right by the Mediterranean Sea. Standing 53 meters above the ground on a metal structure that was swaying with every breath of wind and a heavy cord pulling at my feet seemed like the stupidest thing I could ever do. Pressing my bare feet against the cold metal to create enough muscular energy to propel me away for the drop seemed even stupider. But I did it. And it was exhilarating. I might not ever muster up enough courage to do it again, but I fulfilled one of my silly little dreams. It’s out of my system and I’m happier for it.

I’ve always dreamed of visiting Palestine. For an Egyptian Muslim to travel to Israeli-occupied Palestine is taboo. The Israelis are the enemy. One should not go to the enemy (i.e. the Israeli Embassy) to get permission to travel to Arab land. But I did. If one goes, one should not deal with Israelis. I did. And as a result I’ve had one of the most intense learning experiences of my life. The Palestinian people are living under extremely difficult circumstances. Israelis are human beings just like any other – not monsters like I had always imagined and like our media would have me think. But more importantly, the Egyptian people, although not physically occupied by an external enemy, are morally and intellectually occupied by…themselves. I learned that Egyptians need to start working on creating a real democracy and a real social revolution rather than focusing solely on the problems of other Arab populations. And I only learned this after I created for myself the chance to see how others were living – those who I was previously certain were worse off than we were. I was wrong. And as a journalist, I can make my dent on the world by writing about what is most important.

I’ve made countless mistakes in my personal life. But I learn more about myself with every mistake. And I grow as a human being as I learn. The most important lesson I’ve learned has been not to judge others. The more I learn how human I am – as opposed to being super-human as I used to think I was way back when at a much younger age – the more I realize that no one is perfect. Or rather, that the perfection in God’s creation of us was in creating us so wondrously flawed.