By Farah Jadran
In all our life journeys, we have discovered heroes – people who inspire us to be better or to work harder. These are people who have paved the way for us to have new opportunities, freedoms and experiences.
Reflecting on this month’s tribute to heroes, I started to think about personal experiences and conversations with others about moments in their lives where they “wished they were stronger,” or wanted to go back in time.
We cannot go back and get “do overs,” but we can go forward and strive to be stronger. Aside from that, it’s about being yourself. It’s about loving who you are in every sense of the term.
I am going to share a few (although there were many) disturbing instances I experienced when I was teenager. I only repeat the circumstances and the words used to help anyone reading understand what happened.
Many of you know I am a long-time runner. I have been on many teams and in clubs for both cross country and track. While on one team in particular, six girls would regularly use racist language toward me. On hot summer running days, we would run in shorts and sports bras, but some girls would wrap their T-shirts on their heads and yell at me – telling me they were “being Arabs.” After a long run, we would all be sweaty – there’s nothing unusual about that. However, some of the girls would jump out of our team van and say the following, “I’m so sweaty, I feel like a dirty Mexican.” Others would say, “We piled into that van like a bunch of Mexicans.”
I will never understand if this was meant to make fun of my heritage, make me feel inferior or scare me into being less of a talented runner God made me to be. Regardless, I pressed on and personally felt I was and continue to be the person I was meant to be and I am proud of where I came from.
I love who I am. I would not change a thing. I am proud to be a representation of my beautiful parents and to share my culture with others. I remember those aforementioned instances because they’re simply things that happened so often, they don’t go away, but I don’t let them overtake me or define me. Like my Mama always says to me, stand up for yourself and pray for those who cannot and who spend time putting others down.
We can all be heroes in our own rights – even if it means we are just heroes for ourselves as we work to become stronger, smarter and more kind. None of us is perfect and we never will be, but we can celebrate what makes us special and share it with others.
Kindness can change someone’s heart. It can help others realize there is a world around them and more to life than possessions and petty arguments. Kindness can be the message you wear and walk with because you choose to live life with genuine gratitude for each day you are given. Tomorrow is not promised. Why not spend today being kind and being positive?
Farah Jadran is the anchor of CBS5 This Morning and CBS5 News at Noon for CNYCentral in Syracuse. Farah also served as editor of SWM for more than four years after she helped launch it in January 2011. If you or someone you know is spreading kindness in our community — tweet at her — @FarahJadran using #BeKindSyracuse.