Bismillah Hir Rahman Ir Raheem
Peace and blessings be upon you all
Is it better to be loved, or to be believed in?
I heard a statement, which I’ve written as the heading, a couple of months ago in TEDxIslamabadSalon from Orooj e Zafar’s talk. To understand why I chose to write about this, check out my relevant blog and her talk here or at the end of this post.
If you’re done listening to her talk, I’ll continue. In her talk she said that the most beautiful/best words in the English language are not “I love you”, it’s “I believe you”. I understood it from her perspective of being a rape victim and her family not standing up for her, but when I heard what she said, it really resonated with me. I’m not a rape victim and I pray that I and everyone will never experience such torture, but I felt that statement deep in my heart in another context in another way. Thus, a question formulated in my head; is it better to be loved, or believed?
I’ll show you some scenarios for you from my life to understand what I’m trying to say.
Love, not believe
Who are the first people that come to your mind when you think about being loved? Your family, who have known you since you were little. They nurture you, look after you, protect you, experience experiences with you, help you, teach you and do so much for you because they love you. I believe that is the same for most families. However in my case, if someone asked me,
“Do you feel your parents love you?”
I’d say yes. If they asked,
“Do you feel your parents believe you?”
I’d say no. Fortunately (or unfortunately), no one has ever asked me this question.
My parents work hard and make sure I go to the best schools so that I am able to grasp my studies well, score high grades so that I can join a medical college and become a doctor. I remember I filled a form in O-Levels about what professions I would like to pursue after A-Levels. This form would be given to my future counselor who would help me out related to it. I remember I wrote in the Professions column, “Psychologist. Journalist. UN Worker” When I showed my parents what I wrote in the form, they both became serious, sat me down and gave me a long serious lecture of how these professions are not appropriate, how my family is not social enough so we don’t have influential contacts, how these professions could not provide a steady pay, etc. I wasn’t heartbroken then neither did I think “They are right.” I realized at that moment when I was seventeen that my parents didn’t believe in me. Due to their own doubts, concerns and insecurities which are understandable to a level, they didn’t believe I would work hard and excel in these professions; professions that I believed are important in any country. They didn’t even wonder why I chose them. They just said no. They love me, but they said no.
Later on, I wanted to do internships to gain experience in different fields of work, learn how to lead and work as a team and help people in society who are in need of help. A lot of my friends were doing it as well so I was even more motivated to do them. However my parents didn’t feel the need of me ‘wasting’ my time joining internships that were not related to the profession I was going to do. I tried to explain to them that I wanted to do these internships for myself, not for my profession, but how could they believe me if they didn’t understand me? Although there was transportation issues as well, which I understood, they emphasised on the first reason. According to them, doing work not related to my studies was not worth it. When I finally found an internship I could join where I could work at home (PCYO Internship to collect funds to build a school for children while spreading awareness about child labour), I thought they’d be happy I was working for a good cause but instead they told me that such organisations could be frauds; and that was it.
Furthermore, when I won multiple silver medals in basketball in my A-Levels, I’d excitedly call and message my parents to tell them about it. They would be happy for me but not ‘excited’ and ‘I’m so proud of you’ happy. It was more of a ‘Oh. Congratulations. When will you be coming home?’ happy. Those moments of lack of belief and support made me feel so disappointed in myself that I wouldn’t even tell my parents that I was participating in a sports event until I won a medal in it so that I’d hope to have some support.
Please don’t think of my parents as terrible people. My parents are perfect otherwise. They love me, advice me, are always there when I need help. They’ve sacrificed so much for me to be here where I am and where I’ll be in the future. I talk to them excitedly about how my day went and how their day went and I give them advice when they need them too. I can trust no one else but them, and after weighing all the pros and cons, I am studying to be a doctor because that is what I am passionate about. However, they love me but don’t believe me, and this one feature has hurt me in different phases of my life.
I feel that if one’s love for someone is pure, they need to believe in them, trust them and support them. Otherwise you’re simply toxic to them if they are not understood.
Believe, not love
Who are the people that don’t love you? Those who don’t know you very well. They can be friends you recently made or simply strangers. They would have told me that I could be a psychologist, journalist or UN Worker if I wanted to. They would’ve given suggestions as to how I could achieve these goals and they would’ve given the pros and cons of pursuing either one of these professions. They would’ve shown me the ‘reality’ but would’ve motivated me to do what I believe is right and what my passion is. They would’ve encouraged me to do internships, often quoting their own experiences (since they don’t love you, they don’t necessarily have the obligation to make you do something you don’t want to do thinking that is best for you).
Some parents do this but mine didn’t.
These recent friends are there during the matches cheering me on from the sideline, or they are in the team playing side by side with me, so whatever victory or loss we feel, we share those feelings with each other so we all understand and believe each other.
Another example I’ll give you is about my experience as the event head of chess in my school’s sports event. I’ve written a post about it previously, highlighting every emotion I felt then where I felt like an imposter, that I was inexperienced, I wasn’t concentrating, I was terrible at chess and I was simply horrible at my job. Amidst all this, I felt I was experiencing a panic attack on the first day.
I worked with two event heads, both were guys. I didn’t know either of them personally but one of them worked with me more often. Let’s call him H. So, because no girls from other schools had registered for chess, H told me to call girls from our batch to compete in chess…..including me. I stared at him and said, “No. No way am I competing. I’m terrible at chess.” H and the other head observed our batch participants play chess before the event, like an audition to shortlist the candidates which included me as well. I was shortlisted as there were only four more girls participating and H said I would win easily. I chuckled in my mind.
On the first day of the event, a lot of issues took place as I mentioned in the post such as the chess clocks weren’t available so we used apps on our phone and one chess board was actually a square plastic bag. On top of that, it was the first time for me refereeing matches. I hadn’t eaten. I overslept. It was mayhem in my head. I didn’t offer any of the five prayers that day because I felt that if I left the chess room, I had failed horribly. When the other heads left for Jummah prayer, I was left alone refereeing the girls matches and my brain was at the brink of explosion just before they came back. Before I exploded, H handed me a shawarma. I stared at him for a while thinking, “Why are you giving it to me?” but he simply told me to take it. I ate it and after a while, I started feeling better. I suppose he may have known that I hadn’t eaten anything and I was stressed out. That gesture of shawarma made me feel like I was someone there and I could do this.
On the second day, I was in a slightly better and in a more relaxed and composed mode. However, our team had lost the first basketball match of the event and my mood sunk to the depths of the ocean. I didn’t want to see any of my teammates so I spent the rest of the day at the chess room. I played a few matches today where I won only one match. On the match that I won, H was refereeing it and he told me that I could’ve beaten my opponent many moves before, to which I replied, “Don’t you know how dumb I am?” As soon as I said that, I realized how low I had considered myself. Here was H who I had met two weeks ago who was telling me I could’ve won the match by making a few different moves. Here was H who didn’t love me. He didn’t know me very well but believed in me, who believed I could play well in chess even if I felt like I didn’t. This boosted my self esteem and made me vow to myself to try to be great at chess so that I don’t disappoint not only him but myself.
We became friends after that event and after observing how he worked in different events, I realized he had almost all the characteristics I admired and would like to see in every person so whether H confronts me about playing chess again or not, I wouldn’t want to disappoint him or myself.
However, considering such scenarios, these are only momentary scenarios. Such people come into your life for only a short period of time for them to teach you something and vice versa. They leave a lasting impression in your heart but they are not necessarily constant in your life. They will not be around you always. They don’t love you and you don’t love them. They are not a shoulder to cry on so you cannot really rely on them for all kinds of support. However, considering how Orooj e Zafar preferred that she was believed showed that the family who loved her didn’t support and believe her when she was raped. Those who believed her were her major supporters.
My conclusion to this extensive topic is that I’d prefer to be believed, and I’d prefer to be believed by the people that love me, because their love will be complete if they believe me/believe in me.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
So if you had to choose between either one, which would it be?
Love or Belief?
What do you think about this question? Are there other questions that need to be asked? Mention it in the comments and let’s have a discussion.