Your book is so raw and vulnerable—it must have been a struggle to overcome the fear of being so open and honest. How did you find the power to do this?
I feel as though I’ve been building up the strength and courage and power to be so raw and vulnerable throughout my whole life. In my career as a journalist, as I grew more confident and sure of myself, I increasingly wrote pieces that were honest and vulnerable—although never quite as much as in The Greater Freedom. Seeing the response and positive feedback each time encouraged me to keep going, in particular as I could see that no matter what it was I was writing about, people were always able to relate and always appreciated the candour. It made me realise just how powerful honesty is, and just how important it is to bring that spirit to everything I do.
What was the most powerful emotion you felt when the book came out?
Pride in myself for having been so motivated and determined and having tried my absolute best.
What has been the most powerful thing that’s happened since the debut of your book?
Many things but hands down the most powerful has been the feedback and response from my mother.
She cried when she first read it and said that reading the book made her realise that she is indeed a feminist, too (a label she had previously massively shied away from).
She also said that The Greater Freedom had “cleared the bad energies of previous generations and paved the way forward to a happier future for the female offspring of the family—and beyond.”
I had previously been a bit worried about what she might say, so to hear that the book had so resonated with her—and had lifted a burden from her life and her heart as well —just felt like the most powerful and most wonderful thing.
In your book you say, “I am both and I am neither.” Can you elaborate on this and talk about the power in being both and neither?
I am originally from Egypt but I’ve grown up in London. I feel like I am both British and Egyptian, but because I am both, it means I’m not really fully either. No matter which country or which of my “homes” I am in, I am always asked where I am from which serves to remind me of that fact. I like to think of being both and neither as a power, because it allows me a birds eye view of both cultures and to continue to see the world as an “outsider,” in a way, which I think serves me well in my journalism.
Being both and neither is also a power because it frees me from feeling like I need to adopt all the principles and ways of life of a certain culture/country, etc. It allows me the freedom to pick and choose and be the person I want to be, away from expectations and stereotypes.