From Wishes to Wisdom | Embracing Self-Love Through Life’s Lessons

Mona Khalil
5 min readJan 5, 2024

--

December 10, 2023

I am having a full-circle moment.

One of the few things my parents agreed on was my name—a name with meaning. My dad initially wanted to name me Khadijah. However, my mom wanted an Arabic name her family and friends could easily pronounce. My mom attended Benjamin Franklin High School in Los Angeles and knew kids could be mean. So they landed on Mona, which means wish. And my last name, Khalil, means friend. My life continues to be a manifestation of my wishes. Starting with my own wish for myself. I’ve had to learn how to be my own best friend.

What does your name mean?

Wishes cannot be manifested without courage. And we become courageous when we’re unsettled– not at peace. We are courageous when faced with difficulty and use discernment to know when to walk towards the difficulty and when to walk away from it. Neither option is easy. And not all challenges are required for us to take on. However, whatever choice we make, we must have the courage to walk towards or away from it. Walking away comes at the cost of processing loss and grief that sometimes we are not ready for.

Human beings can feel like mountains I have climbed.

Early in life, I focused on being a good friend to everyone before ever considering being my best friend. Ironically, as an only child, I was more focused on the happiness and success of others than my own. I would lose myself in relationships. And when harm was caused, it would leave me distraught. I put relationships above my own needs and wants. What do they need? What can I do to make things easier for them? How can I be a better friend to them?

I wasn’t asking myself what I needed. How can I be a friend to myself? Are the relationships in my life respectful and reciprocal?

When I’m in relation with someone who does not bring me peace, I know I am betraying myself. I am hurting myself. I become someone I don’t want to be. I become silent. I feel drained. I accept being treated as invisible, seen only when it is convenient for them when they want something from me. When trust is broken in a relationship, I begin to examine the contradiction of my feelings– my loving feelings towards them alongside the feelings that their actions bring up for me. I question where and when the dynamic in the relationship changed and what I missed along the way.

Knowing this, why can it be hard to walk away?

It can be hard to walk away because I want to see the best in people. I want to believe people can grow in genuine love and trusting relationships. When people extend love and trust to me, I don’t take it for granted. Hope becomes a Cinderella story. A relationship with fleeting moments. A relationship that lacks consistency. I learned that you can’t have hope for people not interested in addressing their actions or evolving. Eventually, I learned to transform my hope from pouring into them to pouring into myself. Eventually, I shift my attention, time, and energy from centering them to centering me.

What do I want? What do I need? What is within my control?

The best gift I ever gave myself is liberation. My values reflect my growth and my journey of needing to love myself. The highs and lows led me to gratitude for the freedom I created. The peace I have within is priceless. I connect more deeply with myself. My life isn’t picture perfect, but it is 1000% me being honest with myself throughout the peaks and valleys. As an adult, people close to me know I reciprocate honesty, respect, and trust in my relationships.

Some people believe that if they harm you and apologize, you should let them back into your life. And others won’t apologize at all. People have to show you they are making a change. As the great Maya Angelou said, “When people show you who they are, believe them.” They may not want to accept or address how they show up for you. I’ve learned to accept people for who they are. And as I evolve, the relationship may no longer be healthy for me to stay in. Some relationships need space until both people can have an honest, open, and respectful conversation. Some relationships survive the distance, and others do not. I am going to be okay either way.

When harm is caused, I reflect on where it started, and I look for patterns in my behavior and the other person’s behavior. What have I been accepting? Why have I been accepting it? I’ve learned I don’t have to be the one consistently initiating conversations to address a problem. I’ve learned I don’t have to be the one following up to keep a relationship active. If someone doesn’t respond, leave it alone. If someone doesn’t have the capacity to have a conversation, let the relationship breathe. Sometimes, distance is a byproduct of life taking so much out of us that it isn’t personal when I create space or feel distance within my relationships. And sometimes, the distance is there for a reason to be examined. Relationships naturally evolve, and others we outgrow. I have learned to ask for space when I need it. Some people honor the space. And those who do not, do not hear from me again.

I am not looking for perfection in relationships.

I was not always this way. I was once a person who took advantage of people’s love because of my pain. And those people rightfully walked away. I wasn’t giving them the respect they were giving me. To be honest with myself, I didn’t know how to give them respect at that time when I wasn’t respecting myself. I learned that lesson at the cost of many relationships throughout the years. I had to be honest with myself about why the relationships were severed.

Today, I can activate peoples’ egos and pain when I show up as my whole self. And they have treated me unkindly in response. I’ve been told I can’t do better than my current situation in any given circumstance. People have said some wild things to me. Some people have broken my trust. And I chose to walk away. Not to teach them a lesson. But to teach myself a lesson: I deserve to be treated with respect. When you have been handled unkindly, it is hard to affirm love for yourself. People will test your boundaries, and you must continue practicing self-love across various relationships over and over.

As I close out a decade honoring what was, I am excited to focus on the present and my dreams moving forward. I have gotten everything I thought I wished for most. Those experiences showed me that I was thinking too small. I deserve better.

I used to try to be a good friend, but now I see I am worthy of reciprocity. I used to wish out, away from myself; now, I wish inside myself. I used to wish to be loved, but I had to learn to love myself. I am the manifestation of fulfilled wishes; I am my own friend. I am looking for honest, respectful, and trusting reciprocated relationships. I’ve learned, as Jay says, “I never asked for nothin’ I don’t demand of myself…”

--

--

Mona Khalil

Name Dipped In Mango | Transformational Leadership Coach & Consultant | Peace Corps, Tesla, LinkedIn Alum | Author of #iwritelettersinmythoughts 🇬🇾🥭🇪🇬