Behind Naimah Urfi’s smile


Ana Gutierrez, Entertainment Editor

Nick Vujicic, a motivational speaker with no arms or legs, speaks through my computer screen. After a few minutes, my attention is no longer focused on his appearance but on his words. “I don’t care how you look! I don’t care!” he says.

Why do many of us care? We work so hard on what we look on the outside that we forget who we are inside, so we let what we don’t have physically keep us from becoming something greater mentally or emotionally or spiritually. So what if we decided to see past each other’s faces and into what lies beyond the obvious?

Senior Naimah Urfi has learned to live this way. She lets Nick’s words sink in and transform her way of thinking so that her eyes see beyond what the mirror tells. This way, when she looks at her own life, she picks up on what’s there rather than what is missing.

“I think sometimes we feel insignificant and really small in the world,” Naimah said. “Looking at how [Nick] lives his life–he is so thankful for having a heart and waking up. I should not feel too small for myself because I’ve been given so many privileges. I should be thankful for every moment and every gift. I have a wonderful family, a freaking heart; what else do I need?”

Recognizing life’s blessings usually sends a smile across Naimah’s face. But unlike many of us, when Naimah smiles to the world, it smiles back. Not because her life is perfect, but because the world knows that she loves it for what it is rather than hating the world for what it’s not.

“Everywhere I go makes me smile,” Naimah said. “I don’t get too big over small things anymore.  Wherever I stay, if I see green outside that will just be enough for me,” Naimah said.

As beautiful as the world may be, however, the reason why Naimah smiles lies not within the leaves of a tree but within the hearts of those around her.

“I smile to make myself and others feel like they’re enough. Sometimes I know that I don’t feel enough even for myself, but smiles give a sense of unity [by us] knowing that humans are all together and willing to help each other,” Naimah said. “People need to know that they’re enough for themselves and enough for the world.”

Part of being enough for ourselves lies in knowing who we are inside. Once we love ourselves we will begin to love one another.

“Standing out makes me feel comfortable. If I feel like I’m part of the crowd that doesn’t make me happy,” Naimah said. “I did feel part of the crowd in my earlier years. But from junior high to high school I realized that I wanted to live my life differently. I realized who I was and I didn’t care if I didn’t fit in. If I ever felt like an outcast it would have been in early high school. Now I embrace it.”

According to Nick Vujicic, seeking acceptance from a selfish crowd will only demoralize you once you discredit what you’re really worth. Our personalities were not wired to all behave the same. Our voice, our emotions, and our smiles were individually crafted so being different would be an easier task than we make it seem. But with a different person comes a different life, and with that come different struggles. The same way that we were brought up differently, we grow up differently. This does not mean apart, however. We do not have to fight the battles alone.

“I feel like in those moments, you just have to accept what’s going on in your situation. After you accept it, you have to move on,” Naimah said. “God is always there. I think it is at the hardest of times that you really can’t go anywhere else and no one, friend-wise or family-wise, will help. That’s hard but everything happens for a reason. It’s out of your hands and it was meant to happen.”

When the world goes dark at times, light always follows. Smiles are small rays of light that bring hope into situations that would have never seen light otherwise. Smiling through a struggle is impossible, but knowing that in the end it will be okay is the first step in bringing back the times when smiling occurred naturally.

“Just keeping your head up, not trying to hide how you really feel about the things going, and knowing that it’s gonna be okay is enough,” Naimah said. “Trusting that my future is in good hands, God’s hands, puts me at ease.”