The thing is — there were moments, sometimes long periods, in the last year that felt unbearable. I didn’t understand how I had gotten there. I convinced myself that I had fucked up royally, and for the longest time, I didn’t forgive myself.
Three hundred and sixty-five days ago, I was at a crossroads. I asked myself: why am I set on this path in front of me?
Do I just follow inertia?
Should I just go through social expectations, one by one, and hope to end up successful on the other side?
Update that LinkedIn profile. Polish up that resume.
They say that a lot.
But — there was this incessant, nagging voice inside of my head. And it wouldn’t shut up. It kept saying: This Road is Not for You.
At first, I didn’t listen to it.
So it decided to speak louder:
“Why are you about to go to grad school?” Because they expect me to.
“Okay, who’s they?” Everyone.
“So, do you do things because people expect you to or because you’re convinced that it’s what’s right for you?” …..
One year ago, today, I asked myself this question.
And I realized that I couldn’t answer it.
That’s when everything changed.
I left work. I passed down an offer to study at an Ivy League school. At first, it felt liberating. No institutions to answer to. I answered to myself. I was my own boss. The Fuck This train started off as a fun ride.
But then, I slowly came to an eerie realization…
…I was now alone.
Completely, utterly, alone. Just me, myself and my thoughts.
Up until this point, I hadn’t experienced solitude to this extent.
And that’s when the anxiety started to set in… Nour, what the hell are you doing?!
They say when it rains it pours.
Just when I thought that figuring out what I wanted to do with my life was the hardest decision I ever had to face, I was dead wrong.
The hardest battle came when I found myself resenting someone I loved so dearly. The most important person in my life, actually. For the first time, they asked for my help. And I knew that they needed me now more than ever.
So, I was confronted with yet another crossroads: Do I choose to not care about this person’s struggle? Should I just focus on myself instead? It was, after all, a critical point in my life. I had to be selfish now.
I could be there for this person.
The problem was – I was scared out of my mind. I was scared of the consequences. Because helping them meant facing challenges and confrontations that I didn’t want to face.
Could I even handle this? Out of all the days, months, years… now?
I was torn.
I resented you. I resented you for making life harder for me.
And then I felt guilty for resenting you. Because how was I capable of resenting someone I loved? How was it possible to oscillate between two extremes constantly?
Sometimes, I felt like I didn’t know you. And I couldn’t bear the thought of you finding out how I really felt.
It was the weirdest mix of emotions I ever had to choke down. And, what’s more, it came at an uncertain point in my life. A point where I felt like I had to look out for myself more than ever.
I couldn’t hold another person’s struggle. Not yours, not anyone’s.
Why would you do that to me?
At the beginning, I thought it was your fault. But, on that too, I was dead wrong.
It was mine.
I had convinced myself that life was unfair. I felt entitled to better circumstances. The ‘victim mindset’ had run amok in my head. Everything went to shit. Everything.
But, see, nothing actually went to shit. Not without my consent. I had given myself permission, at least subconsciously, to view my circumstances in that way.
“You’re either in control of your own mind or it’s in control of you.”
Meditation teachers said this all the time and I never understood what they really meant.
I hadn’t realized it before, but, my mind had been in control of me for the longest time — until you, yes you, woke me up.
So today, three hundred and sixty-five days later, I wanted to say thank you.
You know who you are. You know what you mean to me.
The fact that I could come out of resentment and guilt with more love towards you taught me the most important lesson yet. You know what that is?
To let life flow.
You taught me that. Not superficially. Not literally.
But genuinely. Authentically. Bravely.
This whole ordeal, everything we went through, it was a blessing in disguise. It felt brutal back then, not going to lie.
But you gave me the greatest gift. You gave me the chance to find this voice — the voice I use to write these words.
An Encounter with N.
An Encounter with Nour. Because I didn’t think I had it in me.
You proved me wrong.
Thank you for everything.