Monthly Archives: May 2012

Five Revelations at 25

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You are wearing Quarter Life Crisis on your sleeves

This is the part of being 25 you are so good at. Trying to make the puzzle pieces fit, trying to figure out what you want, trying to reach your goals, trying to change, trying to lay out a plan, trying to make a difference for the greater good (or, often than not, for your own good.) Everything is all about trying, isn’t it?

Everything at 25 seems like a mystery that it usually doesn’t make any sense. You sleep at night feeling so jumpy and happy, but you wake up the next day with an extremely troublesome feeling that springs from nowhere. Well, let me tell you where that sick-to-the-stomach feeling comes from. One word. Uncertainty. Because last night, you went to bed knowing that you have a plan, believing that your life is just where you want it to be, but today you wake up realizing that you have no idea where exactly you really want it to be. That’s what quarter-life crisis does, it hits you on the forehead with a big bang.

This is the year when you are bombarded with so many questions that you’ve lost all the energy to come up with even one answer. People asks you all the time: “when are you getting married?” and you just want to punch them in the face for asking the wrong question.

Your friends from a younger age group keep asking you for advice about life, career, and relationships. They ask you “how you do it” and you smile and give them encouraging words of wisdom, or more specifically, you tell them the most impressive answer you can come up with because that is what they expect from you. But hell, what they don’t know is that, at 25, you really have no idea if you’re doing things right.

The best advice I can tell you right now is not to worry too much about all these uncertainties. You screwed up? You’re not good enough? You failed? You got rejected? That’s alright! You’re 25!

You are definitely smarter, but certainly not wiser

Congratulations! This is the point in your life where you can show everyone that you have quick-witted intelligence. Finally, you have a career you can humble-brag about at social gatherings, you have control over your life, you have a steady income at your disposal, you are responsible for what you eat, and you can be so proud that you know how to take care of yourself, damn it!

However, this is still not the point where you have enough experience, knowledge, and good judgment. And I know this for the fact that you still go to the clubs, or the bars in the hopes of hooking up with someone. I told you, you still lack better judgment!

But hey, 25 is the year where there is no such thing as age-appropriate. It’s not like the movies where you can say it’s PG or R18. No, 25 is a much complex age than these ratings. It is the time when you are just always somewhere in between. You’re in the middle of too naive and too mature, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

25 is the year when you can make mistakes and be given a free jail-card pass. It is the year when you are still young enough to smoke hash while listening to Armin van Buuren on the background, but you are old enough to invest in something worthwhile, like planning a 4-day holiday, watching the news, reading a decent book (and by decent I don’t mean the Twilight saga!)

You are not invincible

But you can certainly try. You are the young, ambitious, adventurous beast that you imagine you are, until that Friday you decided to stay home than go on an all-night out with your friends. From a packet of Marlboro reds a day, you now cut down to ten sticks because of the heaviness you started feeling.

Do not mistake this as being boring, you are just realizing that you need an eight hour sleep and give your lungs a break to stay in good shape.

At 25, you want it all–a social life in hyper motion, a career that pays really well, a relationship minus the drama. You want to make the world a better place, you try to understand the complications of human relationships, you try to engage into political issues, you try to make sense out of nonsense, and you try to find beauty in ugly. You fear. You hope.

When you’re 25 everything about yourself is in your control. There are no more puppet strings pulling you left and right. You can decide for yourself. No one is going to tell you what to do, and even if you are told what to do, the decision is still yours to make. That’s the thing though, being in control means being responsible for everything that you do. You have to put an effort to look after yourself. Eat well, go to work on time, read, play video games, stop playing video games, attend your meetings, do not forget to take a shower. Where your life is heading at 25 is your choice because you are the driver, I can only hope that you will take the best possible route.

You are not on the same page as your friends

Let’s go back to the good, old university days. Remember those friends you spent an all-nighter with for that last final exam? Yeah. They’re also the same friends you had to drag home when they got too wasted to even remember who they are. Where are they now? Do you still talk to them? Or have you settled in just looking at their facebook updates without really saying hi?

At 25, you will start feeling as though you are not on the same wavelength as your old friends. It seems that maturity kicks in on different time zones. Some people grow up much faster than others, and it just so happens that you feel slightly older than some people you know. Or vice versa.

It’s like all of a sudden, you are not in sync with your friends anymore. Your priorities are different from theirs. Your lifestyle and theirs don’t match anymore. The gap between you and the people you used to spend so much time with is becoming palpable every hour.

You look at their Facebook pages and you wonder who this person is. I’m pretty sure they’re doing the same thing–lurking at your wall posts and almost failing to recognize who you are. Unlike before where you always use final exams or alcohol as an excuse to bond, you find no reason to talk to each other anymore.

Maybe they still prefer spending Saturday in a bad state of hungover and you don’t want that anymore. Or you prefer spending Saturday drunk and they don’t want that anymore.

You lose touch with your friends sometimes. It’s sad, but it happens. Maybe you’ll meet new friends who are on the same page as you, just keep hoping that the same thing will happen to your old friends too. But 25 is a really cheeky year, it’s an age of transformation and growing on so many different levels and at different timelines, so who knows? Maybe at one point, you and your old friends will be back on the same track again.

You are just getting started

Back when you were 20, everyone seems to ask you “where do you see yourself five years from now?” Remember how you used to look out in your future and see nothing but an empty space? Well, gone are those days of looking for an answer, because you have your answer, right here, right now. 25 is all about defining who you are. For the first time, you are aware of who you are–what you are capable of doing and not doing.

The things you are good at? You marvel in it. The things that you are not so good at? You make a way to be good at it. For once, you are not distracted with the petty dramas of everyday life. You are not the 19 year old kid who locks himself/herself in the room for being rejected. You know how to move on. You learned that there is more to life than torturing yourself for your shortcomings.

You are still far from where you want to be, but you take comfort in knowing that you are actually doing something to get there. Emphasis on ‘actually’. You are starting to understand that disappointments and failures are bound to happen, but that won’t let you down. If anything, it will keep you going because that’s what 25 year olds do–prove the world they’re wrong about you–that you are much better than the world assumes you to be.

If you’re 25 and your ideals and expectations seem to be going the wrong direction; if you feel like you have your life mapped out only to find yourself in a maze; if you can feel straight up happy and spiral down to sad in a span of 10 minutes, if you are confident, delusional, humble, arrogant, ideal, optimistic, pessimistic, confused, sleepy, lazy, giddy, carefree, silly, untroubled, troubled, high, drunk, overjoyed, content, discontent all in the same day, don’t fret. You’re doing 25 right!

So, if you’re 25, this is the time for you to make all your rules and break them. Go high, go low. Be sane, be insane, be a little bit of both, or somewhere in between.

And just in case you missed it when they made the big announcement on national TV, life starts at 25! So, celebrate, embrace it, live in that moment because you can. You’re only 25 once, might as well make it a hell of a good one!

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The downs of being sick

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I don’t know what else can be more depressing than being sick. There is definitely no ups to it. It is on days like these that I become a horrible, red-eyed, drooling troll version of myself.

All of a sudden, I can’t think of anything to like, or want, or love, but I can come up with an endless list of things to hate. Yes, hate. Strong word. I’m usually not one to use that word, but I will use being sick as an excuse to use hate overtly this time. (Don’t worry, it’s just a one-off kind of thing.)

I hate being sick. I despise it to the core that if flu is actually a concrete thing you can toss and burn in a rubbish bin, I would have done so, four days ago, with gasoline and matches in hand. It’s a major pet peeve. It paralyzes my social life in HD. It’s like all of a sudden, I’m stuck at home with my pity bags of tissue, and all I can muster to do is blow my nose and cough like a buffalo on repeat.

Catching a terrible cold that evolved into a terrible flu sucks. Mainly because it sucks the life out of me. I find myself sleeping at 8:30 in the evening (who does that?) when usually I would have just been starting to get ready to salsa!

What is worse than being sick is having to admit to myself that I am not infinite (that, in itself, is a mortal sin.) I am no iron lady (no matter how much I’d like to think that I am,) and neither am I a cat with nine lives. Today, my power is powdered to ashes and I can see the wind chasing it all away.

Since I have already committed the mortal sin of admitting I’m not infinite, I might as well say that it is on days like these that the independent me feel helpless and could only wish there is someone to look after me (not to worry though, I am not in a coma to go down the I-need-to-get-a-boyfriend road!)

I hate being sick because I get so lazy that all I will ever want is a magical genie or a leprechaun who will make fresh orange juice at a flick of a finger, or change the tv channel when the show gets too Jerseseylicious for my liking, and remind me that I have to take antibiotics on the dot, because admit it, when we’re sick, we just want someone or anyone to make things easier for us.

I can’t remember the last time I’ve gotten real sick, but when I think about it, I usually have my dad or my brother looking after me. They were there to check up on me and make hot noodle soup without me having to ask them. They just do it, out of love, of course! After all, they signed the paper to take care of me when my dad decided to have me as a daughter, and when my brother was left with no choice but have me as his bossy, big sister.

But living far away from home has torn that invisible contract my dad and brother had lovingly signed. It’s like all of a sudden, I have to look after myself, even when my nose is too stuffy to do so.

I hate being sick for the reason that I become too whingy and selfish. I just expect that people will understand–understand that I have all the valid reason to be irrational, and demanding, and moody, not because I am PMS-ing, but because I’m still sick (which is a hundred times worse than expecting a monthly period;) understand that I don’t have the energy to engage in long hour chats not because I don’t enjoy talking, but because I’m (wait for it) sick; understand that I don’t have the enthusiasm to respond to a question if it is not answerable by yes or no, for the same reason that, surprise, I’m still sick. So, please don’t take it personally. It’s not you, it’s me.

I hate being sick because not one feel-good movie is feel good. I’ve had a marathon of The Vow, The Lucky One, and Dear John, and what did that do to me? Nope, it didn’t make the flu go away. If anything, it just made me realize I have a flat screen tv that works, and a couch that I never use based on the amount of dust it has collected.

And, finally, I hate being sick because I become a very vengeful person (which, trust me, is really out of my character. I’m really sweet as a pea, believe me.) Vengeful in the sense that when all of these coughing and spitting (yes, I know it’s gross!) is gone, I will avenge and make myself the best homemade food that I am capable of cooking, I’ll be the last one dancing at any salsa event, I’ll make myself fresh orange juice, even apple, or kiwi, or nectarine because I can, I will not waste time on bad tv, and I will engage in long hour conversations with friends until they get bored out of my wit.

Until then, I just have to remind myself that, yes, I maybe confined to the walls of my flat, but it won’t be for long. Now, can someone pass me a tissue roll, please?

In a relationship with… myself

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To my closest friends who have become so worried about me being the only single girl in the group:

You guys are the best and you definitely know this. (I can’t remember how many times I have stressed this before!) I love you guys for always having my back and making sure that I am enjoying my time, and you know that I do! Which makes me wonder why, lately, it has been quite obvious that you’ve all started asking ‘what happened to me.’ As if I got an immune disease from a different universe.

Come on, it’s not like all of you guys are getting engaged or married, or was I sleeping when you announced the news? I’m pretty sure there were no wedding invitations in my mailbox the last time I checked. So, it’s not like I’m missing the boat or anything.

I know very well that you care for me just the way I care about you. You want me to be happy the way I always want you guys to be happy with your relationships. That’s what friendship is about, making sure that all of us are getting our ups when everything else is pulling us down. Believe me when I say that I get my daily dose of happy when I see your holiday pictures by the beach with your boyfriend/girlfriend. Even those cheesy banters you and your significant other exchanges on your Facebook walls seem cute to me when usually it would have made me irk.

I appreciate that you are observing and commenting about my love life (or the lack there of) as if I am a specimen under a microscope, but make no mistake–I am happy. Genuinely. And I mean every word.

On those Thursday nights that you are all bundled up in bed, cuddling with your babe/cupcake/honey/sweetheart/whatever-crazy-name-you-call-them while waiting for your pizza delivery, I’m not watching the worst ‘Lifetime’ movie, crying my eyeballs out, while I go hugging my cats. (You all know I’m not a cat person!)

On those nights, I’m out, smoking shisha, having a good amount of conversation with whoever you guys happen to be free, and if that’s no one, then I’m out, dancing the night away with my friends from salsa.


I know why I’m single. I know that there’s nothing “wrong” with me. (I’m perfect, the way you guys always remind me so.)

It’s just that the guys I happen to like are emotionally unavailable. And I wouldn’t just be with any guy who I am not attracted to and whose character does not appeal to me just because he is emotionally available (the bars are raised much higher now.) I am turning 26 this year, and here in Cairo, 88 percent of guys my age are already in relationships, getting engaged or are already engaged, getting married or are already married. The remaining 12 percent are guys who are most probably assholes, and if they are genuinely nice guys, I’m pretty sure we have different mindset and takes on life. Please don’t let me start talking about cultural differences, religious beliefs, political views and opposite mentalities. I have yet to meet a single guy my age living in Cairo whose definition of dating and/or relationship is equivalent to mine.

Being single at 26 isn’t something I should be worried about and neither should you. It doesn’t make me a lesser person. In fact, singledom is the major reason why my life feels so full at the moment. You guys of all people in the world would know how much of a workaholic and social butterfly I am. If I am in a relationship, do you think I’ll be able to travel when I want to? Go to the gym because I’m motivated to? Attend salsa parties because I love to? Write for three different magazines because I have the luxury of time to do so?

You can start worrying about me being single when I hit 35, (but you’ll probably be too busy worrying about your own family and kids then.) Until then, just chill and relax.



The bottom line is that I’m not actively looking for someone to share my Facebook relationship status with other than myself. (See how I have so much free time that I was actually able to create another Facebook profile because Facebook is too selfish to allow anyone to be in a relationship with themselves.) I am really enjoying my mid-20’s. I go to salsa parties every other night, I take myself out to expensive dinners because I deserve it. I have the time to read books and be inspired by the writers, to watch movies in an actual cinema, to spoil myself with presents and not feel guilty about it. I am taking this relationship hiatus as a beginning to a deeper relationship with myself. Everyday I am learning and discovering something new about myself. I challenge myself and feel proud when I live up to it.

Rest assured, when I meet someone who lives up to all my ideals and expectations, you’ll be the first to know. ‘Til then just be comfortable in the idea that I decided to give all the love I have to give to myself, and I don’t see any reason why not.

So, stop feeling sorry for me. There is no need to make it your personal goal to hook me up. No need to feel bad when you and your babe/cupcake/honey/sweetheart/whatever-crazy-name-you-call-them are out with me and I am not holding anyone’s hand, because I don’t need to be with someone just so I can hang out with you guys. No more double dates and enough of those blind dates. Instead, let’s plan our next group date, shall we?

Xoxo,
Jen.