If you have been following my writings so far, you would probably know by now that I’m an Egyptian who is living in Cairo, but actually a few months ago I decided to relocate and move somewhere else. Well, I teach undergrad students and I ended up accepting a job offer at a university in Kuwait and that was quite a move!
I was quitting my familiar work place, a place where I have worked for 9 years, my not so comfortable anymore comfort zone. I was leaving Egypt, the place where I have lived all my life, my beloved family and friends, the vibrant social life I had in Cairo, and my car (God, how I miss my car!!). Perhaps I was leaving behind even more than just that to start anew at a country I have never visited before, where I knew almost no one, alone; a single Egyptian Muslim female, that’s me. And I was doing so, amongst the dismay of some friends and the constant worrying parents hold for their kids, no matter how old they get. You read that right yes, kids because to our parents we will never be grownups.
And despite what was going on in my head back then, I was actually enthusiastic about the idea more than I was worried! I guess I needed such an opportunity to aid me in putting some things into perspective when it came to my career in academia. You see, I have been having an identity crisis regarding my career in academia over the last couple of years, ever since I got through my horrible master’s degree experience; an experience that left me feeling worthless. And with work being not so good either and the fact that I can’t make up my mind regarding my PhD, I ended up feeling lost and confused about everything. I had me convinced that I’m not cut up for this; with this being academia/postgrad studies. I totally believed that this is it, no more teaching for me, I’m not good enough, I can’t even start on my PhD; so what the hell am I doing to myself being stuck in such a career?
But at the same time I kept on thinking, what else could I do? I love teaching despite everything and I have been teaching ever since I graduated and don’t know anything else to do except that. I just felt adrift and the feeling continued to mushroom with no intentions to subside till I almost quit! But just before I was about to quit everything God sent me a message; a message in the form of a job offer and back then I thought to myself that maybe God has another plan stored for me and maybe this is not the time for me to quit academia, at least not just yet. I got this job completely out of the blue! I only needed to show up for the skype interviews and within less than a month one thing led to another and I found myself with a signed contract in hand, declaring that I would be joining the university in few months’ time. I couldn’t help but think that perhaps I felt the way I felt towards my job because I was only stuck with the wrong crowd at the wrong place, and that I only needed a fresh experience to help me make up my mind objectively. I presume this was God’s way in urging me not to give up on academia for the time being.
So I decided to leave the familiar and go for the unknown because perhaps the problem with my career identity crisis was all in my head! Perhaps what I needed was to simply escape my norm, my current life, the dissolving relations and the hardships, all the blows that knocked me down and tied me to the floor. Maybe I needed to be on my own for a while, to distance myself from the fuss, to remove the piles of sorrow that have been accumulating over the past few years, to allow my mind to see the light after a long period of stumbling in the dark, to let myself return to its set back and relaxed form in order to be able to think clearly about what’s next in general and not only about my job. So the timing couldn’t have been more perfect! How could I have said no to such an open door! I just had to walk through, to cross over and experience whatever was waiting for me on the other side.
When the time for me to leave kept on getting closer and closer, I chanced on the sentimental part of my personality; a part that I have not been acquainted with before! I was in denial about my departure till the very last minute when I needed to sort my stuff out for packing. I spent my last two months travelling around Egypt, meeting family and friends and having such a great time that it didn’t feel like I was leaving at all. It was like me enjoying my summer doing things and meeting people but it all hit me when I had to pack because I received my plane ticket. I was not travelling on a short duration trip this time; I was actually leaving my home to live elsewhere for at least a year!
I started to go through my belongings and thought how should I decide what to pack and what to leave behind in such a situation? How should I pack my tangible and intangible belongings when every single one of them is attached to a memory and means a lot to me? What are the things I would want to have with me to make me feel at “home” or to make it better if I’m faced with a rough day? I always thought it will be easy to pack and live somewhere new but putting the excitement of that idea aside I have to admit it wasn’t that easy.
It wasn’t easy for me to condense all my stuff in just two pieces of luggage; I almost had a panic attack during packing on the night of my departure!! I felt that I wanted to pack EVERYTHING!! OMG, I felt I wanted to pack my room, the whole room with everything in it, including my bed 😀 I’m one of those people who are attached to their stuff and it was never an easy task for me to let go of things. But I have been adapting a decluttering scheme for almost a year now, and that taught me to abandon lots of unnecessary things and feelings. I have to say moving to Kuwait helped me with that scheme even more, as it taught me not to cling to things, places, people, etc. because eventually all of these are subject to change! I got to know that at a certain point of time I would need to let go, to put the weight down and carry on, and that I would better hold on to the meanings of things rather than the things themselves. You have to admit that when you start to declutter, to move all the rubble away, you will feel at ease and peaceful inside; at least I can say that for myself. That kinda makes sense actually because when you do so, you will only be surrounded by what’s really important to you. At such a moment I believe one should appreciate what one has and be thankful for it, and I can truly profess that I’m entirely grateful for everything, and I wouldn’t want to have it any other way!
So I did all sorts of “packing” which also included all the love I had received from family and friends bidding me farewell – a love that left me feeling blessed and overwhelmed- and flew to Kuwait to start on this new phase of my life. I landed with no expectations at all and was blown away by how it’s been going on so far. I had an impression about Kuwait that it’s somehow a conservative country with nothing much going on socially or even culturally but I was wrong! So far I have been meeting amazing people and making new friends, doing things and learning about new stuff, attending amazing performances and musical concerts. But most importantly I’m slowly coming back to my old me and restoring my faith in myself, and what I can accomplish! Of course, there are some tussles who said life is easy, huh? But even those tussles and hustles can teach you things and make you grow wiser; so I can’t really complain.
“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences”, says Eleanor Roosevelt; therefore, I’m reaching out 😉