Playing By My Own Rules

I’ve been living in this city since the day I was born. I know the culture and I have a feel of it; it’s a crucial part of my life. But for the past four or five years I’ve been determined on leaving. I felt that my time here was limited that I was meant to live somewhere else, not sure where, but somewhere more accepting. You see I have many problems with living here, some more complex than others. My number one issue, though, has to be the people.

I’m aware of how general a term that is and how much it may not make sense, but I’ll explain. The population of greater Cairo is approximately 20 million people, give or take. It’s one of the densest urban areas in the world and one of the most polluted. That leads to an unfixable traffic catastrophe and more garbage than the city can hold. Leaving the house every day is a tedious task for everyone, regardless of which form of transportation they choose to take. All that is in addition to extreme inflation, which devaluates the money, adding more of a burden to people who’ve had it up to their eyeballs in problems.

However, this brief background doesn’t explain what I mean by having an issue with the people. I’m used to the crowded streets and have grown accustomed to the traffic, still hate it though. But what I can’t tolerate is the constant judgment and brazen interference in other people’s lives.  People’s lives are like a circus act, trying to balance between obligations and expectations. Society expects people to stand on a wire and effortlessly balance these two things with perfection, which is impossible! It’s outrageous to even conceive that such a life is possible. As you walk down the street, there always watchful eyes looking out to see if you step out of line. This creates an atmosphere of extreme frustration and oppression that no one can endure. One may pretend, put on a mask and spend their lives hiding, but it will certainly not be truthful. I’m not saying that this is the case for everyone, but it is the case for a great majority of the citizens of this city.

Back to the topic at hand, it hit my today that the only way I can be content with living here is if I do so by my own rules. I don’t think it will be entirely possible, but hypothetically it would be a step forward. If I could have my own place, take charge and responsibility for my own life. Be a mature responsible adult before being in a committed life-long relationship. Why is that I have to wait for a husband until I can be independent? It’s such an archaic social structure. Why can’t young unmarried men and women live on their own, outside their parents’ house? Why does there have to be a negative stigma behind that, especially for women?

I detest this culture of dependence and I hate that I’m sucked into it. I would like to not have to move away to have a life that I can call my own. I would appreciate it if people would mind their own business and accept the differences of others. I would like to see this culture as non-patriarchal, non-misogynistic, less destructive, more accepting, more proactive, more productive and more respectful.

Do I dare to dream such a dream?


I haven’t been able to write anything in a long time, which I find quite frustrating. But for some reason right now, I feel like putting everything on the page. Maybe I would feel better, or not; either way beats doing nothing. There are times in my life when I feel like screaming my lungs out; expressing my anger and frustration literally. But instead I sit here in front of my computer screen and type. I’ve become excellent at pretending everything in my life is okay, and better yet at laughing about it (in public at least). Every day another fight another argument; it’s all become exhausting. I know I may not be making much sense, but bear with me.

There are people who are born in cages and dream every day of escaping them, while there are others that are told that these cages are in fact freedom. For me to be free is to be able to have full and total control of your own life, as long as that freedom doesn’t harm you or others; to not be restricted. I yearn for that feeling and I will spend every day of my life fighting to achieve it.  My whole life I have lived in a closed, patriarchal society that has suffocated me day after day. But lately it has been getting worse. Between protests that close up half the country and curfews that force people to lock themselves in their own homes, things are becoming intolerable.

I want to leave my home for a fresh start, for independence and for a life. I realize that I’m throwing such big concepts around, but that is the truth. When you live your whole life feeling that every move you take has to be accounted for, that you are almost not allowed to be yourself, you eventually feel that you are surrounded by iron bars from every direction. I wish one day to release myself from my cage.

The Next Step

Wednesday was my last day as an undergrad. I couldn’t believe it, I still can’t. It’s quite surreal. I don’t think it will really sink in until I start working or at least until graduation, or when it’s September and I don’t have classes. I’m excited, terrified and in disbelief. I just don’t know what I’m going to do with my life now. I don’t have some grand plan. I have a rough plan for the far future, but not for right now. It’s scary to not be standing on stable ground, to have no idea where you’re going. And I’m neurotic, so this is driving me crazy. I wish I had any sign that everything will work out.

I’m hoping to get my masters, but I still don’t know when I can do that. I want to leave, to start my own life, to be independent. Things around here are going from bad to worse every day, and I just don’t want to be a part of that anymore. I look back at my life and I realize that I let life just pass me by. I feel that I haven’t really lived, and that the only way I can really have a life is away from here. As much as I know that I’ll miss my family and friends, I also know that staying here is no longer an option especially that a lot of my friends have either left or are planning on leaving. I’m afraid of not having someone to fall back on when things get bad, but I know that I need to learn to stand on my own two feet. That’s one of the main reasons why I need to leave, among other things. Either way I know that I’m about to embark on a new adventure, whether I’ll enjoy it or am up for it only time can tell.