(This isn’t an Ode to New Hampshire nor that shitty 4th Die Hard movie, sorry if you came here thinking it was, although if it was for the last Die Hard movie, you should be ashamed of yourself for wanting to read about this gratuitous PG-13 piece of trash. John Mclaine without saying “yuppie Ka yae Motherfucker”? You kidding me?)
“Being Comfortable is the scariest feeling in the world”, she said to me in that breathy voice of hers.
She was right of course. She is always right.
People who have been reading me have noticed that things around this blog have significantly changed over the course of the past year: the ranting has become more and more infrequent, the posting, which used to be 8 or 9 times a day every day of the week now takes a vacation from Thursday to Sunday, and an almost nagging feeling that the passion behind the writing is gone, replaced simply with detached cynicism and the every now and then glimpse of anger that have defined this blog for so long. If you’ve noticed all of this, you are not alone and you are not imagining things. One of the curses of writing is that your writing ability is always affected by your emotional state, and my emotional state has been kind of ..ehh.. well, numb isn’t the right word, but it’s the first that comes to mind. Oh, I know, stoic. I have been stoic for exactly 14 months now, ever since I moved to my new neighborhood.
You see, before I moved to where I am living now, I was supposed to be moving back to the States, where I would work in a DC NGO. Needless to say the situation got complicated when I found out that I am dealing with very shady people, and not wanting to associate myself with them, I cut loose al ties, with it the job and the Visa, and they in turn started a war against me in DC. But that was then, and it’s all history now. Anyway, faced with what to do next, I decided to take all the money I’ve saved and move to the posh expensive neighborhood that’s filled with foreigners and fellow anglophile egyptians in which I now reside. Once settled in, I started creating my own comfort zone, my own reality of Egypt. With the new place new friends came, and new parties, and girls, and more girls and more parties and inane discussions over hash smoking and the pursuit for the perfect alcohol collection and the nights out in overpriced bars and restaurants and the never-ending social life 7 nights a week. It was hedonism in Egyptian eyes, which meant that it was in its most boring and repetitive of forms, but hedonism it was nonetheless. It was great fun. And as the fun increased, the less angry I became, the less I cared about what was going on. I was slowly but surely becoming apathetic and there was nothing anyone could do about it.
Now, as most of you know, this Lifestyle naturally commanded a hefty price, i.e. it needed constant financing. That meant finding a job that paid the bills, and that job kind of found me. Suddenly I found myself working for a company with an extremely Egyptian work culture, with the petty politics and heavy islamist influences and the kind of frozen mentality that makes you wish to bash your head into the wall. I knew it was wrong for me, but I stayed there nonetheless, because everyone told me that it was time I grew up. That it was time to build my career, and maybe save some money for a rainy day, instead of my constant traveling and never-ending quest for instant gratification. And I listened. And naturally a few months later I couldn’t take it anymore and I left with mutual agreement of my superior. I now work for another company, doing the same thing. It’s slightly more exciting than the previous job, but I am not giving it my all. The sense of apathy that followed me from the first job still followed me here, and I can’t shake it off for the life of me.
I was oblivious to this problem until very recently, when I came across a career path that ignited a spark in a place that’s been dark for so long inside me, and now that’s all I could think of doing. It has everything that I wanted to do and more, and it eventually pays very well, so even my monetary needs will be satisfied. However, in order for me to get to that point I will need to start from the bottom of the ladder to get the tricks of the trade right, and that will mean bottom of the ladder money for at least the next 2 years. And that’s where the problem lies.
You see, I am turning 27 in a month, and right now, where I am at in life, I am actually ahead of the curve in what I do. I now work in upper-management of companies that do some seriously interesting work in terms of Information Technology. I have a very high expected salary. I have a Lifestyle that needs maintaining, a social life that is both demanding and expensive, and an apartment whose rent eats up a good chunk of my money. I am spoiled and comfortable, and the idea of giving all of that up, of all that I’ve accomplished, in the sake of fulfilling what I now deem to be my career of choice, well, that just leaves me frozen up in terror.
I can’t figure out for the life of me when I’ve allowed fear to take over such a huge part in my decision making, and yet here we are, with me unable to pursue what I want to do because of it. I turned to my friends for encouragement and guidance, to find them all frozen in terror like me, pursuing careers that they don’t like, ignoring their passions or possibly indulging in them on the weekend, and refusing to give up the careers they hate for ones they would actually enjoy, because, well, they have invested so much in this so far, and they can’t possibly throw it all away. Not to mention, in the “let’s always compare our penis size” culture of the social class I so happen to belong to, there is no space for you to be an indulger of your passions without doing it in a very grandiose way. You want to a screenwriter, let daddy finance a movie production company, You wanna become an artist, let mommy open up a gallery for you. Achievements in the realm of passion, that are 100% yours, are not heard of. Starting from the bottom of the ladder is neither allowed nor acceptable where I come from, especially if are over the age of 25. That’s when you are supposed to be all grown up, and by grown up we mean you should be doing some kind of job that you don’t like to purchase stuff that you probably could live without but makes you comfortable in order to justify your misery.
The more and more I think about it, the more I realize that If I really want to do what I want to do, then what I am doing right now has to stop. In order for me to evolve, I have to shed my skin and go all the way. I have to give up all the ties that bind me to a life of hollow achievement and miserable professional advancement. I have to do what I want to do, now, not in a year or two years or after I save some money or any of those endless tips of caution given to me by “grown-ups” who have been living in misery- that they alleviate with the occasional trip to the beach or attending the annual “Spring fling” or “Fuck me I am famous” parties where they spend fortunes partying with the same people they always party with and wonder who made it to the pages of the disgustingly self-indulgent “Scene and Heard” blog- for years and know it, yet refuse to escape it. They tell me to go after my dreams but do it rationally, unable to notice that they are talking about caution and not rationality. That rationality dictates that of you are young, with few attachments and responsibilities, and you are unhappy with something in your life, then change it immediately, before you become old and stuck in your life. Before this moment of opportunity passes you by.
And to make things even more confusing, some of those same friends who are stuck in careers they hate, are the ones who are encouraging me to do this, while they themselves are too chickenshit to attempt the same. You want to take their advice, you would really love to, but it’s hard to take them seriously when they themselves don’t follow it. When you point this out, they tell you it’s not about them, it’s about you, and when you press them on it, they confess that they are too terrified to make the same move, and would probably never take their own advice. What sounds like encouragement starts sounding like a set-up, and you realize, once again, that your friends are useless, and that, as always, you are in this alone.
There is, however, a part of me, that keeps screaming at it to just say “screw it” and do what I want to do. To give up the career, the apartment, the life and even the friends and go for it. That my love for them, the level of comfort they create in my life, is trapping me from doing what I need to do, and therefore they must go. Give it all up. Start over. That even if I failed, then it will be a glorious failure, because I will never look back to this time of my life when I am older in regret and say “If I only I wasn’t such a coward”. To destroy who I made myself become to save who I am. To Live Free or Die!
I can do this. I know I can. Yet here I am , in the office, pretending to work while I write this.
I am not scared, I am not…
…. but I can’t move!