As I continue to embrace adulthood more & more as an Egyptian woman, who has spent most of her life in the Middle East and continues to internalize the extent of gender adversities women continue to face in this region (& all over the world), I am forever indebted for the male role model I have had growing up – my father. Any seemingly inquisitive, curious, growth mindset I may have developed has been encouraged, and strongly endorsed by him. He always pushed me towards questioning everything, reading more, asking questions on any topic and being ready every weekend for a new debate with him, where I have to examine my assumptions and be willing to continuously deconstruct & rebuild my opinion on any given topic. He always pushed me to voice my opinions and dig deeper into what’s driving these opinions. He always made sure my voice was heard on the table, even from my early teen years & amid gatherings of much older men. He has given me numerous situations to allow me to become independent financially, emotionally and most importantly develop frameworks that can continue to attempt to resist herd mentality thinking.
Being in Europe for my birthday this year was a reminder of some of my most privileged and happiest moments with the family growing up. Europe has been intertwined in my memories with family trips in which I was taught to shop in different supermarkets, learn to take over from my dad and drive us around on our road trips, read maps (years before any form of navigation stemmed), deal with foreign banking transactions & airport issues from a very young age, experience different cultures, start conversations with complete strangers and most importantly deal with the unknowns that come with hitting an open road & leaving oneself to be open for whatever experiences meet you along the way. As my Dad would always say along the road trip especially at times when drive it’s raining or snowing hard and it’s pitch black outside and we’re lost:
“Missing our exit isn’t the end of the world. There is always a plan B so long as we understand the map & know the general direction of where we want to get. If we miss this turn, we will take the next one- it’s a slight detour, but who knows what we may see on that route. And if we’re too tired or it’s too dark on the way we can always pull aside & spend a night in one of the guest houses/ motels/ lodges on the way. It’s never too late- because we can always adapt our plan.”
My experiences on those trips is that there are times to press hard on the gas pedal and get done with most of the distance, but there is equal important to stepping out of the road occasionally to rest & re-energize. Moreover, it’s important to not only get comfortable with detours, but actually fully embrace them. The detours have mostly led to some of our most memorable experiences, best laughs and distinct experiences – at times, they were even more fun than the overly planned times.
This is definitely the mindset I aspire to adhere to in the coming phase of my life. Set a general direction, get comfortable with the uncertainties along the way,& be open to fully adapting to all the little experiences or detours along the way. It’s never too late for a continuously evolving life plan. To more years of adulthood