Friday, June 23, 2006

How to Survive a Crazy World

I received a very moving email from an Egyptian woman who was deeply influenced by my post about living in America. She wrote that she also had to make a decision to go back to Egypt after her children reached their teens. She was disenchanted upon noticing her children becoming more reclusive and independent and how they were gradually transforming into extremely self-centered individuals. She blamed the school system that taught them that they need to rely on themselves in doing everything in life and not burden their parents with their needs. When she went back to Egypt, she was happy at the beginning, but later realized that students hear the exact opposite message in Egyptian schools: you have no identity and you are nothing without your family. She fell into deep depression and could not know what to do. She also started to fight with her husband because he was the one who convinced her that they needed to come back. She was struck by my statement that I was trying to find a happy medium between what is good in Egypt and what is good in America and asked me how I was doing in this area.

Well, I will share what I have been doing during the last 2 years to make this happen.

1. The first step I took was to take responsibility for my decision to go back to Egypt. I know it was not a perfect decision but I had to do it because I was so unhappy back in the States.
2. I became more self-monitoring and tried to adopt behaviors that had a happy medium. For example, my parents asked me to help my sister buy an apartment in Alexandria because I make a lot of money. I had to set some boundaries and I told them that I was going to buy a chalet in marina and she is welcome to visit and use it. I had to balance my own independence without forgetting that my sister does not have enough funds to enjoy the summer.
3. I had a very bad experience with dating an Egyptian woman who was practically a gold digger as well as an image-obsessed unsophisticated whore. I know that I had to use my American assertiveness with this girl and showed her how messed up she was, but I did not do that right away because I used my relational Egyptian side withstand her selfishness for a very long time.
4. I am able to write about what I do not like about Egypt and what I do not like about America
5. I try to surround myself with people who try to have this happy medium.
6. perhaps the most helpful element was to rely on God and ask Him to guide me as I grow through my discomfort
7. I had to embrace the pain of being in the middle of two cultures and not avoid experiencing it. Pain is an ingredient for personal growth.
8. I started to live the present moment and not worry so much about tomorrow
9. I accepted my limitations and vulnerability in dealing with others
10. I realized my own complexity and I am sure you can see that too.

Even though my writing may indicate that I hate my existence in Egypt because of its societal ill, yet I feel so protected because of my wealth and social status. I was able to have my own comfortable life and live as if there is no tomorrow. In America no matter how you become rich, your skin color will fuck you up if you are not white.

Update*** Check out this link from Washington Post and you will find a proof for what I have been saying about social isolation in the USA


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