Imagine being in an exam with no way of knowing how much time you’ve got left, but you feel that half the time has passed and you are extremely unsure of your answers at this point. However, you still have to finish, so you go on answering, still unsure of what you’re writing or whether you will be able to finish on time. This is what turning 30 feels like, at least to me. I feel I am at a very awkward stage of my life. Have I achieved some of my dreams? Yes, I did. Am I satisfied? Hell, no. Dreams are funny that way; once you manage to catch one, it changes, it develops and sometimes, it turns on you, leaving you wondering why you wanted it in the first place.
Growing up, I imagined that by the time I turned 30, I would be in a totally different place than I find myself in right now. I honestly don’t know how to feel about that. You see, some of it is good and way better than what I had wanted for myself, the rest is just confusing. I thought I would be married with children by now, but that didn’t happen…thankfully. I thought I wouldn’t be in Egypt, but that didn’t happen, either…unfortunately. I thought I would be in a different place professionally. I thought some people would still be in my life and others wouldn’t even be on my contact list. I thought a lot of things. But life has its very own odd sense of humor; it takes random turns that leave you clueless.
I have done a lot over the past 30 years. I’ve made great friends, got a bachelor’s degree and almost finished my master’s degree. I’ve visited 11 countries and managed to keep a job I am told I am really good at it. I’ve had the chance to take a few months off and go to a new place where I knew no one. That proved to be one of the best experiences of my life; there’s something special about being in a place where no one knows you. That’s when all your values and principles are really tested. It was refreshing to know that I can start a life and make friends in a place as tough and different as Los Angeles.
But there’s always something in me that thinks there should be more. I am now wondering if that’s what life is all about. Growing up, you believe the world is bigger than it is, that life has more to offer, but as you grow, your disappointment grows with you. This is not what all the great literature and timeless poems have promised. That’s not what all the Hollywood movies I’ve watched got me to believe would happen. There are no grand gestures, there’s no background music, working hard doesn’t always pay off and people you care about sometimes die without closure or reason. This leaves you with tons of questions and the older, wiser man dressed in white who meets you offering supportive quotes or explanations is nowhere to be found .The older you get, the more you realize that it really is the journey that matters, not the end. Endings are never Hollywood-like; endings are random and sudden and most of the time, they happen without you being aware they actually did, leaving you attached to something that’s already gone.
30 years is a lot, and I have experienced quite a bit in every single one of them. I am looking forward to what life will bring next. I am no longer childishly optimistic; instead, I now know that when something bad happens, it will eventually lead to something good which you didn’t expect. So, I am looking forward to the good and the bad, the triumphs and the disappointments. I am looking forward to continuing my human experience with everything that comes with it.