Everybody’s Changing- And I’m Still The Same

On the eve of my 20th birthday, I jokingly told a friend who had messaged me with good wishes that this was going to be the “no pressure but you have to hit all the milestones decade.”

By my 30th birthday, I went on, and according to the prevalent standards and expectations of what I will later call the “Aabelik Scale of Achievements,” I needed to do the following:

  • Complete my Bachelor’s Degree
  • Complete my Master’s Degree
  • Become gainfully employed
  • Meet the person I was destined to spend the rest of my life with
  • Become engaged to said person
  • Marry above mentioned Prince Charming
  • Have a least one child

Somehow, I ended up checking all of these items (except for the very last one- and you all know how I feel about that) just a few months short of my 25th birthday. I was either a woman on a mission, collecting milestones like one would collect Pokemon, or I had gotten bored of constantly hearing the word “aabelik.”

In 2012, I couldn’t attend my Master’s graduation ceremony so my family threw me a small celebration at home. Complete with cupcakes.

Or fate and I had planned things differently and it ended up being a much stronger force than I had expected it, taking hold of my plans and tossing them to the side.

Lately, I have been thinking about this a lot- thoughts brought upon because it’s springtime. And springtime always means social media is flooded with new beginnings: engagements, weddings, pregnancies, births. I cannot go a day without someone sharing their happy news. And while I’m truly thrilled for them, I cannot help but feel like I’m a little bit out of the loop.

After being on the accelerated track for so long, somehow it feels like I’ve gotten to the stop where I need to change trains, but due to some unknown reasons, ended up missing the one going to my final destination. Now I have to wait under the pouring rain for the next one to come in God knows when.

It should feel wonderful that more and more friends and family members are ticking off milestones, that they’re getting more degrees or meeting their other halves, or even becoming parents. It should feel that as someone who has already “been there, done that,” that I would welcome them into this expanding group of ours, showing them around like a tour guide would.

Berlin, October 2015

But it doesn’t feel that way.

I’ve been at this stage for longer- long enough for the newness to wear off and monotony to settle in. Long enough for my frequent messages to Ahmad to transform from “I miss you and cannot wait to see you tonight” to “Hey, don’t forget to turn on the water heater when you get home.” Long enough that my master’s degree feels like yet another piece of paper left to accumulate dust.

It’s not that I’ve been sitting idle over the past few months. These thoughts have crossed my mind many, many times before and knowing that I’m prone to self destruction through overthinking, I’ve tried to create my own milestones. Ones that do not conform to the standard scale. I can bake a two layer cake and frost it, all from scratch. I can run up to 8 kilometers and not feel like murdering someone after. I can manage to travel twice a year to some of the most fantastic places in the world.

Aforementioned cake

And yet, those achievements pale in comparison to what’s going on. Or they don’t make for great “shareable” material. They just feel like what they really are: an attempt to fill my days with something that makes me feel good about myself (to varying degrees of success).

I understand that things happen to different people at different times. That’s growing up. There shouldn’t be a benchmark upon which you measure yourself or expect things to happen.

But when everyone around you seems to be moving onto better and/or different parts of their lives and you are where you were yesterday and the day before, fending off those feelings of “What’s next for me” becomes increasingly more difficult. Not only do I feel out of the loop right now, but I cannot break it either.


One Comment Add yours

  1. Tarek says:

    “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans” John Lennon, Tala what you are going through is called “growing up” and oddly enough it does not happen in bursts, more like Mad Men episodes (or a Proust tome!) – nothing happens yet cumulatively a lot does. I go back to this text often, originally a graduation speech turned into a song: https://www.justsomelyrics.com/56852/baz-luhrmann-sunscreen-graduation-speech-lyrics.html
    Remember – we all change, all while remaining the same.

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