Rabab Fathy in a visit to San Diego, California in September 2015 - Photo provided to Egypt Today
CAIRO - 29 July 2018: Age is just a number, a true saying only if you believe it. And even though I do believe age is what one makes of it, I was still taken back when someone asked me on my birthday earlier this month “So, how old are you now?”, as the answer was “33.”
Listening to myself articulate “33” out loud did make me wonder “Is time fleeing so rapidly? God! Am I getting old?”
But luckily, I took a trip down my memory lane and felt better in a second. I’m everything I’ve ever dreamed to be. I couldn’t be more proud of the young lady – yes young- I’ve turned out to be. I’m my best friend and although I’ve known defeat, loss and heartbreak, I’ve also known happiness, warmth and satisfaction and can’t be more grateful.
My journey has been very fruitful so far. I might have learned a thing or two, and I’m eager to continue exploring its realms if God grants me a little bit more of life. And here is a list of what I’ve learned and hope to keep learning:
1- Life will humble you in so many ways. Stay strong.
2 – Jerks do exist. You will meet people who will exploit your hard times and use you weaknesses no matter how good you've been to them. Stand up for yourself, loose one battle, but not the war. It will be the hardest and bravest thing you could do. Keep the faith despite confusion.
3- Don't put all eggs in one basket. We all know this advice, but kind of forget it along the way. Investing in just one area of your life is WRONG, as life has many aspects; don't put off some plans or dreams because of work or a relationship. Learn to prioritize.
4- Be selfish. It’s OK to put yourself first sometimes as long as you don't hurt others, at least not on purpose. Some people need others in their journey; such people feed off your energy and drain you. Choose you. You deserve to be loved; do not settle.
5- Know your worth, powers and skills, acknowledge them and act upon it, so you wouldn’t allow yourself to be used. Earn your respect and accept no less from others
6- Keep on learning and investing in your growth. What makes our journeys interesting is exploring and experiencing new adventures. The world changes so fast and if you don’t keep pace with it, you will be left out. Keep up with the universality of the world. Take that course and learn this language you’ve been wanting to learn. Small steps towards a plan have a huge impact.
7- You'd fall upon the thorns of life; you'd bleed, as the English poet Percy Shelley once said. I’m sorry I can’t tell you otherwise, but life is hard and unfair sometimes. You’ll know failure, maybe in a relationship or a career, and it’ll change the way you perceive life. Take your time to lament your losses, then get up. It happens to all of us, you are not alone in this. Fail smartly, don’t take it to your heart rather train yourself to be flexible.
8- Love hurts. Only the very lucky few avert its curse, if you are one of them, appreciate it and be grateful. If not, then know despite the pain that cracked your heart open, it was still worth it. You will be frightened to put down your armor one more time, but forgive. Heal. Then fall in love again.
8- Develop your support group. When tides are low, having an inner circle of close friends or family members could work wonders. Invest in such relationships; be there for them first so they can be there for you in your time of need. Family should ALWAYS come first.
9- Financial stability. By the time you are in your 30s, it’s better to have a clear plan about your finances, especially during an economic crunch such as the one we are experiencing in Egypt at the moment. Yet, never put off a dream for the sole purpose of saving money. You will not be this young forever. Learn to work on a budget.
10- Know thy self. Being friends with yourself is step number one for peace of mind which is essential to leading a good life. Listen to your inner whispers, be kind towards yourself, little pampering every now and then hurts no one. Be alone so you train yourself to enjoy solitude, and in doing so you’d realize it’s your best company. Once you master this, all your relationships will be balanced as they wouldn’t be based on your need to be with others, but rather on your desire to have a compatible companionship.
Also, getting to know yourself better will stop you from being snared into conforming to someone else’s vision of you. People sometimes are so confused in their journeys that they would try to piece you together in a fashion that suits their idea of what a good person should be. Doubting yourself is almost impossible if you have a healthy relationship with yourself.
12- Set a goal. Be aware that when you don't have a clear plan, you allow yourself to be used as a tool to help someone else achieve their dreams. This one is on you. It's OK to align your dreams with others as long as you are working towards a clear plan that serves you.
13- We are all walking towards our death. Take it easy. Choose to be kind, and don’t regret it.
14- Don't trust time. It’s as Alfred Lord Tennyson described it ages ago “a maniac scattering dust”. Time will always outpace you no matter how hard you try - it’s one of those unequal battles we are destined to fight- so add life to your years. Take action now, do what your heart tells you NOW, you’ll have plenty of time to regret it later on your death bed. The problem about time is timing; our desires change and if you missed the opportunity of fulfilling them on the right time, something shuts off and it’s never the same again, like a late love confession, or an overdue trip to a dream destination.
15- Be a seeker. Seek knowledge, light and a meaning. We are all on a quest, search for faith. Faith will help you be less tense in a world falling victim to hatred and darkness. Be a light if you can. A smiley face and a kind heart will suffice.
16-We all have the ability to hurt. People don't always tend to be nasty and hurtful, sometimes we cross paths at a time when others -be it friends, family or lovers - are lost in their own journeys and they unintentionally break our hearts only to leave us wondering what we did wrong so we wake up one day with this huge pain in our chests and we are no longer the same. But we all get lost at times and can hurt just the same. Forgive and move on. Know that by forgiving, you're setting yourself free.
17- Take care of your health. This is the right time to start adapting healthy habits like eating more fruits and vegetables, drinking water, and exercising. Not as hard as it seems, I promise.
18- Apologize for your mistakes. Even if years go by, and you've done something wrong to someone, apologize and give those people the closure they deserve. How many unfinished stories haunted us for years; our lives and others' lives will be so much easier if we communicated better and let go of our ego. Have some guts and say you're sorry!
19- Never stop marveling. God has created wonders all around us that we tend to overlook such as the sky above our heads with its untold secrets, sunsets and sunrises and many more daily miracles. If you behold what others can't fathom, stick to it and explore some more.
20- Age is just truly a number. Believe it. Never make age an excuse for not trying, for not living, for not experiencing new things. We don't know when we are going to die which means here and now is the essence of life. Today we are the youngest we will ever be, carpe diem. Seize the day!