jdeena

Never settle for what is…come tomorrow it will be what was

Tag: family

Forced to Marry

I see it every day, all over my newsfeed and social media: girls are forced into marriage. No, I’m not talking about overseas in some remote country. I am talking about here in the US.  You might be thinking “Jinan, you are CRAZY!” but let me explain what I mean.

I know women have the right to choose their partner in Islam. I know no one can actually force you to get married. However, culturally, I feel that we are still bound by the obligations passed down from one generation to another. Think about it: when a woman says she doesn’t want to get married, what is your first reaction? Probably horror. Or, let me put it this way: when you meet a woman and ask her age, what is your reaction if she is over 30 and still single?

I am not singling myself out in this post, although I do face both scenarios quite often. But I am trying to open your eyes to a bigger issue in our society- one where a woman’s marital status and her ability to bear children is valued more than anything else she can offer. Just scrolling though social media and seeing how many comments a woman gets when she posts an engagement or wedding picture versus one of her new promotion or a solo trip she’s taken is enough to prove my point. However, it doesn’t seem to be enough for people to be convinced that we- as a society- are obsessed with marriage.

That point alone could have been enough to push me away from that institution; yet I chose to still become a part of it at the age of 27, when I first got engaged. To be honest (and I didn’t admit this at the time), I didn’t want to get married. I did it because my parents were becoming more and more frustrated with me, I was close to thirty, and the guy seemed decent enough. Everyone I knew would always tell me they thought something was wrong with me because I just wasn’t jumping to get married. What can I say? I just felt like I wanted to be on my own, and that I’d never find a guy who could tear me away from my singleness.

So, I got engaged. I went through the motions, made everyone happy -and then just as quickly- disappointed everyone when I took off the ring and left it on the bathroom sink before work one day. It was just two months shy of our wedding day. Yet I felt freer than I ever had that day.

Of course, everyone told me that I shouldn’t give up, and that I needed to keep an open mind. So I did, and I entered into yet another serious relationship that would be the beginning of the demise of my character.

Our culture fails to understand that we of this generation are looking for more than just a man to support us. We want a partner, someone we can love and respect and build an empire with. This second relationship chipped away at my self-confidence over 9 months. By the end of it, when he decided he wasn’t ready to get married, I was the shell of a human being. I was devastated and went into a depression so deep it consumed me. I felt lost, confused, and unmotivated. I was sure no one would ever love me, and spent my days crying and wondering what was so wrong with me that no one wanted to marry me.

And that was it- the breaking point. I went to therapy, and she asked me “why do you feel you need a man to love you to make you feel valid?” And it was such a simple question. Yet all my life, I was taught that marriage is half my faith and my culture made me feel that without a man I was nothing. I mean, just look at the questions we are asked when we meet people: How old are you? Oh, are you married? Oh, why not? I mean, are we seriously validating a woman by her marital status?

So since that day in my therapist’s office, I have vowed to work on loving myself. I have thrown myself into work and activities, focused on my writing and activism, and learned to be alone. I have a great circle of friends, but they are all married. So to count on their company proved fruitless. I go to movies alone, I go to restaurants alone; hell, I even travel alone! It’s empowering and liberating, but even more so, it shows that a woman does not need a man in order to enjoy life. I am not saying I will never get married; but I will definitely be enjoying the journey until that happens.

Do I get questions from my family and friends? Always. Everyone is scared of the “single girl” especially when she is so content in her singleness. But no matter; I don’t let it bother me. I have learned to laugh it off, and to focus on what is important to me. The way I look at it is, this is my life. Not theirs. To live your life for others will mean you will never truly live. So be content in your choices, as I have become.

They won’t like it, but then again, who cares?

Blissfully Unaware

I always wonder what it would be like for me to live a life where I was blissfully unaware.

Don’t get me wrong; I love that my mind dissects every single thing I hear and see. However, sometimes I look at how easily people float through life and think to myself, “hey, that life doesn’t look so bad.”

You might want to know what brought this up. Well, after a long hiatus from writing (I was very busy with work and just returned from a trip to Turkey), I figured I’d jump back into writing, and this subject has been on my mind for a while.

I feel that sometimes my mind over thinks things, and it would be easier for me if I didn’t over-analyze everything I came across. For instance, any time I see an article about rape, feminism, or oppression, I have to respond. I just have to. I can’t just let the post go, and move on to the next article. Something in me just rises (usually disgust) and I feel that I have to give my opinion. I know I have alienated a lot of people in this way, but frankly, I don’t care. I have passion for certain subjects, and I feel that it is my duty to combat a lot of those subjects.

However, I also am referring to being unaware in relationships. At this point in my life, any time I meet a guy I can very easily dissect the things he says and does- to the point that I will no longer be interested. You know how some people have family and friends who point out the faults of their partner? I do that all on my own. Because I know precisely what I want in a guy, it is easy for me to pick him apart when one wrong thing is said.

I know I should be more understanding. I know I shouldn’t dismiss someone so quickly; after all I wouldn’t want that done to me, right? However, I feel that the things I get most upset about are things that are extremely important to me, and so if that is the point where I start to break him down, then he can’t be the right person for me. There are certain things in my life that I am unwilling to bend on, and it isn’t enough for me for him to be indifferent. No….he must share the same passion for them as I do.

Let me explain why. I am a very motivated, outgoing, and opinionated person. I know what I like, and what I want from life. It isn’t enough for me to have someone along for the ride. I need him to be there as my co-pilot. I don’t want him to just agree with me, or change his opinion for me. I want him to be just as passionate and filled with fire as I am. I don’t need someone to tell me to “calm down” when I get heated; I want him standing by me, supporting me and telling me I have every right to be upset.

To be blissfully unaware would make my life so much easier. I could get married, have a few kids, and spend my days fitting in things that are important to me- only when my kids and husband were already taken care of, and I had the energy to do so. I often express this sentiment to my friends, and they tell me not to think that way…that my life was meant for more than that. That the way I am is absolute perfection, and that I should never wish to not have my passion.

But sometimes it gets exhausting. I get tired of constantly having to explain myself to those around me. I get frustrated when people assume things about me because I’m a feminist (not to mention 33 and single). I get tired of the battle inside me- the back and forth of two sides, wanting to find that perfect partner for myself but unwilling to bend on my ideals. I wish I could just print out a flyer that lists all my interests and what I am not willing to bend on, and pass it out to everyone I know. That way people will stop sending me or matching me up with guys who I have absolutely nothing in common with.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I am willing to wait for that person. The one guy who will love me for who I am, without making me change a part of myself. At the same time, I am not putting my life on hold for that. I will work, and stay involved, and write my awesome blog and guest pieces for magazines. My life does not revolve around finding a husband. I am pretty sure my life was meant for more than that. At the same time, I want the guy to also have his own passions and ideals. It easier when two people are living their lives apart- yet at the same time- together.

I recently read an article titled “I Want to Be Single- But with You.” And the article made so much sense. The author says “I want to live a single life with you. For our couple life, would be the equivalent of our single lives today, but together.”

That is exactly what I want. As the author said- “One day I will find you.”

And I intend to.

I Remember

It’s been almost a year.

A year since my parents started the process of their divorce. Divorce….the word still leaves a feeling of confusion and despair every time I say it. It’s hard to explain, and although I know it is for the best, it’s not easy to swallow. It’s like a bitter seed that has been planted in the pit of my stomach. Every time I hear of my father, that seed plants itself a bit deeper, creating waves of pain that reverberate through my body. Numbing my fingers, making it hard to type…these…words.

Because I remember.

It doesn’t happen every day. No, it is when I am least prepared for it that the memories overwhelm me. It can be a simple conversation that turns deadly with the resurrection of the memories I wish to forget. Like how good our life was as children. How I owe my proficiency in Arabic to a father who was adamant that we know our mother tongue fluently. How relentlessly he pursued our religious and Arab education, supplemented with trips overseas yearly. How every Eid, he bought us everything on our list, without every missing a gift (and sometimes including a few not on our list). How every school break he would take us to DC, California, Florida, and Chicago.

I remember.

I remember the feeling of accomplishment when I would take first place in the annual Quran competition at our local masjid. How proud my dad would be of me, the look of happiness lighting up his eyes. I remember my first car that he bought me, and the way he pretended that he would never buy a 16 year old a new car. How he had me test drive it, and the salesman slipped and told me it was for me. I remember my high school graduation, and how my family came from all over, and my dad bought me a brand new laptop and threw me a party with 300 guests.

I can’t forget the countless family dinners, laughing with my siblings around the dinner table for our mandatory Sunday night family dinner. No matter how busy we were, my dad always wanted us to eat together one night out of the week. We all hated it at the time, but now I’d give anything for just one more dinner. I can’t forget the nights of summer where, after dinner, we would make hot mint tea and play old Arabic folk songs and smoke arghila, with nothing but the glow of the candles and coals to light up our night.

And most of all…oh, God…most of all, I will never forget the look of helplessness on my dad’s face the day after my second engagement ended. It was only the second time in my life I had ever seen my father cry, the first being when his father passed away 18 years earlier. He hurt so much for me that day, that my heart broke for him. As he apologized to me, while holding me tight, I could feel his heart breaking for me.

In the last year, he has hurt us all. Mostly my mother. But he hurt his children as well. And as bad as he has been, I mostly feel sorry for him. Because he also has those memories too. I wonder what he feels when he thinks of them. Does he look back with fondness, or regret? Or has he shut that part of the book, and started a new chapter of his life- one that doesn’t include us?

I know that part of my life is over. I know that I should forget. But it’s hard when these memories creep into my every day conversations. How easily it is for me to say “my dad used to…” or “my dad taught me…” I know that he will never be fully erased from my life. That as long as he is alive, there will still be a connection between us, even though we are not a part of each other’s lives.

The hardest part, I think, is the memories. Because no matter how hard I try to forget…I remember.

The Cost of Abuse

This subject is a bit more heavy than what I usually write about, but it needs to be said. With all that has been going around in the media and social networks about Ray Rice’s video showing his assault on his then-fiancee, there has been a lot of victim-blaming. And it needs to STOP.

It is so easy for those who have no experience with any type of abuse to judge the woman and say she could have left, or that she allowed him to continue to abuse her so it’s her fault. But what many people don’t know is, it is not that easy to walk away. Lately, there has been a hashtag on social media, #WhyIStayed that has been trending. Women have been telling their stories on why they ultimately stayed in an abusive relationship.

It is easy to read these accounts of physical, mental, and financial abuse and blame the women. It is easy to stand on the outside, looking in, and wonder how weak these women must be to not walk away the first time they were mistreated. We can judge and say “I’d never be that stupid; I’d fight back or walk away the first time.” But really, without being in that situation, can you really say these things?

When I was younger, I was taught that men abusing women was NOT okay. I grew up in a home where my dad never laid a finger on my mom. My parents came from families where the men never hit the women. So I was lucky. I was shown a way of life free of physical abuse. However, many of my friends were not as lucky. They came from families where the mother was abused by the father, the sons hit their sisters, and ultimately, the girls were married to men who would hit them as well.

The first time I encountered a friend who was physically abused, I was shocked. It didn’t seem real; yet her bruises told me another story. I felt helpless; what could be done? She would run away to her family, and they would send her back to her husband. She had children; her husband threatened to take them away. He of course would buy her gifts as an apology, but just like clockwork, he would abuse her yet again. It was a vicious cycle.

Because she had no support from her family or the community, she was stuck in this circle for a while before she finally summoned up enough courage to walk away. Of course, the community saw it as defiance of her husband and blamed her. But she stayed strong, got a job, and found a place to live. Today, she is finally free from that life.

Over the years, I have seen other types of abuse. Emotional abuse can be just as scarring, since the man can strip you of your identity and self-worth. What we need to realize when blaming the victim is that if they already have low self-esteem (which men who abuse try to find from the start), then it is easy for them to be sucked into a whirlwind of emotional abuse. And since these women are afraid to speak up, the continue to let their abuser proceed with the torment.

Financial abuse occurs when a woman doesn’t work, or if she does, he money is managed and controlled by her husband. This makes sure that she always relies on him for anything she needs, and also secures the idea that she cannot leave as she will have to financial means to do so. Her husband will control where she goes, what she buys, and anything she wants to do. Along with emotional abuse, this will result in the woman feeling helpless to try and leave as she does not know how she will survive on her own, especially if she has no family or friends to stay with to get her on her feet.

I have seen all these types of abuse in my life. The one thing that I can tell you, is that women in these relationships often will hide what is happening to them for fear of humiliation. They do not want their closest friends and families to know that they are victims of these lifestyles. A lot of times, since they see the victim being blamed for not walking away, they are embarrassed to share their story. But, not anymore. It is time we stopped judging and blaming them for staying. We need more dialogue. We need conversation and understanding.

The reason women don’t walk away is not because of the power of their abuser; it is because they are afraid that when they turn for help, they will be greeted with a mob, pointing accusing fingers at them.

Let’s change that.

Fixer-upper

Last night when I walked into the house after a long, exhausting day of furniture building, work, and a tedious workout, my dad calls me over. Without even a “hello” he pulls out his phone, scrolls through his gallery, and holds up a picture of a guy. He just held it up; no commentary, no explanation. So I was forced to ask “who’s that?” He replied, “someone who wants to meet you!” I looked down at the phone, back up to my dad, and simply said “no” and walked away.

Now, you might be thinking that is rude and disrespectful. On the surface it does seem to teeter on the edge of that assumption. However, if you have read any of my other blogs, you’d know that this isn’t an unusual occurance. My parents are forever trying to set me up. It’s exhausting dodging their advances. But last night really got to me because it made me realize that it will never matter what I accomplish on my own; if there is no man by my side I will never be successful in their eyes. I recently landed a job as the fundraising coordinator for the Syrian American Medical Society. I will be moving to Youngstown in a few short weeks. This is an amazing opportunity for me and I couldnt be more grateful. Yet my dad is trying to set me up with some guy who lives HERE.  

Tell me, what exactly does he think will happen? That the guy will move to Youngstown for me? That he will accept waiting to get engaged until I have settled into my new role, which could be months down the line? That he will support my new career and give me the space I need to settle in? Okay, yes, maybe just MAYBE I will get lucky and he will do all that. But that is a very slim chance. I prefer to go with the majority, which usually is what happens to me. I have yet to be in a relationship where the man fully supports me. And that is fine; I am perfectly content with supporting myself. However, please do not come to me just after reciving the best job offer of my life and throw a man into the mix. It’s just not going to happen.  

After my dad went upstairs to bed, my mom and I sat down to watch our usual late-night Arabic shows. Of course the topic of marriage came up, and she asked me why I didn’t want to meet the guy. I told her about having a new job and that it wasn’t something I could allow at the moment. And then I told her how I didn’t find the guy attractive. That may seem shallow to you, but before you judge me I’d like for you to consider who your spouse or partner is and just TRY to convince me that you don’t find them remotely attractive. Just try. Anyways, I told my mom he seemed very old-school and had no taste in fashion and that I was looking for someone more put together. My mom’s response was that I could always fix him up and make him look how I liked.  

This guy is 28. If he needs MY help this late in the game in order to look decent, then I definitely don’t need him in my life! Look, that explanation may have worked on me when I was 22, but it’s almost 10 years later and I need a guy who already knows how to get it together. I’m in my 30’s;  if I meet a guy now I don’t have the same time I would have had when I was in my 20’s to help mold a guy into the image I want. Is it too much to ask for a well-dressed, put together guy with his shit together? Sorry for the language, since I rarely curse, but it had to be said! I am tired of friends telling me “you can fix him after you’re married.” NO. No I will not, because I dont have the time to “fix” someone else. It’s taken me almost 30 years to become the kind of person I am content with- no way am I starting that with someone else.  

I know people will judge me because I mention looks are important,  but I know it is important to everyone. Otherwise we’d all have ended up with partners we’ve lusted after. That rarely every works out in our favor. And some of you might tell me that if I indeed want someone who looks a specific way that I should just change him into what I want. But you are missing the point. I shouldn’t have to change him. If I did he wouldn’t be himself. I want a guy who is already himself, someone who has worked on achieving his perfect self just as I have. And you can tell me to hold my breath because it’ll never happen, and I’ll tell you that I’m perfectly content living my life until he decides to appear. No way am I going to miss out on an amazing opportunity just because some guy wants to make an appearance in it right now.

Age IS Just a Number

Everyone has heard the saying “age is just a number.” Usually it’s someone younger saying it to justify their actions that are deemed too adult. Or an older women uses it as a defense when dating a younger man. Or, in my case, when a guy who is ten years younger than me tries to pursue me. But this post isn’t about me; not entirely.

One of my guy friends turned 40 this past Saturday. Granted, in most people’s lives, this would be cause for celebration. You have established a career, you have a great circle of friends and family, and you are content. I was browsing Instagram and Facebook and noticed no one had wished him a happy birthday. So I text him wishing him a wonderful birthday and many more healthy years to come. His response was less than enthusiastic. And I knew it would be, because I knew he felt he was missing something he should have had by his 40th birthday: a wife and kids.

Now, my friend is handsome (despite his protests that he isn’t), he’s VERY smart, accomplished, involved in the community, and respected by many. I have know him for ten years and he has always been there for me. Seeing him upset by this upset me as well. Why? Well, because I know where he is coming from. For males, it is more accepted that they get married and start a family later. For females…not so much. But my friend feels that even he has pushed the limit. The thing is, he is SO amazing that it boggles my mind as to why no girl has snatched him up yet. Granted, he is a bit picky, but so is everyone.

After our brief text exchange, I concluded by telling him he has so much to be thankful for. His life is fulfilling and rich with purpose. If nothing else, he should be proud of those accomplishments that most people need a lifetime to achieve.

Later on in the day, I started thinking. It seems that my friend was feeling that he was missing something, but only because of his age. Had the two not been linked, I’m sure he would have been happy to celebrate his birthday. (He actually deactivated his Facebook so no one would know, and ignored all his friends’ phone calls and texts). The fact that he was 40, an age which most guys would have a family established, and was still single himself must have tugged at his heart. If there was anything I could do to convince him of his worth, I would have. What bothered me the most was the fact that he was consumed with the one thing missing in his life to appreciate all that he DID have.

If society doesn’t place an emphasis on age in regards to anything we accomplish, then no one would ever feel inadequate. People expect you to graduate college by 22, get married at 24, and have a child shortly after. When you don’t follow this timeline you are now viewed as a pariah. When I quit school 8 years ago to pursue my work in sales, everyone gave me the “that’s so sad” look when they heard I didn’t graduate college. But what we all need to remember is that life isn’t so perfect all the time. Sometimes the career comes before the degree. Sometimes marriage comes after 30. Sometimes kids come after 40. To me, whatever makes YOU happy should determine when you do things.

Right now I’m 31, bordering on 32. When I turned 30, I was single. I was working my hourly sales job after stepping down as a manager. As much as I wanted to sulk, I didn’t. Because at 30, I had been afforded opportunities most hadn’t experienced yet. I was loved. I had a wonderful family and group of friends supporting me. So what if I was 30 and didn’t have a husband or kids?

Am I the only one who sees no importance in being married? To be so accomplished across the board and then be missing just that last puzzle piece should not make you feel incomplete. Focus on what you DO have going for you. Don’t dwell on the one thing that is taking a little longer to make its way to you. If you do, you’re going to miss out on all the great things life has handed you. Enjoy your life now.

Personification of a Female

I’m obsessed with social media. At any point of the day, you can find me with my phone in my hand, scrolling through Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Some may call is obsessive, but I hardly ever watch TV and so I get all my news from articles posted by the local police, weather, and news stations.

So it’s no surprise that on a daily basis, I see posts made by friends on these sites that tend to irk me a little. For instance, the other day I was scrolling through Instagram and saw a mother post a picture of her daughter baking a cake and then washing the dishes. Underneath the picture was the caption: “future housewife in training.” My stomach roiled at the phrase. The girl was no more that 7 or 8 years old. Already, her mother was conditioning her to be a housewife. It unsettled me.

Why? Because we are still, as a society, giving girls the impression that they need to be good at cooking and cleaning so that they can be a good wife and mother, or else she is worth very little. Why not teach her to be an entrepreneur and give her the encouragement to start a lemonade stand? Or teach her about leadership and give her the tools to start a group with her friends that comes up with ways to help in society? Maybe you think I’m being dramatic, but it seems that all we do from the time a girl is born, is mold her into the future wife and mother you expect her to become.

Not all girls are meant to get married. Some may not have kids. Yet if this is what we continue to drill into their young, impressionable minds as they grow, they will reach adulthood and feel that if they do not adhere to these roles, they must be defective somehow. Women are meant to be more than just mothers and wives. They can contribute so much more to society if you would just let them. And while women can have a family and work, the stigma that surrounds a working mother makes her feel that she is selfish for wanting to do something for herself by working when she has children at home. I have heard it time and time again from a multitude of people: society and the values we used to hold dear have gone downhill because there is no mother at home, cementing these values and making sure the kids are brought up right. However, the blame should not be placed on the women; men have just as much responsibility in raising the kids as women do.

Too often we blame the woman for all that is wrong in society. Take rape for example. Women are taught to dress a certain way to fit into society, and when they are attacked by a rapist, they are told it is because the way they dress. Society has yet to take a stand against men and tell them that it doesn’t matter how a woman dresses; it gives them no right to rape them. The woman is told that she was raped because she brought it on, which leads to years of self-doubt and loathing. Men are now the superior gender in her eyes because as a female, she brought this upon herself. Just look at women overseas who are used as pawns in mens’ patriarchal games. A woman in India is raped by a man who was cheated by her brother as a punishment to the brother for his unprofessional business etiquette. Now that the woman is deemed impure by society’s standards, her brother will kill her in order to save the family’s honor. It is devastating and atrocious to see women used like this all over the world. And here we are in America, holding our daughters back from advancing by teaching them at a young age to be good housewives.

There is a balance. A woman can be successful and a great mother/wife. I will never think that any of my married friends are less than intelligent or accomplished. I can only imagine how hard being a mother is. I have seen enough glimpses of that life to know that it is not for me. But please, mothers, teach your daughters to be strong, independent, and successful women. It is the only way to truly secure their future. While marrying a great guy can give security, that security is fleeting. What will stay with a girl throughout her life will be the value that you invest her; value that no one will ever be able to take away.

We Have a Suitor!

The four most dreaded words in a 30-something Arab female’s life are:

“You have a suitor.”

Now, growing up in the US always gave me mixed feelings when it came to suitors. On the one hand, you feel a sense of 1800’s flattery that a man whom you don’t know yet has heard of you and your beauty and requests the honor of coming to see you. On the other hand, it also makes you feel like cattle, waiting on display for the farmer to come around, check your physical appearance, and deem you fit or not to produce milk. I know I may be exaggerating a bit (at least in regards to US customs) but really how can anyone feel comfortable in such a situation? It makes me feel like I have to be on my best behavior since the guy and I will spend time talking within a group made up of our families, and then when we are given the opportunity to go to the other room and talk it’s like a rapid-fire interview with the questions pertaining only to marriage and kids:

“How many kids do you want?”

“Will you work after having kids?”

“How soon do you want kids after we are married?” (I’m thinking: “…after we are married?” Dude…I just met you.)

“What’s your ideal length of an engagement?”

And so on. I usually tune out, make up ridiculous answers (like, “I don’t want kids,” “I’d rather adopt,” “A two year engagement is ideal.” I do everything in my power to try and steer the guy away from ever wanting to see me again. But no matter how hard I try, they always call back the next day wanting to see me again. WHY GOD WHY?

The reason for this reminiscent blog is because I heard these same four dreaded words yesterday afternoon.

My phone rings, and it says “Fetoosh” on the screen (which is my parent’s restaurant.)

Me: “Hello”

Mom: “What are you doing?”

Me: “Hanging around the house, reading, watching TV.”

Mom: “You have a suitor.” (Yup, just like that…no preliminary build-up.)

Me: “Umm…” Silence.

Mom: “Jinan! Don’t start that!”

Me: Silence. (I still don’t know what to say. It’s been three years since we’ve had this issue.)

Mom: “Ayman led him to us. He’s 40, lives in Ottowa, Canada and is working on his PhD. He’s tall and built….you know what I mean? Not fat, but wide…like built.” (She really did say all this, just in Arabic. I’m translating word for word.)

Me: “Ok, FINE.” (I am ready to scream)

Mom: “I wanted to make sure you agreed before we had him come down to see you.”

Me: “NO! I don’t even know this guy. I’m not having him come see me if I don’t even like him. Give him my email first and we’ll talk that way.”

Mom: (Probably overjoyed that I agreed at all) “Okay, okay we’ll tell him.”

Me: Hangs up phone and bursts into tears.

Ok. I know that isn’t the most appropriate way to react to this. But seriously….I felt like I was ambushed. Just recently I was telling a friend how my parents have given up on setting me up and have focused on my younger sister’s upcoming nuptials. Guess I was wrong. Here they were scheming behind my back this whole time.

So now what? I’ve said before that I hate setups. What am I supposed to do when the guy emails me? I could be myself, and miracle of miracles he could actually like me. Or I could just pretend to be the typical Arab girl and answer all the questions in the way he expects me to. I know that he could end up being a great guy. I know that this could be the chance my entire life’s hardships has led me to. But the pessimist in me refuses to believe that.

It is so unfair that we have to endure these incidents in the 21st century. All I wanted was to meet the man of my dreams, become best friends, then fall in love. I don’t know if I will ever be able to see a relationship blossom from a setup for myself. I know what my parents are thinking: I’ll be 32 in a few months, and if I meet someone now I could be married by (if not before) my 33rd birthday. Even writing out these numbers and seeing them on my computer screen just now can’t seem to register with the person living inside me. I just don’t feel this age and I’m afraid I never will and therefore will stay single until one day I wake up, 50 and alone (but still looking 30!).

Sigh. Here goes nothing.