CAIRO - 5 July 2020: I made it to 35. According to social norms and even my own previous convictions, I should've been married by now with at least two kids. And the fact that I'm not adhering to those universal cohabiting traditions should at least make me feel like I'm missing out, right?
It's surprising to me, too, believe me.
Time - Artwork by Hend Rabie
I'm the same girl who at 22 viewed women who were not married by the age of 28 as "spinsters" and those above 30 as pathetic beings who were approaching their expiry date with every tick of their biological clock announcing the upcoming doom.
Here I am today, 35 and single as can be, but this is neither my story nor my reality; I'm more than just a ticking biological clock, I promise.
Growing up in a society fond of putting people into static predesigned molds, I was not told that by the age of 35 I'd have lived a meaningful journey full of ebbs and flows and I'd be aspiring to continue exploring armed with a young yet determined heart that understands and is ready for the ferocity of battles ahead. A quest - Artwork by Hend Rabie
I was not told that I'll get to know better this beautifully intricate soul within me and get to delve into its unlimited realms like a seeker who has just embarked with excitement on a quest towards the unknown, with every step bringing her closer to yet undiscovered mystery
I was not told that I'll be able to turn some of my dreams and wishes into realities and have such a huge appetite for achieving more as I gradually gain the capacity of doing so.
Being a stargazer, a moon lover and a sun seeker, all I see now when I close my eyes is this mesmerizing golden sunset over the Aegean sea in Greece's Santorini, a rainy afternoon in Confucius temple in Beijing, a vast blue Ocean and me swimming alongside turtles in Indonesia's Lombok island, a huge full moon looking down in 6th street in Austin Texas with country music playing in the background, the lights of billboards in Shibuya Square in Tokyo, and twinkling silver stars winking at me in the one of a kind Sinai of Egypt.
And I plan to add to the list and keep looking upward to the sky.
I was not told that even though my heart will break beyond repair and I would bleed inwardly, I'd still be able to develop a healing power and let the light shine through the holes to adorn my wounds and be transformed into a new version - of too many in me - like a caterpillar.
I was not told that I'd be loved, cherished and appreciated as much as I would get tested, that I would cross paths with humble souls on the way who would balance the harm of the unkind.
I was not told that we are all – single and married- marching towards our death, yet aging is a choice, that is when you stop learning and growing and allow limiting beliefs to have the upper hand over you. I was not told that I should be more afraid of dying with a heart filled with unfulfilled wishes than just perishing.
I was not told that I could be a late bloomer who needs more time to grow and that I'd get lost at times, even be shattered into million pieces but that it would be OK as long as I keep falling but not surrendering, realizing that not all trees grow at the same speed.
I was not told that one is entitled and in fact encouraged to find their passion at any point of their lives.
I was not told that every person carries a package regardless of their marital/social status.
Lean on me - Artwork by Hend Rabie
I was not told that not all homes are built by soul mates, that some people marry out of convenience rather than companionship, that people settle every day not knowing the magnitude of their sacrifice
Don't get me wrong, I'm not against marriage in any way, I'd be lying if I say I don't yearn for a partner who would hold my hand and accompany me through the thick and thin of this journey, who wouldn't?
But this is not about the others and their role in our lives, this is about us women, men, single, married, divorced, and widowed, and who we really are, what our purpose is and what we can control. At the end of every living day, we are just flawed feeble beings who cannot control everything.
It's about following the puzzle pieces that God has planted in each one of us to follow the thread that could lead to the treasures within, for just like the ecosystem, the universe needs us to be us, it needs our talents, ideas, energy and even flaws. Surely there’s more to us than reproduction, regardless whether or not we will actually reproduce.
So I guess what I want you to know about getting older is the sheer example of this inspiring lady, Dilys Price OBE, the oldest solo female skydiver – Guinness book of records at the age of 81- who still skydives at the age of 88 after finding her passion at the age of 54. “It's never too late."
It's never too late to find what you are looking for, to fall deeply and madly in love, to lead a happy life even if it does not necessarily get the "happiness approval stamp" from others, to know yourself better, to fix your life and to heal.
Turning 35 and getting older is a reason for celebration, because it's a privilege denied to some whose journeys had ended before ours. Therefore I vow, if granted a little bit more of life, to use the time I'm given, to live fully and intentionally, and to have the courage to declare my truth regardless of what others think.
I vow to never stop roaming paths searching for the puzzle pieces within, believing that of all the roads traveled nothing is worthier than the one that leads back to oneself.