Entitled to a Smile

Is this that I feel despair? Depression? Frustration? Loneliness? Just a general sadness? Or perhaps some combination thereof?

I find myself longing for normality. But I try to find my personal definition for what normality really is for me and I fail. Have I ever experienced anything remotely similar to what most people would call a normal living? Has anyone?

I look at my own life, my personal circumstances, and I see a story. I see a life full of drama, events, very high highs and very low lows. I look at my life and I see a unique story. Yet I know that every single person placed on this earth has a unique story of their own.

I am vexed by a feeling of entitlement. I am entitled to live a better life. I am entitled to find a job that I really love. I am entitled to have my children and my husband actually living with me. I am entitled to have a car that doesn’t break down every few months. I am entitled to live in a better neighborhood. I am entitled to have better healthcare. I am entitled to have more help around the house. I am entitled to live in the same country with my family. I am entitled to live in a country that practices democracy. I am entitled to a fair justice system. I am entitled to feel that I can resort to the police for help in times of need rather than feel they are the ones to fear. I am entitled to feel safe when I leave the house in the morning. I am entitled to feel that my children are safe when they go to school everyday. I am entitled to feel that my children have the right to a good education. I am entitled to be able to travel freely from one country to another. I am entitled to breathe clean air and drink clean water. I am entitled to love and to be loved, to be more involved in my friends’ lives and them in mine, and to have a semblance of a social life. I am entitled to live with my family. I am entitled to live with my family. I am entitled to live with my family!

Is this a personality issue? Am I simply in the wrong country? Or perhaps the right country but at the wrong time? Or is this what living is all about; for me, for you, for everyone? Have we all been dealt a bad deal? Or is this the only deal – neither good nor bad – and the difference is whether we accept it or feel we are more deserving of something different?

I struggle, oh how I struggle, with my need for something better but my inability to work hard enough for it. Is it burn-out? Is it the state of my country that has me so down and out? Would I have felt the same had the post-revolution period in my country gone differently? Would I have felt empowered rather than incapacitated? I remember how it feels to believe – really believe – that I can do anything I set my mind to. And I could. I really could. But so much seems to have brought me down. Would I be feeling this way if Egypt were on its way to democracy? Or was this inevitable regardless of the country’s circumstances?

The despair, the loneliness, the frustration, the general sadness; it is not always with me. It comes and it goes. Sometimes all it takes is a smile from a complete stranger and the world seems a better place.

While standing in a crowded and disorganized line on a very hot day at the police station to renew my car license, a woman asked me if I wouldn’t mind if she jumped ahead of me to ask a quick question at the front. I shook my head and smiled. She went ahead and got her answer. Half an hour later, I found that woman standing in the same line and I asked her if she knew where we were supposed to make our payments. She pointed me in the right direction. One hour later, she found me standing for the third time in that line and came up to me, “Did you find the right window for the payments? Are you managing all right? Is there anything at all I can help you with before I leave?” I smiled at her and thanked her dearly. We both made such small gestures to help each other out. But those small gestures meant the world to the both of us. The world was, for those brief moments, a better place.

So what is the normal that I really need? Is it the better car? The cleaner water? The better neighborhood? My family and friends? Democracy? Stability? Security? Or is it simply a smile from a stranger every now and then? How strong is the human soul when it comes to dealing with adversity? I like to think that I am strong. But I am finding life oh so hard these days.

Maybe all I need is to see more people with smiles on their faces. Maybe all I need to do is put a smile on my own face. When will Egyptians feel able to smile again?

One comment

  1. I wish there was something I could say to make you feel better but all I can say is the fact that you’re still struggling and that fact that you know you, your family and your country deserve better shows shows your own strength and resilience. You just have to trust yourself to keep on being resilient and as long as you don’t forget what your entitled to, what you’re worth, things will improve.

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