Introvert vs. Extrovert

Growing up, I was often asked whether I was the calm brooding type or the social bee (since I abhor the other winged insect used for the expression), and often pondered the matter without truly finding an answer that truly suited me.

When I was a child, I had a tendency to approach people easily, wanting to share just about anything that I came across. I’d share my experiences, my food, my toys, whatever made me happy was good enough to be distributed. However, often met with brick walls from my peers, I resumed a life less socially active, having become less inclined to interaction usually turned negative and harmful. My natural disposition thus countered, I grew up in a self-made cocoon that turned into a comfortable abode, a welcoming space that fit little more than myself. Needless to say that years later, upon trying to dismiss a long outgrown shell, I found great difficulty re-adapting to what once came so inherently; I had lost touch with the ways of the world and came off quite often as awkward. A few years later, with practice and time I became proudly master of my colours, then just as suddenly as the whim to leave my cocoon had hit me, I realized how impatient I had grown to rejoin my tiny refuge, how tiresome society felt when exposed to its rays too long; after living through both extremes I understood that I was neither so completely as I was lead to believe, I wasn’t entirely sheltered or adamantly open, I was a bit of both depending on the hour, my mood and whatever life threw at me.

I still don’t understand why such black and white questions never permit grey answers, why we are from birth encouraged to be extremists in our choices, thoughts and characters. I am a thousand shades of complexity and I refuse to adhere to just one pole of the spectrum.

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The art of perseverance

I draw. I’ve been drawing since the first day someone gave me a pencil, the first time my hand was able to clasp that piece of wood with a coloured core trapped inside, warm, waiting to spread its magic. I often feel like that thin hidden stick, still waiting, even though I still draw, even though I’m not hiding. I’m that log of colour that just can’t wait to reach paper, to become, to be.

It took me years to make my work public, to push it into the light for public scrutiny, endanger my tiny almost non-existant ego with the not so soft noises that escape the mouths and keyboards of onlookers. I draw thoughts, emotions, fleeting passions and ephemeral pleads, and I showcase it so that people too disillusioned to understand the fragility of each stroke can point, question, disregard or ignore what part of me wants to say, while a few urge me onward, push me further, the beautiful ones, the tender souls that understand the deep connection between the nib of a pen and the unsaid.

I’ve often contemplated giving up, or keeping it all to myself, for it’s a part of me and not a whole, a few centimeters of heart and a few drops of soul, but then it hits me that someone out there is thankful, another appreciative, a few even understanding, some possibly detest my work which is quite a pleasurable thought for it means I stir up something brutal in them, animalistic maybe, and some more always expectant of what else my fingers can produce with that derisive twig of colour. I keep going for those, the few who dare express something, whatever it is, those who dare nod even though it can be difficult to stand by someone and their cause, even though understanding is a private notion, a secret twitch of the mind, a comforting little bell ringing in a distant corner spelling in morse: “you know”.

A slice of happy

There comes a day in every person’s life, hopefully not too late, when they open their eyes and realize: you don’t need much to be happy, very little really, much less than you ever thought possible, much less than seemed plausible.

They try to sell you dreams, the wrong ones, the long ones, filled with glitter and champagne, all fun and no pain, hiding the truth in magazine cuts, movies and songs painting pictures too vivid to be real, images of lives we never get to live or feel. Happiness isn’t found in high heels and overpriced steak dinners, it’s not hidden in bad radio music and drunken parties, in cheap motel rooms or expensive electronics, it’s in those moments at the cash register, right before the bill arrives, that moment before the dream becomes too real and dies, when the steak is still appetite, the party still expectations, the room still neat and the game still a brand new toy to be plugged in and soon worn out. Happiness is in the thought of happiness, the moment before, the seconds that lead up to what we think is true joy. Happiness is in the head, in the slow buildup, the heart’s crescendo, an illusion soon gone to be resuscitated with yet another dream.

Don’t be fooled, this isn’t a sad post, no bitterness here or hopeless wanderings of the mind; this is a reminder that happiness is self-made, one that’s present before the material things arrive, before the media’s intervention, before money is thrown and the mind drowned in alcoholic hallucinations. Happiness is everywhere, ephemeral but continuous, abstract yet concrete, misconstrued but reachable by every single seeker of magic. Happiness is free, it’s in the eyes of that one person who stands by you, it’s in the heartbeat of one that leans in closer, in every sunrise and every sunset right before each day begins and at the close of every tiresome string of hours. It’s in every expectation and every success, in each new experience and every resurfacing memory. Happiness is more human than you’ll ever know, the most beautiful illusion, the most magical reality. I’m happy, hope you’re happy too.

Wedding for one

Wedding season. Again. I didn’t think much about it a few years back, attending those I felt obligated to go to, staring at the overly made up ladies and the men stuffed in suits two sizes too small with buttons begging for mercy, eating cake with too much chewy white fondant. Nowadays, it’s my friends getting married, exchanging vows to stay together for the rest of their lives, promising to care for each other for as long as their hearts keep beating, and it makes me smile, happy to see souls uniting, dreaming of all days to come. Except, I feel a slight pang with every smile I draw, it hurts a bit watching it all from the sidelines, the way I never imagined it would.

I’m the type who likes to run free, the kind of person you can’t restrain, whether behind a desk or with words; yet I can’t help myself from wanting something that lasts through the movement, another soul to keep mine from getting lonely. Unlike what is so often understood, freedom isn’t a solo endeavour, one can be wild and free as a unit, the way my parents were, are, and will stay. They have proved to me that “together” is a beautiful world, “together” is an unmatched experience for it’s not one laugh echoing in the forest, it’s not one voice singing along to cheesy roadtrip songs, it’s not one heart beating faster with excitement as new discoveries are made, there is another, and it only makes the first one beat stronger, longer.

This isn’t another “I need a man in my life, I don’t want to end up with 72 cats and a tupperware collection” rant or sob story. Firstly because I’m allergic to cats and I already have quite a nice tupperware collection, secondly because I don’t believe I need someone else to complete me, help me or hold my hand. I can guide myself through this mess of a life, I can stay on my own completely satisfied, but no matter how complete I feel by myself, it is rather beautiful to witness two wholes make a mesmerizingly symbiotic new whole, together.

I don’t talk about it much, this little folly of my imagination, the one that makes me dream up my own wedding, my own quirky version of two hearts intertwining as medieval music plays in the middle of nowhere, wind gently caressing the faces of the few beloved guests; I don’t understand extravagance, being surrounded by people I barely know or will barely notice on the day my life finds itself overturned and shaken by a crazy fantasy made real. I often dream up that day where I too step into this togetherness I still haven’t tried, this adventure seemingly as mind-boggling as those I regularly plan out, and as I watch others begin their journey on this not so lonely path, I sigh; I too would like a taste of union, to someday be two instead of my eternal “one”… but that’s for another day; today I fly by myself, my own groom. One ticket please!

My fleeting soulmate

Soulmates. They say every person walking this Earth has one. They say we should seek them, find them, grab them, keep them. They are the light outside the tunnel, the purpose of the journey, the end prize of this life. They forget to tell us a soulmate isn’t always a lover, and that a soulmate once found won’t necessarily stay. If you find them, that is.
I went through life with a leg over my head and the other haphazardly stuck in a pail, stumbling, bumping into trees and falling off chairs, not knowing which road I was taking or how to sit still. I’ve met so many people, been to so many places, but my heart wandered on its own as I wandered in other directions, blindly. It got attached to memories like this one I have of you. I met you when I was still figuring out the world, when I was still figuring out myself, my demons and all my switches. We instantly clicked, like those tupperwares they keep trying to sell us on TV, the ones that don’t let the air in…or out. We became friends, talked and sat in silence, shared what we feared to share with others, spent mornings and nights doing nothing and everything, walking the streets like we owned them. It felt like looking in the mirror, but the image could hug me when a tear left my eye, the image spoke back to me, soothing me when I was down. And most importantly, we laughed; we’d just stare at each other and know what the other was thinking, instantly, magically. We were friends, best friends, and everyone tried to taint us. They said we had to be more, thought we kept our truths hidden, convinced us we were lying to ourselves and each other. And it worked. One day, a lifetime ago, you told me we were soulmates, and I believed you, young and naive, in search of more than I was persuaded to accept; we were family, makeshift and magnetic, but we didn’t last. We believed them and fell apart, like soulmates sometimes do; my soul felt safe with you till I found out that soulmates don’t exist, or maybe the one you seemed to be never really lived.
It’s been a year now, a year since I set myself free from the lie, that soulmates are forever, and that such friendships don’t die. Today I believe my soulmate was just another dream too good to be true, a figment of my imagination, and I feel sorry, but mostly for the person I convinced myself you were. You knew I was there, always, like a trusty old shoe, the one you discard in the corner of the room once it has served its purpose, still good enough to wear, but mostly to the supermarket. I really thought you made me less blue – boy, I really had no clue.

Somewhere else calls my name

IMG_20150910_090241I am not a career person, someone who aims to become more important, gain more titles, make more money, more more, more. Don’t mistake this with me not being ambitious, I am, just not socially ambitious, not driven by the conventional upgrading of one’s position vis-a-vis their comrades. I aim to upgrade my life, my experiences, my knowledge, I willingly spike my adrenalin, follow my intuition and whims full throttle.
From a very early age, I dreamt of discovering the world, the corners different to mine, the faces I was taught not to identify with, the languages I can listen to for hours without understanding a word said, yet keep lending an ear in fear of missing a vowel. I have daydreamed of adventure, of shaking hands with wild gorillas, climbing up trees like I would push a supermarket trolley to pick my fruit, bathing in the Amazon river instead of wasting water in a tiny glass shower cabin… there has never been a limit to the things I could achieve if I set my mind to do them, the only limit was myself, my socially subjected fears and the stereotypes I have time and time again been conditioned to believe I had to conform to. I finished school, finished university, got a job in a big company and…quit. i just couldn’t. The road called my name, the wind whispered enchanting poems of life, mapped routes for me to follow and I yielded to my nature’s temptations, weakened by my heart’s longings, empowered by possibility. Then I tried again, got another job, did well, loved everyone there, then… quit again. My mind is too fidgety, my passions fickle, my thoughts confused, but one thing remains certain: I abhor routine, safety, constancy, I dislike feeling stuck when I could be running free. I wasn’t born rich, wasn’t given all I asked for unlike many of the kids I grew up with, but I learnt over the years to not base my fears on money, to not let the lack of it hinder my progress or my aspirations. Money is an evil, just not mine. I’d work as a waitress to fund my month in Nicaragua, do one odd job after the other to keep going on the path I see so clearly in my mind.
We have no limits except those we set, unless we listen to the deluded voices haunting our days telling us we can’t live wild and free, nothing prevents us from embodying the persona we feel fits us best. I belong on the road, found in transition, lost in my dreams.

I dip, you dip, we all dip for change

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Today I voted. I usually abhor the simple idea of politics, but today wasn’t about politics for me, it was about my city, the one I grew up in, the city I walked around a million times, sometimes half-heartedly, sometimes reluctantly, but it is still where I’m from, and that was what drove me to dress and dip half my thumb in stubborn purple ink.

First of all, it was probably a bad idea to wear white with all the ink my clumsy self had to keep from my clothes. On a more serious note, as I said a few lines earlier, I have often looked at my city in a negative way, almost disgusted by what it has managed to become compared to what it used to be; maybe that’s the problem. No, that is exactly the problem. Beirut is my city and I should love it, I should cheer for it, and most importantly, we should all stop whining about the current situation and the many years Beirut has been condemned to endure with no improvement to its situation and shake things up. Well, obviously, we don’t all have solutions or the right voice to fix things, but a group of people, with the mindset many of us have been lacking, decided to take matters into their own hands and push through the black hole that is our hand-me-down municipality to give us all a chance to see things change, to hope, and to stop repeating the same bloody mistake of re-electing incompetent self -loving individuals. Things can change, but only if we allow them to, and only if we work towards improvement. There is no such thing as not loving one’s city, even if elsewhere seems nicer, even if the city has done you harm or anything that would make you not care for it; each city should be respected and loved if just in remembrance of those who once made it great, ¬†of all those who on a daily basis still strive to make things better, in honor of a land that hosted us even though we managed to sabotage it daily with our unconscious neglect. Beirut rose 7 times, Beirut survived several wars and countless idiots, and that alone should push us all to care enough to fix it, give it a chance to become once again a city to be proud of.

I voted today, because I have undying hope in my heart that some day soon, the city I keep trying to run away from… will have me running back to it.