You're So F*cking Behind In Life
FEAR OF FLYING - CONTINUED
Written by: Nada Chehade
You know when the whole town had your life planned out? They're all throwing rice in the air and eating baklaweh as you drive away in the "Just Married '' car to pop out the litter of kids they already named. But you grab the steering wheel, make a U-turn, press the gas real hard, and crash into their hopes.
Ugggghhhh. It's a high I keep on chasing.
But now you don't have the blueprint for what to do next. Being different doesn't come with life instructions. The damsel in distress in all the fairytales you heard growing up gets married; otherwise, she gets hit by a bus. Thankfully, I wasn't in distress and definitely not a damsel. I chose this path. I just never heard a decent story about what happens next. I didn't really have plans. I didn't have a purpose. I was serving someone else's purpose the whole time.
So, you're just floating aimlessly through life for a while, starting from scratch. You're so fucking behind in life. The little kid at your friend's baby shower knows exactly who he wants to be when he grows up, and it feels like a personal dig. I want to be a firefighter and a Power Ranger! Good for you, son. They ask you, where do you see yourself in five years at the interview, and you realize you never had to see yourself- yourself. You just wanna be honest and say not here.
You go home and look at yourself in the mirror. Who am I? Who am I without the “Just Married” sign and society's bullshit expectations? Then you have an epiphany. You have to re-write your goals. No. You have to write them for the first time, yourself. Like yourself- yourself. You're chasing something you can't quite explain or put into words yet, but as you put pen to paper, the page bursts into flames. Suddenly, you know your purpose. You always did deep inside. You were always different because you had places to go and things to conquer.
Your aunt calls you and the first thing she asks is if you found a man. You want to be like, did you not just hear me? I have places to go!!! And then many men, many, many, many, many men, starts playing in the background. So, to answer her question, yes, I found a man. Many. Just not in the way she hoped for, I write to smash the patriarchy.
You'd think the town would keep their promise and fuck off once I became a divorcee. Everyone made it seem like I would be walking around with the scarlet letter attached to my forehead if I went through with it. But, like everything else, they lied about that too. The demand to get married didn't change; I just had a new pool of men to choose from now. The below-average-below ones. The ones on the left of that group.
"I have a man for you,"
"He's divorced three times and has eight children. He's looking for a wife with no kids."
"You mean a maid?"
The audacity of men and my aunt's internalized misogyny. For starters, everyone knows I don't cook; I don't clean. I write. This dude lived three times the life I lived, yet wants a woman without "baggage." He's not looking to blend families or anything like that. No. He's looking for the next disposable woman to fix his meals, do night time and shovel all his emotional bullshit until every last drop of happiness is sucked out of her.
My story on Love & Literature is basically about grabbing the steering wheel and taking control of my life. My short stint at marriage and eventual divorce is the backdrop of my series, and the patriarchy is at the forefront. I wanted to give readers a glimpse of my culture, the good and the bad.
It was shocking to find out how many women related to my life. My conceited ass thought I was special the whole time. When the first woman reached out to say, I also ran away from my husband! I felt elated. I'm used to getting judged, not cheered on. Then the second, third, and fourth started pouring in, and now we're a group of bandits. Who knew being a runaway wife was so common. Kudos to you ladies.
Someone DM'ed me to call me inspiring, and I felt ashamed for a second. My mascara was smudged across my face from a huge cry, and I didn't want to seem like a phony. Also, my sink is broken. There are moments where I don't feel like I live up to the word. I don't know; I'm still me, with struggles, anxiety, shunning, and loads of manuscript rejections. I wanted to be in a position where I could flex and be like, yes, I chose a different path, and here are my accolades to show for it, and bang all my awards, Netflix specials, Medium claps, the men who underestimated me, and my massive ovaries on the desk, BOOOOOOM! But it hasn't happened yet.
Still, I wouldn't trade where I am today for the world. Choosing a different path and picking myself over society's expectations is the flex. So, I guess that's inspiring.
If I look back just a year from where I am today, I went from having hardly any words written online to almost 100 published stories on Medium. A whole book that's ready to be published (shameless plug, I need an agent!). I made so many amazing connections and friendships along the way too. I didn't intend to make them, I wanted to wither away in my self-pity, but they just happened.
I have scars and wounds that won't go away, but I also have misogynists I've killed during battle and racists I've roasted under my belt. I wear their cries around my neck. I am a whole warrior when I write, and I write to change perspectives. I grew up being so misunderstood; I'm shocked by how many people understand me today. From how many strangers relate to my struggles. From how many women believe me. Thank you. Writing changed my life, and my dreams are slowly being realized. I suppose I need to take pride in the process.
In Arabic, Mahbass is what we call a wedding ring, and it literally translates to jail. I know, it's so fucking romantic. I can't imagine voluntarily locking myself up like that again, cuffing my own ass. Maybe I'll change my mind in fifty years. For now, I have goals, and everything I do is with purpose. I am living the dream I always wanted, albeit not in the house or the gown I envisioned, but on my terms. So if there is one thing I learned on this journey is to be intentional with the shit you manifest.
Maybe not now, but one day when the clock strikes twelve and the air feels crisp, a lone woman will appear in the dark. She'll slither across the road towards the heavily bearded man, grab' em by the tarboosh, slam it into the ground and giggle. A patriarchal squeal will be heard from space. And that's when you'll know The Mc' Chehade entered the room.
Nada Chehade clicked her heels three times to the left and went to live out her wildest dreams. She laughed all the way through it too.