Saturday, May 15, 2021

I am tired of surviving. I want to live.

Artwork by Tarek Chemaly

Lebanese-French comedian Roda Fawaz put it best in his monologue that went viral after last year's August 4th humongous explosion, "to be a Lebanese is not a nationality, it is a profession". Considering I changed professions too many times in my life, I honestly feel I want to quit this one. Even if it sadly haunts me and there is no way to do it. Some well-meaning friends of mine always tell me to immigrate, forgetting that if I am here it is because of binding personal circumstances. Sure, I had too many chances to immigrate and did not take them in the past (see here) but now it is indeed too late to do so.

So, day on day on, what I do is survive. Jump through the hoops of the never-ending shifting goalposts, circumvent circumstances, twist day to day occurrences to make them more palatable or livable, re-read past occurrences in new light to rationalize all the decisions I have taken in the past (and basically reassure myself I was acting in the best way under the data at hand), and eventually, try to convince myself that all my uber generosity was worth it (just to be clear, I never expected anything in return, but to be honest ingratitude in the face of such kindness was way too much to handle).

In one word, I have been "surviving".

And I have been surviving, because my profession is "Lebanese". And I am tired of it.

What I blame the current situation most - including the banks, the powers that be, the this, the that - is that they have robbed me of future security. All that money stashed - and now pseudo-lost at the bank - was basically a nest-egg for the future. A sort of insurance for me knowing I will not grow older to be needy or dependent on anyone. But here we are, all the good planning (blame it on me being an economist and engineer) had come to nothing.

The times I was thinking I was actually living eventually came back to "surviving". And as I said, I had had enough of it. Sure, I am trying to change perspectives, readjust my strategy, recalibrate my finances (honestly, it is so sad to have been so economically wise when things are what they are - and yes, I should have gotten that Prada jumper or that Dior jacket or should have went to Japan). I am not a natural-optimist by design. Some people are - such as my friend in Switzerland is - and I secretly envy him. Some people are more let's-seize-the-day, and again I envy them (they lived the life while I was in "saving" mode, and it turned out they were right). 

But things are what they are today, and truth be told, at some point responsibilities, stoicism, rationality, and logic - all become a little too much especially when the idea of "future" and "security" and "peace of mind" (hey wasn't that the slogan of a Lebanese Bank? It was indeed, and I would love to have a word or two with its clients today to see how they are faring!) are challenged and challenging at once.

I spoke recently with a designer friend back from the US for a visit. And she said "when I am there, the major issue I complain about it how the supermarket trolleys get stuck on one another and are so hard to pull, because - let me be honest - this is indeed the problem I face there". Wouldn't it be wonderful for this to be my problem?

The issue with changing professions when being Lebanese is that the citizenship in other nations are not professions. \So you end up unemployed. Which is just as well (see here), because at least I get unemployment benefits, something I am not getting here.