Turning 22: What I Imagined My Life Would Be vs What It Actually Is

In a week I’ll be 22, which feels significant somehow. Back in highschool, I thought my life would have made a complete 180 by now. I thought that was what I wanted — and needed. Fantasizing about the future was what kept me going, that happy dream of someday being able to construct the perfect life. However, how I thought my life would be at 22 and how it actually is now are two very different things. Let’s compare, shall we?

How I thought it would be:

I would have been in England right now — London, actually. I’d have had this little studio flat in the city, somewhere that still felt like London but was quiet enough that I could focus on my writing in peace. I would have probably made my family a little upset with the decision to live abroad, but it was a sacrifice I was fairly certain I was willing to make.  I’d skype my father everyday and my  mother every night. As for friends, I would have had a very tight-knit group. We’d come from all different walks of life, but would have most likely met through university. I’d have this husband, British but Muslim, brown-haired, kind, and funny. I’d be almost through with university at this point, and also preparing to publish my first novel (I would have already had an agent and everything). Writing and university would have taken up most of my time, but on the weekends I’d go to the theater, markets, and sometimes take long drives up north to idyllic British villages and fill up on scenery. Before long, I’d start saying things like ‘queue’ and ‘y’alright?’. I’d do most of my dreaming on the tube, staring out the window. 

How it actually is:

I live in Amman, Jordan. I have my own room, which is still part of the family house but is quiet enough that I can focus on my writing in peace. I’m unmarried but I do have a group of tight-knit friends. Although we’re all Arabs, we come from fairly different walks of life. Naturally, we met through university. As for writing, I’ve put my novel aside to be able to focus on my graduation project, a work of fiction that is very personal and close to me. I don’t have an agent, but I do have a very supportive professor. She’s lovely. Meanwhile, I’ve improved in Arabic, and can even carry out full conversations with hardly any difficulty. Bus rides to uni are where I do most of my dreaming, staring out the window at idyllic, Madaba farmland, filling up on scenery. I signed up for my last semester the other day. My father told me how proud he was of me. He said my achievements are like his own. I’m glad I was able to get to this point without upsetting him, or my mother.

So, no, it’s not completely off from my original fantasy — it’s just wearing different clothes, I guess. I think what these years have taught me most is that it’s important to have goals, but that it’s also okay to reach them in ways that you may not have expected. So, now I try to trust the uncertainty and keep faith that God and hard work will get me to where I want to be. Or even better, to where I need to be.

See you soon.

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