Before I begin, I’d like to clarify that this post is about most Egyptian parents, not all of them, and not parents all around the world, Egyptian parents. However, it doesn’t mean that some of the examples don’t work for other parents. Also, no offence is intended by this post to any parents. We understand you love us, but we’ll never learn if you don’t let us.
At twenty-something, when you’re still living with your parents and younger siblings, it gets you to question the independence you so desperately crave. You start wondering about the lots of different scenarios you could have been in if you and your parents were different, or had a more open/limited mindset.
I’m a 24 year old who still lives with her mom and 2 brothers, I love them to death, and I appreciate everything they do for me, as well as being a part of this family, but a lot of the time I just want to escape. And no, not escape in the sense of lock myself in my room and let no one in. But escape in the sense of being in total control of what I’m doing, coming home whenever I please, without having a curfew, and deciding to travel with whoever I want out of the blue. Escape mentally and emotionally, and not worry about what they want or don’t want for me. I’m not even that extreme.
I’ve been raised to be independent. Isn’t that how most people are raised when their parents aren’t super protective? I mean, I remember my first day at a new school when I was only 5, and I remember crying when my mom dropped me off. She didn’t want me to cry, it was about time I become unattached to her at my new school. Little did I know I would then love my school and impatiently wait for classes where we practiced our hand-writing, not only recess. This went on with everything in my life. Our parents teach us to eat alone, ride the bus alone, eventually do our homework alone, so on and so forth until we’re happy enough about this freedom.
But then we grow up, and start really thinking for ourselves. We question the values we’ve been raised with, and even though there’s always this phase of fear of letting go and admitting to ourselves that we sometimes disagree because “our parents are always right,” we then realize we’re old enough to make this our life. I think this story’s pretty much relatable. Some people reach that point before others, some people’s parents are a lot more loose, and others are a lot more protective.
Teenagers abroad are usually let go after they start college. A lot of them travel to other cities or countries for college anyway, and their parents knew that all along, so they’ve gotten themselves ready for it a long time ago. So here’s our challenge, when do we get that? Where is the thin line that we all so miserably want to find and cross, or better yet, destroy?
Before you think I’m ungrateful, I am aware of the perks of not being let go. We don’t have to pay rent, we usually go home to a clean and tidy house, and we find homemade meals ready to be eaten. We still do some chores, but they’re nothing compared to living with messy room mates (if we don’t like that) or having the responsibility of a house other than our studies and being out almost everyday because we have the energy for that. But isn’t there more to life than this stuff? I think I’d rather be fully independent and teach myself to be mature enough to take care of the mundane tasks instead of completely overlooking them and just seeing living with my parents a good “deal”.
Getting back on point, the thin line that I still haven’t found. Is it an age thing? If it is, my argument is, I’m 24, I’ve finished university (and I’m thankful you’ve paid for it, but I’m sure you’re not trying to emotionally blackmail me into paying you back). I’ve been working for over 2 years, and I’m willing to still make stupid mistakes and learn from them, or live differently than you did. Every time I try to draw the line, they react as if I’m a child, even though they were married before 24, and they had me soon after. That’s too damn early!
Okay, let’s say it’s not an age thing. Is it a marriage thing? Really? You’re only going to let me move out when I’m married? What if I’m not married until 35? Would I still have to live here and abide by the 11 pm curfew? Or will it be extended? This whole thing confuses me!
Moving out is out of the question, unless you’re moving out to another city or country, and they’d only let you because they don’t want to kill your career, but even for some people it’s not a choice. I would also say it’s easier for men than it is for women, because men are the ones who traditionally bring in the money. And it’s more important for a woman to find a good husband than to find a fulfilling career.
I was raised to respect my parents, and I do. I just sometimes feel like I want to live my life the way I imagine it. I want my values to be mine, not because that’s how I was raised, but because those are the values I’ve chosen to stick to, and I’m completely convinced. What’s the difference between 24, 25, and 30? Even 40? Yes, you have more experience at 40, but that’s mainly because you were let go, and the sooner that happens, the faster you’ll learn, because you’re not learning to please anyone, you’re learning because you’ve been through the heart-ache, pain, confusion or pride that comes with all of it.
I love my parents, I would never like to disappoint them, but we all do sooner or later, unintentionally. I still haven’t found the line, but I’m starting to believe it’s only an illusion.