So after years of high school and hard work, you’ve finally realized what makes you happy, what you’d like to do for a living and what you’d like to possibly contribute to the world.
Now you’ve got to break the news to your parents/whole family.
Well not always that simple in the Arab world. Because here, if your passion is unconventional (basically not engineering/law/medicine or any other profession that is known to be somewhat prestigious) breaking the news to your family becomes a long, complex process with stages that are often quite similar to the 'stages of grief'.
1. Brush off: 'Mne7ke ba3dein/Yseer Kheir'
You finally sit your parents down and tell them that you want to study communication arts or music?
They simply laugh it off, brush the topic aside and sarcastically say 'inchallah', 'yseer kheir', 'khal nshoof' or 'khalliya la wa2ta'.
Welcome to stage 1 of this absurd process.
2. Shock: 'Min 3a2lak?/Min sijkom?'
Now, once the family realizes that this isn’t a passing thought or a laughable unrealistic dream, what comes next is shock and a whole lot of:
'Shoo?', 'Sheno?', 'Shlon?', 'Min sejkom?', 'Keef?', 'Ma32oole?', 'Min 3a2lik/3a2lak?'
3. Denial: '7a ta3mel transfer/Binti Doctora'
So now that you've been accepted and it's all official, you know for sure that you’re going ahead with your chosen course but you overhear your parents telling their friends or other family members that you’re going to study medicine - Yep, they are pretty much in the denial phase.
4. Disaproval - 'Mou bkefek'
At this stage the goal will be to force you out of your decision. You will hear a lot of ‘Mish 3a zaw2ik/zaw2ak’, ‘Ana bfarjeeki/bfarjeek’, Mou bkefek' and of course 'La te7lam'.
Hang in there.
5. Doubt: 'Ma ken a7sanlak engineering?'
So, you've persevered and gone ahead with your decision but what if your first semester doesn’t go too well? Enter the very confusing doubt stage.
Get ready to hear every doubtful remark in the book: 'ma ken a7sanlak?', 'shou ken na2sik?', 'inta heik baddak?', 'Leish ma sma3t el kelme?'
Here, it is crucial to keep reminding yourself that we all go through difficulties at the beginning. If you're truly passionate about what you’re doing, keep going.
6. Depression: 'Stoflo/Kefkom'
Now that there is absolutely no chance of you changing your mind, have tissues on hand when you're around your mum and grandma and buy some flowers to brighten up the house (if you live with your parents).
7. Acceptance - 'Meshe el 7al'
This is a Utopian stage where your parents and family will hopefully come to terms with your choices - not because they have to, but because the respect you have for what you do and the way you handle it will eventually transform the way they view and understand it. If you get to this stage all safe and sound, it's time to celebrate for a while...
Because even though your parents have accepted your decision...
10 years later, when you've landed your dream job and are doing amazingly well, they will always find a way to remind you that if you had followed their advice, you could have become a '7akeeme', a '7akeem' a 'mohandes' or a 'mohandessa'.