The idea of being left alone with my thoughts makes me feel anxious. “Anxious” is not the right word because it does not convey the white-hot terror that runs through my veins.
I get anxiety.
Thinking about being left alone with my thoughts gives me anxiety. Just typing this down sorta has me feeling uncomfortable. And I say “sorta” because, despite the fact that I have finally decided to sit down a tackle this topic (issue), I am still not really “thinking” about it. I’ve put a protective layer between me and the issue- and just typing that, just acknowledging that, is giving me a slight stomach ache. It’s as if I’ve made myself aware of the fact that, behind this barrier, is a load of water that will come bursting out, taking everything that’s in it’s way, and swallowing me up. Drowning me.
And all these problems are because of what?
The presentations that I have to do for my classes this term are doing this to me. And, the thing is, I’ve realised (and have subconsciously always known (in a conscious kinda way)), it’s not the fear of presenting that keeps me up at night. I mean, I do get nervous about presenting, but it’s not something that has me feeling… the way I do. And I know this because I don’t have this problem when I present in English.
Let’s start at the root of the problem here: My Arabic.
I have always had a problem with my Arabic. I don’t speak it well. And it wasn’t until recently that I figured out that I’m actually really insecure about it. (I found this out with Mama when I broke down and told her that the stress was getting to me, and she kept on digging and digging, trying to get to the very bottom of my troubles, and I let things out not because it made me feel better, but because once the dam breaks things come flooding out. And when there was only a very thin layer separating her from – what felt like (and still feels like) – my most vulnerable part, I hesitated. I was scared, and overwhelmed. I wanted to let it out. I wanted to say it. I didn’t want it inside me anymore. But I also knew that telling her would mean working on it. And I kept on imagining her forcing me to do things in an attempt to tackle my insecurity- all in good intention, of course, but still. It scared me. And so, I kept my mouth shut, thinking it was better not to say anything. “Better safe than sorry.” And Mama stopped pushing. She pulled away so suddenly, I felt whiplashed. She released the pressure she was trying to crack me under, and, instead of feeling relieved, I was underwhelmed. Disappointed that she was going to allow me to run away. So I blurted it out, and it felt like a scream and a whisper all at once. Satisfying, and underwhelming at the same time. Because, it feels big when it’s inside you, but once you put it out in the world it feels small. (Or. Not as big.) It was a hushed scream that was followed by a booming silence, and it all only lasted a moment.
“My Arabic,” I said to her, crying.
And Mama, God bless her soul, did something that gave me (and still gives me) a bit of relief.
She laughed. For, like, a second.
She stopped herself when she remembered the situation we were in (me, crying to her about my insecurity), but I could see it in her eyes when I said it, and, whatever it was she was expecting me to say, that was not it. And, I have to admit, it’s a bit of a bizarre insecurity. But there it is.)
I am insecure about speaking Arabic. And, let me tell you, that is not a convenient thing to be insecure about in an Arabic-speaking-society.
I’m SO insecure about it. I don’t know how I never realised that it was (is) insecurity that I’ve been feeling. (But I guess that’s what happens when you refuse to confront the things that bother you. (smh at you, Farah.)) And it’s been getting worse, lately, because of my major. Law. Because I just HAD TO pick the one major in my university that requires you to take both English and Arabic courses. (A BUTT-load of Arabic courses.) Amazing.
I find myself comparing myself to my classmates, somehow making myself feel as if they’re better than me simply because they can string together a bunch of Arabic words in a skilled, and confident manner, creating sentences that have me hiding deeper and deeper into my shell, because I will never be able to do that. (And I realise that saying “never”is a bit dramatic, and final, but I do not have it in me to go into the details of how it feels like reaching that level of skill will require, and take, a lot of effort, and hard work. I still cry when admitting this insecurity, sometimes, so, right now, it feels like a “never gonna happen.”) And it’s stupid, I know. I mean, I’m always telling myself (and preaching to others) how “comparing yourself to others does more harm than good,” and that “we’re all on very different paths, with different purposes, and stories,” and how you should “keep your eyes on the road ahead of you, and focus on yourself.” The thing is, comparing my Arabic to that of others has become a habit. Something I’ve been doing since something or someone (most likely a one than a thing) caused me to feel insecure about it. (I do not know when this may have started. Maybe 5th, or 6th grade? Idk. I’ve probably blocked it all anyways.) And the worst thing (and, possibly even, the weirdest) is that I compare myself to myself. I compare my Arabic-speaking-self to my English-speaking-self, and it makes me feel… it ‘s tragic. Because, here’s my English-speaking-self, she’s carefree (well. as carefree as she can be), and she’s brave, and she’ll tackle anything that stands between her and the thing(s) she wants (so long as it speaks English). She’ll write thousands of words, and she’ll even present as confidently as she can without feeling terrible about it. And then, we have my Arabic-speaking-self, and she’s… she’s not any of that. She’s all nerves, and awkwardness (and not the cute kind either), and… muteness. She feels… dumb. It sounds harsh, but it’s how it feels. How I feel. Because it’s hard to go from someone who is so confident in her language skills, to someone who has trouble saying things without wondering, and worrying (mainly worrying) that she’s sounds stupid saying the few words that she is. She seems, and feels… flat. As if there was nothing behind her surface. As if she was made up of only the insecurity. She doesn’t feel like me.
I’m just realising that I may be ashamed of her. Embarrassed that this is one of my selves. That’s a bit hard to take in. It’s hard because I don’t deserve it. Not from anybody, and certainly not from my own self. But it’s how I feel.
And if I – me, who has been through every one of my experiences, and weathered all that has shaped me to be the person that I am today – cannot accept my self, then how could I ever fool myself into thinking that it would feel like anyone else will?
I have a lot of thinking to do.
Edit: I did some thinking: https://theoceaninsidemyhead.wordpress.com/2016/01/11/on-being-in-secutiry/