Withstanding the Test of Change

Withstanding the test of change

This leaf is borrowed from my dear diary.

Do not panic, in the months I’ve been absent from this space, the thin line between my private diary and this blog has not been completely erased, it might’ve blurred in some sections, but not to a far alarming extent.

I just felt the urge to share the one thought that has overshadowed the second half of last year, and effected the way I do things around here. Unless you didn’t even notice I was gone, in which case nevermind…

Withstanding the test of change

If I had to pick a word to describe what 2014 was to me, it would unquestionably be “Change”. The kind that evacuated me from all of my comfort zones and slam dunked me into a tight hole. My passion for travel, writing, photography and other fulfilling endeavors took a backseat to the changes that has unraveled my world, but I am hopeful that 2015 will bring me back on track.

Emirates Palace Hotel Abu Dhabi

Last January when we moved to Abu Dhabi, I feared the unfamiliarity of the place would dim my light. One step at a time I grooved to its beat. Moving to a new city can defiantly mean reinventing the wheel of habits and boundaries, which is not everyone’s cup of tea. I didn’t think it was mine at the beginning.

Fortunately I settled into a pleasant system almost immediately. The fact that I only moved a couple of hours away within my own country was a major contributing factor. Besides, home (I discovered) lies within oneself. You pack and carry it in your heart to wherever the wind blows you, then you set it on the most fitting ground you can find. Home is where my friends care, where my Angel prepares scrumptious meals seasoned with warmth and love, where I unpack my favorite photos and books and put them up on shelves.

Home is where you want it to be.

So that situation seemed sort of sorted!

Abu Dhabi UAE

Three months later I found myself changing the very job that moved me out here, to step up the good old career ladder. The new job although recompensing and fabulous, saw me bending backwards in high heels just to appear naturally fitting within a budding corporate giant.

The thing about changing jobs in my age is that I am not as tolerant of the initial integration process as I used to be when younger. Despite 10+ years of work experience, learning a new industry, taming a new boss, dealing with a whole new breed of office b*****s, going back to wearing makeup and pretending to give a damn never gets easier for me. Not even the fifth time around.

Top that up with having to put on formals instead of pajama pants under my Abaya, and I am way out of my depth here.

The time I saved not commuting to Abu Dhabi in the morning, and utilized to gather my writing thoughts before is now used to put up my go get it face.

Fingers crossed I’ve at least made the right move!

Zayed University

Another three months, around the time I was starting to utter few sensible words in my meetings, for some bizarre reason I decided to introduce one more huge change into my life. The one that was as we say in Arabic “the straw that broke the Camel’s back”. Ready for this one? I joined grad school.

This, ladies and gentlemen, was and still is the ultimate test to my limits.

As I try to earn my master’s degree in Tourism and Cultural Communication at Zayed University, I am learning so much about how the world of travel and tourism spins. Tourism is currently one of the fastest growing industries in the world, and a persistently expanding one in the UAE. I am very excited for the prospect of playing an active role in this movement. However, Sitting in an evening class twice per week to discuss the subject, usually after a looooooong day in the office, is a whole new ball game. It’s costing me a steep mental price.

Now, the hours I saved not commuting back from Abu Dhabi, and used to materialize my writing thoughts in the evening are spent studying and researching.

withstanding the test of change

I must admit, I dove into this challenge head first, unprepared. The result oriented person that I am aspired to reach the promising end destination, but made no provisions whatsoever for the taxing journey ahead.

Have you read Wild by Cheryl Strayed? Remember how she felt the first time she tried to lug monster on her back to walk a thousand miles on the Pacific Crest Trail with it? This is how I felt on day one of grad school.

If you haven’t already, you need to go read that life changing book right now.

In other words, this is not the type of change that can be accommodated by simply rearranging your schedule. This has altered my ladies night terminology from Coco Chanel to the Face Negotiation Theory. I’m not sure I’ll be invited to ladies night again!

The last time I was a student, it was 2003. No one I know was on Twitter, defiantly not my mother, and I had no social obligation to regularly update my Instagram or keep up with the Kardashians. I doubt the same brain cells that carried me through undergrad school still exist, they’ve been burned to the ground somewhere between the age of the floppy disks and iPads.

Yago in the Maldives

I’ve always been a women of multiple trades. Normally I am good at easing into change if consumed in appropriate doses. Striking a good life work balance used to be my strongest talent, I believed that I can find time for everything if I really wanted to, all control freaks think that way. Clearly I’ve not moved cities, changed jobs, and went back to school within nine months before.

My relationship with change is not all love nor hate, it’s floating somewhere in the middle. I’d start with despising it, until it has shown me just what I am made of, good or bad. For that, I am usually grateful.

The thing is, I have this strong yearning for my familiar things. I want my free evenings back to run and yoga and read and hangout and write and flip through photos, hit the shops and get my nails done and sometimes just do nothing. I want the life that took me my entire twenties to build back.

I think about quitting every day, the only thing that’s stopping me is that I am not a natural quitter!

Withstanding the test of change

 If there is a lesson to be learned here it is that change does not always just happen to us, we ask for it when we wish and dream. Sometimes we really need to be careful what we wish for.

I am finally fully conscious of how change is an inevitable part of growing up. I can’t really avoid it, so it’s cope or cry. I intend to keep it real, I will continue to strive for a balance, so that no part of me is left damagingly unattended.

I know some of you’d be thinking; what is she on about? She doesn’t have kids, pets or even a garden to look after on top of all things! Well, thank god I don’t, I would’ve considered killing myself, or someone else by now. I also choose to think of you as a considerate reader who understands how difficult it could be to go through a big change. And if you know someone who’s going through the same please be there for them.

I honestly don’t even know what I would’ve done without my fortifying support system of sweet friends, loving family and extremely supportive husband.

Toledo Spain

I’d be wrong to be completely unthankful to 2014. I have done some very cool things last year, I travelled to three amazing countries, and had some of the most exciting experiences in my life.

I travelled to India and saw the Taj Mahal for the first time. I still can’t believe that has actually happened. Thank god there are photos to prove it. India is magical in its own special ways, and I can’t wait to go back there.

Between jobs I spent a month traveling in Spain. I want to share so many stories from Spain, like the one when I climbed to the roof of Spain, and the picturesque road trip we took to Galicia.

Once I started my new job I wasn’t able to get much time off. Luckily, my cool new boss gave me few days having realized my need to catch my breath after Ramadan. I took off to the nearest paradise, and had a GOOD rest in the Maldives.

Vagaru beach maldives

So where to go from here?

As far as my dreams will take me of course. Dreaming and moving forward is one thing that I will never quit. I know that for sure.

I would defiantly love to hop on a plane to somewhere beautiful at some point of this year, make good use of my holiday days and travel benefits. After all, I joined the fastest growing airline company in the history of civil aviation for all sorts of good reasons, didn’t I?

As I work my way out of a stress induced writer’s block, I pray my storytelling abilities are not entirely lost, I am not yet done with you (time permitting). Posts may get shorter and more visual than usual, massive believer that a photo tells a thousand words here.

Feel free to point it out if you notice APA citations at the end of future posts though.

Withstanding the test of change

2014 started with a goodbye, and ended with backache and few tears. A full adaptability curve later my threshold for change is almost surpassed, but I am staring 2015 humbled, and with a newly found respect for change. Hopefully, two years from now, with a degree in hand I will emerge on the other side of the tunnel sturdier and shrewder.


How do you deal with big change? Does it nearly kill you, or it makes you stronger?


3 thoughts on “Withstanding the Test of Change

  1. Shaikha, happy new year to you! I absolutely enjoyed reading each word of this post. Your words bring hope to those who feel that they are sinking by the weight of responsibilities and commitments. You have such a strong will, masha’Allah, and I’m sure you’ll get through this stressful phase (and it certainly helps that you have supporting friends and family) as an even stronger person. I do not think that I would ever be able to handle such a big change! You totally rock!

Leave a Reply