You know those ideas that you have in the back of your mind, that from time to time come to the forefront of your thoughts? You spend 5 minutes or so entertaining the idea, thinking it through, convince yourself that you're going to put the idea into action, and this cycle happens over and over; days, months and years pass and this cycle continues and you have yet to do anything about it.
This is that re-occurring idea for me; to start a blog.
Since I moved to the United Arab Emirates, on August 13th of 2014 (did I have to look in a calendar to remember that date, nope. I will never forget the heat that smacked me in the face that day when I exited Abu Dhabi airport into the August air), I envisioned writing a blog, as I knew I was about to embark upon a real journey that needed to be accounted for and shared. Just the questions alone I got from my fellow-Americans could have produced a blog in and of itself. "Do you have to cover as a woman there?" "Where is Abu Dhabi?" "Can you drive there?" Now after two years of living here and continuously enjoying my experience, I am happy to finally create a blog and share these experiences and answer some of the many questions I get from people when they find out where I live, because the fact is that I love it here and I plan to be here for a while longer.
The fact that it took me two years to start something that I had continuously thought about, well, let's just pay tribute to the ENFP personality type that I am and keep it moving. If you know about my type, this will explain it all. We are free spirits, our minds wander and race with ideas, but actually putting things into action and accomplishing tasks, well, that folks is our area of weakness specifically because of our struggle with commitment. So here I am, starting a blog, making a commitment to stick with it!
I value the purpose of putting my thoughts to paper (or computer), to write them out, to share them, to reflect on them, and most importantly, to express them. This is me, this is my experience, these are my reflections of my life in the Middle East.
Let me start with the most re-occurring question of all, how did I end up here?
More specifically, "why did you choose that region of the world?" This is the most common question I get when I tell, or more so, when people find out that I live in the Middle East.
Since I was in my late teenage years and early twenties, I've had an interest in the religion of Islam. It came natural for me to stick up for a region of the world that I had never even been to, when in the face of derogatory comments from people about their so called opinions of how life as they thought, was lived out by the people in the Middle East, as well as about Muslims all over the world, including in the USA where I was living. It is a characteristic of mine to be a critical thinker, to think not for the masses, but for the minority. I am quick to question social statuses, stereotypes, and generalizing. Although I myself am not Muslim, I quickly jumped in to speak on behalf of Muslim women regarding the meaning behind their covering, when others were quick to say that Muslim women were forced to do this, along with many other demeaning comments about the religion.
At the age of twenty-four after graduating from my master's program, and in the first year into my career as a school counselor, my mind now wandered for the next big thing I would do in life after completing my education (cause I swore I wasn't going back for more, no more classroom lectures or intense research papers, a blog post or one-page article serves me quite well for information seeking). As I scrolled through the internet at images of the middle east, I found and printed out a map of the region, cut it down to size, and pinned it on my bulletin board in my office. Over time, moving offices, the map ended up in the top drawer of my work desk no longer visible.
Fast forward now four years later, after a two month trip to England, Croatia, Spain, Morocco and Turkey and six months later, a three week trip to Kenya, I came back yearning to not just travel anymore, but to actually live abroad. After some quick searching on the world wide web for jobs and a couple Skype interviews, I was offered a position in a small desert town in the emirate of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, I happily accepted.
Now if you're thinking, 'wow, she accepted that offer quickly, I wonder if she did any research on the country.' I'll have you know that my research consisted of extensive YouTube video watching, or maybe a few really cool ones, whose keeping track? Upon painting one of the many rooms in the duplex I purchased in the states before I had even ever traveled abroad, I would watch, or more so listen to YouTube videos about the history of the Middle East, and the growth of Dubai. I'm pretty sure when I accepted the position over Skype, a vision flashed in my mind of the man-made world islands in Dubai that I put my painting to a halt to run over to the phone screen to 'wow' over. Research completed.
As I cleaned out and packed up my office to move out and on to start my new journey in the UAE, I came across that map I had cut out four years prior. I stopped everything, looked long and hard at the map, and was reminded of how good the universe is to us when we vision things into existence. My overall answer to how I ended up here, is that I wanted to be here, and it was a long time in the making.