Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Here we go again

When I started writing this blog, I had no idea on what it's going to be. It was mainly a description of exciting events and thrilling thoughts I was encountering in England. In retrospect, it seems to me as a description of a rather sweet kind of cultural shock. While this pleasant shock made me start blogging, it was the appalling reverse cultural shock I had after coming back to Syria that made me quite Blogmania altogether. Now, I am "back", and experiencing a "double" cultural difference: the helluva difference between Syria and the USA (of course), and the one based on the stupid assumption that I would find America to be "almost" like England. So here we go again.

When I say cultural shock people might think I'm talking about stuff like driver's seat being on the right, the electricity being 110 volts instead of 220, having to squat down to use the toilet, or the dime being actually smaller in size than the five cents coin. But that sort of stuff doesn't really matter and would only cause a problem to an obsessive-compulsive. Surprisingly, what I'm talking about are stuff like People smiling back at you, cars stopping for you to cross, how everything here will start almost on time instead of being always half an hour late, streets having names and directions for Heaven's sake, and the fact that everything here seems to strangely work out instead to screwing up due to some mighty destiny. These kind of stuff make the concept of cultural shock seem absurd, but the difference still exist anyway. However, I can assure you that, under right weather conditions, it wouldn't take any sane person more than two hours to get used to the place. Cultural shock my ass.

And here I am, back and kicking! But would I need to describe my mood during the last non-blogging months for you? Well, you can continue reading if interested, or you can quit and wait for Lessons from London, my series on cultural shock that is still worth writing even though I have left England more than a year ago.

Depression is not the right word for it. I would say 'disgust', but I really think language is limited to come up with a descriptive word that combines the positive (yes, there is!) and negative aspects of living in a messed-up place like Damascus. Anyway, I can say that those who haven't been there would have no idea on what I'm talking about, while those who live there would know what I'm talking about anyway and need no description.
I would only say that I am easily affected by surrounding environment, and I can go all the way up or down simply for being with a genius or with an asshole. I don't blame anybody other than myself for that, and I can say that this last year has told me more about myself that the past 6 years together.

The most valuable gift anyone can give you is a reflective mirror to see your true face. To believe what you're seeing (the warts and all, to quote Cromwell) requires a huge amount of bravery. For that, I feel extremely happy I had the chance to know who really I am, to know my limitations, to expose my weakness, and to denude my vulnerability. Living in two extremely different environments would only enrich that experience.
I can't claim that I have finished with myself, but I daresay I know what I already have and what I still have to acquire. For all of that, I can now start to trust myself and learn to feel the confidence. After spending all that time preparing for just a single USMLE exam, I can trust my knowledge and say "I don't know" with a full mouth without embarrassment or shame. I can walk around in my white coat with the confidence of a learner instead of the arrogance of an ignorant. Most importantly, I can feel content, which is the key of true happiness.

So now, after being in 4 different countries in just four days, I am finally settled. And finally I can tell my dear fellow bloggers: here we go again.