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The Life Saving Things I Learned Through Apathy, Disappointment and Fear

Photography by Angie Lopez

Photography by Angie Lopez

Tell me about the feelings that float over your heart every now and then and that, when they stay for a while, turn to be nothing but a source of exhaustion. For me, I know a whole lot of those feelings. I know the feeling that shades your chest when you love someone who doesn’t love you back or when you love someone you don’t even stand a chance with. I know the feeling that you are not good enough. I know the feeling that you’ve had it from everyone and everything around you but you can’t make anything to stop that. I know the feeling of paralysis, not biologically still, thank god, but psychologically and that is sometimes just as bad because, in this, you can’t help but stay right where you are. You can’t take any steps forwards even if you want to, because there’s something that is always in the way. You are stuck somewhere between the desire to do something and the consumed energy that stops you from doing it, but I have always, above all those, been concerned by three other feelings in particular, the ones I see as the most dangerous and most important and most life threatening: apathy, disappointment and fear. And for some unknown reason, I always had a feeling that they are always connected to make you reach one state in the end: despair.

I remember I used to say that nothing takes a man down the way apathy does. Of course there might be other things that are just as bad but this feeling of “indifference,” boy it kills. To be told you are of no good and to not try to make it better, to be complimented by someone over one of your talents and care not to improve them, to reach what people might call a dead end in a situation and don’t even try to find a way out, to be faced by death and don’t even want to fight for life, believe me that is dangerous, really dangerous.

And disappointment too acts as the connection, I think, between apathy and fear, for it could be their cause or their consequence. What matters is that it alters one’s personality. With one disappointment after another, one is eventually never the same. You change, you grow, more broken, more mature and sometimes more understanding of life and its doings and how it may not always be fair.

Photography by Angie Lopez

Photography by Angie Lopez

And fear, that suffocating feeling that taught me some of the most precious lessons I know, that feeling that is strangely required but only to a very limited extent or else it’ll destroy you. I kind of admire it and I admire what it gave me more. I mean I used to (and maybe sometimes still do) fear almost everything. Every step I take in my life I overthink a thousand times, not to avoid a mistake or anything – I’m less smart than that – but just to torture myself. I don’t know.

I used to fear people, things, decisions, commitment, too many things I can’t even count until I learnt what I shouldn’t fear and what no one should. I learned that you shouldn’t fear making your own mistakes, choosing wrongly sometimes, walking your own road against what people say, even if you’ll later discover what they said was true, because I now tell myself that I want to judge for myself, to learn my own lessons and write my own story. I’d love to hear whatever advice you might have and I’d listen to it if I were convinced. I want the best for me and I’m normally not stubborn, but what if I’m not convinced? Why can’t I just try? What could possibly go wrong? Doesn’t even the worst mistake benefit you with a new lesson learnt? I tell myself now that one should not fear what people might think or say. One shouldn’t fear breaking up with someone if they see him or her as unfit for one’s self, even if everyone tells them otherwise, and you shouldn’t fear catching feelings for someone either because those feelings with their diversity are what will eventually make us grow. You shouldn’t fear acting like yourself because I discovered that not acting like yourself is actually worse. You shouldn’t fear being straight up honest about something or even making comments you don’t always believe in as long as they are for a good cause, as long as you know that a bad comment will do no one any good. You shouldn’t fear crying before someone because sometimes showing some of your vulnerability is nothing but mere strength and confidence. Don’t fear to help someone succeed because, believe me, it’ll make you no less successful.

Believe me, you should on the other hand fear that life could change you or stop you from doing what you want. Fear saying yes when you want to say no. Fear losing yourself in the search for others. Fear forgetting to love yourself in the crowdedness of feelings of love you are trying to give to everyone.

I learned this the hard way. I had to lack confidence and belief in myself for a long time and I hope you don’t go through any of those.

I hope that while doing others justice you don’t oppress yourself.

I hope that with every disappointment life throws your way you stand and face it with your belief that life will, again, certainly have its good days. I hope you fight apathy with hope, with faith and with love. I hope you grow to realize that it’s okay to fail sometimes, but it won’t harm you if you fight back again. I hope you too learn that the secret lies in “Again,” in the will and the strength to try again, to face all your fears and insecurities one more time, to fight for your entity again, the one entity that should leave something behind in this life instead of falling in the thoughts of oblivion. I hope you too learn that there is always something worth the fight in this life, something no disappointment or fear should turn you indifferent about.

Mariem Sherif is an Egyptian medical student who believes that words can heal a wound, that in each and every one of us there is something special and that in details lies another great different life for those who notice.