Crossroads to Confusion
Within the context of a society that is predominantly homogenous and uniform, exhibiting individuality isn’t necessarily an easy choice, and can be quite isolating.
As someone born and raised in Qatar, when I look back at my life growing up here, my mind conjures up images of a shy, introverted boy, a characteristic that has largely dominated my adolescent life. For the most part, my memories seem like disjointed scenes from different stages of my formative years, rather than one consistent and well-defined period. The one issue that has constantly pervaded those years however was identity. To be exact, I always grappled with my identity, struggling to define who I was as an individual within the framework of my society.
The one issue that has constantly pervaded those years however was identity. To be exact, I always grappled with my identity, struggling to define who I was as an individual within the framework of my society.
I was primarily educated in several gender-segregated public schools throughout my childhood and adolescent years. The general environment in these schools was very rigid and inhospitable, following a curriculum that was heavily based on rote memorization. I realized early on that I couldn’t really let my guard down and just be myself, fearful of being bullied by others, opting instead to recede quietly in to the background. On the other hand, I had a penchant for following Western television shows and movies from an early age, always eager to watch the latest American flicks and brush up on my knowledge of pop culture; to which I owe my ability to speak English fluently, something that many people find incredulous to this day when I tell them. This aspect of me that was incompatible with my surroundings – the vivacious and outgoing Nasser that I suppressed – led to mounting frustration and confusion in terms of my identity. However, this issue was not only confined to my years spent in school, but also trickled its way into adulthood.
Within the context of a society that is predominantly homogeneous and uniform, exhibiting individuality isn’t necessarily an easy choice, and can be quite isolating. However, this feeling of being a perpetual outsider has had its share of advantages, such as being able to oscillate between different perspectives, constantly aiming to achieve new challenges, and being able to find my way around groups of people, to name a few. As another dear Qatari friend put it once, “I feel like I always have one foot in, and one foot out the door”. I couldn’t have said it better.