Growing up by Teny, Palestine

What happens when a teenager turns 18? What happens when you start feeling lost with your life? What happens when you start feeling guilty asking your parents for money? Start looking for a job, education, and time management is the answer. High school. Graduation. Parties. Friends. Trips. All of these were accomplished by this girl named Geny. An 18 year old teenager. This Geny graduated the youngest among her class. She was not that much of a popular member in her school, but she was one special thing among her society. Graduation was the best thing that has actually made her happy, right before she was lost in her own world not knowing what to decide with her future. All of her friends were attending these universities and traveling different countries that did not make her jealous, jealousy was not even in her own dictionary, but the only thing she kept thinking about was looking for a job to fulfill her own dreams. So, this Geny is me, the author of my own story. Let me start explaining the story that I experienced after telling the beginning of the beginning of my own story. As I graduated, I did not have this plan of attending any university, I was encouraged just to take a year off from education and gain the experience before having to force myself to study for 4 years. Parents, society, friends and everything was just stressing me out because of me just doing nothing with my life which is defiantly depressing. I moved out from my parents’ house and started a new life in Jerusalem which has actually encouraged me. I started learning Hebrew, which lead me to start working in some nearby hotel. The experience of having my own job has just begun, I was all nervous and excited, the first shift went well, the second and third were even better. Day by day people started to open up and talk to me, people from all different places, and different societies, what was a complete surprise to me was that one person said “ You? A girl? Why are you even working? Can’t your parents afford your needs? Don’t you have a brother that can give you the money you need? Are you working because you want to or just because you need the money?” There I left my mouth open, that was surprising but I just got over it when I noticed that I was the only girl; non- Jewish girl who was working as a waitress in the coffee shop of the hotel. Time passed, I gained the experience, people did not have to courage to comment since they saw me I was working contradicting my society’s rules. Time for university application. Papers are ready; copies of everything are ready, time to head up to Bethlehem and apply for Bethlehem’s University. I applied, got accepted and it was the time; the first day had come. My brother and I went together as he got accepted as well. It was just a weird feeling that I was one of the very few girls that were not covering their hair. I had a funny haircut, a side shave, septum piercing, and slightly blond. The eyes of the other students did not stop from checking me out from my toes to my head, which was creepy to be honest. I got used to it, days passed, new friends, and a completely new experience with people I have never met before from completely different societies that think completely different than me. A discussion was open about work; home, siblings, school, and life in general, as I know that working was a normal thing, till I mentioned that I work, live with my brother, and study at the same time. A comment out of nowhere was heard “why do you even work? Can’t your father pay your payments? How can you even live alone? Does your neighbor know you’re alone? Aren’t you afraid that someone will come when you’re home alone?” I was shocked even more, when a guy the same as my age, made this comment. There is this guy I met, my boyfriend for two years since May 2015. People started to notice that I am dating this wonderful guy, everyone started to comment but I just tried to ignore as much as I can, not to avoid problems but just not to let myself mad or irritated. My family and friends already knew since day one that we were together, nobody was actually against it, not even my own father. Till one day at the university, a random guy asked my brother “do you know that your sister is dating someone?” and my brother with pride responded, “yes and I am the one who introduced them to each other.” There was complete silence, googling eyes between the entire group except for me, with a smile I looked at my brother and said in Armenian thank you. That did not caption my attention to lead me to think about it that much; it was actually funny, hilarious in my opinion. After a couple of weeks, the same guy approached me and started talking about some random stuff, we were discussing our grades, our jobs, and the students we study with, the conversation led on till he mentioned he had a girlfriend, I started annoying him by asking her name, picture, age, how they met, you know like a normal girl would react. He started discussing how he does not allow her to wear any ripped jeans, or any tights shirts, or even dresses and skirts, he did not allow her to go out with her friends or talk to any guy. Then I froze for a minute and remembered when he asked my brother the other day, I looked at him and asked “Is it okay for you to have a girlfriend, but it’s a shame if I have my own boyfriend?” he stared back at me and replied “Of course. You’re a girl what do you expect.” BOOM. Like a gunshot in my own brain. I was speechless, surprised, and even furious. Was I blind? I hated myself; I hated myself for not noticing how much women are oppressed in my own society. I felt that I was just too open to go out anymore, was I the only one who was thinking differently? Or did I just not belong among these people? Why would they do that? They seriously think I belong in the kitchen? I can’t even cook anything else other than pasta, this is not a joke anymore, this is reality, and this is the world I live in, this Palestinian society that has depressed me from my own self, from my own mind. The anger has reached its tip, and I just couldn’t take it anymore, I was defending woman all along since then, not even listening to these guys or even those people who call themselves men. I did not even care if this “man” was my age or even my father’s age, enough is enough. Since then, not a single person opened the subject again, with my anger, they all just know that the conversation would be endless and I would stick to my mind, even if they take me and imprison me for expressing my opinion.  

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