Beirut native Zeinab El-Mokdad shared her “Girl Gone Wild’ travel confessions with GGI in Issue 5 and how leaving her home in the Middle East changed her entire perspective on life. Having done an exchange program in the United States, she realised she loved the freedom she gets from travelling, a freedom that she did not get back at home. Now having recently become a mother, we catch up with Zeinab to see how having a baby has changed her and her perspective on life.
“Where are you now?”
A feminist, heavy leader and travel lover is what I’ve always been and what I will always be. However, three main events changed my entire life since writing to GGI. My graduation, marrying the love of my life and becoming a mother. I’ve always been an “A” student who cared the most about her future. I graduated as an honour student with a 3.8 GPA, but I discovered then that Lebanon couldn’t afford me the career path I aimed for. Lebanon is a small country with very limited job opportunities where your personal connections are much more appreciated than your GPA. This disabled me from easily achieving a decent job.
While digging for a career and working as a book seller - since books are my passion - I have met the man I thought doesn’t exist. Briefly, a feminist cannot fall in love easily, unless she meets a feminist man. In the Lebanese society, compared to the gulf and the Arab countries that surround it, it is less challenging to find a man with an open mind. Still, it is not an easy task to find a heavy reader, a feminist, an open minded man who appreciates women and is ready for commitment.
Well, I was lucky enough to meet him and the best part of it is that I met him the first time at the bookshop I worked at, which is the most romantic part I could ever imagine for meeting my future husband. From my limited experience, I discovered that marriage is a process that doesn’t need a long time. If the couple has been clear, honest and respectful and decided to build the relationship on mutual understanding, then both parts are ready for marriage.
Besides the intense feelings I had for my husband before marrying him, the biggest part that pushed me to see the husband in him was the long hours we used to talk on a daily basis about space, quantum physics, society, life, insecurities and many other topics. After completing a year and a half of marriage that is based on love and respect, I can say that this decision was one of the best ones I’ve taken in my life.
My husband and I are settled in Beirut but since we are travel lovers - especially to discover architectural sites and new societies - we managed to visit the city of love, “Paris” and the city of empires and food “Rome”. We visited Dubai also many times, but the impact of Paris and Rome couldn’t fade from our memories and heart. In three words to both cities I can say that Paris is passion, art and culture and Rome is history, architecture and culinary.
The Louvre museum, the Vatican, the Eiffel Tower and the Colosseum are must-visit places in those two breathtaking cities. Rome taught me that civilisations, history and religion are the pillars of glory while Paris taught me that love and passion are the pillars of art. Anyhow, the biggest challenge that recently entered my life is motherhood.
Motherhood is beautiful, enigmatic, full of feelings, full of love and full of giving. On October 14th, Leila came to my life. Motherhood showed me how supportive my husband is and it also showed me that having a free spirit shouldn’t limit you from experiencing such a beautiful process. Now, I want Leila to also be a GGI with a free spirit. I want her to meet new people, discover new societies, visit new cities, new museums and new art destinations.
From becoming a mother I discovered that you are free as long as you want to be free and life is beautiful when you extend your comfort zone to reach new places.
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