bosphorus strolls and self-discovery

I hate the term “self-discovery.” I feel as though it’s been co-opted by recent-grads and television writers in the hopes of adding depth to what they dub the ‘defining characteristic of the millennial generation.’ The me, me, me generation; the generation blaming their parents for frustrations with social, environmental, and political issues, unemployment; the generation using ‘self-discovery’ as justification for traveling, for exploring, for internships, for idleness. Ten minutes’ worth of Girls, a few pages clicking through Thought Catalog, an existential journey à la Eat, Pray, Love.

Some similar bullshit along those lines.

“Self-discovery.”

A phase that seems to inflict only liberal-minded 20-somethings, worn with pride by some but thrown in scorn by most. I just think it’s all bullshit. Saying that 20-somethings are going through a period of “self-discovery” implies that there’s some sort of revelation to look forward to, some sort of discovery to be had.

What discovery? The acceptance that the first 29 years of my life were spent in a haze of immaturity and no direction? Like I’m going to wake up the day I turn 30 with a terribly jaded, concrete notion of who I am?

Ah, yes. Single, spinster, eighth year of graduate school, fifteenth Battlestar Galactica marathon of the month, and a burnt-orange Kitchen Aid. This is Sabeen.

Really, I’m not quite sure when this “discovery” is supposed to happen. I’m also not quite sure why it exists solely in this Twilight-zone-esque decade of one’s life. As if I’m only allowed to change and travel and grow for the next 9 years. As if I’m going to one day stop doing any of those things.

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a lifetime in thirty hours

I’ve never experienced a city quite like İstanbul, a city so alive. It has a spirit of its own; a life beyond merely its people; a heart that beats in rhythm with the trains weaving through narrow cobblestone roads and the cerulean waves of the Bosphorus. Up, down, up, down.

I was in the city for only two short days — a mere thirty hours — but it was time enough for the realization that İstanbul is also totally and unequivocally, a “she”. Arrogant, temperamental, and frighteningly beautiful in the way only a woman can truly be.

She is loud and brash, with her unmoving cars blaring their horns in frustration and impatience. She has an intimidating beauty about her, with the slender minarets of her many camiis towering over the city like soldiers posed for battle. She is young and new, with university students crowding her bars and cafes, expensive stores and boutiques lining the fashionable districts of her Asian half. She is timeless, with a wisdom beyond the ages buried deep beneath the foundations of stone mosques and crumbling towers, centuries of brilliant minds strolling through her ornate doors, leaving behind a legacy that has yet to fade.

Above all, she makes you feel small and insignificant.

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