x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

In a world full of me, it's very important that I'm the best

We all have to recognise our limitations, and work within them.

The other day I received an email that perplexed me. The sender had my same first name, but the surname was quite peculiar. In fact, it seemed to sound like an insult in English. So at first I thought it was a gag by a friend. But then crept in the idea that this might be the next generation of super-virus that not only attacks your hard drive, but also insults you to your face.

Pondering the possibility that I might be entertaining a mean and malicious e-creation, I noticed that there was an attachment. Normally, I would have just deleted the email and not thought much about it, but it was the attachment that gave me pause.

The file name seemed to be some sort of medical term, but not one with which I was familiar. This is where the mysterious email got interesting - and upgraded from annoying to curious. So, equipped with my investigative skills (and a desktop computer with better virus protection than my laptop), I risked opening the attachment.

Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw. It seemed to be a presentation prepared by someone who, funnily enough, had my name. My exact name. It was the same spelling and everything.

This had never happened to me before. The same first name, sure, or the same last. But both? And both names spelt the same way I spell mine?

We were back in hoax territory. If you consider Arab countries as a whole, there are so many divergent spellings of the exact same name. Even in the same country, Mohammed is spelt in very different ways. Why stop there? Even within the same family, two "Mohammeds" may spell their names differently.

The whole thing had a touch of the unbelievable about it. Was an impostor in our midst? The world stopped turning for a nanosecond as I came face-to-face with something that made me question my existence, my reality, my purpose in life, the reason I'm on this planet. Who knew that three little characters could have such an effect?

And the impostor was a doctor.

This was all a bit much to take in. Another me out there? And a doctor, at that? Seriously? I immediately conjured up a romantic and glowing picture of this alter ego of mine. In another life, I'm a doctor! All the glory and none of the hard work, what could be better?

My doppelganger's presentation seemed to be about herbs and stuff, but it didn't even matter at that point. I could have been a doctor! There's a version of me somewhere out there who is a doctor. I'm working with some basic assumptions here: that my alter ego is a she (otherwise I'd be crushed), that the material in that presentation was not just gobbledygook, and that it isn't all one grand hoax.

I think to myself, a bit defensively, I could have been a doctor, if I had really wanted to. I just didn't choose to go down that route because it seemed that doctors were forever learning new terms and medical procedures. That doesn't really seem like my thing. Plus, they don't seem to get much sleep.

In the same sense, I could have gone into the army, except for the fact that I don't like being told what to do. Or I could have become a marine biologist, but I'm afraid of sharks and detest jellyfish. Or I could have become a fairy princess, but I actually believe in the rights of trolls and elves to their own fairy dust, and so wouldn't want to become part of a repressive regime in fantasyland.

We all have to recognise our limitations, and work within them. It seems we tend to hold out for what will come next, for the next great transition in life - something will happen that will allow me to become a doctor, a 10-and-a-half-star general, a world-renowned marine biologist or a very tall fairy princess.

But that's also the easy way out, blaming the universe because we didn't reach our "full potential". If someone wants to do something, they have to go for it. You want to be a doctor? Get on with it. If you want to be in the army, start running and get in shape. If you want to be a marine biologist, stop eating seafood. If you want to be a fairy princess, well, best of luck. We can all be what we want to be, we just have to stop making excuses.

As for my alter ego, I wish her well. She brought about this internal dialogue of mine, so she is undoubtedly a very clever doctor indeed.

I'm not going to waste any more of my time envying her. Besides, I'm sure she's fat.


(This) Su'ad Yousif is a civil servant based in Abu Dhabi