Thursday June 8th, 2023
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The Importance of Variables

Math has never been Karim Rahman's strong suit but he can't help but wonder if there is indeed an equation for the good life.

Staff Writer

There was a time in tenth grade (back when I was a young and naïve, wide-eyed ingénue), when I was just finishing my first year of GCSEs, that I thought I would be done with math forever. I was never really a fan of the subject, and I sucked terribly at it. The sequential order of equations and the underlying grid of rules and know-how never really managed to take root in my mind and were constantly out of arm's reach. When it came time to choose our A-levels, I was literally jumping with glee. Never again would I have to deal with the mind-numbing tedium of math, but only focus on things that truly mattered to me, like art and literature.

I was very, very wrong.

It turns out that escaping the mathematical nature of life wasn't as easy as avoiding advanced studies in the subject. Not only did I choose a major somewhat rooted in it, I realised that life in Cairo is sort of like one big algebraic equation that I could never truly understand. While most people seem to think that mathematics is all about rules and order, I always seem to view it as a chaotic affair; exactly like life in the big city. It's never a straightforward approach; there are always variables and factors to consider in your Cairo experience that are enough to drive anyone up the wall, especially if your life is a hectic circus of juggling different tasks and people like friends, college, a job…and dating. Of course.

In fact, being somewhat of a jack of all trades, I find myself unceremoniously thrust into the role of circus juggler (even though I utterly lack any acceptable form of dexterity). With a new fashion internship under my belt, a weekly column to manage, surviving my junior year of college, maintaining a social life and trying to create a love life, I have clearly bitten off more than I can chew. However, I was determined to make things work my way this time. No longer will I flake out and ignore my workload just because I'm too tired. As the wise Britney Spears put it in her questionably-catchy new single: "You better work, bitch." Wiser words have never been spoken. My beliefs were steadfast and nothing anyone was going to do or say was going to deter me from the fact that it is possible and that I could pull this off.

That was all very well and good until I read an article about why dating shouldn't be an important aspect of anyone's life, and that people should enjoy being single more. Needless to say, that article shook my steadfast beliefs to the core. It basically took a dump on my bread and butter, my raison d'être, so to speak. However, when one is stressed out and attempting to manage one's chaotic existence, one couldn't help but wonder…could it be true? If I did indeed stop thinking about dating, would my life be easier? Would I have more time to do other things? When it comes to the equation of life, was dating a variable factor or a constant?

Here's the thing. People have different ways of measuring their success. To some, it's getting perfect grades. To others, it's getting an invite to that ultra-exclusive party that's only going to last for about five hours and will have absolutely no long term impact on their lives. Hence, it's all very subjective. To me, managing to juggle all these aspects of my life is considered a success. It's not like wanting a date would somehow distract my focus from everything else I have to do, because let's face it; I'm not getting much of it done anyway. Yet, on the other hand, I see how dating can adversely affect your life. A friend of mine is currently going through a bad breakup (think fights-on-Twitter bad) and try as hard as he might to put on a show that he's in control of everything, it's quite obvious the stress is getting to him. So maybe, in that particular case, dating should be a variable instead of a constant.

Eventually, you realise that life is nothing like a mathematical equation. Yes, there are similarities (the complete and utter confusion Cairo life leaves you in is very reminiscent of my tenth grade math class) but at some point, you come to realise that everything is a variable: there are no rules. There is no magical equation that's going to fix everything and get your life in order. You can't e=mc2 life. It's not how it works. It can be quite frustrating at times, especially if you're not used to the chaos life can rain down on your head at a moment's notice.

However, there are times when not having an equation, when surrendering yourself to the variables of life, can be quite rewarding. Like, for example, when I decided to ignore my carefully laid out timetable last night and instead chose to go to this weird party with my silent and stoic British best friend. I had no prior plans of going, and absolutely no idea that I'd end up walking out of that weird party with an even weirder chance encounter, a number and a date on Thursday, all in true Sex and the City style.

Sometimes, variables are nice.