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24

Jun

insights of a text message

Okay. Here goes.

Tomorrow morning at 7:30 AM is my direct flight to Washington, after which I’ll take a flight to Orlando. I should have slept a while ago but I couldn’t, because of the paranoia. I’m scared of traveling back because I don’t know what to expect. Why is it, that I should face all this scrutiny because of the fact that I lived in Saudi Arabia or that I was born to Pakistani parents. Why should I be judged for my skin color, when sometimes I feel more American than anything else? And the worst part is, why should I expect to be stereotyped and discriminated against?

These were things we brushed on at Gatorship, the multicultural retreat I went to in February that changed my life forever. I went to Leadershape in May, where we very briefly talked about stereotypes. When I was asked to share, I automatically started sobbing. As I awkwardly fumbled for the kleenex that was placed on the table, I wondered why I couldn’t formulate my thoughts and speak in full sentences. I just can’t. I just can’t talk about stereotypes/racism/prejudice/etc. Want to see me upset? Just mention it. 

So in efforts to reduce my overbearing anxiety, I finally packed (and actually finished early for once). And then I sat down, found my old Nokia XpressMusic smartphone and decided to read all my text messages - from junior year. Junior year was quite a year for me. 

Sometimes I wish I was that way still - but then I see how much I’ve grown. I’m different now. I would never be spiteful to any one of my friends. Everyone has good qualities and I look for that. And after my freshmen year of college, I learned how to deal with guys better and get out of dates yet maintain friendships. But if I could go back - I still wouldn’t change a thing. Everything that’s happened has made me all that much better of a person today. And I thank you all for it.

So I selected all on my texts. It was kind of silly but here’s what happened next: I shivered and felt nauseous. So I carefully exited and turned off my phone. It will be like a time box thing: I’ll look upon this next year and evaluate myself all over again.

Read a few old texts and you’ll realize how much you’ve changed. And if you haven’t - well, there’s the problem.

14

Jun

You see, human beings are designed for many things, but loneliness isn’t one of them

“Yes, life is a journey. One that is much better traveled with a companion by our side. Of course, that companion can be just about anyone. A neighbor on the other side of the street or the man on the other side of the bed. The companion can be a mother with good intentions or a child who’s up to no good. Still, despite our best intentions, some of us will lose our companions along the way. And then the journey becomes unbearable. You see, human beings are designed for many things, but loneliness isn’t one of them.” - Mary Alice Young, Desperate Housewives

—-

My computer says it’s 4:25 PM, which means that’s the time in Orlando. It’s 11:25 PM here in Riyadh, where I am home visiting for a month. I’m alone with my thoughts in the living room downstairs. It’s been a hard day.

The absolute hardest part of living in the US is being in an individualistic society (versus the collectivist ones I come from). I come from Pakistan, a place where joint family systems are more than common. And even when I moved to Saudi Arabia, where we had no relatives, the compound (or “neighborhood”) became a family. Families have their own struggles and disputes, but one thing that proves true is that they stick together through the hardest times. No one can possibly be more genuine towards you than your family (and they are the only real well-wishers - I learned this the hard way).

But why is it that despite having a family, I find myself in these situations - so alone.

I was an only child for five years: I’m used to the relentless loneliness. But it escalated as I grew older, mainly because I could not describe how I felt. It was like a dark cloud was looming over my head. And more recently, I feel helpless. I live alone in the United States. Who am I? Where am I from? I don’t hold a solid association with any country - and I find myself in between, always. Am I liberal or conservative? In between. Am I American or Asian? In between. Before writing this up, I tried to talk to my friends, leaving them messages. Today I suddenly developed a paranoia of getting a bad grade in a class I haven’t even started yet. No one understands my insecurities. I feel like there’s so much to hold on to because I’m not sure what I really have.

Being a third culture kid comes with knowledge, awareness, but sometimes vulnerability and helplessness. Because I’m neither here nor there. I’m confused: when I’m in the states I’m homesick for Arabia. In Arabia I miss the states. And Pakistan is a whole different scenario: it’s homesickness accompanied with a pang of guilt. I guess I know what it means to be a third (or fourth?) culture kid.

Don’t get me wrong - I’m still ecstatic to be in the states - maybe more than ever. But there are those somber days: those days you realize that the individualistic society is catching up to you, that at the end of the day you own no one and cannot truly burden a soul, that maybe no one truly shares your happiness or your sadness-

Those days are usually the loneliest.

The Lonely American - a book on America and isolation

Loneliness is increasing and it can harm your health - a health article on the supposed increase of loneliness

15

May

Hi my name is Sama (Arabic: sky)

I moved from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in June of 2011

I have just completed my freshmen year at the University of Florida

I think America is great & I love my new friends here & life is good