Moving to NYC

People come to New York with dreams
I came with nightmares.

Coming to America wasn’t all smiles and laughter and all those other soft and mushy things. It was more of crying, breaking and a lot of fear wrapped in confusion. There were a lot of breakdowns, a lot of burning bridges for the second time. A lot of doubt, a lot of drowning and a lot of starting from scratch.

The one thing I remember the most is thinking, ” why again?” this wasn’t the first time I had to start all over again. Each time a different culture, a different language, and different people. It’s hard getting use to something new. It’s hard to start from the bottom when you’re already there- but it’s a different kind of bottom. It’s hard building a base. So, I decided not to build one. We’re travelers in this world anyways so why build homes of bricks that will break. Why make a home, when we won’t stay here forever… right?  

High school was hard. For the first three years I had no friends. I didn’t know how to make friends and I still don’t. So, I buried myself in books, in Harry Potter and in Percy Jackson and in any other book I could get my hands on, even if it was an encyclopedia about rocks. I would go to the school library, find an empty table, sit and just read (I wouldn’t even get lunch even if it meant having to stay hungry all day… One time I was about to pass out while being forced to do aerobics by my gym teacher. She sent me to the nurse, but I went home.)

I would read. Read in between classes, in gym, and in any other time I could squeeze into my schedule. I would finish a book a day. When I felt like no one was around to listen, I would pour out my feelings in a journal- that now makes me laugh every time I read it. But I hadn’t even realized how happy I was in my own little bubble. When the end of junior year hit, I started opening up more and I regret that, not because anything bad happened but because I felt like I would’ve been happier with my nose in books, living in magic realms with vampires and witches.

I lost my self in incomplete stories. In unfinished novels. In poems. In daydreams. But I realized that I was doing all that to avoid reality and the worst part was that it was working. I didn’t even realize how distant I had become from the world. All I knew about were mythical creatures, vampires, cruel kings and Demi-gods. I was even a good student in school. I would rather sit down and solve complex calculus equations than hang out with a bunch of teenagers. Not because I thought calculus was fun but because that was the only way to stop my anxiety.

But that nightmare got better once I started college, not that I had any friends in my first year, but I was comfortable sitting in the b1 library in between shelves, writing and reading. In my second year I started making friends in the MSA.

Thing have gotten better. Alhumdulillah. Just hope they stay like this…

25 thoughts on “Moving to NYC

  1. Moving from school to school and particularly culture to culture is very hard . Although I am British, I had terrible culture shock when I came to the States aged 16. They insisted I do senior year in High school. I had been in convent schools were classes were maybe 20 kids total. Senior year here was hundreds and the system completely alien. No one cared about a stupid English girl and I felt so insignificant, so stupid. Like you I would avoid the lunchroom. I had to go to a pep rally and couldn’t understand what it was all about. I hated it so much. College, for me was a bit better too, but that year of high school undermined my self-confidence completely. Multiple choice? Where did I get to say what I thought? Oh, no-one cared what I thought….very different! So I can totally identify with how you felt!!! Glad it has gotten better! Best wishes!

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    1. Oh my goodness… you just bought back so many memories! I hated high school. I was the one of the few muslim/Hibaji Pakistani girls in school. It was so difficult. I got above 95’s in all my classes, but they still put me in the lower level classes because I was from a third world country! But hey we both made it through! Although I desperately wish you were in high school with me… we would’ve bonded so easily.

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  2. Yes, that would have been so cool! When I first went to French school I couldn’t speak a word of the language, so I was put with the 5 year olds. I was 9. Then they took points off because I was older. Sometimes you can’t win, but ultimately we did!

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  3. I hope you have gone through my blog on culture shock. It is certainly difficult to survive in a foreign land but eventually, you will get used to the new culture and things will get better with time..

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    1. Hi! Yes, I read your piece about culture shock…all true. My problem was being taken away from England aged 8, then bounced around in Asia for 6 years, returned to England where I was now a stranger and after two miserable years there, sent to America which is where I have lived ever since, but if people ask where I am “from”, I have no idea what to say. I have bounced around the USA a bit too. I feel like a person who doesn’t really come from or belong anywhere. I suppose, when I am nostalgic, I think of the England I once knew, when life was much simpler. I am in my 70’s now, so that was long ago! Life can be strange, but it is was it is, and one has to accept it or risk wasting precious time fretting for no good result.
      Best wishes to you!

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      1. Life is strange… just when you get comfortable it slams into your face! but you always learn from life… there are little lessons life has to teach you! and it had the oddest way of teaching you these lessons ❤

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  4. Oh dear~ reading this really broke my heart!!😭 hope you are fine now and just believe me, you are better than thousands who claim they are better than you when actually they are not! They are only confident and i invite you to do that too!! Hope you find only peace and love wherever you go dear~ 💕🙈

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      1. It’s really an honour to have a sister like you!! Also remember you have a sister in North Africa~!! Feel free to share anything even if we may not talk frequently or privately but really we do share alot through the pieces we write~ 🥲🤩💖

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  5. I can relate to this so much (at least with the school experience and book experience) but you have written these feelings out better than I ever could. You really know how to get to the heart of life. I love how you put this: “I lost my self in incomplete stories. In unfinished novels. In poems. In daydreams.” A fantastic read on many levels.

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