It was March of my eighth grade, and my dad had taken me out to eat. Just after the first few minutes of being there, my dad nonchalantly informed me that he and my mom have talked and that we were going to move to Riyadh. Tears had never swelled up in my eyes so quickly. Even though my story isn’t like all the other people who have moved thousands of miles away, I can easily say that I did face all of the emotions and especially the grief that they have.
I’d lived in Khobar for as long as I can remember. It is the place I tie all my firsts to and the one that I call home. I went to Dhahran since I was in second grade and it became my safe place and source of comfort. At no time was I ever put in a situation where I felt left out or rejected. I had always been so set on moving up to high school in Dhahran and was excited to experience it with the people I grew up with.
I spent the car ride to Riyadh holding back tears and the complaining, but once we got to what would be our new home, I could no longer keep the act up; I ran upstairs and locked myself up in the first room I saw and I called my mom who was still living in the Eastern Province, weeping and telling her I didn’t want to live here, that I physically couldn’t. I stared at the furniture, picking it apart, comparing it to my room in Khobar, and looking for reasons to validate my sadness. That night I cried until I fell asleep.
When I began school, I felt like I was so unwanted and unliked. I sat through my first lunch in the library, on the phone with my dad, trying to figure out how to put money in my card so I could eat, but a part of me was glad that we couldn’t figure it out so I wouldn’t have to go to the cafeteria. I developed a habit of going to class ten minutes early, constantly reading the Eagle Honor Code because it was the only thing that was put up on the walls yet. At one point, I almost had the posters memorized and the teachers were no longer surprised by my early presence. I did everything in my power to avoid the feeling of being somewhere that no one wanted me to be.
I convinced myself that it wasn’t going to get better and that I just had to accept that and work with it. I came home crying and sobbing almost every day for the first few weeks. I fell into one of the darkest places that I have ever been in. My mind completely and utterly rejected the idea of living far away from Khobar, and yes, I was in the same country, but I knew that it would never be the same for me. That I would spend the months to come, comparing everything here to how good it was there. I knew I was never going to see some of the most important people again, and if I did, it would either be after long months or years, or after a lot of begging and convincing of my parents. I shut down and pushed everyone away from me.
I barely talked to any of my friends back in Khobar and I broke bonds and I distanced myself from the people that cared about me and used to make me the happiest. If I was feeling extra special, I’d reply to someone every four days or a week. People back in Dhahran would ask each other if they had been the only ones that I wasn’t replying to.
I watched myself build a distance between everyone and although I didn’t want that to happen, I felt like I couldn’t stop it. I never knew how to explain to anyone why I had suddenly put my walls up and no longer opened up anymore. Worst of all, it seemed like no one tried to understand, instead looked for reasons to justify their anger towards me.
I felt like I had nothing left, so I decided to channel all my energy into academics rather than wasting it on being sorry for myself. As time passed, I slowly started making friends at school and becoming more involved in sports. I began to laugh as hard as I used to and smile more. Eventually, I no longer dreaded going to school and I made friends that love me and make me happy. As for the bonds I’ve broken, I’ve been trying to piece them back together and that hasn’t been working for all of them, and that’s okay.
I learned that if it’s meant to be then it will be and that’s just out of your control. Moving has shown me that change is sudden but it is normal. Not to sugar coat anything, but it can be such a complicated and difficult process, but this is where it falls in your hands. It is in your power to perceive this is a beneficial opportunity that will let you experience change and work on bettering yourself. Putting up your walls for a bit is okay, but don’t allow it to become a norm, learn to let people in. Good can and will come out of change, and no matter what, it always gets better.