This I Believe

Rabia - Guilderland, New York
Entered on June 14, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30

In April 1995, I was living in a small town of Pakistan when my parents sent me away to a school where they give religious education along with regular school. I was 7 years old while the majority of the girls were ten years of age or older. I was unable to compete with the other girls who were twice my size. Living in the dorm was hard. They woke me up exactly at 4 Am for prayers and I was not allowed to go to my room until dark because they gave religious education until noon and regular education from 1 Pm to 6 Pm. Every day was long and busy. There was nothing much to do for fun. During those 8 months, I was beaten up by the bigger girls a couple of times in the tennis court. I was punished by the teachers for causing trouble, actually caused by the other girls. The food was disgusting and eventually made me sick, so I was sent back home.

It took me two months to recover. When I got better I refused to go back. I wanted to go to my regular school with all my friends and kids my age. My parents agreed, but I knew that they weren’t happy. Soon I joined my old school and I liked it there. As time passed and my friends and other people found out I had dropped out of the other school, they started picking on me. They made me believe that I would never be successful in my life. My friends, and even my relatives, discouraged and embarrassed me in different ways. My friends didn’t hang out with me anymore. I stopped going out so I didn’t have to face people. I became afraid of people; I felt inferior to others. I believed that there was no place in the world for a person like me.

As time went on my family immigrated to the U.S., and once again I faced the same situation. My uncles, aunts and cousins told me that I was a lazy person and would never be successful. They told me that American life was very hard and I couldn’t fit in this society. They suggested that I to go back to Pakistan and carry on with my life. That was when I made the decision to stay and face the challenges because there was nothing left for me in Pakistan. I got into a school where I was encouraged by my teachers and they treated me like a friend. I also got a job where my employer admired my hard work. I successfully completed my sophomore and junior years and I am now ready to graduate from high school. Now, I believe that instead of listening to other people I have to trust myself and my abilities. I can conquer any obstacle in my life and I can be a better person than other people think because no one knows my abilities better than I do.