Sasan Lotfi: The Journey of My Identity

Sasan is a recipient of the 2019-2020 MALA Scholarship Program, which seeks to assist rising leaders in the pursuit of higher education through the art of storytelling.

 

Eighteen years is not that much at first glance, but it has been long enough to challenge my strength and patience in different ways. My life has been a long and meandering journey, a journey that has its own beauty and has taught me lessons that I never found in books.

 

I immigrated to America as a as seventeen-year old teenager which was a new beginning for me. Having grown up in a country with a profound difference in culture and education system from America, I found immigration a drastic mental challenge. The first three months were not hard because I was viewing it as a long trip. After that, I started realizing that Iran, my own country, was no longer where I belong. My mind was dominated by a vague feeling of bewilderment and kept asking over and over: “Why me? What am I doing here? What next?” I’m not one of those people who complain about everything but this time was different. It was my life. It was my personality. It was everything. I was living in both countries at the same time: my body was in America and my mind was living in past memories from Iran. My country is in hard conditions financially and politically and due to current events and escalating tensions, most of Iranian people are unable to pursue their dreams in a developed country like America. This fact made me feel guilty about myself: guilty of leaving those who I truly care about in order to make my own future. This lack of identity and motivation turned my life into an indistinct sound, a sound that I was listening to all the time but couldn’t understand its meaning.

 

Time passed and I got used to my situation. My father is living in another state because of his job. About three months ago, he came here to visit us. He felt sick and since he can’t speak English, I reserved an appointment and took him to the doctor. We were waiting for the doctor and I saw my father laying his face on the palms of his hands. His fingers and nails were black because of his job. He seemed tired, but to me, he was stronger than ever. Those wrinkles on his hands were nothing but true beauty in my eyes. It was in that moment that I found the answer to all of my questions: he is doing all he can do to give me the chance to live a better life. Rather than enjoying the rest of his life in Iran, he prioritized his family. This was the meaning of that sound, a meaning that I could never perceive without his presence. That mental challenge suddenly became a motivation for me. From that day on, every time I feel tired, I remind myself of my parents and how hard they are trying to form the foundation of my future. This single fact fills all the gaps in my mind.

 

Any challenge that we face has something to teach and I learned my own lessons. Looking to the past and thinking about the things that are not in our control will deprive us of a bright future. Many people have told me that I shouldn’t write about immigration because it’s a “cliche” in our current world. I can’t believe that they summarize all of those hard times that I’ve been through in one single word like this, but I am sure that this “cliche” story taught me the most important lesson of my life: if we consider all the aspects of our lives, we will always find a reason to have hope.

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