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Here we go again. I bid my friends farewell, only to be left lonely and bewildered in a far off place consumed by 20,000 strangers and dozens of languages, all different than mine. A test of life I was inadequately prepared for, it verged on being a disaster. At only 15, I not only had to construct a personality bold enough to survive in this harsh and “foreign” world, but to also stay true to myself. Tired of being invisible in the school hallways and eating alone at the cafeteria, I often found myself retreating to the library, hiding behind faceless books. And there it was, besides classic literature and theoretical physics: Vogue. The world tells us not to judge a book by its cover, but how could I not; it was fabulous. …….
Like any love, it was ridiculous, inconvenient and consuming; but it was worth it. Soon I found myself bonding with other students at my school through our common love for fashion. I had no idea what I almost found therapeutic, would have such an impact on my creativity as well as academic performance. I refused to stop until my assignments were a “fashionable statement”, much like my looks. Assisted by true self- expression through this art, and my academic accomplishments, I was able to reach an ideal where my only competition was from within, and my social hierarchy as extensive as Blair Waldorf’s. Unfortunately my father’s military career demanded that we move again.
Still juggling course books with fashion magazines, I set out to give that same opportunity to my new classmates. The opportunity to create something truly magical: clothes, editorial pieces, and even memories! But coming from a conservative country, my fashion choices were often labeled controversial, and ‘not manly enough’. Soon I recognized that founding this fashion society at my school needed to have a much deeper objective; breaking stereotypes around men in fashion.
Realizing its importance, it’s something I wish to share.As a child of a military officer, I found my life often plagued by precariousness. But at the end of the day, it all comes down to “for whom are you willing to leave everything behind?” For my father, it was his country. For his family, it was him. So we moved and moved again, to dangerous mountains, and to deserted, operational areas. Imagine your life being shaken to its core every year, reducing it to nothing but yourself, feeling vulnerable, empty and out of place. It felt like every time we moved, I was leaving a part of myself behind and was forced to create a new “me”, suited for our new home.That said, I also consider myself lucky enough to experience various new cultures and communities. And I believe our interactions with different people are what define our personalities. For me, that would be thousands of interactions, including ones with the Arabian Sea at the south, and the K-2 in the north. Soon I recognized that I was never losing parts of myself, I was evolving into the person I am today.I admit it’s tempting to wish for the perfect parent or the perfect outfit or some stability and clarity about the future. But maybe the best any of us can do is not quit, play the hand we have been given, and accessorize the outfit we have got.
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