Theater saved my life in so many ways as a teenager. It brought my life purpose and meaning.

My teenage years were strange just like any other teenager. I had some great times yet some dark times. During my high school year, my family was going through this odd transition. My siblings and I were all growing up and heading towards our chosen destinies. It was a hard transition for all of us, especially my parents. My dad was leaving his job of twenty years to start a business with his older son who had a successful career as an X-ray technician. My other brother was starting a business with my uncle. My other two brothers were working alongside their older brothers. My sister was on her own journey and I was overwhelmed. There were all of these positive things happening to my family but at the same time, there was so much drama. It felt like every week there was another problem. It was stressful.

On top of it all, my oldest brothers and my father were on my case about everything. If I was on the internet too long or if I was five minutes late from school. I could hear them talking about me at night. I would sneakily listen from the hallway. I was driving by the end of Jr year and they were thinking of taking away my car. I felt like I had no privacy and I always had to watch my back. I wasn’t doing anything wrong but they made me feel like I was.

Things got worse for me when my ex-best friend, Neda, and I got into a huge fight. We stopped being friends. It was my first heartbreak. I cried in front of my family which made me feel weak. My entire family knew her and was wondering what was going on. The worst part was that I didn’t feel safe telling them. My second oldest brother, Omar, kept bugging Neda about it and she told him what happened. Neda wanted to date a boy and I told her not to. My family was so strict already and if they found out that Neda had a boyfriend then they wouldn’t let me hang out with her anymore. I didn’t think this boy was worth us losing our friendship. I felt like she didn’t care about me. At the same time, who was I to tell her what to do? I was scared of losing my best friend and at the same time, I didn’t trust this guy. I remember the first Friday that we didn’t hang out. I was sitting in my room wondering what to do and trying so hard not to text her. Meanwhile, she was out there living her life with her boyfriend and her other friends. I had no one. I ended up reading a book called Dear John and ordering a pasta bowl from Dominos. The book really helped me forget my sorrows. It felt like the end of the world. It was hard to breathe and I was just sad. I loved her so much. Truly, there is nothing like a best friend.

During that time, I was hanging out with my cousins a lot. My sister had just gotten engaged and my brother was getting engaged. These were all big changes in my life. We spent a lot of time together and I developed a bond with my little cousin, Elias.
Three months after Neda and I ended our friendship, she reached out to me. She said it ended with that guy and she apologized. To be honest, I was completely out of line in this whole situation. I should have never told her what to do but I was selfish and I didn’t want to lose my best friend but I ended up losing her anyway. We reconciled but things were definitely different.

To top it off, my brother, Yama, was drinking heavily. He would come home every night drunk. He would try to stop drinking but it was just too hard.

It was painful. All of it. The good and the bad.



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