The story I’m about to tell you is personal. With this story, I would like to tell you to keep on going. Don’t give up when you’re struggling. Try to embrace the positive energy, especially in these weird times. With this story, I would like to give you a brief look in who I am.
For 9 years long I lived in Sudan. I was 7 years old when the move took place. A young boy, unaware of what this might do to me. All I remember was that I wasn’t quite happy with the move. A new environment, new people, a new neighbourhood. Everything I knew, everyone I knew was gone.
At the beginning I thought it was temporary, just another vacation, later I started to realise that this wasn’t going to be another vacation. I kept asking my mother: when are we going back home, to the Netherlands. But at that time, I was too young to realise what I lost. I was just a young boy that wanted to live in a stress-free and stable environment.
The Path to Identity
I kept people at a safe distance, it was my strategy to survive. I held on to that strategy hoping one day this all would go away. I built a wall around me to protect myself. To protect me from the people around me. Not knowing the consequences this strategy might have in the future. Now about 14 years later, I began to be aware of what is happening to me.
This realisation started to take place about a year ago. I signed up for the study Social Work at the Hague University of applied studies. I had the feeling that I needed to change my attitude if I want to succeed. The first thing that came to mind was coming out of the silent corner and show people what I can do. Slowly I started coming out of the corner. It began in the group chat. I helped students out with whatever they needed. I even started to talk about my feelings with my mentor. I asked myself: I’m helping all these students, why am I not happy? She pointed out to me that the reason for my unhappy feelings might be because I give too much, I let people walk over my limits, I don’t stop for a second to take time and attention for myself. I started reflecting on the question of why I do what I do, where the attitude might come from, and what I can do to improve the situation I’m in.
I’m feeling lonely. I feel like I lost balance between intensity and rest. I don’t even know who I really am. I even feel lost inside. For me, it’s mostly because of the mask that I tend to wear. The mask is for me a way to keep people at a safe distance. The mask changes shape to suit the situation I’m in. I could radiate energy and happiness while I’m deep down feeling sad and lonely. Now the problem is that I don’t know who I am, I don’t know the person behind that mask. I wish I could make it all go away, to make it disappear. I know I can’t make the loneliness disappear, but I know I can find a way to accept it as the way it is now. With everything I’ve been through, all the ups and downs, I have the feeling that no one will understand me. Is it possible to be happy? To be accepted for who you are? I know it’s hard to look at yourself in the mirror. I know how it feels to be different.
For me to answer these questions I have yet to go through a lot of self-reflection, which I am currently working on.
The final message I want to give you is that it’s okay to struggle, I’ve struggled a lot, as you may have read above, and still struggle every day. It’s okay to sometimes feel lost. You don’t have to be perfect. It's your little imperfections that make you perfect. And finally, it’s okay to be different and it’s okay to be you.
By: Lwai Idries
Lwai is a second-year social work student at THUAS and is a student representative for the study. In his free time he likes to be creative exploring nature photography, painting, and listening to music. And he enjoys cycling.