Every so often, when I am sitting at home and drinking a cup of chamomile tea, I often wonder what my life would be like if the Soviet Union did not invade Afghanistan. See, my family fled the emerging war in Afghanistan during the 1990’s. They were forced to leave everything behind, whether that meant their beloved country, childhood photos, extended family members, or all their belongings. They were forced to seek refuge in unfamiliar lands and take with them only the thing with the highest importance, themselves. Sometimes they wish they had never left because leaving their country symbolized a lot more than just physical movement. It meant losing their culture, identity, way of life and perhaps even language or religion. They often question their decision, wondering if it was all worth it in the end. What if we were all better off in Afghanistan? What if moving to America meant losing our cultural identity? What if this move was not the best decision in the long-run?

Sometimes even I think about how my life would have been if they did not make that pivotal decision. I wonder if I would be the same person I am today, with the same morals, values and outlook on life. I wonder if I would communicate the same as I do now. Would I like the same music, or dress similarly? Perhaps if we stayed in Afghanistan, my brother and I might not have had broken Farsi and we could have been able to read and write Farsi proficiently. We might have also been much more in-tune to our roots and full of knowledge about our motherland. We might have had a different perspective about the world, especially about America. These questions would bother me a lot because I knew there was no concrete answer to them. However, I realized that life has its own way of explaining things and our job is to accept that sometimes life takes us to certain directions for a reason.

As I got older and a bit wiser I realized that the direction life has taken me is actually the best one. Instead of growing up in a war-torn country I was able to grow up in safety. I was able to utilize the opportunities available in America, whether that is pertaining to my education or my career to its full extent. In fact, growing up in the west made me truly appreciate the things I have because I knew I could easily be in a worse situation. Having the background that I had also meant carrying certain responsibilities on my back. I always knew that I had to do something for the people back home in my country therefore that motivated me to work hard, study hard and be the best version of myself possible. Sometimes I think that being far made me be a much more socially active and conscious individual. Perhaps I would not be as driven as I am today if I grew up in Afghanistan. I might have had other motives, such as dreaming of western life (as some do) or feeling extremely helpless and hopeless about my situation.

All in all, while my family thought that moving to America would be detrimental to my brother and I in terms of culture and identity, it actually allowed myself to admire my country and the strong people who risk their lives living there on a daily basis to an even larger extent. Me being far from my country inspired me to learn more about it and emerge myself into whatever that I was missing out on. It bonded me to my culture, identity, religion and afghan-lifestyle in a way in which my parents never would have envisioned. Never in a million years would they think that their kids would be so caring and concerned about a country that is thousands of miles away from them. I think this proves that life is an unexplainable journey and what you may think is negative at the time can one day turn around and become the most positively impactful event in your life. Who would have thought that the aftermath of war would end up so sweet?