The year is 2013, and the journal is full of manifestations and dreams.
This is a story about a 15-year-old Pakistani girl who had big dreams of making a change in the world.
She lived with her parents and three older siblings (two sisters and one brother). She belonged to a middle-class family, and her father was the family's sole earner.
As a young woman in Pakistan, there were many constraints in life. You weren't allowed to go out by yourself, and you couldn't get a job until after college graduation. Most women would go to college and get married immediately after. In Pakistan, women are generally considered the "Respect of the family," so they are protected as an asset/liability and frequently overprotected for the same reason. Women were also expected to handle the stereotypical roles in the household, and depending on the family, you didn't have a say in choosing your husband.
But she had other plans. She couldn't imagine living a typical housewife life even if she married the person of her dreams. In 2013, her family was going through a rough time. It broke her heart to see her parents suffer and still be unable to help them. There were endless nights full of tears and prayers.
Finally, one day in 2014, her family had a chance to move to the U.S., except her brother could not move due to immigration restrictions. She tried to convince her parents to move with her to the U.S so she could help them out, but her parents chose her brother over her. She was disappointed and heartbroken because she didn't expect this from her parents. She didn't even have the money to afford the ticket to the U.S., so she borrowed it from her uncle and used all her savings. She initially moved in with her uncle in New York, who she had never met before, but starting life in New York from scratch was too difficult, so she moved to Pennsylvania.
This was her first time leaving the country, but she wasn't afraid because she manifested this escape. There was a lot of ambiguity, but that didn't matter because her goals were clear. She moved to the U.S. with five hundred dollars and put $250 in her savings. She immediately got two jobs and enrolled herself in high school. Her sister moved to Pennsylvania with her in-laws later that year. She started living with her sister after they agreed to split the bills. Being in a brand-new country with no forehand knowledge of how things work was challenging, but she wasn't afraid. She grew up learning English, so language was never a barrier. She knew going back wasn't an option, so she worked hard, day and night.
She taught herself how to budget and manage finances. She networked and learned about investing. She graduated high school and then enrolled in a community college, but that didn't last long. She had to drop out after a year because she ran out of money. She took a year and a half break to save money for college. She worked three jobs, fixed her credit, got a car and an apartment, and finally enrolled in college that following spring semester.
She worked full-time and took classes full-time as a computer science major. She also managed to take advantage of the stock market drop in 2020 and heavily invested. She read multiple books on finances and consistently journaled to keep a clear vision of her goals while financially supporting her family back in Pakistan. She also interned twice while in college and working full-time.
Finally, she graduated and secured a full-time return offer from her internship. Years later, her parents regret not believing in that 15-year-old with a vision and imagine how different life would be if they had moved with her to the U.S. Even though she was never taught a single thing about finances, she managed to pay off her student loans within six months after graduation and stay debt-free.
One lesson we can learn from this short story is that all you need in life is to believe in your abilities and stay true to yourself. In our culture, women are held to higher standards than men, and there are more responsibilities on us, but still, many people underestimate our power. But if you set your mind to it, you can move mountains and become an example for future generations.
As for the girl, this is just the beginning. She plans to mentor young girls, create businesses, promote mental health culture in brown society, and cut out all toxic relationships.
By the way, that girl is me. My name is Zahra, and I just turned 24. If you have a growth mindset, you are on the right track so keep watering your mind.