Abrar's Portfolio
Language & Literacy Narrative

Language & Literacy Narrative

                           The Zoological Garden

      ​We all stood outside those doors, waiting to set foot inside the place we would call “home” for the next four years. Yes, we’ve been to this place before, but this time, we were alone. I observed a little Kingfisher building a nest while patiently waiting and thought of the advice my closest friend gave me, “Be yourself.” Right now, it feels so challenging to achieve that. It was as if we were all just a bunch of meerkats on the Serengeti, with our heads sticking out of the sand, just waiting. Freshman year was a blur. The same daily routine: waking up, going to school, coming home, going to bed, and repeating. I quickly noticed the cliques in school, or as I like to call it, “The Zoo.” There were the hyenas, who always covered up their tears with the most boisterous of laughs. The zebras, who all fancied themselves with the same designer clothes. The kangaroos, who always bounced around from class to class. High school is like a zoo; we were all just a bunch of animals trying to figure out where we fit in. 

           ​After a few weeks, most other first-year students became acclimated to their new way of life. However, for me, it was quite a difficult journey. The transition from middle to high school was one that I anticipated so dreadfully. Growing up in a small neighborhood in Bangladesh, I came from a middle school with no more than 200 students. To make things worse, English is not my first language and this would be the first time my best friend and I would be separated, which means that I would no longer be with someone there to greet me every morning during the first period and with whom I shared most of my adventures. The issue isn’t fitting in so much as recognizing and embracing the place you have been given. In a day and age where society places labels on you faster than it allows change, it’s pretty hard to choose the label you want or feel you deserve. I decided that being loyal to who I really am would be my best chance of success in the “real world,” in contrast to the majority of impatient teenagers who appear to need to undergo physical or social changes merely to feel “accepted.” I came to learn a language that is not just a means of communication but also an understanding into other cultures and beliefs. As the years passed, my English continued to improve. 

         I decided to look for answers, or better yet, for hope, when I became dissatisfied with my life’s purpose, just like any other puzzled person would. Religion has the oddity that all gods exist only to restore that hope, regardless of who you worship. Because I was born and bred a Muslim, I thought that the only way to regain hope was to lift my hands to the sky and ask the almighty God, “Why am I here?” I realized that you must seek transformation from the inside with each prayer and Quran recitation. At the same time, you travel to school by train rather than something that shows up at your door and presents itself to you. I felt the need to overcome my shyness, and the first significant step in doing so would be the time that I decided to join clubs in our school. At first, it was just a silly idea, but if it weren’t for silly ideas, we’d still be a bunch of cavemen. So with each new activity I did in the club, I slowly felt the confidence I had lacked that first day of the school building itself up within me. I started interacting with students of all grades and cultural backgrounds.   
          Resolving the problem has allowed me to see things I previously would not have. The degree of patience I’ve developed may be one of my best qualities. We should stop labeling individuals and give them the freedom to pursue their goals. Labeling individuals overpowers them with hope, and if life is meaningless without hope, is life worth living?
        After a year and a half of living behind the shadows, I have found my place in “The Zoo.” I was a caterpillar taking refuge in my cocoon, afraid of being mislabeled by society. I am a butterfly, proud of the changes I have gone through because, as the great poet Maya Angelou said, “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”