Humans of SCSU: The power of expression


Melanie Espinal – General Assignments Reporter

    Finding an outlet is important for Freshman Maya Obeid. At the age of 18, Obeid feels comfort in knowing that she has a strong voice.

    This voice did not come easy for Obeid, who as a teen is constantly weaving in and out of two lives: her family life and the life she shares with friends and others at school.

    Being daughter in a first generation “fresh off the boat” Syrian family, she said, affected how she looked at the world, and how she looked at herself.

    On one side of her life, she said, she is sitting down with her family smoking hookah and talking about politics, on the other side she is openly gay with her friends and girlfriend.

    This, she said, is not typically what Syrian parents allow.

    While she came out to some family members about her sexuality, as well as her struggles with anxiety and mental illness, she said some are still not ready to be confronted with those parts of her identity.

    Obeid, who had the opportunity to stay for three months at a time each year in Syria, was able to appreciate and maintain her family’s native tongue.

    “We used to go to Syria every summer,” Obeid said, “before the war.”

    On her right arm is a tattoo in Arabic which reads “Mind Over Matter,” a saying she said represents her troubles with anxiety and helps her deal with them.

    An anxiety which often puts her in a constant state of feeling closed in, she said.

    “It’s the worst feeling in the world,” Obeid said, “lying about 90 percent of what happens in your life to your family.”

    This, she said, is why writing has always been so important to Obeid. Through writing she had the opportunity to explore parts of herself and express it to people in a way that she said she cannot do through conversation.

    It helped Obeid especially when she first came to Southern.

    “There was an environment here I couldn’t tap into,” Obeid said.

    Obeid said she had trouble adjusting to Southern and got really depressed because she was not sure college was for her.

    Although Obeid loves to learn, and loves discussing world issues, she said she does not like what comes with the package: such as drinking pressure and monotonous prerequisite courses.

    The alternative scares her too much, Obeid said, because she is afraid of not finding a successful job without a degree.

    “If you’re not in college what do you do,” Obeid said, “society doesn’t give you many options.”

    The best lesson Obeid said she has learned is that no matter what you do, or what people think, who you are will never go away.

    Obeid said you have to love who you are because at the end of the day people die alone.

    So although it can be hard to maintain them, Obeid said she loves both sides of her double life.

    “I know who I love, and why I love them,” Obeid said, “and that’s all that matters.”

Photo Credit: Melanie Espinal – General Assignments Reporter

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