Being born in Morocco and having to move as a teenager all the way across the world to New Zealand where I spent my youth has taught me the most important thing in life and that is how to adapt to changes that you didn’t plan for. I learned to adapt to changes even when this was the hardest things to do.
I was almost fifteen years old when my mom decided to join my dad in New Zealand. At the time my parents had been separated for almost fourteen years. My dad had left when I was a baby. I lived in Morocco with mom and my older brother and we had an amazing life living amongst our big traditional Moroccan family.
My mom is a strong hard-working woman. She always managed to bring home food, clothes and to cover the rent on our home. Sometimes she even managed to give us holidays. Despite the difficulties she faced being a single woman in a country where gender roles are much more defined and where the traditional views of a patriarchal society are quite prominent my mother managed to provide all we needed as children.
The day I moved to New Zealand was the day I met my dad after 14 years of separation. At the time it was very difficult to build a bond with a parent who hadn’t been present in my life. But surely over the years we got to know each other, and our relationship evolved and grew stronger.
The reason why I’m telling you about my little history is because it has shaped me to be the woman that I am today. My mother has always been an inspiration and a role model of how a strong woman can be. Moving to New Zealand to live with my father in a foreign place with a foreign culture and a foreign language have taught me the true meaning of change.
As a fourteen-year-old immigrant in a small town called Orewa, I was lost, I found it almost dreadful to adapt, to learn a new language and to make new friends with people who had a dissimilar perspective on life.
A part of my coping was that each day after school I would return home, lock myself in my room and translate movies, books, songs and write essays until I had grasped the new language. I was eager to make friends and the only way I could succeed was by learning English, so with determination I succeeded in this.
High school was not easy, I had to work twice as hard and learn twice as much to catch up to other students. But despite all the tough times I managed to make some great friends and get into the best university in the country.
I was naturally drawn to design, creativity, innovative ideas and so I decided to be an engineer. At the start I didn’t know what type of engineer I wanted to be. I spent my first year experimenting and again it felt like I had to adapt to a new atmosphere where all my classes were male dominated. Being the only girl in most of my classes created a new challenge for me which encouraged me to continue and excel even more. I felt that my challenge was to learn how to make myself be seen as an equal to my male colleagues.
As I entered my professional life, standing out from the crowd became my superpower. While studying my Master degree, I took on a job at a marketing firm in New Zealand where I naturally started to lead the social media team. I developed solutions for clients to improve their social presence. My multicultural background and past experiences as an immigrant facing constant changes in life had allowed me to understand their audiences and create content they can relate to.
After graduation I took a leap of faith and moved to London seeking more change. I had a month worth of living expenses and no job. I was able to find amazing work opportunities and pick one that suited my passion. I am a true believer of the universe aligning to help you achieve things that you truly desire when you embrace change, and accept the great lessons that life throws at you. Change and alteration has always been a big part of my life. How I have chosen to deal with change is connected to all my life’s lessons learned from past experiences and experiments with living.
Today is no different, as a young African, Arab woman living in the west, I continue to learn how to adapt and deal with changes. From what I have learnt in my personal and professional life sometimes adapting isn’t the answer. Leading the change can also allow us freedom and opportunity.