At Marrakesh, a sought-after Moroccan restaurant in Philly, I had the distinct impression that I was in the right place, and not just for my birthday. I felt like many of the decisions I had made over the past few months, such as my decision to transfer, my decision to come to Arcadia, my decision to accept a roommate request from a complete stranger, and my decision to keep going even when difficulties arose, made not only this night but this new chapter in my life possible.
Before I came to Arcadia I worked hard to get to a place where I could manage my social anxiety. I attended Howard Community College in Maryland, and there I was conquering challenges with more success more often. When I graduated I was excited but still afraid to take on new challenges, to push myself into areas I was genuinely curious about. Once I arrived at Arcadia, I found myself supported by professors and mentors who believe in me without any question. I found myself not defined by my struggles but by my strengths. For instance, the first time I used SEPTA, it was for “Introduction to Social Welfare.” I needed to visit a local organization that addresses a social issue I care about. Naturally, I was anxious but I had classmates and a professor, Dr. Doreen Loury, who were passionate about the work that is done and needs to be done for a better society. This sustained me and helped me to focus on what I was there to do instead of what I was afraid to do.
That night I did feel doubtful as my roommate Mika and I approached an hour of searching for a parking spot. After a few disappointments earlier in the day, I did not think I had the energy to walk into a restaurant I’d never experienced before in an area I hardly knew, especially not so long after our reservation. When I said we should consider a Plan B she, thankfully, refused. Soon we were there, washing our hands in rosewater, eating six courses of amazing food, watching a beautiful and talented belly dancer make the rounds to awe and embarrass less-talented patrons. We forgot about everything that happened up to that point and eased into the occasion. I left Marrakesh with a stuffed stomach, empty lungs (from laughing too hard), a mind full of new memories to treasure, and reinforcement of what I’ve continued to learn at Arcadia so far: When I don’t back down, I’m capable of great accomplishments, and even more than that, I’m capable of great happiness.
Photo by Two Eat Philly