God! What is wrong with me, why do I feel like an outsider
everywhere I go?
August 14, 2003
In 1982, I met my friend Mike near the local playground. He
was a typical White boy with red hair and lots of acne. I remember
going to his house for the first time and his dad asked me, an
8-year-old kid: "What do you think
of the hostage crisis?"
Instead of asking me about school,
what kind of sports I play or if I like to play with bugs, he
asks me a political question. I was not sure if I should give him
political analysis of the hostage situation or just kick him
in the nuts. When I heard the word hostage out of his mouth,
I remember crapping my pants. Later on, Mike was telling
me that his mom was frightened when he came over to our house because
thought my parents might hold Mike, the red head, hostage.
Mike would come over for dinner sometimes and once my mom prepared
was a beautiful Kodak moment when Mike had raw onions in one hand
and a dough (plain yogurt drink) on the other hand while
chewing on kabob. His mom was right, if that wasn't a hostage
crisis, I don't know what was. Hostage crisis or not, we had a
good time. But I was at such a young age that the terrifying political
burden of the real hostage crisis in Tehran made me feel like
For the past 18 years of living in
America, I have felt like an outsider every second of the hour.
Even though I grew up here, I never felt like I belonged to this
Southern crowd where I lived south of the Mason-Dixon line. I
had plenty of Caucasian friends and involved myself with every
of school including wrestling and politics. What did I do wrong?
Nothing. My culture is slightly different from the rest of the
kids and I feel like an outsider because I have difficulty relating.
Apparently, some Southern folks think I'm an Arab and need
to take a long shower to wash the sand off my body. I would have
known this useless fact if I had stayed in my circle of people
and avoided contact with this new society. It was probably a mere
and the guys did not mean any harm but I felt a dagger ripped through
my chest. The challenge to see beyond this joke is probably what
every immigrant must face. The more I hear these kinds of jokes
and comments, the more I feel like an outsider.
These are times when I wish I lived in my own country, where
everybody looks like me, speaks my language, and knows my name,
Farid not Fred. I am not an outsider
in Iran and actually part of everybody else's lifestyle, culture,
and appearance. I
decided to go to Iran and cash in my chips.
Arriving in Tehran, I noticed I was no longer a minority with
dark hair and a uni-brow. I have dark skin and so do the majority
the people in the airport. After spending a week with family and
friends, little did I know that I would start feeling like an outsider.
I had a difficult time understanding their jokes, watching their
favorite television shows, breathing their polluted air, bargaining
before buying almost anything, and not being able to watch ESPN
Sports Center each night. God! What is wrong with me, why do I
feel like an outsider everywhere I go?
Please, let everyone know that first generation immigrants go
through the most grueling psychological turmoil compared to the
other people staying in their own cultural environment. I am not
frustrated but I am just tired because I want to belong somewhere
and I want to be able to latch on to a society that brings
This reminds me of my dog. Our dog was not allowed inside our
house so I felt sorry for him. I decided to build him a dog house
order for him to avoid those rainy days. We built him a dog house
in the backyard, but he refused to sleep inside. He would sleep
right on the edge of his house and sometimes sneaked his head inside
when it was really cold.
I want to sleep like my dog, where I would be able to sleep on
the edge of America and Iran's border and every morning I
would choose to either step in the world of Caucasians or Iranians
so that I can have my ideal and happy yet unstable life as native
or an immigrant.
Remember to take a long shower to wash off that sand.