First Generation Immigrants

Afifa Zaheer
3 min readMar 24, 2019

“Do you miss home?” she asked while steaming the milk. “I really don’t know,” I whispered while playing with my fingers, “A part of me does and then there is a tiny part of me that abhors thinking about it.”

Quite a few times people look at me in bewilderment and ask if the process of immigrating was difficult on me. My initial thought is “I haven’t thought about it that much,” but my response is always “Yes!”

And now that I come to think of it, I know why.
Immigrants don’t have the “time” to think about their displacement. Walking into a whole new world that is filled with exciting cultures, ideas and obstacles; you just think of a start. What I mean by that is, you don’t have time to ponder over how difficult it has been or could be, but how to give meaning to this new chapter. It’s like you are given a blank sheet, all you know is that it has to be filled with words. What words? Doesn’t matter. So, you begin writing, without putting much thought into it. And it’s not until you’re three paragraphs into it that you begin to understand the meaning of it. That’s when you rearrange words, eliminate unnecessary details and write what you actually desire to.

As a first generation immigrant, I have not only faced the struggle of finding my identity among people who are just as lost, but also of making sure I don’t uproot myself whilst in search of an anchor. There were days when I had no sense of direction or willingness to do anything at all, but even then I found myself lingering. During those days, my father always said, “Remember, you have to let these emotions fade on their own accord. If you try to rush through this process of metamorphosis, you’ll end up hurting yourself.”

Friends, people, colleagues and so many other things walked in and out of my life as they pleased during my quest. It ached me at first, but eventually that pain diminished. I found solace in my job, at becoming better and holding onto any opportunity that came my way. Whoever I am, wherever I am and whatever I have, is all because I gave into life’s timing. So, listen my fellow friends who are thinking of immigrating, or have already immigrated and are undergoing the process of settling in, don’t let the fear of unknown steer you. Just begin walking, the rest will come to you.

I am a hybrid of two cultures, nations and values. And I feel no shame in admitting that, it’s a part of me. It defines who I am. Do I feel like an outsider sometimes? Of course I do! It’s the part of the package. But then again, life is a vicious cycle of changes pouring in. The sooner you let those changes absorb into your life, the faster the healing becomes.



Afifa Zaheer

Writer | Poetess | Financial Consultant. A South-Asian Woman Mastering the Art of Metamorphosis as an Immigrant.