Azalia

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I’m Azalia although people call me Leah for short. I was born in Jakarta, Indonesia and moved here when I was about 7 or 8 years old due to religious issues escalating more and more back home. The thing was that my father is Chinese and did not practice Islam, while my mother is Indonesian and is Muslim. My father would often not understand or support us, and this became very difficult for my family overall. Despite this, my mother would continue to guide me to Islam. We would go to the masjid to learn Quran, Islamic studies, and other classes. My dad didn’t understand this and was against us spending too much time at the mosque, especially when we came home late after classes.

With only $80 in her pocket, my mother chose to come to America as a single mother with 3 children.

With only $80 in her pocket, my mother chose to come to America as a single mother with 3 children. I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult it was for her and I know her sacrifices, struggle, and immense determination to provide for her children both financially and Islamically is something I can never live up to. Back in Indonesia, my mother had a high-status government job and was very well known. Coming to the states meant that her degree no longer applied, which meant she had to work twice as hard to provide for us and make sure we had a stable life.

The interesting thing was that, despite all this, I never caught her complaining about her struggles. She was also the greatest influence for bringing me closer to Islam. She signed me up for classes here as well, brought teachers home to teach me Arabic, and helped me become the person I am today.

IMG_8959.jpgI have been lucky enough to have more than one positive female influence in my life. I especially noticed all the support and love from other women on my journey to become a nurse. I recently graduated from nursing school and had a great deal of women in my circle. My older sister has been a huge inspiration for me, as a fellow nurse herself. She has always been able to provide great insight and advice for me. Aside from my sister, I would also be nowhere without my amazing, hard-working, and go-getter friends from nursing school. All of us have helped each other study throughout school and are still together in applying to jobs now. Wherever we go, all of us are in the same boat!

I’ve learned, both through my mother and other female influences in my life, that no one else can make you feel inferior other than yourself. As women we tend to feel insecure about ourselves- constantly. We compare ourselves to other women, either on social media, careers, or in day-to-day life. What we don’t realize is that we do twice as much, sacrifice a great deal, and we still don’t feel enough for ourselves. Remember – the only person who can make you feel less is you.

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Photography by Iman