Amal Kharoufi

Amal Kharoufi

My name means “hope.” Whenever I tell people the meaning of my name it’s always the same line, “Wow, Amal that’s so powerful” or “That’s so beautiful”. I’ve always found that funny because if only they knew how I felt on a daily basis. I don’t have the luxury of being hopeful. That’s just wishful thinking.

As a kid, I went through the whole ‘good things would happen if I believed hard enough’. But that’s not how it works out. Unless you have an active role in your life nothing is going to get done for you.

I don’t believe in hope, I believe in myself and the things that I can accomplish.

I was eight when I first entered the foster care system. I moved from different homes a bunch of times and it was always just a back and forth thing. Throughout my entire life, I was moving from place to place. There were some places where I would only be there for two weeks and some places I’d be there for maybe like two years. When you move around that much, it’s hard to kind of plant your feet in the ground and get to know the place.

My favorite anime is called the Ancient Magus Bride.

I like the story because it’s about this girl who can see magical stuff, and it has a big impact on her life, not in a good way. She ends up being sold off in an auction to this mage who shows her a lot about life. She’s always closed off and not really herself, but throughout the story you see how she finds herself and finally finds the home that she’s been wanting for years.

I could be here all day talking about manga and anime to be honest. I like being able to escape from my reality and get into a new one.”

Growing up I was always so quiet and reserved and mostly kept to myself. When I had a problem or I had something going on I didn’t tell anybody. I just kind of kept going through life like that. 

Communication is horrible within the system. It’s like detangling Christmas lights. You don’t know who to talk to and you gotta go through all these people just to find out the person you were supposed to talk to in the first place was the first person you approached. It’s just annoying. And then you have workers changing all the time and people leaving, so that doesn’t help either.

Unless you speak up for yourself and say what’s going on, no one is going to worry about solving your issues. So once I figured that out, I started speaking up more.”     

Growing up in the system, you have to do a lot of things for yourself a lot faster than someone else who actually has the support. When I turned 14, I got a job immediately. I needed an ID, I needed to make sure I got my birth certificate, my social security card, and my passport. I’m currently working on getting my driver’s license. You’re always having to keep on top of the stuff. If I wasn’t in foster care, I’d probably ask my mother or father, or whoever was around me to help me with these things. I don’t have that support anymore, or at all.  It’s hard. You have to consistently do these things for yourself. You always have to think ahead and kind of better your future because you don’t have time to stop and smell the roses. The moment you do, everything just collapses.

I grew up in therapy, since I was 8. I was in and out of facilities and their process was to always have people in therapy. I was always talking to people about my feelings. And it started to feel repetitive and annoying to me. So having to restart the process whenever I moved or a therapist left, it felt frustrating to me.

Over the years, I just eventually decided that I just didn’t wanna do therapy anymore. Some things worked, I learned how to cope with my feelings more and not get angry over every little thing. To be honest, I haven’t really figured out how to deal with my emotions. I mean, I distract myself here and there to kind of push the feelings away.”

Comfort to me means being able to be somewhere and not feel anxious about everything around you. Growing up, I always moved place to place, so nothing ever felt like mine. After a while I stopped trying to make things mine because I knew I was going to move sooner or later.  I just want to be able to plant my feet and say, This is mine. I can stay here. You’re not moving Amal, you’re fine.

One thing I learned from this experience is that I don’t need people to be there for me. Growing up, I didn’t have a mother figure. I didn’t have a father figure or siblings around. I was always by myself. So I craved that type of affection and got it from the wrong places. You know, it really broke me. Eventually I realized, ‘You know what? I don’t really need this.’ I can love myself just as much as anyone else can. I can do just as much for myself and more than anyone else can do for me. It was hard figuring that out, and it took a while, but once I realized that, it opened up a lot for me.