On Nayla Kidd and Finding a Way Out

architecture-1391930_1920In mid-May I saw the Facebook posts about a black, female Columbia student (Nayla Kidd) who was missing. I said a prayer for her safety and hoped that she was okay. When I saw posts a few weeks later that she had been found alive and well, I was surprised and relieved because sadly that’s not how stories of missing black women usually turn out. On May 29th Nayla shared her story and decision-making in a New York Post article. While I saw a handful of Facebook posts affirming Nayla’s courage for walking away from an Ivy League school to pursue a career in music, I had a different reaction. As a therapists at a university counseling center I spend a lot of time helping young adults as they wrestle with questions about what is important to them beyond grades and academic success. I know that Nayla was not alone in her desire to escape because I have supported students who are questioning their place in a predominantly white university. I do not believe disappearing is a constructive way to get on a meaningful path. In addition to causing distress to people who cared about her and unnecessarily using resources (police department, search teams etc.) Nayla’s disappearance may have enabled her to avoid some difficult conversations that likely would have supported her personal growth. Continue reading “On Nayla Kidd and Finding a Way Out”