Melbourne Beginnings: Nikita Santosh Naik

Presented in partnership with Study Melbourne, this annual storytelling competition is open to all international students living and studying in Victoria. This year, entrants were invited to write or create a visual work that shares their Melbourne story.

Winners will be announced at a virtual award presentation ceremony on Thu 21 Oct. Book your place here.

Vocational Education & Training Shortlist

Melbourne and Me by Nikita Santosh Naik

Every time I’m asked, “So where are you from?”, I feel the emotional weight of my answer “well I was born and brought up in Mumbai, but I feel  like I was brought up by Melbourne”. From 22 to 27, I feel like I have led the most eventful, formative 5 years. Every year I have had my tiny successes, new friendships, job opportunities, relationships, mourn my failures, heartbreaks, losses but this city has always been generous with its many warm embraces on cold, lonely nights.  It wasn’t always like this, it wasn’t always so warm and cuddly; this city has also tested my strength, my patience and most of all, my relationship with myself. You know when you’re a child, people always ask you what you want to be when you grow up, and I never had an answer for it, not until I was 22 and moved to Melbourne that I wanted to be a girl who could call this city her own.

Enough with metaphors and euphemisms, I think I should now start from the start so here goes, this, all you beautiful people, is how my story began.

I had 30 people to drop me off at the airport. My first international trip. This was in 2016, simpler times, we were allowed to have 30 people breathing over each other in a crowded, confined space. I say crowded and confined because it was Mumbai, and those are the only two adjectives that seemed fitting.  30 family members screaming, laughing, sobbing, hugging, and giving me advice. I stood there and thought to myself “God, this is an odd bunch but loving nevertheless”. I left the city knowing I was loved and cared for. And I felt peace in knowing that.

The first two years were a breeze, a cold, chilly breeze but a breeze nevertheless. I cried a bunch, crushed on a boy, made 3 new friends, explored the city and if I found the time, I studied. In a blink of an eye, it was graduation day. My parents flew down from India and in hindsight, that may have been the happiest day of my life so far. And also the last traditional milestone I hit.

Amidst all the job applications, the anxiety, the anticipation, the quarter life crisis, I found myself losing momentum. Things that once brought me joy, started feeling like tedious obligations. I worked my way through it all hoping the cloud would pass, and it did, momentarily.

We often celebrate the independence that adulthood brings but fail to address the loneliness that comes with it. The sudden lack of direction, the feeling of “what next?” hit me harder than all my friends because (to my detriment), I have never been a planner, I am still not.  I’ll write my story as I go, and it will always be unfinished.