Nayla Kidd wasn’t courageous, she ran away from her responsibilities

Police were searching for two weeks

Over the weekend, the New York Post published an interview they did recently with Nayla Kidd.

In case for some inexplicable reason your Facebook feed wasn’t totally inundated with pictures of her face in early May during finals, Nayla Kidd is 19-year-old sophomore in SEAS (well formerly, now, I suppose) who was having problems dealing with the all too familiar stresses of being at Columbia. She left school without telling any other living human where she was going, including her own mother, and proceeded to erase all means of which to ascertain her whereabouts. This included deleting her Facebook account, closing her bank account, and canceling her phone plan and getting a prepaid phone.

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After a missing person’s report was filed with the NYPD, she was located approximately two weeks later at an apartment on Seigel Street in Williamsburg, having used money she saved up from work study to pay the rent. In the article she claims her mother wasn’t angry or upset at her, and was actually very supportive. She now has no plans to return to Columbia and wants to continue on doing her own thing in Brooklyn.

Listen, I get it, I really do. College in general, especially a school like Columbia is not for everyone. And having difficulty adapting to the Columbia environment, where even the most intelligent and diligent among us still struggle, does not in any way diminish her intelligence, her intellectual curiosity, or the previous achievements she has earned to date. Many of us have awoken daily with feelings of “dread and doom”, so she is in very good company and I am sure we can all empathize with those feelings.

But we as Columbians would be nothing without our opinions. Hence I am here to give you my own. The opinions pertaining to Nayla Kidd are extremely polarized. You have one camp that is coming out in support of her quest to find happiness and escape despair. But on the other hand, the shade/slander being thrown at this girl are so real…and in my opinion very much so deserved.

Now, I can’t judge her too harshly, because at the end of the day she is 19 and knows basically nothing of the world given her actions. She also may have been suffering. I have also seen people say variations of how courageous she was for knowing herself and doing what was best for herself and blah blah blah… I am having a hard time taking these folks seriously. She ran away. She ran away from her life, from her commitments, from anyone who gave any semblance of a shit whether she was alive, from anyone who may have sacrificed to make sure she was able to attend a university like Columbia. She strolled around Brooklyn and drank coffee and looked at art while the NYPD was out looking for her and her mother lay awake at night wondering if she’s dead. That is the antithesis of courage. That should not be celebrated or applauded or respected in any way. I think any of us who have endured Columbia can empathize with how she felt but that doesn’t make her actions any more excusable.

Also, it is totally irresponsible to have the NYPD out on a wild goose chase searching for you when you are having a grand old time in Williamsburg. Literally thousands of people go missing each year in New York City, many of whom may have actually had something terrible become of them. This seeming profound lack of forethought for the consequences of just ghosting for a few weeks is troubling. Or maybe she just didn’t care that people who routinely discover the bodies formerly missing young women washed up on the bank of the East River, or in a shallow grave in some wooded area, or decomposing in some abandoned lot, would be away from their families and out searching for her. I think the prospect of that is most disturbing to me.

Just like many highly intelligent people our age, she didn’t give herself nearly enough credit for being as naïve as she actually is. So, I’m not sure who I take more issue with, a scared immature child who ran away to hide like a five-year-old because she was upset or the people who are making this out to be something more profound than that.

And I’m yet to hear about any statement from her thanking people for being concerned and posting photos of her. Or to the officers who wasted their time looking for her. Because as anyone with any kind of life experience knows, this world and the people who live in it owe you absolutely nothing, even being concerned about whether you are alive or dead.

Maybe this story will lead to a greater conversation about colleges and universities that perpetuate stressful cultures that would lead a young woman to do this. I believe this would be a better outcome than Nayla just finding her happy place (although there is much to be said for being able to achieve that).

Lastly, if what she said about her mother’s reaction is true, without knowing anything else about her, I must say that woman is a fucking saint with near infinite patience. I’m sure she is due to be canonized any day now.

Columbia University