Nayla Kidd, the former Columbia University student who was presumed missing earlier this month, has finally spoken out at length about why she went off the grid and moved to Bushwick (shudder).
In a piece published by The New York Post on Sunday, May 29, Kidd provided a detailed account of her abrupt departure from Columbia, where she majored in engineering.
According to Kidd, her self-imposed disappearance—which included changing her number and her bank account, deleting her Facebook profile, moving into a new apartment near the Morgan L stop—was induced by “high pressure and unreasonable expectations.”
Kidd neglected to inform her family or friends about her life-altering decision (especially when it involves moving to the neighborhood that not even Girls’ Zosia Mamet can endure).
“I wanted the time to make sense of my situation alone and have the space to comprehend it,” Kidd explained. “I felt like sharing would force me to explain something I hadn’t even figured out myself. It wasn’t normal to just quit school. But I never expected it to get so out of hand.”
The letter, which opened in media res with Kidd’s reaction to the news that she had been declared a missing person, summarized the former college student’s penchant for independent thinking at a young age. The daughter of a single mother who worked as a cancer-research scientist at the University of Louisville, Kidd left her home state of Kentucky to attend a boarding school in California during her sophomore year.
But despite her early academic success and a full scholarship to the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia, Kidd “quickly went from star student to slacker,” citing feelings of alienation from other Columbia students and the faculty at large as the cause.
Kidd was also critical of Columbia’s particular academic culture, which she described as a cold, clinical environment.
“School just wasn’t interesting to me anymore because I didn’t have any close connections with my teachers,” she stated. “I felt like I had to choose between living a life I was passionate about and doing well in school. Even though I was wired to be a good student, I didn’t feel inspired.”
This existential ennui culminated in Kidd’s sudden vanishing act in late April, when she moved from Columbia’s Morningside Heights neighborhood to the East Williamsburg/Bushwick neighborhood, a place where my dad thinks I hang out in warehouses with lesbians named Tako. (This is mostly true.)
Kidd went on to recount how she was finally “found,” which also included a side of mansplaining NYPD officer, because of course:
About two weeks later, I heard a loud knock on my door.
“Are you Nayla Kidd?” one of the officers said sternly.
“Yes,” I replied.
“It’s the police. Can we come in?”
My jaw dropped to the ground.
“Yes,” I said sheepishly.
Three big cops came into my room.
“You know we’ve been looking for you nonstop for the past three days?” said Detective Alex Argiro, who had dark hair and a piercing stare.
At that point, I knew I needed to face reality. They told me since my mom wasn’t picking up the phone, it would be best for me to come to the 26th Precinct station house with them.
“Can you give me five minutes to get ready to go?” I asked.
I threw my hair up in a bun and put on my jacket and shoes, taking a few extra minutes to wrap my mind around facing my mom.
On the way there, I sat in the back seat of the cop car with Detective Argiro, half-listening while he attempted to give me life advice.
After a semi-awkward, semi-joyful reunion with her mother, Kidd was also informed that investigators had theorized that she was stripping for a living.
“An investigator told me you might be stripping. Even if you’re a stripper, you’re gonna be the best stripper out there,” she said to me.
I laughed and felt grateful for her support. And of course, that stripper tip wasn’t true.
As of now, Kidd has no plans to return to Columbia, and will instead focus on her modeling career and her other artistic pursuits.
And don’t worry, there were many life lessons involved in the making of this self-discovery. Sort of.
“I finally broke down because I was living a life I thought I should be living instead of living the life I want,” she concluded.
Contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image via screenshot/NYDN.