Sunday, July 24, 2011

27, Dazed and Confused

My 27 birthday came and went and to put it simply, it was da bomb (90's throwback lingo!). I spent the first day gallivanting around on the Alameda county fairgrounds with my man, eating copious amounts of oversized foods and going on rides that made me want to throw up. It was great. My birthday gathering consisted of an eclectic mix of wonderful folks who came together for a potluck where people really delivered (fresh baked fudge chocolate cookies? mini fresh baked love muffins? heavenly). My favorite part was where I blew out my birthday candles with a gaggle of my friends kids...very cute moment.
But honestly being 27 is anti-climatic. It's the age that leads up to that dreaded 3-0, but other than that it really doesn't seem that significant. I mostly feel like "I'm 27, how come I don't feel like an adult". Which I don't, I have adult responsibilities and expectations but I am amazed by just how immature I feel. Weren't things supposed to change as I grew older? Where is the maturity, the insight, the confidence, the wisdom?

This is my 27 year old wisdom: I don't know shit. And when I think I do, I'm just fooling myself.

There, the enlightened statement of the year. I think that this feeling is not unique to me by any means. It is a sentiment that is carried by many in my generation; by the overgrown kids who are still figuring out who they are and what they were meant to be, the ones who are living with their parents because the economy just sucks that badly and the others who have dreams but no gameplan. I look at some of my peers, the ones who successfully graduated law school or medical school and I see the shattered dreams of my parents who are dismayed at my lack of a masters degree.  Of course I am happy for my successful friends, but part of me just wants to kick pebbles in frustration. I wanted to be a doctor, I was Pre-Med for most of my undergraduate career, but that imploded, I am just not analytical and good at numbers. I wanted to go to law school, and I worked my ass off to again have that dream implode. People tell me that I can still go after that dream, but seriously...yea right.

I can relate...
Failing sucks, disappointment is even harder to deal with. The disappointment of my parents sure, but the disappointment in myself is perhaps the worst part. Where is my place? Where is my career headed? Is changing the world just some crazy pipe dream of an idealistic brown girl who looks to the stars but just falls on her face? I've started to do some consulting for non profits, which is sort of cool. I get freedom to do work I care about, and even have the space to be creative. But to what end? It's not a solid defined career path, like being a doctor, nurse, lawyer, teacher, chef, tattoo artist, circus clown etc.

I want to help people, my passion lies within the field of human rights and it always has been. I wanted to heal people as a doctor, and travel to third world countries to help those who had the least access to health care. That didn't work out. I wanted to be an attorney that stood up for the rights of people who were denied justice due to their economic status, skin color, ethnicity or all of the above. That didn't pan out either.

Oh the dreams I had (Disclaimer: this is not me, but close enough)
But what I have been good at since I was a child was art, writing and poetry. I never saw any of those things as skills, just as something I was good at on the side of my efforts to want to become a doctor. Growing up with Bangladeshi parents, art was never encouraged as anything more than something that was fun to do.

Now at 27 I've decided to stop fighting to accomplish things that I am just not good at. I am passionate about human rights and I love art, so now I am combining the two via blogging, photography and self initiated projects that I am passionate about and that may be beneficial to others someday.

I might fail at all of that, which is a very scary thought. I am envious of you out there that have worked hard to get a stable career, to get an education that can propel you towards a decent income and stability. But for the others out there who are still figuring out their direction in life, we're in the same boat. I hope that we can all inspire each other to follow our passions, wherever they may lead.
same sinking boat?

I am doing what I love, who knows where it will lead. What will I feel like at 28? at 30? 40? Somehow I have a feeling that I may not know anymore than I know now, but hopefully if I stay true to my goals, my dreams will come true.

And hopefully so will yours.

This is my hopeful really

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Fourth of July!!!

Ooooh!! Aaaahhhh!!
Fourth of July is here and I am excited to be leaving my home soon to attend a BBQ and watch fireworks in San Francisco. I haven't really watched an Independence Day celebration in the Bay Area yet, I usually go with my mother to watch fireworks every year, it's been a tradition of sorts. I picked up an intense love of fireworks from my mother, who excitedly took me to any 4th of July fireworks show she could find as I was growing up. My family and I moved often, but regardless, my mother would find those fireworks and she would add her own "ooh, ahhh!!" soundtrack every time the lights burst above us.

I can't..too cute...Mongolian Baby!!
On the Fourth of July, I am reminded of the cultural diversity that the United States encompasses, because to me that is what the United States is about. Yes there is controversy regarding human rights issues found in immigration and in the racial inequities of our criminal justice system; but there are also aspects of hope, beauty and yes freedom within the United States. An example of this was this past Saturday, when I attended a Mongolian Naadam Festival in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Naadam, as a participant explained to me, is a summer festival that is a big part of Mongolian culture. The day was pretty epic, with people walking around in beautiful, extravagant outfits and a skit taking center stage with masks, dancing and booming music to go along with the action. I took lot of picture of cute babies in traditional clothes, and ate some amazing roasted lamb and traditional fried dumplings called buuz which were ridiculously good.

::gasp:: Get in Ma belly!!
As I watched the festival, I reflected upon how lucky I was to be in a diverse place like the Bay Area, to learn directly about different cultures that I had been unfamiliar with before (seriously, I really didn't know too much about Mongolian culture till that day, so it was great learning experience!).
My days with the Bengali Students Association at Rutgers University, @ our annual cultural show Tigerfest
My old home, the NJ/NYC Metropolitan area was similar in this respect as I learned of so many different cultures through my friends and during my time at Rutgers University, where I would attend cultural events representing many different areas of the world.

Aztec dancers at CA state capital on Immigrant Day 2011
We are lucky to have this in the United States. Here, people can have festivals, wear cultural clothes and dance and worship in the way they choose. Yes it's not perfect, yes there is xenophobia, Islamaphobia and bigotry, but we can still practice and express our cultural identities. That is a wonderful aspect about being an American. There are so many other areas of the world where this kind of expression is unheard of or even illegal. In Saudi Arabia for example, you cannot enter the country if you are Jewish (or ride planes going through the country for that matter), and women cannot move freely outside of their homes. In China, there are severe crackdowns on many different groups whom the government deems as undesirable or culturally subversive.
Mongolian festivals, Burmese Festivals, Bengali cultural dance performances, Aztec dancers and so many other examples of cultural expressions that I have seen and experienced make me feel very connected to my fellow human beings. I cherish this and I cherish that we have the freedom to show off our cultures and integrate into American life as well. It's not always perfect, but it can be there for us to appreciate.

Happy Fourth of July!!