If you want to be great you have to do two things: 1. Surround yourself by greatness, and 2. Always learn. This idea of being a lifelong learner is what makes so many immigrants so successful. When you’re an immigrant in another country it completely humbles you. Whether you have a college degree or not, if you speak with an accent most people will doubt your credibility. Most immigrants move to another country alone or with a spouse in hopes of a better life. While people that are born in a country and also raised there, they have the benefit of having family at any given turn and for all of life’s hiccups and connections, immigrants don’t have that, and need to build it all from scratch. Immigrants are humbled from the beginning, and every time someone laughs at the way they mispronounce something, they are always learning and adjusting their skills to better their life, and while they are doing that and moving forward, many of us are staying comfortably in place, stagnate.
If you’re not already pissed at me for what I have written, then brace yourself because this might just be the twig the breaks the camel’s back. WE NEED MORE IMMIGRANTS.
See in countries like America and Estonia (I’m only picking on America and Estonia because these are my homes) the locals and the citizens are becoming a little too comfortable. They are becoming complacent in their 9-5 jobs, in middle management, with a decent retirement plan, and aren’t really learning any new skills. (*This idea is a generalization and is not reflective of the full populations) So when an immigrant comes in, one that has fought, literally has the blood, sweat and tears of their struggles and their parent’s struggles, to get to said middle management position and then get promoted over you, someone that has been there for some years just plugging and chugging away at your daily task, you get mad. You then say immigrants are given free passes and are stealing your jobs because it is easier to blame a random person, who you don't know, than to look inside yourself.
I’m going to let you in on a little immigrant secret. Our grit comes from the idea that we essentially have no safety net, whatever decision we make we have to endure those consequences good or bad and move forward. My parents for example, their retirement plan is my sister and I, they have put everything: time, money, effort, and their youth into giving my sister and I a better future, so you better believe that I am willing to work twice as hard and not complain because I know where I stand, where I came from, and what happens if I don't accomplish my goals. So that immigrant that just passed you, did so because you lost your grit and if you want to get back your grit, you need more immigrants and you need more competition because you also need that push to get out of your comfort zone and feel the healthy pressure that makes you want something more. Competition makes you hungry, competition brings out the best in you, and competition is capitalism.
Most countries believe in capitalism and capitalism is all about competition and supply and demand, so essentially if you have someone that is willing to do better quality work for a better price you’re going to choose them, assuming the other person isn’t a Rockefeller or Kennedy. Essentially immigration is the business of people. So while right now immigrants are the hardworking, grit fueled, dream chasers, this doesn’t have to stay as such. If enough citizens begin to feel as those the balance has been turned out of their favor they shouldn’t get mad, and scared, and fearful. The citizens need to become capitalist and learn skills that’ll improve their work and passions and essentially give them their grit back.
Life is all about balance and while sometimes you might be the smartest, funniest, strongest person in the room, other times you might not be, and when you’re not, don’t get scared and mad and want to kick all the immigrants out, no. Sit back, gather your thoughts, learn something, humble your ego, and then get better, always get better. Continue to fuel the competition, so when immigrants think they’ve “finally made it” you can pop up and give them a run for their money.
While this won’t be the end all and save all on the topic of immigration, in fact, this is only the surface, and something I think I will continue adding too from my experiences. I hope it makes a dent in at least one person, and instead of fear toward another person or culture they would rather try to embrace them with curiosity, because in the end of the day we’re all human, and we just want to be accepted. And me, just maybe I'll accept that I am a permanent immigrant and in a way if makes me a citizens of the world, and that sounds beautifully to me.
No photo for fear, because we don't need to manifest it, but rather forgive it and let it go.
I understand why people fear immigrants, sometimes they look different than you, or speak another language in front of you that has you worried, “are they talking about me?” or maybe they cook with ingredients and spices that you’ve never heard of and “that’s just weird, ew.” Fear is rooted from the idea of not understanding and it is easier to be fearful and maybe even to get mad, than to accept that maybe you can be more open or learn something new about someone else. Because why should you change or learn anything new it’s your country right? No, wrong.
Immigrants are just the change that we need to make things better. For example, when I look at a country like Estonia it baffles me that they are so afraid of immigration, if anything they should be ushering in immigrants with open arms, there are only 1.5 million of them and if their culture doesn’t get new blood, eventually they’re going to die out. The younger generations will want to move abroad for more opportunities and when the older generations pass, then what? Instead of standing at the boarders arms crossed and refusing to allow anyone in that doesn’t speak about the hardest language ever, why not open your boarders to people that are excited to come to your country and want to learn about your culture and your language.
Yes, there will be changes. I am not naïve. Immigrants do just bring themselves, they bring their memories and their cultures too, but what is so harmful about someone bringing their culture? The more cultures that arrive, in a way the less you have to travel? You get to experience the best parts about people’s cultures through their showcases, foods, stores, events, and if you can’t afford travel, you’ll still feel like you got the see the world, but never had to get on the plane.
We need to let go of this idea of wanting to be the strongest, smartest, funniest person in every room we are in. When we are constantly the best in every way than we stop learning, and that's not the end goal. The only way that you continue to learn post school is by putting yourself into situations where you are out of your comfort zone and forced to learn. The reason to be a lifelong learner is why we are on earth, we all need to let our narcissism and hubris chill for a minute and humble ourselves.
Now don't get me wrong. I don't live in a cotton candy filled world where racism doesn't exist, it does and while a good portion of the people that dislike immigrants do so, due to racism, I think even racism is rooted in fear. The fear that someone that doesn't look like you that you are taught to hate, might not actually be that person, and they might be better at a certain skill than you are. I don't know how to undo years of taught hatred and racism, I don't, but I think it is something if we can all recognize we can begin to be conscious of, and call it out, and stand with and on the side of those that have the fear and hatred placed on them.
I’ve been thinking about writing this piece for a while, and I figured why not now? I am just laying around waiting for my face mask to dry. Rather write than try to start my budding career as a Insta story comedian, ya feel?
The idea of being an immigrant is something that I consider to be a part of my identity and something that has contributed to me becoming the person you know today. Being an immigrant has given me my grit, it has given me an edgy, and the passion to prove to myself that I can accomplish the “American Dream.” I am literally waiting for the day that I have “made it” and can caption a photo, any photo, “not bad huh, for some immigrants,” like literally WAITING, and partially because of that, I take being an immigrant very seriously. Up until recently I considered my definition of being an immigrant simple, I was an immigrant in the US, document wise, but unless you really knew, you wouldn’t have really known. However, by spending some time abroad, in Europe, my idea of being an immigrant has slightly changed.
The reason for this is in America, where I have lived for 20 years, I speak the language perfectly, and am immersed in the culture, I know the slang, I get the jokes, but by rule of the government I am still an immigrant. I have my green card, and because of that I can’t vote, hell my dad even came to the US on a refugee visa, and while most people would never guess my immigrant status off of first impressions, when they do find out, there is a little shift in their attitude. I can’t describe it, but it is something and it comes with comments like, “oh so it must have been easier for you to get into college than…” “yea but do you even pay taxes?” and “every school needs an Eskimo.” I realize that to some friends I am that token immigrant friend, you know the friend’s that voted for Trump, knowing his stance on immigration, but then they use me as a cop out, “like I’m not racist, I support immigration. One of my friend’s even has her green card.” To clarify I pay taxes and having immigrant status didn’t give me a free pass into college, I still have loans and by no means did I get into my dream school. Don’t get me wrong I love FSU now, but it took a while to get there.
On the other hand, I am Estonian, born and raised, and that is the country that holds my citizenship. However, I could not feel like more of an immigrant. I speak with an accent, a very heavy one, and often mix in some English words because I forget the Estonian counterparts, I don’t know the culture, I don’t know the slang very well, and I can’t differentiate between the 8 different political parties there, which in my defense for a country that has 1.5 million people 8 political parties seems excessive. In Estonia I get comments such as, “you have a strange accent, you’re not from here right” “you’re living in Estonia you really should type in Estonian” and just the overall doubt in my ability. This overall doubt in my ability comes from the fact that I speak with an accent, so family and strangers question my intelligence and credibility just because I forget a word or two or it takes me longer to explain my idea, so they feel the need to tell me that maybe it’s too difficult for me to live in Estonia and I should just go back to the US.
In a time where the world is beginning to focus more on nationalism and anti-immigration, my status of essentially being a permanent immigrant gets to be frustrating. I find myself wanting to constantly scream, “I BELONG HERE!” because I belong in both countries and am contributing to making them both great again (I couldn’t resist the plug).
While I have faced challenges with both backgrounds, they have both added a lot to me too, and given me experiences that I otherwise couldn't have been a part of. For every one negative comment I have ever received I have been embraced and welcomed by families and friends that have wanted to learn about the other culture or about how life is on the other side of the world. And as they've learned from me, I have learned more from them and from the culture I am a part of and call home.
I figured it was time for another life update, so by now I am sure many of you have noticed I am still in Europe. What originally started off as a two-week trip, turned into a month, and now has turned into “I’ll be back in LA for New Year’s.” I didn’t really plan for this, I only brought one suitcase full of clothes, and none of them are "real" Winter clothes; truthfully, I don’t know if I am ready for the possibility of snow, so please send hot chocolate and your best advice!!! Nonetheless, I have decided to extend my trip for a few reasons, and since I am become quite the list girl, here’s a few reasons why:
I guess in a weird way it's a reminder to me that I am only 23, besides being able to provide for myself, I can pretty much be as selfish with my time and decision that I want. If anyone is currently going through the stress of having to graduate and not know what is coming next. I will be the first to tell you that it is going to be a rollercoaster, but once you're on you won't want to get off. You'll figure it out, we all will, and we do, but for now enjoy it all, and stay gold, Ponyboy!
I’ll see the rest of you in January!
Photo by: Mia Lepp
Is it cliché if... I think the person that lives here has lived a full life. Filled with love and laughter, and while sure they might have had their fair shares of heartbreaks or lessons they never stopped loving others or them self. They get dressed up everyday, even if it's just to buy their morning coffee, but their hat always matches their shoes and they are wearing vintage Chanel or Dior. They make sure to meet with their friends weekly because as they've gotten older they value those around them even more, and they talk about life, love, the book they just finished, and their families. They know all the boutique and shop owners on their street.
They make sure their garden out front is always well kept, watered, and organized. And when they travel to the South of France to spend their summers with their family their neighbors all chip in to help upkeep the garden in exchange for stories of Paris in the 60s and a pastry or two. In fact, you might have seen this person on the way to the train station, you might have actually passed them on the street, the person that caries them self with elegance, not in a way that they are better than you, but rather reflected of their life and when they grew up, with soulful eyes, a genuine smile, and a soft "bonjour," as their scarf waves in the wind, and the wrinkles on their face beautifully tell the stories of years of laughter and love, and you can't help but wonder where they're going, and if you'll age just that gracefully too, but spoiler alert, you will.
Photo Credit: Emily Boffeli
I love a good coffee shop crush. You know when you go to a coffee shop/ cafe/ restaurant alone and you sit down to have a snack, but then see a snack (a good looking person). Especially on a bright warm day when you’re sitting outside as the sunny just gently warms your legs while the shadow falls on the rest of you, and can hear the birds flutter past you or an a cold rainy day when you quickly dash into the first coffee shop you see to avoid getting drenched.
At first you make the initial eye contact as you get situated, and then while in between glancing at the menu you glance up at them and make eye contact, and one moment after another you begin to wonder what they are like. Are they funny? Are they in a relationship? Is it their lunch break? Is what they ordered good? Do they like their coffee with milk or just sugar? Do they come here often?
While you’re waiting for your food this initial eye contact begins to create a story and a quick little cat and mouse chase. You look up they’re looking at you, but who will be the one to look away first? Maybe what catches your eye is a friendly smile or soft eyes or maybe they remind you of someone you knew another lifetime ago or maybe when they walked in they had that energy that just commands the rooms attention. It is always something, something that catches your eye compared to every other person in the room.
While so absolutely harmless, it never moves past more than a wink or a smile, it is so playful and reminiscent of a good song, short and sweet. Coffee shop crushes can be just as sweet as your latte and chocolate croissant, as you take a quick break from your everyday life to let your mind wander with the eyes of a stranger while your imagination runs.
And all this lasts the perfect amount of time, just one cup of coffee and a chocolate croissant. And when you get up to leave, and carry on with the rest of your day, you look back just once more, and as your eyes meet, for a subtle goodbye.
Photo Credit: Mia Lepp
Is it cliché if...The person living here, works in tech, throws a killer 4th of July party, and while they have plenty friends and tons to do on the weekends, they often finds themselves up at 1am alone. They're not lonely per say, but will feel alone at times. Because when it comes to matters of the heart they always held back. They never got married, and never had kids, has two dogs though. While they still stands by their decision to rather ruin their couch with dogs, than their life with kids, they sometimes do think back and wishes they got married. There was every only one person they would have married, and while looking back they blames it on the timing, they knows it was really them who refused to grow up, and always assumed they'd find another. They don't let those thoughts marinate for long, but rather pushes them back in their mind, and sends a text, "you up?" And waits for the text bubbles to pop up.
Momma and I landed at Miami International Airport this day today, 20 years ago. Wild. Time as a concept is funny because looking back it has flown by, but I know there are some moments that looking back felt like they were going to last forever, high school, and there are some moments where I swear I can put myself back into and relive through my memories. Even some smells will place me in a specific time, location, or with a certain person.
Looking back I can't imagine what thoughts were going through my head the moment this photo was taken. Maybe the bottoms of the flowers really were all that consumed my thoughts then. Maybe there was a little fear, I imagine there would be, but I honestly couldn't imagine my life growing up anywhere else. How different would it have been. Who would have been my best friends? my lovers? my heartbreaks? where would I have traveled?
I think we often live our life in hindsight looking back, and I think that is when we have the most clarity. Often times in the moment we get clouded with thoughts and emotions that distract ourselves from truly enjoying life. In hindsight we can always look back and realize how great that experience was. I want to get better at enjoying the moment in the present rather than when I look back in hindsight.
So here is to the next 20!
Also, can I bring back the vest? thoughts?
Photo Credit: Mia Lepp
Is it cliché if...I picture the person living here as: someone who only wears vintage, paints on the weekends (the balcony give inspo for days), has a killer signing voice, but only sings "for fun," throws lavish dinner parties, with tons of rosé bottles, mix match plates, and dessert that never gets eaten because it turns into impromptu jam sessions till 5am before that.
Has a lover that only wears black and drives a motorcycle (the one parked out front, and they even used it once to drive across the US), and even though they realize their lover is their soulmate, they won't commit. Often times they debate it when their lover goes to pick up morning coffee as the morning sun beams peek through the curtains, the smog starts to clear, and the breeze falls in, so they put on their silk robe, and walk out to the balcony to enjoy what is their last cigarette because they're planning to quit and start pilates next week because their friend Leah swears it's "life changing" (lol), which they'll soon realize Leah is full of bs and the only reason to wake up really early is for coffee, cigarettes, and love.
Peaceful is what comes to mind when I think of you.
I love who I became because of you. The views, the memories, I'll cherish them all. Oh sweet 1976, you are perfect to me.
We grew and flourished together just like the plants on my floor. Being absolutely humble while saying this, but I have a SERIOUS green thumb.
Please refer to my contact page for any plant/garden advice.