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.
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?
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.
Los Angeles…. Oh my lord! How did we begin this love affair? Truthfully I can’t recall the first time I heard about California or heard a song that sang your sweet melody, but I do remember the first time I visited, I’m a sucker, it was summertime, and I’m a summertime lover.
From that first trip back in 2011 there wasn’t a moment of that time that I would change. Endlessly, is how much I talked about you after, and how I longed to get kissed by your golden sunset once more. You see no matter what you think of LA before you visit it’ll never exactly be what you thought it to be until you find “your place.” While initially that might sound off putting, but it is true. Very quickly you learn if you are “hispster” enough for Silverlake, or craving that lust from the entrainment world in Hollywood, or maybe you’re mellow enough to bike to the beach in Venice. Whatever it may be the biggest advice I have to anyone in LA is learn yourself, and love yourself because through that you’ll find “your place.”
My place just happens to be Los Feliz, while relatively unknown to most tourist it has become my home. From Franklin to Avocado St all the way to the hustle of Los Feliz Blvd you’re exactly what I was looking for in LA. The tall palms that kiss the golden sunset, as it sets behind Griffith Park is a view I enjoy most nights. Or maybe it’s the little sidewalk cafés and the Italian restaurant under my apartment that has me convinced you’re home. Whatever it is, the fact that I found this place is an absolute movie. I should note at this point I am a glass of red wine in, so I might be a little wine drunk on LA, but even when the buzz fades “thankful” is the only word that comes to mind.
For the sake of honesty, and I consider myself an honest person, I figured I should divulge on some details in my life. It’s been a while since we last talked, but back in May I celebrated my one-year anniversary in LA, and how wonderful that was. Leading up to that moment though I had, had a boyfriend, lost a boyfriend, had an internship, had a job, lived by USC, lived in DTLA, and then moved to Los Feliz. Everything up until the moment I moved to Los Feliz felt like one huge life lesson after another, there were tears involved and midnight phone calls to my parents. However, from the second I stepped foot in my little studio apartment a sense of calmness filled my life. Life got relatively stable I had a place of my own, a very well paid job with an insanely popular clothing label, and a solid group of homies in the city. You see though, while I was content, and comfortable, I wasn’t truly happy or hungry for more in my life, which is fine, it’s livable, and I would have kept on in that comfort.
Inevitably, though life is funny, and now here I am my stomach full from a meatball sandwich and red wine on a Wednesday night as a pen my lover letter to LA because I am currently….unemployed (pause for dramatization). Even though that is my absolute reality at this moment, and it is worth noting that the reason for this recent change in employment is just business as usual and nothing personal, it is still my realty. However, being what I have gone though in the last year (tears, belly laughs, butterflies, anxiety, and absolute contentment) I am confident in that LA will hold me through this moment of uncertainty just how we did a year ago when I was scrambling to find a place to live and instead found a neighborhood I’ll forever call home. So while I appreciate any absolute concerns of empathy you might have for me, I know LA and I’ll be ok, no back up plan needed. You see in the end of the day, it’s me and the city, and the city she loves me.
While I have more to share, and this is just he beginning of what I hope to be a long lasting endeavor, I thought I’d pen together this piece to let you all know I’m alright, and I’ll still be home for the Holidays.
Photo Credit to Tumblr.com
I don’t know if it is just my friends that are extremely indecisive or maybe it is all of us as a whole, generationally. I’m sure you all have friends who can’t seem to figure out who they want to date, what they want to major in or even what they want to do as a career. Truthfully, we all have a little bit of indecisiveness in us, and I’m sure there is an article out there somewhere that cites the fact that because we were introduced to technology at a young age, it has caused us to crave the latest and greatest endorphin release. Or maybe it was all those cellphone companies to blame. How could I really decide if I wanted to keep my pink razor in sixth grade when the sidekick had just come out?
How does the most indecisive generation, the kids that have gotten a new phone every year, deal with picking just one career path? It seems as though we are currently in a losing battle, and with the holiday season coming up we will most definitely have to answer question such as, “Are you dating anyone?” “Do you know what you’re doing after graduation?” and my personal favorite, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” If financial stability didn’t carry such an importance in the future I’d probably like to be about four different things before I retire and become a crazy grandma. I’d like to work in fashion, maybe own my own tech business, maybe be a teacher for awhile. Psychics always told me my purpose in life was to teach others, and maybe even be an astronaut? Going to the moon would be cool. I have heard countless friends say if you didn’t need a degree for your job or if getting a degree weren’t so expensive they’d want to switch their career path multiple times “when they’re older.”
I’m sure you all have that one friend that knew they wanted to be a doctor the first time they fell and patched up their own wound, which is awesome because truthfully those are the people I want as my doctors. However, if you’re like the rest of us, you might not know 100 percent. I want to help you all conquer holiday season with strength, and not fear of your relatives and the questions they might ask.
I know it is beyond cheesy but mood boards, dream boards, Tumblr pages or even keeping a journal have helped me find out,“What I want to be when I grow up.” I read a quote a while back and it said something along the lines of “What you do during your spare time is probably what you should do for the rest of your life.” If watching music videos on YouTube is your favorite thing, look at a career in A&R for record companies and help find new talent. Maybe you enjoy planning weekend trips with your friends? Than maybe look to event planning or PR for future career paths. Maybe you enjoy a good Netflix binge? There’s no shame in that. Look at what shows you are constantly drawn to or who your favorite characters are, or if there is a common theme. That can help you see what you’re attracted to in terms of the future.
Like everything in life, it’s going to take us all a few tries to figure out what we want to be. Take time for yourself this holiday season and put it on paper. It is so helpful to be able to visualize and see concretely what your plan is. I promise somewhere in between the Tumblr pages, journals and mood boards you’ll figure it out. If not then ask your relatives how they knew because it’ll buy you at least a few hours while aunt Jill explains to everyone how she figured out her dream career path. However, I hope you know it is never too late to become whom you want to be when you grow up, and when you realize it I hope you have the courage to pursue it!
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Photo credit Google.com
The only way I can describe my first heartbreak is by comparing it to the first time I rode my bike down a big hill while visiting my grandparents in Estonia. It was something new, and I felt like I could accomplish anything, even though I was terrified and had butterflies in my stomach; the feeling completely encompassed me and I was excited… until halfway down the hill I realize how fast I was going, and that I actually had no idea how to stop the bike. This best describes the point in the relationship when I realized things were going sour but still tried to hold on to it, hoping that things would turn out how I’d planned in my head. Unfortunately, in both my relationship and biking incident, I ended up crashing and burning, lol. No matter how I tried to steer the bike or the relationship, the inevitable still happened; I could only try to make it hurt less.
However, just because it was painful, doesn't mean it wasn't an experience worth having. When it comes to first heart breaks, there is a lot to forgive and be thankful for, especially if you want to gain something from it.
Forgive him for having dumb friends (because as funny as they thought it was to make that joke, we all know how ridiculous it was — they were no Jim Carrey).
Forgive him for any anniversaries or birthdays he missed, because when that new guy comes along and makes a big deal out of every date and birthday you celebrate together, you can let yourself smile in the knowledge that you've found someone that makes your happiness a priority.
Forgive him for being too young to realize what he had, because now you've learned to hold yourself at top shelf value, and are on your way to finding someone who will only treat you like the best.
Forgive him for those times he said he'd call or text and never did because even though you might have initially been upset, think about how you spent that time: maybe it was picking up a new book to read, or going to a new restaurant with your best friends. You learned how to create a good situation out of something that might not have started out that way.
Forgive yourself for anything stupid you might have said because, to be honest, those lead to the good stories you tell your friends, and now you have only improved your flirting skills with boys. ;)
Forgive yourself for any passive aggressive text or tweet you might have sent because it felt good to get those feelings out!
Forgive yourself for all those times you lurked his Facebook and judged that new girl he met, when really you know you guys would have been awesome friends under different circumstances.
Thank your friends for being there to wipe away the tears, for bringing you that tub of ice cream, and making you laugh — for showing you there is no greater medicine than laugher, and friendship is worth more than money can buy.
Thank your family for always being there, whether they understood what you were going through at the time or not.
Thank your new guy for understanding how little or much he might know about your past, for not letting that dim any light he might see in you, and for letting you shine to your full potential.
Thank yourself for being stronger than you were a week ago, a month ago, a year ago; the heart knows no time, so for as long as it takes you to heal, give yourself that time!
This holiday season, thank yourself for having your first heart break and promise yourself you'll try a little more each day to let that old scar fade into just another life experience. There are so many other memories to be made, more laughter to be had, and more hills to overtake. Make the eight-year-old you that fell off her bike proud! :)
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Photo credit Google.com
I am currently in a long-term relationship and it's going relatively well. Plus, my boyfriend seems to be serious about it, so no complaints. Most girls would be twice over the moon and back over this, but as for myself, it terrifies me. I can’t think of anything scarier than getting into a relationship at 20 that can potentially last a lifetime!
I realize I might sound cynical and as if I'm against relationships, but before this, I was the poster girl for being single, selfish, and free in your 20s. I posted all of the lists of “Why Being Single in Your 20s is the Best” and “Why You Shouldn’t Get into a Relationship Till You’ve Done X, Y, and Z.” I lived by the quote, “Maybe our girlfriends are our soul mates and guys are just people to have fun with.”
In a way, I felt like being in a committed relationship at 20 was like cheating on myself, the single me I had envisioned myself as: one who backpacks across Europe with her best friends, dances on bars, finds summer love in a musician who’ll only break her heart later, and colors her hair pink, blue, and purple all in the same year. I can’t do that now, because I might have to meet my boyfriend's parents!
I know what you’re thinking. If I am so insistent on this single-girl persona I've created for myself, why not just end things with my boyfriend and live my life? Well, I said I wanted to be free, but I'm not dumb enough to let go of a good thing. My boyfriend is the sweetest guy around; my roommates can vouch for me — they call him a saint for putting up with me, lol.
I also know that, at the end of the day, he's the guy that will backpack across Europe with me, catch me as I fall off the bar in my attempt to be Britney Spears for a night, learn to play the guitar so I can meet my dreamy musician, and encourage me to dye my hair pink if it's something I want to do.
Despite the fact that in the back of my mind I think I am letting the 20-year-old me who wants to be single down, the truth is, I know if I was single, I would spend most of my time writing blog posts and hanging around Tallahassee rather than accomplishing any of my extravagant plans.
I wanted to write this because I figured I couldn’t be the only girl in a relationship that still sometimes wants to live out any last ounce of the single life I might have left, in fear that the grass will be greener on the other side. However, I want to finish by saying, don’t do it! All we're doing is over-romanticizing something we can use as a crutch to avoid throwing ourselves 100% into a good thing, in fear of getting hurt. Think back to when you were single — was it everything you imagined and more?
If you’re happy in your relationship, you shouldn’t give it up for “what if’s” and “just because’s;” you might be trading in a travel partner for lonely nights watching Netflix. That being said, if you’re unhappy in your relationship, drop it and be single for a while.
My advice is to always follow what makes you happy, because at the end of the day, that is what will get you through any not-so glamorous and rainy days that might come your way. :)
P.S. To all my single girls out there: you do you, and never let anyone keep you down!
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