The Many Lives We Lead.

To my family, I am the middle child. The calm one. That glue that often keeps the peace.

To my friends, I am multilayered. I enjoy the company of a variety of different people; I thrive in exposure to diversity in all its forms. In fact, I’ve only recently learned a core lesson about myself: that when I feel tethered to a single group, I often feel suffocated, because I do not feel like myself.

The self is a complex entity indeed, if not because of the way each individual with whom we interact with or hold a relationship with knows us in a different way. Does that make it difficult to identify who we truly are?

Yes and no.

I used to think that I was stuck being one kind of person, and any new person I met must only know a single form of me. It wasn’t until much, much later that I realized, it is simply not normal to be a linear entity. Human beings are so complex, and that’s putting it mildly. The only thing that should remain consistent about ourselves is our core values. It’s easy enough to say that we cherish certain characteristics in ourselves and others – but it’s not until we are put in a situation where our true self is revealed that we realize, we are not quite who we thought we were.

Is that good or bad? It depends. If I were to call myself resilient – a characteristic I constantly strive to maintain – the resilience would manifest when the going gets tough. But in addition, context is key and it always depends. Resilience is practice, and one cannot simply say they are resilient: they must actively show it. Similar to another valuable trait – kindness – you can certainly call yourself kind, but only your actions will prove it. Saying isn’t being.

A moment in time.

I didn’t expect to feel so enamored by you.

By definition, the spark I felt – and I can only speak for myself here, because who knows what you were thinking – was the true meaning behind “there’s no accounting for taste.”

You had a mop of curly, dark hair, and days-old scruff lining a strong jawline. You were dressed in that casual, semi-streetwear-but-not-quite attire that always gets me. You knew how to dance. You were friendly and possessed a specific kind of humor, the type of charm that I later told you makes people want to open up and share their deepest secrets. Though I felt the mutual physical attraction between us, you kept it cool and courteous with that completely genuine sense of self that I’ve lately encountered only among those outside of the gritty populace of New York City.

In other words: you were my type.

But it was more than that. Truth be told, I initially attached myself to you in order to flee from someone else. But in a surprising twist of events, I found a sense of comfort in your vibe, one that was palpable even in the depths of the musty, dimly lit venue full of people gyrating to 80s pop music. It almost felt unreal, like a movie, and God knows how desperately I’ve been chasing any reality that so strongly contrasted with my own.

We left the club with our group of friends. As they climbed into the Uber, I felt something in my heart protest at the thought of parting ways with you. To clarify, this wasn’t love or anything even remotely close to that: what it was is that deep, guttural desire to know everything about a stranger, to explore their mind and body and learn things about them that lay just below the surface, because this moment wasn’t real and it was fleeting.

I knew a part of me had been running away from real life for some time, and what I craved the most were these ephemeral experiences in cities so far from the one I knew, with people I would likely never see again. To imbibe the spirit of a stranger, because I’d rather limit it to one night than learn who they really were. I didn’t want to know their flaws, or whether they had a five-year plan or a good relationship with their parents or if they didn’t shower as frequently as they should have.

Just the one night was all I wanted.

Sometimes I wonder why I liked living in my own head so much, creating fairytales and choosing to live them out and pretend like they were real. It only really occurs when I travel, but I suppose that’s a thought to explore another time.

We arrived at your place: for someone who oversaw the,  er, art of importing and distribution of a certain herb for a living, you lived in quite a spacious apartment. Albeit messy, which was putting it lightly. But I digress; even in spite of your living conditions (and the state of your bathroom) I still wanted you. Ain’t that something.

We sank into your couch, and as you rolled that herb into a wrap that hinted of strawberries, I opened up to you like I knew I would. We talked at length: about you, about your life in the South and dual nationalities, about a number of things that I can’t quite remember because internally I was marveling at how completely at ease I felt here with you. A complete stranger.

I’ve been trying to get better at judging a person’s character from the get-go. I like to think I judged you correctly. I’ll spare the gory details of what happened next and instead skip ahead to where I fell asleep in your arms, my head cradled in the crook of your neck as if that’s where it always belonged. You even smelled like laundry, a little-known characteristic in the opposite sex that I always found irresistible. We held each other with an impossible comfort, a familiarity that I was sure would dissolve awkwardly in the morning when we were awake and sober. But to my surprise, it didn’t.

The following day was my last day in town, and I couldn’t get you out of my head. I tried to carry on and take in the city for the final time, but broke in my final hours; instead of leaving the experience as a memory, I wanted part two. And so I reached out.

That closing night in the city was quite the memorable one because of the way it unraveled in a manner that only happened in films. We got acquainted with one another’s bodies again: I can’t say it was the best I ever had, but the chemistry made it that much more special. Forget the physical part, I just wanted to keep my legs wrapped around you and my fingers running through your hair, forever.

I’m a sucker for late night adventure. Maybe it’s because I’ve read too many books or watched one too many episodes of Gilmore Girls,  but I loved that it felt like living out a high school romance. We drove around that upscale neighborhood, where you pointed out the mansions looming above us and houses with 3 car garages. I told you I wanted to see Austin from a vantage point, and so you drove us to the highest peak.

Admittedly, the thought that I could be murdered crossed my mind once or twice, especially as we held hands and climbed up the pitch-dark stairs to the top. But once I saw the city lights and heard the faraway chiming of live music somewhere out there, I knew this was where I needed to be.

We stood atop a table that offered spectacular views, one in which another couple had been perched but graciously gave up to us as we approached. That damn Southern hospitality. You slid your arm across my shoulders and I nestled my head in that same comfortable space in your neck and thought: there’s nowhere else I’d rather be in this moment.

I won’t forget that night. I’ll remember the 24-hour diner we went to after, the ice cream-topped brownie that we couldn’t finish, and your offer to drop me off at the airport at three in the morning. The context is key: I wonder if I would have liked you as much if I met you in another place or time, or in the city I call home. We’re too different, and when real-life is introduced, the magic is gone.

But for that night I carried on living my pretend-life, because I felt something that I hadn’t felt in a long time. No ulterior motives, no dishonesty, no negativity. Just a good time.

A lesson on forgiveness.

I studied Ammu’s visage where she sat opposite me, chattering away in the booth we selected at the back of the bustling Bangladeshi restaurant under the pretense of privacy – though truthfully, it was to avoid the disapproving gaze of those we’d firmly deemed as “nosy Bengalis.”

Prom night discussion lay on the table. It seemed like ages ago that I chose to spend the better part of my senior year of high school attending to irate customers eager for their cheeseburger fix at Shake Shack in order to save up for my dream prom dress, but I digress. The conversation wasn’t about me. It was about my older sister, Prima, and her inability to attend this so-called pinnacle of the golden years.

Hearing that phrase attributed  to the four-year period of prevailing awkwardness, horrible clothing fads and questionable life choices that is high school is really sobering once you’ve reached your late twenties. I’ve experienced several more iterations of these periods of time when all is supposed to be going swimmingly well and carefree, and in hindsight, I don’t think I ever knew what the fuck was going on.

The topic of prom stemmed from a conversation that began with forgiveness. My father, a permanently contrary man of nearly seven decades – with the years of long-held grudges etched on his face to prove it – had once prevented my sister from partaking in a number of life experiences common to the average American teenager. But then again, as Bangladeshi immigrants hailing from an overwhelmingly conservative culture, the usual rules don’t apply here.

Here in New York, the “average” teenagehood just doesn’t exist, not when so many variances in lifestyle appeared from one diverse community to the next. As the eldest child, there was an endless number of things my sister wasn’t allowed do. I vividly recall the outbursts and steady flow of tears when she hit roadblock after roadblock for seemingly nonsensical reasons other than the age-old justification, “manush ki bolbe?”

Of course, she was simply furious when I came along and partook in the same activities she missed out on and more – nearly effortlessly at that. When I think back, it’s a wonder that at nine years old, my parents allowed me to get a second ear piercing and a year later, bleach my hair a different color. At twelve, I conned my way into purchasing an electric guitar for no rhyme or reason apart from desiring one at a whim – one which my poor mother, who only worked a minimum wage retail job and whose only weakness were her children, purchased at my behest.

It was returned days later, but the initial act was done.

Sometimes I wince at these memories, and at times can still feel the years of buried guilt gnawing at me. Do my preteen behaviors speak volumes about my own character, or my mother and father’s parenting? Would speaking these memories to existence make others think ill of me, or is it an honest homage to my childhood experiences?

Well, bringing us back to forgiveness. It’s been years since prom. When my sister finally attended college, she wasted no time in exploring and threw no caution to the wind. First to dorm, first to study abroad, first to gain financial independence away from my dad – and it showed.

The man was a domineering character throughout my entire life. My childhood certainly shaped the lens through which I view the world, though I’m fortunate enough to have gained a decent sense of self-awareness. One of my deepest fears, however, is miscalculating the impact that such a volatile upbring has had on my interpersonal relationships, as well as the one I have with myself.

In recent years, my family chose to forgive. After my dad suffered a major stroke in 2014, his health saw a steady decline and all other components of his life followed. Growing up, I knew him to be a workaholic: in 2017, he was forced to retire from the travel agency he spent the last 20 years pouring his heart and soul into, as the company was shuttered in the wake of the industry’s pending doom. Left with no choice and seeking new sources of comfort, he turned to the same people from whom he had long withheld those very same things: my mother, my older sister, my younger brother and myself.

I have never ceased to be amazed by the effects of passing time and its ability to diminish havoc once wreaked upon our hearts. Combined with genuine goodness and an aptitude to empathize, a trait my mom and myself admittedly share in copious amounts (much to my chagrin) its’ natural progression leads to just that: the capacity to forgive.

For some, forgiveness isn’t always an option, particularly when there is a blinding, white-hot rage involved. However, it isn’t until once experiences the strike of tragedy – be it betrayal, death, heartbreak, or an event that leaves one completely blindsided and at an utter loss in what to do – that we fully realize why we need to forgive: for ourselves. Because choosing to cradle each of those feelings close to our heart and refusing to part ways with the hurt serves only as a disservice to ourselves.

We forgive not to let the offending party get away scot-free, but to allow ourselves to heal and move on. All else aside, we only have ourselves at the end of the night. Forgiveness is a core tenet to self-healing. Forgive – but never forget. Allow every curveball to serve as life experience and truly reflect and learn, otherwise the hurt never wanes.

The most peculiar part about change.

The steadfastness of life that I have come to know seems to be in utter flux these days. It’s not exactly a bad thing, but it certainly is…different.

26 is a very strange age when it comes to managing expectations of how events are meant to unfold. You’ve surpassed the youthful milestones of ages 18, 21, 25 that you spent years anticipating. When you reach 26, you come to the conclusion that things don’t always go according to plan, no matter how hard you try to carefully coordinate the pieces so that they all fall into their rightful place.

To set the record straight: I’m not saying I feel old. I’ve grown to resent that word and all that it stands for. God knows that if I read this ten years from now, my 36 year old self will warg back into present-me for a well-deserved smack in the face.

It’s just that at 26, the difference in mental maturity in comparison to the past few years has never felt so tangible. From the flow of my thoughts and my inner monologue, to the measured precision in my actions, to the numbness towards certain emotions that would have once threatened my inner peace.

Of course, it’s natural. It’s all real now. The days that make up the rest of your existence move much more rapidly, and every decision you make feels weighted – almost as if there’s no more room for spontaneity, only calculated moves to eliminate risk. Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, the rains of castamere doesn’t just come falling – it’s pouring. (I really hope these Game of Thrones references still resonate during my ten-year reread.)

Like the risk of losing your lifelong rocks: your parents. On the first day of Ramadan, the only time of year where I feel a natural inclination towards spirituality and tranquility (cue the Ramadan Muslim sneers), I found myself in the dreaded yet overly familiar emergency room at Weiler with my mom. After she was discharged the same day, I breathed a sigh of relief – only to draw the same breath back in when she ended up right back in the same place the very next morning.

Fortunately, she’s fine now, but nothing like a good ol’ health scare to thrust you back into the throes of reality and how fragile life is – and why meticulously planned decisions become necessary.

Lesson #1: There is no such thing as forever.

My relationship with my dad has certainly changed over the years. In 2014, after suffering a major stroke, life turned upside down for the scowling man who had once been the source of much of my anguish growing up. Suddenly, I found myself swapping roles: I became co-parent, along with my siblings, to a capricious and finicky old man who with all his eccentric ways of life, was now more vulnerable than I had ever known him to be. And I wasn’t ready.

But here’s the thing – life doesn’t give a shit if you’re ready. Like the most trying of battles, these are the sort of left-field curveballs that love disturbing the lull of your so-called normal life to settle itself comfortably around your shoulders. It’s like a pregnancy discovered too late – it doesn’t matter how you feel anymore, it’s your responsibility now.

Lesson #2: Things change, people change, feelings change too.

Made-for-radio hits have this magical quality to them. Car karaoke is one of my favorite pastimes – there’s nothing I love more than belting the lyrics to a decent jam at the top of my lungs. It’s funny though, how the lyrics are almost always meaningless until and unless you find yourself in a similar context to that of the song.

The last couple of months have been topsy-turvy, to say the least. As I mentioned, losing anything you’ve come to lean heavily on is bound to leave a massive impact.

Is it hard? Obviously. But to my credit, adulthood has granted me the gift of being able to move forward without visibly exposing my internal distress. I’m kind of awed, given that one of my key characteristics is the fact that my face is an open book, whose pages gleefully give away the spoilers to any secrets I might want to keep to myself. Just a few years ago, my life would have been in shambles if such an event occurred (which it did.) Yet here I am, alive and kickin’

This isn’t my first rodeo, but it’s my first taste of this version of adulthood. And I think I’m starting to like it.

Lesson #3: The period of growth following change is crucial.

I’ve grown wary of some of the individuals I surround myself with because of their intense aversion to change. Another trait I’ve come to appreciate is being able to recognize certain faults or flaws I have and making some effort to rectify these flaws, or at least get better at addressing them.

When the lull of your day-to-day finds itself shattered – the cause being death, a breakup, some sort of loss or heart wrenching event or otherwise – be mindful that you will experience mental change. Every action and decision you choose to take will bear their consequence. Being wise and not succumbing to the abyss of bad choices is hard, but once those choices adapt to becoming your new normal, it’s the end.

On the other hand, it doesn’t even need to be that drastic. Sometimes, it’s the little things that are slowly building in the shadows that are the most ominous; whose repercussions we fail to acknowledge until it’s too late. In direct contradiction to what I said earlier, there are times (like I’m experiencing right now) that everything seems to be moving in the right direction, until one thing suddenly changes. And then another. And another. The monotony that we once despised becomes that which we crave, because change is hard.

I’ve always admired the ones who remain stoic no matter what happens to them. My friend Sammy offered choice words recently that resonated with me: “You don’t need to have an emotional reaction to everything.” Probably one of the more difficult challenges in this era of the outrage culture.

It’s important to make the choice to, when facing adversity, practice behaviors that will help you grow stronger in the long run. Make the choice to not give in to whatever hurt you. Acknowledge and address personal characteristics that do you and others harm, especially when you find yourself confronting them time and again.

You know what they say – what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

 

The Write Way.

Three months into the year 2019 and five weeks into age 26. I’ve lived many lives, and yet here I am, confronted with the usual existential dread and despair when gazing upon the blank space of an empty blog.

One of my favorite mantras, one that I often tout to friends when they are facing some version of hopelessness, is one that also rubs me the wrong way when I consider it in the loneliness of my room or inside the chambers of my head. Reverberating over and over, with the power to both irritate and inspire that only motivational quotes can incite.

“The hardest part is to start.

And here I am, just starting.

But is it enough to to just start? What about to continue, to prevail and to improve? Do we not strive for greatness anymore, or have we been reduced to this sense of mediocrity where we pat ourselves on the back for simply picking up the pen and pressing it to the sheet of paper – or in my case, letting the pads of my fingers move to and fro along this well-worn keyboard?

Or – an even more terrifying thought – what if it’s just me?


 

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Lately, I’ve been pondering the complexities that lay in defining one’s character. We often separate the world and people into categories, into black and white. I’ve known for awhile that shades of gray prevailed, but it took some time to get to a point where I’ve begun exploring those hues.

How is it then, that an individual deemed as “extroverted” by their peers can feel strong symptoms of social anxiety, of loneliness and feelings typically attributed to those far less outgoing or introverted?

How is it that in a given moment, we can feel immense confidence, feel clear headed and certain about our choices and situations in life – and in another moment’s notice, watch all that confidence tumble to the ground and wonder how we ever stood at the top of that mountain?

It’s been a long and arduous week, and most of it is due to my participation in the Olympics of mental gymnastics. I’ve ran laps around creating scenarios in my head that don’t really exist, and have only recently began to understand what it really means to have “confirmation bias” about how I perceive the way in which the world works, and how it actually works.

In times of strife, turning to the wise always helps: in this case, I looked for podcasts to help me figure out what was going on inside my head. I came across an episode on “UnF*ck Your Brain” that delved into cognitive bias, neuroscience and negative thoughts. I found it quite amazing how just a few minutes of listening to the “experts” can shed so much light on the way your mind operates, and knowing that you’re nowhere near special when it comes to feeling like you’re the only one experiencing what goes on in your head – that nearly everyone is experiencing the same thing in some capacity.

In any case, writing always helps. I need to maintain this “drumbeat” as they say in the corporate world, for my own sake.

And the hardest part is always to start.

 

Covfefe.

 

Let’s talk about coffee.

A grande chestnut praline latte at Starbucks such as the one I purchased this morning costs a whopping $5.93. Six dollars for what amounts to little more than a blend of milk, sugar, and syrups.

Buying a Starbucks coffee is something of a treat for myself. Despite knowing how much I value this guilty pleasure and the lift a good coffee drink brings to my morning, I internally agonize every time I find myself craving a fix. In fact, the only reason I inevitably cave in to the purchase without feeling guilty is by way of compensating in other places.

For instance, if I brought my lunch in 4 out of 5 days of the week, I’ll allow myself to indulge. If, however, I made multiple extraneous purchases over the course of the week, the move to buying a Starbucks drink weighs heavily on my chest for days on end.

drinks

What induces such a phenomenon? I recently came across this very question being asked on a Reddit thread, and I am inclined to agree with one answer: social pressure.

When making a solo purchase, there is no one around to gently nudge you into spending those few extra dollars just because. It’s just you, your conscience and several refreshes of your Mint account to make sure you can afford it. If however, you find yourself in a setting like a bar or any group outing where everyone is making ludicrous purchases and spending outside the norm, then, well…

As the old saying goes “If all your friends jumped off of a cliff, wouldn’t you?” The FOMO and peer pressure is real.

These past few years have brought on a wave of new social anxieties, primarily driven by Instagram (in my opinion.) The effects of watching others’ lives unfold on a platform, purportedly full of success, endless riches and eternal happiness have inevitably gone on to affect aspects of our lives like spending habits.

“Oh, that person is the same age as I am and somehow has money to live their best life. Why shouldn’t I do the same?” “FashionNova models EVERYWHERE!” “Sponsored ad showing me products from the brand that I was just talking about? Why not?”

The point I’d like to make is that if you’re feeling guilty about a seemingly small purchase like a $5 coffee, but think that an $8 cocktail is fine because it’s “happy hour” then…you really need to reconsider your priorities and take a good hard look at your finances.

Be careful not to get swept away in one of the worst types of peer pressure in your mid-twenties – spending frivolously. Even if people are telling you (okay fine, telling me) that now is the time to spend like there’s no tomorrow, they’re wrong.

Invest in yourself today. Don’t buy the overpriced coffee or the outrageously expensive martini. Ask yourself this – can I live without it? Can I find an alternative or substitute immediately that will quench that craving? There’s a fine line between treating yourself, and earning that treat.

Earning it somehow always makes it taste better.

The leftovers.

Recently, my dear old dad has taken to referring to my older sister and myself as “leftovers.” It’s not a term born from his own vocabulary, but one he acquired after reading a particularly formidable book called “Marry By Choice, Not By Chance.”

I’m rather late to the game seeing how the book made headlines upon being published a few years ago, but it is an outrageously misinformed work filled with outdated ideas on the importance of young women getting married early on written by a woman with questionable values that was so ridiculous, it made it to the hands of Jon Stewart on the Daily Show. 

The phrase refers to young women who choose to pursue career endeavors or strive for some personal goal rather than making marriage a priority. Thus, if you’re in your thirties and unmarried, you’ve sealed your fate – you’re doomed.

At the time, I laughed it off. My dad’s perception of modern society aligns with the author’s old fashioned views and I’m long past raging over his views (sometimes.) However, the term itself struck a different chord than the one he intended, and I’ve been mulling it over for the past week.

“Leftovers:” (noun) Something that remains unused or unconsumed.

At the ripe age of twenty five, I think it’s safe to say that I am experiencing the notorious phenomenon that is quarter-life crisis. In fact, it’s been a perpetual feeling for the last year or two. Somewhere along the way past college graduation and coming to terms with the fact that there are no more summer vacations to look forward to, I’ve learned several crucial things:

  1. Number one, and most importantly: there is no more fucking around, ever. The bubble I left behind after graduating has officially burst.
  2. My parents are legitimately getting old. My dad had a stroke in 2014 that left him with a permanent limp, and he is retired. My mom still works a minimum wage retail job and is now suffering from sciatica among a myriad of health issues.
  3. We still don’t have a permanent home.
  4. My sister and I are officially the heads of the household.
  5. And finally…I’ve come to terms with the fact that it is my entire family, myself included, who are the leftovers.

It’s been a slow realization, but with each passing year I’ve been confronted with things that confirmed that we are disadvantaged in many ways, particularly rooted in my upbringing.

Most immigrant families begin their lives in negative in the United State. Moving to this country with an entire family requires a different kind of thinking and most importantly, courage and open-mindedness. We lacked these traits in so many ways.

I realized this when I moved out to pursue my so-called independence and came head-to-head with the fact that I didn’t know how to cook or clean.

I realized this when at the age of 23, I was the first one in my family to get my driver’s license. We always had to depend on others for travel because my dad refused to let us learn to drive or even get a car.

I realized this when my family finally moved out of our crap apartment into a nicer place, with my sibling and I supporting us entirely – minus my dad, because he refused to come with us, even to upgrade our lives.

I realized this when I began to plan the next few years of my life and, somewhere along my thinking, I screeched to a halt: not only do my parents not own a home, they don’t even speak to each other. They haven’t for my entire childhood into adulthood.

I’m tethered.

At this point I’d like to remark that if it sounds like I’m whining and exhibiting clear signs of daddy issues, it’s because I am and I do.

In fact, we’re not quite leftovers – we’re left behind. We are the ones who are unconsumed – by modern life, by progression. For my entire life, I’ve been unable to make own decisions, largely because I was so dependent on my dad and because we are not financially well-off.

Now that I have some control of my life – not all by any means – I have to determine how to become consumed without drowning.

It’s tough to be a product of the diaspora. Every immigrant family story is different, some far more horrific than others. This is my story, and the next chapter is blank.

But the pen is in my hand, and the ink is permanent. It’s not up to some vague deity to determine what the future holds–it’s up to me.

This is the new shit.

I decided to title this blog, the content of which I have yet to determine, after a Marilyn Manson song that used to occupy my iPod in my early high school days.

Marilyn Manson or Monster extra from Insidious?

Don’t ask me to fathom my taste in music at fifteen. I, too, am at a loss as to why my first ever Youtube username included the word “maggot” in it…a permanent testament to my intense passion for Slipknot at the time, I suppose. At any rate, I can’t ever erase that moment of stupidity because YouTube and Gmail decided to merge at some point, rendering the ability to delete old accounts obsolete.

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Incidentally, I once owned t-shirt with this exact logo on the front. Good ol’ Hot Topic days.

But I digress. As noted, this is the new shit. It’s 2018, another year gone and another year older.

As is customary, let’s take a look back at the top 5 milestones of 2017 for Tania:

  1. I got a new job. After an eternity of agonizing, a flurry of discontentment and self-doubt and quarter life crisis angst, I finally got not just any job, but an amazing new career full of the right opportunities, great people and good vibes.
  2.  I returned to Florence. Plagued with dreams about Ali’s kebab and wandering down those familiar cobblestone streets, it felt damn good to come back.
  3. I developed a fairly steady gym routine. Alright, I might have put on the pounds in the last few months, but getting into the habit of exercising regularly has helped tremendously, in more ways than one.
  4. I became more financially savvy. This one may have come naturally with increased income, but I was able to reach finance targets this year that I’d never imagined.
  5. I’ve been able to give back to those who gave me their unconditional love and support. Following the latter, being able to take my aunt on jewelry shopping sprees, or give my mom her every casual desire in the blink of an eye (and a little help from Amazon Prime shipping) means so much to this girl from the Bronx who has seen some rough times when it comes to money, hailing from a low-income family of 5.

I’ve followed the Times “Better Living” newsletter, and one of the tips they suggested to better keep to new years’ resolutions is to make more tangible, concrete goals. Not simply “go to the gym more” – go to 3 fitness classes a month. Drink only one cup of coffee. Eliminate chocolate from your diet in intervals.

2018 feels like its going to be a good year, because I’m going to make it one.

 

 

 

We’re all kid-trepreneurs at heart.

Long ago during the days of anonymous AIM chat rooms and dial-up Internet, little Tania was a mastermind of ideas. Before becoming burdened with adulthood and its accompanying anxieties and risk-aversion ways, she was quite the action-taker, believe it or not.

What I should also mention (can’t handle third-person reference for more than 20 seconds) is that I used to be significantly more involved with my local public library at the time, borrowing upwards of 30 books a week. I say this not to humble brag, but because I am in awe of the person I used to be and potentially could have been if that childhood habit had persisted. Most of my ideas were generated from reading hundreds of pieces of literature in the course of my childhood.

I didn’t care about the specifics, but rather, just went full-steam ahead with my plans. For instance, Ann M. Martin’s “The Babysitters Club” inspired me to launch a real-life version. Start my own baby-sitting club without zero experience? Why not? I began by communicating the idea with unwavering confidence to my friends (coincidentally, they were also fans of the series). Plan out all the deliverables by hand (that is, scribble furiously on sheets of loose-leaf and essentially steal copyrighted ideas from Ann M. Martin), design a “logo”, host meetings and create excitement.

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Our logo looked something like this too. Originality at its finest.

Okay, so that ended up going nowhere.

However, when it came to other executions, I was relentless. Back when children were hurt by skinned knees from bike rides rather than mean comments on Instagram, I was a fairly active child who loved being outdoors with the neighborhood kids. Weaving in and out of the hallways in the apartment building I grew up in, pestering those around me to play tag or simply run around the front yard helped plant the seed to start a community garden, so to speak.

How to start? I didn’t have any money–allowances are a foreign concept to Bangladeshis. Hell, we’re lucky to be living under our parents roof and paying rent by way of mandatory chores. My next course of action was to immediately ask my “wealthier” friends for a loan–that is, $5 from my equally poor neighbors to buy a ton of flower seeds from the local bodega. Through word of mouth marketing, aka asking my four friends for help, my would-be gardening club flourished for a good three days (or as long as my estimated attention lifespan.) I even managed to witness a few marigolds blossom.

Fast forward a decade and change–the spontaneity is long gone, replaced by deep set insecurities and indecision at the prospect of taking such chances.

I was recently struck with pondering just why this course of action occurs: barring the obvious–typical adult responsibilities, financial burdens, bills and the like–what exactly prevents someone like myself from making these major decisions in a more mature capacity? Fear? Uncertainty? Potential failure?

I’ve been on a mission to change my life in the wake of a quarter life crisis. I didn’t realize part of that meant regressing back to the old me.