Hello, Nomaads! Here is my first attempt at creating a podcast. I know that usually an “Intro” episode is appropriate, but I figured we should just jump into it! The intro and explanation can come later. Let me know what you think! Thank you for tuning in and roaming with me. As always, I am grateful.
"To be happy takes courage, self-compassion and humility. It requires us to sit alone with nothing to distract us and feel everything that has ever made us feel vulnerable move through us like a needle stitching a wound. Once we get to know ourselves a little better, we realize that all this time we felt rejected we had been rejecting ourselves."Read More
"Now, it doesn’t take a therapist to recognize this as an unhealthy concept of women, which unsurprisingly, did not pan out particularly well for me. However, I’m not so much interested in the consequences of my worship. but rather it’s source. Why did I choose to worship sex and beautiful girls Fear. Fear was the core that my worship stemmed from, and I think that’s true for most types of worship. What was my particular brand of fear?"
There’s an elephant in the room, and we need to talk about it. No, I am not talking about the Republican party. No, I am not referring to the logo I use for my Millennial Nomaad interviews. I am talking about the inner conflict and cultural shifts that the Millennial generation seems to be silently battling.
We assume that with all the noise on social media, we suddenly have a more transparent group of peers expressing themselves. But, there is more to be understood from what is left unsaid than what is publicly shared.
I remember the first time I had an anxiety attack. I was in the shower and listening to music when all of a sudden the walls felt like they were slowly caving in. The steam suddenly felt like an invisible plastic wrap around my face, and my chest felt heavy. I had been stressed before, but never had I experienced this sensation. All I could think to do was crouch like a child under the water coming from the shower head and let my tears fall with it. I mean it works in the movies, right? I cried and cried and then felt relieved. Back then, I didn’t understand these emotions or where they came from. I just felt weak for not being able to control them.
Control. Fear. Resistance to change. Self-doubt. These became the themes of my life for a period of time. I was uncomfortable moving forward and taking risks. I was even more uncomfortable feeling stuck in my rut. I turned to friends and family for guidance, yet left our conversations feeling like they did not fully understand how to guide me. So, I deflected and ran away from myself –searching for external signs rather than trusting my own intuition. I chased the ideas of what well-intentioned people thought would be best for me and spent all my time trying to configure myself into that image like a human Rubik’s cube. I didn’t want to fail by making the wrong choices, but more importantly, I didn’t want to disappoint.
I don’t like appearing weak. I mean, who does? We often think that vulnerability makes us a moving target, and so did I. I had a surplus of confidence, but a deficiency in true self-esteem. I was lost and thought I was the only one feeling that way. So, I threw myself into self-help books. Yes, some were super cheesy but a few did change my life. I watched interviews of public figure “comeback” stories— more intrigued by their ability to navigate a downfall than the actual outcome of their rise.
Slowly, I started connecting all these dots until one day it clicked. I realized every successful person that, in my opinion, embodied strength and leadership had experienced a breakdown moment. A moment of no turning back, because the old Self was simply –gone. This made me wonder whether feeling lost or vulnerable is really such a bad thing?
When I started to interview my peers for my website, I decided to focus on this transitional phase — the self-discovery of the rise and not just the reward of the result. And wow, I was so incredibly wrong about being alone in my emotions. I spoke with brilliant minds ranging in age from early twenties to early thirties –individuals from various nationalities, cities and industries. Only then, did I see that beyond the surface of these genuinely confident, intelligent, creative and accomplished people, there was some internal odyssey. A quest for greater truth, for greater knowledge and self-mastery all masked under the fear of feeling isolated from others.
I listened to each individual closely and observed their facial expressions. Suddenly, their words carried greater weight. Their stories landed in my heart and resonated with me. These were young, everyday people who were striving for something greater than themselves. Their insight excited me, because I noticed a pattern.
Now, I am not a psychologist. Nor, am I guru. I am a human connecting with other humans and listening to their stories –some of the most beautiful and raw stories. The four main things I have gathered so far from these interviews are:
- Every human is, well, a walking story. Some are like non-fiction –more direct in their approach to life. Some are like a novel –more layered and complicated. Others, like poetry –elusive at times, yet touch your heart.
- Feeling lost is the beginning of coming home to yourself again. It’s an invitation for growth.
- On the other side of fear is what you’ve always wanted. Fear is not the end of the road; it is the bridge.
- True visionaries and artists understand that vulnerability is a strength, compassion is a gift, and that power comes with responsibility.
This reconstruction of identity I see my peers grappling with daily is not unique to only the Millennial generation. Yet, we are confronting these growing pains as our external society is undergoing dramatic changes. We have less time to process and even shorter attention spans than before. But, we are unique in that our attempt to understand our conflicted internal worlds actually makes us more relatable to others in our external worlds. Globally, these cultural shifts are unravelling as people try to bridge the polarizing gaps in perspective and to empathize.
I reflect on my first anxiety attack and flip through pages of notebooks filled with my jumbled thoughts. With time, the cracks in my self-image began to make more sense. And as Millennials all over the world begin to confront themselves and their belief systems, there is a special opportunity for creating greater harmony among others. First, we must begin human-to-human.
There comes a time when nothing will ever feel the same. But, who is to say different cannot mean better? We can help each other move forward.
Several months ago I was asked to write a piece for a magazine called Tirgan, which hosts a 3-day Persian festival in Toronto celebrating Iranian culture through the arts + creative expression + discussion. Seeing it officially published today made me feel so happy because it was a way for me to combine who I am with what I love to do. Millennial Nomaad has given me a window into people's raw thoughts. Here is a glimpse into mine. The theme was identity.
P.S. Thank you to Nadia Deljou for photographing the group shot, to my friends who modeled for me, and to Benny Villegas for being my go-to tech guy. And thank you to Tirgan for giving me the opportunity to feature my piece and share my voice.
In the blogging world, competition can get real. I mean, it's not gladiator level serious. No one is dressed in metal skirts fighting in front of a riled mob. Yet, with the over abundance of information sprawled out all over the internet, getting your message across without sounding redundant, cliche or bland in comparison can be challenging. It's like everyone wants to be a guru now-a-days.
That being said, there is a big BUT to all of this. Blogging is a form of storytelling and expression. Ultimately, each blogger is either providing you with info, value or an experience. And Millennial Nomaad is all about sharing experiences. So here comes the BUT... Every writer, artist, entrepreneur, etc wants to be recognized. But, if you are worried about some healthy competition than that means you are doubting your value. In honor of sharing knowledge, sharing passion & building a community of understanding, I have selected a few fellow bloggers & entrepreneurs who have created their own niche with a unique dash of charm. I've always believed that if you provide good content (backed with good marketing) your audience will find you. And if what you provide further resonates in an authentic way, then your audience will support you.
As creative artists, sometimes we need guidance with practical living & strategic planning. (It's okay to ask for help!) Hope you enjoy this selection from some brilliant minds providing you with just that. Let me know what you think & share any insight in the comments below!
Nikki Novo is a seasoned writer having been the creator of Refinery's Miami chapter, as well as a published author. (Check out her book --> Will I Be Alone Forever: And Other Love Questions You Wish a Psychic Would Answer) I met her while at a South Florida Bloggers Networking event in Miami. I love how she simplifies ancient words of wisdom into direct and practical advice to help you lead an authentic life. She's like the go-to friend and/or cool aunt that every girl would want.
Shayda is sassy and glamorous, but don't let the polished photo shoots fool you. In addition to some healthy living tips, product reviews & glam photography, she has plenty of real and intimate advice on mindful living. Having recently received a dual Masters degree in Marriage, Couples & Family + Mental Health counseling, she's an exciting mix of compassionate meets assertive, beauty meets soul, and businesswoman all around. Shayda is all about balancing the good life + boss life.
Meet Antoinette, a.k.a The Young Professionalist. Based out of Philadelphia, she is a force to be reckoned with. We all know many millennials are turning away from the corporate world. But, Antoinette is here to help our generation improve our professional relationship in the corporate field, while encouraging companies to better appeal to millennial job seekers. In her own words, she is all about "bridging the gap between millennials and older generations to create awesome young professionals and future CEOS!" If you are a creative mind, yet are still interested in the corporate lifestyle, Antoinette is an example of how you can live the best of both worlds.
Spearheaded by founder Kate Gremillon & co-founder Tallia Deljou + their team, Mavenly is something we all wish we had about 5 years ago. (That's when I was a little freshie entering the candy store of knowledge called college.) Maybe having these mentors would have better guided my career decision making. But then again, I've always been the type to kind of just follow my intuition & figure it out from there. Nonetheless, Mavenly is a powerhouse of some incredible women & intelligent go-getters. I love their emphasis on building a community of lady bosses + a network of peer-to-peer support.
What does fear have to do with anything? The answer is everything.
Imagine for a moment. You have this amazing idea. No, not just amazing but an idea so exciting that it could possibly transform your life. An idea that if executed properly could even contain the seeds for your professional fulfillment. Imagine that, a life and a career that you would actually feel connected to or at the least content with. You daydream about this idea; you might even jot down a few ideas over coffee.
Then what? Suddenly, you become paralyzed with worry. Like still water, your momentum halts and your creative ambition becomes stagnant. One negative thought, one critique, or one apathetic reaction to your passion project and you become a mess.
Or, let's say, you meet someone. You like each other. Eventually, you might even think you love each other. The relationship starts out simple, or so you think. You feel totally cool, satisfied and in sync. You are both connected, but independent. All of a sudden comes the euphoria --those love chemicals dancing around in your system.
Then, like a bandage left on too long, you're ripped with the reality that you have fallen in love with this person. This is a beautiful stage, but it's tricky and entirely reliant on how self-aware you are. Because without self-awareness, you unknowingly invite fear into your relationship. Like the guest that never leaves, fear moves in and makes you question everyday –what if you lose this person you've grown to love? What was healthy --that rare connected, but independent bond-- starts to disintegrate as your insecurities uproot themselves like termites into the foundation of your love. This is the beginning of the end, unless you realize what is happening early on.
Now, to be fair, fear is a defense mechanism that serves a purpose. It may possibly prevent you from let's say, dangling yourself off a cliff or walking into some questionable situations. That is all fine and necessary for your ultimate survival. But, the truth is, too many of us confuse real fear with mental disillusions and emotional insecurities. And I know this not just because I have witnessed it happen to others, but because I have felt the depths of fear affect my own life.
For too long, I built up my aspirations, then talked myself out of them while I watched others fulfill their true goals. This would turn my normally enthusiastic nature into someone marinated with a bitter regret.
Millennials are especially susceptible to this fear as we face the realities of the world and mourn our childhood disillusions. We are exposed to more public criticism where our failures become magnetized, compassion makes us look weak and compromise is wishful thinking.
What is most frustrating is the paradox of our generation, because we live in a time where anything really is possible. We are a population of visionaries, creative minds, entrepreneurs and advocates who are reaching for the endless possibilities as we learn to stay grounded and are told to stay guarded. When fulfillment comes slow or not at all, we settle in disappointment.
Before anyone tries to slap the infamous labels on us by critiquing that Millennials are entitled or naïve, it helps to look at the root of our societal upbringing. We are the generation of "you can do, A+ for effort, and you are special" only to step into a world that reminds you "this is life, get used it, get over it, because no one cares about your problem."
We are aspiring to be adults at a time when our political structure is going through one of the greatest framework shifts, the economy is evolving into a startup take over, and we are told to believe in true love among a society of broken marriages. These are not excuses, but explanations of a foundation we must acknowledge in order to overcome.
Sure, there are entitled individuals among our generation. But if we are stuck with labels, I would say we are observant, a bit lost, and scared out of our minds as we try to catch up in a society that is changing rapidly every day.
So, look, fear is inevitable in our lives and absolutely necessary, because it makes us question how much we really believe in ourselves. In fact, overcoming our fear is the catalyst for some of our most rewarding experiences. My inner Disney fan girl believes that dreams still come true, but they require some magic called courage, determination, strategy and faith.
And of course, life will always be a little edgier and sweeter if you choose to live with an open heart. Time for all of us to move forward, my friends. We can do this together.
Smile. Breathe. Hakuna Matata.
Alright, we get it. We have all probably heard enough from people telling us to calm down, stay positive, and to keep moving. But, that’s okay. Because to be honest, we forget half the positive advice we hear anyway when we are drowning in our own pool of self-doubt.
Over the past few years, I’ve come to realize there are different kinds of happiness. There is that state of pleasure and excitement that we experience when something great happens. There is that silent, inner happiness that arises in a smile when we least expect it after we have overcome any emotional challenge. And then, there is that stable happiness- the state of mind in which we learn to balance the moments of euphoria with the more subtle instances of inner contentment.
In the process of experiencing it all, I’ve often thought about the concept of happiness both on my own and through conversation with those around me. A while back, my friend Paris and I actually made a list of things/moments that made us happy. And so, I stumbled upon this list that I had written in high school and compared my thoughts from then until now.
And while I still agree with the majority of my list, there is one main difference I have realized. It is not always about what makes us happy. Sometimes it is more important to focus on how we can be happy. This prompted me to create my second, basic list in hopes of stumbling upon it in a few years and once again examining the result of time and experience.
So, here is my Mini-Guide to happiness:
1.) Know that happiness is not a permanent feeling. It is an evolving state of mind that requires balance.
2.) Be honest with yourself. Know what values you stand for and respect them.
3.) Give yourself something, anything to look forward to each day. I have been doing this since I was a kid. No matter how trivial or significant it may be.
4.) Give yourself at least 5 minutes to adjust to waking up in the morning rather than jolting out of bed and rushing to get ready.
5.) Music, Music & more Music. One song can completely shift the mood and ambience. Likewise, I’d like to think that there is a song to fit almost any mood.
6.) Be curious enough. Allow yourself the freedom to grow and to explore. Branch out, but don’t forget your roots.
7.) Be open to meeting new people, but embrace true friendship and family. Don’t confuse them with bandwagon friends.
8.) Get to really know someone beyond just his/her presentation.
9.) Ask someone how he/she is doing and actually care about the reply. Kindness is underrated.
10.) Know there is a time to talk and a time to listen. A time to pursue and a time to let it be. It’s all about timing.
11.) Never close your heart. Welcome love and give love so that you can embody love.
12.) Define yourself. Figure out your own definition of happiness and how to obtain it.
– Elnaz <3
A must watch TED Talk from Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, as she talks about the process of creativity and the difference between the creative spirit and the individual.
“You know, is it rational? Is it logical that anybody should be expected to be afraid of the work that they feel they were put on this Earth to do. And what is it specifically about creative ventures that seems to make us really nervous about each other’s mental health in a way that other careers kind of don’t do, you know?”
“That’s not at all what my creative process is — I’m not the pipeline! I’m a mule, and the way that I have to work is I have to get up at the same time every day, and sweat and labor and barrel through it really awkwardly. But even I, in my mulishness, even I have brushed up against that thing, at times. And I would imagine that a lot of you have too. You know, even I have had work or ideas come through me from a source that I honestly cannot identify. And what is that thing? And how are we to relate to it in a way that will not make us lose our minds, but, in fact, might actually keep us sane?”
I once took an amateur art class as a course elective in high school. While I am definitely no Picasso or Dali, I remember a piece of encouraging advice from my teacher.
She told us in her champagne bubbly voice, “There is no mistake in art.” With these simple words, I felt reassured that if I mess up, it’s okay. I can still add colors, paint over, or change the curvature of the lines to make something out of my piece of canvas or paper. After all, who would really know what my intentions were for the piece besides myself?
Fast forward a few years later, and as always, I find value in simple words of advice. We are the ones who ultimately add meaning to what we hear and see after all.
As I continue to experience and grow, I realize that there is a deeper concept to be understood. And if we give ourselves the same sense of reassurance, we are more free to take risks without fearing so much the outcome. But, yes, this is easier said than done — know.
For me, I have often explored this in my writing. I can’t write anything without music, whether it’s a paper or a blog post or a personal piece. Not only is it because music is inspiring, but in my opinion, music helps encourage us to feel. It allows our mind the space to wander and without us always being aware, it gives us the space to feel emotions that are otherwise sheltered. And because of this, I feel more comfortable writing down my voice, rather than stressing over how each word might sound.
I carry and express my joy, my pain, or any variety of thoughts through my writing. And the best source of inspiration is often music that takes me through a wave of feelings at once, not only surface level spurts of joy or sadness. This is my personal form of art.
But as I stood on my path, frozen at the intersection of college student and ” real adult,” I came to the realization that our greatest work of art is and will always be our lives.
Now comparing our lives to art is no unique metaphor, but if you think about it, there is a great sense of power in this simple thought. To me, there are no mistakes. Every layer of experience that colors our lives adds texture and depth to who we are and who we were evolving to be.
We don’t throw away our canvas. We don’t just white out or delete the aspects that were beyond our intended vision. But, what we do is choose.
We choose to be either the canvas or the painter. We choose to hold onto the images in our mind that are familiar, or we can look at what we have so far and choose to create something worth admiring.
These are not limitations. Instead, they are part of the process that ultimately leads us to better understanding ourselves, our friendships, our relationships, and all things that move us along.
I have been inspired by many people, moments, places, and concepts in my life. While I’ll be the first to say that I’m still growing and learning, I hope that in my life, I too, can return this feeling. The feeling that our greatest art will be how we embrace our lives moment-by-moment.
This world, with its good and bad, moves me. I hope that by daring to create an authentic life, I can move it in return.
We often look in mirrors to catch a glimpse of ourselves. It is a daily habit so embedded in our routine that we only happen to notice the superficial perception of ourselves. We take a look at how we look and how we present ourselves to those around us, to the world, and to ourselves.
Hardly do we understand the image we see.
But, aside from those constructed mirrors, there is yet another way to catch our own reflection. And that is through the people we interact with.
How we respond to the people we meet and how we feel in our interactions are a mirror of our strengths and weaknesses. When someone makes us feel uncomfortable, there is often an underlying insecurity that they are unknowingly causing us to acknowledge. When we seem to repel away from an individual or become upset or angry, there is more than the objective conflict itself. There is a subjective collision of behavior or values that are being exposed.
Then we meet those that we feel drawn to. Individuals who embody a trait we admire and want to achieve for ourselves. Or those who share a mutual awareness of our strengths and make us feel understood. In those instances, what we feel and see is mirrored and a light is shed on who we are and what we believe in.
They say for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. And our reactions speak far more in volumes than any image we try to create for ourselves, because our true responses stem from our subconscious understanding of who we are.
When we begin to experience what this mirrored relationship is, we start to realize that we all have a lot to learn from each other. And those who complement us and those who challenge us are equally important in teaching us about our own habits.
The image may not always be clear and the understanding may be vague, but with time, it is as if a lens has become focused on our life. Slowly, as that lens begins to expand outward, the picture we have slowly been creating is revealed.
Even then, pictures only embody a moment and a memory. Eventually those images will fade.
But, there will always be human mirrors surrounding us that will continue to remind us of who we were and who we are as we define and redefine how we see ourselves and who we aspire to be.