How War Changed The Course Of My Life

How War Changed The Course Of My Life


Every so often, when I am sitting at home and drinking a cup of chamomile tea, I often wonder what my life would be like if the Soviet Union did not invade Afghanistan. See, my family fled the emerging war in Afghanistan during the 1990’s. They were forced to leave everything behind, whether that meant their beloved country, childhood photos, extended family members, or all their belongings. They were forced to seek refuge in unfamiliar lands and take with them only the thing with the highest importance, themselves. Sometimes they wish they had never left because leaving their country symbolized a lot more than just physical movement. It meant losing their culture, identity, way of life and perhaps even language or religion. They often question their decision, wondering if it was all worth it in the end. What if we were all better off in Afghanistan? What if moving to America meant losing our cultural identity? What if this move was not the best decision in the long-run?

Sometimes even I think about how my life would have been if they did not make that pivotal decision. I wonder if I would be the same person I am today, with the same morals, values and outlook on life. I wonder if I would communicate the same as I do now. Would I like the same music, or dress similarly? Perhaps if we stayed in Afghanistan, my brother and I might not have had broken Farsi and we could have been able to read and write Farsi proficiently. We might have also been much more in-tune to our roots and full of knowledge about our motherland. We might have had a different perspective about the world, especially about America. These questions would bother me a lot because I knew there was no concrete answer to them. However, I realized that life has its own way of explaining things and our job is to accept that sometimes life takes us to certain directions for a reason.

As I got older and a bit wiser I realized that the direction life has taken me is actually the best one. Instead of growing up in a war-torn country I was able to grow up in safety. I was able to utilize the opportunities available in America, whether that is pertaining to my education or my career to its full extent. In fact, growing up in the west made me truly appreciate the things I have because I knew I could easily be in a worse situation. Having the background that I had also meant carrying certain responsibilities on my back. I always knew that I had to do something for the people back home in my country therefore that motivated me to work hard, study hard and be the best version of myself possible. Sometimes I think that being far made me be a much more socially active and conscious individual. Perhaps I would not be as driven as I am today if I grew up in Afghanistan. I might have had other motives, such as dreaming of western life (as some do) or feeling extremely helpless and hopeless about my situation.

All in all, while my family thought that moving to America would be detrimental to my brother and I in terms of culture and identity, it actually allowed myself to admire my country and the strong people who risk their lives living there on a daily basis to an even larger extent. Me being far from my country inspired me to learn more about it and emerge myself into whatever that I was missing out on. It bonded me to my culture, identity, religion and afghan-lifestyle in a way in which my parents never would have envisioned. Never in a million years would they think that their kids would be so caring and concerned about a country that is thousands of miles away from them. I think this proves that life is an unexplainable journey and what you may think is negative at the time can one day turn around and become the most positively impactful event in your life. Who would have thought that the aftermath of war would end up so sweet?

Cover Image Credit: Steve McCurry

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30 Things I'd Rather Be Than 'Pretty'

Because "pretty" is so overrated.

Nowadays, we put so much emphasis on our looks. We focus so much on the outside that we forget to really focus on what matters. I was inspired by a list that I found online of "Things I Would Rather Be Called Instead Of Pretty," so I made my own version. Here is a list of things that I would rather be than "pretty."

1. Captivating

I want one glance at me to completely steal your breath away.

2. Magnetic

I want people to feel drawn to me. I want something to be different about me that people recognize at first glance.

3. Raw

I want to be real. Vulnerable. Completely, genuinely myself.

4. Intoxicating

..and I want you addicted.

5. Humble

I want to recognize my abilities, but not be boastful or proud.

6. Exemplary

I want to stand out.

7. Loyal

I want to pride myself on sticking out the storm.

8. Fascinating

I want you to be hanging on every word I say.

9. Empathetic

I want to be able to feel your pain, so that I can help you heal.

10. Vivacious

I want to be the life of the party.

11. Reckless

I want to be crazy. Thrilling. Unpredictable. I want to keep you guessing, keep your heart pounding, and your blood rushing.

12. Philanthropic

I want to give.

13. Philosophical

I want to ask the tough questions that get you thinking about the purpose of our beating hearts.

14. Loving

When my name is spoken, I want my tenderness to come to mind.

15. Quaintrelle

I want my passion to ooze out of me.

16. Belesprit

I want to be quick. Witty. Always on my toes.

17. Conscientious

I want to always be thinking of others.

18. Passionate

...and I want people to know what my passions are.

19. Alluring

I want to be a woman who draws people in.

20. Kind

Simply put, I want to be pleasant and kind.

21. Selcouth

Even if you've known me your whole life, I want strange, yet marvelous. Rare and wondrous.

22. Pierian

From the way I move to the way I speak, I want to be poetic.

23. Esoteric

Do not mistake this. I do not want to be misunderstood. But rather I'd like to keep my circle small and close. I don't want to be an average, everyday person.

24. Authentic

I don't want anyone to ever question whether I am being genuine or telling the truth.

25. Novaturient

..about my own life. I never want to settle for good enough. Instead I always want to seek to make a positive change.

26. Observant

I want to take all of life in.

27. Peart

I want to be honestly in good spirits at all times.

28. Romantic

Sure, I want to be a little old school in this sense.

29. Elysian

I want to give you the same feeling that you get in paradise.

30. Curious

And I never want to stop searching for answers.
Cover Image Credit: Favim

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How Growing Up In A Culturally Diverse Environment Changed Me

We are all human.


I can proudly say that I am from Montgomery County, Maryland, more specifically from the city of Gaithersburg. According to a 2018 study by WalletHub, three of the top 10 culturally diverse cities in the United States are located in Montgomery County. Those cities include Gaithersburg, Germantown, and Silver Spring.

I have lived in Montgomery County ever since the day I was born. Growing up in such a culturally and economically diverse area has educated me with the value of accepting differences. Since I was exposed to an assortment of cultures at such a young age, I hardly ever noticed differences among my peers and I. The everyday exposure to various cultures taught me to embrace diversity and look beyond appearances such as the color of someone's skin. I was able to open my eyes to other ideas, lifestyles, and backgrounds.

Ever since I was a child, I was not only taught to welcome different cultures and ethnic groups, but I was always surrounded by them. From my elementary to high school years, every classroom was filled with racial, ethnic, and linguistic diversity. Coming from someone apart of the Caucasian race, I was often the minority in school. Not everyone is as fortunate to experience such a multicultural society.

Since being from Montgomery County, I have grown up as a person with an open mind and strong values. Diversity has not only taught me to be more mindful but has also helped me become more of a respectful person. Learning about other cultures and backgrounds is essential to help societies strive, but experiencing it firsthand is something that no one can teach you.

After being in countless culturally diverse situations, I have been provided with many lifelong advantages. I was taught to be inclusive, fair, and understanding. I am able to be comfortable and accepting of all cultures and religions. After growing up in such a culturally diverse environment, I now develop culture shock when I'm not surrounded by diversity.

Our world is filled with numerous different kinds of cultures, ethnic groups, and religions. Being raised in a diverse environment has prepared me for what the real world looks like and taught me exactly what equality means. As I was growing up, I was always taught to be nonjudgemental of others and to embrace all individuals for who they are.

Diversity molds our identities. Every individual is unique, but each of us shares at least one trait — we are all human. Who would rather experience a homogeneous society, when they could constantly be learning about other cultures and building diverse relationships? When growing up, I never realized how impacted and truly thankful I would be to of had the opportunities to experience diversity each day. So here is a long overdue thank you to my parents for choosing to raise me in such an incredibly diverse place all of my life.

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