I've often struggled with knowing exactly what I want to do with my life. Torn between multiple cultures, family influence, love and passion, I fight every single day to weave through the webs of life, to get to where I need to go, wherever that may be. But even when I find the things I want to be doing, I have to weave through our imperialist white supremacist patriarchal society to do so.
I have wanted to write since I was 13 years old. I wanted to get my novels published, and to change the world with my voice, at a time where I couldn't speak those words publicly. Writing was my escape, my form of communicating things I not only couldn't speak, but I could communicate things from halfway across the world, and slowly, I can change it. I've come a long way since then, finding my voice, and finding a holistic approach to impact the world on the largest scale I could find. I could impact it from my work in a Fortune 500 company, at a non-profit, through city meetings and workgroups, with my workshops and speaking events, and with my writing.
I can honestly say, I love all these things. I love spreading awareness and starting the difficult conversations in every single one of those spheres, and despite their differences I value the different challenges within each one. The difficult part is not using different tools for each new environment, nor is it challenging our cultures when it comes to preventing us from having these conversations, but rather it's the social constructs in place that indirectly affect every single one of these fields. The reality is that even though all I've ever wanted to do was to begin these conversations and to spread awareness, society tells me that in every single area I need to be successful to create the biggest possible impact. If I do not receive promotions as an engineer, and enter management within a few years then I can not influence in my workspace. If I do not conform into non-profit culture and do things like I'm supposed to, I can not make a difference. If I am not invited back for bigger and better meetings, then I will not be heard. If I do not increase my audience with every talk and start making money for them then I have nothing worthy to say. If I do not have thousands of followers on social media and my blog then I am irrelevant.
So instead of focusing on the conversations I've always wanted to have, the ones we need to be having, and to spread awareness, I find myself focusing more on networking at work, or navigating an oppressive system, or tweaking my talks so that they're accepted by the mainstream, and so on and so forth. Days where my sense of 'failure' is so overwhelming I hurriedly write an article or two or nine just to remain relevant, counting the followers one at a time, feeding my need to conform to society's view of success, and of being a man and everything else society tells us and forget that the reason I'm here in the first place is to talk about the things everyone needs to hear, things that challenge the status quo. Everything I've ever wanted to talk about will actually make me a very unpopular individual within our white supremacist patriarchal society. I'm what you'd describe as socially awkward at times, have experiences that no one would wish upon anyone else. I have a life that many can not relate to in its entirety but can relate to my different experiences, and I want to talk about Mental Health, Sexism, Race, White Supremacy, LGBTQ rights, patriarchy, islamophobia and so many other things that make me stand out as an individual. They make me different, because I believe we should be kind to the worst of people, and that everyone is doing their absolute best and we all deserve better. Yeah, I'm not popular with the mainstream or the radicals or even the individuals in my everyday life. If I was a business model I'd never get funded because my target are individuals that do not want to be targeted at all.
But the reality is that my success is not reliant on turn out and reach. No, my success is the moment I type on a keyboard or step up on a stage and show up and say the things that my soul needs me to say. I don't do this so that people can hear me, I do it so they can hear themselves. I do it to empower others to take a stand and I don't need millions of followers, and promotions or anything else for that. If those things happen then fantastic, but that is not my success. I am successful just as I am, with my 32 twitter followers, and 600 website page views a month. I don't need my name out there, or to be recognized walking down the street. I want to wake up one day and see that people are kinder, more supportive and loving than the day before. Every single one of us makes a difference with every word, every moment of our lives. I pray that I do not cause harm as I go through this journey, but I'm not seeking to change the world single handedly. The world will change, whether I'd like it to or not, whether I actively seek the change or not. But I can control how I live my everyday, and if I stick to who I really am, then not only will I continuously grow for the better, but the world will automatically change with me.
Ahmad Abojaradeh is the Co-Founder and Director of Mental Health for MCL, An Engineer, a world traveler, a Peer Support Specialist, a Novelist and the founder and editor of Life in My Days. He hopes to spread awareness of living a life of wellness through his writing, workshops and speaker events.