Thursday, February 10, 2011

New Me

As salaam alaikum,

So, Mubarak may step down in the next 24 hours? Once again, I get my most updated news from facebook status updates which refer me to news sources, and not the news sources themselves. Insha'Allah, whatever the announcement will be, and whatever the outcome of the announcement is, the outcome will lead to true steps towards democracy and do right by the people and their demands.

EDIT: Hah, well, never mind...

Maybe my last entry didn't do justice to how truly I am inspired by the young people, people my age, in Tunisia and now Egypt, especially, in bringing their grievances to the attention of a dictator. I realize, as I will be 26 in less than a week now, that I'm still young and the power of my youth in seeing others like me across the Atlantic doing something big and meaningful to their daily lives and their liberties to pursue their personal purposes of life.


Taking this back to the national front, I've been reading articles that are talking about how the face of the US youth is going to be drastically different from the aging least, in terms of race. In the New York Times especially, from their "Race Remixed" series to other articles about children in schools, it seems that soon enough, the school population is going to be majority non-white, with Latino children making up the largest minority. Articles have also talked about an increasing mixed-race population in schools and the fact that one in seven new marriages are interracial or inter-ethnic (yes!). My google calculator tells me that's more than 14%.


These two facts, in synthesis, have helped me remember who I was, and helped me redefine myself. Let's go back to six years ago, when I was 19 and about to turn 20. I was a sophomore in college. Unlike now, I did not doubt the relevance of my youth. I was confident in my God-given beauty and talents and the fact that I was going to be a catch for anybody. Of course the men stopped and gawked and whistled at me...I was young, I was well put together, and though I didn't flaunt it, it was apparent.

For me, this was the time to do everything.

I used to want to be a name it. I wanted to be a young writer, authoring my first novel as an adolescent, I wanted to be a young activist, though I did not have a cause. I wanted to be a young wife, as I had my eyes on the type of man I wanted to marry, potentially a younger mother than my mother was. I wanted to be young and religious. I didn't want to wait a lifetime to be spiritually evolved. I didn't find it necessary to bother through trials that could teach me something that, with maturity, I could know now.

I was young, I felt it, and I wanted to do everything now, now, now. I'd been this way since I was about twelve, when I decided that I wanted to become one of the most spiritual people on earth at a young age. I think my mother's shows on young people who had experienced near-death experiences and came back knowing the truth of things and spiritually evolved didn't help...

Fast forward to now. It's six years later. By my previous definitions of what I wanted for myself, I am a failure. I have not published my first novel, I was not an activist in youth because I never did find that cause. I am not a wife and I am unlikely to be a markedly younger mother than my mother was, who had me at 30. I'm learning that there is no substitute for experience when it comes to spirituality and though I was mature for my age, I recognize that the life Allah (swt) has granted me is building my faith in a way I could not arrive at spontaneously or through any specific religious endeavor.

But six years later, and though I feared feeling it for years, the feeling that I was failing has dissipated. And thankfully, because I was never anyone's failure. Taking maturity up a notch, because of the experiences I have and continue to have, I imagine more things about myself and tempering what was a youthful, erotic view on life to a more seasoned, romantic view of life.

At almost 20, I was in the generation that was going to change the world. I had graduated '03 from college, a year recited since I was 8 years old, and I just knew that our year, big things were going to happen. I imagined us rallying for our invisible causes, turning the world on its head. I was ready, for whenever the cause came about, I was ready for the revolution. I was going to do my part. I believed in several things, including interracial marriage. Especially as a Muslim woman, I wanted to marry someone not my own race to help promote multiculturalism in Islam, to do my part to help blur racial lines so that we could be brothers and sister in Islam without much regard to ethnicity and subsequent hierarchies.

At almost 26, I am in the generation that is changing the world and will continue to do so, as youths in solidarity, as youths in protests, as adults in leadership roles, pushing out the grandfathered refuse of those who came before us. As a future physician with training in public health, I will begin my practice at community health care centers with an eye for openings in leadership positions in my community, such as for medical director. I will make sure that the community health care center includes social programs that fit with my new community's needs. And later in my career, if it comes to it, I will be an advocate for community health centers, involving myself in political processes to make sure that they expand to cover the needs of even more uninsured and under-insured people in the US, residents, immigrants, documents or not. But for now, while I'm still a student, there is much for me to do. I'm completing my education. I'm reading the news, keeping myself informed. My passion lies in health for minorities, immigrants and the low-income among us. They make up are our real majority.

And while, if it were in my future, I would marry someone outside of my race, I recognize that this is not the only way and maybe not always the best way to promote multiculturalism within the Muslim community.

That's what I mean between the differences between eroticism and romanticism. I don't consider myself more jaded at almost 26, I just consider myself less lusty than almost 20. Eroticism has the passion but is superficial, in the moment with poor foresight, feeling justified in its existence but clouded with a sense of urgency and immediacy that blinds one to alternatives of the moment. Romanticism is the passion with more depth, more foresight, still idealistic but with hopes to touch the sky because of the idea that it is possible, not hope to touch the sky because it being possible is so hott.

At almost 20, I was a black American Muslim sophomore premed in college, majoring in Cell and Molecular Biology and Spanish, living in Ann Arbor, MI. At almost 26, I am an Igbo Nigerian-black American Muslim graduate student in public health concentrating in Family and Community Health with a focus on Maternal Child Health and a fourth year medical student living in Boston, MA. Because of my intended, I'm more Nigerian than I've been since our family friends moved away when I was 11. Because of my training, I know a lot more what I want to do with my life and my career, saving my activism for causes I'm most passionate about. Because of my change in locale, I've been exposed to a more beautiful and diverse setting and it lets me know that there's even better out there.

And because of these six years of learning, my spirituality means more to me and is more efficient.

Say hello to the new me.

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