And I am forever grateful to be mixed race.
My story is that I was born in 1991 in Zaporozhye, Ukraine, the same year that the Soviet Union fell apart.
My mother is Ukrainian and my father is Pakistani. They met in the medical institute in the Soviet Ukraine, fell in love, and started a family. By the time I was born they also had another baby, my older brother. Things were looking and feeling comfortable.
In the 80’s the Soviet Union had many programs for enhancing the world’s perception of it. That is how my father ended up in medical school there — there was a program that invited high-achiever students from Pakistan, India, and some other countries to train and learn there.
He loved his life there. He speaks of it often.
My mother says that at the time she was pretty critical of the restrictions on literature, religion, free-speech, and other things, but after facing capitalism, she is not so sure that living in the Soviet Union was the worst thing ever, or that much different in terms of how happy she feels now versus then. (But I digress; perhaps I can explore what she meant in another article).
My father had achieved his medical degree and was en route to pursuing a PhD. Then all hell broke loose and the Soviet Union fell apart.
I believe the story is that foreigners with a visa could not get a new one in the administrative chaos that ensued and my father had to leave immediately with or without his family. Another version of the story is that there was so much insecurity for a good quality of life that my parents just did not feel comfortable raising a family in chaos. Another version of the story is that my father’s mother was unwell and on her deathbed, and my parents wanted to tend to her during this heavy period.
Whatever the exact situation was, my parents decided to move to Pakistan, where my father had family and a network. There, he established a private medical practice, the children went to private school, my sister was born, and things were relatively stable for about 11 years of my life.
Pakistan in the meantime was not stable at all. Pakistan has been cycling in and out of oligarchy for most of its existence. It is a very young country; it was declared a sovereign state only in 1947. It really is an infant getting on its feet and in terms of economy, it has not been the easiest for the baby to find its balance.
So in 2002, my parents decided that they really could not mess around with the children’s futures. It was time to settle into security once and for all, so they aimed for the first world. My family immigrated to Canada.
When we moved we all went through an epic hustling phase to get comfortable and it looks like we finally are in a good place — granted we all feel kind of broken from the process, but the future is looking bright.
And about 14 years later I started to pursue my PhD in Sweden, which I am in the middle of now.
Having lived this multicultural and international existence, I feel like I have shed my skin so many times, and I am finally coming into myself.
I often used to wonder what makes a good life, and how do I achieve whatever good is. But then I realized that I already had a good life. I have already achieved that which leads to feeling and doing good.
It’s as simple as having a global perspective.
Next time you vote or make any administrative decisions or think about why your mood is low and how to improve it, check yourself, your routines, your life, the people in it, and the resources that are available to you.
Start your self exploration and life improvement journey by asking these questions:
(1) are you in good health: physical and mental? Yes, or no? You KNOW when you feel good and when you don’t.
(2) how can you get better?
Does the life you live, in the system you live in, contribute to your good life and health, or do you walk around being nervous and uncomfortable, searching for opportunities to improve, but having none?
If you have the opportunities to improve, pick which ones you want to take and make a plan with a finish line. Visualize it.
If you do not have the opportunities to improve, it’s time to move.