Alas, another year has come to an end and another lip-sync fail has occurred to light up the twitter-verse. Prior to reading a compelling article about the fallacies of new year’s resolutions, I was getting excited about my new resolution that had “come” to me as an epiphany when visiting California last week. I have always enjoyed my conversations with Uber drivers, both for its convenience (close proximity) and the novelty of the setting (much like my own Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee setup). During one such escapade in the City of Angels, a conversation began with the simple question of the correct pronunciation of each other’s names which led him to share his story.
The middle-aged man with a southern twang and a near perfect Uber rating went on to share the story behind his unusual sounding name that came from his Acadian roots. I pondered, did he mean “Cajun” or “Creole” but he clarified that in fact, being a mixed-race man, his name was specific to Acadia and not just from the Creole language. He opened up about knowing only the French swear words as a remnant of his French roots in addition to his name. As his story unravelled of a displaced person in LA similar to his ancestors in Louisiana in the early turn of the century, I was transfixed. Here was a man who, I possibly would never have met in a normal everyday setting but because, I had the luxury of being in his car and a curiosity for his name, he was sharing his intriguing stories with me, by way of teaching me some unwritten history. Ah, technology, you never cease to amaze me. As he put it, technology has a way of connecting people like never before, linking us up with a “hey, you over there and you over here, get together and let’s do this.”
So, although the past year was a strange year for everyone – a giant concoction of loss, surprise, angst, shock and some joy (Leo winning the Oscar!). In the midst of all the madness, I embarked on my own personal journey that was equally out-of-the-ordinary as the perfect juxtaposition to the year. Yes, I could write another tirade about Trump and Brexit but maybe, I can offer up some insight into my story. That’s my resolution this year by the way: “to hear more stories” (and share them too). I’ll start of the year with my own story and possibly go on to tell some more.
On the first day of the new year, I sit back and reflect on my new year’s resolution last year which was to become a “wordsmith;” now, in previous years, I had always opted for the clichéd “I need to lose 10 pounds” or “learn a new language” type astronomical resolutions that would require countless hours and steely determination however, I would always falter. Tired of my failures, I decided to opt for a more esoteric goal that was intended to get me to start writing more often. I had always considered myself an inner writer but for some reason or the other, years of writer’s block croaked into me then the pen got replaced with calculators and eventually smart phones which sidelined my inner wordsmith. I found myself resorting to emoticons, stickers, gifs and filler abbreviations such as “hmm” and “lol” in online interactions. I was even called out for this uncharacteristic behaviour by a peer who, desperate to converse in a dazed state, was appalled at my lack of witty commentary. I was being sidelined because if I couldn’t use all those vocabulary I had learnt from my SAT study sessions then who was I?
I realized at the end of 2015 that being an aficionado of linguists was a part of my core identity. When asked at a job interview once, “what was the last book you read,” I couldn’t think of anything other than my Entrepreneurship textbook and I had to lie and make up some jargon about re-reading Sherlock’s excursions to garner enthusiasm for the upcoming TV season. I felt shameful – this wasn’t an ordinary white lie such as being a good team player but this was a lie that somehow pierced my soul (dramatic, yes, but sadly true). I was letting the world decide who I was – why did I need to learn Spanish and lose 10 lbs? How would those elusive 10 pounds enrich my mind and why was I being dictated to believe that I was 10 lbs overweight? I may not have achieved everything that I wanted to achieve with my writing abilities this year but I believe I did some valuable setup for my forthcoming journey.
My story is simple: I watch, learn, explain then write and repeat. I have circumvented myself over and over again for stories but now, world, I am coming for your stories. Be prepared! Happy New Year everyone!
Sadia Sarwar is an upcoming author with plenty of opinions and rarefied tastes. Follow her on @sadiamhsarwar.