My community told me not to have an opinion, so I built a career on having one.
WARNING! This post will get a bit sassy, sarcastic & is all based on real-life experiences/situations I have had. I’m not saying every single person in my community is this way – luckily many of them are not. Sharing these personal stories is really scary for me, so please be nice!
Alright, since that’s settled, let’s continue…
Growing up in a close Persian-Jewish community, there are/were a lot of “rules” or norms to abide by. It was a very interesting time for us 20-somethings to have been raised. For some of us (myself included), our parents came here as teenagers and adjusted to American life quite easily and adapted to the new culture. And for some, they are a little more embedded with the Iranian-Jewish traditions and beliefs. Neither is right or wrong; what works for you, may not work for others.
With that being said, I DO believe in minding your own business and not forcing your beliefs and values onto anyone else – especially if I am not your child.
I was always a very passionate kid. I read a lot, asked a lot of questions, and formed my own opinions. If someone asks me what I think about something, I’ve always been one to answer honestly – not politically. I can come off strong, but if you know me, I’m softer than a Georgia peach. My very prominent personality and strong sense of self was always met with concern from the elders in my community. I never understood it and as I grew up, it just made me more and more frustrated with the community I came from rather than seeing it for how beautiful it could be.
When I started film school at USC, I had an older man come up to me (in front of my dad) and very angrily tell me (verbatim) to “drop the film school act and go find a husband.” Just to clarify, this comment was made in 2010, not 1950. Guess he didn’t like that I had to leave a Rosh Hashana party early because I had to be on set the next day!
As soon as I started exploring my next career move and finding my true voice, I was told by several people that a man would never want to marry someone like me because I have an opinion and I want to make something of myself as a woman. “Men are intimidated!” No. Boys are intimidated.
Not too long after hearing these comments, I started to realize my personality (opinions included!) was what got me jobs, made me relatable and added to some of the greatest personal relationships of my life.
So, I began to build a career on having an opinion. I started working as an on-camera TV personality, where my job was basically to share my opinion on things.
I was working for AXS TV when I started to hear comments from girls that maybe I shouldn’t tell people I work in TV because they would think I was bragging (please note that I was ASKED each and every time – this info was not voluntarily shared).
Then I went on a date with a guy who, after asking me my thoughts on females in male dominated sports, told me (word-for-word), “you know, men in our community don’t like women with an opinion…you may want to reconsider your job and learn to just agree with your man.”
Silly me, I thought this was just maybe the older generation that thought this way.
These comments were endless. I would go home crying to my mom and dad often confused as to why America teaches women to be something and use their voice, but so many people in our community feel it’s not appropriate. I was having an identity crisis.
Surely there had to be others like me feeling this way – I couldn’t be the only one.
Many tears later, I started Give Me Mora. I built a brand. A business. Mine. With my own money. And with the help of Sali, we made this site a platform where we could discuss real things.
Unfortunately, the backlash grew.
I lost myself in the nonsense for the first year and a half of running this site. I wrote personal posts, but never let it get too personal in just pure fear of what else people would say.
That’s no way to live.
The joke was on everyone else, not me. And I LIVE for proving people wrong.
The men who I have loved and loved me in return, loved me because I am me. Unapologetically. My friends who are in my life today are in it because there is no jealousy and we empower each other to be more. My personal relationships – romantic or not – are real and honest because we all stay true to who we are and what we want. Not what X,Y, or Z wants for us.
And guess what?
Business has never been better, honey! My career has grown exponentially in the past year because I learned to stop listening to the backlash and letting it consume me. I have learned that the right men will respect me for who I am and everything that comes with it (and are secure enough to still be the man – I’m still traditional in that way). I have learned that the right friends will keep it as real with me as I keep with them. I have grown to see how amazing my parents are for letting me evolve into my own – whether they agreed with what I was doing or not.
To the naysayers in my community who just don’t get it:
You do you, boo. I got me covered.
To anyone out there reading this that is going through it:
Keeping g(r)o(w)ing. There’s nothing wrong with being YOU. The right people will stay in your life . There is no better feeling than knowing you are being true to who you are and getting what you want out of your life.