Man…I’m 23 years old today. As I sit here and reflect on how the last 23 years have transpired, I feel nothing but pure gratitude.
I mean, I’m not supposed to be here. I’m not supposed to be in the United States, living at perhaps one of the most influential regions in modern time. I’m not supposed to be getting my Master’s at one of the top universities in the country on a full-ride scholarship. I’m not supposed to know the people that I know.
I was born in a village in Pakistan where generations upon generations of my ancestors lived the entirety of their lives. I was supposed to grow up there, raise a family there, and spend the remainder of my life there.
When I was five years old, my parents made the decision to move to America. We didn’t have a place to live when we moved so we stayed with my uncle’s family in his two-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn until our family was able to move into a place of our own. As the story goes, there were eleven of us living in a two-bedroom apartment for over a year.
After that, our family of five moved into a one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, where we spent the next several years. When I reflect on those times, I realize how incredibly tough they must have been for my parents and I have absolutely no idea how they managed. The amazing part is that some of the best memories that I’ve made were during this stage of my life. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized how difficult those times must have been for my parents. For them to go through what they went through and still keep their children happy and content with their lives is nothing short of extraordinary. My parents have sacrificed their entire adulthoods for their children. I can’t ever repay them for that but I will always try to make them proud.
We moved to a run-down farm on the Eastern Shore of Maryland in the early 2000’s and things never got easier after that. But somehow, we managed to pull through. No matter where we went and what we did, people were there to help and we were able to capitalize on the opportunities presented to us. Without the help of individuals from the community in Worcester County, Maryland, our family surely wouldn’t be in the position that it is in today.
The thing is that there are countless other individuals out there, like the members of my family, that have the potential to do incredible things with their lives but just need the opportunity to do so. For me, there is nothing more fulfilling that providing an opportunity for others to improve their circumstances and seeing them capitalize on it. I was lucky enough to realize that this is my life’s mission at a very early age. I am deeply passionate about helping others and have been for as long as I can remember. I always felt like the luck that I’ve received throughout my life is the universe’s way of equipping me with the resources I need to help others.
I have a strong feeling that this year is going to be pivotal and I’m excited to see where it takes me. I’m excited to see what opportunities open up and I’m excited for the doors that I can open for others. Although things look bleak at the moment, I’m excited to do my part in making this world a better place.