AwareNow: Issuu 17: The United Edition

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Page 25



FINDING THE STRENGTH TO SPEAK OUT & STAND UP Over the course of our lives, we all try on different masks and costumes to fit into a the world. It's what we all want: to be seen and heard in a sea of billions of people that share this planet. But we get lost in the masks we wear. We loose who we are trying to fit into our culture, our religions even our gender. The perfect "selfie" of everyone else's expectation of who we should be. This will never set you on the path to a happy life because you are taking a path that is not yours. Hiding behind the clothes, the make-up the layers of self doubt that who we are is not enough.

When I met Ariya I only saw him. He was magical to me because he could see what I could feel. His art was reflection of what I know to be true but was scared to express because of what others would think. By sharing his story it set me free and it set him free. When you stand in the truth of who you are - you give others the permission to to do the same. You become the light in another's dark day. It is then when you are free from yourself and you are on your path to happiness. What follows is a personal story from Ariya Razmjou. This is his truth.

Strength comes from living your truth.

To be true and authentic is your path to true happiness, freedom, peace and joy.

You may be mocked by others, but they have no power over you...for you have discovered the power from within.

My name is Ariya. I was born in Tehran, Iran. I am gay.

It’s taken me a long time to get to this moment. To say and write those words without reserve. To share all that I am. To stand in my truth without fear. To stand without judgement of myself. To be who I am with all my imperfections and in all my glory. But it has been a long path to get to this place and it has only just begun. It’s been filled with trauma, fear and abuse. I have stood side by side with death more than once and have chosen life.

My first memories as a child always take me home to a place of love and care from my parents and grandparents. Those early years of life were beautiful. I felt safe and joyful. Love and light surrounded me. I had a clear voice those days as a child. I felt free to talk about anything and express myself in a way that felt right to me until the age of 5 when it all started to change.

Sometimes when I expressed myself, I could see reactions from people that I did not understand. I could see the expressions on their faces that spoke a thousand words.

Why are you like this?

Why do you look like this?

Why do you act like a girl?

Why do you put flowers and ribbons on your toy car?

Why do you have a girlish voice?

Why are you different from other little boys? 25 AWARENOW / THE UNITED EDITION