As long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a politician. When I was younger and people would ask me, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I would always say, “President!” This earned me a very obvious nickname: the President.
Back then, I wanted to become President of Pakistan because I lived there and I saw so many problems in the society that I wanted to fix. To me, becoming president was the key to that. It seemed like the President held the power to do anything and everything there, because whenever something went wrong, people would blame the President. I used to think why doesn’t the President just do things right instead of wrong if everyone hates him? I didn’t understand all the complications of governments and politics at that time.
I had a keen interest in history and current events; not many kids sit with their grandfather to watch the evening news or with their mom to watch historical documentaries. But I did. I liked them.
So in a nutshell, I was a 5-6 year old kid who wanted to end poverty, send every child to school, and bring peace to the Middle East.
Over the years, I have gone through a lot of “what-I-want-to-be-when-I-grow up” phases. After immigrating to the United States, I realized that I could not be president of Pakistan or the USA. I was a little bit disheartened because I saw my chances at a career in the public service slimming. Since I always loved computers, at first I wanted to be a computer software engineer. In the 4th grade, I decided I wanted to become an Astronomer/Astronaut (Mars was a big deal at that time). I even got a super-cool Meade telescope as a birthday gift…. but soon I realized becoming an astronaut requires getting shots and medical examinations and nope, can’t do that.
I went back to IT and Graphic Designing in middle school and landed at Business and Marketing (aspirations of an advertising firm) in high school. I was really into business classes and held officer/e-board position at my school’s FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) all 4 hours of high school. However, my heart never really settled for these “alternatives.” I was so into politics and government that I could not let it go.
I learned a lot about leadership and management skills while taking business courses in high school and being a part of FBLA. The history and government classes taught me about the love of my life: politics. I love to travel and still want to work on creating a solution to fix problems in our world like poverty and lack of education…
So I put all these together and realized that studying International Relations and working as a diplomat is what I should be aiming for. After taking an elective IR course in my junior year of high school, it was confirmed. Diplomacy and IR were my field, my passion, my love! I could be a leader, politician, travel, AND help shape policy that would fix the world! It was perfect.
In October 2013, Anderson Cooper of CNN received the “Wonk of the Year” Award from American University. As Anderson is one of my favorite TV personalities and news anchors, I was very excited to attend. At this event, Anderson Cooper, being the funny guy he is, made a lot of jokes but also gave students a lot of advice. Studying in the most politically active campus in the US can be quite overwhelming because everyone is in the race to be at the top. Everyone wants to become the President or Ambassador or UN Secretary General. But something Anderson said really struck me because it was the blatant truth. I think people who aspire to be politicians (career politicians) have a reason for doing so that goes beyond their hunger for power and such, but I think that they/we need to constantly remind ourselveswhy we want this.
The following is a quote (almost exact) from AC when he spoke at AU; it really had me thinking that day!
“[It’s like] when children tell me they want to be a politician… I think you should be a real person before you become a fake person.”
While Anderson was clearly making a joke, he said something that many people do believe–politicians are fake. There are bad people in the world, but not all politicians are fake and not all politicians are corrupt or have the wrong intentions… but Anderson Cooper’s point on trying be a real person, a real you, before you can try to become a new you really struck me.
© wanderingderwish.com 2013-2014
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