“The Names They Gave Me” by Tasbeeh Herwees
My mother spits out this last word with venom. Amreekan. Americans. It sounds like a curse coming out of her mouth. Eight years in this country and she’s still not convinced she lives here. She wears her headscarf tightly around her neck, wades across the school lawn in long, floor-skimming skirts. Eight years in this country and her tongue refuses to bend and soften for the English language. It embarrasses me, her heavy Arab tongue, wrapping itself so forcefully around the clumsy syllables of English, strangling them out of their meaning.
“Nobody’s Son” by Mark Slouka
For years I hid my parents in my work. Submerged their names, their lives, in stories. Nobody would know. I let them come closest to the surface in a book called “The Visible World.” Even the title pointed to all that I couldn’t say. Was it cowardice? Decency? All my life, I’ve been better at taking pain than giving it — which suggests a bit of both. Truth brings either freedom or grief, and I didn’t want to risk it. I didn’t want to hurt them. It was just the three of us.
“Inside the Box” by Jessica Olien
Most people agree that what distinguishes those who become famously creative is their resilience. While creativity at times is very rewarding, it is not about happiness. Staw says a successful creative person is someone “who can survive conformity pressures and be impervious to social pressure.”
To live creatively is a choice. You must make a commitment to your own mind and the possibility that you will not be accepted. You have to let go of satisfying people, often even yourself.