When the idea of a personal website occurred to me, I immediately bought a host and domain. I wanted to commit to building my site. What better way than to tie money into it? The initiative was well-meant, but it simply wasn’t enough. I learned that after paying the first annual renewal fee without even having launched the site!
As I often confess, I’m a perfectionist. The upside to that is that when I produce something, I know it’s damn good (totally not boasting :D). The downside is that reaching that point of satisfaction can be annoyingly long because I’m super picky. For instance, take a look at About Simply Saeed. Like it? I hope you do because it’s taken me roughly 6 months of relentless writing & rewriting!
That being said, I don’t want to get stuck in that vicious cycle again. When I launched the site, I reassured myself it was more than OK and now I needed to focus on using the site. I tried writing the About page in Farsi, only to realise it’ll take as long as the English version (maybe more) because it requires a different narrative. No thanks! I’d rather focus my efforts on writing for the site than about it.
I didn’t start a blog because I wanted to have an online presence. Well, actually, I did, but not just that. The painstaking effort I put into designing and developing Simply Saeed was with a set of goals in mind. And those goals all involve English.
First off, I want to write to write about my travel experiences. I think foreigners could benefit from it more than Iranians, even if most of it is about Iran (for now). I’ll be telling stories and showing people the ropes; there’s plenty of content in Farsi for curious Iranians. I can’t say the same for the English language. At least content that isn’t overridden with grammatical mistakes, mistranslations and boring and biased information. People need the real thing and who better than a bilingual to give it to them?
Then there’s the teaching aspect of my life. When I’m not on the move, I occasionally take on an English class or two. Teaching in institutes proved to be no fun because I had to do things their way. So I quit and I’ve been teaching according to my style since. That means I get to choose my students because I care for them and I want the effort I put in to motivate and pay off. If someone can’t speak English, it’s too soon for us to start working on skills. Another system, like group classes, will suit them best.
But Iranians who want to be my English students aren’t the only ones I’m interested in. I have a lot of respect for intelligent individuals and knowing another language is one of the criteria I look for. I believe an Iranian who’s gone to the trouble of learning English will probably have a broader outlook on life. I imagine that my lifestyle of diversity will appeal more to someone who appreciates it and has procured the means necessary to comprehend it.
Let’s face it: I live in a non-English speaking country where I don’t get much practice. Even if I do find Iranians who understand English, more often than not (sadly), they shy away from speaking out of fear or lack of self-confidence. Fortunately, my career as a tourist guide puts me in contact with English speakers, but not as often as I’d like. Plus, they’re usually not native English speakers, so my knowledge of it is rarely challenged, i.e. not too many learning opportunities.
So it’s up to me to train myself. I always recommend writing a journal as one of the best ways to learn and practice a language. Why be a hypocrite? Making a habit of writing English and more importantly, reviewing and revising it will definitely improve my skills. If it were just a diary, I’d write and move on. But with a blog, I must go over my work. Who wants to be wrong on the internet? 😳
The Farsi-speaking community is big, but it’s nowhere near the English one. And in many ways (though we don’t like to admit it), we’re lagging behind: the digital nomad lifestyle, blogging using modern day technology, creating revenue from an online platform, etc. But that’s not an excuse I want to cling on to.
If I want my life to play out as I envision it, I need to look to the best resources I can get my hands on. Content in English is created at a much faster pace and is more readily available to he who seeks. As I gradually breathe life into Simply Saeed, I’ll be on the lookout for material that will refine my ways. It’s easy to be the best in a pond, but show me the way to the ocean, baby!
So here’s another sad reality among my countrymen and women: we value Iranians more when they receive recognition from outside. To clarify, someone could excel in their field of choice and attain the highest degrees, but they might easily be overlooked here. But if that person (or even someone with lesser abilities) receives some international recognition and praise, then they’ll be catapulted to success and popularity domestically. Take Asghar Farhadi for example. I mean he was an acclaimed director in Iran, but winning
the Oscar 2 Oscars made him a national hero.
So, I’ve charted my path to success through international waters. Through my interactions with friends from all over, I feel moderately confident that I can reach an audience not limited by geopolitical boundaries. Hopefully, that will convince more people to join my cause which is a selfless one: liberate yourself and live the happy life you dream.
I’m bilingual and while I could write in both Farsi and English, I’ve chosen to stick with the latter for now. As well as the reasons mentioned, there are other motivators like avoiding any trouble with the authorities, using my pre-written content, cherishing memories with faraway friends and more. Hopefully, once I achieve what I envision for Simply Saeed, I’ll start rolling out the Farsi version and get more people involved.
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