Cultural Background: Bangladeshi
Anona Wellness Profile: 9/10
PART ONE: Getting Familiar with Javed
1. Tell us a bit about yourself! What’s your name, background, etc.
I’m a User Experience Designer, which means I design mobile applications and websites. I’m 30 years old, that’s pretty much it…
2. Do you have any hobbies or special interests? What do you like to do for fun?
I like to stick my face into everything. I tend to have phases of different interests. I’m super interested in dance, photography, videography, fitness is a huge part of my life, and honestly anything wellness-related. I’m a huge advocate for emotional intelligence, I love drawing, journaling, etc.
I also do some public speaking and talk to universities and other organizations about emotional intelligence.
3. What does your typical day look like?
I’m working on a project with Air Canada right now where we’re designing the user experience for their application. We have design SCRUMS and meetings and try to get aligned on what the goal is for the day and the feature of the application that we’re focusing on.
There’s also another designer that I work with who’s a senior and he’ll usually give me feedback on my designs that I’ve done. After lunch, we go into our own silos. At the end of the day, we’ll have design reviews with the product team, then the netx day we would start working on the design feedback.
After work, I usually end up either going to the gym or taking some sort of athletic conditioning class. Sometimes I’ll take a yoga class.
4. How have your dreams and goals changed throughout your life?
My dreams and goals have definitely changed a lot over the years. However, each of these dreams and goals are kind of being informed by the last, so they’re kind of all connected in a sense.
I think before, my dreams were more high level. My dream was always to be a designer and to be someone who enjoys their livelihood. I knew one thing for certain was that whatever I did should provide me with a sense of fulfillment and it should also be a channel for me to be able to impact the world in some way.
Now, I’m a designer and I achieved that particular goal, and now my dreams are about acquiring knowledge and disseminating and sharing that knowledge. It’s more specific, but also insanely broad.
It’s a lot about checking in with yourself to see whether this is working for you and whether you’re happy with whatever pursuit you’re on. It’s a matter of learning how to read you own language. We each have our own language; our heart has its own language. The more you listen to your heart and listen to your soul in a way, you become better at reading your own language and you can better tell whether you’re happy with what you’re really doing.
PART TWO: Culture
5. How closely do you identify with and affiliate with your culture? How assimilated into mainstream culture do you think you are? How assimilated into mainstream culture are the members of your family?
I was born in Bangladesh, meaning that I’m a first generation immigrant. My parents emigrated to Canada when I was about 4. I was raised in Canada but born in Bangladesh. Culturally, I’m South-Asian and of Muslim-descent.
Growing up, it seemed kind of like our goal was to assimilate as fast as we could. In a way, that part of me was kind of suppressed, but as I grew up, I started to become more involved in South Asian culture and I’m a lot closer with it. Now, I love South Asian culture, food, the weddings, etc. I can definitely be critical of it, but there’s so much that I love about it now, and I’ve opened up to the idea of it a lot more.
I’ve assimilated to Western culture and it definitely wasn’t difficult. I associate myself more as someone Canadian than someone Bangladeshi, and that’s because I’ve been here since I was 4. However, that’s not to say I don’t have cultural values as well, because I grew up primarily in my household with my parents who brought over all of the cultural values from back home. It’s kind of a balancing act, I’d like to think I’ve taken the good from my culture and the good from Western culture to create a new culture. That’s what’s so unique about first-generation immigrants. It’s confusing, but we have the opportunity to see what’s amazing about our cultures, but also what’s great about Western culture, and hybridize the two to create something new.
PART THREE: Wellness
6. What comes to mind when you think of wellness?
I think wellness is very holistic. I think many people confuse wellness for just looking fit or being a certain size or shape, but it’s a holistic thing for me at least, and it’s about maintaining a balance between your physical, mental, and spiritual self.
7. Do you think that wellness and associated activities are typically well understood/accepted within your culture and overall community?
Definitely back home, it wasn’t something that was emphasized, and it’s definitely something that’s made it difficult growing up in this culture, especially as a man. The importance of mental health is definitely understated in our culture.
With my friends and the people I’m surrounded by, the people I’m around understand the importance of mental health, and all have fitness and wellness goals. I have friends who I work out with, friends who I go to yoga with, etc. Western culture does put some emphasis on wellness and mental health.
Most of the male groups that I’ve seen growing up are not afforded to see value in therapy, because they see it as a form of weakness. Society doesn’t allow them to express anything beyond anger.
8. What wellness activities do you typically engage in (if any)?
As well as doing stuff for mental health, I’m a creative person at heart, so I need these outlets. It’s also just a matter of practicing courage by engaging in a lot of wellness activities. If you approach it in that sense, it makes it easier to engage in wellness activities.
I journal a lot. Meditation is something I’ve tried a bunch of times, but it’s something I can’t fully understand, and I’m trying to understand it better before I make it a part of my wellness routine. I work out probably 3-4 times per week, and it ranges between boxing, athletic conditioning, or just gymming myself. I also love mobility and functional body mechanics.
Therapy is another one. I started going to therapy about 6-7 months ago and it’s great. It’s nice to be able to talk to someone who is totally removed from your life and has no emotional relevance to your life. It also helps you make connections for the way that you are, reasons why you do things, your motivations, and where those things stem from.
Understanding is the key when it comes to therapy. We’re so afraid of ourselves in ways, because we’re ultimately afraid of things we don’t fully understand. Once you start understanding yourself better, it allows you to become more forgiving to yourself, which is key to healing. My only issue with therapy though is the cost. It’s way too expensive and should be accessible to everyone. I would never be able to afford therapy if it wasn’t covered by my workplace.
9. In a perfect world, what wellness activities would you like to see more of in your community?
I want it to be normalized for men from different cultures to express their emotions and feelings and to grow up being more emotionally intelligent and empathetic, and I’m an active advocate for that.
In terms of activities, I go to yoga classes very often, and it’s all just women. Usually just white women. That’s cool and that’s great for white women, but I want to see a more diverse group of people. I want to see guys in there, I want to see people of colour, I want to see different body sizes.
Western culture has taken yoga and made it this insanely exclusive thing that only certain people have access to. It’s insanely expensive, and it’s almost entirely dominated by white people. It has become a point of friction for me, because it shouldn’t be this expensive, I shouldn’t require the $90 Lululemon mat to feel like I belong in this culture of people doing yoga.