This week we talk with Slate's Aymann Ismail, host of the podcast "Man Up" and creator of the web series "Who's Afraid of Aymann Ismail." We talk about: Why he hasn't told his parents about his podcast, growing up in Newark, going to an Islamic school in Jersey City, having “brilliant geniuses, valedictorians, overachievers” as siblings, making cartoon in the early days of the internet and becoming interested in story telling, going to art school without telling his parents, being a shitty teenager to your parents, the violence of playground games & how he handled getting attacked by a group of teens in Brooklyn. Our advice question this week is from a man whose family immigrated to the United States and are practicing Muslims. He is not and worries about how some of his life choices are going to affect his relationship with his family. Finally, Aymann passes on some advice that he got from the Kenyan photographer Boniface Mwangi.
I could use some advice on how to address an important issue with my parents. I’m 32, am finally finished with medical school and work in a hospital in a big city on the east coast. I live on my own and am dating around but not with anyone at the moment. My parents are immigrants from Northern Africa and are observant Muslims. They live on the West Coast, where I was born. I’m not religious and have mostly lived apart from my parents since going away from college. I was a quiet, studious, nerdy kid growing up and have changed a lot since I left home. The problem is that I feel a lot of pressure from my parents to 1. Get married, 2. Marry a Muslim woman, 3. Ideally marry a Muslim woman from the same country/community as my family.
I don’t know if I want to marry anyone, let alone commit to monogamy. I’m interested in exploring my bisexuality. In short, there’s a big gap between who I am and what I envision for my life and what my parents want for me. I don’t know what to do. I think the tension is making me feel a bit stuck. I do date, but I haven’t had a serious relationship and I think it’s because I’m afraid to tell my parents and live with their potential disappointment. I love my parents and want to make them happy but I also don’t want to have this decision made for me or to compromise what I want in life. What should I do?
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