Rand El Zein wholeheartedly throws herself into anything and everything she is interested in, especially on a day to day basis; from going to a new off beat dance club to diving into research on a topic that sparked her interest. It is no wonder that she lives her life in accordance with Jean- Paul Sartre's mentality of building a passionate life from the wood and nails of daily choices.
Along with photos of Rand wearing our Reality Tee, are photos she has taken during her time earning her PHD in Germany. Most of the photos were taken in Berlin, Germany at Teufelsberg, an abandoned NSA listening station used in the Cold War. Visible in the background of photo 4 are her children's book illustrations.
Please introduce yourself, including what you do and what you are passionate about.
My name is Rand. I am an academic researcher in the discourse of mass media and society. I am passionate about illustrating children’s books, and I am a dancer at night!
In which situation/ series of events/ moment did you realize your passion?
I believe society does a great job at stripping away what the person has long enjoyed doing throughout their childhood and youth. Growing up, we are wired to find a decent career that will bring success, and put food on the table. I think passion comes from the struggle to lead the life that we always wanted, instead of settling for what’s on our plate. In other words, passion comes from the act of rippling in the shadow of so many societal, political, and economical ills. It is a form of resistance, that we must live the best life we can.
To A,F, postponing your freedom usually means holding off on what you’d prefer to do in order to please others, or follow a “norm”. When/ how did you decide not to postpone your freedom?
It is when I realised that the only person/obstacle/thing that can stop me from fighting for the life that I want for myself is myself.
What is a setting/ activity/ routine that makes you the most happy? Anything at all.
Dancing - this is when I feel most empowered. I am in complete control of my body. I can be whoever I want to be when I am on the dance floor. I can move my body freely, in whichever way I want, in whichever direction I want. In dancing, borders do not exist. I can role play, and be anyone or anything. This is when I feel the most free, and I can freely travel with my thoughts to anywhere I please or desire.
What is your motto to yourself? / What motivates you?
I think I can relate a lot to what the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre had to say on authenticity and death. The ultimate destiny to all living beings is death. We can either spend unnecessary time contemplating it, or we can acknowledge our freedom of choice to lead an authentic life. Geographical borders, national identity, social class, war, and conflict are factors a person cannot really control, because they are hardly a matter of choice. On the other hand, leading an authentic life can be a matter of choice, regardless of the factors that are difficult to topple. I agree with Sartre, that us humans can reach authenticity by defining ourselves through our daily choices. What a person makes of him or herself becomes what is important. And when we acknowledge the freedom we have in these daily choices, and the responsibility we hold towards humanity in these choices, this is when we are able to live, as Satre calls it, “an authentic life”. And this is how I acquire motivation.
Why do you think most people settle for a career or life they don’t love?
I think settling for a career or a life you don’t love, is like approving to live under a dictatorship. This life can be a peaceful life, but it is not a free life. I think people are scared to dream or even try to fight for the life they truly will love or feel free in. So do not wish for peace, wish for freedom, because there is peace in a dictatorship - possibly.
What simple advice would you give to people hesitant to pursue their interests?
The only way to know, is to simply try. And if you fail, try again.
What is your favorite quote?
It is a quote by Charles Bukowski : “ It has been a beautiful fight, still is.” This quote can simply mean: Life is beautiful, regardless of all the struggle.