Stranger 4, Day 4 – Meet Dasha, the “Artist”

Stranger 4, Day 4 - Meet Dasha

Here’s a great reason why I’m doing this journey, too — I walk around Atlanta Tech Village everyday. I see a ton of different people all the time, and they’re usually the same people. And yet, I know very little about them. We give little smiles that say, “yeah, I see, but I think it’s weird to say hello”. Well now that I have 100 straight days to talk to new people, I’m now embracing this opportunity to meet the beautiful faces of ATV.

Today, I got to meet Dasha.

Meet Dasha, 25

How would you describe yourself?

“I am…” Dasha laughs here and looks away, “… a sci-fi fantasy enthusiast and self-proclaimed artist”.

Dasha and I laugh as she admits she’s usually shy, except for once she feels comfortable and knows someone. Well, we had only a few minutes to get there.

Given Dragon-Con just happened in Atlanta over Labor Day weekend, I was curious less about if she went (of course she did), and more interested in what she dressed as — “Leela from Futurama,” she happily shares.

She was born in Belarus before moving States-side in ’92 with her mother, father, and sister. She continues that she’s “awkward and introverted”, but from our few minutes since truly meeting each other, I don’t get “awkward” at all. Instead, I see — no, I experience! — someone who is ecstatic to share who she is. I experience someone who’s excited about life.

What are your passions? Your dreams?

“To write a children’s novel and illustrate it.” Dasha wants to take her interests in sci-fi fantasy, teaching, writing, and art into a book to teach children to think deeper. She first got into reading after getting a book from her sister (her first sci-fi novel) to which has opened her eyes ever since. In fact, she wants to co-create the book with her sister.

At this point, Dasha has peppered our talk saying, “we”. Whether she knew it or not, she was letting on how close she is and how much she cares of her sister.

Having immigrant parents (excluding the fact that she was herself also an immigrant), what do you get/ learn from them that perhaps others don’t?

Dasha and her family moved to the States from Belarus to receive medical help from Northside Hospital (mother has had a long bout with cancer, and she’s still fighting strong).

Ever since moving to the States, Dasha’s parents were quick to adapt and immerse the family into American culture as quickly as possible. They did not want to be seen as outsiders and coming over with very little, the parents worked extremely hard to provide Dasha and her sister with a “normal” life — taking on several English classes, quick to acquire jobs, integrating Dasha and her sister into five sports a week, a house (the American Dream), etc.

Having read Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers and having immigrant parents myself, I hypothesized Dasha likely took on many of the same traits of her parents — fighters, highly adaptable, independent. In fact, “independent,” Dasha laughed, “would be the one word that describes me”.

What was your biggest regret?

Ever since Dasha was young, she dreamed of living in New York, and so she kinda did. She was there for 11 months some 1.5 years ago. However, with her boyfriend back in Atlanta, and with a job she did not enjoy, she rarely left the house. She admits to not allowing herself to “strive there more”.

Looking back at the dream she had of New York and finally having the opportunity to, she wished she had put herself in more situations… to let herself grow.

What was your great achievement?

“Proud of myself… used to be too shy to share my art and my writing.”

Dasha has learned to overcome her timidness while building confidence in herself. She wants to develop skills in art and realizes feedback drives growth.

What is a life lesson you’d like to share?

“Don’t keep doing something if you wake up not excited. Find something that makes you happy and share with people.”

For Dasha, she has found that being more open has enabledher to be a better person. She grew up always loving art, but no one knew of this passion. When she finally shared with family and friends, she found supporters everywhere. Friends and family consistently encouraged her to practice her passion. I saw in her eyes how much this meant to her and how just… HAPPY this made her… how it happy is MAKES her.

What was your Life-Defining Moment?

Living abroad in Venice, Italy –“first time all alone”. By living alone, Dasha was able to experience life by relying on not just herself, but complete strangers (*gasp!*).

The experience abroad helped her appreciate everything about life, especially her love of art. It was in Venice where Dasha started to draw more and more. It gave her space and time to take a step back… “time to think where to take life in the future”.

Also, her top 3 places to travel:

  1. Slovenia
  2. Ireland
  3. Sicily (Venice was up a close fourth)

What’s a question I should ask tomorrow’s Stranger?

What has been the Stranger’s most valuable relationship? Who and why?

After the handshake.

Dasha is going to bring some art so I can share a picture of with you. So stay tuned.

Otherwise, I enjoyed connecting with Dasha on our commonalities with foreign-born parents and reminiscing how we have both taken on the independence and work ethics of our parents. Also, Dasha’s story about New York (and Venice) hit home for me as I consider living in the present. I’m doing what I love now at SalesWise, and I know it’s a stepping stone. But as I take on projects like 100 Strangers, 100 Days and my separate Entrepreneurial Ninja blog, I need to ensure I live life in the present.

Well, let’s hope I don’t create more projects. 🙂

Meet Dasha — no longer a Stranger.


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