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  • Writer's pictureNox Yang

Musatah: I think I should be more selfish, so I've come to L.A.

Updated: Jul 3, 2021

People come to Los Angeles for different reasons. For Musatah, it means living a life for herself.

"Some people say things but don’t do it. Shut up and just go. I'd be better off doing something and failing at it, instead of just saying."

"I studied photography in New Jersey and graduated this May. I came to Los Angeles and tried to find a place to stay but had no luck. On the very last day of my stay here, I found this art community I’m currently living in.

So I stayed. "

"It was so exciting when I first came to LA. I heard things like it’s expensive, and all the people are fake. But I was like fake people are everywhere. I just want to get away from my family, be an adult, and throw myself out into the world, rather than laying back and chill at home.

The reason I chose LA rather than somewhere else is definitely the weather! And the beaches and water! My mom is from Jamaica, a small Caribbean island. She took me to Jamaica when I was 5-month-old, and then I would go there every summer. So I’ve loved water all my life."

"Living in Jamaica made me understand how Americans are spoiled. In Jamaica, we had to boil water on a stove and take it back to drink or shower. We had to walk to the well, grow our own fruits, make everything for ourselves, including cut the goat in our backyard.

When I got back to America, I started to appreciate even just hot water, because I know how people have to boil it in Jamaica. And for the garbage, people had to put it in the backyard and burn it." 

"I started to understand how our living is a luxury. We have power in a house, we don’t need to bath in the river. A lot of times, people in Jamaica would buy the land, build half of their own house, move in, and make enough money and then build the other half.

And the dogs. My mom still doesn’t understand why people would have dogs as pets. In Jamaica, people used dogs as guard dogs, they don’t see dogs as pets but security, and people would just throw bones in the yard to feed them." 

"Being exposed to a different way of life gives me a bigger appreciation for what I have. I don’t complain that much. If there’s no hot shower, I would just try to deal with the cold water because I know how much privilege we already have." 

"Another difference between American and Jamaican mentality is the obedience to parents. There’s like a hierarchy in the family, and what kids say doesn’t matter that much. Whatever your parents tell you, you have to listen. It’s like if you don’t listen, you can’t live here anymore.

I notice the same thing in a lot of Asian cultures. Like in India, parents tell you to be a doctor, you have to be a doctor. They kind of dictate your life. So I just listened because I knew I had to. But after I graduated, I decided I’m not gonna listen anymore."

"My mom still has the Jamaican mentality, she’s not totally Americanized. She’s very tough. My mother always has to be above me. Even when people joked that I look taller than her, she would always insist that she is taller. She didn’t listen to me a lot. It’s interesting that she’s a social worker but me and my sister always felt we didn’t have a mother. I’m more comfortable living away from her, than with her." 

"I have an older sister. We are very close because we have the same issue with our mother. Now she is 29, and has 5 kids. She had her first kid at 17, and that was a big problem. My mom wasn’t happy about that and she kicked her out. But argument happened all the time. I was always in the middle growing up. My mom doesn’t want to talk to my sister, and my sister is always sensitive when it comes to my mom. When she doesn’t want to tell her stuff, I always had to be the messenger.

But I got to a point where I think I am an adult now, and I want to live my adult life. I want to enjoy myself when I have no responsibility of children, because through my sister, I know how hard it is to have kids." 

"My cousins are so happy. They had kids early too, they are like 'go live your best life.' They are living through me in a sense. A lot of my family didn’t get to do what I did. Most of my aunts and uncles didn’t finish high school, and most of my cousins didn’t go to college. There are only four of us that went to college and graduated.

We are doing things some of our parents didn't really do, and I'm doing everything they didn’t get to do."

"My sister has a hard time making decisions. One time, it was her twins’ birthday, and she was so busy, running back and forth, not knowing how to prepare food and everything. I said on the phone, 'Why don’t you try Postmates?' She’s like, 'Oh right! You see, this is why I need you, I need you to think for me.'

And I said, 'This is why I have to leave.'

I always have to help her think, but I can’t think for you and myself at the same time."

"I'm gonna do me now, I'm gonna be selfish. One of my teachers once told me that you have to be selfish, because you will have to be selfless when you have kids.

So at one point in life, you should just pack and go somewhere, and have fun before you have kids, and live your life. 

So I've come to Los Angeles."

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