Elnaz Moghangard on Growing Up as an Iranian-American and Her Journey as an Author

Culture

Elnaz Moghangard is an Iranian-American author, founder of Millennial Nomad LLC––a creative empowerment movement and podcast capturing the voice of the "wandering generation”, a trained lawyer, human rights advocate, communication strategist, community builder, and digital creator.

Recently, the Teen Magazine had a chance to interview her, and it lead to some interesting insights about her journey and the current world situation.

Family Background and Their Influence

Though Elnaz was born and raised in the U.S., she comes from a Persian background. She refers to herself as an Iranian-American, because she believes that both of these cultures have beautifully merged to shape her way of thinking and view of life.

Although Iranian and American cultures have many similarities -both bold independent, creative, freedom-seeking, and entrepreneurial people- Elnaz believes that understanding and balancing her dual identity was the challenging bit. She believes this was very much a process of self-love that defined her life as an individual.

"I’m grateful that I do share a dual culture, because it’s helped me open my eyes to the world and view it in a more expansive way. I’m fascinated by all cultures, and I hope to learn more about them and seek new experiences throughout my life."

Furthermore, she described her family as one that not only values education and entrepreneurship, but also one that has a lot of creatives.

"This mix of abstract and practical thinking as helped me dream big, but to also stay grounded."

Growing up in America!

Elnaz told us how she never faced any kind of bullying or seclusion from her peers because of her ethnicity. She added her peers showed a curiosity towards her culture.

"My parents’ experiences were definitely more challenging at first. They had accents. They were learning a new culture. They were adapting. Though they don’t say it, I feel like they’re somewhat always suspended between two worlds in which both feel somewhat foreign to them. Other than that, I am grateful my parents moved to the States and gave my siblings and I the freedom to be whoever we want to be. Aside from career pressures, they never made us feel limited or confined."

Elnaz thinks that the American dream -unlike what many people think- more than just becoming wealthy, having more business opportunities, having that perfect home life, etc. She believes the American dream is self-actualization ––to create the life you want and be who you want to be. This desire can be applied to anyone across the world now.

"So, my parents came here and built a life that enabled their kids to now dream bigger than even them. When I think of all the hard work they put in to give us this opportunity, I have never taken my responsibility for making the most of my life lightly. I want everyone to feel like they can pursue the goals and life they want."

Inspiration behind Roya (Elnaz's Novel)!

Roya is a coming-of-age story about a young Iranian-American woman navigating love, family, identity, loss, and the pursuit of dreams. Elnaz also made it clear that Roya is not based on true events, but that the fictional characters are close to her heart. The scenes, plot development, dialogue, etc. were the product of her imagination.

A lot of the inspiration for the novel came from Elnaz's questions and thoughts. Elnaz also explained how a lot of the inspiration for the actual content came from music. Elnaz even made a Spotify playlist with a lot of the songs, The music ranges from Persian oldies to modern music across the world. Sad, nostalgic music or classical compositions were especially inspiring, because they allow her mind to wander.

"Although the story focuses on the journey of an Iranian-American woman, the lessons and themes are universal. That combination was important for me to illustrate. I wanted to introduce the reader to a new world. I wanted the reader to be entertained. Yet, at the same time, I wanted them to reflect and realize that these themes and emotions mirror in all of our own micro-worlds and lives. I also thought it was so important to tell this story from the perspective of an imperfect protagonist that is a woman. Rather than the typical archetype of a man being the main character with the woman as a mirror to his self-discovery, I flipped the lens through which the story was told. It’s a mutual journey, but I made a woman the main character. All other characters became her mirror for growth."

“Roya” is available via the following outlets:

  • Amazon Worldwide
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Dymocks
  • Atlanta bookstores

A Book Launch Party!

Yes! Instead of a book signing where the writer reads and only talks about the book, Elnaz had a book launch party. She described that she grew up in a family that valued the importance of gathering and celebration even in times of difficulty. So, she wanted a night of gathering to celebrate one of the happiest moments of her life.

The launch party was hosted at the FreeMarket Art Gallery in ATL and was a night surrounded by art, wine, music, and light hors d’oeuvres. The public event drew in individuals from all backgrounds, ethnicities, and ages.

"I loved that. I just wanted a night of good energy and unity. I love bringing people together, so to see everyone mingling and being in the moment was beautiful to me."

Post-Quarantine Travel Plans!

We also asked about Elnaz's post-quarantine plans and her answer left us hoping that the pandemic would end soon.

"I have been wanting to visit Japan for the longest time now. I’m just so intrigued and want to explore. I also would love to visit the Amalfi Coast in Italy."

ATTENTION EVERYONE!

Due to Elnaz's inspirational and optimistic views on life, we asked her what she would say if she had the whole world's attention for 10 minutes. This was her answer:

"I would ask everyone to check their pulse for a moment and feel their heartbeat ––really notice its rhythm and its presence. Our hearts are so vast and resilient. They function to keep us alive. I’d then encourage people to be honest with themselves and to reflect on what makes them feel alive and to pursue that life (so long as it does not harm or infringe on the rights of others). We should honor our heart space. This comes from the belief that when we have self-love, we become less selfish. We show others more compassion. We exercise more understanding and tolerance. We create more space for honest dialogue. We are actually more proactive. We are living in very polarized times, and much is changing."

Elnaz believes that there is so much external unknown and that self-awareness is integral to properly uplift humanity because it gives us the tools to balance reason with emotion.

"I try to live by three main principles: 1) Be genuine. Be sincere, if you wish to keep good people near. 2) We are all walking stories. Leave people better off than you found them. At the minimum, try to do no harm. 3) Live every day in such a way so that every choice you make unfolds into the future you envision for yourself, rather than let the days escape you as you “plan.” Time is our greatest currency ––too often undervalued and too little truly lived.

So, act boldly, love loudly, and live gratefully."

The Current Situation and the Future!

After knowing about Elnaz's optimistic view of the world, we were compelled to ask her about the current situation and her visions for the future.

☝🏼🙏🏼🖤

A post shared by Elnaz Moghangard, JD (@millennialnomaad) on

Her concern about the current situation is that we are not truly listening to one another and conversing with the intention of understanding. Yet, she is hopeful.

"As I write this, we are in the middle of a pandemic. Our society is confronting real political, socioeconomic, and health-related issues. But, humans are inventive, creative, resilient, and empowered when they choose to be. For every challenge, there is a solution. I believe that. One of the greatest strengths of the U.S. is its diversity. You have a melting pot of a population with people from all backgrounds united in its love for a country they call home. I find that fascinating. How could diversity than ever be a weakness?"

She also mentioned that she likes applying micro principles to macro scenarios and vice-versa. Confused? We were too, but Elnaz explained this by giving an example.

For example, you can love your family member while still acknowledging they have room for improvement. You can love yourself and admit you have room to grow. You can move forward in life to new experiences while having acknowledged the pain of the past. You could have done good deeds while having made mistakes. Now, apply this to the greater society. When you really care for a country and its people, you can express your love for your home, while still accepting there are improvements to make.

She believes that how we respond is what will define us, not any obstacles we encounter. According to her, if as a society we can work on communicating to understand and stay open-minded as we navigate new challenges together, we can create much goodness.

Follow Her!

If you are like us, and you have absolutely fallen in love with Elnaz, you should follow her on the following platforms:

Instagram: @roya.the.novel @millennialnomaad

Website: Millenial Nomand (Elnaz's website)

Twitter: @elnaz_mogh

Facebook: Elnaz's Facebook

Also her "MN Coming Alive Series” Podcast is available on:

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Tarun Srivastava

Tarun Srivastava is a high school senior from India. From the age of 14, he has been an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and youth's mental health. Tarun enjoys to spend his time reading, writing, surfing and binge-watching Netflix.


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