Are You a HQHB? (High Quality Human Being)
‘If you are 80%, that’s not you.’
Natasha Garoosi brings humanity to media with a channel to connect authentic beings across industries.
I met Natasha Garoosi at a place where I meet many of the people I want to engage with: The Shine New York. Natasha was there to support friend and waste activist Lauren Singer. We agreed to meet up for an interview over tamarind juice at Naturopatica on West 26th street.
WJ: Your website states: ‘HQHB reminds us what it means to be human again by interviewing “real” people across all industries to engage in conversations that unite us’. What types of conversation are best suited to uniting us?
NG: A lot of the media is statistical and black and white and it doesn’t spark much in us. So we think oh this is that and that’s that. We try to categorize.
The conversations that unite us as humans are the ones that resonate with our emotions.
WJ: Which emotions?
NG: People we’ve interviewed start off talking about their vulnerabilities: the problems they face or used to be scared of, embarrassed or sad about; problems they’ve used as fuel to grow and find their happiness.
WJ: I normally tie what I write to one of five conduits or muscles for happiness that I describe in The Happiness Animal . One of those five is curiosity (or wonder). It feels like that muscle is your key strength?
NG: When you are down in your dark moments, you gain this curiosity where you are searching for this light, why am I here and what do i want to do? Trees are meant to grow, give us oxygen, fruit, flowers. We also want to know what we are meant to put out. That curiosity is ingrained in us since we are born. When we are aware of that curiosity, that’s when we start searching and finding our purpose.
WJ: When you are using that curiosity to find interviews and stories, what do you look for?
NG: I look for people who truly own their emotions and their story.
People are disconnected when they are fulfilling their egos rather than their soul
There are certain things that nourish ego and certain things that nourish soul, so it’s about choosing the right ones.
WJ: The video you created with model/activist, Ebonee Davis was an ode to transparency and releasing the unspoken conversations within us. It took courage for Ebonee to speak her truth to a subway car full of strangers [and almost made me cry].
NG: I met Ebonee at a friend’s art show. She was stuffing rosemary into a quail. First I just connected with her and later on I found out, wow, she has a really cool story I want to feature. With Ebonee, it’s about being true to yourself
rather than posting on Instagram what you are supposed to be eating, dressing, or people you’re supposed to be with
In February I had a request to pose for this brand. When I got this request I kept asking myself and friends, should I do this? And it’s not the first time I’ve asked myself that. I realized that from that point, it was the last time I was going to do it because every time I have to question myself I know it’s wrong. Everything that I’ve done that I’m happy with, I’ve never had to ask because I just did it. That’s what made me feel fuelled and energized.
WJ: When did you decide you were going to start HQHB?
NG: I studied advertising. On the last day of class, the teacher showed us a video of this rocket launching into space. He told us everyone all over the world was watching and all of a sudden the rocket blew up. Oh shit. I started to think about media for the first time in depth. If people know that media can be so impactful, why are they using it in ways to make you feel unwelcome or fearful? I started interviewing conscious creatives, in the food, wellness and fashion industries. That became HQHB because I wanted to eliminate these categories and understand what it is to be human again.
Media is being used to disconnect people
It could be used to connect us and remind us what humanity is. Today we interviewed a girl who grew up in Nepal. When she went to high school she faced bullying because she is tall. People across the whole world can resonate with that feeling of not belonging, of feeling undeserved, unwanted and unwelcome.
WJ: There’s a message on your own website: Take control over your life, if not someone or something else will. Tell me about that.
NG: I grew up with a strict dad. Every time I wanted to do something I used to think will Dad let me? As I got older I started running. I felt empowered because I was alone with my body feeling really clean. I became addicted to this feeling myself 100%, cutting out the shit that made me feel crap, or controlled me into doing something that I didn’t want.
With my dad, every time I held myself back from something I was giving him control. I made excuses for him because he was Muslim Irani and he was raised that way. I pushed back to him that I need to be myself. That’s when I got control.
As much as people say ‘I don’t care what anyone thinks’, acceptance and community is such a strength when it comes to your humanity.
WJ: You embody diversity: Born in NYC with a Chinese mother born in Colombia and a Persian father raised in Italy. You were given a Russian name? [Natasha laughs]. Diversity isn’t a plaque at a corporate reception desk that says ‘we embrace diversity’. You might as well put up a plaque that says we are not racist.
NG: A plaque at reception and adding two people to a team: It’s so structural. You limit your ability to live freely.
I have aunts who are Chinese and uncles who speak Spanish. I have Iranian aunts and uncles who speak Italian. One Chinese aunt married a black Dominican.
You know when you have to talk about something and put a checkmark to it, you’re not really living it. When my family does reunions they don’t know how to speak to each other because of all the languages but we’re still laughing together, eating together and there’s just a lot of being human and pointing.
If there was only one flower the world would suck. If there was only one fruit, it’d be so boring. But the earth doesn’t need to talk about it all day — oh look we have mangos, apples and flowers and chrysanthemums and roses. Let’s just live.
WJ: What’s next for you Natasha?
NG: I really want to do a cross industry activation event. If you go to foodie events , it’s foodie bloggers and foodies only, if you go to wellness events, it’s just people in wellness. It’s still a high school! Literally the movie mean girls. In the fashion world, people look great but make you feel so unwelcome.
WJ: Wellness events can be quite cliquey but you’ve realized ‘exclusiveness’ is a disconnector. How do we find the HQHB in all of us?
NG: Accept that you need to own whatever emotions you feel: A lot of us are embarrassed by our vulnerabilities. We only want to talk when we are happy or about the good things happening in our lives, or complain and blame. Happiness is a maintenance. Being a HQHB is a maintenance. Exercise being true to yourself. Just being 1000% you. If you are 80%, that’s not you.