We had the good fortune of connecting with Plaboni Sharif and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Plaboni, what do you want your legacy to be?
I want people to remember me for the kind of person I am – who stands up for others, fights for what they believe in, and isn’t afraid to challenge the status quo. To quote Maya Angelou, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
The people who’ve had the most significant impact on my life were the people who made me feel seen, understood, and powerful. And that’s who I aim to be. Of course, each person is unique with their triumphs, struggles, and experiences, all deserving validation. I want to encourage people to own themselves unapologetically. By embracing myself and sharing my story, I hope to inspire others to speak up and remember that their voices also carry power. No matter who we are or where we come from, we all deserve to be seen and heard.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’m a user experience researcher, content creator, and freelance model. I attempt to create spaces where others are encouraged to speak freely and advocate for themselves in all areas. As a user experience researcher, I develop inclusive and accessible technology by understanding and empathizing with my audience. In addition, I embrace my truth and uniqueness through content creation and modeling. I hope to show others that beauty does not come in one shape or size. Finally, I pride myself on advocating diversity and inclusion in all spaces – whether hosting sessions at work or speaking up about mental health and social justice online.
I was able to get to where I am today by investing in my education and taking action toward my dreams. After obtaining my bachelor’s in computer science, I started my career as a software developer. However, when I realized coding wasn’t for me, I decided to take a more human-centered approach toward technology and discovered my affinity for user experience research. But, even then, I wasn’t feeling fulfilled. So, I decided to pursue my dream of being a model and influencer. Now, I collaborate with brands on Instagram and model for local photographers in Atlanta.
Of course, there have always been challenges: self-doubt, rejections, failure, etc. But, failure is inevitable. I used to fear failure, thinking that minor mistakes defined me. But, in reality, failure is our chance to learn from our mistakes, and those lessons lead to success. So, I’ve learned to get up after falling, forgive myself, and try again. Every fall reminds me to believe in myself more, as there is bravery in persisting against adversity.
If there’s anything I want people to know about me, there’s evidence that you can change your life and circumstances. With the support of others and faith in yourself, dreams can be a reality.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My best friend is a Georgia native, so I’d have to remind her about what makes Atlanta home. Home is where the food is. So, first, I’d have to take her to J.R. Crickets, where I’d get a single order of lemon pepper wet wings – all flats – and she’d most likely order a half Sanchez and half dirty bird wings. Regarding the rest of our food options, I’d ensure she gets Juicy Crab, birria tacos at El Indio, and soondoobu at Sokongdong Tofu House. Then, we’ll go to my favorite spots in Atlanta. A walk through the beltline is essential – we could stop by Krog Street Market or go to Inman Park. Another spot would be Piedmont Park, where we can get King of Pops (I’d get the Thai iced tea) and probably do a paint by numbers or a photoshoot. Finally, nothing screams Atlanta like hookah. So we’d go to Cru in Midtown to catch a vibe and get good drinks. A friend recently showed me Politan Row, a food hall in Midtown, so we’d have to go there to unleash our inner foodie. Regarding nightlife, we’d have to walk to Havana in Buckhead. However, I’ve recently discovered 529 Bar in East Atlanta, an intimate space to watch some live bands and comedians.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
It would be unfair to attribute my success to one person. It takes a village. I’d like to recognize my friends and family for where I am today.
My parents suffered war, poverty, and corruption in Bangladesh, so they immigrated to the United States. My sister and I grew up low income, watching my parents juggle multiple jobs. I learned that life is rarely ever easy, but we have the power to change our circumstances. Their sacrifices taught me hard work, resilience, and perseverance. I learned that failure and mistakes are inevitable, but we must keep going. Every sacrifice my parents made – the long work nights and the long-distance phone calls with family – led to their children’s success. As a result, my sister and I were awarded full-ride scholarships at some of the top universities in the country, and in my father’s words, “Coming to America was worth it.” My family has laid the foundation for my success by instilling values that make me who I am today.
My friends helped me embrace who I truly am. They’ve shown me that I do not have to be a specific kind of person to be seen, loved, and honored. Instead, they love me for my most authentic self – good, bad, and ugly. On my darkest days, they encouraged me, helped me pick myself back up, and continued celebrating me. But, most importantly, they support me and my dreams. I told my friend I wanted to be an influencer, and she responded, “You already are.” They hold me accountable and give me the hard truths, but they also encourage me to enjoy life and show gratitude for what I have. My friends are the people who love me for me, and that’s a blessing that I will always cherish. Thank you to my friends for bringing light into my life. I hope that I can do the same.
Vincent Arreaga Kings United Photography