Being a person of color and a minority in America comes with many challenges. There are expectations and stereotypes as a result of social pressure and societal norms. From having to be good at math to being exceptional at everything academically, I’ve had to face a strict upbringing by my parents. It was hard being compared to my cousins and other family friends when it came to academics and extracurriculars. I have overcome this by leaning on my support group – friends, family, and especially my high school and college counselor. As a result, I was able to motivate myself rather than having my parents motivate me in a forceful manner. When I entered college, I developed a mindset of working hard and doing things for my own happiness first before anyone else. If I fell victim to pleasing my parents all the time, I would’ve felt miserable. I am starting to do what I feel is best not just for my family, but for my legacy as well.
While many of these challenges are difficult to come to terms with, I now realize that they are a blessing in disguise. There is so much more for me to discover about myself, as well as about the struggles my family members faced as immigrants. Keeping on this path of continuous growth and learning will bring me closer and closer to finding the most authentic version of myself.
One thing for sure, despite these challenges, I’m grateful to have all the experiences I have today. Without my family, I would be nowhere close to where I am. We all have someone in our family who has made personal and professional sacrifices which helped lay a foundation for us to succeed.
I find it effective for self-development to practice immense gratitude each day. Regardless of what happens in my life, it is always my attitude towards it that matters most. Although I find my cultural identity to be a struggle at times, I try to keep an open mindset – that way I can continue to grow and understand new perspectives. I have also learned throughout my life how important it is to surround myself with positive people whether it be family members or friends.
My challenge for you, the reader, is to explore new aspects of your own culture along with other cultures. You might learn a new thing or two that will completely change your views on life and the world. Simply learning more about my grandpas’ involvement, pain, and sacrifices during the Vietnam War helped inspire me to try my best at whatever I’m working on every day.