Just Trying to Be Me

Hieu - San Diego, California
Entered on April 24, 2008

Piety and respect for your parents and elders are the most revered attitudes in my Vietnamese culture. Everything that one has and will soon acquire is a result of the ultimate sacrifice that one’s parents made to ensure a safe and comfortable lifestyle. Furthermore, as a child, it is ingrained that she must grow up to be successful and acquire sums of wealth. With the comfortable lifestyle that one acquires, she is able to continue caring for her parents as they progress into their adult years as they cared for her in her infant and childhood years. Moreover, the life that I personally lead until I came to the age of eighteen told of this story.

As soon as I entered kindergarten, I proved myself to be the “brain child” in the family. From the moment that I received my first trophy for general excellence in the first grade, to the day that I graduated high school with my diploma, I was well aware of my main responsibility in life: seek a profession closely related to medicine so that my parents would have personal medical care until their end came. However, I believed in that notion only until I was twelve years old.

Even though I was still young, after a few years of playing the role of a “good listener” to friends who came to me to talk about problems and seek advice, I realized what I wanted in life was to become a counselor, an occupation not known to make sums of money. Although I tried to suppress that dream as I continued through the years and refocused my efforts on a new goal of becoming a pediatrician, I could not deny what I felt as my true calling.

After expressing this to my parents when I entered college, I received what I was prepared for: discouragement and no support. For this, I believe in one’s personal right to choose his or her own direction in life without external pressures and inhibitions.

I did not want to end up like one of those unhappy people who were torn between paying dues to their parents and pursuing a career she truly enjoyed and loved. I owe my parents everything, and I believe in my heart that I am who I am today because of them and everything that they taught me. However, I do not believe that my life and its direction should be dictated by their personal hopes and dreams.

By taking my life into my own hands, I am achieving what I believe is ultimate success: doing what I want to do, doing it well, all the while, being able to provide for those whom I love.