This I Believe

Angelia - Morganton, North Carolina
Entered on December 3, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

Take Pride in Who You Are

I now believe I was born into this world because there is something great out there waiting for me. My name is Angelia, just another typical teenage girl living in a life of modern America. I grew up, just like any American children, along with seven of my younger siblings; the only difference is that I’m a Hmong American.

My dad had always told me that he wanted a girl to be his first child, and when I was born, he was overjoyed. He wanted a daughter who would cook beside her mother, who would respect her background Hmong culture, and who would be his example to those of the younger generations. But who would’ve thought I would be a disappointment to my culture? At first, I was ashamed about who I am. I was ashamed about my Hmong life because I do not understand how to be one. I do not know how to prepare our traditional foods without my mom’s supervision, and in our culture, by the time of my age, I was suppose to know everything that my mom knows. I would refuse to wear the Hmong traditional clothes to the New Year, and because I did that, I disrespected my culture. I made my mom very sad. She told me how lucky I was to have those clothes because when she was a little girl, her own parents were too poor to afford beautiful gowns. I don’t know how to speak Hmong very well, causing me to avoid talking to the elders, which made them think I’m a rude westernized girl. I could not sew, could not read or write my own language, and I talk casually to the guests, which isn’t how a Hmong girl is supposed to act.

My parents scolded me because of my rude behaviors, but I expect them to, so I know better. Even so, they have never called me a failure. Because to the eyes to the elderly Hmong, I truly failed as an icon of a good Hmong girl. I know my parents will always believe in everything I do, and they’ll always smile back and praise me whenever I accomplished something new.

I can choose to live happily, or be miserable and think of what others thought of me. I should not be ashamed, but be proud of myself. Sometimes, whenever I see something cute sitting on the counter of the store, I promised myself, “I’ll buy that one day.” But I know somebody else will buy it before I do, because I did not when I had the chance. I will not wait to enjoy my life “one day,” instead, I will enjoy m my life right now. I believe in taking pride of who I am because I do have a great dream to achieve. My parents will smile back and congratulate me whenever I succeed.