The Hyphenated American – Preface

A few weeks ago, I tweeted:

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I guess it’s not a secret anymore if I tweet it out to the social media world on my public Twitter account. To be honest, I don’t know if I should develop a full book on it because I still haven’t experienced full-time status and entered corporate America. My journey hasn’t peaked – it has only started.

However, I did start writing. I wrote a preface and the first page of my “book.” I haven’t touched it since the day after I tweeted the above tweet. However, today, while scrolling through Facebook, I saw my friends Dave Fontenot and Eva Zheng were attending HH Design Writing Day. While I’m not a Hackathon Hacker (HH), I do believe writing is one of the most important skills one can have. Actually, one of my goals for this year is to write even more than I did in 2014.

But this post isn’t about my love for writing, but about the tweet that publicly announced a secret desire I’ve been harboring for quite some time now – a book on how immigrating to America has affected my views on life. If you’re a friend of mine or have interacted with me at some point, you probably noticed I don’t have an accent when I speak English. If you’re one of my close friends, you’ve heard me speak Vietnamese to a family member on the phone at some point – without an American accent. So why is that? I immigrated to America when I was only 4 years old, so that explains why I don’t have an accent when I speak English. What that doesn’t explain is why I don’t have an accent when I speak Vietnamse.

This is because I consider myself a hyphenated American. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I will never be fully American, but I will never be fully Vietnamese again. On paper, I have dual citizen, but in reality – I’m really neither. I’m a Vietnamese-American.

So what does this book have to do with anything and why am I even working on it?

1. It gives me an excuse to write something that’s my own, even if it only ends up being published online via WordPress/Medium or magically gets published digitally through a real publisher (maybe)

2. I want to share my story because in the back of my head, I believe there must be others out there that are somewhere in between east and west

3. When I was in elementary school, I used to write short stories and had a goal of writing a book by the time I was 30 – my 10 year old self would be proud of my 22 year old self for finally getting around to tackling that goal

I haven’t gotten far, but here is the preface in all its glory…


Preface:

When I began writing this novel, I was unsure of what I wanted to call it. After throwing around a few title names, I landed on The Hyphenated American. As an Asian American immigrant from a traditional family, achieving success was not a dream – it was a necessity. However, as a Millennial who loved the innovation of the startup community and the wonders of the Bay Area with all its expensive amenities, I knew I had zero desire to remain in the stable environment my parents built. Instead of following the path laid out for me: do well in school, become a doctor, purchase a house, parents live in house, get married to a nice Vietnamese boy, have children – never leave the safety of the Dallas suburbs and my red brick house with an open yard and my Honda Accord.

As great as stability sounds, I didn’t want that. I was always the black sheep of the family. Instead of majoring in a STEM discipline, I chose public relations. Instead of staying in Texas, I always wanted to find ways to leave and to travel as often as I could. From traveling throughout college, even if it was merely domestic flights, I learned so much more than staying confined to the safe suburban sprawl. Don’t get me wrong. I fully support STEM STEAM education and financial stability, but I did not want to earn it following the outline set by my relatives.

Throughout my college years, my relatives would ask, “what the hell are you going to do with a public relations degree?” By my senior year, the question switched to “why are you moving to San Francisco after graduation?” I always smiled politely, but my responses always led back to one idea – I’m young, I’m curious and this is the best time for me to discover what is best for me and I appreciate your concern, but I would also like your support.

The Hyphenated American is my passionate oration from my first moments in America to a present-day 20-something headed to the Bay Area to pursue a new adventure. I do not claim to be an expert or a representation of the majority of Asian American immigrants. Rather, I’m sharing my story, what I have learned along the way and how my cultural background and upraising has had an effect on the choices I make and my views on life both personally and professionally.

Let’s go.

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Cheers to 2015.

I kept going back and forth on whether I wanted to do a recap of 2014 post // a ringing in 2015 post. I really considered whether this post was meant for my personal journal of passionate orations, rather than a public announcement of my year.

So instead, I give you an abridged version that suitable for the mass public.

2014 – What I Planned

This past year was all kinds of confusion. I swore off guys and said I would focus on my career. I wanted to travel more and explore more cities. I’ve always been a fan of coffee and was dependent on it, but my goal for 2014 was to explore more local roasters. 2014 was the year I wanted to run away from everything; it was the year I developed a fondness of staying in with a candle lit and actually reading the books I purchased. I planned on exploring a lot outside of my comfort zone, but I also wanted more time to myself instead of spreading myself too thin.

2014 – What Actually Happened

I still focused on my career. I stepped outside of my “southern comfort zone,” and left Texas to pursue an internship in the Bay Area. I explored more local coffee shops in Austin and Dallas – roasters too. I traveled more than I have ever traveled, even if it was only domestic flights.

During this year alone, I have traveled to:

Charleston, SC
San Francisco, CA
Seattle, WA
Scottsdale, AZ
Washington, D.C.
Ann Arbor, MI

And I plan on traveling even more soon; I’m flying to Atlanta, GA in 2 weeks to do my first epic road trip with a close friend (brother from another mother) to Knoxville, Memphis, and Nashville, TN.

I said I wasn’t going to pursue a love life, but instead, I found my first love. He’s pretty cool.

I held my close friends even closer. When I first started college, friendships to me meant hanging out with as many people as you could. Now, as a 22-year-old senior in college, I’ve learned that it’s about quality, not quantity. My 22nd birthday dinner consisted of a small group of friends that I have known since freshman year that I frequently spend time with.

I started to appreciate my family more. For the first time in a long time, I truly missed my family when I was at school. I went months without seeing them and it scared me that I almost made a mistake on accepting a full-time offer outside of Texas.

I networked more and discovered just how small the tech/startup community in Austin was. I have to give credit to my budding entrepreneur friends for all the intros given. I was able to finish up my term as a Career and Alumni Relations Chair for Communication Council with startup CEO speakers solely on intros from them. I also have to credit internal referrals for a lot of the internship offers and job interviews I had this year on people I’ve met – the generic job applications online weren’t as helpful. I learned that organic methods of applying for jobs in tandem with sending in required documents had a greater success rate.

In 2014, I had one of the best and one of the worst internships. If you know me well, you know which falls where. I learned to grow a thicker skin and think on my feet in a management environment. If I had to choose one main skill I learned in the internship world this year, it would be trusting your team. The concept of a team is drilled into our heads through group projects, but you don’t realize just how important it is until you experience it first hand. The teams I managed, the team I currently work with and the teams I will become a part of in the near future – trust and accountability are necessary.

2015

I kicked off the new year with old and new friends at a small gathering that lasted until 4:00 am – it was lovely. Between glasses of champagne and laughter, I think it was worth the lack of sleep and tired eyes this morning – coffee will cure anything.

This will be the year that I will squeeze as much time as I can with my close friends and hopefully make a handful of new ones. I’m heading out to work full-time in San Francisco, CA in a position I have virtually no experience to the naked eye.

I plan on learning as much as I can because I’ve accepted that even though I will graduate from a top university, I still know very little about the real world. I still have way more to learn than what I have learned from past internships or coursework. After all, who I was at 18 entering college was completely different from who I am today.

2015 is supposed to be the year that I experience adulthood and the real world for the first time. This should be an interesting adventure, but I’m glad I have a support system to help me through it all.

Cheers to you, 2015 – here’s to more adventures.