A few weeks ago, I tweeted:
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…
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.