At 32 years old, I hope that one day you read these words of advice. I don’t regret my life, every decision has lead me to where I am. I have a very good life compared to many people.
I was the oldest child in an immigrant family. My parents had their own battles, let alone understand the battles of a first generation child.
My parents had no idea how to maneuver the school system. They had the typical mindset where we should all be doctors, lawyers, or engineers, unfortunately their dreams did not come true. Most of your parents were in my shoes. We paved the way, so you won’t have to struggle as much as we did.
I grew up in the typical mold and in so many ways, I was blessed to be lead down a very clean path, but I wonder if I could have been more if I had a chance to spread my wings and I want all of you to do the same.
- Be a kid. I had to grow up fast. I took care of my sisters, helped with the household, and I always understood we didn’t have a lot of money.
- Explore all your passions. There isn’t just one correct path to success. If you happen to be good in math and science, that is amazing because less and less people are focusing on it. But if it isn’t, find what you excel in versus trying to fit a square in a circle.
- Learn languages. At that time, being bilingual was looked down upon. In kindergarten, because I was mixing languages, they believed I was slow in speech. After that, my parents were so scared that they said no more Vietnamese because they escaped the war to make sure their kids had a better life. I regret it, I wish I continued Vietnamese, Spanish, I picked up another language in high school and college. That was when you have endless time to learn.
- Travel and learn that there is a whole world out there. Take every opportunity to travel when you are young. The older you get, the more limited your time and funds are. There are people from all cultures, economic statuses, and backgrounds…embrace all the differences.
- Take calculated risks. My worst fear was to change my field, to explore different options. I realized, I missed out on new skill sets because I was afraid to jump jobs. I missed out on a lot of things by playing life safe.
- Go out of state for school. My biggest regret was not exploring different options for school. My parents didn’t want me to leave and I got a scholarship from the University of Utah, after that my fate was sealed. After graduating, I got a job and was accepted for my MBA in Utah, again my fate was sealed. I always wonder what friendships and experiences I would have had if I left Utah.
- Make as many friends as you can when you are young. This is your time to make lifelong friendships, especially during college. Take a step back from your studies and build relationships. In college, you have a built in network, once you leave it is much harder to meet people. As time goes, your friendships will change and some will naturally part ways.
- Keep your innocence. I grew up in a bubble, I think it was the best way to grow up. I watched Disney movies, I didn’t date until after college, and yes I believed you could get pregnant kissing because my parents said so. You will have so much information in a few clicks, please don’t lose your innocent so early.
- Give Back. No matter where you are in life, make an effort to make service a part of your life. You only have one life, make a different in your group of friends, your neighborhood, and of course to those in need. Make your mark in life whether it is volunteering for the Peace Corp to serving in a soup kitchen.
- Be strong. I was raised to be kind to everyone, even if you lose yourself. Being kind, honest, and good will pay-off even if it means getting walked over. Don’t be a doormat to anyone.
- Learn as much as you can. When you are growing up, you are a sponge. The older you get, the harder it is for you to learn something new. You don’t have the focus, drive, or time. Take advantage of all that time and soak up every little fact as small as it may be.
- Be different. I wish I was the one that learned how to think outside the box. You want to be different, be unique, and question everything.