Why I am not happy?

Lately, I have been reevaluating my life or at least tried. I came to the realization that my life is unfulfilled. I keep wanting more and that just caused me to be unhappy. After writing down the little things that make me unhappy on a daily basis, I grouped them together. In doing so, I was able to see the main reasons why I’m unhappy.

I have always realized that there are so many things I have never tried, but I did not know that the urge to try them was so huge in me. When my father was alive, there were certain things that I stayed away from like dying my hair. It was a big no and that means trouble. That didn’t mean I dye my hair right away after he passed away. I actually waited a whole year and I picked up a box of hair dye from Walmart. On a side note, Brad Mondo would have a heart attack if only he knew. There more things I want to try, but it’s the little things that I never got to do as a kid or teenager. Additionally, I really want to get a second ear piercing, but I’m afraid which brings me to my next reasoning.

Even though my father is no longer breathing on this planet, I’m afraid to get a reputation of being a “bad daughter.” Anyone that understand the Hmong culture, would and hopefully knows where I’m coming from. My father did have a good reputation and wherever my siblings and I went, as long as we mentioned his name we were welcome with warm arms and smiles. Most days I feel like I’m walking on eggshells and it is just causing me to be anxious. I used to live a carefree life, if not all the time, then for the most part I did. Now, I’m left being jealous of some people. I feel like my hands are tied, I can’t move freely, and can’t breathe properly.

Although, this third reasoning may sound funny I don’t know why it’s on my paper, but there have been countless times I wish there was just this special someone by my side. Someone that I can talk too and rely on. Someone to just hold me and make me laugh. But at the same time, I’m so afraid to fall in love and I don’t know why. This shall be discuss another time.

Lastly, I feel like I have no purpose. I don’t know what I exactly want to do or be in my life. When my father was alive, sure I had a purpose. Making him proud was the only purpose I had, but now I’m not so sure no more. I want to say screw the biology degree I work so hard for and just be carefree. Live my own life doing what I think is best for me, but I don’t even know where to start. Additionally, I can’t let go of my biology degree. I work so hard for it, studying day and night to just earn it and I’m going to let it all go to waste just like that. I asked myself, why did I even decide to study biology in the first place? Why did I even want to go to medical school? Why I wanted to become a doctor? It all came down to because I wanted to make my father proud. So now what?

As I’m sitting here typing this, I’m still reevaluating life because this time I want to at least do it for myself and not someone else. Of course, I still want to make my family proud and there are many ways to fulfill that, I just need to figure it out for myself.

Catching Up with MaiMai

A lot has happened within the past two months. My family has moved into a new house, I met a guy, work is still miserable, and I’m just trying to pick and put back the little pieces together. Life is a crisis!

Yes. After two years of searching for a new house, my mom and sister finally found one that is pretty big with four acres of land. Now, I know I mentioned about my father a lot, but as I have new readers coming by every day I just want to mention that when my dad got into his accident, we stopped looking for a house. The pause on house hunting was probably around seven months and we started house hunting again after new years.

The move went quite well, we’re still not done cleaning the old house as there is still the garage and the shed. However, we are, for the most part, done cleaning the old house. It has also been quite emotional as well since we have lived at our old house for twenty-five years. It will always be a place that I hold dear in my heart as it has lots of memories with my dad,  he spent his last few breaths and passed away there. It will always be a special place for my family and me.

Transitioning onto the next topic, amongst all the crazy things going on in my life. I decided to get back on my Tinder. Of course, I had to make a new account, but all that aside I did met a guy. He lives close by and he’s actually a really nice guy. We’ve been on three dates and surprisingly we have a few common friends. However, I also discovered that right now dating is not for me because my life is kind of unbalance. The guy did ask me to start officially dating him, but I did not want to put a label between our relationship. Mainly because I want more time to myself to heal, pick up my life where I left it, and spend time developing myself. I did meet up and talk to him today explaining to him my thoughts and he was very understanding. So I appreciate that and the time he spent with me. This doesn’t mean that we’re not talking or seeing each other, we’re just going to let time does its thing. If we end up being friends, then I will also be happy to gain another good friend.

Lately, I have been thinking a lot and I mean a lot. I’m thinking about going back to school in the spring to pick up where I left off. Meanwhile, I’m also looking into some educational programs to become certified in something, particularly the healthcare area. I have always thought about joining the Peace Corps, and finally, I’m going to put that into action. However, it’s going to be after I get my degree. I do constantly look at the programs that are being offered on Peace Corps because I just want to know what they’re currently offering. I think the Peace Corps will be a good opportunity for me to do some self-development. Additionally, years ago when I mentioned it to my dad, he liked the idea, so why not.

Those are pretty much the most major things that have been going on in my life. Right now, as I mentioned before, my life is pretty much unbalanced. At least, that is how I feel and I need more time to find and bring balance back to my life. My friends and I joked around saying I should do some research to find a temple and do a temple stay.  I know we were joking, but the idea isn’t too bad. Anyway, I hope you all have been doing well, enjoying life to the fullest, and continue to stay safe!

 

Love…

Love.

What is it?

Have you ever been in love?

Seen love?

Touch love?

Feel love?

Lost love?

Love.

That one word that we all yearn to hear, feel, and touch. One word that makes us all happy, sad, jealous, and angry. It comes in all shapes and forms, sometimes it is near us but we don’t see it because we take advantage of it. Just like how we don’t see our parents’ efforts, how we don’t feel what they feel when they scold us for our wrongdoings.

There are moments when we measure love by putting it on a price scale. Why does receiving an expensive gift makes one so happy? Does it ensure you, me, us that that person will stay with us until old and gray? Of course, to receive an expensive gift is not wrong, but the desire to always expect or ask for a luxurious gift does not equal love or make love any greater.

Love is powerful, but it can bring so much pain. To hear someone, say “…but I love you,” is the most beautiful thing because it makes us feel accepted despite our flaws and mistakes, but to hear them say “I love you, but…” is the most painful. Hearing those words, we know the ending is near and then we tried to fix our mistakes and flaws. Bargaining and making compromises, but there’s no stopping. When it ends, it ends because sometimes love is not meant to stay.

To lose a loved one forever is the most painful experience. It makes you upset, mad, and frustrated because you think of all these other possibilities but fails to see one other possibility. You pray and pray, tell yourself you’ll do better if the one person you love open his/her eyes only to witness his/her last breath. Then you scold yourself for ignoring death, being foolish to think it will never happen. Upset for putting your hopes up so high just at the sight of the tiniest improvement.

Love.

It is phenomenal.

We have all been in love at least once.

Seen love.

Touch love.

Feel love.

And lost love.

Love is endless.

How I’ve Been Feeling

Hello Readers,

I know it has been quite a long time since I’ve been active, but a lot has happened for these past three months and I just needed time to think and recollect my thoughts. Nonetheless, I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year. For these past three months, I have been doing a lot of thinking and re-evaluating my life because lately, I have been feeling unsatisfied and unhappy. I have been spending my days dreaming about how I so wish for my life to be so more different. There has been so many “what if’s” that I just keep questioning myself which in turn makes me doubt my own capabilities. Life has been hard and I’m trying my best to stay put together, but I’m still a mess. There are days when I get up and I just look at the mirror telling myself “You’re 26 years old and you have no life. No real career. You’re just one hot mess and need to get your shit together.” Yeah, I’ve been hard on myself lately.

It has been hard waking up in the morning because I just don’t want to wake up since I’m so tired. I feel tired all the time. Tired, cold, and hopeless. The things that I used to enjoy doing, I’m slowly starting to lose interest. I’ve been spending my money on useless shit like clothes I don’t really need, and expensive makeup that I don’t even have time to wear. I bought a ukulele when I shouldn’t have, but I bought it in hopes that I’ll pick up a new hobby. I have these fleece fabrics that I still need to put together to make blankets because thank goodness winter is still here. I hate going to work because I’m tired of dealing with customers. I’m tired of the drive, reckless driving, and traffic.  Now, I am not lying when I say my life has sucked lately because it has been.

I work too much, and I have too much time on my hands to be dealing with stupid and rude customers. I’m tired of my mom crying and muttering about how much life has changed since my father passed away. I’m exhausted from all the thinking I have been doing. I just want to run away home. I really want someone to talk to, I want to tell my friends, but I can’t. Always, I thought I was really close to my friends, most of them, but I guess I’m not that close to them. I feel like since I’m someone that comes off as strong, independent, responsible, and someone that they can come too when they need advice or help makes it all the harder for me to approach them to listen to me. Every time I meet up with my friends, it’s hard for me to tell them how I honestly feel because I feel like they expect to hear stupid funny stories from me.

I honestly do not know where or how my life will go from here on out. All I know is that my life right now is bitter, exhausting, and miserable. Despite that, I always pray for a little bit of sunshine each day, just enough to get through.

My Father’s Last Breath

August 12th, 2018 at 10pm my father took his last breath on this Earth. The entire day our house was filled with family friends and relatives. My aunts and uncles were with us the whole entire day from dusk until dawn. It was an exhausting day as everyone had already cried their eyes out and barely slept. While sitting in the living room with my other siblings, I silently re-evaluate my relationship with my father. It was a rocky relationship. My dad’s words have always been the “law of the house” and there were plenty of times when I wished we had a friendlier relationship. Though I was not the best daughter, including my siblings as well, I sat there wishing how I could have been better. I thought of how during and after college, I drifted from my parents. The taste of being away from home and having no restrictions to what I do and when I come back home was addicting.

When he was still at the hospital, the only thing we look forward to was the doctor’s approval of him getting into the rehabilitation center and then coming home. We were hopeful that he would make a steady recovery even though the doctors had warned us of his very limited time on Earth. The one thing we all hope for was to hear his voice, but at last, he didn’t even have the strength to say anything. The first few days when he arrived home, he would say a few words making broken sentences and it took three of us to make out what he was trying to say. Afterward, he didn’t say much because his throat still hurt, and he didn’t have the energy.

There are days and nights when I go for a long drive to get things out of my mind and I think of how I can live up to my father’s name. When he was still alive I wasn’t afraid of faltering because no matter how hard or soft I fail, he was always there to catch me. Now, the only one that had always had my back is gone and I’m afraid. I’m afraid that if I set my goals too high I’ll fall so hard that I won’t be able to get up. I’ve always been a risk taker at everything I do, now I’m starting to think about consequences because the only person that would be able to help me, if I get into any problems that are out of my league, is gone.

From the day he was in the hospital up until his last day, I thought of all the words I wanted to say. Just six simple words, two sentences. I love you. I am sorry. At last, I could never do find the determination to say those words out loud to my father or on his deathbed. Four times I visited his grave, I just stand there and stare where he now lies. The words are still stuck at the back of my throat. There are times when I wished he was still alive, his body fighting against all odds. And when he fully recovers, my family and I can go on a trip. Everyone finally forgives one another, past mistakes, and move on. As I watched my father exhaled his last breath, my first time seeing the process of death, for the first time I wanted to stay home. I didn’t want the world pitying or sympathizing for me and my family.

The Journey through My Father’s Traumatic Brain Injury: The Beginning Part 2

After identifying my dad and letting most of the people who came to see my dad, the neurologist wanted to speak to us. My brother, who had arrived while my mom and I went to see my dad, and I went in with my younger sister and mom following a few minutes later. As soon as we got in the neurologist asked us to speak to my dad to see if he will respond to our voices. I didn’t have the courage, so I told my brother to speak to my dad. My mom came in with my younger sister and she was crying saying that my dad can’t hear us. There was no response. The neurologist then told us he’s going to speak with his head department and will come back later.

We went back out to the waiting room where most everyone had left except for our uncle, aunt, and two cousins.  After a few hours, my uncle and aunt gave us some money for gas and food before they left because he had to leave for work the next morning. Moreover, his mother in law was with the rest of the younger kids at home. After they left, we waited some more until the nurse came to get us to talk to the neurologist. Once inside my dad’s room, the neurologist told my mom and I that due to two blood clots there is pressure being forced on my dad’s brain. One blood clot is growing bigger and that it can exert damage on the brain stem. There were two possible solutions, 1) perform a craniotomy and 2) leave it as is. I explained to my mom and after telling her that its best for us to continue with the craniotomy before the pressure can have any effects on the brain stem. Since it was me who spoke to the neurologist and understand what’s going on, I signed the consent form. Of course, my mom also agreed to the procedure.

It was getting late and after discussing we decided to for younger sister A to stay overnight with mom at the hospital. Since it was going to be my first day back at work the following day my mom didn’t want me to be absent. Additionally, hours earlier I have texted my supervisor of the event because I was going to have to go in two hours late since I was the only one available to take my sister to school at 11am.

For the next few days, we needed to figure out things. The two youngest siblings were still in school and would not be done until the end of May. Moreover, younger sister B work part time at Bojangles and does not yet have her drivers license. The good thing about her job is that younger sister A also works at the same Bojangles, so there were nights that they can come home together but cannot go in at the same time. Additionally, we were also deciding on which days who should stay overnight at the hospital with our dad. The first week my older sister did not go to work and stayed overnight at the hospital. My mom also did not go to work for three weeks.

We also received many phone calls from different people in the state and out of state. Very few of them I know quite well and some I don’t even know. There were so many phone calls asking the same questions. Can my dad speak? Does he recognize people? Can he open his eyes? What happened? Can he eat or drink? Where exactly on his brain is injured? All the while trying to remain my cool when answering I was so frustrated. We’re talking about my dad, who is now a patient with a traumatic brain injury and not yet awake, in a coma.  For the first time, I just wanted to unplug the phone. The phone and my dad’s cell phone rang 24/7. I was tired of hearing the same questions and giving the same answers. In fact, I’ve been giving the same answers all over that I no longer knew what I said to each person that called. I’ve become dumbfounded and gave up talking to people who called to ask about my dad’s condition.

For the first whole week, my older sister stayed at the hospital with my dad. I have already told my supervisor, who is probably the nicest boss ever work under, about my work hours and gave him my schedule. For the next two weeks I gave my boss the days I can work so that I can also stayed overnight at the hospital. The four of us, whom are all twenty years old and above and can drive, rotate staying overnight. My mom also stayed overnight. There were a few nights when both my mom and I stayed overnight. She would sleep in my dad’s room, while I camp out in the waiting room. Of course, there were also nights when she stayed overnight with another younger sibling. Thus, begins our long days and nights at the hospital.

The Journey through My Dad’s Traumatic Brain Injury: The Beginning

You’re probably thinking “MaiMai you’re still alive!” yes, I’m alive and barely doing well. A lot has happened in my life recently, as a matter of fact, there has been a dramatic change in my life. Before I was almost always complaining about my life that it was boring, and I needed more excitement. Right now, I cannot even complain about my life if I want to.

On Sunday morning May 13th, 2018 two days after I have come back home I received a phone call from a relative telling me that I needed to get hold of my mom and tell her to call my dad’s cell phone immediately. My mom and younger sister A had taken younger sister B to work and was going to stop by the Hmong store to get ingredients to make Pho. Well, younger sister A had changed her cell phone number without me, being the only one, not knowing. Frustrated, I decided to call my dad’s cell phone. An aunt picked up and I could hear all the noises in the background. She broke the message to me. A tree had fallen and hit my dad. Somehow, I was able to process all the information without going into shock. In fact, as soon as she told me that I asked immediately where my dad was being taken. She replied Charlotte which is an hour drive towards the east. That was not how I wanted to start my summer.

I immediately went after my older sister and younger brother B, who were at the laundry mat, after calling and leaving a message for younger brother A. I told my older sister and she took off to go to the Hmong culture park (more like an empty lot of land where the Hmong new year is held each year). However, she didn’t make it that far as she came back to finish the laundry and told me to go back home and that my mom and younger sister A was going to finish paying at the Hmong store.

Once we all got home we tried to figure out who was going to Charlotte and who was staying home since we all wanted to go. After a few minutes of discussing, my mom, younger sister A, and I left for Charlotte after calling our uncle to let him know. Mind you, that none of us has ever driven to Charlotte except for my dad and younger brother A. Well we made it safely to the hospital and here is where more trouble begins.

At the front desk, I gave the patient representative my dad’s name and he was nowhere to be found. After a few minutes, it was getting busier and the representative asked us to move aside for a moment. By this time my uncle, aunt, and two cousins had also arrived. Now, the address was sent to us by the aunt who picked up my dad’s phone and address was given to her by the EMT’s. So, there was no way we were in the wrong place. I started to call all the hospitals that were within an hour from home. Younger sister A called the aunt back, and the aunt called the hospital. We finally thought we found our dad only to immediately know that the patient was female, and we’re back to square one.

Frustrated and angry, younger sister A and younger cousin A called the president of the organization, we were pushing for them to tell us where exactly our dad is and why no one thought to follow our dad to the hospital. Now, having taken an EMT course I know that the plane cannot carry that much weight or any other additional passengers. However, someone could have driven to Charlotte so that when my family and I got we would not have run into any problems locating my dad. Of course, since my dad was only volunteering not part of the organization and not their relative no followed him to Charlotte.

By this time my older sister has heard of the news that our dad could not be located at the hospital and was calling Catawba EMT. Meanwhile, members of the organization and some other people that were there on Sunday morning volunteering showed up. They went up to the front desk and got visitor passes, my mom told them that it wasn’t the right room, but they insisted. So, they went up only to came back down. Just as I hanged up, my younger sister A came up to me and said, “Hey so that aunt sent us dad’s license so maybe we can just show it to them.” Frustrated I just glanced at her, but then I realized something. If that aunt had my dad’s wallet with her all along there was no way the EMT could have put in his information into the system, he was an unidentified patient.

I told her to get in line with me and the patient representative we talked to earlier, waved at us to go to him. All along I thought they no longer care about, but since we were persistence about staying at the hospital until our dad was found and more people kept showing up it looks like he’s been making phone calls around the hospital. By this time my older sister had called and talked to the Catawba chief paramedic. Once again, the patient representative asked me for all the details and I finally told him that there was no way my dad would be in their system because he has no identification on him and we didn’t know that. One patient that flew in had match my dad’s physical description, the time frame and events led to the injury matched. So, the patient representative and I rushed to identify the patient after my sister showed him the picture of my dad’s driver license that was sent by the aunt, whom I talked to earlier.

Well, we didn’t make it in time to identify the patient since he was already taken to the CT Scan room, but the patient representative got a good glimpse of him. So, he told me that we’re going back to get visitor passes and he’ll take us the STICU (Surgical Trauma Intensive Care) waiting room.

By the time we got back to the lobby, Catawba EMT had called to let the front desk know and most everyone had gotten visitor passes. Everyone that was not family went their own way, but I told my family which also consisted of my uncle, aunt, and two younger cousins that we’re going with the representative. After a long wait, my mom and I were the first two to see my dad. I can still remember his condition. His head was so swollen and they shaved his head. They wrapped up his hands in mitts so that he doesn’t start to pull on any of the tubes and IV fluid lines. I couldn’t even look at my dad for so long because the tears just kept coming. I spent most of my time in the room looking out the window just to wipe away the tears until the ER doctor came in. By this time younger brother A had arrived at the hospital all the way from Boone and was with everyone else in the waiting room.

Of course, we let all the visitors saw my dad so that we can get rid of them and sent them home. I didn’t feel like looking at their faces. I didn’t want to see them. I felt so angry and disgusted because my dad has done a lot for that organization, he has helped most of the people in the organization and within the Hmong community. The least they could have done was sent one person to Charlotte with my dad’s identification so that when we got there we wouldn’t be stuck in the lobby for three hours. When they told us over the phone that EMT has my dad’s information and identification, I couldn’t even think twice about not being able to locate my dad. I was upset, so upset when I learned that EMT didn’t even get hold of my dad’s identification.

From the moment I saw my dad laying in the hospital bed, I knew that I took granted of my life before that event took place. I thought my life before was hard, complicated, and boring now it’s even going to be harder. If anything, I was grateful for the patient representative that helped us.

My Mother’s Story

Growing up I can never rely getting help with homework from my mother. If it was project that deals with creativity, then that is when my mom can help. However, if it was something like calculus, I’m on my own.  Unlike my father who was educated in Laos, my mother never received any education. She lost her father at an early age, and spent her childhood farming. Even this day, she still gardens after she comes back from work.

Oh, how I remember the day of my youth in the summer under the scorched sun helping my mom planting and cultivating. No wonder, I suffered from chronic back pain and exhaustion. And you would think with all the agriculture I’ve been doing for most of life I would have a green thumb, to only learned that I possessed a much rather black thumb.

Though my mom does not have any education, she is a hard worker. She knows basic vocabularies and phrases. In October of 2014, she finally obtained her US citizenship after vigorous month of studying. And she only took it one time. One time! Of course, I went with her and translated for her. There were days when studying became clown class because of mistranslation and we (my siblings and I) would get surprisingly confused at our own words or simply because the Easter Bunny would steal our brains.

There are also other Hmong people who would come to our house and my father would help them filled out all the immigration forms and give them resources to study and prepped for the citizenship test. They know English! They are fully capable of speaking in English. How I know? Well, simply because my siblings and I would speak to them in Hmong and they replied in English all the time. The only time they would speak in Hmong is when they’re talking to the elders or my parents. And oh boy, I’m glad that I have better Hmong than them. They would be asking my dad if they can get an interpreter, but they don’t qualify for one. Then they would be complaining and I would roll my eyes while I’m thinking “If my mother passed it, so can you. Just read the damn handbook.”

When I first started my first year of college, my parents were worried. Though I was smart I didn’t seem motivated and they were quite right about it. I was more laid back and I loved my naps. Plus, I was and still am the type of person who sometimes don’t stick to my words.  So, they had every right to be worry. But, I will not forget what my mother told me at my high school graduation party: “Think of your education like a huge land filled with crops and weeds. If you start to remove the weeds in one area, but the next day decide to start another area and you say that you can finished the first area on another day. However, the next day you moved onto another area, and do the same the next day and the next day. When will you ever get done? Education is like that. If you get lazy and don’t finished what you have started, you’ll never accomplished anything.”

Take Me Back to the Night We Met

**Note: This a guest submission from one of my friends who wished to remain anonymous. 

A friend once told me through a handwritten letter that she wanted to go back to the night we met. Not the day when we first ran into each other in middle school and become friends. Not the last day she spent with us in high school before moving out of state. But the night when she came back to visit her relatives and friends. In her letter, she wrote that had so many things she wanted to talk about but she couldn’t. She continued to write that she felt as if the entire world has given up on her. For a moment that we spent conversing and catching up, she felt as if someone cared. However, she wrote she got scared because she didn’t know who she can trust anymore.

It wasn’t just her that wanted to go back to that night. After I finished reading her letter, I thought the same thing. I vaguely remember about how she quit talking about her school and everyday life and didn’t want to continue. Moreover, I clearly remember she just looked so dead exhausted as if she was at dead’s end. She was, I had sensed it but I ignored it because I thought she’d told me one day. Only I wasn’t expecting for her to tell me through a letter. That night I went to sleep like usual, but I couldn’t get a good night rest. The following morning, I was just restless.

I went to school and by the end of the day I learned that out of all her friends in high school, I was the only one to receive a letter and the only who she contacted at least two or three times a year when she got married. All the possible signs were there, she showed it that night and through the times when we chat online. I felt…foolish for not doing anything. I felt that I hadn’t been a good friend for her. That night, I used to think to myself, I should have continued to talk to her, introduce her to my new friends, and the very least let her know that she was still part of my life that I still cared about her. Instead, I chose to walk away.

My Father’s Story

I have a passion for learning. If I can keep going to school and not worry about student loans, I will keep attending school. As weird as it sounds school is fun for me. However, I didn’t always have a passion for learning. I hated school. I hated it so much that I never did my homework, but each night my dad would come back from work and he did my homework for me. Looking back at it now, I really appreciate all his hard work. I hated school because I didn’t understand my assignments. And though I was born in the US, my English was horrible. I didn’t really start to speak English until the second semester of first grade. Believe me when I say this I hated reading out loud so whenever my teacher called on me I never read, but that all changed in the spring because I started to volunteer for reading. I changed once I started to open up to my peers and teachers, but that still didn’t change me for not liking school.

In high school, I was just simply called smart because I got good grades I wasn’t really considering challenging my abilities. Then it all changed one night. My father, in his own way, is a great father figure in my life. Before the Vietnam War he went to university in Laos and worked for the government. His friends and my relatives all told my siblings and I that my father was a very intelligent man, in fact the smartest from his group of friends and that if the Vietnam War never happened he would still be working for the government. He was, they all said, someone that they all looked up, someone they trusted because he was hardworking, educated, kind hearted, and justifying.

Somewhere during my sophomore year in high school, my father attended an annual meeting. I can’t remember if it was a family or Hmong community meeting, but he was gone for a few days. He came back home late one night and I had just gone to bed after cramming my presentation in one night and I heard him crying. I didn’t think of it much so I went to sleep. That weekend my mom told me and older sister that we need to make sure we finished high school, go onto university and get a respectable job. We needed to pave the path for our younger siblings. Hearing those words are already a lot of burden for a fourteen and eighteen years old teenagers.

That same weekend night my dad called us for a family meeting and he told us that night that he would like for all six of us to attend university. He didn’t care about other people’s children, but he wanted us to start thinking about our future and start setting up goals. He continued to told us that, during the meeting he attended, he met an old friend. Back in Laos the old friend would always asked my dad to help him study, the friend wasn’t that bright. They both graduated but the friend wasn’t guaranteed a job because of his low grades so he returned home and helped his family with farming. Years later they met again, but things were different. His friend attended school in the US, obtained a PhD and was working at a university. My dad had nothing, he was working in a factory/company. He told us he came back home crying because of his regrets and of course he was envious of his friend.

That night though, for the first time, I saw all the regrets in my dad’s eyes. The regret of how he should have just attended school without the support of my grandparents and his siblings (my mom supported his decisions but things didn’t work out). The regret that his children doesn’t have parents who can help them with homework and project assignments. The regret that his education meant nothing in the US.

And so, my passion started out as an obligation. Graduate high school, go to university, and find a respectable job. I didn’t know that I was going to entrapped myself this sticky web. I started to take more challenging courses my junior and senior high school year and though I hated it those AP courses, I couldn’t get away from them. Suddenly it became a fight with myself, I wanted to prove to myself that “yes I am capable of doing this.” It no longer became an obligation that I wanted to fulfill for my parents, I wanted to become someone. Someone great and worthy. Someone that I’m proud of when I’m with my friends and family.

As I started exploring other subjects my freshmen and sophomore year in college I found all my arduous work in my high school AP classes to be rewarding. I’d sit in class and tell myself “I’m glad I sit through that AP class in high school.” There were so many subjects that I was interested in and sometimes I tell myself “darn I really wanted to take that class for fun.” That was when I discovered that along the way my passion for learning had grew a lot.  On days when I feel like giving up or when the stress is just too high, I tell myself “if not for me then do it for my parents.” I’ll remind myself of my father and mother’s stories. And I’ll tell myself that at the end everything I’ve done so far has mainly been for my sake, no one else’s.