I am lucky. At a young age, I've learned that in order to stand out, one must never settle for the average. So as a scholar, I worked hard for a 4.0 and a perfect attendance. In fact, I was on the principal's honor roll from grade 1 all the way up to grade 8. I had perfect attendance for four straight years and occasionally, I would stay after the rest of the class was dismissed to talk to my teachers who knew very much about my personal life as they did about my academic one. I also remember spending countless of hours after school, talking to my friends about my dreams and my pursuits, never realizing that one day I would be able to cross so many of those items off of my bucket list and I'm twenty-two years old. But growing up in a Vietnamese household had its own ups and downs. My mother was pretty Americanized so she gave me the freedom to explore my passion. While she never quite understood it, she allowed me to express myself in every possible means. In high school, I was able to find my outlet for self expression through playing sports, participating in community service events, and taking up leadership roles. All of these extracurriculars would not have been possible if it wasn't for my mother's leniency. I was lucky.
Now that I am done with college and trying to figure out my next big girl move, it has been more difficult now than ever to answer questions from adults such as: When are you going to get a boyfriend? How much money do you want to make? What do you want to do?
When I was a teenager, I was able to avoid these type of serious questions because I had no particular reason to find my answers. Now, however, it has become a concern for not just my relatives but also for my parents. I brought a guy friend home the other day (whom they absolutely love) and afterwards, at the dinner table, they began to ask me questions about him. "Are you guys dating?" "He seems great. Why don't you go for it?" "Shouldn't you be thinking about settling down already? You're not that young anymore, you know." Honestly, I didn't know how to break it down and for the hundredth and gazillionth time, I did not want to have to repeat myself and reexplain to them why I enjoy taking my time when it comes to love and relationships. Similar to my career, I like to ensure that a legacy is built through time and careful consideration...not mindlessness and questionable decisions. I've mentioned this previously, every part of my life is an investment. So while I love to take new risks and build my own castle, I also like to stay true to myself because at the end of the day, I'm the person who's going to be stuck with me. If that's the case, I want to at least be happy with the person that I'm with.
I've seen people who settled for a profession that pays well, but leaves them feeling unfulfilled. I've seen people settled to be with a significant other who makes them feel anything but significant. I've seen people surround themselves with those who never values or respects their time or worth. Many times, I have asked them why they do what they do and most of them shared one commonality with their answers. 'It's easier to settle and many times, people like easy.' Truth is, I will never understand it. I've tried to wrap my mind around it, analyzing it, but nothing adds up.
I've spent many nights thinking and reflecting about my life. I think about the dreams that I had when I was little girl. That job. That man. That friend. That life. I then start to think about means, aka quantifiable goals, that will allow me to achieve such success. And then I think about the people who stayed and have shown me so much love. All of these reflections led me to one conclusion. I can and will never settle. It will be unfair for the eighty year old Khanh to have to look back and realize that she has wasted all those years pursuing mediocrity -yawns-
I want it all, guys. I want to one day be able to say that I get to wake up every morning and do what I love and love what I do. I want a career that pushes me to challenge myself every day and gives me room to inspire those around me. I want a network of friends who continuously supports me in my endeavor and teaches me about their insights on all things life. I want a love so grand that it makes any Nicholas Sparks novel look bad.
Lesson of the day is a short one. Complacency is boring. And the minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for.