2015 Year-In-Review

Much has happened since the start of the year, but here are a couple of things that stood out to me:

  • I had my first full time job and for lack of a better term, hated it. They said that your first job will most likely not be your last and I'm thankful that these words are more than true in regards to my circumstance. I found myself dreading the work that I produced as my boss's tyrannical nature began to affect my self-esteem and confidence
  • I found something I am naturally really good at aka taking photos and being in front of the camera. Instead of rejecting my calling, I started to follow my intuition, which eventually led me to the world of modeling
  • I lost a lot of friends and in turn, found my core group. No matter how hard you work or how much you care, sometimes there are people who are meant to be in your life. Other times, it's best to accept the very same notion that not every passerby are going to stay and that's absolutely okay.
  • I fell madly, deeply in love. If you ever get the chance to scan through my social media, you're going to find more than enough photos of me and my boyfriend. But here's the thing, folks. I feel absolutely #noshame in demonstrating the amount of love I have for him. Why? Because every single one of my genuine friends are going to be happy because their respective friend is finally at a really good place in her life right now. Shoutout to everyone who has given us nothin' but love. Anyone else who seems to be bothered by my [x] amount of posts are probably not worth my time #notsorry

There are a lot of things I've started to practice this year-

  • Saying "No" more often - and it feels freaking amazing! No guilt. No knots in my throat. Nothing.
  • Expressing compassion. Trying to look at another person's point of view to see where they're coming from. Why they may be in pain or why they may be acting a certain way. Everyone has a story, it's important to really listen to them.
  • Increasing a higher level of self awareness. I know when I'm happy, unhappy, excited, and disappointed. I am slowly starting to see who and what Khanh P. Duong is really about.
  • Closing in my circle. I still have friends who I would go great lengths for and then there are people who I will never really bother to talk to because our paths will most likely never collide again.
  • Letting go. Letting go of friendships that no longer inspire me. Relationships that no longer serves me. And people who no longer challenge me. As I go through one chapter after the next, I am beginning to feel more relaxed and optimistic about everyone who manages to stay with me throughout this long and enduring journey. My true Most Valuable Players.

Overall, I've had a rough year, but I've learned and grown so much. I'm also very thankful to each and every single experience because it has pushed me to cross boundaries and become a better, more diligent friend, co-worker, girlfriend, daughter, and sister.

Thanks for tuning in & wish you all a magical 2016! Fight On forever!

Smaller Circles, Bigger Changes

I know it's been awhile since I've last posted, but a lot has happened since then. For starter, I somehow landed a spot on the Top 20 and will be competing for a national pageant title come next year. Also, my modeling career has been drifting towards a more promising direction so at the very least, I have that going for me. All in all, life has been filled with its fair share of ups and downs---more ups than downs so I'm glad. While I do have a good amount of quality Khanh time, I have noticed how different life is compared to let's say 9 months ago. I definitely have the same core group of friends---the untouchables as I would like to call them (a.k.a. Steven, Emily, David, Brian) and while my professional network is slowly expanding, the older I get, the smaller my inner circle gets.

Exactly a year ago, I would spend most of my Thursday nights at a go-to night club with one of my good friend at the time. Sometimes we would even kick it up a notch and go out on Saturday and Sunday too. I don't know how I did it back then but that kind of lifestyle just doesn't quite appeal to me anymore. More recently, I've traded in music festivals for concerts. Late nights for date nights. Large gatherings for one-on-ones. And it wasn't until this very moment did I realize, "Holy shit. I'm going through the "I'm to old for this" kinda phase. While the change was sudden, I guess what I'm trying to say here is that I just don't feel too settling with being THAT girl anymore. By that I mean, I simply want to detach myself from that post-graduate image. Ya know, the girl who always goes out, always have a good time, and yet never have a clue as to what it is that wants to do with her life.

At the ripe age of 23, I have pretty much cut out alcohol, except for the occasional drink or two *special occasions only* and have been maintaining a better eating and exercising regime. Did I mention that I actually drink coffee now? These habits, although hard to distinguish at first, has led me to believe that perhaps I'm growing out of my old shell, which I think is a really good thing for someone my age. First and foremost, I am very conscious in regards to where my energy is being spent and in particular, who I am spending it on. This is applicable to my career move, my relationship, my friendships, and etc. Secondly, I've discovered the power of the word "No" and "Yes." Saying "No" to things or people who may be detrimental to my well-being and "Yes" to new opportunities and collaborations.

Overall, it has been a truly enriching experiencing. Dealing with loss was hard. Saying good-bye to people I claimed as my "ride-or-die" was hard. Heck, a friend of mine for 6 years who used to refer to me as her "Best Friend" recently unfollowed me on Instagram and all I did was this..."oh. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯" There are a couple of things I've been pretty obsessed with lately and those things are as follows: e-books, podcasts, actual books, and interviews on Youtube.

Here's one I would like to share with you today. It's a podcast featuring, one of my favorite writers, Mark Mason. http://www.knowledgeformen.com/podcast-mark-manson-2/

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did and thanks for checking in!


It's Coming Together

This year has been all sorts of crazy, to say the least. I've said good-bye to more friendships than I could count. I got a boyfriend even though I swore off men and have since then broken my promise of "Let's stay single until you're 26, Khanh." I woke up one day and X'ed all of my nearly finished applications for big corporations because I've realized that a nine-to-five just wasn't for me. I also decided to pick up heavier weights again and my butt have experienced exponential growth since then. (Hi, @jonathantam) Although I have approximately a month and a half left of 2015, I can't even begin to tell you how anxious I've been. A few weeks ago, I received devastating news---one that tested my ability to stay sane and above all else, news that tore my family's mental state and shredded it into pieces. I also got into a huge disagreement with a good friend of mine and for a quick second, I felt like I was experiencing some sort of unwanted deja-vu. It's been quite a ride but I'm extremely grateful for every moment, every life lesson, every mistake, every falling out because each of those experiences has led me to this exact place and I couldn't be happier.

If you want to know how I'm feeling then I'm going to tell you. I'm scared. Venturing into a brand new industry is an exhilarating and equally frightening thing to do. I'm anxious. How do I even go about telling my mom about all of this and have her completely understand the emotional turmoil I've been going through? Through all of these emotions, however, the one that stood out to me the most....the one that kept me going is excitement. While I'm batshit scared, yes...I'm almost too enthusiastic to let anyone take this away from me. My life has been something I've worked incredibly hard for -a labor of love so to speak- and like I've said many times in the past, this is only my beginning.

It's going to be a crazy holiday with projects, work, and my film following Thanksgiving festivities but it's going to be a lot of fun. Wanted to give you some updates now that I can still take a breather. As always, if you're reading this, thank you for all of the support truly.

Hard-Hitting Lessons Along The Way

I can say from personal experience that nothing is more exciting than being optimistic about a new opportunity, a new friendship, a new connection, and etc. It's one thing to have dreams but it's another thing to have goals. Like most of my college graduate friends, I really had no idea what I wanted to do. The only dream I ever had been that of pursuing something in the entertainment industry and even then, it was a dream that was incredibly difficult to explain to my Asian parents. So when a door opened earlier this year, I decided that it was time to take that leap of faith and see where it may take me. Unfortunately, it was a door that led to many tribulations and mental abuse. Rather than harnessing my dreams and developing stronger skill sets, I had to face off-handed remarks and criticism--day in, day out. It took me a month to realize that this wasn't the kind of life I wanted to live and three months before any immediate action was held.

My incredible network of friends have been nothing short of supportive even though sometimes I just want to tell them that it really has been such a challenging year for me. Challenging but equally rewarding. I lost a person who could have been my maid-of-honor. A person whom I claimed to be my better half. I lost a job that was so close to home and for a few weeks or so, I fought long and hard to continue to keep my pioneering attitude towards a brighter future. 2015 has been a year in which I've failed, scraped my knee, and bled. It has also been a year that taught me resilience, grit, and forgiveness. I've walked away from each of these experiences learning more about by my inner self and even more determined to work harder because success is earned, not given.

My skin feels thicker and so are the walls I've built around me but if given the choice, I would absolutely do it all over again.

The Pressure of a Modern Woman

Two and a half months in. It took me nearly two and a half months or so to accept and settle the fact that no salary and compensation package was big enough for me to ever sacrifice my own personal growth and happiness. Initially, I was scared that the decision to quit my job meant that I would somehow leave a permanent blemish on my work record. However, while things could have ended on a better note, I tried telling myself that it could have been worse.  Thankfully, I learned that sometimes you just need to let things go even if it means letting go of a role that originally fueled your enthusiasm and hunger. Yes, as nice as it is to be open and optimistic, that kind of magical thinking would have left me feeling extremely unsatisfied and thwarted. Pros? Now I am able to spend more time pursuing a role I can actually see myself thriving in. These kind of uncertainties definitely led me to experience a medium level of stress. Frankly, it's all I ever think about nowadays. Next to that was this --- does this mean my mom wants me to help her in the kitchen now? Which leads me to my next curiosity --- did Steve Jobs ever sit down and think about the dinner he's about to cook....Okay, I'm only bringing this up because it seems like everyone around me is putting more pressure for me to be domesticated now that I have so much free time on my hands.

So here are my thoughts on this. I have plenty of friends who wake up early, go to work, go home, clean the house, and prepare a meal for their respective partner. At the end of it all, the highlight of their day goes back to the very notion that they can sit down at a table and share a meal with someone they care about.

More recently, I started to imagine how nice it must be to desire and obtain that kind of comfort and stability. But before I could allow myself to settle for that state of mind (not that there's anything wrong with it, it's just not Khanh), I accepted the fact that it wasn't the kind of life I would have wanted for me.

If I haven't put it out there already, I absolutely adore my boyfriend. He lifts, he cooks, and on top of everything, he knows how I like my coffee and eggs in the morning. I giggle at the idea of having cooking nights with him, while catching up on the latest episode of Suits. I also giggle at the idea of me coming home with groceries and preparing him a meal for once. That's also me giggling at an idealistic Khanh. Realistically, I couldn't envision a future where I had to put on an apron every night, wait for my partner to come home, and be completely happy with my life. I always had the thought of, well if I worked hard enough, I wouldn't ever have to worry about how the meal gets on the table. It'll be there when I get home. My concentration is less on my culinary skills or lack thereof but more on what I can do to further my talents, contributions and performance in a professional setting.

I feel all sorts of pressure but it mainly stems from the very fact that I so badly want to make my parents proud. While their wishes for me include settling down, finding a good husband, having a stable life and job, the ones I have for myself are extremely different. I want a partner that can challenge me, a life that is constructed with series of losses and wins, and a career that can sometimes be all too consuming but equally gratifying.

Old me would have immediately wanted to apologize to my parents and my boyfriend for not knowing how to cut a watermelon and/or making something aside from cup ramen. But after writing all of this down, I figured it's better to have a healthier and more open approach and who's to say I can't perhaps learn how to cook killer meals while slaying every new professional venture? We'll see how it goes. Let's keep our fingers crossed and hope that I don't burn the house down.

Why I Quit My Boss

“I quit.” “You did what?”

“I quit.”

“Man, you sure know how to start off the week.”

That was the conversation I had with my best friend yesterday morning after a slightly uncomfortable but much needed meeting with my boss.

At the start of my new job, I was ambitious, excited, and needless to say, filled with energy and enthusiasm. I imagined myself five years down the line, branding the company, producing my own shows, and managing my own team. Less than two months after our soft grand opening that vision of mine began to slowly dissipate.

Before everything went downhill, I was on my grind. Within the first month alone, I was able to put in a 50-hour workweek all while balancing my three freelancing jobs on the side. With only twenty dollars in my savings account, I knew I had to hustle and I had to hustle hard. Once I got the ball rolling, things began to look brighter. Every month, I watched my savings doubled. While I was making money, I tried to budget my spending as much as possible. Pretty soon, I was able to afford the things I never thought I was able to afford. Hustling (if you do it right) will always lead to unprecedented results.

Slowly, I started to notice that the dynamic between my boss and I began to change. She would walk over to my office often and criticize every research, pitch, and treatment I’ve completed for a show. At first, I took her words as a means to improve and grow, but after awhile, I began to feel uneasy.

Some days were doable and other days were just downright awful. I would hear the words "nonchalant" and "incompetent" being tossed casually. Furthermore,  her words had a lot to do with her own personal opinions of me rather than the product of my actual merits. "Why are you a Communication major when you can't communicate?" "Do you even do research at USC?" Etc, etc.

Although I am typically good at blocking out these kinds of misguided words, it became apparent to me that there was no real trajectory or future if I do choose to stay with the company. Don’t get me wrong. Well-spoken, highly self-actualized individuals do not intimidate me. They inspire me. My boss, on the other hand, was anything but inspiring. She was a disastrous procrastinator, but luckily for her, she had someone to pick up all of her pieces....aka me.

Two months in and I started to experience a new low. I lost a good amount of weight, broke out, had mood swings, and evidently, experienced a high-level of stress. So what did I end up doing? At the end of month 4, I booked a flight to San Francisco and requested a week off from work.

San Francisco was amazing. It gave me a space to reflect on the situation I was in. I stepped away from my every day routine and challenged myself to think outside the box. Lastly, I came home with a definite answer.

“I’m going to quit,” I said to myself.

That following Monday morning, I walked into my office and saw that my boss completely destroyed my desk space---books, used cups, papers were scattered everywhere. Granted, before I left, I vacuumed the entire office and tidied up my conference room. Welp, there goes that. It was in that very moment that I realized I could no longer wait for change to happen. After a couple of deep breathes, I mustered up the courage to tell her that I no longer see myself as a fit for the company.

She didn’t look too surprised and while she did try to find more horrible things to say, I did my best to avoid countering verbally altogether. Deep down, I knew I was doing the right thing and by giving myself the opportunity to shed all of the lies and unethical truths I’ve been repeatedly hearing, I have finally allowed myself to be free.

I don’t want to approach this situation in an aggressive outspoken manner. For me, this entire first job experience taught me more than I’ll ever know. Although some people may think that I am a quitter, I know very well that this was a decision that took a lot of thinking, discussion, and reevaluation.

Pros about the job:

  • It was close to home
  • It was close to the gym
  • I will make my parents proud and less stressed
  • It gave me the flexibility to keep up with my social life and relationship

After writing down the pros and the cons, I learned that no matter how great the pros were, none of these things was worth risking my happiness and self worth.

Initially, I was planning to write this post a couple of months down, ya know... right after I get a new job or something along those lines. However, my thoughts are still raw and I wanted to share this experience with you because it’s important for me to be as honest as possible. I’ve spent years preaching about the importance of staying true to oneself while consistently chasing after calculated risks. This, right here, may very well be the best decision I have made for myself this year. Okay, second best (the first one was when I agreed to date the sweetest guy on this planet).

If there’s one thing I want you to take away from my story, it’s this: your dreams are worth it. Don’t let pre-judgment, condemnation, setbacks and people-pleasing tendencies to pull you back. After all, the second you start believing in yourself and your worth, everything will start to follow through. Trust me, I’d know.

Uncomfortable Conversations

I have completely lost track of the amount of uncomfortable conversations I have had within these past couple of month. However, I felt a big weight was lifted off of my shoulders when one of my favorite authors reiterated the notion that that sometimes a person's success is measured by these kind of unexpected, unwarranted moments. For about two months or so, I've been feeling a significant amount of stress, which eventually led to me feeling extremely insecure and unhappy. The only time I would ever feel at ease is when I'm around my close friends, family members, and/or my boyfriend. I, being the person that I am, was very much aware of the situation. I knew exactly why, who, and what that made me feel so unsatisfied and unmotivated. Instead of being decisive and put it upon myself to take some calculated risks, I chose to not change my circumstance and as a result, I felt into a very dark pit hole.

To do or not do? To say or not to say?

At the very worst, what could happen? Well, let's see here. 

  1. I might have to start over.
  2. I will have to face the unknown and uncertainty.
  3. I will fail.

Okay, after writing all of these things out, it actually doesn't seem all that bad. I've been through way worse, but if you really wanted me to be honest with you, I'll tell you that I'm hanging on for what's left of my passion and fire due to the very fact that I believe that change is possible. If I changed my attitude, my work ethic would suddenly change. If I changed my actions, perhaps, I would finally get that stamp of approval that I've been so desperately seeking.

These things ought to happen, right? Wrong. At this rate, there's a high chance that nothing will change unless I'm willing to step outside of my comfort zone and actually have that uncomfortable conversation. It's never easy to eliminate every single physical and psychological baggage, but it's always better to follow your heart than be miserable and dreading to wake up every morning. I don't wish this upon anyone, especially not myself.

I guess I have a lot of thinking to do as I move forward with my next step, but we'll see how everything goes! As always, Fight On!

Life Update!

Although I've dreaded it in the past, I'm living that 9 to 5 lifestyle in a sense that I set my alarm to wake up at the same time every morning. On a good day, I would leave work at the same time every evening. Somehow, I've managed to still be able to stay connected with my friends, go to the gym, eat dinner with my parents, and be in bed by 11:30 PM. I don't know how it is for other people, but I absolutely love routine. Jonathan describes my life as this.

Wake up, eat cereal or oatmeal drink tea, go to work, eat some greens for lunch aka nothing, get off work , go gym, go home, shower and eat greens aka nothing and drink smoothie

I know it seems like he's teasing me in regards to my diet and all, but he's pretty much spot on. I'm as predictable as you can get, but that's not to say I live today in order to repeat my yesterdays. In fact, every day is different. I feel challenged at work. I feel inspired by my daily reads. I feel blessed for my health, my friendships, my family, and their well being. All in all, every day feels brand new and I love it.

This journey of self discovery sure does have its fair share of struggles. Recently, I've ended a six year friendship with a person I sworn I would have taken a bullet for. It wasn't an easy decision on either ends, but we both knew that it was only a matter of time before we had to go our separate ways. We were just too incompatible. As I mentioned in my previous post, goodbyes are never easy but sometimes, they're necessary. By leaving the bad things behind, we are allowing ourselves to put our happiness on the frontline even if it means walking away from a person whose number you'd call on a daily basis. The heart-wrenching lesson I've learned during this recovery period is that you and I can never get to choose who stays in our lives. The only people we have full control over is ourselves, so let's all make a conscious effort to do things and be with people who actually makes us happy.

The other great thing about being so occupied these days is that it leaves me zero room to ponder about intimacy or romantic relationships. In fact, this is the first time I've thought about it in months. No man has asked me out on a single date. I had long forgotten what it feels like to have butterflies in my stomach. The idea of having a crush on someone seems completely foreign to me. However, with all of the negatives comes the positive. Being single, over the course of 3 going on 4 years, has enabled me to see people for who they truly are. The great looks amazing and the bad...well, they just look really bad. Instead of pursuing instant gratifications, as I would like to call them, I am now channeling all my energy in my readings, my workouts, and my job. I desperately want to be great, but greatness (like most things) takes time and lucky for me, I have no one to distract/derail me from my ultimate goal.

It feels so nice to write again, guys. I love writing and being away from this blog for so long has left me feeling extremely deprived. Going to start my Korean drama now. I hope you are all doing well. Until next time!

New Chapter. Let's Go!

It's a Friday night but unlike many other Friday nights, today will be the last Friday before I start my full-time job and I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I am to start this new chapter of my life. Following graduation, I was completely exhausted from packing on my schedule left and right. Two internships, five upper division courses, Greek life, etc. I wanted to do it all and that's exactly what I did. I did it all and I spread myself too thin. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Looking back and reflecting on everything now, I wouldn't have changed my decision for the world. I learned how to multi-task, I am able to work under tight deadlines, and more than anything, I found that fire that kept me going...day in and day out, but things weren't always easy for me. My parents and relatives were constantly asking me questions about my future. "When are you going to get a boyfriend?" "What are you going to be doing now?" "What's next?" Questions after questions. While I have tried many times to avoid giving them bullshit answers, I couldn't help but to settle for a mediocre response. "Just wait. You will see." If you can't already tell, the problem is quite clear. I had no answers. To me, not knowing was perfectly normal. As for my parents? Well, it drove them nuts.

For the past couple of months, I've been living under a microscope. Although my mother tries to alleviate my stress by sending me your average 9-5 office job listings, I was constantly searching for more. The more I did my research, the more patience and confidence I started to gain. I knew that at the end of the day, my time will come so while I don't have full control over timing, I could still enjoy the "Started-at-the-bottom" ride while I still can. Due to this fuck it mentality, I ended up doing a lot of recreational things. I traveled. I partied. I explored new places. I read (a lot). I dated. To sum it all up, I had a lot of fun. Someone really special entered my life (Danny) while other friendships began to dissipate. While I'm sad that some bonds aren't as strong as it was before, I'm also lucky to know that I still have some pretty amazing people who will always stay by my side.

These months have taught me so much about myself, my desires, my interests, and my dislikes. They opened up my eyes to venturing out and trying things that I may not have had the courage to try and for once, I am so so fucking excited. I have mentally, physically, emotionally prepared myself for this new opportunity and I'm going to do what I've always done in the past. I'm going to run with it and see where it goes.

Before I end this post, I just wanted to thank you for following my journey and for being a part of it. You have made more than an impact on me and because of that, I'm forever grateful. Take care and I'll be back on this blog soon!

As always, Fight On!

Transitioning and Embracing the Chaos

If it's anything I learned from the likes of Mark Cuban and Sir Richard Branson, it's that "success doesn't always come in the first go or through a single opportunity." Mister Cuban started his career by selling garbage bags and later teaching disco lessons. Eric Lefkovsky sold carpet for a living before co-founding a group coupon site. I understood very well that preparation is key in all of this. At the same time, I knew I had to listen to that inner voice in my head telling me to pick myself back up whenever a door was slammed in my face. So what happens after that? Well, the answer is simple. I would build myself another door. Okay, what if that doesn't work out? In that case, I'd find any means to climb through the window. The point I'm trying to make here is that I never abide to any self-limiting notion or other's people subjective opinion on how I should live my life because the most beautiful part about this entire post-graduate journey is that I finally get to paint my present with my own brushes and palettes. For many months, I've watched my friends settled into a new chapter of their lives. Some of them are pursing higher education (yes, my childhood best friend just got into Notre Dame Law!) while others packed their bags and moved into a brand new city. It's an exciting time for us all and I couldn't have been more proud knowing I have such a hungry and ambitious group of friends. While they are all trying to adapt to working full-time, I have moved back to Orange County, got myself a two year gym membership pass, and submitted my resume/CV to some 25-30 prospective companies in Hollywood. Yes, I've gone to final rounds of interview for companies such as 20th Century Fox to Lionsgate; however, something always went south. That's part of life right? Whether it was my lack of direct experience or my being a fresh college graduate, either way, I was never the right fit or someone was always a better fit. I could never wrap my head around these hiring decision process, but it was important for me to maintain my confidence in the auxiliary experiences and skill sets I've gained over the years.

I would be completely lying to you if I said playing the waiting game was not difficult. Often times, it was extremely nerve-racking, especially when you have Asian parents breathing behind your neck. However, one thing USC has prepped me for is to consistently showcase my adaptability and willingness to grown and learn. During this time period, I read (a lot), I watched plenty of YouTube videos, I did tons of research on entrepreneurs and successful people. While school "can teach us competence, it can't teach us character," so having enthusiasm and passion for what you're doing goes a very very long way.

I hope sharing a little bit of my story enables you to know that it's okay to experience pushback. If you've read my previous blog posts, you'd know that I've gone through my fair share of struggles and will continue to do so. I've learned to accept the fact that it's okay to not land what I had perceived to be my 'ideal' job. Things will eventually fall into place as soon as we all realize we're more than capable of creating and building that door of opportunity ourselves.

Best of luck and as always, Fight On!

You're Enough

I'm a goal-getter. I set goals. I look at the measures and the mean. I go out and get it. I don't believe in quitting what I've started nor am I am ever forgiving when I lose focus or get off track. And of course, half-assing is out of the ballpark. Interestingly enough, through this journey, alone, the only thing that keeps me going day by day is my positive outlook and my close friends. While I am most definitely a realist, positivism is so crucial when it comes to the early stages of building an empire from ground up (all that helpful bioenergy) as well as keeping the right people around you and ridding the negative ones. The better I am at blocking out the external noises, the easier it is for me to wake up every day with a sense of purpose and direction. If I'm doing one thing a day that gets me closer to where I need to be, I feel like I've succeeded. However, this mentality does not necessarily work when it comes to my family. My parents expect not progress but results. They could care less about the journey so long as I perform accordingly. Yes, that's a lot of pressure to put on your kid, but I guess I've become accustomed to it by now. I always thrive whenever people tell me I can't do something, so if excellence is what they want, then I'm going to give it to them. This time, however, the clock is ticking. I received a phone call earlier today from my mother who told me that I now have a three month ultimatum. From now until April, I have to prove to her that my dreams are capable of becoming a reality, which pretty much means that I better be doing something productive with my life. If not, I have to change my career path. I think this is her way of indirectly telling me that she is slowly giving up on my pursuits. I could sense sadness and desperation in her voice and of course, it pains me. What I wanted to tell her was that good things take time, but in our household, there's no such thing as patience. We're programed to function under deadlines and the notion that failure is not an option.

I didn't question her logic nor did I confronted her for not understanding her very own daughter. I knew she had nothing but good intentions at heart, even if that means urging her daughter to take a completely different direction with her life. I get it. The entertainment industry is unlike medicine, law, or education. Very few Asian people have succeeded in breaking the glass ceiling and while it breaks my heart to know that my parents no longer have that trust in me to do so, I'm still more determined than ever. It's going to take a lot of hard work, a good amount of sacrifices, but it's not like I haven't done it before. I did it once when I delivered the high school graduation speech in front of the whole school district. I did it again when I helped raised over $20,000 for charity my Junior/Senior year. And once more, when I was admitted to University of Southern California. The first in my family to ever attend a top private university.

Not many people know this, but fifteen years ago, I threw away my paintbrushes and canvases after my parents told me that being an artist meant that I was willing to be poor for the rest of my life. It was one of those decisions that has haunted me throughout my adolescent age and I'm not about to relive that experience again. So from now until the end of that three month mark, I am ready to make some magic happen. A-Game is officially on. I'm not saying it's going to be easy, but nothing easy is ever worth pursuing.

To everyone who has ever been told that what they're doing is not good enough. I would like to take this moment to tell you that you should never lose that vision of landing that dream (insert job here), reaching that (insert goal here), and etc. Just remember that despite of what people have to say (yes, your parents are included)  you, right now, will always be enough.

Special shoutout to my good friend, David, for this beautiful reminder.

There's a Fine Line

"There's always going to be attention and scrutiny. You can either understand it comes with the territory and embrace it, or you can lock yourself away. And I just can’t do that. I need to be living my life.

You cannot hide from the spotlight. You have to learn to embrace it."

- Aaron Rodgers regarding the on going process that comes with living in the public eye

Yesterday, my Big Sis from my sorority drove all the way from Culver City to Garden Grove in order to take me out for a celebratory big-little lunch date. Back when I was still in college, this was our usual thing. Boiling Point. Extra order of intestines. And then we would spend an hour and a half or two catching up on the events that has occurred in our lives. I'm always so grateful for the family that my sorority has blessed me with. Even though we all have to focus on our own lives, my big sis is one of those people who never forgets to check up on me occasionally and it's those rare personal relationships that I very much value and respect.

While we were both obsessing over our additional side orders and meal, she looked at me and said, "You look very happy." I told her I am. Yes, I'm not always at my 100 percent (in fact, I'm kind of sick right now), I know that I  have actually reached the point in life where things are about to change and the change is going to be quite exhilarating. I truly believe that the ups and downs of the years that came before this has prepared me for this moment right here. Also, I've been meditating for exactly a week now, which has done wonders for my mornings as well as set the tone for the rest of the day.

Moving on, I've noticed that a lot of people around me have been taking in the news of my career notice extremely well. I've received phone calls, beautiful messages, and tweets. One of my best friends is cooking me a dinner meal today, which I'm extremely excited about. I even got to Skype with my brother for about two and a half hours and he is currently serving in the Army in North Carolina . The amount of enthusiasm and love that have been given to me can never go unnoticed. I can be such a cheeseball sometimes. These warm words always give me all sorts of butterflies and unicorn-feels. That's also not to say that it doesn't come with a small price, because it does and what I'm about to discuss next has a lot to do with the quote I just posted above.

For the past couple of days, two if you want to be exact, I've received random messages from people I haven't heard from since our days at Bolsa Grande High School. In addition to being bombarded with questions there was also an influx amount of text messages from guys who now suddenly demonstrate a peculiar interest in me and my well being.  The curiosity is absolutely understandable; however, there comes a point when these questions can come off as extremely rude and intruding. Yes, I used to put up with it in the past, but I no longer have a tolerance for bull shit and kiss ass. If you're going to invade my space, I have the rights to protect my privacy and happiness. This is just a nice way of me saying that I'm not someone you'd want to upset.

So after an hour of feeling extremely agitated, I asked one of my friends for advice regarding these type of situations and he said to me, "If I were you, I would just ignore it." I have contemplated about this option for awhile now, but to me, being unresponsive meant that I was being as ill-mannered as they are. Okay, I guess I can look at it that way. Or I can look at it as a means for me to simply just live my life without the approval or opinions of others. It's all a matter of perspective really and I'm sure you're able to see that balance is currently something I'm striving towards.

I've reiterated this so many times before, but I find it extremely important to promote transparency and authenticity; however, I like to draw a fine line between my professional, social, and private life. Sometimes, there is such thing as feeling invasive. I just did not want to reach that point where I have to be like, "Hey, dude. That's not cool. You didn't care about what's going on in my life then, why are you bothering with me now?" At the root of it, I'm still very much the same person, which ticks me when people say things like, "Please don't forget all the little people." First, if I didn't forget about us, considering we've known each other for years, why would I suddenly view you as a 'little' person and dismiss our friendship entirely (if it's still a friendship presently)? I can see why there's a sense of urgency considering the more things I pack on my plate, the lesser the quality times I'll actually be able to have. However, I have been loading things on my agenda since I was a little girl. I got this, guys. We'll hang out soon (like you said). I'll be the one who actually initiate and coordinate our date (as always). And no, you will never be seen as a little person and nor will you ever be forgotten, unless you end up becoming some huge jerk. Other than that, it's a promise and I'm always a woman of my words. Just stay patient with me.

At the end of it all, if you're loved by me and you know who you are because I tell all of you this every day, I will never have to explain myself. You know I will always have time for us. And for everyone acquaintance out there, I appreciate your support. I really do. Thanks for tuning in all of this time.

That's all I have for today. In the meantime, please take care.

Big Girl Offer! Hello, TV!

It was one of those rare moments when I walked into the building and I knew that my life was about to change. I shock hands with a stranger who just so happens to be my future boss and introduced myself to him. "Hi, it's nice to meet you. My name is Khanh P. Duong." (I never get the P. It's my trademark). An hour and a half later, I walked away with a job offer and it was not just any offer. It was an opportunity for me to be the host of my very own television show for their network. You'd think I would be ecstatic, jumping up and down in glee; but I felt none of that. Instead, there was a small rush of serendipity and tranquility as I begin to think about what's ahead. "This is it. This is my time."So I took a deep breathe and smiled.

For the past couple of months, I've been bombarded with questions....these questions came from acquaintances (hardly from any of my good friends since they know better than to dive into my career) as well as family members. I didn't mind answering the first couple of questions, but then it got repetitive. I'm telling you, I would make such a horrible famous person. While it seems like I'm an open book, much of my life happens behind closed doors. Pun intended. What I'm trying to say here is that often times people see the results, the successes, the milestones; however, only a select few actually witness the struggles, the tears, and the setbacks. It's always tough when you're trying to build your empire from scratch, but you have to start somewhere, right?

After I received the good news, immediately, I texted and called my mom and my best friends. It's always important for me to share these parts of myself with the people I love---with the people I know who genuinely cares about me and my endeavors. Afterwards, I went on to Facebook and shared with the rest of my however many friends about the new opportunity. I don't do it for the likes nor do I have the need to brag. My friends are all aware of this and quite frankly, these kind of things starts to matter less as we get older anywho. However, I am very much aware of my support system and so it was kind of my way of letting them know that I'm doing okay for myself and that I'm going to make each and every single one of them proud. It's no secret that I've been patiently waiting for this moment right now and I could not have been happier. On the other hand, I'm also glad that I had these past couple of months to reflect and really think about what it is that I want to do with my life.

After I got home from the meeting, I changed back into my workout clothes, washed my car, picked up my little brother from school, and went onto the web to read more about the local news. I landed on this news article from KTLA5 of a 9 year old boy is who currently suffering from a deadly virus. His birthday is in a couple of weeks and so I went on to pick up my pen (something I rarely do) and wrote something for him. It's not much, but the energy that he has exuberated through the images has led me to believe that there is always more to life than just darkness. If Bubby can still find happiness and strength in home-written cards and stickers than I can most definitely be grateful for everything that I already have now.

Lesson of the day: the secret to having it all is knowing that you already do


Something Different

I'm sixteen days into 2015 and I can already sense a big change coming through. Four months before the new year, I spent every Thursday and Friday nights dancing on tables, singing along to my favorite songs, and making memories I sometimes can/cannot recall. And it was great. I made new friends, got in touch old with ones, and had a great time. My friend Brian always told me that I should start acting like my age rather than someone 6-7 years my senior, but I couldn't help it. That's just the way that my mind operates. I'm in a healthy and strong twenty two year old body; at the same time, my head is always thinking about precautions, the future, and responsibilities. As much as I love to play, I know that there will be some great things in store for me this year so my ultimate priority right now is to stay focus on that golden prize aka my career. Over the past two weeks or so, I've been scheduling interviews, meditating at least once a day, and learning to enjoy the simple act of being by myself. The first week was extremely difficult for me. I had the sudden urge to go out and have another crazy night with the girls, but then I realized that that's not what I want anymore. Although I don't mind being around my friends while enjoying good quality music, nothings brings me more happiness than when I'm at peace. When my body, mind, and soul are in touch with one another.

A lot of things always race through my head, especially during this time period. Normally, it would make me feel very nervous, but not this time around. I'm actually very positive and enthusiastic when I think about the future and the things I want to do. Any person who knows me will say that once I set my mind to something, nothing and no one can stop me from achieving it, not even myself. I guess this year has a lot to do with me trying to discover who I am and what I am, to find the balance between my egos, and to simply embrace me for everything that I am.

Don't get me wrong. I'm still fun. I'm still lively. But I want to be around people who is understanding of my priorities and doesn't question my decisions as to why I choose not to attend [insert name of event here]. It's only temporary; however, I'm extremely excited whenever I look back and see how far I've come.

Big shoutout to the friends who stayed patient with me. You guys have shown me so much compassion. I love you all.

Don't Do It. Don't Settle

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.

Love - It's All A Business

Last spring, I read this awesome social experiment called, '40 Days of Dating,' which followed two friends' diary excerpts as they attempt to date for forty straight days. For those of you who would like to check it out, just feel free to click on this link right here: http://fortydaysofdating.com/ The experiment was rather fascinating for me because it was not limited to just romance. It was a form of self-expression, self-discovery, and self-awareness for the  couple. In one of their daily excerpts, the author made a comparison between Walt Disney and Steve Jobs, two extraordinary men who lived less than typical lives. He drew the comparison between the two not in regards to their innovative thought processes, but to their keen ability to recognize which ideas (or relationships) worth pursuing as well as to persevere through challenges and realize them. The parallels between business and romance is surreal. All of this reminded me of the time I tried to explain to my friends about my less-than-complicated love life and how similar it was to business transactions (in the most non-slutty way, of course). Here are a couple of questions that always pop into my mind:

1) Does the cost outweighs the benefit?

2) You're the salesperson. Your significant other is the customer. So what are the customer's needs vs. wants? 

3) Do I have the ability and time to create customer value and satisfaction?

4) How should we, as a couple, set up a performance appraisal process and reward/ compensation system? 

5) What are our common goals, assets, and liabilities? 

Ayn Rand explained this love vs. business concept and said that, "Love should be treated like a business deal." The important part is recognizing that each individual deals are unique and therefore, has its own terms and currency. When it comes to relationships or marriages, the currency is virtue and time. You love the person for their values, their virtues, and their character. Time is what you give to the person whose values, virtues, and character when they align with yours.

I've had girl friends who'd share with me their day-to-day issues with their respective significant others and the startling challenges that come with a relationship. Sometimes, if they are lucky, the two of them are able to work things out, communicate, and grow. Other times, I see my friends settling for less than what they know they deserve. While I know it sounds rather saddening, I have definitely been in both shoes before. So through my observation as well as personal experiences, I've learned that dissemination of either a romance or business has a lot to do with partners' inability to  communicate as well as their unwillingness to work together.

Thinking about these things scare me. Why's that? I don't want to have to look back at my previous investments and think, "Wow, that was a deep depressing valley. Glad I got myself out of it." Yes, life is about investing, making a couple of mistakes, and failing here and there. However, it's also about making smart choices, managing your time wisely, and etc. This explains why I like to treat every new encounter in my life as a potential business venture. Punctuality becomes critical, but so is attentiveness and effort. When our relationship work ethic rivals or is equivalent to our professional work ethic, that's when we know we're doing something right ;) Am I right?


2014 In A Nutshell

I'm back, guys! And Happy New Year to you all! 2014 has truly been one of the most life-changing years of my entire life. I've loved, lost, gained, and learned. Let's take a walk down memory lane, shall we? January 

I rang in the year with Emily, Willy, and Jesse. Although we've all been friends for years, this was the first time we ever went to an official rave event together. Also, White Wonderland was where I received my first New Year's Eve kiss in two years from my good friend of six years. Thanks, Jesse!

A couple of days after, I received a phone call from KTLA5 and pretty soon, I went in for an interview. I left the studio with a huge congratulations packet from the company for accepting their prestigious spring internship.


I made my very first national television debut while continuing my work at Lionsgate for their fitness channel on Youtube.


For Valentine's Day, I surprised five of my girl friends with fake roses (because they never die), my best friend with a bouquet of assorted flowers, and a homemade card. I wanted to show them how much I truly appreciate their endless love and support.



This was definitely an exciting month for me. My pledge bro from Stanford escorted me to my very last sorority formal and I got to welcome not one, but two little sisses to the best sisterhood ever. Yay, Deltas!


My sorority and I did an entire Beyonce-filled set for the Asian Greek Council Talent show and I got to MC the whole thing! #yonce



I received a diploma from University of Southern California Annenberg as a Communication major with a specialization in Entertainment. It really was the most important day of my life (thus far) Thank you to all of my beautiful friends for flying, driving, and skipping work that day. I love you guys so much!

Fight On, Trojans!



I went to my 2nd Electric Daisy Carnival with my best friends and celebrated one year with my amazing Stanford big bro. I took an offer for freelancing at ABC7 and even got to do my very first bridesmaid toast ever! (Speaking in Vietnamese is a lot harder than you think!)



I hosted the annual Los Angeles Shorts Film Festival. Next to some of the actors and volunteers, I was the youngest person there.


My mother surprised me with a trip back to the Motherland. I got to visit the extended family, see my younger sisters, travel to all different parts of Vietnam, and even find myself a little bit of romance.


Also, I got to celebrate my 22nd birthday with ALL of my best friends. Thank you for celebrating yet another year with me, guys.



Met my childhood crush, Zac Efron at his private film shoot. I fan-girled so hard.


When nights turned into mornings and strangers became friends.


USC beat Notre Dame.

This was a very important self-reflection month for me. I decided that I would eat Vegan twice a month from now on out.



This year, I wanted to do something different and by that, I mean I ended up celebrating 2014 for three straight days. The first two was spent in San Diego with the most amazing group of people. As for the last day of 2014, I got to be with Danny and my overly-protective little bro, Jeff. No one spoils me more than them.

And although I had to make him wait, our midnight kiss was perfect. Happy 2015!

Overall, I can say that I had a pretty successful year. I met so many people, lost a couple along the way, but I've learned so much from each and every single new experiences. So I wanted to conclude this post by thank you for reading my blog and for giving me your feedbacks/thoughts. I am able to evolved as a person and as a writer because of your support so thank you.

As always, you know I love you. Fight On!

Before You Take The Job, Ask Yourself This

My friends always laugh and joke around whenever I tell them that I am going in for an interview. "Why do you do it? So that you can turn down another company?" I chuckled a little because there is some truth to that. Okay, maybe not some truth but it is the truth. I've been turning down offers after offers. Call me crazy, but it'll all make sense to you later on. I promise. Anyway, a couple of my friends and my parents have been shaking their heads at my adamant decision, especially since landing a great job right after college is as scarce as finding an awesome and loyal boyfriend. However, there's always a valid reason as to why I have done what I did and I'm about to share with you why. Here are the questions I have asked myself before making the final decision as to whether or not I should take up an offer. This is not only applicable to my career, but also to other areas of my life, so here we go.

1) Will this take me one step closer to where I need to be? If you wanted to be an actor, should you apply to be a bank teller at Wells Fargo? Maybe, but it wouldn't make any sense. However, you might as well take up some bartending lessons (if that's something you've always been interested in), get yourself the license, so now you have income flowing in while still have the flexibility to go on auditions. Win-win.

2) How is the work environment and culture? You want to be a part of a team or company that represents you as much as you represent them. Do they treat their employees well? Is there room for growth and collaboration? Do you agree with their mission statement? For me, it's important to be in a space that has structure as well as transparency.

3) Will I be able to utilize my talents and skill sets? No matter how great the pay is (or maybe this is just me), passion will always come first. I want to be able to see myself loving what I do and doing what I love. The only way I'm able to do good is if I'm able to practice my craft.

4) How are the people? I'm a Communication major. This one is extremely important to me. While I know we're not always going to get along with our bosses or co-workers, I still want to surround myself with people I respect, people I can learn from, and people I can share my ideas with. Yes, showbizz is an extremely lucrative one; however, I've also met enough incredible people to know that there are still those with humility, humbleness, and hunger to achieve.

5) Last but certainly not least, am I settling? I could go on all day and list reasons why you and I should never settle, but then I'll just be rambling about something you already know. The act of settling becomes a habit for a lot of people because it's safe, it's easy, it's effortless. People settle for someone they don't love or who no longer makes them happy due to financial stability or routine. People settle for the first person that chases after them because they like the perks that comes with companionship. People settle for mundane careers because it pays the bill. I've seen this happening to my friends, relatives, strangers, and etc. I've read and heard about these circumstances a million times in the past. Then I'd come across these rare cases when the investment banker moves to a tech start-up company, the lawyer goes back to school and becomes a philosophy professor, and a student who declines admission to Harvard Business School so that he can travel the world and create his own behavior design company. These are true stories from visionaries who are unsettling about being settled. These are the people who constantly strives to break the norms in order to improve on themselves and their works. More than anything, I want to be alongside those people because a person like Khanh is not meant to sleep with the wolves when she is meant to play with the lions. I'm sorry, guys. I love talking about myself in third person every now and then.

Anyway, I just wanted to remind you, my friends, that you are also capable of everything and anything you'd want to be. A surgeon. An artist. A teacher. An engineer. A philanthropist. Whatever it is, it's possible. So never ever settle.

I hope this summarizes why I've been a little bit picky with my career path as well as other things. I have all the trust in the world that the Universe is saving something phenomenal for us and it's only a matter of time until we'll be able to find out what it is.

Until then, take care and as always, Fight On!

Why I Turned Those Offers Down

Mentor. Inspiration. Role-model. These are some of the kind words I've received from my peers and I don't take it very lightly. At the age of 22, I've led countless of public seminars, appeared on national television, and spoke in front of thousands of people. While I would say that I've done fairly well for myself, I know very well that I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the love and support I've received throughout the years.

But there are days when I would wake up and ask myself why I do what I do. Is it for the fame? Is it for the prestige? Whatever the reason may be, I know for certain that it's not for one thing and that's money. Truth be told, I have not received an official paycheck up until this past summer. (Thank you, ABC). After all those countless hours on set and at the studio, I still drive home with an empty wallet. So how was I able to support myself without asking from my parents for financial support? Well, I would take on weekend freelance projects. Lots of them. It's tough and at times unsettling, but if you're trying to break in the same industry, you would know that not everyone's going to make it to Hollywood alive. Only the hungry will. And if you can't already tell by now, I am fucking starving.

Success to me has always been about the journey that I embark on not the destination. Whenever I do lose sight of my motive or pursuit, I would think about how far I've gone and how closer I am today than I was yesterday. Although this may sound a bit strange, but I absolutely love every minute of my struggles. Each of my experiences, whether good or bad, has taught me to rise from the bottom and become an even more brilliant, more resilient woman. So as I begin to congratulate my best friends on their new job offers and accomplishments, I also start to paint a clearer picture in my head as to how I would like to live my life. I'm not afraid to stand alone. I've chosen that route plenty of times and have never once looked back (unless I'm reflecting like how I am now). There is a thrill in choosing the route less taken. In a way, it pushes me to think outside of the box and learn how to overcome my fears while simultaneously break my comfort zone. That's the rebel in me talking. Correction, that's the hungry me talking. There's also a small little voice in my head that tells me to take that very first job offer and go for an administrative position. I will then have to spend eight hours a day answering other people's phone calls and organizing their schedules. "This is ____'s secretary. How may I help you today?"

The thought of living that life scares me. Why? Because I know that my passion is elsewhere. I know I want to be my own boss, but at the same time, I have to start somewhere. The door's already open and my foot is right there. However, what are some of the steps I need to take now? More importantly, will they do my dreams justice?

I don't know. I don't have the answers just yet, but I'm working on it. How I was able to overcome the low parts of my life has a lot to do with the bigger voice that's in my head. The one that's telling me that I am capable of so much more than the average. That at the end of the day, I am someone's mentor, someone's inspiration, someone's sister, and someone's friend.

So I've turned down job opportunities. Ones that looked impressive on paper, but would have left me feeling unfulfilled. Yes, I did try to explore some of the options, but I knew that had I taken the job, I would be even further away from where I need to be. At this point in time, I want to believe that for once my heart and head has aligned and that if I listened closely to the Universe's calling, I will be one step closer to the finish line.

Call me picky if you like, but I never want to live a life knowing that I've settled less than what I've deserved. But who's to say that that's a bad thing? You can't pick on a girl who knows what she wants.