Keep the Good Ones

“You cannot expect to live a positive life if you hang with negative people.” - Joel Osteen

Energies are so contagious. I can't even begin to express to you how understanding the meaning behind this quote has impacted my life in so many ways.

Last winter, I spent a great amount of time observing my favorite celebrities while I interned at the morning news station. It was quite a fascinating experience to see these well known figures and their behaviors when there are  no lights, cameras, or crew around them. Through some casual conversations and questioning, I've learned that being a part of the business also meant that you need to pick the right eggs in your basket aka the people you want to be a part of your life. It's in our nature to rely on those we find dependable, willing, and honest; however, the industry breathes some magnificent people as well as some who aren't as great. Take a look at all of these famous figures for instance. There's a recurring trend with them keeping the same stylists, make-up artists, managers over the span of their careers. In a way and you probably know this, time has an incredible way of solidifying these roles that people play in our lives. I never realized how amazing it is for me to say that most of my close/best friends are people that have been in my life for 5+ years. I know it's not much compared to others, but it definitely means a whole lot for someone who has on and off friendships throughout the years.

Now I wouldn't say that I'm the best at anything; however, if I do get to pick one thing...I would tell you that I make a hell of a friend. Being a good friend is expected, but being an exceptional one is what I've always tried to aim for. When I was a Junior in college, I decided to pledge for a sorority with the sole intention of trying to find my bridesmaid(s). All it took was an alumni speech, presented by my future pledge mom/grand big,  for me to be more than ecstatic to hop onto that ever-so-exciting Greek life wagon. Sadly, despite spending a good amount of time with the girls, I can't say that I was able to succeed. Was I disappointed? Sure. Who wouldn't be? I loved them and cared for them, but I knew that despite being in the same org, we had different callings in life and that was perfectly okay. After several reflections and looking at things in an introspective manner, I've quickly determined that my decision in joining the sorority was not exactly a failure. In fact, I've gained so much from it. 1) I was able to determine who my real friends and sisters are. No three letters are able to justify the strong friendships that are already present in my life 2) The opportunity has allowed me to appreciate a diverse group of young women who shares different and sometimes the same interests as I do 3) I have not only met inspiring girls but I get to surround myself with the most communicative, loving, and supportive men (yes, I'm talking about you, big bros)

In college, most of my peers spent hours at Club Leavey (it's a library) studying for their next midterm exams while others spent time alternating between their educational pursuits and Thirstdays escapades. For me, my collegiate learning experience has been shaped by my professors, my classmates, and of course, my friends. Those years at USC has enabled me to socialize in all sorts of settings, manage my class/work/gym schedule, and establish lifelong network. The strongest and most prestigious network in the world, might I add. Like any relationship, these things require a conscious effort on both ends and in a world where we're all pulling at each other for attention, it's definitely nice to stay grounded with those who can still keep their feet on the ground.

I'm currently so in love with the people in my life right now. Can't you tell? Here's my act of appreciation and a simple way of showing them how grateful I am to have the most amazing support group anyone can ever ask for. I love you!

XO

Only Child

"You've made a lot of people proud."

Happy Tuesday, everybody! I recently received a Facebook message from a young girl I met when she was a Sophomore in high school. She congratulated me on my recent commencement as well as telling me how proud she was with everything that I have done. As a twenty one year old, I do have my fair share of crazy escapades and spontaneous late nights. I'm far from perfect. I make mistakes. I can be stubborn. I have a short attention span. But despite everything that I am or am not, I do take one role very seriously and that is the role of being the eldest sibling.

Growing up for nine years, I was practically the only child. Because I had no older siblings or relatives around, I quickly learned that there are some advantages that come with it. First, I worked very well with grown-ups. Every since I was little, I loved talking and listening to people who were older than me. In a way, by spending time with them, I  was able to take some of their life experiences and endurance and apply it to my own. And despite being an introvert, I thoroughly enjoyed human interaction and one-on-one conversations. It's funny because once I made the transition from high school to college, I found that most of the people I work with are indeed much older than I am and it's great.

Being the eldest also meant that I had to learn a lot of things on my own. I taught myself the English alphabet, to tell time, to count my change, to apply for FAFSA, and etc. Because my mother was very bad at styling or anything fashion-related, I learned how to do my own hair and put together different hands-me-down ensemble (Big thanks to my aunt for sending me her daughter's clothes). Oddly enough, I also never craved for my parents' affection or demanded their attention. None of those things were desirable to me. All I wanted was to not be a burden to them, therefore, for the most part, being along was second nature to me. A typical day after elementary school included a Lemony Snicket novel and my Hello Kitty diary. I also found pleasure in attempting to read Shakespeare and Charles Dickens. While I loved the indoors, I also biked, skated, and of course, played with my small red wagon. Looking back, I've realized that I still take a bit of my childhood with me.

Nowadays, I conduct presentations, deliver public speeches, perform on stage, and play with microphones. I still find those who are older than me to be the most fascinating and by exposing myself into the adult world through travels and different internships, I've learned a thing or two about survival and humility. However, since then, I have traded in my books for online articles and research studies, a diary for this blog, and believe it or not, the only time I ever get new clothes is when my mother decides to shop for me (I guess her style ain't too bad, eh?) Just kidding, I love you mom.

Yes, there are plenty of wonderful perks that come with being an only child, but nothing makes me happier than knowing that I have a little booger that keeps me grounded everyday and the coolest part is that he has no idea how big of an impact that he has on me. Yup, I'm talking about my brother, Steven. An extremely exceptional scholar, he keeps me incredibly inspired whenever I look at him. The boy is actually quite different from me. He's rebellious, a risk-taker, and incredibly selfless. At the same time, we also share a number of qualities. We're ambitious, hungry, and we don't stop until we get things done. We're self-starters, innovators, and future entrepreneurs. I look at him and my heart warms up because of all the potential that I see in the little guy (although he is not so little anymore). I look at him and it makes me want to be a better person. To work smarter. To be above the influence. While I can let the this modern culture shape my values and beliefs, I've learned that my actions must speak poise and honesty. I've learned that it's important to maintain a good and healthy body through my life choices in diet and exercise. I know that with the media culture and buzzing celebrities entering rehabilitation or jail, I've furthered aim to  maintain my composure and focus, especially since I'll be venturing out into the world of Hollywood.

Am I afraid? Sure. But fear, in this case, is not necessarily a bad thing. I'm just so grateful for all the warm messages I've received and for everybody who has considered me their role model one point or another. So I genuinely hope I can continue to do what I love and leave my footprints along the way. At the end of the day, all of this is for me, for Steven, and for everyone who believed in such a person.

Give Me More!

When I moved to Los Angeles two years ago, I thought that I would be extremely homesick. I was wrong. Instead, I adjusted quickly to the pace that comes with being in a college environment and the only time I would ever come home was on winter/summer break. After graduation, I figured that adjusting to the post-grad life would be extremely arduous as well. Again, I was wrong. Aside from taking night classes, not much has changed. I still workout on the daily (about to invest in a gym pass and I’m currently leaning towards 24 Hour). I still remain in close contact with my (good) friends. I’m still keeping myself busy with work. I still wake up early in the morning. It’s great. I went straight from the denial stage to finally accepting the reality of it all.

After my trip to Norcal, I realized that I need more dosage of San Francisco. I have yet to explore the city, nightlife, and its beautiful people. While I had the opportunity to see old friends and meet new ones, I know there’s still much of the city that I have yet to experience. So what have been doing in the meantime? Reading. I read a lot. I watch a lot of online discussions, commencement speeches, motivational seminars, and etc. I’m also extremely sore from my 2 hour and 40 minute workout yesterday.

Other things I would like and will do this summer:

  • Roadtrip
  • Electric Daisy Carnival
  • Movie Drive-in
  • Swim in the ocean

Spring Break: Expectations vs. Reality

Expectation: The four hour drive to another state is going to be incredibly long and arduous. Bottom line: Nothing's great about sitting on your butt for four hours and not be active. 

Reality: When you're with people you love, four hour passes by. My first trip to Vegas was incredible. My friend Emily and I would switch off and Stacey did an incredible job with keeping me awake. Now I know that my career and school may consume me from time to time so long drives like these are a great way to just simply get away from the getaway. Why? My friends and I get to talk about life, love, career, family, and etc. We were bumpin' and grindin' to these so-called ratchet and EDM songs with absolutely no stress, expectations, or worries. The wind was blowing in our faces (Hello, sex hair) and the long boring road gave us chances to reflect on what's important: the little things. On my way back from Vegas with my best friend Alanna, I spent a good twenty minutes poking my head out of the window to look up at the sky and stare at the stars. The beautiful stars. It's hard to spot them when you're living in such a polluted city. No worries, Los Angeles. I still love you. And as cheesy as it may sound, it really made me appreciate how beautiful nature really is. There's just something so romantic about watching the sky transition from being bright and sunny to the perfect pink/purple-ish hue.

Expectation: Day club = time to find another person in tip-top shape and see where will go from there ;) #thatSingleLife

Reality: If there are creepers at the night club, what makes you think that there will be no creepers at the day club? Six pack aside, sometimes it's just so hard to run away from these non-wanted specimen. Also, being in the pool doesn't make it that much easier. It just makes things a little bit more awkward because they are standing inches from your face with practically little clothing on. The rule is that a) you simply reject their desperate cries by saying that you're just not interested or b) they really try to get to know you and now suddenly you're no longer a college student from Cali but a weird girl from Florida with no ounce of interest in pursuing men

Expectation: Europeans.

Reality: Sexy, subtle accent? Check. Hot bod? Check. Single? Check. What's not to love when I get to be right in the arms of a European. The cons? I realize that I have a type and anyone who doesn't fall under that type just doesn't cut it for me. Also, you can't force chemistry no matter how solid the person's abdominal is.

Expectation: What? Another bachelor's party? Why not.

Reality: The reality is that a bachelor's party is always a good party. Why? You don't get to just talk to one person. No. There's a whole batch of eligible men that comes with that one party. Cons? There's a high chance that one of them might be: 1) Taken 2) Is a dad 3) Just plain weird or even worse 4) Canadian (Inside joke with the girlfriends*)

Expectation: What is sleep?

Reality: Both times, I went in to the trip with the mindset that sleep is essentially for the weak. Boy was I wrong. The girls and I ended up taking several power naps in between playtime and let's just say, we were able to survive for a reason. Thank you, sleep.

Expectation: I'm going to diet and not eat anything so I can actually rock this damn bikini.

Reality: I really don't give myself enough credit to realize that going to the gym consistently will pay off (for good reasons). Diet or not, I felt great. We all felt great. And also, who cares what others think as long as you and your girlfriends are having the time of your life dancing to Steve Angello and Lil Jon?

Expectation: Emily has her sunblock. I'm safe.

Reality: Nope. I'm two shades darker and my butt was completely burnt. Pro? Nice tan. Con? It sucks to sit down.

Expectation: What happens in Vegas, please let it stay in Vegas this time.

Reality: If you really were curious, I didn't "hook up" with anybody. So much for that #yolo lifestyle, right? Wrong. I met a nice group of girls from Norcal who invited me to visit them in Santa Cruz. I was, once again, the one girl in a group of 8 fun and carefree guys. We talked, connected, laughed, and danced. I even met a person who loves basketball, lifting, and nerd-ing it out as much as I did. Oh and he's a Trojan. All I can say is that I did Spring Break right and this is by far one of the most craziest Spring Breaks since....well, ever. But at the end of the day, I am just grateful to be back in California and to know that I have seven weeks to do even more amazing things. Here's to my last semester at SC. Fight on!

Why I Haven't Found Mr. Right

No one said it would be easy. Quite frankly, I'm not even sure if it's worth it. As I begin to countdown my last few months of my undergraduate career, the nerves and anxiety are slowly kicking in. A month ago, my friend and I drove around time and did our usual shopping outing. Now I always enjoy these small moments with him because I don't get to see the guy very often. Luckily, we managed to always have the best conversations when we are together. My friend is a very intelligent and humble person. He attends one of the top universities in the world and while he is the closest thing a person can ever get to being well-rounded, he has never had a real relationship before. I remembered asking him, "Are you nervous?" "Nervous about what?" "I don't know. Not ever being in a relationship. Does that make you nervous?" He told me that love and settling down are things that rarely cross his mind. However, as he too is about to transition into the real world, things are slowly kicking in. "Now that you mentioned it, if I can't find a person here in college, it's going to be more difficult once I leave school." He's right. I'm sure of this. We ended the conversation with the agreement that we still have plenty of other important things to worry about and to focus on. I mean, we all know how the old saying goes: If you're not happy with who you are, how are you supposed to be happy with somebody else? I wish more people can understand how important this is.

Lately, I've encountered a lot of different people and it's safe to say that the amount of infatuation that is in the air has totally caught me off guard.  So in order to be as productive as possible, I began to take some time and think about why these episodes kept reoccurring. Well, I started off by asking a few questions. What is it about me that attracts other people? Is it my lack of sense of humor? Is it my bluntness? Is it my OCD? Is it my untamed mane? I'm not sure what the answer is, all I know is that I am doing something right, but at the same time, it's wrong. Or at least, it feels wrong. As of this moment, I am simply not looking for a serious relationship. It's not because I am not a committed person. It's simply a matter of personal choice and some thing I've obliged to until I am fully confident and ready to be in one.  In the words of Carrie Bradshaw from 'Sex in the City,' some women are not meant to be tamed. I, Khanh Duong, belong to that select pool of women. However, the less I care about making these impressions, the more I seem to attract--which has made my life all the more complicated.

You see, the type of man that I am drawn to is the kind of person who does not belittle his dreams and pursuits for others. He is a person who seeks progress, risks, and possibilities. The last thing this man would look for is a damsel in distress. That's right. My knight in shining armor is anything but a knight and his armor. So as soon as these guys figure this out, the less time I will need to waste in explaining to them why it wouldn't work out between us in the first place.