"Here's to strong women. May we know. May we be them. May we raise them."
March 8th was International Women's Day, a holiday I was extremely excited about. So after work that very same day, I went online and listened to a twenty minute podcast given by Emma Watson. She spoke about the HeforShe campaign, a United Nation initiative for gender equality and the empowerment of women. After listening to her words, I felt incredibly inspired to write in this very own blog of mine.
I know I've spoken and written previously in the past in regards to the amount of pressure I receive from my parents to succeed, but I think it's extremely disheartening if I discredit the woman who, at the same time, inspires me and supports me through it all. This person is, of course, my mother.
Here's a little timeline to put everything in perspective. She is the youngest of 12 children. At age 5, she woke up at four in the morning every day to help my grandfather sell glass cups. At 18, she finished high school as class president for four years and moved out of the house soon after. At 22, she became a business owner. At 26, she got married and had me. My mom has an unprecedented work ethic and ability since she was young. Beautiful as she may be on the outside and I'm telling you, this woman does not look a day past 35, she is unquestionably even more beautiful on the inside. Now I don't know when I started to love her (and I mean really love her), but there has been nights when I wished I loved her longer. I wished I understood her. I wished I could take all the pain she has endured for forty something years and throw it away so that she can sleep more soundly at night.
I noticed that whenever we go out together nowadays, strangers or distant relatives would comment on how my mom has raised such a beautiful daughter. (They do not know much about me so I'm assuming they are talking about my physical attributes) Whatever the underlying meaning is, I never take those words lightly. I could tell from the expression on my mom's face that whether she'd like to admit it or not, deep deep down, she's proud of the young woman I've become. Yes, I'm not nearly close to where I need to be; however, it gives me a peace of mind when she does give me a reminder that raising me has been easy. I was never the trouble maker. I taught myself English and mathematics. I followed a curfew until I was in eight grade. I did my own hair and played around with my cousin's hand-me-down clothes. I've always had perfect attendance and had no trouble succeeding in academics and extracurricular activities. Moreover, I was always never home. My independent personality, while it has led me to many of my successes, is also the same reason why I was never as close to my mom as I would like to be. My brother, on the other hand, well that's another story.
Years after I learned how to communicate more openly, our relationship also began to improve. I cried on her shoulder when I found out my first love has moved on with another person. That very summer, she booked me round-trip tickets to Hawaii and Vietnam. When I graduated college and was extremely sad that my father completely forgot about it, she threw me a $1,000 banquet and told me I could invite all of my best friends. When I wanted to take a breather after being burnt out in school, she decided to use the money she saved up so that she could take my little brother and me back to the Motherland.
So let me re-explain what I meant when I said I receive a lot of pressure from my family. There's a certain level of expectation that comes with being the oldest child; however, with my brother being the genius in the family, I was lucky enough to avoid being placed on that pedestal. Steven is the child that faces a lot of pressure. Me? I'm the wild card. By that, I mean....I rarely ever follow the norm. While I grew up incredibly disciplined and I still am, I also believe in living life freely and unapologetically. I never cared for the norm or what was "cool." So whether I purposely tried or not, I stood out regardless. Because I refuse to follow orders unless I make them myself, my mom often times question my choices. Other than myself, she is the one person in the world who really wants to see me succeed. I guess this explains why I've been feeling so burdened because I'm not sure if she's proud of me right now. There's a lot of uncertainty up in the air and the thought of disappointing her in any way seriously brings me so much pain. At the same time, I use that emotion to fuel me.
My mom once told me, "To pursue a career likes yours and to actually succeed, you'd need to be either really lucky or really talented." So today, I wanted to tell her that I am both. I thought about it long and hard as to how I'm able to communicate these words effectively to her and then I came up with an even better idea. Why should I tell my mother this when I can show her? I have a little secret. Okay, scratch that. I have a big secret. A big incredible surprise and I'm only waiting until everything settles down before I can reveal it to her and then later, the rest of the family. Until then, I wanted to take this time to show my appreciation to the woman who is truly the reason why I am everything that I am today.
I love you, momma. Hope you're ready for what I'm about to tell you next ;) :*