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How My Culture Influenced My Career Choices

I am proud to be a first-generation born Hmong-American. My parents and family immigrated to the US after the Vietnam War. Some of yall may know this - The Hmong fought alongside the US troops as an ally during the Vietnam War. When the US decided to pull out of the war, my people were left in Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam in refugee camps. Some of us, like my family, were given the opportunity to immigrate to the US to pursue the American Dream.


My dad was a first-gen college graduate, earning his bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin - Stout. Both of my parents instilled academic excellence into me and my 4 younger siblings from a very young age. My earliest memory of studying was when I was 3 or 4 years old. I remember sitting in the basement of our apartment complex with my mom, my grandma, and my 2 younger sisters. If you know anything about Wisconsin summers, you know that the humidity is unbearable. On a hot summer's day, my mom and grandma would walk us down to our chicken-wired, basement storage room that had 1 hanging light bulb. It was in that dim-lit, make-shift room that I learned my alphabet and numbers. I remember sitting on a twin-size mattress on the floor while my mom took colored chalk to write out my daily lessons on the cement brick wall. She then asked me to memorize and recite after her over and over again. I didn't mind it...I just thought that's what all the kids were doing.


Fast forward to my high school days. Per usual, academic excellence was expected from each and every one of us. Growing up, the only acceptable occupations that my parents ever talked about were - becoming a doctor or a lawyer. Both of these careers came with a lucrative salary and prestige. And to my family, that mattered. I literally never explored anything else outside of these 2 fields. In high school, I had informational interviews and job shadow opportunities with a chiropractor, a pharmacist, and a dentist. I even secured a summer internship at a law firm.


I did all of this to appease my parents and in hopes that I would magically learn to love these 2 career choices. I didn't want to disappoint my parents and being the eldest of 5, my parents always said - "You have to make it in life. If you do, then all of your siblings will. If you don't, then they won't either. It's all on you to walk to path first." If that's not a lot of pressure, I don't know what else is! I know that my parents meant well and they wanted me to have a life they could only dream of having. I mean, that's the reason why they left their life in Laos behind, right? To come to the US for the American Dream; so that their children could live a life of financial freedom and receive utmost respect.


I'm sure you all know I'm neither of these 2 things. For a long time, I felt like a failure. I felt like I didn't do my part and that I was a disappointment to my family. I tried. I really, truly tried. And let me tell ya, my career journey was never linear. Whose is, honestly? When I made the 2 key career decisions in my life, I always felt like a black sheep. I felt like I would never bring my parents the prestige and honor that they had hoped I'd bring us. And while I seriously considered both of these career paths, they never spoke to me. Being a doctor and a lawyer was never in the cards for me. I just knew in my heart that I was meant to do something different. I just didn't quite know my true purpose, til now.


I'm so happy to share that my parents have let go of the stereotypical Asian dream that all of their children must be doctors and lawyers. And I've come to realize that my parents were rigid because they didn't know anything else. These were the only 2 careers they ever knew. They didn't understand that being an entrepreneur was an amazing career choice for me. What matters is that they know now. They are my biggest supporters and have since told me they are proud of me. If you're Asian, you KNOW that parents never tell you they're outright proud of you! Yall...they told me they're proud of me! Well, my mom tells me, but my dad texted it. Same thing, right? 😉


Long story short, never allow your culture or others to suppress who you're meant to be. Your career is YOUR career. Follow your dreams...one day, they'll get it.


💜 Mollie



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