America, The Beautiful

Today is July 4th. I honestly feel conflicted as an American for a number of different reasons. 

I'm working today but I don't mind because I've never really minded working holidays. I also work in healthcare so there's really no such things as "holidays" there. When you work in careers like this, you're always there because this is what you signed up for. Like 911. There are no holidays or off hours for things like that. But I'm greedy and I enjoy holiday pay so I don't mind working holidays. The only downside to today is because of the nature of the holiday, my ER might be busier than usual because of firework injuries, people drinking and driving, etc. Please be safe always but more so during holidays so that you don't hurt others around you. 

I have a love hate relationship with being American, especially in this day and age. The first thing I struggle with is my identity. 

I'm Vietnamese by blood but an American citizen. And honestly, I identify more with my American side because that's how I grew up. My parents emigrated here when I was one, so American culture is a big part of how I grew up despite my parents trying to instill as much Vietnamese culture in me. I talk like a New Yorker, I dress like an American hoe, and I have more modern American ideals and values than my parent's traditional ways. But the way it's always been is that I never fit in either hood. I will never be Asian enough for my Vietnamese side no matter what I do, nor American enough for the US. I get shit from both sides. For the Viets, I can speak the language, eat the food and everything but I can tell from my mom's friends they consider me more like my trang. And for the Americans, my eyes will always be too small for them, even though by Asian standards my eyes are actually particularly large. My body type is also too fat for the Vietnamese standard and too skinny to Americans. You just can't win. But I've grown out of trying to please either side. Nowadays, my style and nature confuses both sides because of how wacky I dress.

Regardless though, I do enjoy identifying myself as American. However, during this nation's controversial times, I do also feel a sense of shame and disappointment as well. It's hard to celebrate today because of all the hate, injustice, discrimination, and inequality going on.

I wanted to shoot red, white and blue fashion looks this summer and I did but I also felt conflicted while doing so. But at the same time, I remember that while there is a lot of ugliness going on in the country right now that makes me ashamed to be American, there is also a lot of love still left in the country and there are still MANY Americans out there doing good for this country and fighting for the rights of women, POC, LGBTQ, immigrants and all those who can not fight for themselves. And there are many countrymen working hard to protect the rights and liberties of us Americans so that we can have a better life and live the American dream. And that's the part that makes me super proud to be an American. Despite all the darkness I see the country clouded in and the division, I have hope. I see the little changes here and there and I see the compassion that a lot of Americans still have to help other people and the passion they have to fight the good fight and it's truly inspiring. This country was founded by a brand of brothers working hard to achieve a common goal of freedom to build a better life and world for their families. That's what today is about.

 I want to make a difference to someone one day and be the reason they don't give up. I want my own story to inspire people and show them that small ripples still have big effects. And that you can still make it and achieve your goals, no matter how small. 

My mom and dad came here when I was one and we had nothing in our pockets. Today we are a family of seven, with 4 kids having survived and completed college and one just graduated high school this past month. From packing meager homemade sandwiches to school, we now are able to treat our parents to nice bougie restaurants and go on nice vacations. My parents still live like they're on food stamps hoarding every little thing but the reality is we no longer have to. They worked hard and taught us to work hard and build our own lives. I'm still working at it but I think I've done pretty well for myself so far even if I am struggling to keep my head above the water.

The American dream is still very much alive. You will stumble upon many obstacles on your way but adversity is what helps to build our character and gives us strength to move forward. And we should always be aiming to move forward even when others are trying to hold us back from growing and getting better. Rise above and live it everyday. 

Happy Independence Day, America! You are so beautiful in your melting pot of diversity and land of opportunities.