Family is defined in many different ways across the country whether it be unity through blood, acceptance of what you do or just unconditional love. In addition, they influence you to become better versions of yourself and are there for you through your ups and downs. Although family does not have to be biologically related to you, I am fortunate to have one.
Growing up, I was raised by my mom’s side of the family. I grew up in a household constantly surrounded by love from my mom, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. What I love most about my family is that they allow me to openly be who I am (trust me, I’m a weird child). My family showed me courage, kindness, empathy, duty, and most importantly, how hard life is, yet despite the hardships my family has faced, they still manage to continue and strive for more. They inspire me to be the best version I can be, and for that, I could never thank them enough… but I can try.
My mom and I are best friends, and practically sisters. There is never a topic that we don’t talk about: we talk about clothes, fashion, and movies all the way to the meaning of life. One of the best parts about my mom is that she didn’t give up everything for me. That sounds like a bad thing, but it’s not. My mom is the ultimate multi-tasker, I am telling you. My mom takes care of me and my family, works a 12 hour job, pays the bill, in addition to traveling and living her life. She is also one of the best story tellers I know. My mom always tells me stories about her love story with my father or how she “glo-ed” up in high school. My mom also stresses the importance and sense of duty to her family: “They are the foundation of what I represent and stand for as a person.” I was taught, just like my mom, that family is forever.
My cousin Crissy is my role model. She is real and raw. We don’t see each other as often anymore because she moved away for college, but every time she comes back, it feels like no time had passed. There is never a dull moment with her or my other cousins. My cousins are the siblings I never had. I’ve experienced the fun times and the not so fun times where I want to punch them in the face. All in all, every moment and inside joke and every argument is worth it.
My Uncles & Grandpa
Ever since I was a baby, my household consisted of my mom, my grandparents and my 3 uncles: Michael, Cuong and Kevin. My uncles taught me compassion, patience and selflessness. Let me tell you, I was a nasty kid when I was younger. I would constantly pester my uncles. In my opinion, I think my Uncle Cuong had it the worst. I’d watch TV in his room, eat in his room, nap in his room, play in his room, talk in his room, practically live in his room. Even though I was bothersome, he was always patient with me. My Uncle Kevin taught me compassion. He isn’t afraid to show his love, especially to my grandma. Lastly, my Uncle Michael. In my family, I’m known as his “mini-me” originally because we both liked the same things, like singing. As I grew older, I feel like my uncle and I had grown more similar in a different way. My passion for working with people, I believe, is from him. Seeing how my uncle not only grew as a person, but also how he helped others really inspired me to be like him. His selflessness initiated my ambition to change the world and voice my opinion to make a difference.
My grandpa has truly mastered the power of love without saying “I love you”, and that is a fact. My grandpa has picked me up from school ever since I started school. My grandpa gives me his candy (once in a while). These actions seem small, but they’re not. It’s his way of showing me that he loves me. I vividly remember a day where I asked my grandpa why he never said “I love you”. His response was along the lines of, “Grandpa loves you okay. I don’t say it but I love you in my heart.” He taught me that love comes in different forms, but love is love, and that’s all that matters.
My Aunts & Grandma
My mom and her sister, Lynda, were born in Saigon, Vietnam. My mother was the oldest whereas my aunt was the middle child. Sexism played a strong role in the lives of these women. In Chinese/Vietnamese culture, it is better to have a boy before a girl because of the patriarchal norms in society. Now, they’re both successful, self-made women. They defied gender norms and seeked equality. Being a woman is not an obstacle, but rather a part of our identity which makes us fearless and hard workers.
Just thinking of my grandma makes me cry. There are not enough words to depicts how much I love my grandma. There’s never a moment where she doesn’t manage to make me smile. My grandma taught me communication. It’s really a paradox because my grandma barely speaks English, yet we find ways to communicate. We communicate through laughing, crying, etc. There are days when we randomly play Jenga and start laughing our butts out because of the tension of who is going to win. My grandma is who I look forward to seeing everyday when I get home from school. My grandma is my motivation to achieve greatness in life, and so is the rest of my family.
My family is my motivation to make a difference in our world. My family means the world to me and I wouldn’t be who I am today without their guidance. Now that I’m done appreciating my family, go appreciate yours!